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We’ve been doing a lot of testing recently with VMware ESXi and DeployStudio. These virtualization and deployment solutions can be used to improve and expand the services we offer. VMware does not officially support the Mac mini hardware, but the latest versions have greatly improved support for the 2012 Mac mini hardware. We’ve been using a few virtual machines for development and beta testing. We were really impressed with the performance. Between the VMware hardware drivers (especially display drivers) and overall performance, you wouldn’t even think it’s a virtual machine. We decided to do a few tests and the results were impressive. There are also ways to convert VMware Fusion Virtual Machines for use with VMware ESXi.

The host machine for these tests is a 2012 Mac mini Server upgraded to 16GB of RAM running VMware ESXi 5.1. We created two identical Virtual Machines that closely mimicked a base model Mac mini. The tests were performed with both virtual machines running at the same time. Geekbench tests were ran while connected to each Virtual machine via screen sharing. The results of the virtual machines were close to that of a baseline 2011 Mac mini.

Baseline 2011 Mac mini Geekbench: 6583
Baseline 2012 Mac mini Geekbench: 7433
Virtual 10.8.4 (2) 2.19GHz i7 cores w/4GB RAM Geekbench: 6461
Virtual 10.9 DP1 (2) 2.19GHz i7 cores w/4GB RAM Geekbench: 6575
Virtual 10.9 DP2 (2) 2.19GHz i7 cores w/4GB RAM Geekbench: 6560

VMware ESXi is available as an alternative OS option, along with Windows Server and Linux. Windows is required to manage the ESXi installation and a free serial number can be obtained by registering the installation with VMware.

When the new Mac Pro is released it’ll be a great option for VMware and hosting many virtual machines with awesome performance. We’ll have more on that once there are actual machines that we can physically test and torture.