Gaming in Parallels 6 is awesome: Run Windows PC Games on your Mac

Sep 27, 2010 - 17 Comments

Want to run Windows-only PC games on your Mac? How about doing this without Boot Camp? With Parallels 6, you can actually play Windows PC-only games with good performance directly in Mac OS X, making Parallels Desktop 6 an essential upgrade for avid Mac gamers or anyone looking to play Windows games on the Mac.

Don’t believe it? All I can say is, prepare to be impressed. I was skeptical too, but here’s a pretty incredible video from ArsTechnica of Left 4 Dead running with maximum settings at 1920×1200 in Parallels 6 at 86fps!

Check out some of the other amazing videos, here’s the popular Mass Effect 2 running in Mac OS X under Parallels at 1920×1200:

Convinced yet? You can buy Parallels Desktop 6 for Mac at Amazon and get free shipping.

Here’s what ArsTechnica has to say about gaming in Parallels 6 (emphasis mine):

I’ve been a virtualized-gaming skeptic, but the results with this new version are what every delusional Mac gamer was hoping was achievable in the days of VirtualPC on the PowerPC. The graphics can be jacked all the way up, and there’s no laggy latency—that’s pretty incredible, considering that you’d expect lag if it was going through OS X’s Quartz compositor, on top of the Windows 7 window compositor. But there isn’t any lag.

The main downside is there is no DirectX 10 support, you’re stuck with DirectX 9c, which is less likely to be supported in newer Windows games.

The whole Ars review has multiple videos of various games running within Parallels 6, including Crysis, Mass Effect 2, World in Conflict, UT3, and more. Unfortunately a Civ 5 demo didn’t perform that well and there were multiple bugs, but perhaps an update to Parallels will resolve that. If you’re not sold on the two above videos, check out the rest of the ArsTechnica review which has videos of more games and also some other apps running in Parallels 6. I wish they had reviewed Starcraft 2 since performance in Mac OS X isn’t as good as it should be, but I’m sure someone will run SC2 in the VM soon.

Ars rules it “If you work in 3D or want to play Windows game, this is an essential upgrade” and judging by their videos I would have to agree, this is just simply amazing.

Obviously the newer and beefier your Mac the better the Windows gaming performance will be within Parallels, Ars ran the tests on an older Xeon Mac Pro with an ATI 4870 video card, and they say “If you’re using an i3 iMac with 5670 or above, you’d probably [get] better performance on that machine than I did on my 4870-sporting Xeon Mac Pro.”. In other words, the new consumer level iMac with the better video card is officially a gaming machine.

So, maybe it’s time to buy a new iMac Core i3 with the 5670 and Parallels Desktop 6 for Mac and open the world of Windows games to your Mac?


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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Games, Mac OS


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  1. bkennedy says:

    can this run games like battlefield 3? i have an iMac quad core i5 processor.

  2. Travis says:

    Tried the Trial of Parallels 6 with the demo version of Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising on my 2011 iMac i5 and the performance was less than entertaining.

    Even at the bare minimum settings, the game slowed to a complete crawl with the sound out of sync.

    As of right now, I wouldn’t recommend Parallels for any kind of gaming on a Mac computer. :(

  3. […] beating VMware in 92% of the tests run. This doesn’t surprise me considering the amazing Parallels 6 gaming performance we saw earlier in the […]

  4. Replies from Steamto my question

    Why I cannot get games to play on Parallells?I have 2.8 GhzIntel core i5 Graphics: ATI Radeon HD 5750
    Steam response …..Civilization is a SteamPlay title – this means that you are able to play it without emulation on both a PC and a Mac. Unfortunately, we are unable to support Steam running through a Windows Emulator. You can attempt to troubleshoot these issues with the developers of the specific games that you are trying to play. If you have any further questions, please let us know – we will be happy to assist you. Hello,

    A staff member has replied to your question:

    Hello,Unfortunately, we are unable to offer support for Windows games running on an Apple computer. If the game is listed as SteamPlay (Apple + PC) we or the original publisher will support it fully on your Mac. Please let us know if you encounter any further difficulty – we will be happy to assist you.
    can anybody can explain this……

  5. […] can check out running Windows games in Parallels 6 for more. Apparently just running Windows on top of Mac OS X is pretty speedy with it […]

  6. DiRTDO says:

    Why doesnt directx run in Parallels, the OS is Win7?

  7. […] что Windows-игры из-под Parallels 6 работают великолепно — (EN). […]

  8. mike says:

    fail, it doesn’t work. civ5 for example wont run at all. just quits like a good ‘ol piece of crap pc game when you try to launch in direct x10 or 11. this post is seo crap for parallels, which really isn’t necessary because parallels is a great tool regardless.

  9. StuartB says:

    How does GoG run in Parallels6?

  10. Brian Hanifin says:

    It still cannot run Virtual Pinball at a playable speed. :(

  11. justin says:

    Hi there. I was wondering if running windows xp would give you poorer results?

  12. Kayzah says:

    Just try a more modern game like Bad Company 2 with Bootcamp and realize that even the biggest Macs are too weak for gaming.

    This article is stupid.

    • Chrissomerry says:

      @ Kayzah

      Bad Company 2 is only one game, and you haven’t mentioned what computers the comparison you’ve presented us with was using. Let alone the millions of other factors, a prime example being that Bad Company 2 would not have been primed in any way, shape or form for use on a Mac, and instead would have been designed for common PC hardware instead. Because most gamers use Windows, since windows is the typical OS in many families (who often cared squat about computers in the 90’s where this all started), and gamers often start off as children, ergo windows becoming the default OS for gamers by consequence.

      Nothing about weakness at all.

  13. SkankinRastaPunk says:

    How does this compare to vmware?

  14. […] more here: Gaming in Parallels 6 is awesome: Run Windows PC Games on your Mac … This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged actually-play, parallels, parallels-desktop, […]

  15. ottn says:

    So I can finally ditch Boot Camp :D


  16. *_* says:

    They actually used two computers for benchmarks: a MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo and the Mac Pro (with 24GB RAM, mind you).

    It’s certainly impressive performance but it is hard to tell which system is running what game, I imagine they were all run on the Mac Pro with 8 cores, which makes you wonder what performance would be like on a normal consumer machine with 2 cores (like the MacBook Pro, or the iMac you mention).

    I will do some tests on my Core i5 MBP when I get Parallels 6.

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