Chrome vs. Firefox: How do these browsers rank for RAM usage, HTML5 Scores and Add-ons?

chrome and firefox logos

We all know that popularity isn’t necessarily indicative of quality and browser choice certainly falls under that mantra. Firefox and Chrome have both enjoyed periods at the height of browser popularity, but today, Chrome undeniably holds that crown. In August 2019, Stat Counter revealed figures showing that Chrome enjoys a near 64% market share among all internet browsers. Firefox, on the other hand, sits at a mere 4.4%. This puts it at third overall – that’s after Safari, and a long way from the 25.1% share it held back in April of 2010. We take a look at how the browsers compare according to the specific criteria relevant to most users’ requirements.

The Issue of RAM

The main problem which many users have with Chrome in the current day comes from it being a notorious memory hog. In fact, at this point, five simple non-video tabs on our work computers have it using around 600Mb of RAM. If you decide to watch a video on YouTube or Netflix, this number will rise dramatically. This can necessitate closing down Chrome before we chose to do anything else on the system. Such an act can run contrary to the multi-application setup for which computers are most useful.

One of the primary advantages of Firefox, at least according to their marketing, is that it has a smaller memory footprint than Chrome, but is this really true?

In cases of real-life use, the answer to this question is an overwhelming no. In our tests, using the same websites and number of tabs as with Chrome, Firefox actually used 150 more Mb of RAM. While this is hardly a large enough sample size to draw a realistic conclusion, it should be noted that this is largely in line with what most other user tests report. If you are curious about how this might measure up on your computer, then you can follow this guide by Business Insider. Measuring the real effect of performance which such memory use can have is not always a simple task. For work computers and laptops with limited RAM, this issue can be more pronounced.

HTML5 Compatibility

On more powerful computers which have large quantities of RAM installed, however, the issue can often be completely ignored. So in what other ways can we measure the advantages and disadvantages of these browsers? The first component we want to look at is how well each of these operates with HTML5. As one of the newer developments on the web tech front, HTML5 has been a huge boon for many facets of online infrastructure.

Important for most users is its ability to offer more seamless multimedia to run within browsers. A common example is the range of games available at online casinos. These cover the bases from traditional slots to newer developments such as live casino games. Formerly, such games would often require separate programs as downloads. Today, HTML5 allows them to run directly from a user’s browser.

A perfect score when it comes to standard alignment with HTML5, according to current testing criteria would be 555, according to this article by Business News Daily. In this test, Chrome scored a 519, while Firefox managed a 471. While both of these numbers will likely climb with future updates, they currently place Chrome as a clear and decisive HTML5 alignment winner.

Add-ons and Extensions

Another divisive part of this comparison also lies in each browser’s compatibility. Many popular add-ons will offer versions over both Chrome and Firefox, while others might only have a version for one of the two. This commonly comes down to rights and the flexibility of each browser in regards to customization.

We should also mention speed, but only in saying that most testing scenarios these tests are almost identical. In some cases, one browser might gain the advantage, but usually, the difference is negligible.

The Best Choice

In most objective senses, the best browser for most users will be Chrome. It uses slightly less memory, runs better with HTML5, and has a bigger support structure thanks to its larger user base. That said, there are always going to be cases where individual computers or devices don’t play well with specific browsers, which can make your decision a matter of necessity rather than choice.

We also need to factor in the importance of add-ons within general browser use. If for work purposes, you need a specific add-on only available for Firefox, then this would make it the only real viable choice.

Then, of course, there is the matter of taste. With the differences so negligible, the best choice is often just the one which sits the best with you. It’s just software, and the decision is yours.

About Annabel Johnson

Part time gamer, reviewer and blogger. Full time geek and tech expert!

View all posts by Annabel Johnson

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