Mac vs PC in 100-Tab Extreme Firefox Browsing

macstryder

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Dec 31, 2011
1
0
I tend to wander off on a tangent. Normally this results in me middle-clicking my way into an overwhelming sea of pubmed tabs that I revisit and sort through when I go to close my browser. The problem I have found is that my Mac Mini 2009 (Core Duo 2 Ghz 4 Gigs RAM, Nvidia 9400) is less efficient at browsing multiple tabs than my PC. Granted my PC has newer specs, but the memory footprint is different. It seems that the Mac version of Firefox is less efficient when it comes to opening up tabs than the PC. I will find that Firefox on my Mac is nearing 2 gigs of RAM and causing the machine to swap, whereas on my PC it never has had this problem.

Is this my imagination or does anyone else have this problem?
 

Hellhammer

Moderator emeritus
Dec 10, 2008
22,164
581
Finland
To be honest, Firefox sucks nowadays. It used to be good but all browsers have add-ons nowadays and they are much more efficient when it comes to memory usage. Give e.g. a Chrome a try, it's brilliant.
 

BreakGuy

macrumors 6502a
Nov 23, 2009
817
0
NZ, South Pacific
To be honest, Firefox sucks nowadays. It used to be good but all browsers have add-ons nowadays and they are much more efficient when it comes to memory usage. Give e.g. a Chrome a try, it's brilliant.
I concur. Even when I was using Windows, I got sick of the increasingly poor performance of FireFox. Would never install it on any Mac. I use Safari and Chrome from time to time too. Never had any issues with either of these.
 

theSeb

macrumors 604
Aug 10, 2010
6,963
91
Poole, England
Firefox leaks memory like a sieve in windows so it's difficult for me to comment on or compare its memory management with a straight face.
 
Last edited:

dusk007

macrumors 68040
Dec 5, 2009
3,386
62
In my experience many applications not just browsers that are available for both platforms usually are quite a bit better in the Windows version with resource usage and stability.
That is simply the problem with running an OS with a smaller user base. Developers just spend more time and effort on Windows apps. There are more voluntary testers and since Win7 Microsoft has the superior memory management.
Lion is a little like Vista some changes but little for the better. MS does more for performance. Win7 still runs quite well with just 1GB memory, if you use Lion on just 2GB you won't be happy even for basic stuff.

The amount of memory my OSX SL sucks is amazing now with 8GB. I used to run equally many apps on a 2GB Win7 machine and had no perceived issues with not enough memory and here I almost use 6GB of memory with not a single really memory intensive app besides the browser which is at 1.44GB.
 

theSeb

macrumors 604
Aug 10, 2010
6,963
91
Poole, England
In my experience many applications not just browsers that are available for both platforms usually are quite a bit better in the Windows version with resource usage and stability.
That is simply the problem with running an OS with a smaller user base. Developers just spend more time and effort on Windows apps. There are more voluntary testers and since Win7 Microsoft has the superior memory management.
Lion is a little like Vista some changes but little for the better. MS does more for performance. Win7 still runs quite well with just 1GB memory, if you use Lion on just 2GB you won't be happy even for basic stuff.

The amount of memory my OSX SL sucks is amazing now with 8GB. I used to run equally many apps on a 2GB Win7 machine and had no perceived issues with not enough memory and here I almost use 6GB of memory with not a single really memory intensive app besides the browser which is at 1.44GB.
As I, and many others, have explained countless times OSX uses your available memory for caching. The more you give it, the more it will use.

In fact, Windows 7 manages memory in a very similar way to Lion. Page outs not free memory is what is important.
 

Hellhammer

Moderator emeritus
Dec 10, 2008
22,164
581
Finland
As I, and many others, have explained countless times OSX uses your available memory for caching. The more you give it, the more it will use.

In fact, Windows 7 manages memory in a very similar way to Lion. Page outs not free memory is what is important.
At least I feel that OS X sometimes doesn't lacks the skill to prioritize. Seriously, why is Safari using using over 1.5GB of my 4GB and I'm paging out like hell? Release the cached pages or whatever the inactive memory is, they are useless, and use the RAM for new tasks so the performance won't be like hell.

I think the main problem is that Apple can make OS X a lot more RAM hungry and get away with it. 4GB is pretty much the minimum if you have Lion and no SSD. Then again, Windows 7 needs to work on all machines and the RAM requirement must be fairly low, so it's more efficient with RAM.
 

theSeb

macrumors 604
Aug 10, 2010
6,963
91
Poole, England
At least I feel that OS X sometimes doesn't lacks the skill to prioritize. Seriously, why is Safari using using over 1.5GB of my 4GB and I'm paging out like hell? Release the cached pages or whatever the inactive memory is, they are useless, and use the RAM for new tasks so the performance won't be like hell.

I think the main problem is that Apple can make OS X a lot more RAM hungry and get away with it. 4GB is pretty much the minimum if you have Lion and no SSD. Then again, Windows 7 needs to work on all machines and the RAM requirement must be fairly low, so it's more efficient with RAM.
I have two Chrome windows open right now. Window one has 16 tabs, window 2 has 6 tabs.

Chrome is using 132 MB (Real Memory) and the Chrome Shockwave plug-in is using 753 MB. I cannot say much for Safari because I don't use it much, but I find it to be a resource hog, much like Firefox.

There are, of course, still many optimisations that are needed within Lion and I am sure they will come. I find Windows 7 with 2 GB to be awfully painful with my usage patterns. My windows laptop has 6 GB and it runs like a dog quite often. Internet explorer stops responding on a regular basis (have to use it for some web based applications and sharepoint) and if I don't reboot on a regular basis, various weird things happen in other applications like Powerpoint where the slide browser on the left side corrupts completely.
 

Hellhammer

Moderator emeritus
Dec 10, 2008
22,164
581
Finland
I have two Chrome windows open right now. Window one has 16 tabs, window 2 has 6 tabs.

Chrome is using 132 MB (Real Memory) and the Chrome Shockwave plug-in is using 753 MB. I cannot say much for Safari because I don't use it much, but I find it to be a resource hog, much like Firefox.
Remember that there are multiple Chrome processes. E.g. I currently have 11 chrome.exe processes open, even though I have only 6 tabs and one window open. This behavior is similar in OS X.
 

theSeb

macrumors 604
Aug 10, 2010
6,963
91
Poole, England
Remember that there are multiple Chrome processes. E.g. I currently have 11 chrome.exe processes open, even though I have only 6 tabs and one window open. This behavior is similar in OS X.
*facepalm*
Of course. I forgot to consider the multiple Google Chrome Renderer processes that I have.
 

dusk007

macrumors 68040
Dec 5, 2009
3,386
62
As I, and many others, have explained countless times OSX uses your available memory for caching. The more you give it, the more it will use.

In fact, Windows 7 manages memory in a very similar way to Lion. Page outs not free memory is what is important.
Actually OSX doesn't work the way Windows 7 works. Windows 7 actually caches with a smart algorithm behind. OSX works much like Windows XP used to it just keeps stuff in memory that is not used anymore in case it is used again. XP did the same it just never reported it. Free to use was free to use.

My comparison between 2 GB win7 and 8GB SL is not really fair because I used the 2GB Win7 a couple years back with applications that also used less although Eclipse memory use didn't grow all that much. But there are so many apps that used to need only a few MB ram and now need close to 100 like mediaplayers, VLC even. Everytime I compare that to Windows the Windows apps gets away better.
It is also just not true that useing RAM if it is available is always the best strategy. Most of the times it is just lazy programmers and frameworks used the wrong way or.
I am just programming a little thing now too that if done with the some care needs very little ram without ANY performance problems but with a few bugs that you don't fix you end up with some RAM sucking monster at least compared to the work it does and the little data it need to actually hold in ram to work. Compressed that would be no more than a few KB.
Some stuff like databases really benefits from more RAM use but if you use the RAM where it isn't really needed you take it away from stuff that might make better use of it. As long as there is such a thing as too little RAM it is something to complain about.
Browser got a lot more RAM heavy but they did give some speedier at rendering. How you hold your data in ram and access it makes a difference.
With some Browsers like Opera you may at least set a threshold for RAM use. Chrome just keeps spawning processes until no RAM is left.
The whole stability issues also need RAM. When some stuff used to be shared between tabs it takes less RAM if every tab spawns its own process it needs more RAM that is just how it is even if it gets you nothing at all speed wise.

OSX just gets away with it but if Windows was such a resource hog people would complain all over this form how bad Windows is. I think the Win8 feature with low priority RAM is a really good idea. Maybe OSX gets it someday too. Though the benefit still hugely depends on 3rd party developers.
 

theSeb

macrumors 604
Aug 10, 2010
6,963
91
Poole, England
Do you have technical links which describe the smart caching in Windows 7? Admittedly the last Windows platforms I actually wrote code for were based on Windows 2000 and Server 2003 so I am curious to find out more.
 

thundersteele

macrumors 68030
Oct 19, 2011
2,984
7
Switzerland
I found that OSX would reduce the memory given to "Safari Web Content" before swapping me out.
It seems most browsers these days are optimized all available resources. On my old SL machine with 2 GB I once noticed that each new Chrome tab was using between 50 and 100 MB. So I tried to kill the machine by opening more and more tabs - I wasn't able to use up my free RAM, at some point Chrome started reducing the footprint of it's subprocesses.


I tried Chrome, Safari, Firefox and Opera to see if one of them has a smaller memory footprint. No success, so I settled for Safari since it has the best pdf viewer and OS integration. The real solution is to switch to links or w3m as browser.
 

s.horsfield

macrumors regular
Apr 3, 2011
141
0
New Zealand
To be honest, Firefox sucks nowadays. It used to be good but all browsers have add-ons nowadays and they are much more efficient when it comes to memory usage. Give e.g. a Chrome a try, it's brilliant.
I love chrome's interface and design but today I switched back to Safari.... I was running latest versionn of Chrome on Lion and I would always have issues with loading Facebook and some other web pages. Also sometimes it was like my internet cut out and nothing would load so I would wait 30 seconds and it would work again. But with FaceBook anything past the homepage will half load then give up (no error page just gives up) same with other random pages. It's also A HUGE PERFORMANCE HOG (compared to Safari). I want to use it again but if it has intermittent loading problems it's not worth it to me. Anyone got any great ideas of how to fix this, i've tried all basic troubleshooting
 

Farrs44

macrumors newbie
Feb 16, 2012
3
0
Browser test

I have tried opening Firefox, Safari, Opera, and Camino on the same webpage, and at least based on the Activity Monitor, it seems that Camino (a Mac-only browser based on Firefox) has way less real memory usage than the others, even including the AppleSpell.service it always opens. But I haven't tried a multiple tabs test with them all opened on the same pages.

Chrome I got rid of long ago due to it running processes (at least on the Windows machine I was using) even when I wasn't using it.
 

JHUFrank

macrumors 6502a
Apr 16, 2010
645
54
Firefox quality going down, Chrome is somewhat on the rise and Safari back into contention. I have issues with Chrome renderers locking up huge chunks of RAM for certain pages. So much so that I have gone back to using Safari for those pages.
Netflix seems to run much more efficiently on Safari vs Chrome on my MBA also. Fans and processor run about 30% lower.
Right now Chrome is 1, Safari 2 and FF 3 for me. I do miss the FF plugins!
 

lamboman

macrumors 6502
Aug 13, 2011
394
2
My biggest issue with Chrome right now is just how poor its GPU acceleration is. It just doesn't work well at all. HTML5 performance is poor also.

Safari is a hell of a lot more solid than it used to be, and is as quick as the competition now. While I don't really like the way it does things, I'm sticking with it merely because it just works.
 
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