Chrome is a hog, switching back to Safari

Google’s Chrome may be the fastest browser to date, but it does so by making everything else runs slower. Why? It’s such a memory hog, eating up almost twice the memory as Safari for the same web pages. If you also run other applications on the Mac, I suggest you use Safari instead of Chrome.

I started using Chrome on a daily basis from about two months ago. It was a great browser — it rarely freezes (although sometimes its tabs do crashes), runs quick, and synchronizes my bookmarks with its Windows counterpart from my dayjob’s office PC. Life was great with Chrome.

Then I notice that my Mac is getting really slow. Microsoft Word takes minutes to load, switching between spaces sometimes stutter, and even the volume control slider takes a wee bit longer to draw and open. At first, I thought that my 2007 MacBook Pro begins to show its age and maybe it’s time to get a new computer.

That is until I opened Activity Monitor yesterday.

I realized that with a few Chrome windows, Xcode, iOS Simulator, Adium, Word, and iTunes, the 4GB RAM in my Mac has only 8 MB free. Microsoft Word was barely usable, I looked at the Real Memory usage of Chrome and found out that the biggest memory hog was Chrome. After closing Chrome, my trusty old Mac suddenly seems to gain its youth.

After the incident, I decided to see whether Chrome really was the culprit. I open the same website in Chrome and Safari and see the memory usage of each. Indeed Chrome is the bigger memory hog.

Just look at its Real Memory use. The three Chrome processes takes 39.2 + 10 + 79.6 = 128.8 memory just to display a single web page. And this is real memory, not just some space on the hard drive. The test page URL was


In contrast, Safari only used slightly more than half of it, 81.3 MB of Real Memory. It’s not exactly small, but far better than what Chrome is using. Besides, Safari is almost as fast as Chrome anyway.


This is on top of Chrome’s monstrosity of taking 200 MB disk space. Come on, this is a web browser. Not some RPG game. Just look at how big Chrome is when compared with its peers.


I’m planning to do a similar comparison in my dayjob’s Windows XP computer — whether the Windows version of Chrome is also a worse desktop citizen than Safari for Windows.

For the record, these are some details of my test bench.

Chrome version: 11.0.696.57
Safari Version: Version 5.0.5 (6533.21.1)
Mac OS X: 10.6.7

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