Thanks largely to a comment by ReaperX7 in this thread, I've been exploring VMWare's vmplayer in greater depth:
As I noted in one of my comment there, I've been mostly accustomed to Oracle's VirtualBox and, to a lesser extent, to qemu. But motivated by ReaperX7, my rather neglected 64-bit VMWare-6.0.0 was used as the host for slackware64-current, joining the recently upgraded Slackware guests of the same version. I think this allows for an apples to apples comparison to evalute the VMs since the guest systems are the same.
One annoyance with my free VMWare vmplayer is the exceedingly long boot times regardless of whether 3.10.17-huge or 3.10.17-generic is selected as the kernel. It takes an average of 49 seconds from launch to the login prompt on VMWare. In contrast, both VirtualBox (4.3.0) and qemu (1.6.1) take an average of 18 seconds. The services enabled on all three platforms are identical.
The slowdown is apparent with the dots during the kernel uncompression phase. Each dot appears very s-l-o-w-l-y whereas with VBOX and qemu, they just fly by.
Once booted, though, Slackware is very snappy and every bit as fast as with the other two VMs. X11 feels just as responsive as it does on my more familiar VBOX. And I ran some quick comparisons of measuing time (./configure && make)
on all three VMs using gawk-4.1.0 -- there's no significant difference among the three -- all report right around 11.5 seconds of wallclock time.
So, overall, I'm pleased with my experience thus far with VMWare except for the sluggish kernel load. I'm not sure if this is a Slackware issue or perhaps my ignorance of tuning VMWare -- thus this lengthy post to seek advice.