Optimizing Parallels Desktop for Mac for the best performance of a guest OS may seem to be largely a matter of customizing the performance of the guest OS itself, such as turning off visual effects in various Windows OSes. But before you start fine-tuning your Windows or other guest OS, you should first give the Parallels guest OS configuration options a tune-up. Only then can you get the best results from a guest OS.
In this guide, we're going to benchmark how well Windows 7 performs as a guest OS using Parallels Desktop 6 for Mac. We chose Windows 7 for a few reasons. It's the most current Windows OS available; it's available in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions, which makes it usable on just about all Intel Macs; and, perhaps most importantly, we just installed Windows 7 (64-bit) on Parallels to perform benchmark comparisons between Parallels, VMWare's Fusion, and Oracle's Virtual Box. With Windows 7 installed, along with our two favorite cross-platform benchmarking tools (Geekbench and CINEBENCH), we're ready to find out which settings have the most effect on guest OS performance.
Performance Tuning Parallels
We're going to test the following Parallels guest OS configuration options with our benchmark tools:
- Performance Caching Options (Faster Virtual Machine or Faster Mac)
- Adaptive Hypervisor Enabled or Disabled
- Tune Windows for Speed Enabled or Disabled
- Video RAM size
- 3D Acceleration
- Guest OS RAM Size
- Number of CPU/Cores
Of the above parameters, we expect RAM size and number of CPUs to play a prominent role in guest OS performance, and Video Ram Size and 3D Acceleration to play a smaller role. We don't think the remaining options will provide a significant boost to performance, but we've been wrong before, and it's not unusual to be surprised at what performance tests reveal.