The Googlers talk a good story, especially when it’s delivered as a “graphic novel” comic book, but now that the browser is available, how well does their story really stand up under scrutiny? After all, IE 8 claims many of the same benefits, including the isolation of processes to tabs. Well, I set out to find out.
My setup is a quad core pentium system with 3G of memory and dual monitors. On the left side, Chrome. On the right, IE 8.
Test #1. Page rendering speed. I chose the front page of CNET as my target, emptied caches, cookies, etc on both browsers, and then navigated to www.cnet.com. Quel choque! IE 8 rendered the page in approximately six seconds. Chrome? A pokey 35 seconds. I redid the test several times to confirm. It’s true. Chrome beta is a web browsing model-T. In fact, IE 8’s rendering times were comparable to Safari, Opera and Firefox. It was only Chrome that sucked.
Test #3. Memory footprint. With Gmail and the CNET front page loaded into two tabs in each browser, both browsers were actually running 4 separate instances, proving the contention that both browsers isolate processes in tabs. However, IE’s memory footprint was a beefy 195M, while Chrome’s was a comparably skinny 80M.
Test #4. Rendering. For this test, I loaded the Calliflower application in both browsers. Calliflower does some reasonably sophisticated things including pushing status to dynamically updating web pages. Let’s just say that they both suck. Whether it was mis-sized boxes in IE, or features that didn’t work in Chrome, neither one of these apps can render Calliflower as well as IE 7, Firefox 3, Safari or Opera.
The verdict? Google had a great launch, filled with breathless oohing and aahing from the cognoscenti, but in the hard light of day I’d say the emperor has no clothes. For now, I give the nod to IE. It’s mostly faster, and a lot faster, even if it does consume a little more memory.
UPDATE: An hour later, Jim Courtney phoned me up and we did the experiment again. Mysteriously, whatever was blocking my rendering of CNET before has now resolved itself. CNET renders consistently in 4 seconds now. Computers!