Firefox 18 has been released a day prior to the schedule and this time around the changes are rather developer oriented. However this release does bolster Firefox’s memory efficiency while being slightly sloppier on the more traditional benchmarks. In this post we will be comparing Firefox 19 vs Chrome 24 vs Internet Explorer 10 by benchmarking them.
Firefox 19.0.1 has been released which resolves stability issues for Windows 8 users with AMD Radeon GPU’s. Firefox is much more snappy with hardware acceleration now thanks to this on my PC with AMD Radeon 6370M
Download: Firefox 19.0.1[19.6 MB]
Native PDF Reader
One of the things which Firefox has been lacking compared to Chrome was a native PDF reader. Many aware users might know that the PDF reader component itself was merged a while ago, but now it’s turned on by default and any PDF opened in Firefox is handled by the inbuilt pdf.js PDF reader.
To Mozilla’s credit, the interface looks really clean and well laid out, though I found the scrolling to be slightly laggy compared to Chrome’s PDF reader. Nevertheless it is definitely a welcome inclusion.
Cleaner, Faster Startup
One of the most annoying issues that we often faced in the earlier releases of Firefox was that the Firefox code would start getting executed before the Firefox window was even visible. This made the users feel was sluggish to start, while in reality, Firefox was probably rendering pages even before it was loaded! ( this behavior could be observed if you had a keen eye on Task Manager right after launching Firefox).
Well, the good news is that this behavior has been fixed and now Firefox waits for its window to load before it starts executing further code and loading the homepage speeding up the startup.
Developer related updates
Sadly, these are only most visible user related major features in this release. Here is a brief summary of key changes in this release pertaining to developers
- Remote Web Console is available for connecting to Firefox on Android or Firefox OS . However this feature is experimental and you have to set devtools.debugger.remote-enabled to true in the about:configs to enable this.
- Also a new Browser Debugger is included for add-on and browser developer. Again this feature is experimental as well needs devtools.debugger.remote-enabled flag to be true in the about:configs to enable this.
- There are a host of CSS related improvements as well. Firefox now supports the CSS @page tag. The CSS viewport-percentage length units (vh,vw,vmin and vmax) have been implemented as well. Lastly, CSS text-transform now supports full-width
Firefox 19 vs Chrome 24 vs Internet Explorer 10 Benchmarks
At the time of performing these, Chrome was still at version 24 surprisingly with no stable update being imminent. Hence we went ahead and compared the existing version against Firefox 19. Firefox 18 and Internet Explorer 10 have been included as well.
All the tests were performed on a HP-G42 478TX laptop with Core i3 2.40 GHz (first gen) processor, 6 GB DDR3 RAM, Western Digital 5400 RPM hard disk and ATI Mobility Radeon 6370M GPU running Windows 8 Pro with Catalyst 12.10 Driver
All the addons were disabled in the browsers and the results were cross checked. However benchmark scores may vary depending on machine configurations
Firefox 19.0 showed some good improvements in the general browser benchmark peacekeeper however with a neat 150 point gain compared to Firefox 18. Chrome 24 though here is miles ahead with Internet Explorer 10 coming at last.
Firefox 19 continues to be regressive. The latest release lost over a hundred points compared to its predecessor in this Chrome dominated benchmark. Internet Explorer 10 of course tops the chart…from the bottom.
While Firefox 19 does maintain its lead that it gained over Chrome in the previous release in this comprehensive benchmark, Firefox 19 again loses few points compared to Firefox 18. Internet Explorer 10 though, is way out of competition and performs pretty pathetically.
Lastly, there was no change at all in Microsoft’s proprietary Psychedelic browsing benchmark. Firefox 18 and Firefox 19 literally tied for the second spot, trailing behind Redmond’s own Internet Explorer 10.
Real World Testing : Memory benchmarks
While Firefox 19 clearly regressed a bit in the traditional browser benchmarks, the results on contrary in the memory benchmarks were impressive. This might be partly due to the improvements and fixes made in the Firefox 18.0.x being carried over in Firefox 19 though.
Memory Consumption with a Single Tab
Firefox 19 consumed 14 MB lesser than coming second to only Internet Explorer 10 in memory consumption with a single tab. Chrome 24 however is still a major memory hog and easily requires around 200 MB to churn a single tab. We would be interested to see the memory consumption pattern of Chrome 25 when it releases though.
Memory Consumption with 10 Tabs open
When crunching multiple tabs, Firefox 19 proved to be even more efficient, saving over 30 MB than its predecessor. Chrome, continues to be a memory hog despite being snappy, and Internet Explorer 10 does not impress much either. Easily, Firefox continues to be the most memory efficient browser right now.
It will be interesting to see if Firefox plans to switch to a-process-per-tab and sandboxing. And if it does, we are pretty sure that would be at the expense of some precious RAM. However , at the moment, Firefox 19 is a really fast browser with some spectacular memory efficiency that shames all its competitors across platforms. When I was finishing up this article , Firefox was still at consuming just around 788 MB for displaying 20 tabs exactly. Down the road, with the introduction of Firefox Market Place apps it will be really interesting to see Firefox competing against Chrome in multiple frontiers.