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Multi-core and faster tabbed browsing

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August 2, 2011 8:08:08 AM

Do more cores in a CPU = faster tabbed browsing? (particularly in Chrome and Firefox)

I'm planning to do a few upgrades on my computer soon, and the thing I do the most is tabbed browsing -- I'll open 30 bookmarked tabs at the same time, or I'll click on a bunch of links (50+) and flip through them on tabs. My current 5 year old computer is on a Pentium D with 2 gb ram and tabs load pretty slow at times.

I had my mind set on a newer dual-core to fix things, but would 3 or 4 cores make tabbed browsing noticeably faster and smoother? Or is it the ram, or both? Or is it actually a problem with the browser itself and can't be improved with hardware?

Thanks in advance!
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August 2, 2011 8:10:58 AM

I dont think tab browsing is multitasking.
Multitasking is the running of mutiple programs at once such as running a game and at the same time converting a video.

For faster tab browsing you might need faster ram or maybe cut down access times.Faster cpus would help also.
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August 2, 2011 9:55:33 AM

^Actually, it depends on how the browser has been coded. If it opens each tab as a separate thread, the workload could be shared across multiple cores.

Tabbed browsing aside, I would install more RAM first to see if that improves the experience. If not, you can consider a faster CPU. Can you list your complete system specs for our reference?
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August 2, 2011 11:49:43 AM

Well, most major browsers have implemented each tab as its own thread, so assuming the application iteself scales, you'll see an improvement. RAM is just as important though.
August 2, 2011 6:12:14 PM

Thanks for the advice, so sounds like a bit of both: faster CPU + more RAM.

Herr_Koos: I was using Win 7 32-bit with a Pentium D 805 and 2gb RAM. Since it's 32bit, I guess I'll max out to 4 gb ram. I'm on a budget with the chip and was thinking about getting an X2 260, but now I'm leaning toward a X3 455 if it boosts tab speed.

Some people also recommended I go with an X4 or Phenom, but I'm wondering if that's overkill. I do some very basic video editing from time to time, but I think if I go 4 core or more I'd want to upgrade to 64bit and 8gb ram and I don't need this much power for this particular computer. Just want a better browsing experience right now. :) 
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August 2, 2011 10:21:31 PM

Web browsing is not CPU dependent, not even remotely. I can have 50 tabs up in chrome and be flipping between them all and my CPU usage will stay quite low. What affects the snappiness of your computer is not the CPU, its the hard drive and the RAM, if your browser is storing its cache on the hard drive you are going to have a bit more latency when switching between tabs. Firefox has an optional setting if you want disk cache enabled or not, i cannot find a similar setting in chrome. Basically, your CPU doesnt affect what you experience under normal work loads, the latency of your system does.
August 3, 2011 2:33:27 AM

I would recommend setting up a RAMdisk to use as a cache for your browser and getting more ram.
It will be a lot quicker than a HDD or SSD.
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August 3, 2011 8:20:20 AM

hunter315 said:
Web browsing is not CPU dependent, not even remotely. I can have 50 tabs up in chrome and be flipping between them all and my CPU usage will stay quite low. What affects the snappiness of your computer is not the CPU, its the hard drive and the RAM, if your browser is storing its cache on the hard drive you are going to have a bit more latency when switching between tabs. Firefox has an optional setting if you want disk cache enabled or not, i cannot find a similar setting in chrome. Basically, your CPU doesnt affect what you experience under normal work loads, the latency of your system does.


Maybe true for a fast PC, but a 5-year old Pentium? Also, if one of those tabs is flash-heavy or starts running some funny scripts, your CPU usage will increase quite a bit.

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August 3, 2011 3:51:06 PM
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cheesemon said:
Do more cores in a CPU = faster tabbed browsing? (particularly in Chrome and Firefox)

I'm planning to do a few upgrades on my computer soon, and the thing I do the most is tabbed browsing -- I'll open 30 bookmarked tabs at the same time, or I'll click on a bunch of links (50+) and flip through them on tabs. My current 5 year old computer is on a Pentium D with 2 gb ram and tabs load pretty slow at times.

I had my mind set on a newer dual-core to fix things, but would 3 or 4 cores make tabbed browsing noticeably faster and smoother? Or is it the ram, or both? Or is it actually a problem with the browser itself and can't be improved with hardware?

Thanks in advance!


Browsing in itself isn't very CPU intensive.

The speed of opening 30tabs at once will depend a lot on your browser, the websites themselves, and your internet connection. Before I even explain why, if you are opening bookmarks, pages you open a lot, more than likely they will be in your cache, which depending on your browser, might be located in a folder on your HDD/SSD or some browsers store cache in the RAM (I think opera does this). In this case, the speed of your HDD/SSD and/or RAM will be a big factor in how fast the page opens. However, if you are loading pages that aren't in the cache, or if perhaps you don't use a cache, then the browser itself is a big player. Browsers like firefox and opera have the ability to customize the max connections, and the max connections per server. The more simultaneous connections your browser is able to have, theoretically, the faster your webpage downloads (but it also depends on the server itself, it if allows this many connections). So when you open 50tabs at once, increasing your max connections from lets say 32, to 96 or 128 (settings in opera for example), it will likely make them faster. The max connections per server however is a bit more specific, this controls the amount of connections to just one single server, not all of them. The reason this setting is important is you want to have lots of connections per sever, but you don't want to make them way too high, because one server can hog all connections and starve the others off of it.

^At least that's my understanding of how it works.

Secondly, a lot of this depends on the website, local websites from servers, such as your local news station, will likely have a server near you which will in many cases result in a faster opening webpage. Some websites also require lots of hops through hubs.

If you open up CMD and type in "tracert-d www.google.com" for example, it will show you how many hubs you must go through before you reach the website, each hub is increased latency and if just one hub has too much traffic, it can cause a slow down.

And lastly, your internet connection is a big role, both the down/up as well as the quality of the connection will help. Make sure you have a fast DNS server for quick name resolving. Each website is an IP address, to prevent you from having to enter an IP for each website, they are represented as names like google, which a DNS server must then resolve into an IP, the faster it does it, the quicker browsing might be.

If something is wrong, please correct me, this is just from what I've read about so not sure if its all correct.
August 10, 2011 6:44:40 PM

Thanks for taking the time to write that up and help clarify things, Blackhawk! I didn't know about the max connection customization so I'll try that out sometime.

Well, I took advice from everyone's input and got:

- a chip with more cores (AMD X3 450 which *might* unlock to 4 core)
- 4gb ddr3 ram (unfortunately, I'm stuck with 32bit Windows so this is my max)
- And looks like I'll be getting a new harddrive soon. Probably a WD Black, so one of the faster mechanical hard drives.

So too bad I won't be able to isolate which one effects browsing the most, but hopefully I'll get a better browsing experience, or at least open up things a bit quicker. Computer will be built in the next few days, I'll report back then.
August 10, 2011 6:45:17 PM

Best answer selected by cheesemon.
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August 10, 2011 7:37:10 PM

This topic has been closed by Mousemonkey
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