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Saving 1.5-2 hours of battery life

  • Parallels Desktop 7 for Mac
  • Parallels Desktop 6 for Mac
  • Parallels Desktop 5 for Mac


This article is especially useful for Apple MacBook Pro owners. This model has two video adapters — integrated Intel HD Graphics and dedicated nVidia 320/330M. In Mac laptops, graphics processing is one of the most resource-consuming components, so if your goal is maximum battery life, it’s better to turn off 3D acceleration. The now-popular Windows 7 Operating System is installed with Aero as a default theme.  All shadows, semi-transparent elements and floating windows are rendered using DirectX, which produces additional load on the graphics subsystem. Although Aero it has virtually no effect on Windows performance, it significantly reduces battery life. The reason for this is that Parallels Desktop adapts any 3D-effect rendered by DirectX (which is not supported by Mac OS) to OpenGL. This process creates additional load on both physical video adapter and RAM, causing extra power consumption.

NOTE: If there’s a need, Mac laptops can switch from integrated to dedicated graphics on the fly. What they cannot do is switch back to integrated graphics on the fly. To disable the 3D accelerator, you need to stop (CMD+Q) the 3D application.

In Parallels Desktop 7 you can use another solution which keeps your 3D acceleration turned on and saves the battery life:

Open Configuration menu of your Virtual Machine:
Go to Virtual Machine menu → Configure → Options → Optimization → Power → and from the drop down menu choose 'Longer battery life'.

To put Parallels Desktop into power save mode using Parallels Desktop 6, do the following:

1.    Open Parallels Desktop.
2.    In the Virtual Machine menu, select Configure. Go to the Hardware tab, click Video in the sidebar and clear the Enable 3D acceleration checkbox.

Now, we have disabled 3D effects but we also need to decrease the amount of video memory allocated to the virtual machine: it’s still set to the default value, which in our case is 256 MB.
Since 2D graphics simply do  not need that much memory, it makes good sense to return the “extra” memory back to the host Operating System. 32 MB of video memory will be enough for running Windows 7 with disabled Aero, as well as for  Windows XP. So let’s change this parameter, as shown on the following screenshot:

Following these steps will help you save up to 1.5-2 hours of battery life. Of course, this configuration won’t let you run any “graphics heavy” software, so if you need to use 3D applications, the video settings should be left as the default.

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