Benchmark Deathmatch: Parallels Desktop Version 5 versus Version 6

   Posted by David Kirk in Apple Mac

The extremely popular Parallels Desktop is a virtualization solution that allows Mac users to run Windows applications. Every subsequent version promises performance gains. During our upgrade, we decided to do a little benchmarking to see if our performance saw their promised improvement.

Many Mac users try out parallels to run Windows-based games. Parallels frequently pushes out paid updates that claim to improve speed and video features.

We tested Parallels Desktop Version 5 versus Version 6 on one of our Macbook Pro machines.

Here are the video claims for Version 6:

– 80% faster 3D graphics in the Coherence, Full Screen, and Window modes
– Up to 80% faster than in Parallels Desktop 5

the benefits that parallels claims

Eighty-percent is pretty impressive!

We used the standard benchmarking program 3dMark06 for our tests.

Testing System:

System Model Parallels Software International Inc. Parallels Virtual Platform
Processor Intel(R) Core(TM)2 Duo CPU T9600 @ 2.80GHz
Physical Memory 2 GB
Graphic Parallels Display Adapter (WDDM)
Video Memory 264 MB
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium (6.1.7600) 64-bit
Application 3DMark06 – Professional Edition

This is the maximum video memory allowed. Two GB is the high end of memory recommended.


Version 6 vs (Version 5) **percent change**

< Main Test Results >
3DMark Score 1,334.0 (1,035) 3DMarks**+29%**
SM2.0 Score 464.0 (477)
HDR/SM3.0 Score 504.0 (263) **+92%**
CPU Score 1,272.0 (1,279)
Game Score 0.0 (0.0) points

< SM2.0 Graphics Tests >

GT1 - Return To Proxycon 3.5 (3.6) FPS
GT2 - Firefly Forest 4.2 (4.3) FPS

< CPU Tests >

CPU1 - Red Valley 0.4 (0.4) FPS
CPU2 - Red Valley 0.6 (0.6) FPS

< HDR/SM3.0 Graphics Tests >

HDR1 - Canyon Flight 4.2 (1.9) FPS **+121%**
HDR2 - Deep Freeze 5.9 (3.3) FPS **+79%**

< Feature Tests >

Fill Rate - Single-Texturing 1,317,167,602.5 (1,325,438,354.5) texels/s
Fill Rate - Multi-Texturing 1,656,471,801.8 (1,649,656,494.1) texels/s
Pixel Shader 33.7 (32.6) FPS
Vertex Shader - Simple 65,924,110.4 (67,047,706.6) vertices/s
Vertex Shader - Complex 27,637,559.9 (28,535,263.1) vertices/s
Shader Particles (SM3.0) 15.2 (-1.0) FPS
Perlin Noise (SM3.0) 15.0 (3.3) FPS

< Batch Size Tests >

8 Triangles 745,998.8 (600,352.6) triangles/s
32 Triangles 2,723,455.9 (2,172,276.5) triangles/s
128 Triangles 11,718,804.4 (8,095,548.6) triangles/s
512 Triangles 46,427,562.7 (32,311,672.2) triangles/s
2048 Triangles 66,384,063.7 (66,035,568.2) triangles/s
32768 Triangles 68,376,327.5 (67,817,832.9) triangles/s


I’m a huge fan of Parallels. Version 6 provides a ton of new features and has an overall better feel.

Version 6 certainly supports Shader Model 3 (SM3) now and that shows up in the scores. Almost every SM3 score in the benchmarks show impressive improvements. Games that heavily depend on Shader Model 3 should see visible gains. Other games are unlikely to see large benefits.


About David Kirk

David Kirk is one of the original founders of tech-recipes and is currently serving as editor-in-chief. Not only has he been crafting tutorials for over ten years, but in his other life he also enjoys taking care of critically ill patients as an ICU physician.
View more articles by David Kirk

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  • NoFoam

    You say there are a ton of new features with Parallels 6. What are those features? 10.6 Snow Leopard was already supported under 5.