You’d think that all browsers would be the same concerning how well they render Flash content, but they’re not. Some do better than others.
Below is my experience using Flash in modern web browsers, meaning out of the ones used, you’ll see which I found to be the best-performing.
#3: Mozilla Firefox 6
Firefox’s biggest problem when it comes to Flash is that it’s lightning fast – at first. After a short while, the browser’s memory-munching madness takes over and slows everything down, including Flash.
Flash on Fx 6 is great as long as you restart the browser once an hour (or more).
#2: Internet Explorer 9
IE9 is a great browser, no question. It’s very fast on the draw (literally), handles tabs with ease and does a good job overall. However with Flash I do notice some chop from time to time, particularly with Flash video. Every so often on an HD Flash video I do see frame drop. It’s not often, but it happens.
#1: Google Chrome
You have to throw a lot at Chrome to make it slow down, and eventually it will bog down from playing too much Flash, but the point is it takes a long time to do it.
Let’s say for example you decide to do something ‘heavy’ with Flash, like load a YouTube playlist that will auto-play from one video to the next. Now let’s say that video playlist is 30 videos long at 10 minutes each. Will Chromium survive without bogging down? Yes. By the end of the ordeal, you may have to restart the browser – BUT – the point is that you could watch that entire playlist without having to fiddle around with anything.
Will a better video card improve Flash video performance?
If you can play DVDs or standalone MP4/MPEG video with Windows Media Player, VLC or other media player with no frame drop, your video performance is just fine and you don’t need a better graphics card.
Is the browser to blame exclusively for slow Flash performance?
No. Flash by nature is a beasty thing when it comes to memory and processor use, and it’s one of those things that’s a necessary evil when it comes to modern web browsing.
There will always been that guy from the peanut gallery that yells out "USE A FLASH BLOCKER!" That’s not a solution, that’s a workaround and a bad one at that because Flash blockers don’t improve the performance of Flash whatsoever.
The only time Flash will get better is when a better rich media platform gains wide adoption that’s not Flash. There are a few on the horizon via HTML5 that are being tested by various large web companies (with Google being one of them), so we’ll just have to sit tight until something better comes along.
As far as overall Flash performance is concerned, Chrome is top dog for now.
Who will overtake Chrome in the Flash performance department? Firefox 7 might. I tried the beta 1 of Fx 7 and it finally has memory management in it that (gasp!) actually works. Once Fx 7 is out of beta I’ll definitely be writing up a review on that browser, because it may finally be the Firefox that breaks that browser out of memory-munching hell – Flash included.