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Web Browser Grand Prix 273

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the new-throwdown dept.
An anonymous reader writes "After seeing Opera's claim to 'Fastest Browser on Earth' after their most recent release, Tom's Hardware put Apple Safari 4.04, Google Chrome 4.0, Microsoft Internet Explorer 8, Mozilla Firefox 3.6, and Opera 10.50 through a gauntlet of speed tests and time trials to find out which Web browser is truly the fastest. How does your favorite land in the rankings?"
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Web Browser Grand Prix

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  • The site is Slashdotted so hard, the link was removed from the summary to give the poor guys a break.
  • Link (Score:5, Informative)

    by mingot (665080) on Friday March 05, 2010 @02:09PM (#31373376)
    • Re:Link (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Snowblindeye (1085701) on Friday March 05, 2010 @02:23PM (#31373570)

      A lot of these speed tests always compare javascript performance, which I have to say matters less for me on a day to day usage than other things.

      At the end of the article (10 pages later), they do break it out into categories. The winner of the 'page load' category is: Firefox.

      I care about other things as well, startup times for example (won by Opera), but if I had to pick one most important category for me, it's page load times. YMMV, obviously.

      Shortcut to summary: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/firefox-chrome-opera,2558-10.html [tomshardware.com]

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Dumnezeu (1673634)

        I care about other things as well, startup times for example (won by Opera), but if I had to pick one most important category for me, it's page load times. YMMV, obviously.

        I care about security and safety, so I just avoid IE. I care about privacy so I avoid Chrome. I care about bloatness so I avoid Opera. I care about functionality so I choose Firefox. I think it's the lesser of all evils. Correct me if I am wrong.

      • Re:Link (Score:5, Insightful)

        by element-o.p. (939033) on Friday March 05, 2010 @03:24PM (#31374406) Homepage
        The other day, I turned JavaScript off on my browser (I had a reason...maybe testing or annoyed by ads on a page...I don't remember exactly), but forgot to turn it back on after I was done with whatever it was that I was doing. A little later, I opened FF again, and wondered why so much of the content I expected to see in my browser was missing.

        As you said, YMMV, but I would say that JavaScript execution time is pretty much every bit as important as page load unless you have limited your web browsing to pages created back in the '90s.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by obarthelemy (160321)

        very frankly, as long as its in the same ballpark, speed don't matter.

        I find Tom's article ridiculous, for at least 2 reasons:

        1- they focus on performance, and disregard features completely. That's their choice, but it's an idiotic one

        2- they compare perfs in wildly different configs: a fully usable Opera (with its integrated mouse gestures, adblock, noscript, synch...) vs a unusable barebones Firebox with 0 addons.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by houghi (78078)

        At the end of the article (10 pages later), they do break it out into categories. The winner of the 'page load' category is: Firefox.

        Now what would slow down my browsing experience more? The browser or the 10+ pages the article is spread over?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      And the conclusions:

      Category / Test: Overall Winner

      Startup Times: Opera

      Memory Usage: Firefox

      Page Load Times: Firefox

      HTML: Safari

      CSS: Safari

      Tables: Safari

      JavaScript: Chrome

      PeaceKeeper: Opera

      Acid3: Chrome

      DOM: Chrome

      Flash: Opera

      Java: Opera

      SilverLight: Firefox / Internet Explorer

      • Memory Usage Recount.

        He just did static 'load page look at memory usage' tests. Which is fine. If you only load 10 tabs of pages and never visit anything else.

        Firefox constantly eats memory on my MacBook. If I have both Firefox and Photoshop open, Firefox consistently eats more memory than Photoshop. Things will grind to a halt until I kill Firefox.

        It was enough to get me to jump ship to Chromium, where aside from the occasional Flash Plug-crash, doesn't require being reset every hour.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ChronoReverse (858838)
          I'm curious as to which version you're using, whether you used a clean profile, and which plugins you're using.

          My own testing of Firefox doesn't ever show the massive memory leaks often claimed.
        • how many add-ons were you running with Firefox?
          how many are you running with Chromium?

          • How come addons are a defense for Firefox eating a lot of memory? Does anyone run Firefox with no addons? Everyone always uses addons as the reason why they love Firefox so much, so why shouldn't addons be included in benchmarks? Every benchmark of Firefox should include the 3 most popular addons installed and running. Currently, that looks like Adblock Plus, Video DownloadHelper, and Personas Plus.

            Real-world usage of Firefox includes addons, so should benchmarks. A benchmark of Firefox with no addons

            • Not to mention, the lack of some of these addons (no xmarks bookmark sync, flashblock barely works) actually keep me from using Chrome.

              I just gave it another whirl, and on my machine it is a bit faster... but I'd have to port all my passwords by hand. Between 7 machines.

              No thanks.

            • How come addons are a defense for Firefox eating a lot of memory?

              Unless Chrome, Opera, Safari, etc. have a similar function built in, you aren't comparing apples to apples otherwise. If you start including addons, it would be possibly for a biased tester (MS perhaps? Google? Apple?) to pit FF with the most heavy-weight addons (s)he can find against another browser in a minimalist configuration. It might be reasonable to consider the memory usage, page load times, etc., for each of the browsers in a "typical" configuration, but then you have to decide what

        • Re:Link (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew.gmail@com> on Friday March 05, 2010 @03:18PM (#31374332) Homepage Journal

          Firefox has an intentional feature where they keep fully rendered pages in memory so they can reload faster when you hit back. They also keep full tab sessions in memory after you close tabs. You can turn these features off if you don't like them.

          That being said, I leave Firefox open for days, if not weeks. I run tons of tabs, Greasemonkey scripts, extensions, etc. I haven't seen memory leaks since the Firefox 2.0 days.

          I keep considered switching to Chrome, but Greasemonkey scripts still don't work properly, and I can't stop ads from loading. (Chrome adblock solutions render the ad even there is malicious code, but hides it from showing)

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by curunir (98273) *

          The memory comparison tests were flawed enough to keep me from taking any of their results seriously. While there was very little mention of how memory usage was determined, what little there was indicated that he used the task manager and, for Chrome, added up the totals for each Chrome process.

          This is a well covered mistake that has been pointed out since the first tests that showed Chrome being a memory hog. And while I won't get into it, the simplistic method the review seemed to use shows a complete an

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by DMUTPeregrine (612791)
          I have quite a few extensions*, 512MiB memory cache capacity set, and rarely see Fx using more than 550MiB of RAM. I don't have to reset it every hour, or even every day. *23 to be precise: Adblock Plus, All-in-One Sidebar, AutoPager, BetterPrivacy, DownThemAll!, FireGestures, Gmail Manager, Greasemonkey, Image Zoom, Leet Key, Morning Coffee, NoScript, Nuke Anything Enhanced, Password Hasher, PDF Download, RSS Ticker (CPU hog, that), Session Manager, Stylish, TACO, Tree Style Tab, Update Notifier, XUL Prof
    • That link is right smack in the submission!
      This must be the most redundant post in Slashdot history, and yet it got modded up.

  • I'm sure the loading times of all browsers would be faster if the "article" wasn't spread over 11 damn pages ...

    Perhaps they could run comparative tests on ad-blocked and flash-blocked vs vanilla spam versions ?

    And am I the only one who finds it fucking cynical in the extreme, to force you to surrender your email address just so you can use the printable version and skip the advertising crud ?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      And am I the only one who finds it fucking cynical in the extreme, to force you to surrender your email address just so you can use the printable version and skip the advertising crud ?

      They only want to provide such a feature to members of the site. What's cynical about that?

  • "After seeing Opera's claim to 'Fastest Browser on Earth' after their most recent release, Tom's Hardware put Apple Safari 4.04, Google Chrome 4.0, Microsoft Internet Explorer 8, Mozilla Firefox 3.6, and Opera 10.50 through a gauntlet of speed tests and time trials to find out which Web browser is truly the fastest. How does your favorite land in the rankings?"

    I use Lynx you insensitive clod!

  • followed by Opera, then Safari, Firefox, and IE.

    analysis and conclusions [tomshardware.com]

    I just installed Opera 10.5 and it's decently good enough for me to continue using it .

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by roju (193642)

      Although Firefox somehow wins the "Page Load Times" category, which seems more important to me than javascript benchmark speed.

      • What's weird, is looking at their page load time benchmarks, it's only first for Tom's Hardware... IE takes 2 out of the 5 sites, followed by FF, Chrome and IE at 1 each. What interests me, is the only load time that Chrome is slower than the average is YouTube. Couple that with its shoddy flash performance, and to me it indicates some kind of a bug or regression either with Flash itself, or with the plugin system inside Chrome. I use Chrome as a primary browser on Kubuntu, and I must say it is slow, bu
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Rockoon (1252108)
      Chrome was the winner, but unfortunately one of the JavaScript tests was the Google benchmark. Thats a facepalm for toms hardware this time.

      I would love to see these tests done with only independent benchmarks.
      • by Lunix Nutcase (1092239) on Friday March 05, 2010 @02:39PM (#31373800)

        And one of them was Apple's, another was Mozilla's and another was an independent 3rd party's test suite.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ircmaxell (1117387)
        Remove that test from the results, and Chrome still wins. But look at the results of that test. Chrome wins, yes. But not by a HUGE margin (the difference between second and third is larger than 1st and 2nd). At least it's not as bad as the Dromaeo test (Where Opera is out in front by so far, it seems more like a bug in the test than a win for Opera)...
      • Another one was Mozilla's, and on that test Firefox got its ass handed to it by Opera (and Chrome/Safari, by a smaller margin). It's not Toms Hardware's fault if the people interested enough in Javascript performance to write a benchmark are usually interested in Javascript performance because they write Javascript engines.

        • by Rockoon (1252108)
          The fact that Mozilla's suite doesnt make Mozilla look good in no way means that we should be using Google's V8 suite to compare Chrome vs other browsers. I would argue that Firefox's results on Mozilla's own suite (good or bad) are meaningless, and Chromes results on Google's suite (good or bad) are meaningless, etc..

          Google's suite is great for comparing Firefox, Opera, Explorer, and Safari.
          Mozilla's suite is great for comparing Chrome, Opera, Explorer, and Safari.
          Apple's suite is great for comparing F
    • Re:So? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Joce640k (829181)

      Only one browser in the list has adblock/noscript/flashblock.

      Without those the other browsers are automatically losers no matter how fast they start up.

      • Re:So? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by BitZtream (692029) on Friday March 05, 2010 @02:57PM (#31374002)

        You are misinformed, I presume you are refering to Firefox, however Chrome and IE both have extensions to do roughly the same thing.

        Just because you aren't aware of things outside your viewport of the universe doesn't mean they don't exist.

  • For whatever reason, Microsoft's browser loads the Facebook homepage with extreme haste. Firefox, Chrome, and Opera take second, third, and fourth (respectively). Safari takes almost twice as long as the second-place finisher Firefox, and more than four times as long as IE.

    Probably because Facebook cuts out a lot of the functionality that IE wouldn’t support anyway?

    • by Korin43 (881732)
      Or because it's easier to render a page if you don't care about bugs. I'm guessing IE's score on the ACID tests and speed rending certain pages are related.
  • by nxtw (866177) on Friday March 05, 2010 @02:31PM (#31373698)

    Besides the obligatory browser code, Safari on Windows uses a lot of libraries that only get used by Safari - CoreFoundation, CoreGraphics, CFNetwork, the Objective-C runtime, and its own GUI (a limited Win32 port of Cocoa?). It also uses libraries that could be shared and/or duplicate builtin Windows functionality - such as sqlite3, zlib, libxml2, libxslt, and pthreads. (I imagine it uses its own SSL implementation too.)

    The IE startup time seems higher than it should, because it uses the most Win32 functionality. It uses threading, SSL, XML, etc. from Win32.

  • Favorite Browser (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    How does your favorite land in the rankings?

    If it's your favorite browser, what does it matter how fast it is?

  • Page load times... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cplusplus (782679) on Friday March 05, 2010 @02:34PM (#31373742) Journal
    ...was won by Firefox, according to the summary at the end. Isn't that what the average user cares most about? How fast a page loads?
    • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Friday March 05, 2010 @02:54PM (#31373966) Journal

      I wonder how reliable the JS script they've used to determine when page has finished loading really is. Could it be that browsers that report higher scores in the test are simply more truthful about what they finished loading? (e.g. do all of them correctly account for plugins?).

      There's one other thing. Historically, the usual trick employed by browsers is to delay rendering the page until it is partially loaded, so as to not constantly re-render. This speeds up the overall page load, but starting to render faster may well show the important parts of the page (those that user cares about) earlier, and if the renderer is fast enough, re-rendering the page repeatedly as it is being downloaded may look "smoother" from user's perspective, and be more usable.

      I know that this setting is configurable for Opera, though I don't recall what the default one is. I think it's also configurable for Firefox. IE always has a pretty significant delay there, and I believe it's hardcoded. No idea about Chrome & Safari. Anyway, my point is that, if this setting varies by default, timing of complete page loads can give quite differing results which are not reflective of actual user experience.

      • Also regarding memory usage... Opera has configurable memory cache setting. I've just checked what mine is - I don't recall changing it after installing 10.50 - and it's 200Mb. Looking at the tests they've done, none of them loaded enough tabs to fill that, so it is reasonable to assume that Opera just felt free to cache everything on loaded pages, and not clear the cache, since the limit isn't exceeded.

        I wonder how the same test would go if they opened, say, 30 tabs...

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by izomiac (815208)
      Startup time is the most visible, and essential for when you want to quickly check a single website (e.g. googling something really quick). Javascript speed is the limiting factor for web apps, flash speed for gaming.

      Page load time is important, but dwarfed by network latency and speed in non-pathological cases, so I'd actually guess it's among the least important for end-users. Also, while there was a 20% difference between fastest and slowest, that's only about 1/26th of a second so it's approaching
      • Startup time is the most visible, and essential for when you want to quickly check a single website (e.g. googling something really quick).

        Funny... for me, startup time is the least visible, and not essential for when I want to quickly check a single website (because it’s almost always already running).

  • by amustic (1643505) on Friday March 05, 2010 @02:38PM (#31373788)
    Firefox may not be the fastest, but with its builtin function plus rich array of addons, it's the most useful.
  • As always, Firefox ate much less memory than competitors [tomshardware.com]...specially against opera & chrome.

  • by nxtw (866177) on Friday March 05, 2010 @02:49PM (#31373908)

    I care about things like responsiveness. How long does it take to redisplay after switching tabs or adjusting zoom? Is the UI still responsive when another tab/window is busy? Are scrolling and window resizing smooth? Will the browser respond well if the internet connection is lost / the system wakes up from sleep, when using AJAX applications like Gmail/Google Reader? (I had problems with one browser behaving badly with Gmail/Google Reader if the pages were open before entering sleep mode.) Will the browser perform well over RDP, VNC, or NX?

    Start-up time isn't very significant - I generally leave browsers running all the time. Memory usage isn't very significant unless the system is low on memory. Otherwise, I prefer that the browser uses as much memory as it can to cache things. Rendering/script delays are not noticeable on modern systems.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I care about things like responsiveness. How long does it take to redisplay after switching tabs or adjusting zoom? Is the UI still responsive when another tab/window is busy?

      Speaking of responsiveness, one neat thing about Opera 10.50 - all tab-specific dialogs are modal to the tab, not to the entire browser window. This means that, if a tab loading in background displays a JS alert, it doesn't suddenly pop up in your face requiring immediate attention - instead, the tab will get a marker indicating that something changed - and you can freely switch back and forth between tabs without closing the dialog first.

      • I really, really want a Firefox addon to do this. JS alert-bombs could kiss my ass.

        At least per-tab processes, if Firefox would ever implement them, could be killed to shut down a particular tab without killing the entire browser.

  • They included how well they ranked in the acid test, but most of the article was about raw speed. But for "best" there are more criteria to take into account. Features, availability of extensions (specially the ones you in particular need), OSs where it runs, security, matters at the moment of making a choice. But at least is a good clue that opera and chrome are usually the fastest ones, safari and firefox aren't so far, and IE is the worst choice is speed is an important factor.

    The main debatable test was
  • IE did best or near best in the web browsing events most users will care about - page load time sfor popular sites like yahoo, facebook, or youtube.

    So how does a web browser that apparently sucks at so many theoretical benchmarks, crush the competition in real world load times? Apparently it doesn't matter what you do, if major websites tailor themselves to you.

  • google ripped off simon for its chrome icon?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simon_(game) [wikipedia.org]

    whenever i see that chrome icon, i want to start pressing the panels before i forget the sequence

  • How do these numbers help me choose a browser ? When on any test - speed or memory - most browsers performed differently on different benchmarks from the same category ? I wish they also explained whether being second in a particular memory test is that bad. Besides, I use a lot of extensions in Mozilla that blocks flash, adblocks etc, how do those affect memory consumption and speed ? I wish there was some more details about these results, especially how the numbers translate to daily use.
    • Really, all the other browsers are good.

      Rough comparison:

      • Opera is the most rounded for the tabbed/mouse gesture browser. It takes a major crisis like your hardisk dying for Opera to loose the session, it always keeps the pages you visited when you closed the browser (or it crashed, it does happen sometimes), and that can be very handy if you been tracking some obscure problem and don't want to loose your place.
      • Firefox is the most versatile. It can do anything you want it to and then some. For web develo
      • IE is not just performance bad, it is also a security nightmare. The only practical result from these numbers is that all other browsers are mostly equal, so stick to what you have if you are comfortable with it.
  • I really like Chrome, and according to Tom's numbers it would probably provide a superior browsing experience, aesthetics aside. Yet, I can't make the switch.

    I'm addicted to mouse gestures for all my surfing. I switched to Opera way back when, solely for the gestures, and liked it so much I even sent them $20 (paying for a browser!). I switched to Firefox when I learned about the 'All-in-One Gestures' add on.

    I'd really like to switch to Chrome, but simply cannot until I find a way to deal with my deep se
    • Keyboard shortcuts are far more useful and easy than mouse gestures, IMHO.

      • by c_jonescc (528041)
        oops - I should have reinvestigated this before I posted. There is a gesture add on now.

        I don't like keyboard work when casual surfing because I usually end up sitting way back from the keyboard and have a cuppa coffee in my hand.
    • by gregmac (629064)

      I was in the same boat, just found smooth gestures [google.com] - it works quite well, though I also had to install smooth gestures new tab [google.com] because otherwise it doesn't work on the "new" tab that shows thumbnails etc.

      I've started using Chrome on my laptop now, mostly because Firefox inexplicably started taking up many hundreds of megs of RAM and becoming very slow after a day or two, to the point I had to restart. I have some extensions installed (firebug, firecookie, web developer, gestures) but nothing that I don't ha

      • I’ve actually encountered an unpleasant website that screwed up Firefox permanently. By “unpleasant”, I mean spawning hundreds of new tabs, frozen-browser, rickroll/GNAA-style unpleasant. By “screwed up”, I mean that afterward, every 5 seconds Firefox pegged the CPU at 100% for a second. By “permanently”, I mean the abnormal CPU activity occurred whenever Firefox was running even after restarting both Firefox and the entire computer.

        A complete uninstall and reinstal

  • On the whole, there's really a single practical conclusion from those tests that is useful to a user:

    Any browser is fast enough, so long as it's not IE.

  • by PPH (736903) on Friday March 05, 2010 @03:02PM (#31374078)

    ... wget.

    Real geeks read straight html.

  • Chrome memory usage (Score:4, Informative)

    by l00sr (266426) on Friday March 05, 2010 @03:08PM (#31374160)

    Once again, calculating Chrome's memory usage is not as simple as summing the memory usage of all its processes, because shared libraries are only loaded once. It's unclear as to whether these benchmarks took this into account. More info here [chromium.org].

  • Paranoia (Score:2, Interesting)

    by MooseMuffin (799896)
    I'll admit I'm a bit crazy, but I'm still not comfortable installing anything from google on my machine. Their services are great, but they need to stay up in the cloud and away from my stuff.
  • I can't help to find the testing biased. With lovely tidbits like...

    "After reviewing the JavaScript benchmarks, we've decided that Tom's has no choice but to run all of them in the future. While I personally lean toward JSBenchmark, since it isn't affiliated with any browser, its results don't reflect the outcome in Dromaeo. Until the reason for Opera's devastating Mozilla score can be explained, I believe we'll have to run all of them to get the clearest picture. If you disagree, or have an opinion on a be

    • After reviewing the JavaScript benchmarks, we've decided that Tom's has no choice but to run all of them in the future. While I personally lean toward JSBenchmark, since it isn't affiliated with any browser, its results don't reflect the outcome in Dromaeo. Until the reason for Opera's devastating Mozilla score can be explained, I believe we'll have to run all of them to get the clearest picture.

      What’s biased about that?!

      If all (or several) of the Javascript benchmarks gave almost exactly the same results, they’d have been able to whittle down the list of benchmarks to test. Since there was a wide variation between the different results for the different benchmarks, they decided to keep all of the benchmarks for future testing, at least until we know why the different tests give different results. That makes perfectly good sense.

      Or the conclusions, where out out of 13 categories, Safari won 3, Opera 4, Chrome 3, Firefox 3 and IE only one (shared with FF). Yet, they proclaimed Chrome as the winner. Lovely.

      Maybe you should have read the very next paragraph under t

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