Mac VM - can it be "high performance"?


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Is it possible to create Mac Pro level performance in a VM with stout hardware on my Unraid server or will it always be slow/emulated level performance?

 

If so, is it best to stick with xeon/intel or can ryzen/threadripper be a good option as well?

 

(trying to figure out my first Unraid build and Mac VM will be a big big part if it's truly doable and stable)

 

advTHANKSance!

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Definitely possible, and some builds can be a lot faster than a mac pro, speaking about intel mac.

Qemu with kvm with gpu passthrough is not comparable with "vmware types" virtual machines.

I'm using mac os in a vm from about 2 years as my daily machine and I'm very satisfied with it.

Don't assume to have it working and optimized in a couple of days: depending on your experience level you can have it booted in hours (or days) and have it optimized in days or months.

The main advantage of running mac os in a vm is that you can emulate the cpu(s), so you can have a ryzen/threadripper in the host and emulate as a skylake or whatever you want intel cpu, without messing with amd patches of a real hackintosh.

Intel cpu(s) is the way to go especially if you need nested emulation (vm in a vm).

Edited by ghost82
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25 minutes ago, ghost82 said:

Definitely possible, and some builds can be a lot faster than a mac pro, speaking about intel mac.

Qemu with kvm with gpu passthrough is not comparable with "vmware types" virtual machines.

I'm using mac os in a vm from about 2 years as my daily machine and I'm very satisfied with it.

Don't assume to have it working and optimized in a couple of days: depending on your experience level you can have it booted in hours (or days) and have it optimized in days or months.

The main advantage of running mac os in a vm is that you can emulate the cpu(s), so you can have a ryzen/threadripper in the host and emulate as a skylake or whatever you want intel cpu, without messing with amd patches of a real hackintosh.

Intel cpu(s) is the way to go especially if you need nested emulation (vm in a vm).

 

Appreciate it!

 

How do you access the virtual Mac? 

 

I am very nervous about the amount of "work" that it may take to get up and running.  That's part of why I went to the Mac ecosystem 20+ years ago - to just have things work.

 

I'm confused by the last part there - you mention ryzen/threadripper emulating an intel processor but then say intel is the way to go.  I have the option of both obviously with a new build and am generally confused as to which to choose.  I don't see any use case for nested emulation for me - right now the only virtualization I do is running a windows VM in parallels for a single app that doesn't have a Mac version.  with Unraid I can just spin up a windows VM and work from there.

 

 

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Posted (edited)
17 hours ago, Ystebad said:

 

Appreciate it!

 

How do you access the virtual Mac? 

 

I am very nervous about the amount of "work" that it may take to get up and running.  That's part of why I went to the Mac ecosystem 20+ years ago - to just have things work.

 

I'm confused by the last part there - you mention ryzen/threadripper emulating an intel processor but then say intel is the way to go.  I have the option of both obviously with a new build and am generally confused as to which to choose.  I don't see any use case for nested emulation for me - right now the only virtualization I do is running a windows VM in parallels for a single app that doesn't have a Mac version.  with Unraid I can just spin up a windows VM and work from there.

 

 

 

You need to assign a dedicated gpu to the mac os vm, since you want "performance", to have video (hardware) acceleration, then you can access directly with a monitor attached to that gpu or with a remote software management setup in the vm (if no monitor is attached to the vm you need a hdmi or whatever your socket is, dummy plug).

Without a dedicated gpu you can use the vm only for basic operations, as you won't have video acceleration.

Apple never released machines with amd cpus, but you can emulate intel even if you have an amd cpu; I would go for intel as you can passthrough (no emulation) even the cpu without too many headaches, with few or no patches.

Amd cpu passthrough (not emulated) requires more patches that can change with mac os updates too.

 

As far as your case "running a windows vm in parallels...", I think you won't be able to do that in your mac vm (parallels installed in your mac vm --> this is nested virtualization) with an amd cpu, but you won't have issues with an intel cpu and nested emulation; but you are right you can setup directly a windows vm in unraid without the need of nested virtualization.

Edited by ghost82
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