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

Start Time

Start times are recorded right after a fresh boot (cold) and again after the browser has already been launched (hot). We time both a single home tab and an eight-tab group. Yahoo! serves as the test page for our single-tab tests, while pages from About, Amazon, Ask, craigslist, Google, LinkedIn, and Wikipedia round out the test pages of the eight-tab measurement. All test pages are hosted on our local Web server and cached in the Web browsers.

Composite Scoring

The start time composite score is the geometric mean of the hot and cold times for the single-tab and eight-tab tests.

Google Chrome takes a slight lead over Safari on Apple's own operating system, at two and 2.2 seconds (respectively). Firefox places third with just under 2.5 seconds, followed by Opera at three seconds.

All of the Windows 7 times are significantly lower than OS X, with Chrome again taking the lead at just 0.8 seconds. This time, Chrome is followed by Opera at just under one second. Internet Explorer is in third place at just over 1.2 seconds with Firefox placing fourth, mere tenths of a second behind IE9.

Drill Down

The charts below contain results for cold and hot single-tab start times, followed by the cold and hot eight-tab times.

1 Tab, Cold1 Tab, Cold1 Tab, Hot1 Tab, Hot

8 Tabs, Cold8 Tabs, Cold8 Tabs, Hot8 Tabs, Hot

Chrome is the clear winner at start time, with the only exception being a longer single-tab cold start than the other competitors. Firefox and IE9 also display irregularities. Mozilla's browser has a slight advantage starting with a single-tab cold versus hot, while IE9 takes an incredible amount of time to open a single tab cold versus any other situation.

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    Top Comments
  • It would be nice if I could view the additional charts with only one click, and not in a separate window.
    21
  • 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.
    16
  • So OSX is really just a LOT slower than Win7 generally for web browsing on the identical hardware. Is that right?
    14
  • Other Comments
  • chrome ftw
    -12
  • It would be nice if I could view the additional charts with only one click, and not in a separate window.
    21
  • 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!)
    7
  • 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.
    5
  • Would like to see this again after IE10 is released.
    12
  • How about 64-bit Internet Explorer 9 vs Waterfox 15.0?
    11
  • 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!
    5
  • AdamsTaiwanWould like to see this again after IE10 is released.

    Absolutely, a Windows 8-based WBGP is already in the cards for October.
    12
  • 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.
    16
  • 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.
    8
  • So OSX is really just a LOT slower than Win7 generally for web browsing on the identical hardware. Is that right?
    14
  • 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
    4
  • 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.
    13
  • 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.
    14
  • All things considered, IE9 does pretty well for a browser that's not even in the double-digits.
    11
  • 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!
    7
  • 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 :)
    1
  • 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.
    2
  • 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.
    2
  • Internet Explorer is starting to look pretty good in terms of speed.
    0