Firefox Quantum: The Browser Made for the Future

I am not too privacy conscious, nor do I hate Google’s ecosystem. Therefore, Firefox has never been able to win me over. However, with the introduction of Firefox Quantum, I was one of the keenest users to try it out. It promised amazing speed, new minimal design, and a bunch of changes that will make Firefox go head to head against the other browsers (or Chrome, particularly).

So did Mozilla manage to fulfill the promise? Well, I’ve been using Firefox Quantum since its release, and I am pleasantly surprised by its performance, design and stability. Today, let’s see where the new Firefox stands and whether it’s worth a look or not.

In my experience, I would say it is much faster than the previous Firefox. Not just page loading speed, but the navigation, tab opening/closing, menu, and pretty much everything is faster. However, comparing Firefox Quantum with any of the browsers available is very difficult, if not impossible. The new Firefox knows how to take full advantage of your device hardware, but other browsers only partially take advantage.

I know it’s confusing, which is why it’s important to know how Firefox Quantum handles the processes. Let me help you understand further.

To make it easier for you, I’ll compare Chrome and Firefox process handling. When you open a new tab in Chrome, it will take a separate block of RAM to store the process and tell one of the CPU cores to handle that process. Whenever you open a new tab, it will repeat the same process, basically opening a completely new process for each tab.

In the below screenshot you can see that Chrome has opened seven processes for the seven tabs I opened.

firefox-quantum-review-chrome-processes

There are two flaws in this process. As a new block of RAM is used for each process, Chrome uses considerably higher RAM (the reason why it has memory issues). Additionally, only a single CPU processor is dedicated to the process, so the most power it can ever get is limited to the power of a single core.

When you open a tab in Firefox Quantum, it takes a block of RAM to store the tab processes, and then the process is divided in parts, and each available core of the CPU is told to process those parts simultaneously. However, it will only open up to four processes by default, and afterwards it will save other tabs in the same memory blocks.

The below screenshot shows that Firefox has opened four processes apart from its two main processes even though I have six tabs opened up.

firefox-quantum-review-firefox-processes

As limited processes are opened at one time, Firefox Quantum uses much less memory. As said by Mozilla, it uses 30% less memory than Chrome. Additionally, all the available CPU processors are used to run a process; therefore, Firefox gets more power to speed up page loading and keep things stable.

In short, whether you have a two core CPU or eight cores, Chrome will only be able to take advantage of a single core to power up a single process. On the other hand, Firefox Quantum will always work faster the more powerful your PC is. In the future, even if you get a twenty core CPU, Firefox will be able to take full advantage of it unlike other browsers. This is why it is the browser for the future.

Firefox Quantum interface is definitely modern the way a new browser should look. It’s sleek, minimal, and yet offers amazing customizability that we have always loved about Firefox. In my opinion, it’s more of a mixture of Chrome and Microsoft Edge UI, yet more functional. The transitions are smooth, there is no stuttering, and everything you need is right in front of you.

firefox-quantum-review-interface

It seems Mozilla has put strict focus on ensuring you don’t have to learn a new interface. Everything magically seems to be in the perfect place where it is predicted to be. Although, I did find the main menu to be a little cluttered, but it is much more functional than the previous one with big buttons.

Not to mention those utterly cute monsters that pop up to guide you with different aspects of the browser. Who doesn’t like some cuteness while browsing the Web, right?

firefox-quantum-review-cute-monsters

Amazing speed and the new user interface should be enough to entice you to try Firefox Quantum, although there are also a few new features that make Firefox more interesting.

Screenshot tool: There is a surprisingly intuitive screenshot tool that lets you take different types of screenshots and easily download or share them.

firefox-quantum-review-screenshot-tool

Block most types of trackers: Firefox automatically blocks most types of known trackers in private browsing, and even in normal browsing if configured.

firefox-quantum-review-tracking-protection

Show interesting content in the new tab: Apart from your visited websites, Firefox also shows popular articles, memes and more information about Mozilla.

Control processes limit: If you have higher RAM, you can also increase the total processes limit for even faster browsing. Just go to “Main menu -> Options -> General,” and you’ll find the option under the “Performance” heading.

firefox-quantum-review-control-processes

Copy URL: There is a button next to the address bar that lets you quickly copy the URL.

firefox-quantum-review-copy-link

Mozilla took a bold step creating Firefox from scratch, and I am sure it will pay off in the near future. Currently, it’s the only browser that can take full advantage of your hardware resources and use them optimally. If speed and minimal interface matter to you, then Firefox Quantum is definitely worth trying. Not to mention, Firefox still has strict focus on privacy and customization.

Unfortunately, Firefox had to drop support for some of the old extensions to make this leap. If your required extension isn’t supported by Firefox Quantum, you may wait a bit until an alternative is available.

5 comments

  1. “Firefox Quantum is definitely worth trying”
    If you emphasis is on speed.

    “If your required extension isn’t supported by Firefox Quantum, you may wait a bit until an alternative is available.”
    If the extension that was disabled was a security or a privacy extension, waiting for an alternative can be dangerous. As has been true with most software developers for years, Mozilla has released an unfinished product (Quantum) in their haste to be first to market with the new features. They should/could have waited until the security/privacy extensions were updated to use the new framework.

    “Firefox Quantum interface is definitely modern the way a new browser should look.”
    So? Big, Fat, Hairy Deal, AFAIAC, the ‘new’ interface is not much different from the old one(s).

  2. How can you write an article about RAM usage, CPU and performance without starting off with your system’s specs?

    I upgraded to Quantum recently and Firefox had many issues rendering pages. Some page elements didn’t render at all, final page display (which was always slow) didn’t seem to perform much better. Did not manage to test improvements to Firefox’s longstanding and serious issues involving disk writes. It’s something you might not feel early on if your system’s main drive is a high-speed SSD.

    In contrast… I always get much faster performance on Opera, Palemoon – from load times to page renders to final page display. It was never even close on a mid-range machine.

    I attribute my issues to Firefox as a result of the update and the number of (legacy) extensions I had installed. I completely installed firefox (including profile) and plan a new install. Hopefully this will fix the problem. The delay? I question whether Mozilla practices what they preach re: privacy. As a result, I’m dragging my feet on installing what could be more bloat on a duo-core with 4gbs.

    • Palemoon is faster than Firefox because it lacks many of FF’s features. For example, it does not allow the use of many of FF’s extensions and add-ons. Palemoon is like FF on a diet.

  3. UNINSTALLED, and rolled back, so I could get My extensions that I’ve come to rely on, that aren’t supported in Quantum, yet anyway….

  4. Well I do agree with author that Firefox Quantum is better. But it does appear that if you have limited hardware such as minimal RAM or a weak CPU that your experience with Firefox will vary greatly and that like all modern browsers their attempt to max out hardware depends highly on having good hardware to begin with. Its probably why you still see some still using Internet Explorer even though its obviously a outdated browser receiving little attention from Microsoft. It uses the least amount of RAM and while somewhat slower, its good for weaker hardware. To be fair, I’ve read plenty of complaints similar with Chrome and even Microsoft’s new Edge. Chrome has added Site Isolation as a option which is even more a burden on RAM.

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