Web Browser Grand Prix VI: Firefox 6, Chrome 13, Mac OS X Lion

Chrome 13, Firefox 6, Safari 5.1, and Mac OS X Lion (10.7) have all emerged since our last Web Browser Grand Prix. Today, we test the latest browsers on both major platforms. How do the Mac-based browsers stack up against their Windows 7 counterparts?

We have a whole lot of exciting geekery planned today. But first, let's get everyone up to speed. There have been a handful of developments in the world of Web browsing since Web Browser Grand Prix 5: Opera 11.50, Firefox 5, Chrome 12:

Recent Events

07/20/11: Apple Releases version 10.7 of Mac OS X, dubbed Lion, along with Safari 5.1
08/02/11: Google Releases Chrome 13
08/16/11: Mozilla Releases Firefox 6
08/25/11: Steve Jobs resigns as Apple's Chief Executive Officer. Contrary to what many speculated, Apple's stock remains strong.

Recent Drama

08/13/11: A Mozilla developer incites fear and chaos by suggesting the removal of version numbers altogether.
08/15/11: Microsoft Internet Explorer 9 is declared the Web browser most safe from phishing.
08/16/11: Google refutes the validity of that report.

Mac OS X

Back in July of last year, we threw Web Browser Grand Prix (WBGP) contenders Chrome, Firefox, and Opera onto an Ubuntu Linux track in Web Browser Grand Prix 2: Running The Linux Circuit. The results were compared to those of their Windows 7 counterparts from Web Browser Grand Prix 2: Top 5 Tested And Ranked. As the “Linux guy,” doing that article seemed perfectly natural to me. After all, how Web browsers perform in Windows really didn't matter to me, personally.

What we didn't see coming was the number of requests for a Mac-based Web Browser Grand Prix, and the calls for us to run Safari on OS X haven't stopped since.

In case you didn't notice, this is Web Browser Grand Prix VI, not Web Browser Grand Prix 6. That's because the twist this time is Mac OS X. We're running Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and Safari on Mac OS X, along with the usual suspects on Windows 7.

Tom's Hardware is going Mac?

That's not it at all. We said we're running Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and Safari, on Mac OS X. We did not say we're running them on a Mac. We're using the same Core i5-based desktop test system used for many of our other software-based stories. It just so happens we had OS X Snow Leopard testing in mind when it came to designing a reference cross-platform test system.

WBGP Test Suite v6.0

Once again, we tweaked our test suite for this story. The new composite page-load time tests are improved, expanded, and updated. There are all-new WebGL benchmarks, and Sputnik is replaced by Ecma test262. The methodology of the Maze Solver benchmark and memory management tests is improved to better reflect real-world usage scenarios. Enhanced placing tables and improved analysis round out the changes.

Which Web browser is best? Which operating system holds Web browsing supremacy? We'll answer that. But before we fire the starting pistol, let's take a deeper look at the contenders and course.