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Web Browser Grand Prix 5: Opera 11.50, Firefox 5, And Chrome 12

Efficiency Benchmarks: Battery Life

Ever since Microsoft announced to the world that IE9 is the best Web browser in terms of power efficiency, we've been wanting to put this claim to the test. While overall power efficiency may be important to data centers and businesses, battery life on mobile devices is what the rest of us worry about. Hence the newly-minted WBGP battery life benchmark.

In order to determine how each Web browser affects battery life, we used a first-generation Dell Inspiron Mini 10v netbook as our testing platform. We installed the 32-bit version of Windows 7 Ultimate and updated everything as of 6/25/2011 (including SP1 and MSE). We also installed essentials like Flash, Java, and Silverlight before installing the five Web browsers. Power management settings were set to never dim or turn off the screen, never turn off disks, never suspend, and shut down on critical battery. That critical level was changed from 5% to 3% in order to match the battery life tests we run on Linux. And finally, brightness and volume were set to full. We used an absurdly large YouTube playlist as the stressor, and the Internet connection was through Wi-Fi, not Ethernet, to further mirror a real-world mobile usage scenario. When the netbook died, we plugged it into a power source and recorded the uptime of the previous boot via a third-party uptime history app.

In our battery life testing, Firefox 5 takes the crown with three hours and 12 minutes of run time. Opera 11.50 is the second-place finisher at three hours and eight minutes. Microsoft Internet Explorer 9 comes in third, averaging three hours and seven minutes. Chrome 12 gets three hours and five minutes to place fourth, while Apple Safari is the only Web browser to average less than three hours of battery life, placing place last.

While IE9 did not win in our battery life testing, remember that when the claim of best power efficiency was made, the browsers that Microsoft tested against were Chrome 10, Firefox 4, Opera 11, and Safari 5.04. The two browsers that beat IE9 in our testing (Firefox 5 and Opera 11.50) have been updated since Microsoft conducted its power efficiency tests. Apparently, the change from version 10 to 12 for Google Chrome and version 5.04 to 5.05 for Apple Safari did not help the WebKit-based browsers achieve better battery life.

  • adampower
    Wow, it seems like I upgrade my browsers every week.
    Reply
  • somehow it seems that firefox is focussing more on benchmarks rather than actual real world usage.
    Reply
  • opera keeps impressing me throughout the WBGP
    Reply
  • JOSHSKORN
    Now if just Google would release a 64-bit Chrome browser.
    Reply
  • Tamz_msc
    First of all, this is the most thorough WBGP yet.
    somehow it seems that firefox is focussing more on benchmarks rather than actual real world usage.
    I don't think so - proper page loads and battery life are important considerations.

    I agree that Mozilla did not do a right thing in copying Chrome's release cycle, but at least they're trying - for example, they're trying hard in bringing down memory usage by increasing the garbage collection frequency(check this out in the Aurora and Nightly builds).

    WBGP is basically a test of speed, and Chrome may have won in that, but Firefox is not far behind. I can wait for two or three seconds for my page to load. You can easily bring down the page load times by using addons like AdBlock Plus.

    Even with the faster release cycle, this article clearly states that Firefox is still the most stable browser. Many people say that they've had numerous crashes, but its something wrong with their drivers or OS - I have not had a single crash since FF 4.0 beta 5 (or 7?), when they introduced hardware acceleration for the first time.

    Firefox remains the most customizable browser, while Opera has the most number of features out-of-the-box.

    So overall, according to me Firefox>=Opera>Chrome>IE 9> Safari.
    Reply
  • cadder
    Will you guys please investigate the SECURITY of each browser? I would use the one that is most secure even if it is slowest.
    Reply
  • Tamz_msc
    9516697 said:
    Will you guys please investigate the SECURITY of each browser? I would use the one that is most secure even if it is slowest.
    That's easy: FF+AdBlock Plus+ NoScript+Ghostery+BrowserProtect
    Reply
  • ChiefTexas_82
    IE 9 is a speed demon? I droped IE because it started running like ****. I blame loading too many side programs after years on the web. So I wanted to try Chrome or Firefox. Being a Google fan already, I tried Chrome. So far it leaves my old IE8 in the dust. Except for a certain bug, I would say it has been an improvement in almost every way.
    Reply
  • ChiefTexas_82
    I don't like how Nvidia's GPU auto-detect doesn't work on chrome.
    Reply
  • thartist
    Damn, Opera has it's flaws but it's nonetheless the one that does one thing best: browsing.
    Reply