Parallels 17 Gaming Performance: How Good is it?

by Alexandru Poloboc
Alexandru Poloboc
Alexandru Poloboc
News Editor
With an overpowering desire to always get to the bottom of things and uncover the truth, Alex spent most of his time working as a news reporter, anchor,... read more
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  • Now that we can run Windows 11 on Mac devices, via Parallels, users are wondering about gaming. 
  • Although it is possible to play your favorite titles this way, the experience might not be what you expect.
  • Even with turning your graphic settings to the lowest possible, some games will be almost unplayable.
  • The alternative to gaming using Parallels is Crossover, which delivers a much smoother experience. 
Parallel gaming Windows 11

As you most likely know by now, Windows 11 is usable on Mac devices, even on those without Boot Camp. 

With the help of Parallels Desktop 17, users can experience Microsoft’s upcoming version of Windows on their Mac desktop.

Know that Parallels supports both Intel and M1 Macs, even though there’s a catch for those running Arm-based machines, and can even be used to run the Windows 11 preview.

The catch for M1 users is the same as when Parallels first added support for Apple’s latest machines. This means you’ll only be able to emulate Arm-based operating systems, which means you’ll be limited to Windows on Arm.

But while M1 users have to deal with Windows on Arm, they also get some performance improvements if they’re coming from the software’s previous version.

Parallels officials say that the new version will let M1 Macs get up to 28 percent better DirectX 11 performance, and up to 33 percent faster start times for Windows 10 on Arm Insider Preview VMs.

But what about gaming? What type of experience will that be?

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We have worked for the past 6 months on building a new review system on how we produce content. Using it, we have subsequently redone most of our articles to provide actual hands-on expertise on the guides we made.

For more details you can read how we test, review, and rate at WindowsReport.

Gaming is not what you would expect on Parallels

So we’ve established that this is a great way for Mac users to enjoy Windows 11 and everything it brings to the table.

And even though Parallels’ packages come alongside up to 25 percent faster 2D graphics and up to 6 times faster OpenGL performance, that still doesn’t mean that you will be able to enjoy your favorite games, on ultra quality.

Even though the M1 chip is one of the most powerful integrated graphics chips that we’ve seen so far, we’ll explain to you exactly how the process works and what are the problems with it.

We can understand that Apple fans want to access some of the more impressive games, that aren’t available on Mac, therefore they will give this method a go.

Keep in mind that, because you are running a virtual machine, half of the CPU cores, which means 4 if we are talking about the M1 chip, are dedicated to running the virtual machine itself.

Also, you will only be able to use only half of the total RAM you have, for gaming.

As an example, playing a game like Fallout 4 will offer you an acceptable gaming experience while you are inside. Once you step out into the open world, well, that’s when it all turns bad.

And despite the fact that you’ve turned every available graphic setting to the minimum, the game turns into a slideshow and becomes virtually unplayable.

Keep in mind that the example we just gave you was from playing on an 8GB M1 powered laptop,

Of course, the experience will be far smoother if your device is much powerful, seeing how it can only allocate half its resources for gaming.

So, this means that if you have a 16GB M1 Mac laptop, you will be able to spend 8 of those GB on playing.

What other alternatives are there?

Well, if you decided that Parallels isn’t for you and you would like a bit more juice, there is another method you can try if you want to play Windows 11 games on your Mac device.

Crossover proves to deliver a bit more performance when it comes to gaming and is not constrained in the same way.

This method translates Windows API calls into Mac API calls, making it possible to access more of the Mac’s resources in order to run the game as smoothly as possible.

As opposed to Parallels, Crossover delivers a virtually native performance. The only issue with it is that it offers less compatibility when it comes to games so you might be disappointed when not being able to play your favorite one.

It’s really all up to you when it comes to making a decision but just keep into consideration the factors we presented to you before making up your mind.

Also, consider that Windows 11 is just taking its first baby steps and we are sure that in the future, a more efficient method to play Windows games on Mac, will be created.

Until then, considering the options you have, these two choices are the better ones out there.

Have you tried gaming on Windows 11, from your Mac device, using Parallels? Share your experience with us in the comments section below.