Web Browser Grand Prix 9: Chrome 17, Firefox 10, And Ubuntu

Last month, we ran WBGP VIII on a MacBook Air, representing browser performance in a native Mac environment. Today we're returning to the PC. But the cross-platform comparison theme continues with a long-overdue rematch to WBGP 2: The Linux Circuit.

I've been wanting to return to Linux in the Web Browser Grand Prix for a long time. You may not remember, but Web Browser Grand Prix 2: The Top 5, Tested And Ranked had a follow-up article: Web Browser Grand Prix 2: Running The Linux Circuit. As a Linux user myself, many of the results from the Windows-based Web Browser Grand Prix didn't apply to me personally. As we saw in the Mac OS X editions of the series, the same Web browser can perform very differently on other operating systems.

Today, we're running the Web Browser Grand Prix on Ubuntu 11.10 alongside Windows 7 Ultimate.

Ubuntu 11.10 DesktopUbuntu 11.10 Desktop

If you caught our recent review and cross-platform benchmarks of Ubuntu 11.10, you saw that Ubuntu won most of the tests, especially in segments where it simply cannot compete, like gaming. We received a lot of comments to the effect that Ubuntu is viable as an operating system for users who only require Internet access, light productivity, and casual gaming. Today we fill in the blanks on Ubuntu's Internet performance compared to Windows 7.

Recent News & Events

01/24/12: Opera updates from 11.60 to 11.61
01/31/12: Firefox 10 is released
02/08/12: Chrome 17 is released
02/09/12: Microsoft accidentally gives life to rumors of LG working on a ChromeOS device.
02/11/12: To date, Google has paid out over $410 000 in bounties for Chrome bugs.
02/12/12: Firefox updates from 10.0 to 10.0.1
02/14/12: Mozilla affirms it is creating a Windows 8 Metro interface for Firefox.
02/15/12: Chrome updates from 17.0.963.45 to 17.0.963.56
02/15/12: Having only taken the number two spot in Web browser market share from Firefox a few months ago, StatCounter predicts Google Chrome will overtake Internet Explorer to become number one by the end of March.

Now that we're all caught up, let's recount the previous Web Browser Grand Prix champions and get to know the five contenders.

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    Top Comments
  • mayankleoboy1
    just wondering if use of a DX11 capable GPU will change scores in some HTML5 and other benchmarks as the browsers use DX11 assisted rendering.

    Also, AMD driver support in linux is poor compared to Nvidia.
    For future Linux articles, can you use a Dx11 based Nvidia GPU?
    11
  • mayankleoboy1
    IMO, Firefox is concentrating more on HTML5, ignoring CSS and JavaScript.
    It does well in HTML5 benches but 99% of the websites use primarily CSS and JS and HTML3, in which Firefox does poorly.
    11
  • Other Comments
  • mayankleoboy1
    just wondering if use of a DX11 capable GPU will change scores in some HTML5 and other benchmarks as the browsers use DX11 assisted rendering.

    Also, AMD driver support in linux is poor compared to Nvidia.
    For future Linux articles, can you use a Dx11 based Nvidia GPU?
    11
  • mayankleoboy1
    IMO, Firefox is concentrating more on HTML5, ignoring CSS and JavaScript.
    It does well in HTML5 benches but 99% of the websites use primarily CSS and JS and HTML3, in which Firefox does poorly.
    11
  • mayankleoboy1
    Waiting for OPERA12. It keeps impressing me.
    Even without hardware acceleration, it keeps up with the competition,

    When that beast launches, it will kill FF/IE and most probably chrome too.
    8
  • PreferLinux
    Who wants to guess that the poor Linux Flash and WebGL results were because Flash and WebGL don't use hardware acceleration with that graphics card and driver? I would be thinking so.
    3
  • mitch074
    Firefox performance took a dive starting with version 4, where all hardware acceleration was disabled: before then, in version 3.6, XRENDER was used when available (it was 4/5th as fast as IE9 on the same PC) while it is now really slow - it's all software.

    Moreover, the only driver enabled for hardware acceleration on Linux is the Nvidia driver: according to Mozilla (and verified by yours truly on AMD and Intel hardware), most display drivers in Linux suck when it comes to 2D rendering - ouch. Note that Mozilla and Google could add shims to circumvent those bugs, but they don't -not worth the effort, especially when driver makers could fix their bugs rather easily, leaving the browsers broken yet again.
    -2
  • indian-art
    I use Chrome (19.0.1041.0 dev presently) the most on Linux (Ubuntu) and empirically I felt Chrome works very well. Now your tests confirm it.

    I find Opera 12 really nice too. It can run with Opera 11.61. Opera 12 has a silver icon & 11.61 has its classic red. I like Firefox & Epiphany too.

    Its a shame Safari and IE are not truly cross-platform.
    6
  • mayankleoboy1
    how many of those top 40 sites use HTML5?

    i think that the HTML5 scores should be weighed by a factor of the percent of top40 sites that use HTML5.
    This way actual importance of HTML5 can be judged in real world.
    5
  • nd22
    It's a shame Apple does not pay enough attention to the Windows market and optimize their browser! On Mac Safari is king of the hill - personal opinion of course!
    On Windows I feel that IE9 works really well for me, although Chrome is the speed demon! FF 4+ lost their appeal for me.
    -5
  • forestie
    The OSes that are used are 64 bits but the browsers are mostly (all?) 32bits on Windows, and probably 64bits on Linux.

    Internet Explorer has 64bits builds on Win7, and Firefox has "almost" a 64bits browser on Windows too: Waterfox, which is a semi-official Firefox for 64bits Windows. Waterfox in particular claims huge improvements over base 32bits install, I would like to see how that translates into real-world.

    Not sure about availability of 64bits editions of other browsers on Windows.

    Here are my wishes:
    -clearly mention if the 32bits or 64bits version of the browser is used
    -where applicable and relevant, test with both 32bits and 64bits variants. I would like to see IE and FF split into 32 and 64 variants on Win for example.

    I personally migrated from FF to WF on my machines 3 weeks ago and find it noticeably faster in everyday use. WF is now my main browser.
    6
  • doive1231
    As long as phones keep using Android, Chrome will be the most popular browser for a long while. Google have got it all sorted.
    1
  • mll0576
    One test that is missing in almost all browser test is memory leak over time

    I find almost all browsers require more and more memory the longer they run

    Example: Chrome 17: 8 new tabs =1500MB
    6
  • Marcus52
    Quote:
    If you caught our recent review and cross-platform benchmarks of Ubuntu 11.10, you saw that Ubuntu won most of the tests, especially in segments where it simply cannot compete, like gaming.


    This sentence makes no sense to me. how can it "win" where it "simply cannot compete"?

    ;)
    5
  • mayankleoboy1
    Anonymous said:
    The OSes that are used are 64 bits but the browsers are mostly (all?) 32bits on Windows, and probably 64bits on Linux.

    Internet Explorer has 64bits builds on Win7, and Firefox has "almost" a 64bits browser on Windows too: Waterfox, which is a semi-official Firefox for 64bits Windows. Waterfox in particular claims huge improvements over base 32bits install, I would like to see how that translates into real-world.

    Not sure about availability of 64bits editions of other browsers on Windows.

    Here are my wishes:
    -clearly mention if the 32bits or 64bits version of the browser is used
    -where applicable and relevant, test with both 32bits and 64bits variants. I would like to see IE and FF split into 32 and 64 variants on Win for example.

    I personally migrated from FF to WF on my machines 3 weeks ago and find it noticeably faster in everyday use. WF is now my main browser.



    IE9 64 bit performs very bad in comparison to the 32 bit builds.

    For firefox/waterfox, on Windows, using 64 bit builds has the following

    1. Native performance increase due to 64 bit.
    2. Performance degradation due to the fact that the MSVC does not have the same memory optimizations for 64 bit as for 32 bit.
    so overall the experience of 64 bit FF/WF is the same as 32 bit builds.
    For 64 bit Ubuntu, you get the 64 bit FF by default..

    For a really great optimised FF, use PALEMOON.

    @AdamOvera : 32/64 bit should be clearly mentioned in the article.
    1
  • Chetou
    mll0576One test that is missing in almost all browser test is memory leak over time I find almost all browsers require more and more memory the longer they runExample: Chrome 17: 8 new tabs =1500MB


    Memory benchmarks are almost useless in WBGP. Browsers leak, and Firefox leaks ALOT. But that is not the only problem. Opera works ok even when it fills up RAM, but Firefox becomes close to useless when it gets RAM deprived.
    1
  • ivyanev
    Quote:
    but Firefox becomes close to useless when it gets RAM deprived.

    Nothing works well when ram is full.
    And bashing Opera for doing things different is a shame:Opera don't release RAM but opening closed tab is almost instant ,so they sacrifice RAM for speed.
    3
  • mayankleoboy1
    in FF, when it begans to use 1GB+ memory, it becomes sluggish.
    So it is eating RAM AND becoming slow. I dont mind it eating RAM but it has to be responsive then.
    5
  • cirslevin
    mayankleoboy1IMO, Firefox is concentrating more on HTML5, ignoring CSS and JavaScript.It does well in HTML5 benches but 99% of the websites use primarily CSS and JS and HTML3, in which Firefox does poorly.

    indeed in your opinion.

    Maze solver is only one test among hundreds of things CSS does. If you want to argue about what 99% of websites use. then remember 99.9999999999% of websites don't use maze solver. For 99% of the websites, I would argue firefox does excellent job on CSS.

    Firefox has focused on js speed for years with dedicated team, and with current benchmark (overall 2nd), you still claim it perform "poorly"? Its hard to argue you don't have prejudice here.

    99 % of websites use HTML3? please, you argument is like mixture of 1980s and 2020s, whatever way you can put down firefox.

    If you dislike firefox, state it, no need to hide behind the fake data.
    2
  • Chetou
    mayankleoboy1in FF, when it begans to use 1GB+ memory, it becomes sluggish.So it is eating RAM AND becoming slow. I dont mind it eating RAM but it has to be responsive then.


    Yes, exactly! It's as if something brakes in Firefox when it gets over 1 GB and Opera is mostly unaffected. I have seen many reports of this, and across all FF versions. That was the main reason I was using Opera for a long time, but I can't stand some of the things they've been doing since late 10 versions. So I'm stuck with terrible Firefox performance, but at least it's customizable. It is its only saving grace.
    -1
  • Chetou
    These kind of tests and comparisons are mostly useless. Only using the browser over a couple of days with 100+ tabs is what really shows its strengths and weaknesses, usability, performance, reliability...
    -2
  • mayne92
    Great review Adam!
    5