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Chrome Used 10X More RAM Than Safari on macOS Big Sur in Recent Test [Updated]

MacRumors

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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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Under normal and lightweight web browsing, Google Chrome uses 10x more RAM than Safari on macOS Big Sur, according to a test conducted by Flotato creator Morten Just (via iMore).



In a blog post, Just outlines that he put both browsers to the test in two scenarios on the latest version of macOS. The first test was conducted on a virtual machine, and the second on a 2019 16-inch MacBook Pro with 32GB of RAM. In the first round of testing, Just simulated a typical browsing pattern of opening Twitter, scrolling around, and then opening a new tab with Gmail and composing an email.

Under that test, Just found that Chrome reached 1GB of RAM usage, while Safari used only 80MB of RAM. The two-tab test was only the start, however.



With 54 tabs open, Just found that Google Chrome used 24x more RAM per tab compared to Safari. Both browsers, according to Just, were free of any extensions, and this specific test was conducted on his actual MacBook Pro, not a virtual machine. Per his findings, Chrome used 290MB of RAM per open tab, while Safari only used 12MB of RAM per open tab.



While the results are stark, Just does say that Google Chrome is likely "going out of its way to manage its memory usage across tabs," in efforts to keep the current tab "fast and responsive." In his tests, Just finds that his own application, Flotato, a lightweight alternative to Chrome that creates apps based on webpages, used significantly less RAM than both Safari and Chrome.

Chrome is known to being a memory hog on Mac and Windows computers, an issue Google has recently attempted to solve.

With macOS Big Sur, Safari received significant updates that saw it further outpace Chrome. Apple says that Safari on macOS Big Sur is "50% faster on average at loading frequently visited websites than Chrome," and that Safari provides up to one and a half hours longer of streaming video, and up to one hour longer normal web browsing on a single charge, compared to Chrome and Firefox.

Update: There are comments suggesting that these measurements may not be accurate. We'll provide further updates as more information comes out.

Article Link: Chrome Used 10X More RAM Than Safari on macOS Big Sur in Recent Test [Updated]
 
Last edited:

preetb

macrumors member
Dec 21, 2013
77
236
Mars
Probably one of the reasons that Chrome is using so much RAM is that it's continually tattling on your privacy by continually going back to Google servers. So little RAM and so much to surveil.

When I installed gigabit internet, I couldn't understand why Speedtest was only showing 279 down. Then the ISP said, try doing Speedtest on Safari instead of Chrome. Sure 'nuff, the speed was 800+ down! That difference of 500+ bandwidth is going somewhere and it's got to be communication between every website, every bookmark, every favicon, every cookie and every bit of cache on your computer.
 
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_Refurbished_

macrumors 68020
Mar 23, 2007
2,205
2,812
Safari has been the smoothest experience for my browsing needs. Much more responsive than other browsers I've tried. It may not have every feature, but there's no better choice for me on my Mac. I use Chrome on my Windows PC and feel like it's more refined on Windows. I never felt the level of refinement using Chrome on my Mac. This extreme variance between the two apps isn't shocking after using both of them.
 
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MikhailT

macrumors 601
Nov 12, 2007
4,513
1,178
I mean, RAM was made to be used. If using more free RAM means you can switch between tabs and they will all keep doing its thing without problems im ok with it
For the OS to manage, not for a single app to eat up and not giving it back on demand.

If you open up a new app like Final Cut, macOS can compress memory that it knows is not being used and free up some for the new app to use right away.

You can't do that easily if the apps doesn't free up the resources or mark memory to free up by the OS. In other words, if Chrome uses up 5GB of 8GB and none of it is compressible or freeable at any time, macOS can only deal with 3GB of system/ freeable app memory to compress, move around, etc before it starts paging to disk.

M1 Macs are already paging badly to disk because they don't have enough memory and people are reporting on Twitter that their SSDs already hit 200TB of data written to disk.
 
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newadventure

macrumors newbie
Jul 19, 2016
24
26
It's a flawed test. This shouldn't have even passed the smell test


(Disclaimer: V8 dev)
This post is unfortunately nonsense, because it's making a fundamental measurement error: not including renderer processes for Safari, and only measuring the browser process (which should be expected to be roughly O(1) memory in the number of tabs).

To the author's credit, they _are trying_ to include child processes - I'm not sure why, but `psrecord` seems to not (in local testing) include child processes for Safari even when the "--include-children" flag is passed. I guess it does for Chrome, for whatever reason.

I'm somewhat disappointed that the author, or half the comments on the post, didn't question these _wildly_ different results though...
 
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Martin75

macrumors newbie
Jan 30, 2017
11
66
UK
That post is total nonsense. Yes, Safari itself always uses about 100MB of RAM, but it creates a separate process for each tab, which for me uses close to 1GB for the current MacRumors tab for example. Chrome spawns a whole bunch of subprocesses which taken together have a roughly similar memory footprint (actually slightly lower, at least on my setup).
 
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