What is the ideal configuration for a computer to run a VM smoothly?

Erez Zukerman March 28, 2012
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I’ve been thinking of getting a new rig, and wanted to tap the MakeUseOf Answers with an important question:

If I want my new computer to run Windows 7 or Ubuntu in a VM (VirtualBox) -flawlessly-, with great speed, full-on graphics (including Aero), and no major impact on the “real” OS (the host) — what sort of hardware specs should I go with?

What are the components that have the most impact on VM performance, and assuming money is no object, what should their optimum specs be?

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  1. Indronil Mondal
    March 30, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    If you use ubuntu or other lighter linux destro as the the host os then

    1. a good graphics card with minimum 512 mb ram
    2. 2 gb minimum ram
    3. minimum a dual core processor (2ghz +)
    (to run one virtual machine at a time )

    the more the better
    but yes the hard wares you used should be fully compatible with the host os
    for me my nvidia 7 series card with 515 MB didn't work well where as on board Intel graphics with 256 MB worked great .(my host is Ubuntu)
    but yes configure the vm properly play with the settings for better results..

  2. ha14
    March 30, 2012 at 7:34 pm
    • Erez Zukerman
      April 1, 2012 at 2:52 pm

       Definitely helpful, thank you!

  3. FIDELIS
    March 29, 2012 at 10:22 pm

    Hello, any recent computer with enough memory (8GB) should be good enough for what you want.  In one of my computers with a 6 core processor, ssd for operating system and sata drive with 10GB of memory, I do not feel any decrease in speed when running 3 virtual machines side to side.  Make sure to have at least a 4 core processor and enough memory and your machine should be good to go.

    • Erez Zukerman
      March 30, 2012 at 4:41 pm

      Thanks for your reply! Can you run Win7 in a VM with Aero in your configuration?

      • FIDELIS
        April 3, 2012 at 11:12 pm

         Hello, sorry for replying just now.  No, It does not run Aero in my config.  I did not noticed this until I checked when you asked because I always turn transparency and  stuff like that off.

        • Erez Zukerman
          April 4, 2012 at 7:39 am

           Thanks Fidelis! Understood.

        • FIDELIS
          April 5, 2012 at 3:04 am

           Hello again, tell you what, I'll will try at the earliest opportunity I remember and I'll let you know

  4. Bruce Epper
    March 28, 2012 at 11:28 pm

    Processor, RAM, and disk drives tend to have the greatest impact on VM performance.

    In my case, I am running an AMD Phenom X4 9500 2.2GHz, 8GB PC-5300 DDR2 RAM, NVIDIA GeForce 9400 GT video card w/1GB VRAM, and a mix of WD & Seagate hard drives (all mechanical).  My host OS is Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit.  I run Ubuntu 10.04 LTS, Ubuntu 11.10, UbuntuStudio 11.10, Mint 12, Fedora 16, and Win8 CP under VirtualBox without problems and minimal drag overall.  Because my system isn't a high-spec machine, I will normally only run 1 VM at a time, but even with 2 Linux VMs (1 server, 1 client) running, it doesn't bog the machine down too bad.  The key to making this work decently is that my VMs do not reside on the same physical drive as the host OS.

    My next machine would look like this:  Minimum of an AMD Phenom II X4 or Intel i5 at 2.5GHz, 16GB RAM (fastest supported for the proc/mbd), SSD for the host OS, separate SSD for cache drive, mechanical drive for data and guest VMs, and a 64-bit host OS.  The more concurrent VMs you want to run, the more RAM you should install and the faster processor you should use.

    • Erez Zukerman
      March 29, 2012 at 8:22 am

       Thanks, Bruce! My current specs aren't so far off your machine, but it is a bit less powerful (6GB of RAM instead of 8, and an old Intel dual-core processor).

      Re Win8: Did you manage to turn on Aero within the VM? (Win8 does have Aero, right?) And what VM app do you use?

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