Virtual Box vs Hyper-V in 2014: which one is faster?Posted on 12/21/2014
Recently I had to decide between VirtualBox and Hyper-V as my virtualization platform for SharePoint server. Using it as a development machine, I have the flexibility to pick either one without production environment considerations. There were a few articles on the web which compare the two, but they were all dated back to at least 2011. So, how do they actually perform in 2014?
One thing which I would like to note of is that Hyper-V Generation 2 machines use UEFI boot instead of the traditional BIOS. Generation 2 machines also introduces less virtualization overhead by removing legacy interfaces (hey...how many of you still have a physical IDE cable?). These improvements should translate to better performance compared to Hyper-V Generation 1. With little information on the internet, I decided to run my own test.
Since my purpose is to run SharePoint server, I timed how long it takes for various installation steps. Only automatic operations are timed, e.g. from machine start to the Windows Installation welcome screen, and from installation begin to the screen which prompts for Administrator password. Of course, other parameters like such as virtual machine CPU, virtual machine RAM, VHD size etc., are configured identical.
Virtual Box vs Hyper-V Gen 1
The first test is done on my desktop machine. Since I'm reluctant to "upgrade" from Windows 8 to 8.1, the only choice I have to make is Virtual Box vs Hyper-V Generation 1.
OS: Windows 8
CPU: Intel i7-4820K @ 3.7GHz
RAM: 16GB DDR 1600
HDD: 240GB SSD
|Operation||Virtual Box||Hyper-V Gen 1|
|Machine boot -> Install screen||27s||17s|
|Install start -> Administrator password screen||155s||283s|
|Machine start -> Windows ready||10s||7s|
|Install IIS role||39s||50s|
|Unzip 345MB zip to 555MB iso||7s||8s|
Next, I ran a few benchmark tests to determine the performance of various system components using NovaBench and Roadkil's Disk Speed.
|NovaBench||Virtual Box||Hyper-V Gen 1|
|RAM speed (MB/s)||12098||13363|
|HDD Write speed (MB/s)||213||232|
|Roadkil's Disk Speed||Virtual Box||Hyper-V Gen 1|
|Max Read Speed (MB/s)||650||654|
|Cached Speed (MB/s)||284||268|
It seems that despite the difference in virtualization architecture, neither Virtual Box nor Hyper-V gains a significant advantage over the other. Next, I moved to my Fujitsu UH572 laptop. Running on Windows 8.1, I was also curious how much performance can Hyper-V gen 2 machines gain.
Virtual Box vs Hyper-V Gen 1 vs Hyper-V Gen 2
OS: Windows 8.1
CPU: i5 3317U @ 1.7 GHz
RAM: 8 GB DDR 1066
HDD: 240GB SSD
|Operation||Virtual Box||Hyper-V Gen 1||Hyper-V Gen 2|
|Machine boot -> Install screen||40s||18s||N/A (due to UEFI boot)|
|Install start -> Administrator password screen||206s||286s||177s|
|Machine start -> Windows ready||20s||9s||6s|
|Install IIS role||78s||74s||63s|
|Unzip 313MB zip to 529MB iso||10s||19s||9s|
Hyper-V is the all time winner! Let us move on to find out why:
|NovaBench||Virtual Box||Hyper-V Gen 1||Hyper-V Gen 2|
|RAM speed (MB/s)||11274||11693||11833|
|HDD Write speed (MB/s)||145||152||153|
|Roadkil's Disk Speed||Virtual Box||Hyper-V Gen 1||Hyper-V Gen 2|
|Max Read Speed (MB/s)||762||5940||2180|
|Cached Speed (MB/s)||210||340||324|
The reason is pretty obvious: Hyper-V somehow cached data from the harddisk, making the peak read speed nearly 6 GB/s (that's 6 gigabyte, not gibabit!). In terms of CPU and RAM performance, Hyper-V is on par with Virtual Box.
Hyper-V seems better at I/O, but the final choice depends
Combining results from the two suite of tests, it is difficult to draw a conclusion. In the first test, Hyper-V is only marginally better that I consider their performances equal. In the second test, Hyper-V offers quite an amount of HDD performance boost which may benefit heavy I/O applications. This sounds reasonable - after all, Hyper-V is designed for server virtualization, while Virtual Box aims at compatibility.
Looking at the numbers, Virtual Box still offers decent performance. For development purpose, I don't think either one will slow you down a lot. Other factors, such as VM backup, compability and usability, should probably be taken into consideration before making a final decision.
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Hyper-V Gen 2 seems to default to a SCSI rather than IDE boot disk. Any chance you're seeing the difference between Hyper-V IDE and SCSI drives rather than Gen 1 and Gen 2 VMs in the second test?
by Xenny on 7/16/2015
Thank you for this comprehensive comparison! Your readers might also find this direct comparison between Oracle VirtualBox and Microsoft Hyper-V, generated by real users in the IT Central Station community, to be helpful: https://goo.gl/VdHFjb
by Danielle on 3/29/2016