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 () 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.