Web Testing: The Diet WBGP
The Web tests consist of a select group of benchmarks from our Web Browser Grand Prix series. For the sake of comparison to those stories, we’re including results from our usual Core i5-based WBGP test system to these charts. While we originally wanted to include the approximately $1,000 PC to all of today’s tests, its scores caused all the other bars in the system and graphics charts to become barely-visible nubs. Fortunately, including the WBGP test system in our Web testing doesn't create any issues with our graphical aides.
In order to show all systems in the best possible light, we chose the fastest browser available for each operating system. In the case of the PCs and the Nexus 7, that would be Chrome, while the iPad 2 uses Safari. Since the Android 2.3-based LG Optimus S is unable to run Chrome, the stock Android Browser remains the best bet. The Kaser, however, is an odd case. Although Chrome can be installed, we know that the stock Android browser is faster at displaying current-gen webpages, while Chrome excels at the next-gen stuff. Therefore, in order to give this (so far) underwhelming product a real fighting chance, we’re testing the Kaser using a mix of the stock Android Browser and Chrome. While Dolphin with its JetPack add-on is technically the fastest browser for Android, we sided with the runner-up, Chrome, in order to make the gadget/PC comparison a little bit cleaner.
Our first benchmark is EEMBC’s BrowsingBench. We chose this test because it measures what is possibly the most telling performance aspect of browsing the Web: page load times for real-world websites. This test has none of the experimental technologies that many of today’s Web benchmarks focus on exclusively. Instead, it tests a handful of popular, yet very ordinary HTML4/CCS2 sites from around the globe.
Predictably, the WBGP test system takes the top spot, followed by the Vista-era office PC. While we already knew that first-gen netbooks provide a sub-par experience, we’re somewhat surprised to see the iPad 2 beat the Dell Mini 10v so soundly. Far below the Atom-based netbook is Google’s Nexus 7, followed by the LG Optimus S. Even when using the stock Android browser instead of Chrome, the Kaser still places dead last, almost 200 points behind the $50 burner. If we had used Chrome in this test, the Kaser's score would have dropped to double-digits.
The BrowserMark placing is exactly the same as that of BrowsingBench, with the only major differences being an increased lead for the WBGP test system, a closer gap between the Dell Mini 10v and Apple iPad 2, and significantly improved scores for the Google Nexus 7.
The WBGP test system’s lead over the Athlon 64 X2-based machine increases substantially. Meanwhile, the iPad 2 falls from third place down to fifth, and the Kaser finally manages to beat the half-priced prepaid smartphone.
Now we’re getting into the next-gen stuff, with a pair of HTML5 performance benchmarks that focus on very different tasks. First up is Principled Technologies' WebXPRT, an HTML5-based Web app benchmark. This test simulates common productivity tasks that are traditionally handled by locally-installed applications, including: photo editing, financial charting, and offline note-taking.
The placing order here remains the same as in Peacekeeper, with all three x86-based machines coming in ahead of their ARM-based competition.
Finally, we have the Impact HTML5 Benchmark, a casual HTML5-based platformer.
In this test, the Nexus 7 pulls ahead of the Mini 10v by a hair, breaking up the x86 monopoly.
Now let’s look at the geometric mean of all five Web browsing benchmark scores.
The price and performance differences are pretty amazing. While the ~$1,000 WBGP test system definitely lives up being worth 10x the price of the Kaser, we’re absolutely shocked by how much better the five-year-old, low-end office PC is than any of the more expensive ARM-based devices. In another surprise, the Dell Mini 10v with its first-gen Atom processor also holds its ground. Right smack in-between the trio of PCs and Android devices is Apple’s iPad 2, which finishes much closer to the third-place Mini 10v than the fifth-place Nexus 7. Utilizing the Android Browser in BrowsingBench allows the Kaser to pull ahead of the LG burner, though if the Kaser had been running Chrome in that test, the scores of these two budget products would have been essentially identical.
Even with the dual-browser scenario, the Net'sPC2 fails to prove that it’s worth twice the cost of the prepaid Gingerbread burner (again, not including the cost of a display). What’s more, the equally-valued Vista-era PC yields about five times the Web-browsing performance as the Kaser.