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Chrome vs Safari on Mac is not even close — and this is the proof

Google Chrome
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

An app developer was so tired of dealing with RAM hungry Chrome, that he developed an app for Mac to deal with the problem. Called Flotato, the app takes Chrome tabs and turn it into lightweight app windows.

With Flotato, the sites you're using are transformed into web browsers that serve a single app each. You can open a Flotato window for the web version of Twitter, for instance, and that’s all that app will run. 

Flotato's lead developer Morten Just laid out his use case for the intriguing app in a blog post. He initially noticed something was wrong from the constant loud fan noise from his Mac when browsing Chrome. 

After developing the app, he ended up testing several tabs on sites like Twitter and Gmail to see how Flotato could reduce the average RAM in use with Chrome and Safari. On average, using Twitter in a single tab required a taxing 730 MB of memory, while Safari needed 73 MB. Flotato undercut both with just 63 MB. 

In another session, Just opened Twitter and Gmail in Safari, reaching nearly 80 MB of RAM and CPU usage. Flotato was able to reduce that total by about 10MB while running Twitter for mobile. Impressively, in another massive test, Just ran a 54-tab stress test on his Mac. Chrome required 290 MB, while Safari needed 12 MB. These tests tell a story that's all too familiar. 

Using Chrome for a variety of tasks will often result in RAM use skyrocketing. As Just notes in his test, Chrome still works to manage its memory usage to keep performance high. Safari, on the other hand, doesn't consume as much RAM, so the Mac's fans rarely need to spin wildly to keep up. 

Chrome will slow down when inundated with tabs due its high memory usage. With high CPU and RAM usage, your entire computer's performance begins to suffer. And, if you're like Just, you may just be unable to hear your podcast over your fans.

That's where Flotato comes in. If you're routinely using Chrome or another browser that produces the same results, it could save you some time and frustration.

When you decide you want to spawn a new browser with it, Flotato will set an appropriate icon to help keep track. You can even choose a live image of the website if you want to keep an eye on changes. 

Using Mac's WebKit, Flotato then allows you to have all of your "apps" running with significantly less RAM usage. There's no plugins, browser renderer, or other additions on top of Flotato that need memory to run. . 

Flotato is free for use with a few different apps. If you need additional tabs, it costs $14.99 for a pro version with unlimited app support.  

Brittany Vincent

Brittany Vincent has been covering video games and tech for over 13 years for publications including Tom's Guide, MTV, Rolling Stone, CNN, Popular Science, Playboy, IGN, GamesRadar, Polygon, Kotaku, Maxim, and more. She's also appeared as a panelist at video game conventions like PAX East and PAX West and has coordinated social media for companies like CNET. When she's not writing or gaming, she's looking for the next great visual novel in the vein of Saya no Uta. You can follow her on Twitter @MolotovCupcake.

  • Tom Neff
    The web entry for this article shows adjacent app icons for Chrome and Firefox, even though it purports to be about Chrome vs. Safari.

    And then the article itself ends up being about Chrome vs. Flotato.

    Headlining and illustrating articles correctly would be a service to your remaining readers.
    Reply
  • TBolt
    Tom Neff said:
    The web entry for this article shows adjacent app icons for Chrome and Firefox, even though it purports to be about Chrome vs. Safari.

    And then the article itself ends up being about Chrome vs. Flotato.

    Headlining and illustrating articles correctly would be a service to your remaining readers.

    Furthermore, the article really is just an ad for Flotato.

    Anyway, I’m glad to have ditched Chrome long ago – on Macs and Windows machines.
    Reply
  • Pete Farmer
    Or, instead of running Flotato, one could simply run Safari and get ~90% of the benefit that Flotato provides, while still being able to run different websites in tabs. What a concept.
    Reply
  • kep55
    In regards to Chrome, I don't these results at all surprising. Using the MS Three Finger Salute, I had up to 20(!) instances of chrome running, with each instance gobbling between 10 and 100+ MB.
    Reply
  • s/s/s
    This article is completely incoherent. I just opened the BBC website with flotato and it's over 100mb. And, ram usage doesn't make your fans run. And, "nearly 80mb" or over 100mb, whichever it is, both are pretty inconsequential amounts of RAM on anything close to a modern Mac - unless you're somehow displaying and interacting with 30 browser tabs all at once. And lol at "There's no plugins, browser renderer..." --- WHAT IS RENDERING THE FLOTATO PIXELS?
    Reply
  • WebTyper
    TBolt said:
    Furthermore, the article really is just an ad for Flotato.

    Anyway, I’m glad to have ditched Chrome long ago – on Macs and Windows machines.

    May I ask what do you use for your browsing on Macs?
    Reply
  • Imad_Khan
    Tom Neff said:
    The web entry for this article shows adjacent app icons for Chrome and Firefox, even though it purports to be about Chrome vs. Safari.

    And then the article itself ends up being about Chrome vs. Flotato.

    Headlining and illustrating articles correctly would be a service to your remaining readers.

    We have corrected the image and regret the error. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.
    Reply
  • A_P
    So blatant ad for utterly useless app. Shame on you.

    At least, you might to investigate what causes such difference in memory usage. Was it Chrome itself or Crome extensions? Was it Chromium engine — employed by Edge as well — or parts that are above the engine? So, what about Edge? Finally, what part ads (that might be automatically limited by some browsers) played in that?

    No really useful information. How much did Flotato creator pay you for this article?
    Reply
  • Mark Spoonauer
    Thanks for your note. This is just one study. We will be following up with our own testing.
    Reply
  • CajunMoses
    s/s/s said:
    This article is completely incoherent.
    Agreed.
    Reply