9 Replies Latest reply on Jul 2, 2020 12:23 PM by Mikero

    VRAM limited to 128MB on guest macOS

    jay_f Lurker

      Hello there,


      I was really into moving my VM's to Fusion 10, it sounded very promising and fairly priced and so I started my 30-day trial on the standard version (not Pro)

      Frankly, some Windows VM's I checked were performing very good.

      But, I also need macOS VM's to test some software on, and so I set up a Sierra (10.12.6) VM. The guest OS is macOS High Sierra.


      And then, sadly, I was like... what? How can they possibly advertise and ship this? This is laggy as hell. It's the graphics!

      With VMWare Tools installed of course, I could only get it up to 128MB of graphics memory (VRAM) which is obviously not enough.

      Just try Google Maps, on Chrome or Safari - unbearable. Try opening Launchpad. Ehmmm...

      I spent a lot of time looking on how to change this to no avail. All my queries lead to posts over years ago and techniques like editing settings svga.vramSize etc. which are not actually applicable.


      To be clear, I'm not talking about 3D acceleration (like the Maps.app that does not work) - this is understandable.


      What made it more disappointing is that the main competitor, Parallels, allows e..g 256MB of VRAM on macOS guest OS, which makes it run so much more smoothly. Same VM, much smoother.


      What makes this worse, is that I found people asking about this since years ago, but not finding an actual solution ever.


      This is a product that came out a month ago. It feels half-baked (e.g. why have a checkbox on 3d acceleration when it does not work on macOS guest OS - just disable it!)


      So... is there a way to run more smoothly macOS guest OS on macOS host OS? Is there a way to change Graphics Memory on this to 256MB at least?

      Is there some hack? Why isn't this officially supported?

      Does anyone actually use VMWare Fusion 10 for macOS guest OS?

      Or am I totally missing something?


      I have a Mac Mini 2012 i7 quad, 16GB RAM, Intel Graphics HD4000 1.5GB VRAM - if that should matter.



        • 1. Re: VRAM limited to 128MB on guest macOS
          jay_f Lurker

          Is there someone actually using macOS as guest OS with Fusion 10?

          • 2. Re: VRAM limited to 128MB on guest macOS
            dlhotka Virtuoso

            I do all the time, and it works fine (within the 3d acceleration limitations).  You're trying to do this on a system using an out-of-date integrated graphics chip (blame apple for not updating it in years), so that may be part of the problem.


            Make sure, on that host, that your guests have exactly 2 CPU's assigned - more and you'll starve the host, less, and the guest OS won't operate properly.

            • 3. Re: VRAM limited to 128MB on guest macOS
              jay_f Lurker

              Thanks for replying.


              The integrated graphics chip is old, I know, but:

              - the graphics chip is not directly used, it's all software emulated supposedly (?)

              - the graphics chip supports Metal 2, Apple still supports it. Fusion advertised supporting Metal 2 on the Mac (maybe not applicable here though?)

              - this graphics chip is even used for H264 hardware accelerated encoding by some applications even today (e.g. Plex streaming); it's not completely out of date

              - macOS VM's work better under Parallels, just by getting 256MB VRAM (how hard can it be?)


              Since pricing & licensing with Fusion 10 is very competitive, I might probably go with it for Windows/Linux VM's

              For MacOS VM's I found that even using Parallels Desktop Lite (which is free on the Mac App Store for Linux/macOS VM's) results in a better experience (256MB VRAM incl.). Some limitations there, such as no bridged network, but I can live with that.


              Maybe I whine too much, before even becoming a customer, but I am hesitant to invest on a product (and all the time to set up multiple VM's) when I see this VRAM issue going back many years in forums, even in here. It's 2017 already, and VMWare got a very fresh version of their product - which does not even address that issue. I would like to know if this is under their radar -- or is it just me who is too demanding? Should I use another product in VMWare's lineup?

              • 4. Re: VRAM limited to 128MB on guest macOS
                dlhotka Virtuoso

                The graphics chip is used by the emulation engine, so it makes a huge difference in how that runs.  The metal renderer may only be implemented for modern hardware - haven't looked at the detailed specs.


                In any case, VMWare doesn't comment on future roadmap items, so no guesses as to where it might be in the queue.

                • 5. Re: VRAM limited to 128MB on guest macOS
                  LifeIsToLive Lurker

                  Reviving an old thread, I know, but something that appears to be still an issue...


                  MacBook Pro, 16" 2019.  Maxed out everything:

                  - 2.4GHz 8-core i9 9th Gen.

                  - 64GB RAM

                  - 8TB SSD

                  - AMD Radeon Pro 5500M 8GB.

                  Yes, 8GB Graphics RAM in host.

                  Running macOS 10.15.5 Catalina


                  Multiple VMs, both Mac and windows guest OS's. No way that I can find to increase the Graphics RAM of any VMWare guest beyond 128MB.


                  This article https://kb.vmware.com/s/article/1001876 says I should be able to set custom video memory size through the GUI, with a "Shared Graphics Memory" drop down menu option in the Display settings for a VM. It also says I should be able to set it by editing the .vmx file.


                  Problem 1: I don't have that drop down menu available in that location for any of my VMs.


                  Problem 2: That article explicitly says it doesn't support assigning more than 128MB.  Huh???!  A little over one hundred MB of VRAM limit? I have eight thousand MB of VRAM!!  8GB of VRAM in my hardware, and I can't even assign one or two of those GB to my guest VM?  That's if the guest's limit even needs to rely on the host's VRAM hardware.


                  Parallels Desktop for Mac has a drop-down allowing up to 2GB of VRAM to be assigned to a VM, and I've been able to do that for years, even when my host Mac hardware had 4GB or even only 2GB -- yes I was able to assign 2GB of VRAM to a guest even when my host only had that.  That may or may not be a good idea, but it's possible.  Needless to say, is there any reason why VMWare Fusion can't do the same, especially if I DO have more than enough hardware in the host to support it?

                  • 6. Re: VRAM limited to 128MB on guest macOS
                    LifeIsToLive Lurker

                    Update, after reading a couple more posts on here I found the solution to problem 1.  That drop-down shows if I check the Accelerate 3D Graphics checkbox.  However, that checkbox being able to be turned on is kinda stupid because right underneath that it says "3D acceleration is not supported for the current guest operating system". 


                    Still I can turn it on, and change the VRAM up to 3072MB.  But then running the VM and selecting About This Mac - it still says there's only 128MB of VRAM.  Consistent with the "not supported" note, so at least that makes some kind of internal sense.


                    However, that still makes problem 2 very real and a huge problem.  Why on earth can't a Mac VM have more than 128MB of VRAM, especially when I have 8GB of VRAM in my host (and 64GB of standard RAM)??


                    As noted above, it can't be some kind of Mac limitation, since Parallels Desktop for Mac can do it.  Why can't Fusion?


                    Or am I missing something?

                    • 7. Re: VRAM limited to 128MB on guest macOS
                      continuum Guru
                      vExpertCommunity Warriors

                      AFAIK 3072 mb would be out of range even with latest virtual hardware versions.

                      But have you tried with 256 mb or 512 mb by editing the vmx- file directly ?

                      • 8. Re: VRAM limited to 128MB on guest macOS
                        dlhotka Virtuoso

                        Fusion doesn't directly virtualize the physical VRAM AFAIK.  And for OSX guests, why do you need more anyway?  There's no 3d acceleration, so not sure I see a use case.

                        • 9. Re: VRAM limited to 128MB on guest macOS
                          Mikero Master
                          VMware Employees

                          Yah, this value is irrelevant for macOS guests.

                          There is no virtual hardware-assisted 3D graphics device presented to the VM, it's just a CPU-renderer.

                          This is essentially a feature request.