32-bit vs 64-bit browsers: which version has the edge?
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.
- Mozilla Firefox 43.0.3 32-bit
- Mozilla Firefox 43.0.3 64-bit
- Google Chrome 47 32-bit
- Google Chrome 47 64-bit (select download Chrome for other platforms)
- Pale Moon 25.8.1 32-bit
- Pale Moon 25.8.1 64-bit
- Vivaldi Beta 2 32-bit
- Vivaldi Beta 2 64-bit
- Opera 34.0.2036.25 32-bit
- Microsoft Edge 64-bit
The following tests were run for each web browser individually.
- RAM usage after default installation.
- 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)
- Mozilla Kraken benchmark (lower better)
- JetStream benchmark (higher better)
- Google Octane benchmark (higher better)
- RoboHornet benchmark (higher better)
- 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 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 completeÂ 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.
Mozilla 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
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
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'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.
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.
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