Use automatic graphics memory in Parallels Desktop for Mac

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Parallels Desktop 14 for Mac introduced a new powerful feature to help you manage system and graphics memory with maximum efficiency - Automatic graphics memory.

Note: The feature is also available in newer Parallels Desktop for Mac versions.

When selected, Windows will use up to half of assigned system memory (RAM) for graphics when required. Example: if your Mac video card has 3GB of vRAM, but your virtual machine has 4GB of System Memory (RAM) assigned, then Windows will use only up to 2GB of video card's vRAM. To use all Mac vRAM in Windows, the amount of assigned RAM should be twice higher - 6GB in this case.

To enable this feature open virtual machine's configuration > Hardware > Graphics > set 'Memory' to Auto. Then close the configuration window and start the virtual machine. To check the amount of system memory dedicated to Windows, navigate to CPU & Memory tab. See more details in KB122705.

Note: this feature is available for Windows 8.1 and 10 operating systems and enabled by default in new virtual machines.

Technical note: the difference between automatic and dedicated graphics memory

Regardless the setting you choose, Parallels Desktop does not have direct access to Mac graphics card (no Mac applications have). In macOS, OpenGL and Metal APIs manage graphics memory allocations and virtualizes it for applications' use. Parallels Desktop uses OpenGL to implement 3D acceleration.

Graphics memory: 2GB dedicated

Note: when you define an amount of graphics memory manually, Parallels Desktop wires it in Mac system memory, increasing total amount of Mac RAM used by Windows.

Graphics memory: Auto

In this case Windows allocates memory for graphics purposes from available RAM (which is allocated from Mac RAM), but not more than a half of assigned RAM.

* - Aperture Segment is a type of segmentation model that allows graphics processing unit (GPU) to access physical memory. See this article for more details.

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