It happens every year in August. Before Apple even releases its latest version of macOS, Corel is introducing a new version of Parallels Desktop. The best-selling virtualization tool allows Mac users to run Windows, Linux, and other operating systems from the comfort of macOS.
This year’s entry is Parallels Desktop 18, which, even on day one, supports Apple’s incoming macOS 13 Ventura. Parallels Desktop 18, just like its predecessor, gets the highest score in this review. However, all those stars have nothing to do with Corel packing the tool with excellent new features. Instead, the software gets top marks for its incredible ease of use, ever-improving stability, and ability to run on all Macs, new and old, including our favorites.
Parallels Desktop 18: Pricing and Availability
Parallels Desktop 18 can be downloaded from the Parallels website. It is offered as full and enhanced versions with packages starting at $49.99 for students and $69.99 for everyone else. Again, there are standard, pro, and business versions of Parallels and a 14-day free trial. In addition, depending on your choice, there are versions of Parallels with standalone and annual pricing.
As a host, Parallels Desktop 18 runs, in addition to macOS 13 Ventura, on macOS Monterey, macOS Big Sur, macOS Catalina, and macOS Mojave. In addition, you can run virtual versions of various Windows, macOS, and Linux operating systems, including any version of Windows 11. In addition, Parallels Desktop 18 is optimized to run on the latest Apple silicon chips, including the all-new Apple M2. .
Parallels Desktop 18: What You Like?
As mentioned above, there aren’t many new features in Parallels Desktop 18. And yet, many of the added features stand out.
For example, it is now possible for a game controller connected to your Mac to work in a virtual Windows session. Beforehand, this was a sometimes complex process of installing Windows drivers and hoping the connection worked. Parallels Desktop 18 also features enhanced USB 3.0 support, enabling connected webcams, video capture devices, and audio streaming devices.
Corel has also made it much better to run Intel (x86) apps through Windows 11 on ARM. In particular, file saving and reading has been improved, and games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive that didn’t work in Parallels Desktop 17 now run correctly. The company says 99.9% of Intel apps run successfully on Windows ARM, including resource-heavy titles like AutoCad.
More on ARM: One of the first drawbacks of using an Apple silicone Mac was that it was impossible to run Intel versions of Windows via virtualization with software such as Parallels or a Bootcamp partition.
Time has a way of solving these kinds of problems. So no, Bootcamp is still not an option on M1 and M2 Macs. However, Microsoft has now introduced Windows On ARM or WoA. Thanks to this, you can now run ARM versions of Windows 11 through Parallels and similar tools without missing a beat. In fact, Parallels 18 makes buying and downloading Windows ARM seamless from within the app.
During my testing on my 14-inch MacBook Pro (with an M1 chip), Windows 11 performed flawlessly over Parallels Desktop 18. I recommend using the recommended (and default) CPU/RAM settings for most users, so there are is a nice balance between physical macOS and virtual operating systems.
For those with machines using the Apple M1 Max and Ultra chips, it is now possible to configure virtual machines through Parallels with up to 62 GB of memory and 18 CPU cores. However, GPU customization is not allowed and is still managed directly by macOS.
Parallels Desktop 18: What You Don’t Like?
In my Parallels Desktop 17 review, I criticized Corel’s confusing way to praise its virtualization software. Unfortunately, Parallels Desktop 18 comes with the same confusion.
Corel offers Parallels Desktop 18 through an annual subscription model. You may use the software for 12 months, including any updates that come in during that time. After one year, you must renew your subscription to continue using the product. Subscriptions are available for the student, pro, and standard editions of Parallels Desktop 18.
The confusion arises when you consider that there is also a standard version of Parallels Desktop 18. This version is available for a one-time fee, offers fewer features, and only covers updates to the current version of Parallels. As soon as a new version of Parallels arrives, you’ll need to upgrade to support the next version of macOS. Do you understand?
Unless you use one For real old Mac that doesn’t support the latest version of macOS, there’s no practical reason not to go the subscription route. Plus, there isn’t much of a price difference between the two options.
|Student Edition||standard edition||Pro Edition||business edition|
|Full license pricing||$49.99 / year||$99.99||$119.99/year||$149.99 / year|
|Upgrade prices||$49.99 / year||$69.99||$69.99 / year||$149.99 / year|
It’s also worth noting that Corel has opted to increase the price on Parallels Desktop 18 over the earlier model. So across the board you pay an extra $20. Any price increase is unfortunate, but it seems that prices are going up for everything, so it’s not that surprising.
Parallels Desktop 18: The Competition
VirtualBox and VMware Fusion remain Parallels’ two most obvious competitors, although there are more. VMware Fusion finally supports (opens in new tab) Apple silicone Macs, but the same can’t be said for VirtualBox. Parallels Desktop 18 (or VMware Fusion) should be considered if you are using Apple silicon. The freebie VirtualBox might be your best bet if you’re using an older Mac.
Parallels Desktop 18: Should You Buy It?
Consider purchasing or updating Parallels Desktop 18 if…
- You are on Apple M1 or M2
- Need Windows 11 on your Mac
- Don’t mind paying extra
Do not buy Parallels Desktop 18 if …
- You have an older Mac
- I don’t want to pay for virtualization
- No need for Windows 11 for your computer
The computing world remains largely divided between Windows and Mac. However, thanks to Parallels Desktop 18, you don’t have to choose and you can run both operating systems on your Mac. The latest in a series of Parallels Desktop versions, you can run more than 200,000 Windows apps on your Apple device. In addition, it works in Intel-based and Apple silicon computers. Use it to seamlessly switch back and forth between operating systems, be it software testing, fun, or anything in between.
The five-star Parallels Desktop 18 is an excellent virtualization solution, packed with new features such as seamless support for game controllers, USB 3.0 and others that really seal the deal.
From the Windowssss to the Mac
iMore continues to love Parallels Desktop for its ease of use and useful features. This year’s release is another five-star package worth considering if you want to run other operating systems on your macOS 13 Ventura or earlier Macs.