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Benchmark: Parallels, Fusion, and VirtualBox: How Do They Compare?

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Virtualization Benchmark Test: Benchmark Results for VMWare Fusion 3.0
Virtualization Benchmark Test - Parallels Desktop for Mac, VMWare Fusion,and Sun VirtualBox

We marked the Windows XP single processor results in Fusion's benchmark test as invalid, after memory and stream results scored 25 times better than the host.

We used the latest version of VMWare Fusion (Fusion 3.0). We installed fresh copies of Fusion, Windows XP SP3, and Windows 7. We chose these two Windows OSes for testing because we think Windows XP represents the vast majority of current Windows installations on OS X, and that in the future, Windows 7 will be the most common guest OS running on the Mac.

Before testing began, we checked for and installed any available updates for both the virtual environment and the two Windows operating systems. Once everything was up to date, we configured the Windows virtual machines to use a single processor and 1 GB of memory. We shut down Fusion, and disabled Time Machine and any startup items on the Mac Pro not needed for the testing. We then restarted the Mac Pro, launched Fusion, started one of the Windows environments, and performed the two sets of benchmark tests. Once the tests were complete, we copied the results to the Mac for later use.

We then repeated the restart and launch of Fusion for the benchmark tests of the second Windows OS.

Finally, we repeated the above sequence with the guest OS set to use 2 and then 4 CPUs.

Benchmark Scores

GeekBench 2.1.4

Windows XP SP3 (1,2,4 CPU): *, 3252, 4406

Windows 7 (1,2,4 CPU): 2388, 3174, 4679

CineBench R10

Windows XP SP3

Rendering (1,2,4 CPU): 2825, 5449, 9941

Shading (OpenGL) (1,2,4 CPU): 821, 821, 827

CineBench R10

Windows 7

Rendering (1,2,4 CPU): 2843, 5408, 9657

Shading (OpenGL) (1,2,4 CPU): 130, 130, 124

We ran into problems with Fusion and the benchmark tests. In the case of Windows XP with a single processor, GeekBench reported memory stream performance at a rate better than 25 times the rate of the host Mac Pro. This unusual memory result bumped the GeekBench score for the single CPU version of Windows XP to 8148. After repeating the test many times and getting similar results, we decided to mark the test as invalid and consider it an interaction issue between the benchmark test, Fusion, and Windows XP. As best as we can tell, for the single CPU configuration, Fusion was not reporting the correct hardware configuration to the GeekBench application. However, GeekBench and Windows XP performed flawlessly with two or more CPUs selected.

We also had a problem with Fusion, Windows 7, and CineBench. When we ran CineBench under Windows 7, it reported a generic video card as the only available graphics hardware. While the generic graphics card was able to run OpenGL, it did so at a very poor rate. This may have been the result of the host Mac Pro having an old NVIDIA GeForce 7300 graphics card. Fusion’s system requirements suggest a more modern graphics card. We found it interesting, however, that under Windows XP, the CineBench shading test ran without any issues.

Other than the two quirks mentioned above, Fusion’s performance was on par with what we expected from a well-designed virtual environment.

Detailed results of the benchmark tests are available in the Virtualization Benchmark Test gallery.

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