Firefox 7 vs. Safari 5.1 in Mac OSX Lion – RAM Usage Stats [VERSUS]

Today, Mashable decided to report on the newly released Firefox 7’s memory usage. They based it on Flash running and Flash not running. They used Hulu HD video streaming for the Flash test and they used a Mac running Lion. Lifehacker reported on Firefox 7’s memory usage vs Opera 11, Internet Explorer 9 and Google Chrome 14. They chose to leave out Safari “since they are using Windows,” which makes no sense since Safari is for sure, still on Windows. So I’m here to fill that gap.

“(all tests were done on Windows, so we’ll be ignoring Safari here)” -Lifehacker

Initial Thoughts

I’ve posted about Safari recently after having a run-in with its ridiculous memory usage. It’s officially, a RAM killer. This following test told me that Safari only folds under immense pressure. I’ll explain later. When you have more than a few windows open, each with a few tabs, you’re going to get a huge overload using Safari. Google Chrome seems to deal with immense pressure pretty well. So far I’ve only had it crash on me two or three times with the same windows open as Safari did. Safari on the other hand, had crash at least three times a day.

So, I figured that even with a couple of windows open using Flash, its performance would be going down the drain. This test proved me completely wrong. It seems that Safari holds up pretty well when you’re not pushing it to its limit.

The test (with SCREENSHOTS) after the break:

The Test (Keeping it very simple)

I made this test so simple, it’s ridiculous. The tests are accurate because I snapped the screenshots back to back. Sure, memory usage statistics in the Activity Monitor are always changing, and rapidly at that—but I wanted even the dummiest of dummies to be able to take a quick look, and know exactly what I’m talking about.

I’ve taken 2 screenshots with the Activity Monitor application. (Apple’s Task Manager)

The first screenshot highlights Safari using 53.3 megabytes of real memory.

I was quite surprised to see Safari under Firefox, and under Chrome. My first thought was simply, why is Firefox above all of the other browsers? This is even more crazy than you’re thinking right now.

Lets look at the facts.

  1. In Chrome during this screenshot, was running 3 pages with Flash
  2. 7 windows total
  3. at least quadruple that number, in the amount of tabs
  4. Firefox 7’s only real new feature, is a leap in RAM usage
  5. Safari and Firefox are both only running 2 pages, with flash

Number 4 is quite ironic after seeing the facts, eh? I’m blown away after seeing that Safari and Firefox were both only running 2 windows (with no extra tabs)—and they were above Google Chrome, which was running about 10x the amount of pages and windows.

I think Mozilla just lied to us. Maybe not. I believe they designed it slightly like how I was describing Safari, above. Maybe it’s built to use much less memory when it’s under immense pressure. You know, what Chrome seems to be doing right now—running what would crash Safari in the blink of an eye.

The second screenshot highlights Firefox using 113.1 megabytes of real memory.

Lasting Thoughts

There it is. The new Firefox 7 claiming to drastically reduce its memory usage. This whole update is based on that feature. And there it is, sitting just one process away from bring on the very top of my shit list. Unbelievable. This deserves a more thorough test to really be able to determine how this all works.

I’m flabbergasted (just wanted to use the word) at the fact. I’m going to look further into what the other tests online are coming up with. But like I said, I’m sure it’s designed to withstand the pressure that Safari cannot take. If it was doing what Chrome was doing (with tons of tabs and windows open) I’m sure it could take it.

I’d go further into detail, but in this case, I’m not a Firefox fan anymore so I can’t spend too much time with it. Chrome might get jealous. Chrome seems to be the golden boy in this congregation. The winner of it all. Chrome can withstand what I’m throwing at it, and even when operating a single Flash site, it’s barely making itself known at the bottom of my Activity Monitor.

For the record, Safari loaded the pages first. So it’s performance is still top notch.

Readers: What’s your experience so far with Firefox 7? Officially, what is your choice of browser?


20 thoughts on “Firefox 7 vs. Safari 5.1 in Mac OSX Lion – RAM Usage Stats [VERSUS]

  1. Pingback:

  2. I think you’re way off here. Memory tests are very very hard to do with Chrome. Notice all of those processes called “Google Chrome Renderer”? Those all have to be factored in. And you can’t just add them up either because, from what I understand, a lot of real memory is shared between processes. It’s easier to do a Safari vs. Firefox test, but even then, Safari now has a web content process now…

  3. I have Safari, Firefox and Chrome open right now and surfed a lot through the Web. My results for about 30Minutes surfing:

    Safari: 1039,40Mb @ 20Threads
    Firefox: 1304,80Mb @ 40Threads
    Chrome: 1100,20Mb @ 43Threads

    if I switch to Windows 7, Google Chrome is the best!

  4. Yeah, I’m sure that it’s possible for everyone to get different stats when pulling them up. There’s many factors in play, but like i said i wanted to just throw it up as simple as possible and i was surprised.

  5. What a ludicrous article. You can’t judge based on a single process when you’re talking about browsers that run things in multiple processes. and there’s little point doing memory comparisons if you’re not going to load the same pages in both browsers. As for firefox 7, the improved memory usage is compared to previous versions of firefox. You should be testing the previous version of firefox to see if the memory usage is significantly lower or not.

  6. Ludicrous huh?

    If you read it, you’d realize that I planned on just TOUCHING on it. Being as general as possible. Because when it comes down to it, to a ‘layman’ this is all that matters.

    Being general isn’t judging. Looking at something as broad as possible, on PURPOSE.

    This isn’t a significant in-depth in technology blog. You think it’s ludicrous, go read Gizmodo bud.

    • And as for loading separate pages in separate browsers.. It’s easily estimated. EASILY. Estimated. I “SHOULDN’T” be testing anything. It’s a personal blog. That says it all right there. I’m one person, and certainly no TechCrunch, bud.

  7. I only have this page open on my Linux box with Firefox 7 and I am using 80Mb of ram in a single process.
    Chrome on the other hand is using 70Mb of ram in 4 different processes which I find pretty damn annoying. If I use Chrome extensively it is going to bring up more than 20 processes!!
    Fuck that shit!

    • Yes, most browsers are ridiculous. Camino from what I remember, (the Firefox platform based browser) and FLOCK, (same, Firefox based, “The SOCIAL Browser”) didn’t take up jack shit..

      You can also check if they still have a new version somewhere for Taxi Browser (iCab) []

  8. And anyway what is up with this random kind of comparison? How about doing exactly the same in the browser instead of just babling on about apples and oranges? One tab comparison, 10 tab comparison and include all processes when you talk about Chrome, you incompetent Mr. know it all..

    • Hmm.. Search elsewhere for that, this post is what it is. Was doing because a friend wanted to know the very basics. This DOES tell some general information that IS true, and IS straight to the point, making sense.

      Just very basic. I encourage others to test it themselves anyway. Depending on how much RAM and CPU you have, the amount it uses actually varies if it has more wiggle room. No tests are 100% the same, or conclusive anyway. Everyone’s system is different whether you think so or not. This just tells the simple truths.

  9. I’d like to see you perform more extensive tests with Opera thrown into the mix. While I like Opera, Chrome has consistently handled RAM better on my old machine (Vista, 1GB RAM) since v12 or so using my own tests.

    • Give it a search! I’m sure by now there’s something up somewhere! Check like ‘Tech Recipes’ ( huge awesome blog on fancy tech tricks [mainly OS related] ) also Gizmodo, and LIFEHACKER.

  10. Wow, what an extremely racist article. I appreciate the effort, but maybe leave out the ethnic slurs next time.

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