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Wait Times: Start-Up

Chrome 27, Firefox 22, IE10, And Opera Next, Benchmarked

All start-up times are recorded using a stopwatch, and timing begins from the point the application is launched to the point that all tabs report fully-loaded content. The single-tab test page is a saved copy of the Google SERP for "Tom's Hardware", hosted from our local Web server. The eight-tab tests add the About page on barbeque beef brisket, a product page from Amazon, a random popular question on Ask, the "free stuff" listing for Los Angeles on craigslist, my LinkedIn profile, the Wikipedia page for Tom's Hardware, and the Yahoo! homepage. As with the Google SERP, all pages are saved and hosted from our local Web server.

We've combined the hot (newly-opened) and cold (re-opened) browser times into one chart each for single- and eight-tab starts.

With just a single homepage, Internet Explorer leads when it's launched for the first time after a fresh reboot. Firefox 22 isn't too far behind at just over four seconds. Meanwhile, the original Opera earns a close third-place finish. Opera Next and its new cousin Google Chrome take up fourth and fifth place, respectively.

When the browsers are re-opened, the placing changes to IE10, Opera Next, and Firefox rounding out the top three spots, with each browser taking just one second or less to launch. The old Opera is a distant fourth-place finisher, while Chrome takes more than three seconds to re-open, landing the planet's new favorite Web browser squarely in last place. Remember that this is gauging start-up time, so the difference between Opera Next and Chrome is probably due to a combination of Google services built into Chrome and the lack of a full feature set in Opera Next.

With a home group of eight tabs, Firefox 22 is the first-place finisher when we start it up cold, commanding a substantial lead over the second-place contender, the current version of Opera. Chrome comes in third, while Opera Next follows closely in fourth place. IE10 is the only browser to surpass the 10-second mark, placing last. Also, remember the original caveat to our start-up time testing: eight tabs is Internet Explorer's home group maximum. So, although IE10 is only about one second behind Opera Next, it also hits a limitation that the other browsers aren't confined to.

Started hot, IE10 takes the lead, opening all eight tabs in two seconds flat! Arch-rival Mozilla Firefox takes an extremely close second place. The remaining browsers fall quite a bit further behind, as the third-place finisher (Opera), takes just over four seconds. Its replacement takes nearly four and a half seconds. Meanwhile, Chrome places dead last, yet again.

Now let's see the average time it takes each browser to complete all four start-up scenarios.

Firefox commands an impressive lead at just under three seconds. That's an incredible performance, and a vast improvement over Mozilla's early rapid-release versions. IE10 places second, while the original Opera places third. Opera Next is close behind at five seconds. Chrome takes almost six seconds to start, on average. This is a terrible fall for the Web browser originally known for opening in a split second.

It seems that Opera Next is a minor downgrade from the current version, though it's not as slow as Chrome. Once again, we need to point out that this is a browser in development, so everything could very well change by the time it becomes Opera.

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