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Web Browser Grand Prix: Firefox 15, Safari 6, OS X Mountain Lion

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September 7, 2012 4:41:43 AM

chrome ftw
Score
-12
September 7, 2012 4:58:56 AM

It would be nice if I could view the additional charts with only one click, and not in a separate window.
Score
21
September 7, 2012 4:59:56 AM

It's nice to see Chrome performing so well, but I'm still waiting on the Chrome equivalents of all the plugins I use in FF before I think about switching. The web just doesn't feel the same without them.

(The nice popular ones like ABP, Lazarus, Greasemonkey all have equivalents; some lesser-used plugins like Rikaichan also have ports by now. Only a matter of time!)
Score
7
September 7, 2012 5:03:34 AM

chrome is absolutely deserving of the award. say what you will about the frequent patch releases touted as upgrades, chrome is a very good browser, as shown by this month's article. even on OSX there is only a small margin separating chrome and safari. but the one qualm i do have with chrome is the lack of add-ons compared to firefox. and i a lot of people share this concern. the add-ons do make the experience that much better.

as always, a great read.
Score
5
Anonymous
September 7, 2012 5:15:28 AM

Would like to see this again after IE10 is released.
Score
12
September 7, 2012 5:42:26 AM

How about 64-bit Internet Explorer 9 vs Waterfox 15.0?
Score
11
September 7, 2012 5:47:10 AM

bennayechrome is absolutely deserving of the award. say what you will about the frequent patch releases touted as upgrades, chrome is a very good browser, as shown by this month's article. even on OSX there is only a small margin separating chrome and safari. but the one qualm i do have with chrome is the lack of add-ons compared to firefox. and i a lot of people share this concern. the add-ons do make the experience that much better.as always, a great read.

All versions of Chrome hold up incredibly well cross-platform, if you look back at the two Linux WBGPs, it won there, too. Thanks for reading!
Score
5
September 7, 2012 5:49:02 AM

AdamsTaiwanWould like to see this again after IE10 is released.

Absolutely, a Windows 8-based WBGP is already in the cards for October.
Score
12
September 7, 2012 5:50:47 AM

JOSHSKORNHow about 64-bit Internet Explorer 9 vs Waterfox 15.0?

When we have more [official] stable 64-bit browsers, I'll definitely do a 64-bit WBGP - including versus their 32-bit counterparts.
Score
16
Anonymous
September 7, 2012 6:22:59 AM

I wish Tom's would fiddle around with the settings of these browsers for these tests. In every System Builder Marathon you overclock the builds, why not try and crank the most speed while ensuring better memory management out of the browser as well?

Testing these browsers at stock doesn't reveal even an eighth of the picture.
Score
8
September 7, 2012 7:19:25 AM

So OSX is really just a LOT slower than Win7 generally for web browsing on the identical hardware. Is that right?
Score
14
September 7, 2012 7:20:39 AM

it would be nice to have unreleased(Beta/Aurora/etc) versions of the browsers in benchmarks and scoring but only stable releases in the crowning so it will be fair. many users opt for beta releases of browsers including myself, I use Firefox nightly(18.0a1)

btw great work adamovera keep it up man
Score
4
September 7, 2012 7:29:16 AM

boopyI wish Tom's would fiddle around with the settings of these browsers for these tests. In every System Builder Marathon you overclock the builds, why not try and crank the most speed while ensuring better memory management out of the browser as well?Testing these browsers at stock doesn't reveal even an eighth of the picture.

Interesting idea, so basically a tweaked-out edition of the WBGP, where we use all the tools available to each browser for performance gains... That could work, but I gotta warn you that the next three WBGPs are already decided, so it would probably be real late in the year, or even next year before I could get to it.
Score
13
September 7, 2012 7:43:00 AM

nitriumSo OSX is really just a LOT slower than Win7 generally for web browsing on the identical hardware. Is that right?

Nearly every performance benchmark there is points in that direction. This probably has a lot to do with how much time developers spend optimizing for Windows - after all, Windows holds 90+% of the desktop user base. However, it is interesting that the rift between Windows and OS X is far greater than between Windows and Linux for the core stuff like JS, CSS, DOM, page loads, etc. Plug-ins are another story, they're always much better on Windows than the other two platforms.
Score
14
September 7, 2012 7:44:58 AM

All things considered, IE9 does pretty well for a browser that's not even in the double-digits.
Score
11
September 7, 2012 7:58:57 AM

shahroozit would be nice to have unreleased(Beta/Aurora/etc) versions of the browsers in benchmarks and scoring but only stable releases in the crowning so it will be fair. many users opt for beta releases of browsers including myself, I use Firefox nightly(18.0a1)btw great work adamovera keep it up man

The big problem with including the dev channel browsers is the amount of time it takes to produce the article (testing/charts/writing/editing/translating), combined with the tendency of the dev channel to constantly update. Before testing is even completed it's certain that something will update. TBH, the stable channels of Chrome and Firefox are a handful as it is. For example, for this article I had to test 8 browsers (4 on each OS), but I ended up testing 18+ due to OS X, Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Flash, and Java updates. Sorry, but I'm just not sure it's even doable in this format. Thanks for reading!
Score
7
September 7, 2012 9:16:33 AM

adamoveraThe big problem with including the dev channel browsers is the amount of time it takes to produce the article (testing/charts/writing/editing/translating), combined with the tendency of the dev channel to constantly update. Before testing is even completed it's certain that something will update. TBH, the stable channels of Chrome and Firefox are a handful as it is. For example, for this article I had to test 8 browsers (4 on each OS), but I ended up testing 18+ due to OS X, Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Flash, and Java updates. Sorry, but I'm just not sure it's even doable in this format. Thanks for reading!

well I wanted to include it in my comment myself but I forgot I wanted to say if the timing allows :) 
Score
1
Anonymous
September 7, 2012 9:31:38 AM

Meaningless tests designed to generate clicks. All browsers are mature enough at this point in terms of performance. Even the lowly IE is OK. What matters is who is the browser working for, the user, or the mothership? And that's where FF is king. It's about treacherous, gimmicky commercial software made to push standards lock-in and data mining your information, versus free open source software that serves YOUR needs. And it's not only about the code being open either (Chrome). Get savvy on this stuff. Performance metrics are for FPS nerd teenagers.
Score
2
September 7, 2012 10:42:48 AM

Call me Old Skool but for me functionality and ease of use far outweigh speed.
My computer is fast enough that it does not really mater what browser I choose.
In my case, ease of use means that I can see what is going on.
I decry the trend towards dumbing down the UI on every program I use.
(I also refuse to call software 'Apps', to me an app is a mini-program on a phone.)
I always turn on all menus, buttons and labels in WaterFox.

BTW: Good point.
Why don't you include WaterFox in your testing?
It is the 64 bit version of FireFox and I am sure that in your speed tests it may do a little better.
Score
2
September 7, 2012 10:47:01 AM

Internet Explorer is starting to look pretty good in terms of speed.
Score
0
September 7, 2012 10:55:10 AM

Adam, IonMonkey will come in FF18, and not FF17. You may want to correct this on the last page.

For those who want x64 browsers in the tests: x64 is always weaker than it's x32 counterpart, for all browsers: IE, FireFox, Opera. There are hardly a few things where x64 builds get better results.

Edit 1: Also, those who want Waterfox and Palemoon in the tests: You do realise that these browsers would not get any better if the new standard supports, optimalisations, or fixes wouldn't land on Firefox itself? They would heavily depend on it in these tests. Running them on these tests would just give constant points following a simple formula like WF points=FF points + 0.5 points at *random test part* - 0.5 points at *another random test part*.

Edit 2: corrected some sentences.
Score
0
September 7, 2012 11:08:17 AM

Nice well-rounded review!

1. I noticed that a lot of your benchmarks are from the "IE testdrive page". Any particular reason why ? These tests are semi biased against firefox. In the sense that they use code that is bad on FF.

2.I think "Pure Javascript" benchmarks should be devalued more. JS is fast enough in most cases, and pure JS is rarely used. Its always used along with DOM and other things.

3. Opera is great, but the release12 has been full of bugs. IMO, the devs got in a hurry to release a new version.

4.Considering that Safari does nor run on Windows, and that all othe browsers performance is half as good on OSX as on windows, IMO OSX as a platform for the next WBGP is meaningless. I would rather like Win VS Linux comparison.

5. I was surprised to see that Chrome do so bad on the responsiveness test. It has a different process for each tab, and should have been smooth whatever the load. Did you redo the test to confirm ?
Score
0
September 7, 2012 11:08:46 AM

I do not like Chrome or IE because they pare down the interface so much that I can not figure out how to use them for anything but the most basic functions.
I am no noob, but I find those programs INFURIATING!
All programs need basic FILE EDIT VIEW menus,
please do not alienate power users by playing hide the buttons.
They are trying to avoid scaring off the computer illiterate,
by not giving anybody the chance to read the instructions.

IE fail.
Chrome fail.
Windows 8 fail.
I am sure the others can do it also, but in Firefox I have figured out how to have a industry standard user interface.
Score
0
September 7, 2012 11:19:52 AM

And why cant you put the graphs/charts in the same nice format as the two "best of " images on the end page ? Opening those graphs/charts is a real pain the ass. I didnt even bother reading most of them, because its too much of a bother to open them.
Score
4
September 7, 2012 1:11:50 PM

As in the last version of this Article, Chrome is still banned as the default browser in my office and home.

Google must fix the Hybrid Sleep problem. Power example:
10W Hybrid Sleep
150W± Failed Hybrid Sleep

Multiply that by the number of PC's and you've got a lot of wasted ($) money and electricity.

FF and IE don't prevent Hybrid Sleep.
Score
1
September 7, 2012 1:17:51 PM

The points system leaves me with no other option but to ignore all future WBGP articles. I mean, since when does coming in even a close last-place earn you negative points? Either the functionality is present, or it isn't. Assign positive points on the _relative_ basis of speed, compliance, or memory efficiency, etc. if you must, but don't ding points simply for coming in 'last', especially if the finish is otherwise close. If the points summary at the end of the article told the whole story, then we'd all be idiots for using something other than Chrome. Obviously, each of these browsers are relatively pretty good, or they wouldn't be in the roundup, but the way points are assigned, obscures just how closely they compare with one another, and is not an objective measure of relative performance.
Score
0
September 7, 2012 2:39:59 PM

Probably the most valuable thing we learned here is "Use Safari on OSX but everything else runs more or less the same in Windows." Those graphs show a big gap in startup speed when the actual difference is a fraction of a second. Are you kidding me? What I have managed to gather here is that "These graphs make it seem like there's a difference but in real life, they all seem to run about the same." The windows speed tests were a complete waste of time with the graphs exaggerated in an attempt to justify the test's existence.
Score
0
September 7, 2012 2:50:23 PM

Yeah Chrome!
Score
-1
September 7, 2012 3:12:06 PM

You performed more test on speed than reliability.
Chrome is faster and we can see that, but we also need a reliable browser that displays sites properly.
I was trying to sign it in the TH forum with Chrome and the Submit button was not showing.
Sometimes I get the "Page cannot be displayed" or when I need to place the cursor below a link instead of over it. I like Chrome but I have switched back to Firefox and IE since I do not get these glitches and errors.
Score
0
September 7, 2012 4:01:51 PM

On the memory management, I'd have to question on if Chrome is better. 95% of the time people aren't going to be browsing the web with only 1 tab open (atleast not for long). And while 40 tabs is not ever typical either, the memory usage with 2-5 tabs is likely average. Which browser wins that segment?

I use both Chrome and Firefox. Chrome definitely feels fast and I'll use it for general browsing, but I have to use Firefox due to better plugin support. For instance Firebug is much better on Firefox. And with Firefox I can set all bookmarks to open in a new tab (via TabMix Plus). Something Chrome doesn't really support. Really wish Chrome would set up better plugin functionality.
Score
2
September 7, 2012 4:13:31 PM

jaquithAs in the last version of this Article, Chrome is still banned as the default browser in my office and home.Google must fix the Hybrid Sleep problem. Power example:10W Hybrid Sleep150W± Failed Hybrid SleepMultiply that by the number of PC's and you've got a lot of wasted ($) money and electricity. FF and IE don't prevent Hybrid Sleep.


I have never had that in the entire year or so of having Chrome. And you can see that it is the best for Windows (it had a 1.5 pt lead) but also, it was only 2.5 points behind Safari on OS x10.8.
My suggestion: Uninstall, then re-install Chrome, but still, if I didn't have Chrome as DEFAULT (even if I did prevent sleeping, but I dont have that problem) then I wouldn't even use the Internet.
Score
-1
September 7, 2012 4:25:30 PM

Great article, Tom's! I love to read these WBGP's so that I can see just which browser is the best out there.
I thought that Safari must have dropped Windows support because I didn't see it either on their website. In fact I couldn't even see a download link anywhere on Apple's pages. (even the community ones).
So, because there will be no more updates, I am considering replacing Safari (on Windows) for Firefox.
But I will still use Chrome as default, since it seems to be way faster than Safari and IE8/9, and also faster than Firefox. It also seems like Chrome has solidified its lead a bit, since it's not as close as before (but its still pretty close at the top!)
IMHO, the only thing that Chrome needs to improve on is their "sandboxed" Flash Player, although I went to chrome://plugins and disabled the inbuilt Flash, and I use the Windows Flash player instead.
I personally don't use IE, I have to use IE8 for Windows 7 because IE9 has a bit, even though IE9 is way better than IE8.
So for me now, Chrome -> Firefox -> IE8 -> IE9.
Score
-1
September 7, 2012 4:28:12 PM

Whoops, looks like it's not allowing hyperlinking. What I was saying (in previous comment) was that IE9 has messed up my volume mixer a bit. However, the problem went away when IE9 was uninstalled.
So, because of that, I will NEVER be using IE9 again.
The link I was going to post:
http://www.sevenforums.com/sound-audio/135165-weird-tex...
Score
0
September 7, 2012 6:45:30 PM

Why are the startup times on OSX so slow? Even Safari on OSX starts slowest then the slowest starter on Windows.
Score
1
September 7, 2012 8:24:37 PM

Responsiveness - Winner: Opera

...and this, sadly, is the only test that actually counts. You can't use a browser that takes 500ms to switch from one tab to another, or one that constantly micro-freezes when switching/loading tabs or clicking the menus.
Score
1
September 7, 2012 9:03:49 PM

adamoveraWhen we have more [official] stable 64-bit browsers, I'll definitely do a 64-bit WBGP - including versus their 32-bit counterparts.

I'd say do it anyway. I'd like to see results with what we've got. Maybe it'll result in a push for more competition. I would bet Google would get upset if people stopped using their 32-bit Chrome browser over a 64-bit browser and finally do something about it. The same goes for the other parties: Opera an Apple (for Safari). Actually I take that back, I don't know enough about Apple (by choice) to know whether or not they have a 64-bit browser. Do they?
Score
2
September 7, 2012 10:20:10 PM

At the curent time only 2 browsers have native 64 bit support: Opera 12 and Internet Explorer 10 Metro (on Windows 8 x64).

Firefox has had the Nightly x64 since forever, but they won't release it in the aurora channel anytime soon.

Chrome doesn't give a damn about x64.

You could argue that Internet Explorer 9 x64 is also a native stable browser, but it's missing one very important feature for a browser: The Just-in-Time compiler. And this is what makes the IE9 x64 so much slower than the x86 (and feature incomplete also)
Score
1
September 7, 2012 10:22:08 PM

I eagerly await the Windows 7 vs Windows 8 browsers grand prix! With IE10, Opera, Firefox, Chrome and maybe Maxthon, now that Safari went down the hill.
Score
1
September 8, 2012 4:16:30 PM

1) I think all the changes made really improve the testing and scoring

2) Not sure why anyone cares about 64bit browsers. 64bit apps are much better at handling large amounts of RAM or processing certain complex numerical calculations. I'm not sure either of these workloads match with what we need from a browser. I'm not against them, just not sure why anyone cares.

3) As dramatic of a reversal as the new CSS speed tests are, they finally line up with what I experience actually using the browsers as a web developer. I develop bleeding edge web applications used by millions of users so I always felt like Firefox got a raw deal in the CSS benchmarks.

4) Firefox still gets a raw deal in DOM, CSS and HTML5 comparability. It is so far above and beyond the other browsers in real-world terms it isn't funny. I'm not sure how you can improve your testing as on paper I can see how Chrome has the advantage. The disparity is that when Firefox supports a feature it is fully supported and works in combination with all other features. A lot of time features supported by Chrome/Safari/IE are there on paper but not really usable because of issues no seen when testing a feature in isolation. An old example of this was the border radius feature. Firefox worked in all cases. All the other browsers had issues when using this feature in combination with other styles like background images or gradients or shadow boxes, etc.

5) The memory test still puzzle me a bit. Given that all browsers on all OSes a well below what most computers come with and well below the per process limit for all OSes, I'm not sure how I care how much memory they use while running. I certainly don't want my browser needlessly wasting memory but I don't think that is what these tests are looking for. If it's memory leaks, maybe running the browsers through a test that loads 200 or 500 pages and chart the memory after each page load.

6) Responsiveness. This is what it's all about. I think the memory test is striving to report on this as well. Firefox prior to 15 had some issue with memory on plugins that caused it to become unresponsive. Firefox 15 uses the same amount of memory for me as Firefox 14 but 15 never becomes unresponsive. Anything to score this metric better would be welcome. It should include trivial fresh single tab usage as well as after opening several hundred pages.

7) Robustness. Probably the 2nd most important metric. I'm appalled at how bad most browsers preform. I remember when Firefox always loaded every page in this section and is now right in the thick of the pack partially loading pages all over the place. It's almost enough to make me want to switch to Opera.
Score
2
September 8, 2012 7:39:37 PM

64-bit software has access to more registers on the x86 architecture, so software under significant register pressure could gain a speed boost. There's also a point to consider about optimization. If the JIT compiler in the browser isn't designed to take advantage of the extra registers, you certainly could see a slight performance hit due to the extra bytes on each pointer. It's not just about the 4GB limit people!
Score
1
Anonymous
September 9, 2012 3:20:13 PM

Running the security test on firefox with no script returns a score of 15.
Score
0
Anonymous
September 9, 2012 8:46:01 PM

Chrome wins the memory efficiency test because each tab is a separate process, but if you look at the actual memory usage, especially on Windows 7, Firefox is leading the pack by a long way. Funny, Firefox makes massive improvements to it's memory usage and suddenly nobody cares about it anymore.
Score
2
September 9, 2012 11:23:03 PM

I'm shocked at how well IE9 works. Microsoft has made bloated software for a long time, but that seems to be changing
Score
0
September 10, 2012 4:39:27 AM

^
IE9 is goon only on the "IE testpage" benchmarks , which this article used heavily.
In most other scenarios,and real world usage, it falls as bad as IE8.
Score
1
Anonymous
September 10, 2012 11:29:58 AM

First off, thank you for doing the WBGP. You're the only site that I've found that tests everything that I don't have time to test.

Second, I noticed a lot of comments noted how performance is so close between browsers that it's no longer important. I personally max out my PC's resources, and performance of every application I run is very important. Not to mention, as new technology is developed, more resources are needed, and better-performing applications are becoming more and more necessary.

Third, I agree with a lot of the comments about "what's really important" in a browser. I think it's hard to create a comparison about that, though, because users are so different. For example, I primarily use Chrome for several reasons - smart URL bar, easy menus, tab handling, built-in developer tools (don't need to install Firebug extension equivalent), and speed. At the same time, a lot of my developer colleagues prefer Firefox for the extensions they use. That makes it hard to say which browser would be "better to use."

Fourth, I think it would make sense to either do a separate WBGP that focuses specifically on real-world performance, or add something like that to the current WBGP. Every "normal user" cares about pages loading without flaws, stability, responsiveness, and usability. IE might load pages the fastest, but if you use a browser like my wife and leave 40+ tabs open in 3-4 windows at all times, IE doesn't load pages at all; it just crashes. Chrome can handle that kind of use without any issues (I'm assuming Firefox can too, now that they fixed the memory leaks, but we keep Chrome for other reasons).

Ok, sorry for the super-long post. Thanks for all your hard work in putting these articles out for us!
Score
1
September 10, 2012 2:02:06 PM

For me Chrome has became completely unesable. I've done everything to try and solve the shockwave pluggin crash to no avail. On my netbook I can't even watch 480p videos, it struggles where as firefox 480p is fine. Top it off with it feels so much more sluggish than firefox. I've been a diehard chrome user for the past 2+ years but recently its became completely unusable.

Android browser roundup would be nice. I like dolphin and opera (tho it really eats the battery so I've stopped using it completely) but ultimately I always return to stock.
Score
1
Anonymous
September 10, 2012 3:28:54 PM

To the people wondering about the performance on OS X, I think part of the performance difference is because Tom's is using a Hackintosh. My iMac, that doesn't have as good specs as the ones posted in the Test System specs, is faster across the board in the benchmarks I tried.

Apple knows the hardware it's going to use and so it optimizes for that hardware; on a Hackintosh you aren't going to see the same speed. If Tom's could do it, it would be interesting to see the stats when using an authentic Mac at as close to the same specs as possible.
Score
-1
September 10, 2012 5:23:39 PM

I really don't understand the point to synthetic and semi-synthetic browser benchmarks! I have tried (as recently as in July 2012) Chrome, and I got to say that yes, it's "faster" but it does not render even common websites correctly, or well. Firefox is bulletproof, hands down, and if it doesn't open as fast as Chrome, or close, or release memory, but it is solid and renders all sites consistently well, then that's the browser to use. I wish that there was a lot more emphasis on this issue, in-fact, maybe it's time for Tom's to dedicate a whole review to this single topic alone, because I think less and less people care about that extra few milliseconds that it takes one browser to do something relative to another.
Score
0
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