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parallels desktop 15 review - cover

Parallels 15: Now With DirectX 11

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Parallels 15 is a big step forward with the addition of support for DirectX 11 and Metal opening up a whole new world of gaming and graphics heavy Windows apps on macOS. If you only use Windows occasionally it's not so enticing but if you're a gamer or someone who uses graphics design apps, it's definitely worth it.
Now supports DirectX 11 for gaming
Sidecar support for macOS Catalina
Faster than ever at handling Windows
Subscription only
Lots of upgrade prompts

Update: Parallels 16 has now been released – check out our full Parallels 16 for Mac review for more.

The latest version of Parallels 15 has been released and the good news for gamers was that it now supports DirectX 11 for gaming.

This means that Mac users can now use Parallels to play games like FIFA 19 and Madden NFL 19 that previously we’re only possible by installing Windows via Boot Camp.

Note that this is only possible if you’re running macOS 10.14 Mojave or 10.15 Catalina so you’ll need to be using one of the latest versions of macOS.

This is a big step forward for Parallels which has suffered from a lack of DirectX 11 support for years.

It’s due to Parallels adding support for Apple’s Metal API which makes running CPU intensive games, graphic design and CAD applications now possible.

This cements Parallels as our favorite way to run Windows on Mac mainly because it’s so much easier to setup than any other virtual environment and offers impressive performance running macOS and Windows side-by-side.

In this review we look at what else is new in the latest version of Parallels 15 for Mac.

Some of the games and apps supported by Parallels 15 now include:

  • CAD/CAM Applications:

ArcGIS Pro 2.3
Autodesk 3ds Max 2020

  • Games on macOS Mojave & Catalina:

Age of Empires: Definitive Edition
Anno 2205
Space Engineers
The Turing Test

  • Games on macOS Catalina:

Anno 1800
Madden NFL 19

You can also now play XBox games in Windows 10 via Bluetooth in Parallels as it now supports XBox Controllers, Logitech Craft, IRISPen and even some IoT devices. This eliminates the need to mess about trying to stream XBox games to your Mac via third party apps.

The other benefit of this is that even older Macs with Thunderbolt 3 ports can also benefit from using an external eGPU. This makes using graphics intensive applications even faster in Parallels than before.

It also opens up the way to using Windows only VR apps and gaming on Macs although there is still a very limited range of software available in this area on macOS still.

Other nice touches in Parallels 15 include:

  • Sidecar Integration: This allows you to use an iPad as an external screen in macOS Catalina which is useful if you use a drawing tablet or Apple Pencil with your Mac. So for example if you want to use the recently re-introduced version of CorelDRAW for Mac with your Apple Pencil, you can now.

parallels 15 review - sidecar catalina

  • macOS Screenshot integration: You can now create and annotate screenshots in macOS and drag them into Parallels.
  • Improved Outlook for Windows Integration: You can now Ctrl-click (or right-click) on your Mac desktop and attach it to an email in Outlook for Windows.
  • Sign-in with Apple ID: In Catalina you can sign-in to various online services from within Windows using your Apple ID.

On the downside Parallels 15 no longer supports 32 bit apps such as Microsoft Office 2011 and some older Adobe apps. It’s 64-bit compatible only which means you’ll need macOS Sierra 10.12 or later in order to use it.

However, you can at least run older versions of macOS within Parallels if you need to run 32 bits apps on your Mac.

The main problem you’ll have with that though if finding an older installer for older versions of macOS or to use the recovery partition from a Mac that’s using an older version of macOS.

Parallels seems to get snappier with every release and Parallels 15 does seem quicker to launch big apps such as Office and Adobe software. However, as the latest generation of Macs add more RAM and faster processors it’s not clear how much of this is down to Parallels and how much is performance improvements.

Parallels claims:

Experience significant performance improvements in Parallels Desktop 15. Microsoft Office applications start-up to 80% faster, and ’you’ll also see a faster and more responsive Parallels Desktop UI. Enjoy up to 15% faster 3D graphics improvements (best result is achieved on 3DMark13 Cloud Gate test with AMD Radeon graphics).

Parallels Pricing

A Parallels single license subscription costs $79.99 which is valid for a “lifetime” but requires upgrade fees when new versions of macOS are released.

Upgrade fees are less than the cost of a full license at $49.99 but upgrade prompts are frequent when a new version is released.

The Business Edition costs $99.99 allows central deployment of Parallels across networks for multiple users and support for vTPM (Virtual Trusted Platform Module).

parallels desktop 15 pricing

The significantly revamped Parallels also coincides with a change in ownership at graphic design giants Corel which surprisingly bought Parallels at the end of 2018.

Corel has slowly been taking steps back into the Mac market by resurrecting CorelDRAW for Mac which was discontinued almost 20 years ago. In turn, Corel has also been recently acquired by investment firm KKR although the future of Parallels seems assured.

Is It Worth The Upgrade?

If you’re already a Parallels 14 user that relies on it for gaming then definitely you should upgrade. Performance alone is faster and Parallels 15 is far more prepared for future gaming releases than Parallels 14 especially with Metal and Direct X 11 support.

The same goes if you use Adobe apps or intensive graphics design or CAD tools. Parallels 15 gives much better performance and supports many apps that don’t work in Parallels 14.

However, if you only use Parallels for using the occasional Windows app, then you’ve probably got everything you need in Parallels 14.



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