In a post on its Chromium Blog, Google claimed that version 89 of its Chrome browsers brings several performance improvements to macOS, Windows and Android. It’s good news for those still using Chrome, although some other Chromium-based browsers have been offering superior performance for a while now.
If you’re interested in all the nitty-gritty details, you can check out the blog post here. However, some of it is pretty in-the-weeds, so I’ll try and keep it simple. It’s also worth noting the specific improvements vary by operating system, although some changes are cross-platform.
For example, Google says it improved how Chrome uses (and stops using) system memory and that the browser “now reclaims up to 100MiB per tab, which is more than 20 percent on some popular sites.” It’s a bit odd to see Google use mebibytes (MiB) here, but that roughly equates to 105 megabytes (MB). Chrome achieves this by discarding memory not actively used by the foreground tab. That can include things like large images no longer on-screen because the user scrolled past them.
On macOS specifically, Google says it adjusted how the browser handles background tabs, which saves up to eight percent of memory usage. The Verge notes that Google already applied that change on other platforms. Plus, Google says these improvements to Chrome for macOS have raised the browser’s Energy Impact score by up to 65 percent. Chrome also does a better job keeping “those fans quiet,” according to Google.
Chrome should feel more responsive, smoother on Windows and Android
The search giant claims Chrome on Windows is saving up to 22 percent of memory in the ‘browser process,’ eight percent in the renderer, three percent in the GPU and that overall, the browser is up to nine percent more responsive.
Finally, Android users will see a bunch of improvements. Google claims Chrome will use up to five percent less memory, start-up 7.5 times faster, load pages about two percent faster and experience fewer crashes. Plus, high-end phones running Android 10 and newer with at least 8GB of RAM should see up to 8.5 percent faster page loads, and Chrome will be about 28 percent smoother.
It’s great to see Google working to improve Chrome’s performance issues across platforms. The browser’s appetite for RAM has become a bit of a meme over the last few years.
However, I think Google could do more to improve the browser. In a quick (and admittedly not entirely scientific) test running the same 12 tabs across Firefox, Chrome and Edge on my Windows PC, Chrome used about 100MB less RAM than Firefox, and Edge was 400MB less than Chrome. Since Microsoft adopted Chromium as the foundation for its new Edge browser, the software giant optimized it for Windows to an impressive degree. That said, Firefox surprisingly loads webpages faster than Chrome or Edge on my machine.