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Conclusion

Web Browser Grand Prix 4: Firefox 4 Goes Final
By

Now, let's break down how the competitors did per category:

Type of Test
Winner
Also Strong
Weak
Performance Testing
Startup Time
Internet Explorer
Opera
Safari
Page Load Time
Safari
Chrome
Opera
JavaScript
Firefox
Chrome
Safari
DOM
Opera


CSS
Opera
Internet Explorer
Chrome
HTML5
Firefox
Internet Explorer

HTML5 Hardware Acceleration
Internet Explorer
Firefox
Chrome, Opera, Safari
WebGL
Chrome
Firefox
Internet Explorer, Opera, Safari
Flash
Internet Explorer
Safari, Opera
Firefox, Chrome
Java
Opera
Firefox, Chrome
Safari, Internet Explorer
Silverlight
Chrome
Internet Explorer
Safari
Efficiency Testing
Memory Usage (Light Load)
Internet Explorer
Chrome

Memory Usage (Heavy Load)
Firefox


Memory Management
Chrome
Internet Explorer

Conformance Testing
JavaScript
Internet Explorer
Opera

DOM
Chrome, Opera, Safari
Firefox
Internet Explorer
CSS3
Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera, Safari

Chrome
HTML5
Chrome
Firefox
Internet Explorer


If we look at the results by category, Internet Explorer 9 still has the edge. This makes Microsoft's browser the winner by category, as well as by the performance and total placing. There's simply no getting around it, Microsoft Internet Explorer 9 is still the champion.

Chrome 10.0.648.204

Once again, Google Chrome surprises us most. In WBGP3, we were interested in how far the browser had fallen in the rankings. This time, we're surprised at how far it surged ahead after just a “minor” update. Since Google has moved to a rapid release schedule with auto-updating and in-place upgrades, Chrome has essentially become a rolling release. This means that serious enhancements to any aspect of the browser, including performance, can be applied at anytime without notice or fanfare.

Firefox 4

The performance of Firefox 4 didn't really catch us off-guard. After all, we looked at the “leaked” copy of Firefox 4 right after our last story, which actually ended up being some version of RC2 in the QA process. Using the WBGP3 benchmark line-up, that near-final build placed a shaky third. It was solidly behind Opera 11.01, and barely ahead of Chrome 10.0.648.134. Again, this is why we don't compare pre-release builds to final products. Firefox 4 actually did much better using the final code with updated benchmarks, which take its full capabilities into account.

With that said, Firefox hasn't been a speed demon in a very long time. It's the rock-solid browser. During the 40-tab memory testing, we get see how reliably pages load. Firefox is the only Web browser that consistently loads every single element on every single page all at once, correctly. Each of the other browsers require at least one reload to fix a broken ad or or some other element. Also notice how few times Mozilla's browser is listed in the weak column. With version 4, Firefox is still the rock-solid browser. Which is what it needs to be with that kind of market share - the name of the game is stability over speed when you've got that many users.

Also keep in mind that, with Firefox 4, Mozilla built a brand new platform that is going to carry the company at least into next year. A look at the roadmap for Firefox 5, 6, and 7 shows that Firefox 6 is going to focus on speed. If there is an upcoming Firefox release for speed freaks to look forward to, it's probably 6.

What's Next?

Opera is due to launch 11.1 soon, and I'd bet we see Safari 6, complete with Webkit 2.0, around the time OS X 10.7 "Lion" launches. With Chrome on a six-week release cycle and Firefox now on a similarly rapid schedule, there will be no shortage of challengers to Microsoft's two consecutive Web Browser Grand Prix championships. But until then, IE9 is still the fastest thing browsing.

Follow the author on Twitter @adamovera.

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Top Comments
  • 14 Hide
    LuckyDucky7 , April 4, 2011 4:18 AM
    Adblock Plus, Adblock Plus, Adblock Plus.

    That pretty much sums it up. No amount of optimization will help you when it comes to loading web pages if you have a large amount of adframes and such to slow you down.

    So have your super-fast IE9: I bet the ads will appreciate loading quick too.
Other Comments
  • 5 Hide
    reprotected , April 4, 2011 4:13 AM
    Because people can't wait for half a second. I never had a single rendering problem with any of my browsers.
  • 14 Hide
    LuckyDucky7 , April 4, 2011 4:18 AM
    Adblock Plus, Adblock Plus, Adblock Plus.

    That pretty much sums it up. No amount of optimization will help you when it comes to loading web pages if you have a large amount of adframes and such to slow you down.

    So have your super-fast IE9: I bet the ads will appreciate loading quick too.
  • -4 Hide
    Anonymous , April 4, 2011 4:34 AM
    @ericburnby

    you must enjoy all those ads, in real world the difference in speed is negligible, but i sure has hell appreciate a rock stable browser, which is not what IE is, now saying that i have to say IE9 is definitely light years ahead of it's predecessor

    have used all 3 browser and found FF to be the most stable by far
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , April 4, 2011 4:43 AM
    @ StableBrowser,

    You must enjoy being an ignorant Fx fanboy. IE9 comes with adblocking features without needing any extensions.
  • 0 Hide
    nd22 , April 4, 2011 4:44 AM
    IE9 is indeed fast, but my question relates to Safari, a browser created specifically for Mac, not for Windows. On Mac Safari is incredible fast, why Tom’s did not tested Safari on the platform which it was designed for?
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , April 4, 2011 4:44 AM
    @luckyducky7

    "Adblock Plus, Adblock Plus, Adblock Plus.

    That pretty much sums it up. No amount of optimization will help you when it comes to loading web pages if you have a large amount of adframes and such to slow you down.

    So have your super-fast IE9: I bet the ads will appreciate loading quick too."

    Not if you use tracking protection.
  • 1 Hide
    adamovera , April 4, 2011 4:49 AM
    nd22IE9 is indeed fast, but my question relates to Safari, a browser created specifically for Mac, not for Windows. On Mac Safari is incredible fast, why Tom’s did not tested Safari on the platform which it was designed for?

    It is my hope that we'll be able to do that. Hopefully for the next major Safari release. If that's at the same time as Lion, then we might have to use the latest updated Snow Leopard for time reasons.
  • 1 Hide
    jsowoc , April 4, 2011 5:03 AM
    Re: Acid3
    This is why Firefox doesn't get 100:
    http://limi.net/articles/firefox-acid3/
  • 2 Hide
    stm1185 , April 4, 2011 5:07 AM
    I loaded up IE today because the Chase website gives me problems with Chrome, and I was surprised by how fast IE9 is now. Loading pages seemingly as fast or faster then chrome. I even thought of switching it to my primary browser, but the lack of Ad-block support killed it. It is a necessary feature and every browser should have it or something like it these days.
  • 2 Hide
    andy5174 , April 4, 2011 5:10 AM
    The latest Chrome is indeed pretty fast, but I just can't live without Tab Mix Plus which is only available to Firefox. Someone please write a similar add-on for Chrome!!!
  • -1 Hide
    dragonsqrrl , April 4, 2011 5:11 AM
    jsowocRe: Acid3This is why Firefox doesn't get 100:http://limi.net/articles/firefox-acid3/

    Good to know, thanks.
  • 0 Hide
    PreferLinux , April 4, 2011 5:45 AM
    You didn't mention "App Tabs" in Firefox!!!
  • 1 Hide
    lancelot123 , April 4, 2011 6:15 AM
    Are Firefox fanboys and others really too stupid to realize that IE9 (as well as other versions) have adblocking "addons" you can get? Too bad ie7pro will never work with IE9, I loved that addon.
  • 1 Hide
    epileptic , April 4, 2011 6:15 AM
    @stm1185 IE9 does support ad blocking. It's called tracking protection. You can write a tracking protection list that will block the ads you usually see or get a more thorough one from the web. Either way, that feature is there. I personally just converted my Opera list and rolled with it.

    @adamovera There's a mistake in your last chart. IE9 should be weak in HTML5 conformance and you're listing it as a winner.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , April 4, 2011 6:17 AM
    There's something terribly wrong in your test results regarding chrome.
    My 10.0.648.151 do much better, especially since I forced native OpenGL ES support rather than ANGLE.
    Psychedelic - 1709rpm (hd4670@cat11.2 &A64 X2 4400+ 2.3@2.8GHz)
    Aquarium - 58-60fps
    particles 58fps
    HWACCEL - 60+
    html5 vector 40+
    html5 bitmap 50+
    Please try to use
    --enable-webgl --ignore-gpu-blacklist --use-gl=desktop flags (and make sure you have canvas accel enabled by page about:flags too). Retake some of those test with that and see yourselves what it changes.
  • -2 Hide
    Tamz_msc , April 4, 2011 6:55 AM
    I've been a Firefox user since version 2, and Firefox is undoubtedly the best version yet.I use Firefox 4 because its fast, highly customizable, responsive, supports the latest web standards and technologies, has thousands of extensions and on my computer it(along with Opera) is the most stable browser, and as you yourself have stated:

    Quote:
    With that said, Firefox hasn't been a speed demon in a very long time. It's the rock-solid browser. During the 40-tab memory testing, we get see how reliably pages load. Firefox is the only Web browser that consistently loads every single element on every single page all at once, correctly. Each of the other browsers require at least one reload to fix a broken ad or or some other element. Also notice how few times Mozilla's browser is listed in the weak column. With version 4, Firefox is still the rock-solid browser. Which is what it needs to be with that kind of market share - the name of the game is stability over speed when you've got that many users.


    Here are my reasons why I don't use the other browsers:

    1. Chrome - Its true that its very fast, but speed isn't the only thing.It crashes on my computer when you have multiple pages open containing flash.It has the second best addon gallery(the Web store is also very nice), but many of its addons are poor copies of Firefox addons, and it has limited options for customizing.

    2. IE 9 - Its also very fast, but it also has crashed on me a few times and there are virtually no addons at present.

    3. Opera - Its a very good browser, but I find it a bit awkward to use.Its slowly catching up in terms of number of addons, but it cannot render some pages correctly.On my computer, it has problems with Tom's Hardware:

    https://ptjp4w.bay.livefilestore.com/y1pW7J0mRZlCb8T4BHygV4LS_TP-8Kjmljz2XOdMfJ-2tAI2uAQ3kcsFE_uHTv0UHcr1GJrBmuiuUSijne3vvdMF4Uv72_TbbdX/Capture.PNG?psid=1

    4. Safari - As a Windows user, I really don't care.
  • -2 Hide
    memadmax , April 4, 2011 6:56 AM
    FF4+NoScript addon and be happy...
  • -2 Hide
    aznshinobi , April 4, 2011 7:25 AM
    Why are all you guys hating on FF? Like Tamz, I've used FF for a long time, w/o any addons and it works beautifully. I though FF4 was a huge improvement over 3, though 3 was pretty solid. I have yet to use IE9, but I was never a fan of the IE browsers to be honest. I always felt... Like it lacked something. But FF4 has kept me on the FF train and I think I'll stay with it until otherwise.
  • -1 Hide
    yyk71200 , April 4, 2011 7:39 AM
    For the most part, speed differences are negligible. FF is a very well rounded browser. It is responsive and has lots of extensions: ad block, no script, this: http://www.downloadhelper.net/ , etc.
  • -1 Hide
    rainwilds , April 4, 2011 8:06 AM


    Exactly! There is just no comparison to the lovely FireFox addons. This test may test 'millisecond' speeds but misses the all important functionality features.
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