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

Opera: Has The Fat Lady Sung?

In an effort to answer that question, we're going to do something we usually don't: test a development browser. Next is the name of Opera's development branch, and a few weeks ago the company introduced its first Chromium-based version to the general public.

When we began testing, the version number was 15.0.1147.24. But as with any development channel, there are frequent updates, so don't be surprised if your copy of Opera Next is newer than what we're benchmarking. And remember, as we saw with the IE9 Developer Preview back in 2009, a stripped-down, feature-incomplete pre-release can often obliterate speed records, giving a false sense of the final product's true performance. Therefore, Opera Next is not eligible to win in this Grand Prix. We're merely checking to see where it stands amongst the usual suspects, especially in relation to Opera and Chrome.

The first page of the last Web Browser Grand Prix, entitled Possibly The Last "Top Four", caused quite a stir. With news that Opera was switching to a Chromium base, many wondered if the second-oldest Web browser was going to lose relevance. After all, there are plenty of second-string browsers out there based on the open source bits of Chrome, each with its own feature-based angle (like Comodo Dragon and security, along with RockMelt and social).

But before we find out what's happening with Opera, let's get caught up on the latest Web browser news and events. The last couple of months have been pretty busy, packed with announcements and, as always, plenty of drama. Here's the rundown:

Recent News And Events

03/08/13: Chrome OS Remains Undefeated At Pwnium 3
03/10/13: No Firefox For iOS, Says Mozilla's Product Head
03/25/13: Testers Say IE 11 Can Impersonate Firefox Via User Agent String
04/02/13: Firefox 20 Arrives With Per-Window Private Browsing, Download Manager
04/03/13: Blink! Google Is Forking WebKit
04/03/13: Opera Confirms It Will Follow Google and Ditch WebKit For Blink
04/04/13: Mozilla, Samsung Collaborating on New Browser Engine
04/05/13: WebKit Developers Discuss Removal of Google-Specific Code
04/12/13: Browser Choice May Affect Your Job Prospects
04/29/13: Former Opera Employee Sued for Giving Mozilla Trade Secrets
05/14/13: Firefox 21 Arrives
05/16/13: Ubuntu Developers Revisit Replacing Firefox With Chromium
05/21/13: Chrome 27 Is Out: 5% Faster Page Loads
05/28/13: Opera Releases Its First Chromium-Based Browser
06/05/13: Mozilla Plans Major Design Overhaul With Firefox 25 Release In October
06/11/13: Microsoft Boasts of Tiny Energy Saving With IE
06/22/13: Firefox advances Do-Not-Track Technology
06/26/13: IE 11 Getting WebGL, SPDY/3, New Dev Tool
06/26/13: Firefox 22 Launches, Supports Unreal Engine 3

Everyone get all of that? Google is creating a WebKit fork called Blink, making Chromium a combination of Blink/V8, and Opera plans to follow suit. And while Opera cozies up to its old rival Google, a new feud is brewing between the Norwegian browser-maker and Mozilla over an ex-Opera employee who allegedly divulged trade secrets to the non-profit. Meanwhile, Ubuntu is again considering ditching Firefox for Chromium as the distro's default Web browser, just as Firefox announces a major refresh that has the open source browser looking a whole lot like Chrome:

Firefox 25's New User Interface

And the best one? Microsoft's apparent one-eighty on WebGL, with support for the hardware acceleration spotted in IE11 on Windows 8.1.

Now, let's take a quick look at today's five contenders: Chrome 27, Firefox 22, IE10, Opera 12, and Opera Next!

  • Onus
    No, the Onus is not on Google; I'm using for my searches.

    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.
  • soundping
    A good test is rendering a heavy site like Huffington Post. They use a ton of flash and java scripts.
  • ivyanev
    While benchmarks are the way to compare browsers, they do not represent the feel you get- firefox might be faster but still feels sluggish compared to chrome or opera(the stable one).
  • pharoahhalfdead
    I would like to see benchmarks on page start up, and load times comparing ssd, hard drives, and ram drives. Maybe I missed these an a previous article, but I feel since ssd's and ram drives are getting more popular, benchmarks should prove or dispel the the 'so called' benefits they bring.

    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.
  • mikeynavy1976
    Ever since I have compared Firefox and Chrome I've always found Chrome to start much faster (I'm running the Dev channel and my wife uses the Stable channel and they both take maybe 1 - 2 seconds to start cold or hot). Only IE beats both of them. Maybe Firefox 22 is that much faster and worth a try, but seeing as Chrome did so well in most categories I'll probably stick with it.
  • EzioAs
    Having move back to Firefox a couple years ago after Chrome, I don't intend to use Chrome (or any other browser) regularly anymore. I still give Chrome 2-3 tries a week (just to compare things) but Chrome isn't better than FF in 3 things:

    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.
  • beoza
    I've never really noticed a difference in browsers speed wise. Sure some load pages faster than others, and some have issues with certain pages. But in the end they all take me to the same place. I use Firefox 95% of the time at home with adblock+, if I encounter an issue I clear cache, if it still has issues I switch to IE 10, usually this is all I need to do but once in a while IE has problems with a page and I just move on to something else. At work I'm stuck using IE10. The speed of a browser can also be affected by other factors like the speed of your connection, how many devices are on your network, what tasks your doing on the computer at the same time like gaming, downloading, streaming movies (netflix, hulu), and your hardware. You're not going to get much responsiveness on a 5yr old celeron w/2gb ram and Win XP while you're downloading a game, watching youtube and the A/V suite scans your computer in the background, and there's 5 other people all sharing your 10Mbps network. Which describes probably 50% of the users out there in the real world.
  • Someone Somewhere
    Opera Next (and every other browser) is a significant step down in terms of features/customization from the current version.

    I'll miss a hell of a lot of stuff when I move off Presto-based Opera.
  • ElDani
    Well done on this test, I actually found the test results genuinely helpful and your summary/conclusion to be well thought out.

    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?
  • tomfreak
    I dont know how useful in this review when they are tested all the browser on a 1155 super computer, nobody is going to tell the diff if the browser is 0.25sec faster. Get some Brazos, Atom and run the test, these are the platform have problems with web browsing.