Web Browsers: RAM usage comparison on OSX

Things have been quiet around here lately.

Inspired by this topic on GS, I decided to conduct a study of five major browsers on OSX Snow Leopard (10.6.2, on my hackintosh’d Inspiron 1525 ) to determine their RAM usage in comparison to each other.


Before I post the results, some people claim that RAM usage is proportional to the amount of RAM in the PC. My laptop happens to have 3GB RAM (not much, but my desktop has a rather above average 8GB, so it isn’t a big deal).

I had the same three tabs open inside each of them, joejoe.org, geeksmack.net, and twcforums.info.

GS was open to a different page in Safari, since I was using it to post the reply, but besides that, everything was more or less the same.

The images are rather large, so I’m not embedding them. Click the links.


Also, notice I had to install IE for Mac to test this.

Why would anyone still be using this?


If you look at the first image, memory usage in all five browsers exceeds that of iTunes, which was playing music at the time, and Finder (at first look, Chrome doesn’t, but you have to count it’s helper processes, which are the actual tabs, as well).

By memory usage, the browsers, in order, from most to least:

Safari (226.8MB)

Opera (121.2MB)

Chrome (115.8MB)

Firefox (80.9MB)

Internet Explorer (75.7MB)

My conclusion:

Shame on Apple for making their own Safari the most bloated browser on OSX.

Seems the infamously bloated on Windows Firefox is the least bloated modern browser on OSX.

Yes, IE actually has the least memory usage, but look at the CPU usage. It’s eating up nearly half my processor.

This is because IE is an old PowerPC browser, discontinued ages ago, and emulated by Rosetta.

My suggestion if you’re low on RAM would be to make the switch to Firefox. Since I have 3GB, it’s not so much an issue for me and I’ll stick with Safari or perhaps switch to Chrome.

Also, I find it funny that web browsers, supposedly the lightweight primary application of netbooks, ate up more memory than any other process I had running.

I may do a similar comparison on Windows sometime soon, using the same tabs and the same browsers.

2 Responses to “Web Browsers: RAM usage comparison on OSX”

  1. DT

    Funnily enough. On my OS X Lion machine, Safari with only Google open takes about 80MB while Firefox takes up at least 200MB with the same page open.

  2. Carlos V. Gonzalez

    Strange Results, on my macbook core duo 2 GB of RAM, Snow Leopard, Safari and Chrome are the fastest to open, but both use huge amounts of RAM, being Chrome an absolutely absurd, when Safari is at 600 MB for the same pages Chrome is eating 1,5 GB, making all the computer crawl.
    Firefox uses lot less ram, but it can be sluggish, but it’s an amazing browser with all those extensions.
    But today my choice is Opera Browser, startup takes a while, but is an amazing fluid browser and very good on the RAM departmant, also it has extensions now, even if not all the extensions I use exist on it at this time, but is so much stable and RAM friendly. I feel abandoned by Apple, Safari for Snow Leopard is not updated anymore and it has serious bugs, like random tab page redraw….

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