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

Startup Time Performance Benchmarks

The startup time test pages are saved to disk and hosted from our local Web server. Because this test so closely relates to the home tab(s), the test page(s) are already in cache.

We use the Google homepage as our single-tab test page. We begin timing when the execute command has been given for the browser, and stop timing when the test page finishes loading.

The homepages of Google, YouTube, Yahoo!, and the Huffington Post, as well as product pages on Amazon, Wikipedia, Craigslist, and eBay make up the eight-tab test. The eight test pages are set as the home tabs of each browser. We stop timing the eight-tab test once all tabs finish loading.

Cold Startup Times

Cold startup times refer to how long it takes a browser to start for the first time after booting up. This is the time you would expect to wait when first turning on your computer and opening a Web browser.


Safari tops the charts, needing a mere 61 milliseconds to open a single tab. Opera places second, taking more than two times Safari's result. Chrome again doubles Opera's time to place third, followed closely by Firefox in fourth. Microsoft Internet Explorer 9 comes in last place.

Firefox 10 takes the lead in Ubuntu, with just a quarter-second to start and load one tab. Opera comes in second place, with Chrome trailing in third. Chrome and Opera's Linux times are lower than their Windows times, but Firefox for Ubuntu shaves nearly a tenth of a second off its Windows 7 time.

Eight Tabs

Opera takes the lead on both platforms when opening eight tabs, finishing in about four seconds. Chrome wraps up our workload second in Windows, but third in Ubuntu, while Firefox takes third in Windows and second in Ubuntu. Safari places fourth at just under nine seconds, while Microsoft's own IE9 comes in last with a finishing time of more than eleven seconds.

Hot Startup Times

Hot startup times refer to opening a browser that has already been opened and closed. This is the duration you'd expect to wait if you closed your browser, but didn't reboot.


After a hot start, Safari still reigns at just 59 milliseconds. IE9 comes in second, dropping from over a half second to just 65 milliseconds. Firefox places third at 80 ms, with Chrome closely in tow at 90 ms. Opera places last at over a tenth of a second.

In Ubuntu the order remains, with Firefox taking first place, Chrome second, and Opera third.

Eight Tabs

Opera once again shoots to the top at just under three seconds in Windows 7 and 3.5 s in Ubuntu. IE9 comes in second in Windows, followed by Chrome in third (second in Ubuntu). Firefox places fourth in Windows at just under five seconds, and last in Linux at just under seven. Safari fills the last place spot in Windows at nearly nine seconds.

Surprisingly, IE9 has the most trouble starting up cold on Windows. Firefox for Ubuntu has a leg up on its Windows version for both cold times. Apple Safari takes a substantial lead for single-tab times, while it performs poorly on the eight-tab tests. Opera continues to own both eight-tab tests, on both platforms.