Load Time Composite Score
Our load time composite score is the average of the start time and page load time results. All test pages for the start and page load time tests are saved and hosted on our local Web server. The test pages include a page on BBQ brisket from About.com, the Computer Parts & Components category on Amazon, a random popular question on Ask.com, the "free" section for Los Angeles on craigslist, my LinkedIn profile, the Wikipedia entry for "Tom's Hardware", and the Yahoo! homepage.
Opera takes the lead in the combined load time composite on both versions of Windows. This is no doubt thanks to its superior start times. IE10 places second on Windows 8, with third-place finisher Firefox closely in tow. Chrome tanks this test in Windows 8 due to its unusually high start times. In Windows 7, Chrome manages to place second, right behind Opera and ahead of Firefox, with IE9 in a distant last-place finish.
Start times are measured both cold (after a fresh reboot) and hot (closed, and then reopened in the same session) with a single homepage as well as a home tab group of eight pages. The Yahoo! homepage serves as the test page in our single-tab start time tests. These tests are run cached; all test pages are pre-loaded in the browsers before testing. Each start time result is an average of three iterations, and the start time composite is a geometric mean of all four tests.
Opera again takes the lead in start time on both platforms. Firefox comes in second on both OSes, with IE10 taking third place for Windows 8 and Chrome for Windows 7. IE9 places dead last in Windows 7. No surprise there. But we can see that version 10 shaves an entire second off of Internet Explorer's start time. Chrome comes in a very distant last place in Windows 8, demonstrating oddly high start times across the board on Microsoft's new OS.
The charts below contain the individual results of the single- and eight-tab, cold and hot start time tests.
Chrome 23 exhibits major issues with start times on Windows 8, which we don't see under Windows 7. With the exception of cold eight-tab start-ups (the longest test duration for any browser), the start time tests show Chrome nearly doubling its completion time in the newer version of Windows. We're not sure what could be causing this, as the other three browsers show marginally lower times in Windows 8 versus Windows 7.
Page Load Time
Page load times are taken both cached and uncached, and all the results are achieved by averaging five iterations.
Internet Explorer 10 is the big winner in the all-important page load times, although IE9 isn't exactly a slowpoke in this metric either. Both versions of Internet Explorer claim supremacy here, in fact. Chrome places second on both OSes, right behind IE. Opera takes third in Windows 8, followed by Firefox in fourth. The order of the last two finishers reverses on Windows 7.
The charts below contain the uncached and cached page load times of all eight individual test pages for each browser in Windows 8 and Windows 7.
The page load times are pretty even with this particular group of browsers, and none of them show any significant weaknesses compared to the others.