Running Windows 7 on Mac?

AnnLies

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jun 19, 2015
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I've recently made the decision to upgrade the ram on my iMac and decided to grab a copy of windows 7. I have a lot of games on steam for windows and my poor old laptop just doesn't have the muscle anymore to run them. I figured I could more easily run a copy of Windows on my Mac and achieve the same result without spending $800 on a new computer.

I'm relatively inexperienced when it comes to computer software, but I'd like to be able to have full access to my steam library. I'd appreciate some advice on what program I should use to set up my virtual machine to achieve the best results. Here are the specs for my iMac.

iMac (21.5-inch, Mid 2011)
Processor: 2.7 GHz Intel Core i5
Memory: 16 GB 1333 MHz DDR3 (After I purchase and install the ram)
Graphics: AMD Radeon HD 6770M 512 MB
Storage: 1 TB harddrive (723.71 GB free)


Additional query: Would Windows 7 be the best option? It's cheaper now and I don't really need it for anything but running Steam and my games, but if there are significant perks to other versions I'd like to know.

Thanks in advance
 

iF34R

macrumors 65816
Jul 13, 2011
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South Carolina
You can go with either 7 or 8.1. You'll be fine with either. I use Win 7 on my iMac, as well as three other computers and I rarely have any issues. I wouldn't run any "modern" games in a virtual machine, such as Parallels. Use bootcamp and you'll enjoy the games. Make sure the games run decently with your hardware specs though.
 

aidanpendragon

macrumors 6502a
Jul 26, 2005
927
8
I have a similar 2011 Mini (with less powerful graphics) and run Win 7 quite well in Bootcamp. Just make sure the Windows version you want to use is compatible with the Bootcamp in your version of OS X.
 

AnnLies

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jun 19, 2015
3
0
Thank you all for your comments. I've ordered Windows 7 and Parallels just in case (it was for a considerable discount through OWC), but I'll try it on Bootcamp first. Sounds like that option gives me the best power for what I'm trying to do.
 

Dirtyharry50

macrumors 68000
May 17, 2012
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If you can cancel Parallels I would recommend doing so and using bootcamp to setup windows on your system if you can afford to give the disk space to it. I note you mentioned trying to get better performance on an older system. Virtual machine software is not going to help you there at all. It adds significant overhead and is also not always compatible with every game you might own.

It can be a good solution in some ways and I do own it myself but I only use it rarely to avoid rebooting on a system than can handle the overhead and only with older less demanding games to begin with. For this, it's pretty good.

So, either go bootcamp of it your disk is too small to give up space to windows, stick with whatever you have been doing until your next more capable computer is my advice.

I'm just being very honest with you and trying to help you. I've used this stuff and I know very well what it can and cannot do for you.

Oh, and I stuck with my Windows 7 license since I had no issues gaming with it to justify spending on a Windows 8.1 upgrade. So, whatever is cheaper is probably good enough. I note people talking about improved stability, etc. I don't understand what they mean when I've yet to see an issue in 4 years of running Windows 7 on and off just to play games on it.
 
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iF34R

macrumors 65816
Jul 13, 2011
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Thank you all for your comments. I've ordered Windows 7 and Parallels just in case (it was for a considerable discount through OWC), but I'll try it on Bootcamp first. Sounds like that option gives me the best power for what I'm trying to do.
You can set up bootcamp, and then set up parallels and have it "import" your bootcamp installation. That's how I run it. So, whatever I do while in Parallels is there when I switch to bootcamp and vice versa. I normally only use bootcamp for some low level stuff. Installing programs, transferring files, etc. I don't normally, at all really, game via Parallels lol.

I just tried it for the sake of seeing how it performs...

I ran Diablo 3 RoS in Parallels. Everything set to max except the anti-aliasing is turned off. I'm running in a 1680 x 1050 res in Para and the game running "full screen" within that.

I used screenflow to record, and the framerate, while dropped during some processes, was pretty stable. I can try some steam games as well. If you list some that you have, I might have them as well.
 

Huntn

macrumors demi-god
May 5, 2008
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The Misty Mountains
Thank you all for your comments. I've ordered Windows 7 and Parallels just in case (it was for a considerable discount through OWC), but I'll try it on Bootcamp first. Sounds like that option gives me the best power for what I'm trying to do.
If you are going to run Windows in a virtual machine then Parallels Desktop is considered to be one of the best http://www.parallels.com/products/desktop/

And I would go with Windows 8.1 instead. More stable, faster, more secure, and uses less resources than 7.
Better performance on Windows using Bootcamp. I can't stand live tiles in W8, but I believe those can be turned off. Substantially less footprint?

You can go with either 7 or 8.1. You'll be fine with either. I use Win 7 on my iMac, as well as three other computers and I rarely have any issues. I wouldn't run any "modern" games in a virtual machine, such as Parallels. Use bootcamp and you'll enjoy the games. Make sure the games run decently with your hardware specs though.
I prefer W7.

I have a similar 2011 Mini (with less powerful graphics) and run Win 7 quite well in Bootcamp. Just make sure the Windows version you want to use is compatible with the Bootcamp in your version of OS X.
https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204048

Thank you all for your comments. I've ordered Windows 7 and Parallels just in case (it was for a considerable discount through OWC), but I'll try it on Bootcamp first. Sounds like that option gives me the best power for what I'm trying to do.
I believe Bootcamp is the best option. If I understand it correctly, with Parallels, MacOS is running in the background using up resources, hence for performance Bootcamp is a better option.
 
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ron7624

macrumors 68020
Oct 14, 2011
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Houston, Texas area
I bought Parallels, used it for a month and deleted it. It worked... but was in the way and klunky for me on a new MacMini- mid level - with plenty of horsepower. I doubt I'll be going back to Parallels. it did not work well for me at all.
 

iF34R

macrumors 65816
Jul 13, 2011
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South Carolina
I bought Parallels, used it for a month and deleted it. It worked... but was in the way and klunky for me on a new MacMini- mid level - with plenty of horsepower. I doubt I'll be going back to Parallels. it did not work well for me at all.
While that mac mini may meet the system requirements to run parallels, I doubt it has "plenty" of horsepower to do much more than light work.
 

TallManNY

macrumors 601
Nov 5, 2007
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Factor in 50GB of storage space on your bootcamp partition for your Windows OS build. It might be less than that, but it is better safe than sorry. After you set up the partition and load the system you won't be able to change the partition without doing it again. I set mine up with about 100Gb and it was quickly too small. Just Windows 7 and a giant game like Titanfall kind of filled me to the limit. I wish I'd given myself at least 150GB.

Also, smart move on buying cheap windows 7. You can get the free upgrade to Windows 10 in a few months.
 

ron7624

macrumors 68020
Oct 14, 2011
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Houston, Texas area
While that mac mini may meet the system requirements to run parallels, I doubt it has "plenty" of horsepower to do much more than light work.
I only need it for light work. I need windows for 1 financial program that doesn't require much horsepower, but Parallels wasn't worth the trouble to me.
So you are saying that 8 gigs of ram and 2.6 GHz Intel i5 based computer isn't enough horsepower to run Parallels?
I am relatively new to the world of Mac computing. So this is a serious question since you feel knowledgeable enough to make the above comment I hope to get a serious answer from you as to what is enough horsepower.
 
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Maxwill

macrumors member
May 25, 2015
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I second Parallels. Although virtualbox is free it just doesn't do it well, don't waste time on freeware especially when you want to get a virtual OS on Mac.
 

antonis

macrumors 68020
Jun 10, 2011
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I only need it for light work. I need windows for 1 financial program that doesn't require much horsepower, but Parallels wasn't worth the trouble to me.
So you are saying that 8 gigs of ram and 2.6 GHz Intel i5 based computer isn't enough horsepower to run Parallels?
I am relatively new to the world of Mac computing. So this is a serious question since you feel knowledgeable enough to make the above comment I hope to get a serious answer from you as to what is enough horsepower.
Under the context of virtual machines and gaming, results may vary greatly, even with enough horsepower. However, one problem I could see with your mac is that - unfortunately - the latest Mac Minis are dual core only. This leaves you without choice; you can allocate only one cpu core to the virtual machine (as you need to keep at least one core for the host). That of course is far from being ideal, for medium/heavy demanding games.
 
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madeirabhoy

macrumors 6502a
Oct 26, 2012
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Factor in 50GB of storage space on your bootcamp partition for your Windows OS build. It might be less than that, but it is better safe than sorry. After you set up the partition and load the system you won't be able to change the partition without doing it again. I set mine up with about 100Gb and it was quickly too small. Just Windows 7 and a giant game like Titanfall kind of filled me to the limit. I wish I'd given myself at least 150GB.

Also, smart move on buying cheap windows 7. You can get the free upgrade to Windows 10 in a few months.


having constantly had problems with my mini and not having enough space i made the decision when i got my imac that 1tb = 500gb mac and 500 gb windows, and anything that doesnt fit in those goes on external drive. i only use windows for gaming but 30 gigs for wolfenstein, 30 gigs for max payne 3, soon adds up, and as you say once youve set it its a pain to wipe and redo.
 

iF34R

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Jul 13, 2011
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Bootcamp is the way to go if you want to play PC games on Mac.
I strongly agree, but at times, it's just as easy to run it in bootcamp/parallels or parallels and works fine. I can play Diablo III via parallels with 60+ fps. I'm sure other games, newer wouldn't fare so well.