Parallels Desktop officially brings native support for M1 Macs; runs ARM Windows 10 30% better than Intel Core i9 MacBook Pro

Popular virtualization software, Parallels Desktop, today officially released version 16.5 which brings native support for Macs with Apple Silicon chips.

In a press release, Parallels highlights some key metrics that differentiate previous versions of the software with new, M1-supported version. According to performance observations:

  • Up to 250 percent less energy used: On a Mac with an Apple M1 chip, Parallels Desktop 16.5 uses 2.5 times less energy than on a 2020 Intel-based MacBook Air computer.
  • Up to 60 percent better DirectX 11 performance: Parallels Desktop 16.5 running on an M1 Mac delivers up to 60 percent better DirectX 11 performance than on an Intel-based MacBook Pro with Radeon Pro 555X GPU.
  • Up to 30 percent better virtual machine performance (Windows): Running a virtual machine (VM) of Windows 10 on ARM Insider Preview on Parallels Desktop 16.5 on an M1 Mac performs up to 30 percent better than a Windows 10 VM running on Intel-based MacBook Pro with Intel Core i9 processor.

M1 Mac users who were anticipating the wait of being able to run the Insiders Preview of ARM Windows on Mac can now finally do so via Parallels. Although Parallels had been testing the technical preview of its software which included support for the M1 chip, it wasn’t available to general users.

From the blog post:

“Apple’s M1 chip is a significant breakthrough for Mac users,” said Nick Dobrovolskiy, Parallels Senior Vice President of Engineering and Support. “The transition has been smooth for most Mac applications, thanks to Rosetta technology. However, virtual machines are an exception, and thus Parallels engineers implemented native virtualization support for the Mac with M1 chip. This enables our users to enjoy the best Windows-on-Mac experience available.”

Anyone with an existing Parallels Desktop 16 Mac license can upgrade to version 16.5 at no additional cost.

Apart from Windows, users can also install ARM-based Linux distributions within Parallels Desktop. However, it’s imperative to note that since x86 virtualization isn’t possible yet, only the ARM version of Windows is compatible with Parallels on M1 Macs. This means that users who are expecting to use the x86-based Windows apps won’t be able to do so since Windows itself is only ARM-compatible.

Parallel offers a single installation file for version 16.5 that works with both M1 and Intel-based Macs.

You can buy a new license of Parallels Desktop for $80 which also includes complimentary subscriptions for Parallels Access and Parallels Toolbox for Mac and Windows.