Web Browser Grand Prix 2: The Top 5 Tested And Ranked

Since the time our first Web Browser Grand Prix debuted, the already-raging browser wars have become heated indeed. In case you haven't been keeping tabs on the browser news, let's begin by getting up to speed on the latest:

  • March 16th- Microsoft releases a developer preview of the upcoming Internet Explorer 9, along with promises of substantial improvements to speed and compliance with the latest Web standards.

  • March 22nd - Opera 10.51 is released, further blurring the line between 1st and 2nd place with Google's Chrome.

  • May 5th - Google releases a beta of their upcoming Chrome 5, proclaiming it to be faster than sound, lightning, and...a flying potato.

Chrome Speed Test

  • May 25th - Google releases Chrome 5 stable.
  • May 28th - Opera releases its own viral video that clearly rips on Google's promo.

Opera Potato Experiment

  • June 7th - Apple releases Safari 5, claiming it's “The world's fastest browser”.

  • June 23rd - In Firefox 3.6.4, Mozilla introduces crash protection for Adobe Flash.

  • June 26th - Firefox is yet again updated to 3.6.6.

  • July 1st- Opera finally drops version 10.60, boasting that “The fastest browser on Earth is even faster”.

Once again, we find ourselves in a situation where multiple parties are claiming the speed crown. Obviously, all of these claims can't be true. The fact is, it's easy enough to produce favorable results supporting ANY browser. You can even do this for IE6 if you try hard enough. Simply pick a single benchmark or a group of potato-oriented tests and viola, there's the fastest browser ever! That is why we run all of them. If we find a valid benchmark that runs on every browser, we use it.

While this is a follow-up to our original Web Browser Grand Prix, we have also included some standards compliance testing along with enhanced memory benchmarks. We feel that even though these tests do not directly affect speed, they are crucial to overall performance. But don't worry, we'll separate those benchmarks from our speed tests in the conclusion, so you'll still get to find out which Web browser is the fastest when judged purely on raw speed. Without further adieu, let's get to the testing!

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  • The Lady Slayer
    July 7th - Firefox 4 beta released.
    Tom's impending road test STILL BEHIND THE TIMES
  • I agree. Firefox 4 was supposed to have the major speed up (especially in startup time.)
  • But you know what, apple said they have the world's fastest browser. I think we should just pack up and call it a day. The spoken word of god is indisputable...
  • makotech222
    FF4 also has hardware acceleration
  • Tamz_msc
    I'm very happy to see my beloved Firefox's performance.Whatever people say about Opera and Chrome, Firefox is the best IMO.And Apple is proved to be a liar from this article.
  • Poisoner
    Honestly, does browser speed matter?
  • Tamz_msc
    Forgot to add:I cant wait for the final release of FF 4!
  • Maziar
    Great review,
    Have to wait for FF4 release to see how it performs compared to others
  • mx2138
    I've been using Firefox for about to two years now. I can't get enough of adblock plus. One of my favorite plug-ins.
  • wittermark
    lmao @ FFfanboys other review sites posted FF4 numbers, its performance is pathetic to say the least.
  • wheredahoodat
    @Lady slayer, and Boi, this is only for stable releases. Notice that Chrome 6 is not benchmarked. FF4 is a beta, the final product is a long ways off. Judging on what they promising and what they implemented so far in the beta and nightly builds, I wouldn't be surprised if FF4 was delayed until early next year.
  • FF Fanboys always will be biases fanboys, but the fact is:
    Chrome and Opera are the best ones, the others are just slugs in a F1 race.
    That's the truth. Period.
  • the_krasno
    I care not for speed, but for usability. Chrome's minimalistic design fits my simple needs.
  • Using the Windows Task Manager to measure memory usage is flawed. Browsers like Chrome that use multiple processors will be incorrectly shown to use more memory than they actually are because of how memory is shared between each process. See http://google-chrome-browser.com/chromium-memory-usage-0 for more information.
  • drudometkin
    Used Firefox for yearssss. Just started using chrome a couple months ago and can't go back to slow ugly Firefox. Love the single address and search bar, tabs on top, minimalist design and speed of chrome.
  • Mark Heath
    First can we have an article like this every month or so, just like the graphics cards for the money articles?

    Second, to sum up the article imo, IE is a clear loser, Safari comes 4th trailing Firefox in 3rd, while Chrome and Opera are up ahead, close enough to say that they share 1st and 2nd, depending on updates.
  • SchizoFrog
    Considering how many websites are yet to be optimised, crash or just do not work for Google Chrome I fail to understand how it can be classed as a winner. When it comes to everyday use for me Chrome is way behind other more established browsers.
  • guid_aaa000001
    Firefox for Windows, Firefox for Mac OS X, Firefox for Linux & Firefox FTW.
  • How can Opera be #1 when they don't even have a simple ad-blocker? Functionality is much more important than a few ms of loading.
  • Lmeow
    I started using Opera on this computer and have loved it ever since. It's just... nice I suppose. Speed-wise 10.50 was quite a bit slower than Chrome, although when I upgraded to 10.60, I could feel a bit of a speed boost.
  • Tamz_msc
    Another thing I like about Firefox is that when you update to a new version like from 3.6.4 to 3.6.6, it only downloads the parts which have been modified or some new updates that might have been added.Thus an average update is only 2-3 MB.No other browser lets you do this.
  • jsowoc
    I was wondering why some graphs don't start at 0. It's misleading to talk about a "decent margin" if all browsers between 19.2 and 19.6. Will a user notice that difference?

    Some people overclock hardware to gain performance at the expense of stability; others use alpha/beta software for the same reason. Could you run a "alpha/beta/preview" browser test, where IE9 goes against FFox4 and the other browsers' test versions?
  • eddieroolz
    First off, interesting comparison.

    It's also interesting how most of the tech crowd places so much emphasis on artificial benchmarks on browsers.

    In a PC component review, synthetic tests are done first, then real-world benchmarks are performed.. That's because real-world benchmarks (games, applications) mean heck of a lot more than synthetic benchmarks.

    Why isn't the same done with browsers? Tests are done in reverse - from real-world test to synthetic tests. The emphasis is clearly on running scripts in an artificial environment than actual startup and page load times, it seems.

    Or, perhaps, is the tech crowd just hung up on mercilessly beating IE8 as a crappy browser? Because as it shown in real-life tests - it performs pretty damn well for such an unoptimized, old browser in my opinion. For general web-surfers - which comprise of the absolute majority of the population - IE8 fits the task just fine. And as it was shown in a previous review, it provided the safest browsing experience as well.

    Downrate me all you want, but after doing so why not hit "reply" and explain why you disagree?
  • @benedict78, get your facts right, Opera does have an ad-blocker, look for 'content blocker'. If that is not good enough look at http://adsweep.org/

    One thing I will say against Opera is that they don't always advertise their browsers features to maximise uptake.