Friday, July 10, 2009

Windows Performance Index - VMware workstation v Virtual Box

Virtual Box 3 has been released. I haven't used previous versions of VB, but it has a good rep. Version 3 now supports 3d acceleration. I have been wanting to use Aero and Glass in my virtual machines so that I could develop Vista specific applications so I gave it a try.

First the bad news, VB doesn't support enough 3d features to run Aero (neither does VMware). I did discover a work around though, connect to your virtual machine using Remote Desktop Connection from a Vista machine, turn all graphics options to high and volia.

While I had VB installed, I did a quick and dirty comparision with VMware workstation using Windows Performance Index. Take these results with a grain of salt, I didn't spend much time playing with the setup and tweaking. I couldn't get dual core to work on VB, it just blue-screened, and I didn't have the time to spend sorting it out.

Windows Performance Index

Host VMware
Single proc
Dual proc
Virtual Box
Single Proc
Processor 5.4 4.4 5.2 4.4
Memory 5.1 4.9 5.2 5.9
Primary Hard disk 5.4 5.3 5.4 4.7

The memory figures are surprising, I am not sure if the VB figures of 5.9 are real or just a sign of something wrong somewhere. Draw your own conclusions on that.

VB is slower in hard drive, but otherwise up with the play processor wise. Getting dual core working would probably give similar processor figures to VMware dual core.

I was impressed with how well VMware matches up to the host system. While VB doesn't seem to be quite there yet, it is still doing pretty well, and you can't beat the price.


Ryan said...

Here are a couple of things you can try checking out on your vm settings for VirtualBox that may make things faster.

1) Hard Disk Controller
- By default VB configures your drives to be IDE, you can find quite a difference by switching to a SATA controller. This is one of the biggest speed gains.

2) System: Extended Features
- Make sure your system does not have IO APIC enabled. It makes the overall system a little slower. Make sure the standard APIC is enabled.

3) Decent Host Machine Processor
- This may sound a little silly but having a processor that supports virtualization extensions does help.

4) 3 GB of available Host RAM
- Assigning almost 2GB of physical RAM to the vm makes alot of difference in how the system runs. This isn't always possible, but, in general, I wont try to run anything under 1.5 GB.

5) Bump the Video RAM
- Run with the assigned Video RAM set to 128MB. This seems to help with the 3D acceleration as well I find.

These are my typical settings, YMMV.

Sean said...


I have done 3-5, dunno about 2. If I get time, I'll check 2 and and try 1.

Ryan said...

There is a page on the net that details how to switch from IDE to SATA for the drive controller in earlier versions of windows. I'm not sure how Win7 will handle it. I know that Win7 has native SATA support. For earlier versions of Windows you have to have a new hardware driver installed.

As for 2, if it is already checked on then you'll need to reinstall the OS with it off. It really gets upset when you uncheck it after the OS was installed.

I'd be interested to see what makes a difference in your testings.

Ryan said...

Here's a couple of links to check out. (Vista) (WinXP)

Probably read the Vista link first.