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For some reason, I need to boot Windows XP occasionally on my MacBook Air. Among VirtualBox, VMWare Fusion and Parallels, which one consumes the least resource from my MacBook (say, running IE and PowerPoint inside the Windows XP VM)? Thanks!

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This question, while it likely has an objective answer, is difficult to answer because most people just choose one based on desired features/cost. There is an exhaustive set of forum posts online talking about the merits and drawbacks of all three products. The general protocol is to try VirtualBox and set up your VM. Then, if you don't find that it works for you, import the VM into either VMware or Parallels to try those products. – fideli Oct 29 '10 at 3:02
Less resource use could also means worse VM performance. – Daniel Beck Oct 29 '10 at 6:52

I've only used Fusion on my Macs, and they ran very smoothly - Unity mode was a godsend on myriad occasions!

Now I'm running VirtualBox and VM Workstation on my work machine, and find they're both good - but for different things. VirtualBox is snappier, uses less memory overhead, and supports the range of OSes I most want/need to use for desktop environments.

VMware Workstation is not as snappy, uses more memory, etc - but also does a better job of juggling multiple simultaneous VMs, and seems to handle the server OSes overall better than VirtualBox.

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