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VMware vs. VirtualBox Part 2 Print
Wednesday, 18 March 2009 17:25

I thought I would revisit the virtual machine front to see if VirtualBox had progressed any since my last look (VMware vs. VirtualBox Jan '08).  My test system was an ASUS P6T Deluxe V2, Intel i7 940, 12GB DDR3, Raptor 300GB drives, and Vista x64 SP1.  VMware version 6.5.1 build-126130 and VirtualBox 2.1.4 were both installed on my C: drive and their respective images and virtual files located on D:.

I usually don't give much merit to synthetic benchmarks, but I thought I would start with that to see if there were any significant changes from my previous test.  I installed SiSoftware's Sandra onto a clean host install of WinXP SP3 to both virtual systems.

I ran Sandra's performance index benchmark several times.  Although the numbers differed slightly each time, the results were pretty much uniform. The big change from my previous test was the disk speed.  VirtualBox has made huge improvements in disk performance since the 1.5 version I had previously used.  Although they are both very close, VirtualBox actually pulls ahead overall in synthetic benchmarks.

 

I tend to copy a lot of files to and from my virtual systems, so fast network and disk speed are really important to me.  VirtualBox 1.5 had performed poorly in this area in my previous test.  To investigate this again, I used a 1GB vob file located on a network share.  I mapped the drop and started a copy from Windows Explorer.  As you can see it was a dead heat this time.  I was really impressed with VirtualBox's improvements here.

 

 

Another important aspect for me is the boot time.  One of my most common virtual systems is WinXP so I thought I would time how long it takes to get from post to desktop.  The numbers clearly demonstrate the VirtualBox is noticably faster at booting WinXP than VMware.

 

 

For my purposes, VirtualBox is currently the better choice for me.  After using both, VirtualBox feels cleaner, faster, and lighter than VMware.  Just looking at the installer would give one that impression as well, as VMware 6.5 workstation weighs in at 500 megabytes while VirtualBox is a mere 40 in comparison.  VirtualBox booting WinXP in half the amount of time was yet another nail in VMware's coffin.

I still prefer VMware interfaces though.  I like that I can have several machines running in different tabs in the same window, much like modern web browsers can have several sites open at the same time.  The VMware has numerous other interface advantages as well.  For instance, reverting to a previous snapshot is a single click in VMware or mounting an optical disc image is much faster with VMware.  The overall layout and access is more ergonomic, which is often the case for a more mature product.  Another VMware feature I will miss is drag and drop file sharing between some hosts.  Being able to drop a file from my Vista desktop to my WinXP virtual machine is really nice and I will miss it dearly.

Virtual machine software is complex and it has many uses, so I can't pick the best one for everyone. For me it has been VMware for a long time now, but now VirtualBox will be my choice.

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Comments (14)

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Hey, thanks for writing this up. I came upon your old review through 4sysops and saw your update. I've been looking for a helpful substantiated summary between these two for a while now.

Thanks again!
Paul , April 05, 2009
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Hey,
looks like you compared performance of physical disks and forgot to take into account that VmWare is constantly updating the snapshot. To avoid this (useful) overhead, you may want to add an additioanl disk and check "Independent" checkbox. In this case disk won't be covered by snapshot.
I'd expect significant performance boost in this case.
-dda
dda , April 23, 2009
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Thanks for the update,

If possible I'd really like to see a feature comparison between VB and VMware WS, say about snapshots, network user interface, etc ... on both apps.

I like the tests graphics.
mb , November 19, 2009
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I think it is the most useful material for comparison between the 2 VM giants I have seen so far! thanks!
sxathk , November 20, 2009
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Was looking for benchmarks of vmware vs virtualbox and finally found yours! Had almost decided against virtualbox based on older diskspeed issues but given the new benchmarks, am going for virtualbox now!
Thanks!
Aditya Gilra , December 29, 2009
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I have both VMWare Fusion and VirtualBox on my MacBook Pro. I also have VirtualBox on both of my Windows 7 machines. The biggest VirtualBox advantage to me is that it operates the same across all of the major operating systems. I am can't afford to purchase VMWare Workstation for so much more $$ when I already purchased Fusion. It is also nice to be able to just run my VMs on my desktop when I get home.
DJara , February 17, 2010
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FWIW, I have been using VB 3.1.x on my Ubuntu box (AMD 9850 / 8G DDR2 / 7200RPM SATA) to host a Win7 VM and was pretty disappointed. CPU usage in the guest was always >20% and it seemed that things took forever to launch and were agonizingly sluggish in use. I just switched to VMWare (3.0.x Player) and the difference is amazing. The guest is actually usable now. I see in one of the comments to your original article that setting VB to emulate SATA drives makes a big difference; I don't know what my current setting is, I'll try that and see if if the performance improves. Thanks for the article!
Random Coolzip , May 20, 2010
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Thank you for the info, it was so useful and you clear my doubts. smilies/cool.gif
AL-X-OR , October 25, 2010 | url
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Another vmware hater monkey took couple of hours to write down this fake benchmark.

The only problem is it's a lie. I recently did benchmarks on the same hardware and vmware come up better in almost everything. You either made this whole thing up or used different settings or different hardware.
skysen , November 28, 2010
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@skysen I wrote the article and I'm not a hater. I currently run VMware Workstation 7.1.2 myself. I use VMware now because of better DirectX support and I find myself generally more productive with it. However, the benchmarks were very accurate in March 2009 when I conducted them. Perhaps you could provide a link to your benchmarks for others to see?
Grant , November 28, 2010 | url
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Its about mid-January 2011 now. So, @sysken, where are the links to your benchmarks for us to see and evaluate.?

Cheers
Noughtfornothing , January 14, 2011
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Sorry, read that as @skysen !!smilies/grin.gif
Noughtfornothing , January 14, 2011
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VMWare gets annoying now with their web interface... I rather have it through an application, and don't have to open my browser to use the program I installed...
Mart , March 18, 2011 | url
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Hi,
very good comparaison test,
but I wonder which difference allow me to install and activate a software like Diagbox with Virtualbox, and deny activation process (error 0) with VMware or virtualPC (Windows XP mode) ?
Migwell2 , May 21, 2012

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