Parallels Desktop 6 for Mac operating system

Parallels Desktop 6 for Mac: A versatile package for running Windows and Linux on a Mac without rebooting

Parallels Desktop 6 for Mac
  • Parallels Desktop 6 for Mac
  • Parallels Desktop 6 for Mac
  • Parallels Desktop 6 for Mac
  • Expert Rating

    4.50 / 5


  • Linux compatible; fast; lots of tweaks available


  • Sneaking the third-party MacFUSE app into the system without clearly asking permission

Bottom Line

Parallels 6 is a slick and fast package to run Windows and Linux operating systems on Intel Macs. The new version feels faster, even if the WorldBench 6 test showed little difference to the latest Vware Fusion 3.1.2. Hundreds of tweaks are available although we’d prefer to see some easier access to configurations in full-screen mode. Its Linux compatability means this is one virtualization package we can’t live without.

Would you buy this?

Performance of Parallels Desktop 6 for Mac

In terms of raw performance, Parallels 5 was already ahead of VMware Fusion 3 in most areas. Parallels Desktop 6 for Mac sees that gap widen, even if our tests didn't quite underscore that as much as others' benchmarks.

We used a test machine comprising Apple MacBook Pro (Mid 2010) with 2.4GHz Core i5-520M, nVidia GeForce GT 330M graphics with 256MB DDR3 video memory, 256GB WD SiliconEdge Blue SSD and 8GB DDR3-1066 RAM.

To test performance of Parallels Desktop 6 for Mac, we compared benchmark results on the same machine of Windows 7 32-bit. The same Windows OS was installed and measured in four ways – a native Boot Camp partition; a virtual machine running in VMware Fusion 3.1.2, another VM in Parallels 5.0.9376, and a final VM in Parallels 6.0.11992. Each VM was set to run with one processor with 2GB of RAM.

The best case example ought to be a native boot into Windows, as there's no overhead with simultaneously running a full Mac OS at the same time. At least, that would be the logical deduction. And sure enough, in our real-life Windows speed test with WorldBench 6, Boot Camp romped home with 121 points.

VMware Fusion 3 was slower here with 102 points, while in this test, Parallels 5 lagged behind again with 92 points. But in this test, Parallels 6 only pulled level with VMware, ending with the same overall score of 102 points.

Graphics tests gave some even more interesting results. We used our FEAR game as a benchmark, where the MacBook Pro could play at an average 56fps with Windows 7 installed natively.

Virtualised, the same game scored a 34fps average in VMware Fusion, while even the older Parallels 5 could effectively match the Boot Camp performance, at 55fps.

Bizarrely, Parallels Desktop 6 for Mac returned a score that exceeded the performance of native booting, reaping an average framerate of 71fps.

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