Whether to use Parallel or Boot camp

Discussion in 'Windows, Linux & Others on the Mac' started by GDief, May 22, 2010.

  1. GDief macrumors newbie

    May 21, 2010
    I am new to the mac. I have the new MBP I 7 2.8. I need to use Quickbooks in Windows format because my accountant only uses it in Windows. There are a few other things I may use windows for, occasional game or two etc. but I will mostly use the mac in the OS X.

    I've read so much about the parallel but I don't understand the difference and why would I use it over Bootcamp.
  2. bkap16 macrumors member

    Jan 11, 2009
    Parallels creates a virtual machine. It allows you to run Windows on virtual hardware instead of the actual hardware. It means you run Windows on top of OS X. So you can access both the Windows programs and the Mac programs at the same time, even copy and paste between them. Rather than splitting off a piece of your hard drive, Windows and everything in it is sitting on one big giant file. If you want to get rid of Windows, you just erase the file. The advantage of this is convenience- you can boot up Windows easily and just do a couple things, then switch back to your Mac stuff. The disadvantage is performance. Because it's running on virtual hardware, it's not going to be as good as if it was running on your actual hardware. The new version of Parallels has DirectX 9.0c support so you can play games on it, but I wouldn't recommend playing anything intensive because your frame-rate would get pretty low.

    Boot Camp isn't actually a program. It's the tools you use to dual-boot your computer. There's three pieces to it. The first is the Boot Camp Assistant, which partitions your hard drive to make room for Windows. The second is a compatibility layer in the firmware (you don't see this) because Windows uses the older BIOS to boot while Macs use EFI. The third part is a set of drivers for the Apple hardware, which comes on your OS X install disk. When you run this, your computer becomes an Apple-branded Windows machine. It's exactly the same as any other Windows machine running that hardware in terms of capabilities and performance. You can switch back and forth between Windows and OS X, but you must restart the computer to do so.
  3. MacDawg macrumors Core


    Mar 20, 2004
    "Between the Hedges"
    bkap16 has given you a good explanation
    You can also check out the MR Guide:Booting Windows on a Mac

    You can always download the trial versions of Fusion or Parallels for evaluation
    And you can create a Bootcamp partition and run it from Fusion or Parallels too, giving you the best of both options when you need it

    Personally, I have found Fusion to be all I need, but if you are going to game at all, you will probably want to Bootcamp
  4. GDief thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 21, 2010
    I still don't know what is the best way to go. Thanks for the great explanation. I am only going to use Windows for the accounting software and some games. Is the parallel easier to install and run since it's not actually physically on the computer? I don't have an real need to switch back and forth. I would just like something I can put on and run without too much trouble, although this is exactly why I have a mac.

    Secondly, can I run Windows in parallel or bootcamp on a separate hard drive? What would be the advantage or disadvantage ?

  5. extrovertus macrumors newbie

    Mar 30, 2009
    Boot Camp vs Fusion vs Parallels

    I have used all three approaches. A virtual machine (VM) is less 'intrusive' and I'd be surprised if it didn't run your package flawlessly. My personal opinion is that Parallels 5 currently has the edge over Fusion.

    If I have a Boot Camp for Windows then use that under a Virtual Machine, then I cannot just 'freeze' the VM - I have to formally close the Windows session running inside it first. This is not the end of the world - it just makes suspending/resuming a Windows app more awkward.

    So far, only graphically intensive 3D games have suffered when in my VMs.

    If your package will let you, then try it under Parallels and/or Fusion then make a decision. You can always go for Boot Camp later. Watch out for soft registered/activated software as you may end up having to plead with the supplier to let you reinstall it on a new VM or BC partition. Each VM appears as a new install!

    Hope this adds clarity rather than confusion!
  6. Hmac macrumors 68020

    May 30, 2007
    Midwest USA
    With either method, Windows is "physically on the computer". And...note that you can have Windows installed to run under BOTH Bootcamp and Parallels if you want.

    For Quicken for Windows, Parallels will work fine. It will run fast and that method has the advantage of running Windows and OSX side by side and ability to switch back and forth between the two, as opposed to BootCamp that requires rebooting to switch back and forth.

    Games on the other hand might be problematic, depending on which ones. 3D games and FPS games that require Direct X might be a problem since there is no good Direct X emulator.

    If I were you and this confused, I'd approach it by buying Parallels and Windows 7 OS and install under Parallels. If that doesn't work for you, you can discard the Windows partition and reinstall under BootCamp.
  7. balamw Moderator


    Staff Member

    Aug 16, 2005
    New England
    You mean the Windows VM, as there is no partition under Parallels, right?

    Note that Parallels offers a free trial, and Windows can also be configured in a 30 day trial mode (extendable to 120 days) just by not entering a product key, so you can (and should) try it all out before committing. If you don't already have one, you can download a W7 ISO from official sources from links I have posted before.

    No one touched this.

    The parallels VM is just a file. You can put that file on an external HDD or even a network drive, but HDD access will be limited by whatever bus you are using to connect the external. FW800 is probably fine USB2.0 a bit less so.

    Unless you have a Mac Pro where you can add a separate intenral HDD, you can't easily do Boot Camp on a separate drive.

  8. turbobass macrumors 6502

    May 25, 2010
    Los Angeles
    Care to elaborate?

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