Virtual Box vs. VMware vs. Parallels

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by jthomasa, May 22, 2010.

  1. jthomasa macrumors newbie

    May 6, 2010
    I've gotten a copy of Windows 7, but I'm not sure which virtual machine to load. Has anyone used these three? Virtual box is a free download so it has that in it's favor. I definitely need the ability to drag and drop files from one desktop to the other as I will not be installing Microsoft Office on the vm (I already have it on OS X).

    I'm new to this so any help is appreciated. I'm mostly using it for work, as my 'smart card' drivers only work in Windows.

  2. cluthz macrumors 68040


    Jun 15, 2004
    I've always used Vmware (since before osx on other systems to run solaris) that's why I still use it.

    I would recommend trying virtualbox first and see if it is up to your expectations and if you are happy just stay with it since it's free.

    Vmware has a 30 day free trial, so try it out if your not happy with virtualbox
  3. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Virtual box - free, not as fast as vmware or parallels. It also has less features then its paid brethren

    Parallels - fastest amongst the three, but generally buggy and typically has stability issues. Parallels gets updates more frequently adding new features, but those updates tend to be unstable and introduce more bugs. People complain about the lack of support as well

    VMware, not as fast as parallels, but more stable. Update cycle is less frequent then parallels but generally those updates are more stable. The features that are added are generally fully functioning. Vmware also as a great reputation for support

    I've used all three, and prefer vmware, partly for the great support, but mostly because its a solid product. I was getting tired of the BSODs and Kernel panics with Parallels.
  4. Middling macrumors regular

    Jan 25, 2009
    I bought both VMware and Parallels when they first came out on the Mac, but VMware is the one i finally settled on and still use.

    However i only really still use VMware because i have already paid for it. If i was starting with a virtualisation solution now i'd probably go for Virtualbox.

    I believe all three of them support Drag 'n' Drop if you install each products addons.

    Like cluthz says there's no reason you can't try all three and pick the one you most prefer.
  5. dyn macrumors 68030

    Aug 8, 2009
    If you really need drag 'n drop than VirtualBox is no longer an option because it still does not support it (the other two do). Parallels and Fusion are on par though I find Fusion to be a lot more stable. Fusion also supports a bit more "exotic" OS's but not many people will use such an OS. Both have trial versions so you can decide for yourself which one meets your demands/needs.
  6. MacDawg macrumors Core


    Mar 20, 2004
    "Between the Hedges"
    I am a VMware Fusion fan, but you should download the trials of both Parallels and Fusion and try them for yourself. Your mileage may vary compared to the setups others have.

    I would stay away from VirtualBox myself, unless you are just doing the most basic of functions. Everyone likes the free price tag, but as usual, you get what you pay for in this regard.
  7. leelk4 macrumors newbie

    Apr 15, 2010
    I paid for VMware without trying the other two. I would said it was a bad choice.

    VMware Fusion 3 is VERY, VERY, VERY, VERY bad for the graphic. I tried Parallel, so much better!

    I tried playing Warcraft 3, the following problems encountered on VMware Fusion 3:
    1. In full screen mode, you cant change the resolution in game. I don't know what's the problem. Parallel has no such problem.

    2. In non-full screen mode, the colour sucks. Looks like 8-bit colour, seeing all the artefacts clearly. Parallel's display super smooth, true 32-bit.

    3. When you move the mouse out of the VMware window, it goes out of VMware environment directly. Parallel trapped it properly. Not saying Parallel doesn't allow you to move the mouse in-and-out directly. But in gaming, somehow it is smart enough to trap the cursor.

    When not playing game, and was in VMware Fusion's unity mode, you can see the cursor flickering, and moving the cursor was experiencing delay. Sometime when your Microsoft Window's application window is enlarged for sometime, VMware warned you that it experienced bad performance! From time to time, pop-up window couldn't be seen properly, there was an overlay over the window. You have to retry to get the window pop-up.

    If you want to use Mac and Window application concurrently, and if you are dealing with some form of graphics, don't choose VMware Fusion 3. I paid for it, I regretted my choice. Believe me. And I have no way to get support from VMware. sucks.
  8. cloroxbleach4 macrumors 6502a


    Dec 28, 2007
    Just got my copy of Windows 7 also. I tried both parallels and vmware and I could never get all of the features to work with parallels so I switched to vmware and it's a lot easier to use in my opinion.
  9. MikhailT macrumors 601

    Nov 12, 2007
    3.1 is in RC stage right now, it should improve the graphics a lot.
  10. cluthz macrumors 68040


    Jun 15, 2004
    I can't really comment too much on gaming performance, but people gaming in a virtualization environment is a rare.

    Bootcamp offer much better gaming performance, and WarCraft 3 is also available for mac osx.

    I'm using VMware in unity mode all the time and it servers me just fine.
    I'm still on version 2 tho, since it does work pretty much for everything I do, so a $39 upgrade to v3 isn't worth it at this time.
  11. dyn macrumors 68030

    Aug 8, 2009
    Which is exactly the same :) I haven't seen any colour problems with Fusion since the first ever public beta some 2+ years ago.

    In Fusion's preferences you need to enable the game optimisation for the mouse. When enabled it will trap the mouse properly.

    Haven't seen any of those but I have seen the problem with windows and expose. When one window is on top of another things go a bit wonky when you hit F9 (or F3 for those that use the new keyboard). I think the delay is caused by slow harddrive and insufficient memory.

    When looking at OpenGL it seems Fusion is better than Parallels. I have seen a lot of people switching to Fusion just because of that. However, Parallels supports more DirectX stuff and OpenGL in Linux (so you can do al the nifty desktop effects) which makes it a bit better suited for gaming.

    In the end you should never pay for something without test driving it first. That's just stupid. If you want to test drive Fusion be sure to check out the 3.1 RC version, this will give you an idea what the upcoming 3.1 release will bring along (it will be a free upgrade for 3.0). One of the biggest improvements is speed.
  12. talmy macrumors 601


    Oct 26, 2009
    I've used Parallels since virtually the beginning, I got it in November 2006. I've been through all the versions, and each one becomes less buggy and more stable. Now at version 5 it upgraded my version 4 VMs flawlessly and they all work (Windows 2000, XP, 7, and Ubuntu 8.04 and 10.04) without issues. I've tried the VMWare Fusion trials a couple of times in the past but had import problems and found it less well integrated into OS X. Never had a reason to switch.
  13. leelk4 macrumors newbie

    Apr 15, 2010
    Rare gaming in VMware environment is not an excuse, when Parallel runs it perfectly fine. Availability of WarCraft 3 in Mac OSX is not an excuse. This is just an example. If the graphics performance is lousy, just admit it.

    Also, it never remember the resolution setting I set. Everything I start up the VMware, I have to re-adjust the resolution each time I start up.

    I just downloaded version 3.1. flickering problem seems to have been address. But graphics 5x faster? Sure not! In full screen mode, I am still experiencing lag, jittering effect. Mouse is noticeably delay for 0.2 - 0.3 seconds.

    BTW, I am running it on iMac 27" Core i7. HW not up to par? sure not, it is the software!!!
  14. Rawn macrumors newbie

    May 26, 2010
    I tried Parallels but found it to be too unstable for my liking, so I got VMWare Fusion. Absolutely love it. I only really use it for running 3D Studio Max these days, but it does a very good job at that.

    My brother uses Parallels for running incredibly intense programs like Solidworks and it mostly works for him. He complains about it being slow but he doesn't listen when I tell him to just use bootcamp and run it natively.

    So take that as you will. We both use different programs but like them equally. To be fair though, I tried Parallels 3 I think, so it's probably improved since then.
  15. roadbloc macrumors G3


    Aug 24, 2009
    Unless your doing gaming, I'd say VirtualBox is fine.

    All these features that come with Parallels and VMWare are just pointless gimmiks in my mind. VirtualBox runs a virtual machine fine, either full screen or in a window. It is much lighter on system resources than commercial VM clients and just simply 'does the job'.
  16. Winni macrumors 68030


    Oct 15, 2008

    I've used them all. You want to use VMWare Fusion.
  17. sergus macrumors newbie

    Apr 24, 2010
    Which one is better with Linux? I do not worry about Windows. :D

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