Best PC for Virtualization

Virtualization is not the buzziest tech term, but that's probably because most people don't really understand what it means. Virtualization software does for your computer what picture-in-picture does for your high-end TV, but a lot more powerfully. Virtualization utilities let you run a complete Windows system on a Mac or Linux machine, or one version of Windows inside another version. The virtual machine created by the software acts like a real desktop or laptop computer for the guest operating system to run on, except that it doesn't require extra hardware. Everything in the virtual machine—the CPU, video card, RAM, hard disk, network adapter, and everything else—exists only as bits and bytes. The Windows, Mac, Linux, or other system running in the virtual machine acts exactly as if it were running on real hardware. So you can run a Windows app on a Mac running OS X. Or that old Windows XP-only app that you need for your business can run in a window in your new Windows 10 machine. Or you can run multiple versions of OS X on your Mac.

Virtualization Use Cases

For large organizations such as corporations and schools, virtualization makes it easy to run identical copies of a virtual machine on a hundred different desktop machines and, at the end of the day, restore every copy to its original pristine state, without any of the malware or clutter accumulated over the course of use. Or you can configure a virtual machine so that it's isolated from the Internet and the rest of the network and then use that virtual machine to test any software that you suspect might be dangerous.

When I'm working at a Mac, I use virtualization software to run Windows productivity software that doesn't have any OS X counterparts, or when I prefer to use the keyboard-friendly Windows version of Microsoft Office instead of the mouse-friendly OS X version. Under Windows, I use virtualization software to run old apps that have served me well for years but that don't run under modern Windows versions. One limitation of these apps: You can't run a guest OS X system on a Linux or Windows machine, because OS X is licensed to run only on Mac hardware, and virtualization apps won't launch an OS X guest under Windows. Hackers have found ways around this system, but they're as unstable as they are illegal, and we don't recommend them.

You can install multiple virtualization apps on the same machine and use different apps for different purposes. For example, you might choose Wineskin Winery to run an old PC game on a Mac, but use Parallels Desktop to run the latest version of Office 2016 on the same machine. Keep in mind that there are two kinds of virtualization software out there. On the one hand, you can choose full-scale apps that work by running a complete operating system such as Windows or Linux. The full-scale apps include Parallels Desktop, VMware Fusion, and Oracle VirtualBox. On the other hand, you can choose Wineskin Winery or other software based on the WINE (Wine Is Not an Emulator) project. WINE doesn't run a complete copy of Windows or anything else, but instead provides a minimal environment that lets a single Windows app run in OS X or Linux.

Virtualization Requirements and Features

Before you get started, think about the amount of RAM and disk space you have on your machine. Virtualization software tends to hog memory and CPU cycles, and every virtual guest system that you create is likely to need 10GB to 30GB of disk space, and probably more as you continue to use it. The new Veertu Mac virtualization app outclasses older full-scale apps by using the built-in virtualization resources of OS X to reduce its own footprint. Wineskin Winery (like other WINE-based software) doesn't need to install a full Windows system, and uses far fewer resources than apps like Parallels Desktop, VMware Fusion, or Oracle VirtualBox, which always run a full Windows system even if only a single app is visible.

Also consider the depth of integration that you want between the virtual guest system and the actual host system. All virtualization apps offer varying degrees of cross-system integration. The champ in the integration sweepstakes is Parallels Desktop, which can optionally make all the files and folders that you have on your actual Mac desktop also appear on a virtual Windows desktop running under Parallels. You may or may not want this level of integration—I always turn it off because it adds to clutter and distraction—but you'll almost certainly want the ability to drag and drop files between the host and guest system and to copy text in the host and paste it in the guest, or the reverse. All the full-scale virtualization apps offer these features. WINE-based software like Wineskin Winery lets you share text via the clipboard, and lets you share folders between the OS X or Linux host and the guest Windows app. But setup can be tricky, and it uses an interface that looks like something out of Windows 95.

The full-scale commercial apps, VMware Fusion and Parallels Desktop, offer further integration features like an option to add shortcuts in OS X that open specific Windows apps so you don't have to start Windows and then manually launch the Windows app you want. They also let you set up the host and guest system so that (for example) an email link in the guest Windows system opens the Mail app in OS X—or the reverse, with a mail link in OS X opening Outlook in Windows. You can also set up menus of Windows apps that can open in OS X.

Intel Intel Core i5-2500K Quad-Core Processor 3.3 GHz 6 MB Cache LGA 1155 - BX80623I52500K
CE (Intel)
  • Specs: Quad-core 3.3GHz, 6M Cache, Intel HD Graphics 3, 95 watt TDP, Dual-channel DDR3 memory support, socket LGA1155
  • Quad-core processor delivers four-way multicore processing via parallelism resulting in more efficient use of processor
  • Enhanced Intel SpeedStep Technology is an advanced means of enabling very high performance while also delivery power-conservation.
  • 6 MB Intel Smart Cache is dynamically shared to each processor core, based on workload
  • All Core i5 processors have Intel Turbo Boost Technology
Intel Intel Core i5 750 Processor 2.66 GHz 8 MB LGA1156 CPU I5-750BOX
CE (Intel)
  • Quad Core; Enhanced Intel Speedstep Technology
  • Intel EM64T 1
  • Intel Virtualization Technology
  • Enhanced Halt State (C1E)
CPU Solutions CPU Solutions Intel i7 4.0Ghz Quad Core (Liquid Cooled) PC. 32GB RAM, 1TB HDD, 240GB SSD, Windows 10, GTX1070 w/8GB, 1000W
Personal Computer (CPU Solutions)
  • VR Ready Intel Core i7 6700K 4.0GHz Quad Core CPU, 32GB DDR4 RAM 2133Mhz
  • Corsair H60 Liquid cooled CPU, USB 3.0 , 1TB 7200RPM Hard disk, 240GB SSD, External DVDRW Optical Drive, Windows 10 64Bit with Media and COA
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 w/8GB GDDR5, DVI, HDMI, DisplayPort. USB Ports: 7 (2 USB 2.0, 5 USB 3.0)
  • Cooler Master MasterBox 5 White Mid Tower w/ 1w Gold Certified 90% Efficiency Power Supply,
  • Z170 Desktop Motherboard with Intel Z170 Express Chipset, Logitech Keyboard and Mouse, Wireless AC 600MBPS Network Adapter
Xi MTower LE Slim Workstation - Intel H170 Chipset M/B, Intel i7-6700, 16GB DDR4 2133MHz, NVIDIA Quadro K620 Graphics, 250GB SSD, DVD-RW Drive, Windows 7 PRO 64-bit
Personal Computer (@Xi Computer Corporation)
  • Intel Core i7-6700 3.4/4.0GHz-1C Turbo Boost 8MB Shared L3 Cache DMI 2.0 Quad-Core 6th Gen. 14nm
  • NVIDIA Quadro K620 2GB LP Graphics card, 16GB DDR4 @2133MHz RAM
  • 250GB Solid State Drive Samsung SATA 6Gb/s
  • Microsoft Windows 7 PRO 64-bit Pre-installed
  • Standard Features included: —— Intel H170 Express Chipset, — Dual Channel DDR3 Expandable up to 32GB 1600MHz, — Card Reader, — 3x USB 2.0, — 5x USB 3.0, — 1x HDMI...

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