Parallels 14 review: Windows on your Mac is now faster than ever

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I've been a Mac since 2006, or the first year that Apple introduced the Intel-based Mac, and I bought my first Mac to be a Windows Machine. In retrospect, I'm glad that I made the full switch over to macOS; but when you really NEED to run Windows on your Mac, there are really only a few ways to make this happen.

One of the best and easiest ways to run Windows on your Mac is with Parallels Desktop. Parallels recently released version 14 of their flagship virtual machine software. It allows you to run the latest, greatest version of Windows on your Mac.

With over 50 new features and improved performance, Parallels offers some compelling reasons to either hop on the bandwagon and upgrade or to jump in with both feet and take the plunge as a first-time buyer. Let's take a look and see if this is the version that brings Windows to the Mac on your desktop.

The Call to Upgrade

There are a few key reasons to upgrade to Parallels 14 from an earlier version. The biggest is that version 13.x won't run on macOS Mojave. A new macOS version will always require an update to key utilities like Parallels Desktop. The new OS will have features that will impair the functionality of or outright prevent the software from running. Existing Parallels users MUST upgrade if they move to macOS Mojave.

Over and above the mandate, if you will, there are a few benefits to the new software. Parallels Desktop 14 fully supports Mojave's Dark Mode, one of macOS' most anticipated pieces of eye candy. Perhaps the most noticeable feature is that Parallels Desktop 14 is 35% faster than previous versions; and it was immediately noticeable, too. This means that existing VM's really move. Based on my limited experience running both a Windows 7 and Windows 10 VM, I can attest to the increased speed. The new version also uses a great deal less space. Your VM's can be up to 20GB smaller, with automatic disk monitoring.

From a resource use perspective, Parallels 14 also provides an easy way to monitor RAM and CPU utilization. It will automatically adjust VRAM usage for the best VM performance possible. It's perhaps one of the better versions of Parallels to do this, too.

New Features

The latest version of Parallels Desktop comes with 50 new features, including the five I mentioned above. If you have a 2016-2018 MacBook Pro, Parallels Desktop will provide additional application support for your Windows apps through the Touch Bar. Apps and the OS itself will make use of the additional, second screen on your modern MBP. You also get enhanced access to the Touch Bar Wizard for even more customization options.

You also get the ability to use a stylus pen – or your finger by holding down the Fn key – in both Mac and Windows without having to connect or disconnect devices. You can use your Mac's webcam, as well as use your multi-display setup in Full-Screen mode while adjusting your video memory needs automatically.

Parallels Desktop 14 has enhanced Windows and Mac integration, including support for the 2018 Fall update of Windows 10, Version 1809. It also includes improved maintenance features allowing you to schedule maintenance and keep working, even while downloading and installing system updates.

Static or Subscription

Licensing for a lot of modern software is shifting from a standalone license to a subscription model. Consumers have seen that in a number of popular titles, include apps like Office 365 and Creative Cloud. You pay a little each month, and you get software for a year. Parallels Desktop is doing this as well; and this year, their subscription model is taking more of a front seat as opposed to its standard license. The matrix below outlines which features come at which tier level. The Standard Edition is the only edition not on a subscription model.

If you want better performance and more features, for the same price as the static upgrade or $20 more on a full license, the Pro Edition is perhaps the best way to go here.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Standard EditionPro EditionBusiness Edition
Download and install Windows 10 in one clickXXX
Ready for macOS Mojave (10.14)XXX
Customize Touch Bar for Windows applicationsXXX
Virtual RAM for each VM8GB vRAM128GB vRAM128GB vRAM
Virtual CPU's for each VM4 vCPUs32 vCPUs32 vCPUs
Integration With Chef/Ohai/DockerXX
Network conditioner to simulate speeds and testXX
Visual Studio Plug-InXX
Debug, dump VM, or start an SSH session from menuXX
Support for business cloud servicesXX
Premium 24/7 phone and email support30-daysXX
Centralized administration and managementXX
Unified volume license key for mass deploymentXX
Upgrade Pricing (Parallels 12 and above required)$49.99$49.99/ year$99.99/ year
Full License Pricing$79.99$99.99/ year$99.99/ year

Verdict

I've been a Parallels Desktop user since 2008, with the introduction of Parallels Desktop 4. It's come a long way in the past 10 years. Back in the day, virtualization software was slow; and you really, really needed a powerful Mac with a decent amount of RAM in order to be able to run both Mac and Windows software at the same time; and even then, performance still stunk. Parallels Desktop was slow; but it was still, in my opinion, the best and easiest way to run Windows and Windows apps on a Mac without having to constantly reboot the machine.

The current version – Parallels Desktop 14 – is by far – the best version of the virtualization environment yet. It's fast. I have both Windows 10 AND Windows 7 VM's on my Mac, and running them under Parallels Desktop 14 is very surprising to me, since they perform like native hardware PC's.

From a pricing perspective, making the upgrade to Parallels Desktop 14 was an easy decision.

I tend to run in Coherence mode, which hides the standard Windows Desktop and allows you to run a Windows app side by side with native Mac apps, sharing and swapping data back and forth between both, if you like. The operations are smooth, and for the first time, completely seamless.

From a pricing perspective, making the upgrade to Parallels Desktop 14 was an easy decision. At $50 a year, the Pro Edition, with the extra features and improved performance was a no-brainer. Since my current Mac will work well with Mojave, upgrading was a foregone conclusion for me – I really didn't have a choice, as Parallels Desktop 13 won't support macOS Mojave. However, I feel – and I think you will too – the cost of the upgrade is worth the expense, as you get a ton of performance features, but a bump up to the next and any additional releases for free for a year with your subscription.

Parallels Desktop 14 is the flagship consumer product from Parallels and is available via free trial or to purchase new for $80 or as an upgrade for $50.

See at Parallels (opens in new tab)

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14 Comments
  • No it wasn't an easy decision! 0 Stars. What if you went into the car dealership, and they said "sorry we don't sell cars anymore, just lease them". Its collusion by many of the largest software providers. Pure and simple. The technology for virtualization, is largely provided for free by Intels chipsets these days. And my Parallels was 99% as fast as a native machine nearly a decade ago. These so called "new features" are of limited value, for the excuse of charging you more. I don't lease my products. I buy them. Do the math, its not in your favor by a lot. I used to upgrade parallels every 2-3 years, now I'm forced to every year. And I can't have it on my desktop and laptop at the same time, even though I'm 1 person. Now I need 2 licenses. That is 6X, count it: 6 TIMES more expensive. So for the first time in a decade. I dumped parallels and moved to VMWare. You should too. Tell software SaaS collusion: "No"
  • Technically you're not forced to upgrade, the older versions still work. But I do agree that they shouldn't release a paid version each year, as it's basically a fake subscription
  • But you could also install Windows via Bootcamp, so that it isn’t a Virtual Machine. This alternative would be of course much faster...
  • That sort of defeats the idea behind the VM. VMs mean you can easily share files between the OSes, you don't need to reboot and close other applications on the main OS, and it's ridiculously easy to add and remove OSes. It depends on the use case as to whether a VM or Bootcamp is better
  • After reading this I went to Parallels support page and started searching for this incompatibility with mac os mojave em parallels 13 "thing". They have some minor issues... The way I see it, it's not true that you have to buy parallels 14 if you want to update mac os. Perhaps it was written in a way for people to rush to an unnecessary update.
  • I'm using it on the Mojave beta, there's no issues outside of it not supporting Dark Mode, but as you can imagine Dark Mode is completely unnecessary in a VM application
  • I got sick of their games. I really liked Parallels a while ago when I had to use it for work but will never support them again. It's one big circle jerk subscription model.
  • I like and use both VMware and Parallels, but it's worth mentioning that Parallels has better support for older hardware. Parallels will run on just about anything running El Capitan or newer, which includes machines that already are ten years old. In contrast, VMware Fusion 10 dropped support for Macs that are older than 2011 (except for the 6, 8, and 12 core 2010 Mac Pros, which VMware supports). VMware Fusion also does not support the 2012 4 core Xeon W3565 Mac Pro. (Not a complaint; just pointing out a potential limitation for some users.) FWIW, I have Parallels 14 running Windows very nicely on a Core 2 Duo-based 2010 MacBook Pro (macOS Sierra), whereas VMware 8 is the last version that runs on that system.
  • "I've been a Mac since 2006" So a Mac wrote this? "It allows you to run the latest, greatest version of Windows on your Mac" Which is it? The latest or the greatest? They are 2 different things.
  • Stop being a d o u c h e
  • Serious question here. Why would you run Win in vm, just bootcamp it? is there any advantages to VM vs. Boot camp?
  • I use it because I have to be able to compile software on Windows and Linux.
    If you like to use MacOS and have some tools that are only supported on Windows, Parallels is a solution
  • 0 star, do not give it a try!!
    Moving to VMWare years ago.
  • Why does this product have any stars at all? They force you to pay $50 to upgrade so you can feel confident downloading Mojave and then when you find a problem with it, there is no support for the product. Not a phone #. Not an instant message. Not an email. Basically, you can use FaceBook messenger. I contacted them at 8 a.m. and someone got back to me with wrong info at 11:30.
    It was clear after a couple of exchanges that took all day to get through, that the guy didn't even get the problem - never mind the solution. This is a piece of crap.