Parallels, Performance and Buying

Discussion in 'Parallels Desktop for Mac' started by niteowl, Jun 8, 2007.

  1. niteowl

    niteowl

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    I am planning on a purchase of a MacBook or a MacBook Pro. For my needs a MacBook suffices, almost. My question hinges on Parallels and the performance of Windows Vista on the MacBook. In his recent review of Parallels David Pogue stated that running Vista, under Parallels, on the MacBook, was sluggish. Is this truly the case even with 2GB? Does Coherence bog down when one is using both OS X and Vista at the same time?

    My main work in Vista would be relegated to Visual Studio and development work in ASP.NET. For that matter Aero and gaming is of no concern to me, though it would be appreciated if the former feature works well. Can I stick with a MacBook or must I upgrade to a MacBook Pro? A lot of any answer to this question will be subjective, and I appreciate that, but does anyone have appropriate benchmarks of some kind? Will I really need more than the 2GB of RAM that the MacBook offers down the line? All help is appreciated in this decision. Thank you.
     
  2. macosnerd

    macosnerd

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    I think performance is going to be sluggish. Do in part to the fact that Vista is huge and bloated. Also as you can see by the numerious threads here 3.0 has issues.

    I've been running (on a macpro) vista and it zips along. I'd recommend you try using bootcamp to see if that suits your needs.
     
  3. iduff

    iduff Product Expert

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    I would strongly suggest getting a machine capable of holding 3GB RAM. My 1st gen MacBook Pro has 2GB and I am constantly playing memory games to prevent paging to disk.
     
  4. AlanH

    AlanH Kilo Poster

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    If you think a MacBook "suffices, almost" today, then don't buy it unless you expect to resell it within a year. Most people keep their Macs for longer than most PC owners - it's one of the factors that makes a Mac's total cost of ownership so good. Your needs will grow. Compare what you need now with what you needed a couple or three years ago. IMHO you should always by a Mac with headroom - either in expandability or in initial capacity.
     
  5. niteowl

    niteowl

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    I wish I could use Windows XP for the next four years, I seriously do. What keeps me away from a MBP is also the inability to upgrade the hard drive, like the MB. Thank you both for your comments.

    macosnerd: Has you sluggishness occurred only since the installation of 3.0? Did 2.5 hold the same sluggishness? Moreover, does the sluggishness remain when Aero (which I imagine to be the biggest memory hog) is turned off? BootCamp is not an option, because I will not buy a MB or MBP and then relegate myself to Vista alone :)

    iduff: How much ram do you allocate to Vista? Are you running something disk intensive in OS X, say movie rendering or some such? I imagine that while I am in Parallels the gamut of Safari, Mail, iCal, iChat and iTunes will probably run. Do even those applications create such a large overhead?

    Thank you again.
     
  6. gideony

    gideony

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    The interface can be pretty slow on a Macbook. I've two gigs in mine, 512 is about all you want to give the vm. Vista was awful when I was testing it, UNTIL I made the interface go back to the basics. Once it looked like Windows 95, everything was just fine. I've not really had any problems running any apps under those conditions.

    But XP does work much better.
     
  7. iduff

    iduff Product Expert

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    I run XP, not Vista, at least not yet. XP for now, until all of my crucial Windoze apps run in Vista, then I'll prolly switch.

    Ive come to allocate 768MB to XP, after diddling quite a bit, anywhere from 512MB to 1GB.

    I run quite a few trivial apps in OS X, like Mail, iCal, Address Book, Camino, plus some relative memory hogs, like Merlin and Daylite, plus Parallels. 2GB here is not quite enough, forcing me to unload apps on occasion, and other memory management games.

    I would heed AlanH's comment about getting a computer with headroom. I loaded up my MBP when I got it just over one measly year ago, max RAM, max disk, max processor speed, and I'm running out of all three.
     
  8. niteowl

    niteowl

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    You know I would love to upgrade to a MBP, but it seems Apple likes to pose conundrums. You can upgrade to a MB where the RAM is not upgradeable, but the HDD is, or you can upgrade to a MBP where the RAM is upgradeable, but not the HDD. Seriously, it drives me insane, because I know that I will outgrow 160 GB in a year, as my home folder now inches just over 90 GB. Add to that a 60 GB partition for Parallels and I have filled up 90% of my disk space. So, I cannot even come close to making a decision, which is why I was hoping to hinge this on Parallels.

    From all your suggestions it seems that the MBP is the only route to go, where RAM expandability is an option. Thanks a lot everyone.
     
  9. AlanH

    AlanH Kilo Poster

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    With that much dependency on your hard drive you really don't want a 4800 RPM drive, which is the only 200 GByte option in either portable product line. Disk speed becomes a major bottleneck on otherwise fast systems

    You really need external storage, if only to back up that 90 GBytes of home folder. An external drive (200 GBytes plus) can do that, and with an extra drive you can maybe offload some of the stuff you don't actually need while you are on the road.
     
  10. David5000

    David5000

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    That would seem to be logical, but this article has some interesting test results that point to a different conclusion: <http://www.barefeats.com/mbcd7.html>.

    If I am reading this right, a 160 GB 7200 rpm drive with 90 GB of data on it (56% full) may not perform better--or at least not significantly so--than a 200 GB 4200 rpm drive with the same amount of data (45% full). With more data, the speed difference will tilt in favor of the 200 GB drive.

    David
     
  11. David5000

    David5000

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    312
    That would seem to be logical, but this article has some interesting test results that point to a different conclusion: <http://www.barefeats.com/mbcd7.html>.

    If I am reading this right, a 160 GB 7200 rpm drive with 90 GB of data on it (56% full) may not perform better--or at least not significantly so--than a 200 GB 4200 rpm drive with the same amount of data (45% full). With more data, the difference in performance will tilt in favor of the 200 GB drive.

    David
     
  12. AlanH

    AlanH Kilo Poster

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    Thanks, that's interesting.

    So the optimum answer is an external two-disk striped array as your primary drive, with the internal disk as a backup copy of system, apps, and critical data? That'll get you resilience, maximum performance and capacity when connected to the array, and a subset of your data to use when you aren't.

    All depends on your mobile usage, I guess.
     
  13. David5000

    David5000

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    312
    I think you are probably right to suggest that the OP store some data on an external drive, although I am not sure that using an external drive as the primary one, even via FW 800, wouldn't slow things down.

    If the OP is insistent on keeping 90 GB of data on his internal drive, especially assuming he will continue to add more as time goes on, I think he would be best served with the 200 GB 4200 rpm option.

    David
     
  14. AlanH

    AlanH Kilo Poster

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    The link you provided indicated that they tested a firewire connection because they didn't want to acquire multiple machines, or swap internal drives in one machine. So they tested to confirm that the internal and external drives gave comparable performance. Firewire had no impact on the drive speed in their tests.

    I don't know what his 90 GBytes are, but I sure wouldn't like to trust that much information to a portable, droppable, and highly stealable laptop.
     
  15. David5000

    David5000

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    Sorry--I had overlooked the part about comparing internal and external drives. Thank you for pointing it out.

    David
     
  16. niteowl

    niteowl

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    Alan: My stuff is the usual array of personal stuff. But considering my mobile usage is so great, the more things to carry around the worse :). I am particularly taken by those WD personal drives that look really good and might do the trick. Thanks for all the help guys... I think I will wait until WWDC. Let us see how heavily Leopard uses the GPU, that might be an important factor in whether a MB or MBP will stand the test of time.
     
  17. buzzdat

    buzzdat

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    Re upgrading to 7200 RPM drive in macBookPro: I've done this upgrade on my MBP, trying two different 7200 RPM drives, and neither drive performs as well as the stock 5400 RPM 120 GB drive. The upgrade is NOT for the faint of heart. The 7200 RPM 100 GB toshiba drive in my laptop is louder and about 30% slower (at least in benchmarks) than the stock 5400 RPM Toshiba drive. Real-world performance is probably on par, as the current 7200 RPM drive has a 16MB buffer, vs the 8MB buffer in the stock 5400 RPM drive. Differences in battery life and heat generation are negligable between the two drives.

    Save your money, your warranty, and your sanity and invest in an external (eSata or FW800 drive). Also check the online benchmarks for the MBP - my mac pro absolutely blows the MBP out of the water when it comes to disk performance. Unless portability is an absolute requirement, pick up a mac pro instead.
     

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