Web Browser Grand Prix: The Top Five, Tested And Ranked

"The fastest browser on Earth."

That's what the Opera homepage has said since Tuesday. After five release candidates and two betas, the boys from Oslo just recently launched the final build of Opera 10.50. That's a pretty heavy claim to make, though, especially with well-establish competition already in the field demonstrating impressive performance at an unbeatably-low price. Does it hold up?

And although you might have missed it due to iPad hysteria, both Mozilla and Google recently released new versions of their browsers as well. Opera isn't the only one making bold statements on performance, either. In the days leading up to the unveiling of Apple's impossibly over-hyped slate, Mozilla dropped Firefox 3.6 and claimed a whopping 20% speed gain over version 3.5. Three days later, Google quietly unveiled Chrome 4.0 stable, though the actual version number is 4.0.249.78.

Let us not forget that Cupertino also offers a Web browser. In fact, Apple claims Safari is "the world's fastest Web browser." Sounds strangely familiar, doesn't it? Even Internet Explorer, which hasn't had a release since last year, is in the headlines lately. But it's the charges being leveled against IE that are drawing the most attention.

We've seen mounting pressure to abandon Microsoft's browser by everyone from Homeland Security to McAfee and Google--even some foreign governments. If it's so horrible, than why is anyone still using it? Is there a performance justification for why almost 60% of Internet users still cling to IE?

We decided that somebody needed to look at these browsers. So, we put all five major Web browsers through a gauntlet of benchmarks and time trials. We did this to conclusively answer the question: which is the fastest browser on Earth (at least until one of these companies launches another major update)?

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  • goozaymunanos
    cool, good test!

    still perfectly happy inside the firefox world, but worth keepin' tabs on chrome's rise ;)

    cheers,
    bollos


    p.s. stuff & nonsense: http://eupeople.net/forum
    3
  • kofeur
    Would definitely like to see which browser performs best on Linux, as I am planning to switch to that OS for day to dat use
    0
  • rolo45
    I agree
    0
  • rolo45
    I agree
    0
  • cyleo
    I tried chrome, but i really can't say goodbye to my firefox addons :)
    I would also like to see a linux test, would also be interesting to compare it with the windows scores ;)
    3
  • Herr_Koos
    Speed isn't everything... I stick with Firefox because I can tweak it to my liking. A few milliseconds worth of page loading times won't be enough to convince me to switch browsers.
    4
  • gregor
    Very good article.

    It proves what I always knew, IE is pants.

    I'm sticking with Opera, at least for the time being.
    0
  • andybird123
    yeah, where firefox does lose out it's not by much, i know how to use it, i like it's feature set, a few milliseconds here or there isn't enough to get me to switch
    3
  • mi1ez
    I like chrome, but it runs like a pig on my work machine (installs itself in c:\users\appdata. The retard) And as stated, I don't know what I'd do without my FF add-ons. fire.fm, greasemonkey, echofon, ABP, webdev toolbar. All indespensible. As stated in the article though, unquantifiable (assuming that's a word. Sounds OK)
    1
  • Fox Montage
    Interesting comparison, thank you.

    I have a slight issue with the memory usage analysis though. I don't necessarily see using more RAM as being a bad thing necessarily. Even on a system with only 1GB of memory, we're talking about the difference between 2% and 5% usage of all available memory between the lowest (~20 MB)and highest (~50 MB)usage. I say let the browsers do what they gotta do. Memory usage will only impair system performance when it's in short supply. People with 2 - 4 GB systems (most of us) wont miss it.
    0
  • aje21
    The load times look fishy. Compare the 1, 5 and 8 tab times by browser:
    Chrome 1.37 - 13.94 - 10.40
    Firefox 4.21 - 16.99 - 11.34
    IE 7.89 - 9.56 - 17.73
    Opera 3.01 - 8.01 - 8.31
    Safari 10.31 - 21.69 - 10.83
    Why is it Chrome, Firefox and Safari could load 8 tabs faster than 5 if the 5 were a subset of the 8?
    Also, there's no indication of the range of times for each browser...
    3
  • weefatbob
    aje21 is spot on, it would seem other factors are at play here (site load, bandwidth usage, time of day etc) as it makes no sense whatsoever that chrome, safari and FF are slower for the lesser test of 5 tabs, but are faster with the same 5 tabs plus 3 more.

    I also want to know why we are using an old dual core proc and a handheld STOPWATCH........thought this was cutting edge tech site!!!!
    0
  • chronicbint
    To be honest these days any of those browsers are perfectly good to use. I use Chrome, Firefox and IE8 all the time and don't really have fault with any of them.
    1
  • kobbra
    Memory usage and page load times are the most important things to me in regard of web browsing and in both categories firefox wins, which is the browser I use, so that tells me that at least for me FIREFOX RUUULLZZZZ!!!
    0
  • Silvune
    As weefatbob said, I was expecting some rationale/logic for the hardware used.
    The last time I did a sunspider test (on firefox 3.6) I got ~780ms, which is faster than any of the results here, I wonder if that is due to the fact that I have a faster, more modern processor or faster RAM; hardware related.
    1
  • shrex
    Why change the test to 8 tabs just because IE is too dumb to let you open more than 8 tabs?
    0
  • yslen
    firefox is the nicest to use by a long way - chrome doesn't even have an ad blocker.
    0
  • Anonymous
    chrome has plug-ins now, adblockers, xmarks sync and most of the other popular firefox plugins have been converted to it already.

    chrome does not use as much ram as the ram test suggested, as it shares ram considerably between processes (the shared ram gets counted multiple times by looking in process manager). It was explained in detail in an official chrome dev blog.

    chrome also wins on security - it was the only browser not hacked in the 2009 PWN2OWN hacking contest.

    ...and even with those errors and omissions, it still won.
    -1
  • Anonymous
    Ironic to see that the winning web browser isn't able to show this very artickly correctly. When clicking the pull down menu to change to another side, parts of the menu disappears under other content on the page and its not possible to operate the scroll bar. Still not considering to move away from Chrome though :)
    1
  • technoerin
    I've been using Chrome for months now, I love it. It's even better now it supports the plug-ins (extensions). I've tried all the reviewed browsers and benchmarks etc aside, none give the fluidity and response of Chrome.

    As far as RAM usage goes, with 8GB RAM I don't really mind if it uses more since it's the user experience that matters.

    My version is showing as 4.0.249.89 not 4.0.249.78 as the article suggests is the latest version as of 3 days ago? (I've not updated recently)
    0