The WBGP XVI Winner's Circle
Well, folks, this brings us to the end of another installment of the Web Browser Grand Prix. We're about to tally up our eight categories of testing. But first, let's have a look at the performance and non-performance breakdown.
Firefox 22 pulls off an upset, replacing the long-time performance champion Google Chrome as the new speed king! Google doesn't lose by very much though. In fact, if we moved the decimal point and rounded, this would show up as a tie. Meanwhile, moving on to the next win-eligible browser, IE10 is far behind in third place, with less than half the performance score of Firefox 22 or Chrome 27. Opera 12 is in last place, lagging slightly behind IE10.
Opera Next technically lands the number-three spot with a score right below Chrome. Our performance index shows the browser to be nearly three times faster than its current version! In fact, the upcoming Chromium-based Norwegian Web browser only shows weakness in HTML5 and its native HWA.
The data in the chart below is achieved through the geometric mean of all four non-performance categories: Memory Efficiency, Reliability, Security, and Standards Conformance.
Firefox manages to conquer this category thanks to a stellar finish in proper page loads as well as strong scores in all three remaining non-performance categories. Chrome 27 finds itself in a comparatively distant second place. Its terrible page load reliability, combined with tighter scoring in the other metrics, sink Google's chances. IE10 is around 15% behind Chrome in third, with Opera 12 landing in last place with a score of less than half that of Firefox 22.
With Opera Next in the mix, the placing order would change a bit. The upcoming version nearly doubles the non-performance score of the browser's current version, and even manages to top Chrome 27 by a slim margin. Yet another substantial gain for the Norwegian Web browser.
WBGP XVI Champion
Now we combine equal parts performance and non-performance metrics, stir, and taste...
With no apparent weaknesses and generally strong finishes all-around, combined with near-native start times, greatly-improved hardware acceleration scores, and almost-perfect reliability, the latest version of Firefox soundly wins this installment of the Web Browser Grand Prix.
While Chrome 27 is the leader in most categories, Firefox 22 is right on its heels in second place. So, with close second-place finishes in nearly all categories that Chrome wins, Mozilla really needed to exploit any weakness in Chrome. And it does just that. Chrome's extreme fall from grace in start-up time really hurt. With Firefox attaining top marks in that category, an extreme divide is created where we'd normally expect both browsers to pace each other. The same type of brutality is used against Chrome in reliability testing, where Firefox 22 almost pulls off a perfect score, while Chrome 27 has issues with more than 25% of the workload.
Although this is not the first time that Firefox has edged out Chrome, this is the most punishing margin of victory. It's as if Mozilla knew just where to strike. Now, the onus is on Google to either completely outpace Firefox in performance (as it once did), or focus on addressing Chrome's own weaknesses. Either way, Mozilla buys Firefox some time at the top.
Moving on to our third- and fourth-place finishers. At this point, IE10 is showing its age, unable to compete with either of the two rapid-release browsers. Opera 12, well...Opera started slipping in the ranking with version 11, and Opera 12 was a big enough disappointment for the Norwegian software house to switch to Chromium. Speaking of...
If You Can't Beat 'Em, Join 'Em
Opera Next technically places second, just a hair above Chrome 27, but still a ways away from Firefox 22. However, and we really can't stress these two points enough: 1) Opera Next is using using a newer version of Chromium than Chrome, and 2) Opera Next is not yet feature-complete. So, tack on a ton of features, as we've seen Opera do in the past, and the overhead increases. Or even simpler, when Opera Next goes stable, Chrome will have "caught-up" to the same version of Chromium, meaning the spread could narrow, or even reverse. But right now, Chrome and Opera Next are showing practically-equal scores, however, they both display strengths and weaknesses in different categories, so we're not ready to give Opera the big heave-ho quite yet. While we don't plan on checking in with Opera Next again until it goes stable, we'll definitely be testing the final product.
While this is interesting, I still encounter built-in pages (such as on routers or other network devices) that will not render cleanly in Firefox, but are perfect in IE. More often than not though, pages that would be filled with nuisance ads and popups are cleaned up nicely by Firefox with AdBlock+ and NoScript.
I have both and start up times for IE are quick but page load times are horrendously slow, whereas FF has slow start up times but superfast page load times. It's possible that add-ons are contributing to that.
1) Pages load noticeably slower
2) Memory usage is indeed high (as seen in the benchmark above)
3) FF add-ons are much better than chrome extensions.
I never noticed any startup time difference for both FF and Chrome; it's possible they're both fast enough that it doesn't even matter at this point. I also like the FF toolbars better although that's really more of a personal preference. I've never tried maxthon though; heard it's pretty good.
I'll miss a hell of a lot of stuff when I move off Presto-based Opera.
Still, this test shows us once more, that no modern browser - I exclude Opera from this, since it isn't a maintained release anymore - must absolutely be replaced by the winner of such tests. If you don't mind performance weaknesses of the Internet Explorer in certain areas, or if your most-accessed websites don't require you to use a certain alternative, then even Microsoft's browser of choice can be okay for daily use (if only as an engine in products like Avant, Maxthon, etc).
The one thing I'm a bit curious about: why does Opera Next suddenly behave so differently from Chrome? Yes, there's a difference between Chrome 27 (WebKit) and Opera Next (Blink = Chrome 28), but if that's the only reason for the browser's weaker showing, then the future of Chrome doesn't look too good. What's your take on this?