Chrome vs Firefox Memory Usage

While web browsing, we are already used to having many tabs opened. But this could consume incredibly amount of RAM. Modern web browsers have become one of the most RAM hungry applications for most users. Many have been considering buying more RAMs for browsing but RAMs are quite expensive these days. So the browser that takes less memory is preferred.

In our test (August 2018), the results show that:
  • With default settings, Chrome was better. It occupied less memory when initialized and with less than 20 tabs opened. Although the difference became smaller as tabs increased. Firefox even used a bit less memory with 20 tabs opened.
  • After setting Firefox's content process limit to 1, Firefox outperformed Chrome with more than about 13 tabs opened. Setting content process limit to 1 does lower the memory usage in any situation, but Firefox still could not beat Chrome when fewer than 13 tabs were opened.
  • If memory usage is the major concern, you had better use Chrome and have no more than 10 tabs opened at the same time.

Method:

We did the test on freshly installed Windows 7. Chrome and Firefox were up-to-date with no history. We recorded the available memory with Windows task manager while the only manually opened application was itself. Then we opened Chrome, recorded the available memory while 0, 5, 10, 15, and 20 tab(s) were opened. After that, we restarted the system and did the same processes with Firefox. The available memory was recorded after about 30~60 seconds when the CPU usage became 0% and the available memory reached its peak. The web browser may activate other processes not under its name, so we instead calculated the used memory with the available memory.

The web pages we visited are https://www.youtube.com, https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=1 ... search_query=19. We chose these pages because they have texts along with many pictures and scripts, plus they are frequently visited.

All tabs were immediately accessible after all 20 tabs were opened.


Formula:

Total_memory = 4GB

available_memory_without_browser_opened = 3583MB

used_memory = available_memory - available_memory_without_browser_opened


Result:

(Used memory in MB; "CPL1" means setting content process limit to 1)

Chrome Firefox vs Chrome Firefox (CPL1) vs Chrome
 0 tab   168  354 1:2.107  246 1:1.464
 5 tab   681  899 1:1.320  802 1:1.178
10 tabs 1035 1181 1:1.141 1063 1:1.027
15 tabs 1372 1417 1:1.033 1339 1:0.976
20 tabs 1693 1686 1:0.996 1588 1:0.938

Version:

  • Chrome version: 68.0.3440.106 (64-bit)
  • Firefox version: 61.0.2 (64-bit)
  • OS version: Windows 7 SP1 (64-bit)

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