For the past few days, I've been evaluating Mighty, a Chromium-based web browser that runs in the cloud and streams the actual content back to your computer. Traditionally, we'd call this a "thin client"—in other words, it doesn't do any of the processing locally.

For me, the allure of Mighty was the ability to shut down Chrome and regain gigabytes worth of RAM. My machine only has 16GB of memory and Chrome can consume just about all of it depending on the number of open tabs and how long they've been left that way. That's not to mention the other RAM-hungry apps I use for work on a daily basis, all fighting over the same few available gigabytes. Mighty solved this, using only about 1GB of RAM in total even with dozens of open tabs.

In general, Mighty is a cool concept and works pretty well. Upon launching it for the first time, it prompted me to import my existing Chrome profiles, carrying over all of my account data, cookies, passwords, and so on, which made for a seamless transition. I was up and running in minutes.

As I browsed the web, pages rendered flawlessly and usually quicker than before. I chalk that up to the lightning-fast broadband connections that Mighty employs behind the scenes. They can load everything in the cloud and stream a highly optimized bundle to your screen. Text remains selectable so you can copy and paste, videos play normally, and you can't really tell that you're using a browser that's running on a computer hundreds of miles away. I even ran a speed test, which yielded jaw-dropping results of almost 5gbps download and around 4gbps upload. What Mighty pulled off is pretty amazing.

There are a couple of downsides, though. The first thing I noticed is that pinch-to-zoom doesn't work on many web pages, at least on macOS. It does work on sites like Google Maps, where you'd expect it to, but if you're just trying to make text or images larger, you'll have to resort to zooming the page using the browser's hotkeys (e.g., Ctrl++ and Ctrl+-).

Casting your screen or a tab to a Chromecast is also broken. The option is there, but no devices ever appear. I'm assuming this is because the actual browser is running on a remote network, so it can't find any of the local streaming devices on your own network. As far as I could find, there's no workaround for that one other than launching your local copy of Chrome.

But my biggest complaint is the price. At $35/mo, Mighty is rather expensive. Multiply that times twelve, and you're at $420/yr, which is the price of the 32GB RAM upgrade for a 2021 M1 MacBook Pro. No doubt, Mighty has steep salaries and a pricey hosting bill to pay, so they have to price their product accordingly. But a lot of the problems they purport to solve can also be alleviated by just throwing more RAM at your computer (or by selling your current model and buying the next one higher).

Maybe I'm just not their target customer, though it feels like I am: someone who can't or doesn't want to shell out the extra bucks for a better computer, but needs the performance benefits Mighty brings to the table. But at the end of the day, the cost/benefit analysis just doesn't hold water for me. It will be interesting to see what happens as time progresses.