Home > computer, hackintosh, software, windows > Parallels Vs Virtualbox

Parallels Vs Virtualbox

VirtualboxVMware fusionParallelsIn previous posts I compared VMware Fusion and Innotek Virtualbox, and looked at how both of these running Windows XP measured up to native apps on my hackintosh. To complete the testing of the big three Virtual Machine packages I have run the same tests on Parallels.

First up was boot time, measured from clicking the Virtual Machine start button to the appearance of the Windows XP taskbar. Vmware and Virtualbox had taken 21 seconds and 17 seconds, and Parallels took 18 seconds. Very close to the fastest result so no major surprises there. Geekbench was next, and Parallels 2,522 didn’t manage to best Virtualbox which still held the record with 2,885. The parallels score was very repeatable unlike VMware which was extremely inconsistent. The interesting point here was that Virtualbox running geekbench on XP maxed out one core of the processor at 100% while Parallels used all four cores for different parts of the test. I expected this would give it a boost but that wasn’t the case.

Moving onto the real world tests, here are the Photoshop CS3 results.

Radial Blur 100%
Charcoal filter 1,5,50
Water Paper filter 15,60,80

* – Mac filter used all four cores

* – Mac filter used one core

Nothing better or worse here, with parallels matching Virtualbox in all the tests. The previous lower results using geekbench wasn’t repeated once the rest of the system had an influence. The VLC video encoding results were just as close.

Convert 1280×720 Mpeg4 to 1280×720 Divx3

* – Mac filter used one core

So which of the three Virtual Machine packages should you choose? Parallels really goes to town with the host/guest OS integration. On top of dragging files between host and guest and the invisible guest mode you can select which OS should launch certain filetypes and launch Mac apps from the guest OS. VMware is fairly close in these abilities and Virtualbox lags but it is still beta software. The only problem I encountered with Parallels was the effect it had on native Mac apps with some slowdowns and sluggish behaviour when using spaces and expose. Since Virtualbox is free it’s still the one I would choose for occasional use. All three packages are free or offer free trials there’s no reason not to try all of them before deciding which to use. Click the icons at the start of the article to visit the download pages.

  1. kl
    June 25, 2008 at 11:49 pm

    I am disappointed that I spent money on Parallels.

    I have since moved on to VirtualBox (v1.6.2) and absolutely love it! I get much better performance and overall system response on VirtualBox than I ever received in Parallels.

    I am deleting Parallels from my Applications folder and I’m not looking back.

  2. farhaan
    September 16, 2008 at 1:54 am

    how does vbox compare with coherence features in parallels or unity in vmware

  3. Poppy
    October 17, 2008 at 1:32 am

    Thank you for providing your testing results!

  4. January 9, 2009 at 8:15 pm

    Great post… I’m an Ubuntu user and I’ve tried several VM packages (QEMU, VirtualBox, VMWare) and recently got a free copy of Parallels… which I’ll take a look to see if any of the features you describe for mac are also available for Linux… but I’ve got to say, VirtualBox has always been my favourite

  5. February 19, 2009 at 6:11 am

    Virtualbox is more demanding on my cpu where parallels is kinder by about 75% at any given time. I would have to agree that virtualbox is neat, fast and comprehensive but when compared with parallels, specifically 4.0 for mac, virtualbox keeps my macbookpro’s “c2d 2.33, 2G ram” fan screaming for hours as I use our lovely MLS system that has been designed to be IE compatible only.

    I would rather use Parallels Desktop for the simple fact that it is kinder on my cpu and the overall performs of my mbpro is much better especially when IE7 is running all sort of messy active control x based code for over 8 hours at a time.

  6. Jay
    June 7, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    I’ve used Parallels and Virtual Box in the recent past.
    For the record, this was all done on my MacBookPro 2.2 Duo Core with 2gb ram.

    I’ve been on Parallels for years and mostly w/out issue. I use mostly for XP Pro and office apps and have yet to find any huge issues. Each rendition of Parallels seems to make huge strides in performance.

    Recently (March – May 09), the one issue that I did have was that Parallels lacked the ability to run server editions w/o the need to buy new software.

    So I was turned on to Virtual Box which not only is free, but also supports servers. I thought this was too good to be true, and I guess in some ways it was, others it performed just awesome!

    1) Virtual Box installations: Ubunto, MS Server 2008, MS Server 03) All had versions installed that were ADS, IIS,
    2) VBox allowed for “intra-networking”, something I haven’t seen under the other virtual machines.
    This allowed for me to setup (IE give a name to network connection) with VBox managed as a virtual network. Not external connections, but allowed me to do all the Server testing I wanted in a safe non-internet zone and it was a beautiful thing!
    3) Important! RAM Mgmt: This is NOT dynamic, so you MUST manage your RAM allocation according to how you plan to use your VBox machines.
    I had 2gb RAM and at 1st I was allocation 1/2 to OS X, 1/2 to VBox, but once you added another VBox machine, you were out of RAM which will cause a machine to NOT be able to start until you make the needed adjustments. So with 2GB ram and 7 VBox Machines installed, knowing that I would be trying to test as many as possibly, each machine was alloted 256-350mb which actually was more than enough for small testing.

    Here are a few dislikes, followed by one very impressive plus!

    Few Dislikes:
    What I didn’t like about VBox was that despite installing “tools” like in Parallels, it’s attempt at sharing assigned resources (IE: h.drives, CD/DVD, USB, etc) would not not be allowed if another VBox was running and using them. While once the OS was installed I didn’t need such devices, This was annoying since you had to constantly mount and unmount each device.

    Window/screen size, I was NEVER able to find out how to increase the actual screen size in VBox. After installing tools I was able to increase the window size, but the screen itself still remain 800×640 which was a little annoying.
    There was a plugin for Ubuntu, but that required a manual install that I never seemed to get to work.

    The part that not only I, but my Prof. was impressed with is that I was able to run (at times) to run up to 5 VBox Machines with OS X. Yes, 6 OS’s running at one time and with uptimes as long as 5 days without so much as a blip (barring any small issues mentioned above).

    My mbp DID suck down some battery juice, but rarely ran fans at fullbore.
    In the end I was able to accomplish all my installs, and in total 7 projects that spanned from Directory Services, to ADS, to IIS Web services.

    So VBox came through where Parallels and I believe VMW may not, but it’s still a tad clunky. But Hey, It’s FREE & got me the A!!

  7. August 3, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    As of August 2009, I’m giving up on Parallels. While Parallels 3 works fine, going to 4 requires permission from Microsoft due to changes in the virtual machine, and I don’t see a point to hooking up with software that’s gotten more expensive and has a history of being rather buggy when I can avoid it. (I did pay for P4 but after a while I got tired of trying to make it work. I’m sure it’s fine now but it left a bad taste in my mouth.)

  8. sri
    October 26, 2009 at 5:02 pm

    I have installed vbox on my mbp. can anyone remember the commands to bring up the vbox, i am not sure what was the two keys that were assigned automatically when i installed..
    Can someone give more info on that or mail me at crsri@hotmial.com

  9. Diane Dalsimer
    August 7, 2011 at 8:25 pm

    I have been using VirtualBox and XP on Mac OS X. It runs my programs fine, but I haven’t been able to cut and paste or otherwise make the two systems communicate. In addition, I cannot access my USB ports from VirtualBox. Does anyone have suggestions for me? Would I be better off with Parallels? Thank you for any help you can offer.

  10. MikeA
    December 31, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    Wish I knew about VirtualBox a year ago when I bought Parallels to run Windows. I’ve since configured Chromium on VirtualBox and love it! Parallels is a big pain in the “A” to use and isn’t anywhere near as configurable as VirtualBox. I also know a lot of people love it, but I hate the Parallels coherence mode, if I wanted my Mac OS to run like Windows I would have bought a Windows computer in the first place.I much prefer to keep Windows confined within a single window (virtual machine) where it belongs. Coherence is both invasive and it bogs down the Mac OS; definitely the worst thing Parallels every did.

  11. i love vbox
    August 25, 2012 at 6:12 am

    vbox is my man 🙂

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