Chrome uses way more memory than Firefox, Opera or Internet Explorer
When you ask Internet users about their personal opinions about web browsers, some may tell you that they feel Firefox is using too much memory which is keeping the browser back, and that Google's Chrome browser on the other hand is a slim fast browser that does not use that much RAM when running.
It seems like a fight between the two browsers, with Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Opera only taking up the roles of bystanders that watch how those two browsers - or users of those browsers - are battling it out.
If you have followed the development of both browsers in recent time, you may have noticed that Mozilla has started to cut down on Firefox's fat to improve the browser's memory usage and snappiness, while Google seems to have shifted priorities elsewhere. Some users even see the browser becoming more bloated, with all the features and additions that Google is implementing into it.
What better way to test a browser's memory use than to let them load a series of websites. All plugins, extensions and toolbars have been disabled for the test to avoid a distortion of the test results.
Memory usage itself was tested in Google Chrome's About Memory page (chrome://memory-redirect/) and Windows Task Manager to make sure the results matched up.
A sample of ten popular websites has been opened in all browsers before the memory use of each browser was analyzed.
- Websites used in the test: Youtube, Leo.org, Mozilla, Google, Userscripts, Armorgames, Ghacks, Lifehacker, Reddit and Softpedia
- Browsers: Google Chrome Canary 22, Internet Explorer 9, Mozilla Firefox 16 Nightly, Opera 12.00
- System: Windows 7 Professional 64-bit, 8GB RAM
Without further ado, here are the results of the benchmark:
|Google Chrome 22 Canary||341,444||16,475||357,919||453,72||182,972|
|Internet Explorer 9||270,764||27,742||298,506||399,788||236,828|
|Mozilla Firefox 16 Nightly||216,604||35,816||252,42||215,972||103,352|
As you can see, Chrome is at the top of the list followed by Internet Explorer, then Firefox and finally Opera.
- Opera is the most memory efficient browser, followed by Firefox
- Opera needs 150 MB less of memory than Chrome for the ten websites
- Firefox needs 100 MB less of memory than Chrome to display the ten sample websites
- When it comes to virtual memory, both browsers use only half of what Chrome needs.
Memory usage is obviously not the only factor that is playing a role when it comes to the web browser of choice. Other factors, like theme and extensions support, the layout and design, compatibility, stability or page loading speed can also play a role in a user's decision. The benchmark did not look at those - sometimes subjective - factors, but purely at the memory utilization of the tested browsers. As you can see, Firefox, Opera and Internet Explorer are more memory efficient than Google's Chrome browser.
Would you have ever thought this to be the case?
Update: We have updated the benchmark in 2014. You can check out the latest memory usage findings here.Advertisement
Very interesting test results, to say the least.
I was never concerned about memory usage in Firefox, as the Browser was always fast, secure and Mozilla patched the few flaws, very fast!
Doesn’t matter … Got 8gb ram !!!
Yeah, that’s the thing these days,any new machine has bucketloads of memory, & probably 4 cores. Incredible really. Wasn’t long ago that quad core was something you could only dream about(if you weren’t rich) & 8Gb was the size of the hard disk. In fact, it seems like only yesterday that you might have run 2K “TinyBasic”, & lusted after a floppy drive, so you didn’t have to load your games off cassette :-).
Kids today etc etc :-))
Its true, though, that its still widely believed that FF is the memory hog, but these benchmarks show that its just not the case.
Even with all the add-ons and plugins loaded, Firefox is still more memory efficient on my system than Chrome.
Btw, Facebook and Twitter should have been in the list of websites.
I just picked ten random websites from history.
The results don’t surprise me – last August I ran similar tests (10 tabs) on FF5, IE9 and Chrome 13 – FF was the easy winner, IE some way back and Chrome sucked (RAM like it was going out of fashion).
It appears that they have all improved slightly in absolute RAM usage but the order is the same.
Ps as you compared betas of Chrome/FF (4 months from live), wouldn’t it be fairer to test IE10 on W8 or was it not stable enough?
I would have tested IE10 if Microsoft would have made that version available for Windows 7. I just tested IE10 on Windows 8 against Chrome 21, and results have been even worse:
Ie10 used 215MB of memory for the sites, while Chrome 21 503MB which is more than double the amount. Please note that you can’t compare the results with the test results of the Windows 7 machine. Still, it shows that Chrome’s really bad when it comes to memory utilization.
I agree with the results of Chrome 22. I was running that for a bit (on 8 GB of RAM) and it would crawl at times for unknown reasons. At first I thought it was due to the pre-fetching of websites, so I disabled that, and it continued, then I disabled all addon, and it still continued. So I downgraded back to v20 and it is flying again.
I hope they fix whatever leak they introduced.
Maybe that’s it. I’ve never had a problem with Chrome even with lots of tabs open. Now my pc is constantly freezing within chrome and it takes lots of memory. I’m gonna take a break from it now and come back later. I’ll be using opera for the time being.
Comodo Dragon browser is good alternative for Chrome. Same engine but with less memory.
Not being a Chrome user I’m neither surprised or not. What I have been noticing though with latest versions of Firefox is indeed a more than noticeable improvement of memory management. I don’t know about Chrome, don’t really care in fact.
Look at these screens, i got 26 tabs open:
And it takes opera 1.4 gigabyte to run it:
It’s waaaay to much. Before 10.5 it would be something around 500 Mb.
As you can clearly see from this test, Opera 12 is the most memory friendly browser. Your comment about a new JS engine does not match up with reality.
Without actually taking benchmarks, I had noticed Chrome getting puffy. It was one of the reasons I went back to Opera. Opera suffers from a memory leak, though, so another test would be to close the tabs and see if memory is returned to the system. I have seen Opera take 1.5GB of RAM here, and when I cycle the prog it drops to .5GB. The other browsers may not be much better.
I currently use Opera as my main browser, one big reason being the mail/rss reader. FF is my backup, and I think they’ve made very nice improvements. One thing I will give FF – they have the absolute best font rendering. Verdana comes through very delicate and well-defined, while in Chrome and Opera it is almost Bold-faced and not nearly so well defined.
The biggest problem with Opera right now is stability. They really need to get on this.
Not returning the memory to the system right away doesn’t mean that there’s a memory leak. Opera will hold onto data for fast forward/back navigation and stuff like that. Eventually, it will be returned to the system. But you wouldn’t notice that simply by opening and closing tabs, and checking the mem use right away.
Another trick i found to greatly reduced memory usage of opera
2) Go to “Disk Cache” dropdown and search for “Cache Other”
3) Unchecked that>>Save>>Clean cache>>Restart browser
4)after restart go to sites with lots of flash/vdeos/mp3 etc(example youtube)
BIG NOTE: downside of this is that opera:cache wont shown “Other Cached” like flash,mp2,mp4 files aka need to redownload it again
it will be a big problem in slow internet connections but not really a problem on sueprfast network connections
you can also uncheck “Cache Docs and Cache Fig”(for plain text sites and Images) if you really concerned about memory usage
plus another tips
1)disable speed dial
2)Disable “Enable UI animation” (opera:config)
3)SHIFT+F12>>>Uncheck Enable Special Effects
im not an opera expert user but i found these tips greatly help me utilize the memory usage(i have 2GB of RAM)
also, check this site too
Disabling BitTorrent, Unite and other features you aren’t already using won’t do anything.
Using Chrome 21.0.1180.0 dev-m and right now with 7 pinned tabs and 10 other tabs open, it is using just over 2GB of RAM. Compared with 64-bit Firefox Nightly 16a1 only using around 1GB with the same tabs open.
I have 24GB of RAM though, so I don’t really care how much an app uses as long as it stays responsive and doesn’t bog down. =)
And I use 32GBs of RAM. (-:
That’s a huge difference.
I have a philosophical problem with this. With 24GB RAM, you have no need of tight coding. But much of the world is not so fortunate. So the question becomes, whom are the coders writing for? When Chrome first came out it was lightweight and refreshing. But then I noticed how it spammed Task Manager, and how it began to get heavier.
I give Chrome a lot of credit for innovation that has invigorated the browser races, so much so that Opera has taken an uncharacteristic back seat. But that kind of memory usage is going to place the browser out of the reach of at least half the world’s population I would think.
Having only 256MB on my ancient XP laptop I found a fresh install of Chrome used 35MB more RAM on most websites (1 tab open) than my original install of IE8 (which has all its history, forms, passwords etc. present). For those of us too poor to afford new systems every few years I for one curse all this OS/software/hardware ‘progress’ that is forced upon us.
My IE8 laptop plays youtube vids as well as any brand new PC, whereas the fresh install of Chrome now stutters. Stop letting these people con you out of your hard earned cash. If people didn’t buy new OS’s and hardware all the time, maybe the IT world would concentrate on improving the working stuff we already have rather than force feeding us new broken stuff.
Does the Chrome Task Manager and Purge Memory still work?
FF with Firemin continues its small task.
Yes the start up parameter is still working.
I knew that Chrome uses too much memory :)
Not so long ago people were complaining about Firefox using too much memory. Then Chrome came around and was supposed to be the miracle solution, ha!
I am surprised at these results. I suppose the numbers can’t be argued with, but it always feels to me like Chrome is less clunky and interferes a lot less with other tasks. If I’m playing a resource hungry game, Skyrim for instance, Chrome is my go-to browser to quickly access a guide or console codes. Firefox and IE kill my framerate. Opera isn’t so bad but slow to open and to close compared to Chrome.
I try hard to keep my /program files/ slim, but I can’t settle for just one final browser. I just can’t make up my mind anymore.
Chrome may be a memory hog but it’s silky smooth to use. I have been alternating the four browsers mentioned for the past year, and I really like how Chrome is the least likely to go unstable and crash, or that when a tab goes funky the other tabs remain usable, unlike in Opera, Fx and IE9 where the whole browser hangs. I bet using more memory is one of the reasons for Chrome’s unmatched user experience, so even though I only have 2GB in my Win7 system, I will continue to use it as my primary browser.
The (casual, unscientific) tests I’ve ran actually show that Chrome uses roughly twice the amount of memory my Firefox does. My Firefox has AdblockÂ Plus, Ghostery and Greasemonkey among some other extensions.
However, as both the post and some comments have mentioned, this does not necessarily determine the browser of choice. I would be using Firefox even if it was the other way around.
I do agree that memory usage should not determine which browser you are using, unless one of the browser’s is using too much memory and brining the rest of the system to a crawl because of it.
add the fact that chrome uses 10 times disk space as that of FF[350mb].
will Martin be kind enough to enlighten us on’ how high RAM usage may affect hardware?’
this is one question ,i am looking for answers for long.
High ram use obviously does not affect you if you have 4, 8 or even more Gigabytes of RAM installed. If you however only have 128, 256 or 512 MB installed, you may see slow downs if RAM is maxed out.
I have 3GB of RAM and I’m considering dropping Chrome and moving back to Firefox or even Opera.
Chrome also places that installation folder under User/Appdata in Windows Vista+, which makes backups more difficult, and necessitates one installation per user.
Did you mean move back up to Opera or Firefox?
Actually, i think if your system can handle it you shouldn’t worry about memory usage at all.
Chrome utilizes a slighlty different way of solving the ‘tab’ browsing question that may explain why it uses more memory than the rest.
While firefox and opera both utilize a single-thread per tab, Chrome instead utilizes a single-process per tab.
Try it yourself, open 10 tabs in Chrome, then open your Windows Task Manager. There’ll be 10 chrome processes.
Now open 10 tabs in firefox, then open your windows task manager, just one firefox process, but it’s using lots of memory.
The alternative is a single-thread per tab, in which case if one tab crashes, all other tabs crash as well, because they’re all threads that reside in the same process, and the whole process has crashed.
My feeling (although I’m not sure), is that one process per tab is inherently less efficient than one thread per process, however there are upsides and downsides and I don’t think anyone is too interested in memory usage anymore, particularly on desktops and laptops.
Smart phones though are different.
Good observation. Noticed that and did not know why it was doing that.
There are of course people who can’t always instantly afford a new powerful computer every 4-5 years that can handle the increase in power demand by browsers.
Recycling old computers is good.
In doing so with one last week, i noticed that Opera ran better with only one stick of memory (512k) than Firefor or Google Chrome.
Do you regularly use the other browsers, chrome learns your habits and will pre-load pages you are likely to browse to before you do
I’m not sure if Gilsham’s post was intented for me.
But yes, i regularly try/use most “major” browsers.
I knew that Chrome “pre-loads” pages but didn’t know that it could learn from “habits”.
Don’t know how that could change memory usage though (if question was intended for me).
I did want to add that i had Opera, Firefox and Chrome working on a single 512k stick for a few days on LinuxMint13 Cinnamon and that Opera was the most responsive and less demanding on such tiny memory.
Just ran this with those same sites open on Chromium 22.0.1188.0.Quite a hefty 447,798.Still, I wouldn’t browse with anything else & it doesn’t touch 8GB RAM.
Some people here expressed their indifference about browsers memory usage, because they have 8 and upward GB of RAM. Let’s look at memory usage problem from a different angle: for a set amount of available memory, the browser with most efficient memory usage will be able to have more tabs open without experiencing slowdowns, than the browser with less effective memory usage. (Note: 32-bit processes in Windows have a limit of 2gb of accessible address space. 64-bit applications could use up to 8TB, but should be explicitly compiled to do so.)
Long time ago I chose Opera because it can have tons of tabs open at the same time without slowing to a crawl like other browsers.
Sorry… doesn’t even resemble my experience.
I love Firefox UI and functionality/extensibility. But despite promise after promise of improved memory management, I’ve only seen Firefox get worse, not better. I have virtually given up Firefox, as it has gone from consuming several hundred MB to over a GB to over 2GB regularly.
Shockingly, I have recently found Opera approaching Firefox in memory consumption in the same scenarios.
Yes, the problem seems worst after running Flash video. If it’s the fault of Adobe’s flash plugin, then write your own, Mozilla! And yes, I use lots of Firefox extensions. But it’s Mozilla’s extension architecture, and Firefox can’t won’t tell me how much memory each is using (yet… I understand that’s coming). At least notify me of misbehaving extensions (preferably, kill them, free the memory, and notify me).
So the reasons are moot. I want to use Firefox, and still want to love it. But it kills my Core i7 machine with 8GB of RAM!
Only wannabe nerds who don’t really understand their computer compare software purely on how much RAM it is using.
This isn’t aimed at the writer of the article because it is still interesting. It’s aimed at people who would chose one browser over another purely for this reason.
You know, some people don’t have 4GB of RAM. My desktop (I use it mainly for testing etc, not my main PC) only has 3GB, and 256MB is addressed to the integrated graphics. So I only have 2.75GB of RAM running Windows XP.
I just had 7 tabs open and a balloon popped up warning me that the virtual memory is low. Meaning if I open any more, it’ll slow down to a crawl because virtual memory is kept on the HDD. Memory consumption is an important enough problem for many people to choose one application over another.
It’s also unacceptable that these browsers take up more memory than Arch Linux with Openbox or Windows XP
Chrome releases resources once you close the tab, it is hands down better than firefox. Leave your computer on for a month and be sure to visit a few news and youtube videos. Close it down to one tab in both and tell me which one “uses more RAM” now. I can tell you, firefox will be ~2.5gb and chrome will be a few hundred MB.
Firefox leaks like a bitch and the resources are NEVER cleaned up. Web browsing is inherently “leaky”, every browser will leak and RAM usage will grow and grow. The only way to fix this is to terminate the process, in Chrome you can do this by closing a SINGLE TAB! Firefox you have to stop and start the entire damn thing. Every tab that you want will need to reload.
If you use your computer for an hour then shut it down, then Firefox is as acceptable as Chrome. If you’re computer is on for days to weeks at a time (using Hibernation or Sleep) then you really want to be using Chrome.
Multi-processing (Chrome) >> Multi-threading (Firefox) when it is a question of the longevity and stability of an internet browser. The amount of RAM usage on startup is irrelevant.
I just noticed, in my recent research. Chrome has features like support for all HTML5 standards compared to Firefox’s one. If some extra RAM needs to be used to induce the death of Adobe Flash Player, then fine with me :)
In all fairness and as much as it displeases me… IE still has the crown. Why?
It uses less resources than all the other major browsers, starts up faster than all of them and still delivers great video/audio content.
In fact, “addons” like Avantbrowser, Slimbrowser just enhance and give honor to an existing base.
Security wise. Well, there’s no issue anymore right?
If you’re runnin’ Microsoft without a good AV, even if you run Opera, Chrome, Firefox or whatever, you’re dead unless you have a good AV/Firewall.
Linux is the only alternative but it needs big help (Yahoo?).
Did a test today.
Listened to a live video clip via IE, Avantbrowser, Opera, Firefox (Aurora) and Google Chrome.
The first three used less memory and CPU.
Firefox and Chrome sent the CPU to the top.
Chrome is a disaster where memory usage is concerned. It is an absolute hog when numerous tabs are open, and it deals horrifically with certain types of webpages. On several occasions, I left a Yahoo! sports box score (of the self-updating type) open and left the computer for a bit, finding upon my return that Chrome had allocated a full 50% of my RAM to that one tab. I had originally transferred to Chrome from Firefox because of the latter’s propensity for mini-lockups, but Chrome turned out to be far worse.
Great article! I ended up here because I was searching for info on Chrome and IE memory comparisons. When I did my own comparison, Chrome was using TEN TIME THE AMOUNT OF MEMORY as IE!!! Chrome used 11 memory allocations instances (in Task Manager) to open to 2 tabs on browser start-up (about 500k), while IE only used 2 memory allocations (in Task Manager) instances to open 2 tabs on browser start-up (about 50k). Chrome has surpassed IE as the most used browser, but I think that will change if they don’t fix the memory usage problem. There are still a lot of people out there with 4GB or less of memory on their computers. I was taught that when designing in IT, you should try to cater to the largest audience possible. I made Chrome my default browser about a year or so ago because of the sand boxing, address bar searching, and supposed faster page loading. Now, at least for speed’s sake, it seems Firefox might have been a better alternative to IE.
Yet most of the time when I run Firefox, it chokes my computer to a standstill, while Chrome is lightning fast. Neither one has extensions, BTW. Your findings are the opposite of my many experiences.
Chrome runs each window in a sandbox’ed instance – improving performance and stability. If one window borks – it only affects the one window.
Yes, it certainly uses more memory – but If I’m browsing the internet, I’d rather have everything cached in RAM and use more of my available ram to make it as fast as possible.
16GB of RAM – go nuts Chrome.
My laptop has a i7 quadcore processor at 2.9ghz, a dedicated nvidia geforce gt 630m but uses the intel hd integrated graphics on default with 8 gb of ram and it is very nicely kept always defragged with no viruses. Chrome is a female dog and firefox works like a charm on my laptop.
I’ve been uploading a bunch of photos to Google+ and Chromium (21.0.1180.89) is using about 1.5Gb of memory, whilst Firefox (ugh, version 10) is doing the same thing using 330Mb. This is a massive difference!
Yes, “memory is cheap”, “processors have lots of cores” etc but not everyone has a particularly high-spec machine and this is quite a hit to take to use Chrome.
I’m really surprised. As a owner of a 1GB RAM and a kind of archaique computer (I bought it 6 years ago, what is a long time in computing world), I’ve always been using Chrome thinking that is the lightest and the one that uses the least RAM.
Anyway, the use of RAM is not the only thing I take into cosideration to keep using Chrome (even though I think Firefox is improving a lot). I still think Chrome is the fastest browser. Moreover, it almost never makes my computer crash.
“One thing to realise about the current Opera memory usage policy in our desktop product is that we’ll happily use memory up to a limit to make history navigation and page loading faster. It’s only once we’re past that limit that we really try to limit memory usage.”
I can’t even compare Chrome to Firefox.
Chrome (all versions since 2011) starts trashing the disk and chewing up all the RAM as soon as I open any 10 or 15 tabs. Every tab and every extension apparently runs on it’s own process, which is never below 60MB but averages above 100MB, and some hit 500 or more. And I don’t even open fakebook and the likes.
On Firefox (especially since FF13) I can open 200, even 300 tabs, and it hardly goes beyond 1.5GB. It does crash around 1.7GB (at least Palemoon fork does), but in Chrome I could never ever open 30 tabs, let alone 300.
So much for Chrome greatness.
And don’t come with the “buy more Ram” argument. It’s just plain stupid to expect your users to limit themselves to 10 tabs, or to have more than 4gb of ram. Even that is not a real standard, most machines I know still run on XP or Shista, and have 1 or 2gb. And they survive to this day quite well.
Developers should focus on proper memory management, and cutting down unnecessary fat/bloat/shit. Instead, they got in the race for a new major version every damn week.
It used to be that opening REAL productive applications would slow the machine to a crawl. Today, I’m afraid to open the damn browser, unless I’m planing to take a coffee break every 5 minutes.
Why should any browser compete with full-power applications like 3D or Video editing anyway? It’s about browsing the frikin internet, it’s supposed to show you text and images wtfffffffffffff
yeah, i got here because chrome is using a bunch of memory now. Just loading 4-5 tabs, my cpu usage is 100%!! If thought Itunes was the problem but it’s chrome. When it’s idle or i’m on a simple page like this one, it’s fine but if I just go clicking around tabs, cpu usage jumps to 60-70%. I left firefox about 2 years ago because of cpu/memory usage but I’ve been hearing that firefox is much better now and just read this. CPU usage and 1 or 2 particular apps are what’s most important to me in a browser. I want my laptop to last.