Windows on Mac

It’s possible to run Windows on your Mac as well. This is very useful as there are quite a few frequently used applications that only run on Windows (Revit, Rhino, Grasshopper and iCOZ for example).

There are two main methods to run Windows on your Mac:

  • Bootcamp
  • Virtualization

Bootcamp

This gives you the choice to boot your Mac into Windows or OS X when you start your PC. Bootcamp is available for free (comes pre-installed). Bootcamp basically splits your hard drive in two and dedicates one part to Windows. The size of each partition is fixed and cannot be changed without removing Windows in its entirety. A system restart is required when you want to switch between OS X and Windows. Between both methods this option gives you better performance.

Virtualization

With this option you run Windows within OS X by creating a virtual machine. In some cases it even allows you to run Windows applications seamless within OS X. Note that running a virtual machine requires vast system resources: performance is especially dependent on the amount of available RAM and processor power.

Virtualization software:

Parallels and VMware both offer strong software solutions. Parallels seems to have a more user-friendly interface.

Installation

For a Windows on Mac installation guide visit: Software installation guides page.

Hardware requirements

To be able to install and run Windows on your Mac, your computer needs to meet minimum system requirements. These depend on whether you use Bootcamp or virtualization.

A typical Windows installation without any other software requires at least 20 GB and is also a minimum space requirement for Bootcamp. This is of course not enough to install other Windows-only software (e.g. Revit) needed for Architecture.
Depending on the number and size of the Windows-only software to be installed you may require at least 40 to 80 GB of storage space. Apples minimum requirement for Bootcamp of 20GB does not leave room to install large applications, such as Revit, and room to work with Windows comfortably.

Bootcamp hardware requirements

You need to have enough free space on your primary hard disk drive. Bootcamp cannot be used on a secondary hard drive or external hard drive.

  • At least 80GB of free disk space on your primary storage (Flash or hard disk)
  • This means a total capacity on your primary storage of at least 160GB, 240GB or more recommended
  • 4GB memory
  • Model specific requirements (Apple)

MacBooks that have Flash storage (SSD), may not have enough space. If you have 120GB Flash storage, it’s practically impossible to use Bootcamp for large software applications such as Revit.

Unused space reserved for Bootcamp cannot be used in OS X.

Note that it is nearly impossible to change the space you’ve reserved for Bootcamp later. If you reserve too little space, the ‘easiest’ solution is to remove Bootcamp and redo the entire process, reserving more space. This is not something you want to be forced to do.

Virtualization Hardware Requirements

The allocated space for Windows, typically at least 80GB, can be on any storage attached to the computer. Although it will work on an external hard drive, it is not recommended for performance reasons. We recommend to set the virtual machine up on internal storage of your Mac.

  • At least 80GB of free disk space, 90GB recommended.
  • Use internal storage for decent performance (recommended)
  • If you have only primary storage, which is most common, it should be at least 160GB, 240GB or more recommended
  • 8GB memory
  • Intel Core2 Duo, i5, i7 or Xeon processor
  • Check vendor specific requirements: VMWare Fusion, Parallels

With virtualization, space is reserved for your Windows Virtual Machine. Unused space inside the Virtual Machine cannot be used in OS X. It is however possible to resize the reserved space, so you can create more space when you need it. This allows you to allocate space more conservatively without too much hassle when it turns out you need more space.

If you’re running heavy applications, such as Photoshop, InDesign or Illustrator at the same time you’re using Windows in your Virtual Machine (VM), we recommend at least 16GB of memory, so you can use 8GB in Windows and 8GB in OS X. If you close most of your OS X applications when you run your Windows VM, you can configure the VM to use 6-7GB and have 1-2GB for OS X, making 8GB in total.

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