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.
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:
ArcGIS Pro 2.3
Autodesk 3ds Max 2020
Games on macOS Mojave & Catalina:
Age of Empires: Definitive Edition
The Turing Test
Games on macOS Catalina:
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.