Boot Camp vs. Virtual Machine for Running Windows on Macs

Members of the Apple family sometimes have to run Windows on their machines to access A-list video games or professional editing tools that are not available on Macs. Apple has made decisive steps towards resolving the compatibility issue by introducing Boot Camp Assistant app. Another approach to satisfying the Windows-on-Mac need is to make use of freely-available virtual machine (VM) technologies. This article aims to discuss the two methods of executing Windows software on Apple machines as well as their respective pros and cons.

Boot Camp

Boot Camp is a go-to method for Mac aficionados because it is already a part of macOS. The use of the utility allows dedicating a chunk of hard drive space to Windows, thereby allowing a Mac to function as a PC. The following is the list of Boot Camp’s pros:

  • Full access to CPU-intensive programs such as 3D games or video editing tools;
  • Great performance on Macs with suboptimal specs;
  • Completely free;
  • No need for downloading and installation;
  • Sleek interface;
  • Less complicated than virtualization.

Despite numerous benefits of using Boot Camp for running Windows on your Mac, the utility also has some downsides:

  • Windows programs and macOS apps can’t be run simultaneously;
  • A need for external USB flash drive with OS X El Captain 10.11 or earlier;
  • Dual booting is inconvenient for some users;
  • A threat of Windows-related malware;
  • A need for using backup programs designed for Windows;
  • Doesn’t support all third-party Windows programs;
  • Partitioning issues.

boot camp partition


Virtualization is the approach to running Windows that allows using the two OSs simultaneously. To start using Windows on their Mac, a user has to download a third-party application for creating a virtual machine (VM). Such applications are freely available on the web and Apple App Store. The following are key pros of virtualization:

  • Allows running macOS and Windows simultaneously;
  • Easy to switch from one OS to another without rebooting a Mac;
  • Easier to make snapshots of Windows;
  • Can be used to run several versions of Windows OS simultaneously;
  • No need for dual-booting;
  • Minor integration functions such as shared folders;
  • Commercial virtualization apps make it possible to have Windows programs on the Mac desktop.

The use of a VM for running Windows does have several cons:

  • Requires a lot of RAM and CPU power to achieve optimal performance;
  • Slower than an actual PC or Mac running Windows through Boot Camp;
  • Windows cannot access Direct X and 3D animation;
  • The need to buy a Windows license.

Virtual Machine

Which Method is Better?

It is up to a user to decide which method to use for running Windows on their Apple machine. If a Mac has more than four cores and at least four GB of RAM, it is recommended to create a VM. Boot Camp, on the other hand, will benefit owners of older Macs.

Important Note

After discussing Boot Camp and virtualization, it is worth mentioning that there are free open source utilities for running Windows programs on Macs. Therefore, if a user is interested in running only one or two PC programs on their Apple computer, they are recommended to utilize such utilities.