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Chrome for Mac Is Finally Getting Better

Power consumption issues tackled in latest dev build

mac chrome dock icon

Chrome for Mac is improving

Chrome for Mac has begun to address its long documented performance and battery issues. 

The  release of Google Chrome 46 on the Canary channel brings a number of sorely needed battery boosting power fixes to users of OS X.

But just how good are the changes?

Owen  Williams of The Next Web sets the anticipation level, stating that a week of using the latest dev version of Chrome for Mac has left him “blown away”.

“Memory consumption seems to have halved, groggy slow tabs are snappier than ever and my battery life isn’t shamefully bad anymore,” Williams writes, noting that his MacBook’s fans are no longer blowing a gale, either.

But is Williams’ enthusiasm the anecdotal side effect of having not used Chrome regularly for a while? Or do measurable changes exists within the latest Canary builds really result in such a dramatic difference?

Thankfully it is the latter.

Making Chrome Faster, Bit by Bit

chrome activity monitor

Chrome 46 Dev Vs Canary

As we’ve reported regularly this past year, the Chrome team is working to improve the browser’s performance and memory management. It even plans to tackle the performance hit of extensions.

And Alex Russell, a Chrome engineer, tweets that specific patches for Mac users are in play in the most bleeding-edge versions (changes which have since part-filtered into Dev channel builds).

Russell calls out “memory improvements are everywhere“, notes that the “Mac graphics stack power is hugely improved” and says that “power is better on every platform.”

Battery life gains for Mac users come from a new graphics feature called ‘Partial Swap’.

Better Every Six Weeks

Although Google Chrome may not be able to match Apple’s Safari in outright performance — we all remember those scary benchmarks from earlier this year — the latest builds of Chrome for Mac certainly put it back in contention.

As Alex Russell wryly points out: “[Chrome gets] better every 6 weeks”.

Interested in taking Chrome Canary for Mac for a spin? You can do so easily, and it won’t replace your existing Chrome installation.

Download Google Chrome Canary

Do bear in mind that the Canary channel is bleeding edge and prone to bugs, breakage and regressions.

 

  • This is great news for my MBP.

  • Claude Champagne

    It’s not the Memory tab we should see, but the CPU and Energy tab. That’s where Chrome hurts on Mac…

    • Degru

      Install them and see for yourself?

    • I was going for most dramatic visual difference between the two installs, and only the memory column was delivering the goods. (you can see energy impact in the image though).

  • Joeltut

    I’m so glad because it makes no sense anyway

    • Joeltut

      Mac is mac even if chrome is chrome hurray!!!! I didn’t know windows was chrome and Firefox became chrome through ie when windows 10 works through chrome

      • James Bell

        My IQ dropped after reading this comment.

      • I’ve attempted to decipher this about 8 times and I’m still getting lost in the first sentence.

    • Joseph

      It makes sense because when I use Safari, my battery life is at least a week but when I use Chrome it goes all the way down to about 6 hours. The thing is that I need Chrome because of work-related stuff and its really quite raging when you get back home to watch Netflix and you have to charge and use. So this is good news.

  • Felipe Chierighini

    Does it improves battery life for chromebooks too?

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  • Daniel V

    Chrome 47 still has over 26 average energy impact and it often peaks to over 106.

  • George Valkhoun

    Firefox is and always will be the best.

  • Mark Goodson

    Absolute rubbish! Here we are 6 months later and the impact of Chrome on my MacBook Air’s battery life is horrific. Checking it using Activity Monitor Chrome hits around the 200 mark with a few tabs open whilst Opera doing the same/similar tasks sits at 30-40. We’re not talking +/- 10% here we are talking reducing your battery life from 9 hours to 2 or 3.

  • JimAlaska

    My guess on the battery life issues with would be flash. I use Chromeboxes and Chromebooks almost exclusively. Anytime I notice the fan staying on more than a few seconds, I look for the tab with all the flash content. I close that tab and within a few seconds, the fan turns off.

    I would love to get rid of flash, but there are sites I need to access for work that do not work without flash.

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