Google proved me right, Chrome was a bloated memory hog

But is it any better?

In early March, I listed Google Chrome's insatiable appetite for RAM and battery life as a good reason to dump it in favor of whatever stock browser that comes with your operating system.

Google Chrome fans were up in arms (yes, browsers have fans), calling my claims fabricated and asking me to back up my claims.

I didn't have to. Google did the work for me.

Chrome version 89 dropped mid-March, promising "significant memory savings" on Windows 10, improved memory handling on macOS, and improved performance on Android.

And these weren't small improvements, based on Google's own data.

On Windows 10, Chrome 89 brought with it a 22% memory savings in the browser process, 8% in the renderer, and 3% in the GPU, as well as reclaiming up to 100MiB per tab by discarding memory from the foreground tab not currently being used.

macOS users will see 8% memory savings and up to a 65% improvement on the Apple Energy Impact score.

Android users will get up to 5% improvement in memory usage, 7.5% faster startup times, and up to 2% faster page loads.

As I said, these are significant improvements.

But is Chrome still a bloated memory hog?

I've been running Chrome 89 on Windows 10, macOS, and Android, and while there is an improvement in memory usage and responsiveness, the most noticeable change I've see is power usage on macOS laptops. While it's tricky to factor in workloads during real-world usage, I'd estimate that I'm getting 30 minutes more battery life from version 89 compared to 88.

I've also felt increased responsiveness on Windows 10, but under heavy load it feels like Chrome reverts back to its memory-hogging ways.

The smaller improvements on Android also back up my assertion that the best, most optimized browser for any platform is the stock browser.

A better Google Chrome is a good thing, but it doesn't change the fact that Google is still playing catch-up. And since Google has developed a fan base, and turned the browser into a mini platform that users feel is hard to get away from, Chrome doesn't really need to be the best.

Comments? Thoughts? Put them in the comments below.

Show Comments