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  1. #1


    Member Since
    May 27, 2008
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    making sense of parallels vs fusion debate
    okay, just to clarify, i've read many threads on what seems to be a very lively debate on parallels vs fusion and this isn't a "which is better per se". I'm just hoping to gather as much information as I can for an unfortunately rushed decision.

    i have recently (last week) purchased a macbook (2.0 ghz, 2gb ram, tiger 10.4). My original plan had been to test each of the two big VM players to see which I preferred (the favorite recommendation on EVERY forum I've read) for running XP.

    of course, life managed to get in the way. the thinkpad which I'd been developing an Access database on decided to quit two days ago. to add to the fun, the seal on my toilet broke... as if i wasn't having enough hardware issues already!

    of course, my deadline is tomorrow. hooray!

    I'm paranoid about backups so really, i only need to make a quick decision on VM ware. The devil is in the details as they say, and I know one WILL be better for me... I'm just trying to make the best guess I can so I don't have to switch again in a week or two or purchase licenses for both.

    I've read the links, wikipedia side-by-side and countless discussions, there really isn't a side-by-side breakdown in layperson terms on what seems to be a small amount of differences between the two. It also seems there are benchmarks that support each contestant as "the faster solution". And it's also unclear if Fusion tests are made using a single processor (as Parallels is limited to) or taking advantage of the multi processor... which if i understand correctly, is only an advantage on a system with a quad or greater core.

    I understand I'd probably be fine with either, but I'd like to guess right the first time to avoid any XP license issues etc. There are only three Windows Apps I need to run on the macbook: Visual Studio, MS Access and Sony's Vegas Video. I read someone had used Vegas with Parallels and had no problems, but I haven't found any user posts from a Fusion user who used Vegas...

    Am I digesting all the information correctly?
    - Parallels is better integrating the two OS into a unified experience (launching apps from the finder and multitasking between the two apps).

    - An informal tally seems more users have posted complaints about kernel panics with Parallels than Fusion.

    - Fusion has better portability with other platforms because the company already makes software for Windows and Linux and a virtual machine made with fusion can be easily used and moved on the different products.

    - Fusion seems to use/free resources more efficiently than Parallels does.

    Am I missing an important distinction?

    In a nutshell it seems Parallels wins if someone switches between the two OS to work on a particular project (i.e. Coherence seems to be better than Unity), but Fusion would be better if I wanted to work with more resource-intesive apps like Visual Studio and didn't care about switching between OS frequently.

    Does the version of OS X (tiger/leopard) have any impact on which would be the better choice? It seems Parallels might run better on Tiger than Fusion.

    Any thoughts or opinions or experiences would be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2

    cwa107's Avatar
    Member Since
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    Quote Originally Posted by discosammy View Post

    Am I digesting all the information correctly?
    - Parallels is better integrating the two OS into a unified experience (launching apps from the finder and multitasking between the two apps).
    I agree.

    - An informal tally seems more users have posted complaints about kernel panics with Parallels than Fusion.
    I have never had a kernel panic with either product, although Fusion seems to be a bit more stable.

    - Fusion has better portability with other platforms because the company already makes software for Windows and Linux and a virtual machine made with fusion can be easily used and moved on the different products.
    Agreed.

    - Fusion seems to use/free resources more efficiently than Parallels does.
    I don't see much of a difference.

    Am I missing an important distinction?

    In a nutshell it seems Parallels wins if someone switches between the two OS to work on a particular project (i.e. Coherence seems to be better than Unity), but Fusion would be better if I wanted to work with more resource-intesive apps like Visual Studio and didn't care about switching between OS frequently.
    The differences are pretty subtle, although I find Parallels is a bit more refined than Fusion. Parallels is also MUCH quicker about pausing and resuming a VM. Fusion can take just as long as the VM would need to cold boot. I actually own both and am starting to regret having purchased Fusion.


    Does the version of OS X (tiger/leopard) have any impact on which would be the better choice? It seems Parallels might run better on Tiger than Fusion.

    Any thoughts or opinions or experiences would be greatly appreciated.
    They run the same on either IMO. It really comes down to personal preference. VMWare is a pioneer in the VM industry and Parallels is a relative newcomer. VMWare's development cycle seems to be faster than Parallels and their Linux support is much stronger. Given the choice today, it would still be a tough call. I'd recommend trying both and seeing which you like better. Trial versions are available for both products.
    Liquid and computers don't mix. It might seem simple, but we see an incredible amount of people post here about spills. Keep drinks and other liquids away from your expensive electronics!

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  3. #3


    Member Since
    May 27, 2008
    Posts
    3
    thanks for the reply
    i've got the demos for both downloaded. i guess i'll start with parallels... the only give 15 days.

    i appreciate the reply.

  4. #4

    John F's Avatar
    Member Since
    Feb 11, 2007
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    193
    Fusion Parallels Linux
    FWIW I am running Ubuntu Linux on a 24" iMac via Parallels and on a Mac Mini using Fusion. Ubuntu on the Mac Mini seems to run a great deal better, with no bugs (however there are only a few on the iMac). Fusion however seems to have a difficult time finding and connecting to printers on a network.

    John F

  5. #5

    skaheadpunk's Avatar
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    Jan 12, 2008
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    I tried them both, decided I didn't really care which since I'm using Ubuntu and Windows 98... got fusion. Cos I liked the box better.

  6. #6


    Member Since
    Jul 13, 2007
    Posts
    7
    I have a Mac Pro and have used VMWare and Parallels. I bought VMWare because Parallels didn't support software dongles. Both work well, but this is not the answer to try to run something like Microsoft Flight Simulator or other program requiring heavy graphics support.

  7. #7


    Member Since
    Feb 12, 2008
    Posts
    937
    I preferred Unity to Coherence, actually, although I know I am in the minority. And I preferred the overall Fusion interface (again, a minority view). So it will likely be a matter of personal choice and trying both is the way to go. Fusion takes a few more seconds to "unsuspend" the Windows desktop but we're only talking about 5 seconds extra. I like the additional extensibility, configurability and free upgrades that Fusion has historically provided. But both are good and you really can't go wrong with either one, frankly. It's really a matter of style.

    Cheers

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