The Mozilla Foundation has released their new Firefox with multi-process capabilities. This means Firefox should take better advantage of today’s computer hardware, namely the multi-core CPUs that are omnipresent in just about all machines less than 3 years old. Extremetech has a gushing piece on Firefox. The biggest claim to fame for Firefox is beating Chrome on RAM usage. I did a series of quick tests to see how much Firefox has improved in the speed department and to see how much ram Firefox is using vs Chrome.

Here’s my machine:

CPU: Intel Core I-5 4690K 3.5 GHz(Known as Devil’s Canyon)
RAM: 32 Gigabytes
Storage: Crucial M550 1TB SATA SSD
Video Nvidia GTX1060 6 gigs of VRAM
Internet: Comcast Business 50/10

Here’s the test.  I have 96 tabs I open every morning in Chrome for my daily reading.  Everything from tech stuff to Christianity to Facebook.  I open all of them at once and let them load.  For this test, I am simply using task manager to tell me how much CPU is being used, RAM usage, and how much of my Internet connection is being used.  I am going to run the tests twice.  Once will be with all caches cleared.  I will time the browsers from the time I start loading all 96 tabs until the last page is loaded.  What I am looking for is the amount of time it takes to load with and without caching, cpu usage, Internet usage, and ram usage.  Since my machine has an obscene amount of ram the amount of usage is not a concern for me.  I do not mind massive ram usage.  I can tell you I have many clients running Chrome on everything from 8 gig machines up to my Ram monster.  Chrome will use what is available and no more….for me the speed at which these pages all get loaded is most important for me.  I run one add-in in both browsers: Ublock Origin.   I did not test Internet Explorer or Edge as they are not recommended by ETC Maryland as per my basics of not getting infected.

Here’s the basic results:

Ram usage: 1.6 gigs
Bandwidth Usage: Max: 36 megabits Average: 10 megabits
CPU Usage: max: 75% average 65%
Time to load all 96 pages: 3 minutes 5 seconds

Ram usage: 1.8 gigs
Bandwidth Usage: Max: 10 megabits Average: 2 megabits
CPU Usage: max: 100% average 50%
Time to load all 96 pages: 1 minute 58 seconds

Ram usage: 7.3 gigs
Bandwidth Usage: Max: 50 megabits Average: 40 megabits
CPU Usage: max: 100% average 85%
Time to load all 96 pages: 47 seconds

Ram usage: 4.3 gigs
Bandwidth Usage: Max: 10 megabits Average: 5 megabits
CPU Usage: max: 100% average 100%
Time to load all 96 pages: 33 seconds

What do these results tell us?

Firefox: First of all Firefox has made some massive improvements in all areas. Firefox is now able to better take advantage of modern CPUs…up to a point. I would say the maximum count it will routinely max out would be two. Presented with 4 it had a short burst at 100% but I think in a bid to control ram(and possibly bandwidth usage as well) It quickly throttled itself down to the average CPU usage figure. What was more interesting was the bandwidth usage, not once did Firefox hit the 50 megabit point. Firefox, for whatever reason, never took full advantage of the internet connection. Firefox does use much much less ram than Chrome. Another major annoyance I have with sites these days, even with Ublock Origin going, is auto-play videos. Firefox does not do two things that are vital in this regard. First, it doesn’t block auto-play content from tabs that are not the visible tab. Second, it doesn’t mark the tab that has the audio playing. With Firefox one of my sites has an auto-play video intro. If I didn’t load these same tabs every day I would not know which tab was playing the content without that marking. With 96 tabs up it’s nearly impossible to find the tab without foreknowledge of which one it is because there is no marking saying which tab is auto-playing. Firefox looks great and for folks that are ultimately privacy concerned this is the right browser. Firefox is focused in privacy, controlling resource usage, and Internet standards. Firefox now moves into my recommended usage for privacy concerned clients who do not demand the absolute fastest browsing experience.

Chrome. Absolutely crushes Firefox in the speed area. Even uncached it absolutely destroys Firefox in the speed department. Chrome is from Google so yes the data is send to them and mined. I am well aware of this. Google is actually my back end for my paid e-mail, browser, cellular communications. I use the Google platform extensively. Since my machine has scads of ram the amount of ram usage for me is not a primary concern. This is one area Firefox crushes Chrome. If you look above Chrome is focused on speed, and Internet standards and it delivers on both in bunches. Ram usage…well Chrome will use everything it is allowed to in the machine and in my machine it uses a ton. 7.3 gigs of ram usage for uncached and 4.3 gigs for cached. The payoff is CPU/Internet utilization and speed. Uncached loading all of the pages is an astonishing 47 seconds. CPU Usage is nearly universally 100% and Chrome has no qualms about using every bit of the available Internet connection to load things as fast as possible. The cached results are actually CPU bound. As you can see in the Internet usage results most of the data is actually coming from my SSD and not the internet itself. I would need an 8 core or more CPU to be able to load any faster as Chrome keeps the CPU absolutely maxed out while it ingests my websites as fast as it can. 14 seconds may not be a bunch but it feels nearly instantaneous. Chrome is good for machine with 4+ cores, internet standards compliance, and maximum speed.

So which browser is better? As with all things technology it depends on your use case. ETC Maryland constantly evaluates various technologies to make sure the solutions picked out for you are best suited to your businesses unique needs. If you want to have your technology platform checked or if you have any technology questions, please contact me.