It’s hardly news that Google Chrome uses a lot of memory when the browser is running. But that in some situations Chrome uses ten times more RAM than Safari? Ouch!
It is the developer Morten Just who writes that Chrome completely devours free memory space just by opening it on macOS.
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When Morten Just opened a single tab with the website Twitter, Google Chrome used an extreme 730 MB of memory. Compared to only 73 MB in Safari. There is a huge difference that quickly becomes a problem on memory-limited computers.
In a test where 54 blank tabs were opened in both Google Chrome and Safari, the difference became even clearer.
I reached a point where I could barely hear the podcast I was trying to listen to. That’s how loud the fan was. Then I closed down all open Chrome windows, and a few minutes after, the fan went silent. So I decided to see if it was just me.
I ran the 2-tab test in a completely fresh macOS install on a virtual machine. Then I ran the 54-tabs test on my own Big Sur installation, but with all extensions disabled. To record a usage snapshot ~ 250 times per second, I used psrecord.
The test showed that Chrome took up an average of 290 MB of memory per tab. Compare that to Safari which only took 12 MB per tab. So there’s a difference of 24 times the amount of RAM for Chrome.
Morten Just did his test on a Mac with newly installed macOS “Big Sur” in a virtual environment and verified the results on a 16-inch Macbook Pro with an Intel Core i9 processor and 32GB of RAM.
As mentioned above, it’s hardly news that Chrome uses a lot of memory. Thankfully, there are good alternatives for those who want to reduce that amount. Like using the latest Microsoft Edge, or Safari if you want. Morten Just also has a Chrome-based browser in Fleet which uses a fraction of the same amount of memory as the default browser.