Web Browser Grand Prix 5: Opera 11.50, Firefox 5, And Chrome 12

Efficiency Benchmarks: Memory Usage And Management

Memory Usage: Single Tab

There are measurable differences in total memory usage between the contenders in this benchmark. First place clearly goes to Internet Explorer 9, which uses only 27 MB to display a single tab. Close to the IE9 score is Google Chrome, needing 30 MB. Safari is in third place, using 50 MB. Mozilla's latest browser follows up in fourth place at 57.5 MB, while Opera still uses the most memory, totaling 63.6 MB.

Memory Usage: 40 Tabs

As usual, each tab had to be loaded individually in Safari, otherwise Apple's Web browser would find itself in an infinite loop of loading.

Uncooperative Apple Safari comes in with the lowest memory usage when all 40 tabs are open, beating Mozilla Firefox by 25 MB. In third place, Opera is the last browser to use less than 1 GB to display 40 tabs (a measurable advantage over previous versions of the Norwegian browser, this time only 5 MB behind Firefox). Chrome is in fourth place at around 1 GB, while last-place finisher IE9 uses 150 MB more than the 1 GB barrier.

Memory Management: -39 Tabs (5 minutes)

After closing 39 of the 40 tabs and waiting five minutes, the memory usage of IE9 and Chrome drop near their single-tab totals to take first and second place, respectively. In third place, Firefox 5 drops down to around 200 MB, still four times its single-tab usage. Fourth place Safari still hangs onto 250 MB after closing 39 tabs, which is about five times this browser's single-tab total. Opera again comes in last, keeping more than 350 MB, less than half of its 40-tab memory usage.

Memory Management: -39 Tabs (10 minutes)

After waiting five more minutes, the order and totals remain the same, except for Opera which drops another 70 megabytes. While this is not enough to move Opera out of last place, it is a significant improvement in memory management over previous versions.

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102 comments
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    Top Comments
  • cadder
    Will you guys please investigate the SECURITY of each browser? I would use the one that is most secure even if it is slowest.
    28
  • adampower
    Wow, it seems like I upgrade my browsers every week.
    18
  • JOSHSKORN
    Now if just Google would release a 64-bit Chrome browser.
    18
  • Other Comments
  • adampower
    Wow, it seems like I upgrade my browsers every week.
    18
  • Anonymous
    somehow it seems that firefox is focussing more on benchmarks rather than actual real world usage.
    -9
  • Anonymous
    opera keeps impressing me throughout the WBGP
    9
  • JOSHSKORN
    Now if just Google would release a 64-bit Chrome browser.
    18
  • Tamz_msc
    First of all, this is the most thorough WBGP yet.
    Quote:
    somehow it seems that firefox is focussing more on benchmarks rather than actual real world usage.

    I don't think so - proper page loads and battery life are important considerations.

    I agree that Mozilla did not do a right thing in copying Chrome's release cycle, but at least they're trying - for example, they're trying hard in bringing down memory usage by increasing the garbage collection frequency(check this out in the Aurora and Nightly builds).

    WBGP is basically a test of speed, and Chrome may have won in that, but Firefox is not far behind. I can wait for two or three seconds for my page to load. You can easily bring down the page load times by using addons like AdBlock Plus.

    Even with the faster release cycle, this article clearly states that Firefox is still the most stable browser. Many people say that they've had numerous crashes, but its something wrong with their drivers or OS - I have not had a single crash since FF 4.0 beta 5 (or 7?), when they introduced hardware acceleration for the first time.

    Firefox remains the most customizable browser, while Opera has the most number of features out-of-the-box.

    So overall, according to me Firefox>=Opera>Chrome>IE 9> Safari.
    9
  • cadder
    Will you guys please investigate the SECURITY of each browser? I would use the one that is most secure even if it is slowest.
    28
  • Tamz_msc
    199194 said:
    Will you guys please investigate the SECURITY of each browser? I would use the one that is most secure even if it is slowest.

    That's easy: FF+AdBlock Plus+ NoScript+Ghostery+BrowserProtect
    4
  • ChiefTexas_82
    IE 9 is a speed demon? I droped IE because it started running like ****. I blame loading too many side programs after years on the web. So I wanted to try Chrome or Firefox. Being a Google fan already, I tried Chrome. So far it leaves my old IE8 in the dust. Except for a certain bug, I would say it has been an improvement in almost every way.
    -8
  • ChiefTexas_82
    I don't like how Nvidia's GPU auto-detect doesn't work on chrome.
    2
  • thartist
    Damn, Opera has it's flaws but it's nonetheless the one that does one thing best: browsing.
    -4
  • wheredahoodat
    I have personally along others have remained loyal to Firefox for years, but the latest moves have been are puzzling. Despite the benchmarks, they have not addressed bad cold start up problems (test on netbooks not on desktop rigs to find out), and the Firefox 4/5 new javascript engine has been a nightmare memory wise causing many to banish Firefox or remain with version 3.6 on older computers.

    Also instead of prioritizing the electrolysis project which would have made Firefox as snappy as Chrome, they are wasting their time on the Azure graphics project to replace a only few months old Cairo engine for marginal benefit because html 5 is still just the future, with no real significant penetration for the web.

    Mozilla can only push their base so far with their incompetence. Back then there was no real competition or alternative for a big market share, standard compliance browser. However there is now a real alternative with Chrome, and Firefox's gradual but definite market share hemorrhaging has shown that incompetence has consequences.
    9
  • beavermml
    which one is the best in term of security out of box?
    12
  • akorzan
    On the last page in the table and row "proper page loads," why is Opera in twice and no Safari?
    Surely, this is a typo.
    2
  • Maziar
    Thanks for the review,I was waiting for this !
    1
  • andy5174
    No doubt that Chrome is notably faster than Firefox so that I can feel the difference easily. However, Chrome lacks many useful features/add-ons offered by Firefox that I've been using for years. This is the main and only reason that Firefox is still my default browser.
    12
  • obarthelemy
    I'm still uncomfortable with those kind of tests. Especially because they don't take into account out-of-the-box features and creature comforts. I have all 4 installed (no Safari), and I find use Opera most, because it does very good Mouse Gestures, tab management, and synch. Without any addons ! I find Addons a very mixed blessing: I had plenty of headaches with FFox's, what with compatibility issues when upgrading FFox, bug and slow/ban/non-existent support... I find that having all required functionnality included in the base browser is a big plus, more-so for non-techies.
    1
  • Anonymous
    How can you place Firefox in Memory Usage as strong. This thing is leaking all over the place. Should you review your methodology?
    PS I m an early adopter of FF since 2.0 but I consider switching due to this memory issue.
    3
  • johnsmithhatesVLC
    Firefox is the only browser that can block all ads properly. It's also the most reliable at page loading as the WGP has proven. I really don't care about millisecond differences in page loads. Firefox is the best to me.
    14
  • lucas1024
    Thanks for including the reliability test! I had almost convinced myself to switch to Chrome from FF5, because of the memory usage, but not anymore - I do like my pages to load every time and I routinely have 30-40 tabs open.
    4
  • neiroatopelcc
    page 3 :
    64-bit Desktop Test System
    Operating System
    Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate (32-bit)
    0