A Look at Memory Usage In Internet Explorer 7, Firefox, and Opera 9: Part 1

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Internet Explorer has had the dominant position in the browsers wars for years. During this time they did virtual no improvement to their browser, expect patch security holes. Then Firefox came out, integrating the best features of both Internet Explorer, and the then shareware browser Opera, finally bringing back some competition to Microsoft.

In response to this, Microsoft created Internet Explorer 7. It includes most of the features of Firefox and Opera, including RSS feeds and tabbed browsing. So how does the new Internet Explorer stack up compared to the competition? Well, there are plenty of reviews that tackle all the issues. My biggest concern was memory usage, so I decided to run some basic memory tests on each browser. In part 2 I will cover more specific scenarios of memory usage.

The Memory Test

To conduct the memory test I opened the Task Manager and kept it open throughout. I set each browsers home page to about:blank and loaded them seperately, noting the memory usage with no page loaded, then one page, then two, then finally 10 tabs. Once I had run all the test on one browser, I closed it and started the tests on the next browser. My test machine is an AMD Athlon XP 2600+ overclocked from 1.9Ghz to 2.1Ghz. I have 1.5GB of ram (1GB PC3200, 512MB PC3200) running Windows XP Pro SP1.

1. Internet Explorer 6.0.2600
2. Internet Explorer 7 Beta 3
3. Firefox (x86/Win32)
4. Opera 9.0 Build 8502 (x86/Win32)

Opera seemed to be the most efficent memory wise. For example, when I minimize Opera it jumped from using 26MB of memory all the way down to 4 MB with 10 tabs opened.

Firefox finished in the middle in each test. It should be noted that I have no themes or extensions installed in Firefox, so that it would not effect the test.

Internet Explorer 7 Beta 3 lost every test to both Opera and Firefox and just barely beat Internet Explorer 6 with 0 and 1 page loaded. It likes Internet Explorer still hogs the most memory.


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