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Vander Level 1 Level 1 (45 points)
I don't know if this is the correct place to ask this, but I am thinking about purchasing a Mac Book Pro, and getting Windows 7. I have heard that Boot Camp works better than Parallels. Does anyone have experience with either or both of these programs?
  • The hatter Level 9 Level 9 (60,790 points)
    Forums for installing and other related topics, Windows on Mac:

    Parallels I have never used, have used VMware and Sun's VirtualBox.

    Running Windows natively will of course be faster and better use of your hardware.
  • donv (The Ghost) Level 5 Level 5 (4,600 points)
    I have an MBP with Boot Camp/Win 7 installed. I think that "real" installations tend to have fewer problems than virtual ones. Also, one does not have to dedicate memory to a real installation since only one installation can run at a time. If you do a real install, I would also use MacDrive ( on your Windows install. MacDrive is an excellent program that allows one to read and write Apple format drives, including the Mac partition that will live on your internal drive.
  • Rob Francis Level 2 Level 2 (155 points)
    Though I haven't used it with SL, I can vouch for using Parallels with Leopard. The real bonus is if you ever have the need to be running the Mac OS and windows all at the same time. Also, my arrangement was using XP, not windows 7.
  • college_kid491 Level 1 Level 1 (140 points)
    Boot Camp will always be faster then parallels.

    Why? Because certain amounts of memory are set aside for each OS, so you won't be using your full resources when using a VM in general, same with parallels.

    That being said, parallels was designed to run them side by side for saving time. I recommend the VM over bootcamp if you won't be gaming (or semi modern gaming). If you plan on running a 3d intensive game or heavy process (video editing, etc) then you will have a more enjoyable experience with bootcamp.
  • dechamp Level 4 Level 4 (3,495 points)
    My own experience of using Parallels with WinXP, Vista, and Win7 on a MacBookPro has been quite different. I don't need any special programs like MacDrive or MacFuse to write or share files between the OS's - just drag and drop. I don't need many programs installed - especially email programs or other programs like Adobe Reader - with the inherent security issues.

    I'm using Windows OS's for a couple of necessary features, like using Internet Explorer to access a clients ActiveX based Video Monitoring Equipment, Testing a client's proprietary MS Access based database, Working with a Server 2008 admin account and a few other things that will only work with Windows or requires ActiveX. Games are not important at all for my work.

    My Parallels was able to install Win7 from the .iso file that Microsoft provided for their extented testing. No disc required. My backups are a dream, just drag the VM to another drive.

    I didn't have to dedicate a partition on my drive, that I have to remove if I quit using Windows. I can assign the proper amount of ram for an OS to use and still have ram left over for my Mac, and I can assign how many CPU cores the VM will use if I need better performance.

    Parallels has proven to support new OS's faster than Apple (but that's their main job). The networking has been very compatible with every system that I've had to connect to, even some that confused Leopard and SL.

    I look at it as a percentage of time requirement. If I needed a full fledged windows machine more than a couple of minutes a day, I'd just get one of these cheap $500 PC laptop beaters which comes with a free copy of Win7.

    I suppose that improvements in the VM programs themselves have enabled me to find this level of compatibility, and earler v2 and 3 setups had several issues like USB device management, etc, but I don't find that to be true this year, with SL, Parallels 5, and the latest updated versions of Windows (name a flavor).
  • donv (The Ghost) Level 5 Level 5 (4,600 points)
    I am glad it has gone so well for you. I had trouble with parallels right off. For the life of me, I could not get 4.0 to VM the Win7 install from an HP laptop on my MPB with both connected to my network via gigabit Ethernet. The problem might have been trying to install Win7 using 4.0, but I couldn't get things to get to the point where any sort of install would occur. I wish there was an upgrade to 5.0. Then, I might like to try it again. One thing I especially like about VMs, especially Window's VMs, is the enhanced security provided.
  • Kappy Level 10 Level 10 (255,570 points)
    Why? Because certain amounts of memory are set aside for each OS, so you won't be using your full resources when using a VM in general, same with parallels.

    What does this mean? Are you saying that a VM uses memory while running Windows natively does not?

    Whatever memory is used by the VM that memory is protected from the memory used by OS X, so I'm not sure what you are implying by your statement.

    If you're simply implying that running Windows natively provides access to all the system RAM, that is true only to the extent that the version of Windows you are using can access that memory.
  • Peter Miller Level 4 Level 4 (1,965 points)
    I have experience with both, may I also suggest you give *VMWare Fusion* a test?
  • college_kid491 Level 1 Level 1 (140 points)
    If you run 2 OS's side by side, its splitting your resources, regardless if its idle or not. It separates a section of memory being used by OSX just for the emulation.

    Why does this matter? Generally it won't, but if you have 2 gig's of ram, your windows emulation can't use it all. Your OSX and applications will still have some, as they run side by side. If you don't have alot of system resources to dip into it becomes more of a burden. Think of all the 'idle' programs you run on your windows side (antivirus, firewall, office pre launch, etc) which will take memory regardless, then add on a game or vector graphics. The refresh rate of opening large vector graphic are slow on their own, without the limitations of a vm gobbling up cpu power.

    If you run windows natively, you are running just windows. It will seperate the same amount of memory it would in the vm on the windows end. The difference is you don't have OSX or its processes (like photoshop, imovie, etc) on top of it. Not to mention Parallels has a infamous 'messy' memory usage, on top video refresh rates on intensive 3d graphics won't be as fast (although they do get a little closer every time, amazed what they got so far).

    If you don't believe me or it doesn't make sense I can post a link...

    Message was edited by: college_kid491
  • Kappy Level 10 Level 10 (255,570 points)
    I'm just trying to understand what you wrote which as it stands is a bit confusing - not well written.

    You are, however, overlooking the fact that if you run Windows on a machine with 4 GBs (because you should not be running VM software on a machine with only 2 GBs unless the VM is limited to XP) and run Windows with 1 GB of RAM allocated for the VM, plus the VM software and video memory, you would still have sufficient RAM to allocate at least 1 GB (and slightly more) to OS X. Thus, both operating systems are running with about the same amount of RAM in a preemptive multi-tasking/threading system. Other than the fact that the VM cannot provide the access to hardware accelerated graphics, the two would run similarly for the most part. This is the reason graphics isn't as good, not how much RAM is available. You are seeing changes in that with each new VM version. Some 3D acceleration is now in the mix.

    If you have only 2 GBs of RAM your VM can use every bit as much as you're willing to allocated to it. You're limited only by the minimum requirements of OS X. If you run Snow that's 1 GB, but it would be silly to run Snow on just a 2 GB machine whether you used VM software or not.

    Of course if you run Windows XP natively you can't use that much RAM anyway. You could with Vista of course.

    As for system resources a multi-tasking OS is quite capable of allocating resources between idle and active processes as well as using virtual memory to page idle processes and free up RAM. I think you give too little credit to how effective VM software and OS X are in providing an environment that is nearly the same as the native one except for making all the computer's RAM available. But then if that were important why use VM?
  • college_kid491 Level 1 Level 1 (140 points)
    You essentially are saying the exact thing I just said.... is it so hard to say you agree but have some points to make? Although sorry it doesn't meet your reading standards... thought splitting resources between the 2 OS's was pretty clear and strait forward.

    ... It's the same thing I said, so I agree. Lol, Although I never said the ram was the single reason for 3d graphics being behind, I said, system resources. As in a VM, graphic acceleration is done through software, using cpu, but to a larger extent the ram would be used to cache the information for the cpu, which is still a bit of a waste of ram that wouldn't be used if run natively.

    Running them side by side will be pretty close to running them natively, as you stated, its the processes you add on from there that build up to becoming a burden that will slow your computer.

    Lol, Again, I don't get where I said it was useless... I didn't. As I said in my first post, its a great and invaluable tool, but it has draw backs for more intensive programs. I even use a vm myself, but for many people they can't because they need every resource they can squeeze out of their system for the examples I listed (vector graphics, games, video editing, to just name a few).

    Message was edited by: college_kid491
  • Dave Dahle Level 1 Level 1 (60 points)
    I went the Boot Camp route when I first switched over from the PC world. As I learned OS X's features and included apps and started finding OS X equivalents for all my PC apps, I started to find rebooting between OS X and XP to be cumbersome and so looked to a virtual PC as my solution for running those few PC apps I still have for which no Mac equivalent exists.

    I chose Parallels and generally speaking, it has worked well (versions 3, 4, and now 5). I say generally only because I did have a couple hiccups using a few older builds, but that's long past.

    I think it all comes down to how much time you expect to be using Windows - if just part-time for a few specific apps, a virtualization app like VMWare or Parallels would do, but if you're looking to use Windows full-time, then Boot Camp may be better, IMHO.
  • secretmantra Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    I realize this is well after the date of the original post, but oh well.

    I have experience using both Parallels and Boot Camp. Here are my observations.

    Parallels is terrific and easy to use, so long as the Windows software you are needing to work in is not heavily resource-demanding, in terms of the video card and the processor. If you are using a resource-heavy program, like a video game, or a graphics creator like 3DS Max, you will run into performance problems. Depending on the individual program, you might get it to run but only very sluggishly, or it may not run at all. You don't get full use of the Mac's normally excellent visual processing power.

    Boot Camp is much better for resource-heavy programs, which work well. I am able to run 3DS Max and games like Fallout 3 and Aion with no problems whatsoever. The downside to Boot Camp is having to restart any time I need to use programs on the Mac OS. I have gotten used to it, but I know others will have an issue with this. The unfortunate fact is that Boot Camp is really the only decent game in town for running the kinds of programs I have described above, if you want to run them on your Mac.
  • Monty1945 Level 3 Level 3 (690 points)

    I'm using Parallels 5, and Fusion 3, on two different machines, and they both work fine, and better than BootCamp. The biggest problem with BootCamp is that you have to reboot the Mac to use the WInblows load.

    I have also used Sun's Virtualbox, and it's free - actually I've never had any issues with it either.

    Parallels is the easiest to install and set up, and is pretty fool proof. The main reason for Fusion, is we're heavy into Vmware at work.

    If money is an issue, then go with Virtualbox.

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