The Mac Observer recently ran benchmark tests to see which offers the best performance when running Windows on a Mac—Parallels, Fusion, VirtualBox, or Boot Camp.
The clear winner was Boot Camp, as it lets Windows run directly on Mac hardware, essentially turning your Mac into a high-end PC. For users that need to run OS X and Windows at the same time, however, virtualization software is a better option, and Parallels 8 ($80) was the overall winner there. VirtualBox was an acceptable option for basic virtualization needs, and its free price tag is a nice bonus.
Check out the complete benchmark results here.
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