32-bit vs 64-bit browsers: which version has the edge?

Martin Brinkmann
Jan 3, 2016
Internet
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77

The majority of web browsers are offered as 32-bit and 64-bit version nowadays, and it is up to the user to decide which version to run on the computer.

This comparison guide analyzes the performance of select browsers to find out which version of it performs better.

You can use it to compare the 32-bit and 64-bit version of a browser, or compare the performance across browsers to find out which may be most suitable for you.

It won't take other differences such as plug-in support into account though so keep that in mind. These differences can be important depending on what you are using the browser for. If you require certain plug-ins for instance such as Java, you may not be able to use a 64-bit version of a browser as it may not be supported.

Performance is not everything of course and there may be other reasons why you pick a particular browser over another even if it may use more RAM or perform worse in benchmarks.

The test system is a decent Intel Core i5-2500, 8GB RAM, 256 GB Solid State Drive system with a Nvidia GeForce GTX 960 and Windows 10.

32-bit vs 64-bit browsers

Most web browsers are offered as 32-bit or 64-bit versions. It is usually the case that the 64-bit versions are not offered directly, and that one has to click on an extra link to display 64-bit download links.

The two exceptions are Microsoft Edge which is only offered as a 64-bit version and the "new" Opera browser which is only offered as a 32-bit version. Because of this, Opera has not been included in the tests. No download link for Microsoft Edge as it is only offered as part of Windows 10 and not as a standalone version.

All browsers were installed on a fully updated Windows 10 PC. No modifications were made to the browsers and all were installed using the default settings suggested by the manufacturer.

Tests

The following tests were run for each web browser individually.

  1. RAM usage after default installation.
  2. RAM usage with 10 websites open (ghacks.net, startpage.com, youtube.com, betanews.com, reddit.com, slashdot.org, producthunt.com, twitch.com, amazon.com, google.com)
  3. Mozilla Kraken benchmark (lower better)
  4. JetStream benchmark (higher better)
  5. Google Octane benchmark (higher better)
  6. RoboHornet benchmark (higher better)
  7. Dromaeo benchmark (higher better).

The first two tests highlight the browser's RAM usage. While RAM usage is not that much of an issue anymore on modern systems that come equipped with 4 Gigabyte of RAM or more, it needs to be considered that the browser is just one of the programs run on a system and that a high RAM usage may result in performance drops if other demanding applications are run.

The benchmarks test the browser's JavaScript performance.

The benchmark results

Browser RAM on Start RAM 10 Tabs Kraken JetStream Octane RoboHornet Dromaeo
Mozilla Firefox 43.0.3 32-bit 135.8 583.1 1263.5 143.88 22168 107.4 928.12
Mozilla Firefox 43.0.3 64-bit 145.6 905.3 1241 141.52 22586 109.75 872.46
Google Chrome 47 32-bit 144.6 738.4 1273 162.83 28468 hangs hangs
Google Chrome 47 64-bit 121.9 744.6 1081.6 173.03 29814 hangs hangs
Pale Moon 25.8.1 32-bit 105.4 501.7 1719 hangs 17016 105.81 751.11
Pale Moon 25.8.1 64-bit 179 741.3 1830.1 hangs 14000 88.9 649.13
Vivaldi Beta 2 32-bit 95.7 620.6 1150.6 166.54 28316 150.7 hangs
Vivaldi Beta 2 64-bit 107.4 1029.5 1076.9 171.81 29633 156.02 hangs
Microsoft Edge 64-bit 88.2 1238 1256.5 193.96 29883 91.09 660.05

One surprising result of the tests that I ran was that hangs were experienced quite frequently. Google Chrome did not complete  the RoboHornet and Dromaeo benchmarks, Pale Moon froze while running the JetStream benchmark, and Vivaldi froze running the Dromaeo benchmark.

The only two browsers that ran all tests without freezes or hangs were Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft Edge. Every other browser experienced at least one freeze while running the benchmarks.

Another interesting observation is that Vivaldi outperforms Google Chrome in some benchmarks and with RAM usage even though it is still a beta release. In addition, it did not freeze while running the RoboHornet benchmark while Google Chrome did.

ram use

32-bit-64-bit-benchmarks

octane-benchmark

Mozilla Firefox 32-bit vs 64-bit

firefox 32-bit vs 64-bit

RAM usage is nearly the same on start but once all ten websites were fully loaded it was apparent that the 64-bit version of Firefox used way more RAM than the 32-bit version. That's to be expected but something one should consider especially on devices where RAM is scarce.

Benchmarks on the other hand show only marginal differences which means that users won't see a performance boost in either version when compared to the other.

Google Chrome 32-bit vs 64-bit

chrome 32-bit vs 64-bit

RAM use was nearly identical in both versions of the Google Chrome web browser. The difference in RAM on start can be attributed to the loading of additional pages on start in the 32-bit version.

It is somewhat surprising that the 64-bit version of Chrome uses nearly the same amount of RAM as the 32-bit version once all 10 sample websites were loaded.

As far as tests are concerned, the 64-bit version performed better in benchmarks, but both Chrome versions froze during the RoboHornet and Dromaeo benchmarks.

Pale Moon 32-bit vs 64-bit

palemoon 32-bit vs 64-bit

RAM use was higher both on start and after loading the ten sample sites in the Pale Moon browser. The 64-bit version did not perform as well as the 32-bit version in most benchmarks, and both versions froze during the JetStream benchmark.

Vivaldi 32-bit vs 64-bit

vivaldi 32-bit vs 64-bit

Vivaldi's RAM usage was quite good on start and acceptable with ten websites open in the 32-bit version of the browser. The 64-bit version on the other hand used the second highest RAM count of all browsers in the test.

Performance was on-pair with Google Chrome with only marginal differences between the two. As far as 32-bit and 64-bit version performance is concerned, it is close and unlikely that anyone will notice differences while using the browser.

Verdict

Results are quite surprising, not only because of the hangs and freezes experienced during benchmarks, but also because of the performance parity between 32-bit and 64-bit versions of the same browser. Most differences are marginal and not visible to the user sitting in front of the device.

Now You: Do you prefer 32-bit or 64-bit versions of browsers?

Summary
32-bit vs 64-bit browsers: which version has the edge?
Article Name
32-bit vs 64-bit browsers: which version has the edge?
Description
A detailed comparison of the performance and RAM use of 32-bit and 64-bit web browsers running on a Windows machine.
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Comments

  1. ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm
    Reply

    Doesn’t Windows 8 know that www. or http:// are passe ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 4, 2012 at 7:57 pm
      Reply

      Well it is a bit difficulty to distinguish between name.com domains and files for instance.

    2. Leonidas Burton said on September 4, 2023 at 4:51 am
      Reply

      I know a service made by google that is similar to Google bookmarks.
      http://www.google.com/saved

  2. VioletMoon said on August 16, 2023 at 5:26 pm
    Reply

    @Ashwin–Thankful you delighted my comment; who knows how many “gamers” would have disagreed!

  3. Karl said on August 17, 2023 at 10:36 pm
    Reply

    @Martin

    The comments section under this very article (3 comments) is identical to the comments section found under the following article:
    https://www.ghacks.net/2023/08/15/netflix-is-testing-game-streaming-on-tvs-and-computers/

    Not sure what the issue is, but have seen this issue under some other articles recently but did not report it back then.

  4. Anonymous said on August 25, 2023 at 11:44 am
    Reply

    Omg a badge!!!
    Some tangible reward lmao.

    It sucks that redditors are going to love the fuck out of it too.

  5. Scroogled said on August 25, 2023 at 10:57 pm
    Reply

    With the cloud, there is no such thing as unlimited storage or privacy. Stop relying on these tech scums. Purchase your own hardware and develop your own solutions.

    1. lollmaoeven said on August 27, 2023 at 6:24 am
      Reply

      This is a certified reddit cringe moment. Hilarious how the article’s author tries to dress it up like it’s anything more than a png for doing the reddit corporation’s moderation work for free (or for bribes from companies and political groups)

  6. El Duderino said on August 25, 2023 at 11:14 pm
    Reply

    Almost al unlmited services have a real limit.

    And this comment is written on the dropbox article from August 25, 2023.

  7. John G. said on August 26, 2023 at 1:29 am
    Reply

    First comment > @ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    For the God’s sake, fix the comments soon please! :[

  8. Kalmly said on August 26, 2023 at 4:42 pm
    Reply

    Yes. Please. Fix the comments.

  9. Kim Schmidt said on September 3, 2023 at 3:42 pm
    Reply

    With Google Chrome, it’s only been 1,500 for some time now.

    Anyone who wants to force me in such a way into buying something that I can get elsewhere for free will certainly never see a single dime from my side. I don’t even know how stupid their marketing department is to impose these limits on users instead of offering a valuable product to the paying faction. But they don’t. Even if you pay, you get something that is also available for free elsewhere.

    The algorithm has also become less and less savvy in terms of e.g. English/German translations. It used to be that the bot could sort of sense what you were trying to say and put it into different colloquialisms, which was even fun because it was like, “I know what you’re trying to say here, how about…” Now it’s in parts too stupid to translate the simplest sentences correctly, and the suggestions it makes are at times as moronic as those made by Google Translations.

    If this is a deep-learning AI that learns from users’ translations and the phrases they choose most often – which, by the way, is a valuable, moneys worthwhile contribution of every free user to this project: They invest their time and texts, thereby providing the necessary data for the AI to do the thing as nicely as they brag about it in the first place – alas, the more unprofessional users discovered the translator, the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, the greater the aggregate of linguistically illiterate users has become, and the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, as it now learns the drivel of every Tom, Dick and Harry out there, which is why I now get their Mickey Mouse language as suggestions: the inane language of people who can barely spell the alphabet, it seems.

    And as a thank you for our time and effort in helping them and their AI learn, they’ve lowered the limit from what was once 5,000 to now 1,500…? A big “fuck off” from here for that! Not a brass farthing from me for this attitude and behaviour, not in a hundred years.

  10. Anonymous said on September 28, 2023 at 8:19 am
    Reply

    When will you put an end to the mess in the comments?

  11. RIP said on September 28, 2023 at 9:36 am
    Reply

    Ghacks comments have been broken for too long. What article did you see this comment on? Reply below. If we get to 20 different articles we should all stop using the site in protest.

    I posted this on [https://www.ghacks.net/2023/09/28/reddit-enforces-user-activity-tracking-on-site-to-push-advertising-revenue/] so please reply if you see it on a different article.

    1. RIP said on September 28, 2023 at 11:01 am
      Reply

      Comment redirected me to [https://www.ghacks.net/2012/08/04/add-search-the-internet-to-the-windows-start-menu/] which seems to be the ‘real’ article it is attached to

  12. RIP said on September 28, 2023 at 10:48 am
    Reply

    Comment redirected me to [https://www.ghacks.net/2012/08/04/add-search-the-internet-to-the-windows-start-menu/] which seems to be the ‘real’ article it is attached to

  13. Mystique said on September 28, 2023 at 12:13 pm
    Reply

    Article Title: Reddit enforces user activity tracking on site to push advertising revenue
    Article URL: https://www.ghacks.net/2023/09/28/reddit-enforces-user-activity-tracking-on-site-to-push-advertising-revenue/

    No surprises here. This is just the beginning really. I cannot see a valid reason as to why anyone would continue to use the platform anymore when there are enough alternatives fill that void.

  14. justputthispostanywhere said on September 29, 2023 at 3:59 am
    Reply

    I’m not sure if there is a point in commenting given that comments seem to appear under random posts now, but I’ll try… this comment is for https://www.ghacks.net/2023/09/28/reddit-enforces-user-activity-tracking-on-site-to-push-advertising-revenue/

    My temporary “solution”, if you can call it that, is to use a VPN (Mullvad in my case) to sign up for and access Reddit via a European connection. I’m doing that with pretty much everything now, at least until the rest of the world catches up with GDPR. I don’t think GDPR is a magical privacy solution but it’s at least a first step.

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