Browser Memory (RAM) Usage: Firefox 3.5 RC, Safari 4, Opera 10 Beta, Google Chrome 3.0 Dev

By | June 21, 2009 | 27 Comments

Sam Allen from has tested the most recent web browser versions to find out, which one of them consumes the most and least memory.

Usign script help, he has loaded 150 the most popular sites as per and monitored results.


Memory Usage

--- Maximum memory used ---
    Peak memory usage measured during experiment.

Chrome:  1216.16 MB      [Largest]
Firefox:  327.65 MB      [Smallest]
Opera:    554.11 MB
Safari:   517.00 MB
--- Average memory used ---
    Average of all memory checkpoints throughout experiment.

Chrome:  543.83 MB       [Largest]
Firefox: 166.82 MB       [Smallest]
Opera:   347.45 MB
Safari:  319.44 MB
--- Final memory used ---
    Figures taken after all tabs were closed at end.

Chrome:  109.49 MB
Firefox: 106.66 MB       [Smallest]
Opera:   441.49 MB       [Largest]
Safari:  349.62 MB

Firefox 3.5 also had the best average memory usage figures, meaning that it may consume the least memory of these browsers when used for the Alexa sites as tested in the benchmark. Finally, Chrome and Firefox posted the best memory figures at the end of the browsing session, with Opera consuming 4.1 times more memory than Firefox at the end of the test.

For some more details and script itself, check the original post.


About (Author Profile)

Vygantas is a former web designer whose projects are used by companies such as AMD, NVIDIA and departed Westood Studios. Being passionate about software, Vygantas began his journalism career back in 2007 when he founded Having said that, he is also an adrenaline junkie who enjoys good books, fitness activities and Forex trading.

Comments (27)

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  1. bingo says:

    opera with 3 tabs open-12 mb
    firefox with google homepage without additional tabs-47 mb

    • Golden Boy says:

      opera 10b – 60 mb ram usage, speed dial open
      firefox 3.0 – 24 mb ram usage, start page open
      ie8 – 4 mb ram usage, start page open

    • Abhinav K says:

      Tell me many tabs you closed before reporting Firefox’s Private Memory Set

  2. nobody says:

    i simply love when opera fanboys use ‘memory hog’ on anything that isnt opera and then throw in additional conditions for they browser to score best. yet, there is not a single one test, benchmark, whatever, that opera wins..

    and then comes such test, and firefox wipes the floor with opera and all others. people still remember ff 1.5 memory consumption (and general crap’ines). these days are long over.. if it only didnt eat my cpu on flash :/

    safari is the fastest browser out there – it hasnt got many features, but all webpages work on it, it also has the most advanced engine out there.

    on the other hand – memory is there to be used. if it is free, it is there to be used up. apps are free to expand in it if they feel like doing so. problem is, when they do expand and there is no memory left. this is a problem. not 1gb idle ram consumption when there are 5gb more to go

    i have i7 6gb system, and i DO NOT CARE if chrome eats 1 or 2gbs – i bought my ram to be used.

    however i hate, when on my p4 mini-laptop opera and firefox (both) try to make salad out from my disk cache, because they both cant fit into memory (512mb).

    • Porcsale says:

      Kind of an odd comment to post here, since the subject should interest people that WANT a browser using less RAM.

  3. Abhinav K says:

    19 tabs (including 3 heavy flash sites and a Gmail tab)
    Firefox 3.5 RC2 – 120 MB
    Chrome 3.0 dev – 327 MB
    Safari 4 – 255 MB
    Opera 10 beta – 180 MB (when cache is set to 20 MB and is full)
    Opera 10 beta – 310 MB (when cache is set to 200 MB and is full)

  4. Tiago Sá says:

    It’s a well known fact that Firefox is the browser that consumes less memory, EVEN with dozens of addons.

    • Kawi says:

      That’s just nonsense. This test is completely flawed. Firefox is not very memory friendly even though some seem to think so.

      Mozilla seem to have optimized memory use for these artificial tests rather than real browsing.

      • ps says:

        “Firefox is not very memory friendly even though some seem to think so. ”

        Are there any facts? tests? proofs? Or is it that you think so?

        “Mozilla seem to have optimized memory use for these artificial tests rather than real browsing.”

        This _IS_ browsing, there can’t be any test _LESS_ artificial test.

        How do you measure “real browsing”? Experience? I do not think that your experience would be enough, as for it to be relevant you need to have no bias and equal experience with all browsers. And by the look of things, you don’t have enough with Firefox, as you still judge FF memory consumption on version 1.5

    • lucideer says:

      This is most certainly nonsense. Firefox has massively improved it’s memory usage in 3.5, before that it has a reputation for being a browser with substantial memory leaks.

      Thankfully they will probably no longer hold that reputation, but the problem with addons’ memory usage/leaks is not something Firefox/Mozilla will ever have any control over as each addon is written by a completely independent 3rd party developer. Firefox could potentially have terrible memory leaks with just one addon installed if that addon happens to be an extremely poorly written one.

  5. mu says:

    I wonder if it is always a good thing to minimize memory use? Memory is cheap. I just bought a new Dell with 8GB of memory. I sure want the apps that I run to take advantage of that memory. For example, I’d rather be able to instantly switch between open tabs than have most of my RAM going unused.

    • Not like it’s 100% related but: if you are on XP, get Windows 7 RC or Vista, as those are the only two MS OS’es which can fully utilize all of your RAM.

      Vista/7 is trying its darndest to pre-emptively populate every byte of system memory with what it thinks I might need next.

      Vista/7 treats system memory like a cache much more aggressively and effectively than any other version of Windows.

  6. Flapper says:

    This test got it all wrong:

    It’s funny to see people like nobody getting their knickers in a knot when people point out such flaws. I guess people like nobody prefer flawed tests as long as they confirm their own bias.

    • nobody says:

      quote from linked article:

      “Another aspect that needs to be mentioned is the test result of the Opera web browser. Opera is using an automatic setting called Automatic RAM Cache that is enabled by default. This allocated about 10% of the computer memory by default and should be disabled in memory benchmarks. Opera would most likely still have been beaten by Firefox but the gap would probably have been lower.”

      learn to read, that will stop you making a fool from yourself. taking sentences out of context will not help you prove anything.

      back on on topic:
      and in fact, the most important fact revealed by this test is that opera did not release any memory at all after closing pages.

      • Maulkin says:

        Well nobody, that is because Opera keep every page in memory when you close the page, you need to empty the trash before memory is recovered: “this is a feature not a bug”, because if I reopen a page, every page and history would just popup back if I reopen it from the trash.

        • ps says:

          Incidentaly, I’ve tested this theory myself by accident – it isn’t true. Opera _STILL_ keeps these pages in RAM (memory isn’t purged), regardless if you empty your trash or not.

          However there is strange behaviour when you minimize Opera to taskbar, it suddenly drops everything from RAM, resulting in quite poor ‘from-task-bar’ performance. This isn’t neccesary to do with GB or so of free RAM.

          • somebody says:

            This post explains the reason for that behaviour.


          • nobody says:

            astonishingly old article i have to say.

            but it does not explain why opera doesnt purge memory after clearing trash. this includes both working and private sets – tests in the opening article were done with the same system hooks as sysinternal’s process monitor

          • lucideer says:

            The article is old but still relevant as it explains memory usage in general, not specific browser versions’.

            Opera frees memory to any apps needing it when tab-trash is emptied. As most systems have (a) far more RAM available than in the past and (b) are primarily used for browsing, without high-memory apps running parallel to your browser there is rarely any app requiring memory and any reason to free it. Holding unused memory is more efficient as it can be more quickly filled when needed.

            The memory usage “on-minimise” is an operating system feature if I’m not mistaken.

  7. Matson says:

    Last night firefox 3.5 RC3 occupied 1.2G ram, and it was keep rising.

  8. Anon says:

    trying to make firefox look good… firefox has been proven to be the 2nd largest ram user of all the browsers… one behind IE. There are plenty of people out there with a 512 mb RAM and it would overload there system if this info was true.

    • BenTLor says:

      I laugh. I have Firefox as a default browser, and 512Mb RAM in my computer. I have various other explorers, like Opera, Chrome, IE 5.5, 6.0, 7.0, 8.0 (web developer needs) and the only thing is that firefox has never used more than 150Mb of RAM on my computer, however, it is not too rare that I open up to 20-30 tabs at a time. Chrome would open with 100MB and only the home page is shown…

  9. Aeromax says:

    What were the testing criteria? I know dynamic web pages (facebook, etc) and anything with Flash will take up a lot more memory than simple HTML. How many tabs were open? Usually in Firefox I’ll have anywhere from five to fifteen tabs open at any given time, probably 60% of which have Flash embedded somewhere (ads, etc). And if I leave my computer on all night, FF will sometimes have 350,000KB usage.

  10. Russell says:

    All I know is that whenever my computer slows down, all I have to do is bring up the task manager and oops, firefox is up there at 525,000 plus every time. I don’t know what screws up firefox and causes it to hog memory but it does. I have my task manager sorted by program memory usuage and honestly, its always at the top of the list, even when I have just 2-4 websites open compared to IE that I use as my primary browser that usually by the end of my workday has 8 or 9 windows open. Case and point, firefox has problems. If you want proof Mr. Authory, google your own question. Firefox is at the bottom of everybody elses list except yours. How much did they pay you to post this? Come on, admit dude. : )

  11. dark+avenger says:

    chrome is lighter than firefox for me.

  12. cirrus minor says:

    i find FF and chrome to be round about the same both use about 350MB in an average session for me, however firefox wins it bcoz of all the kewl add ons, gotta say chrome is a lil more snappy than FF tho but imma sticking to FF, whats the point of having unused ram

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