Choosing a browser was much simpler in the past. There were fewer choices available and usually there would be a clear winner. These days you have a lot more options available and all of them are more or less similar. So which one should you choose for the best browsing experience?
Some things such as the UI and features are subjective. You might like the look of a particular browser that someone else won’t or there might be a particular feature in a browser that you must have that others might not care for much. But there is one things that isn’t subjective and that is performance. It has to be the very best regardless of the browser you choose. So today we decided to leave everything else aside and compare this aspect of the web browsers available for Windows to see which one came out on top.
This means we will only be running benchmarks on them and comparing the scores. We have chosen the five major browsers available on the Windows platform: Internet Explorer 9, Firefox 6, Chrome 13, Safari 5 and Opera 11. Each browser was on the very latest stable version currently available from its developer.
As for the benchmarks, we chose four of the most popular browser benchmarks available today: Sunspider, Peacekeeper, V8 Benchmark Suite and the HTML5 test. We refrained from performing page load tests as they would vary depending on the Internet connection speed at the time of testing, making comparisons difficult.
The machine we ran the browsers on had a pretty standard configuration and wasn’t particularly high-end. It was running Windows 7 Ultimate 32-bit on a 3.10GHz AMD Phenom II X2 550 Black Edition CPU, 4GB DDR2 RAM and NVIDIA GeForce 9800GT GPU connected to a 1920×1080 resolution display.
You can see how the browsers performed below:
(Note: There were errors in the IE9 scores for Peacekeeper and V8 Benchmark Suite before where the numbers were higher than the actual. They have now been fixed and the other scores have been double checked for accuracy.)
As you can see, Chrome consistently outperforms all the other browsers in almost every test. It even outstrips Safari in every benchmark by a healthy margin, despite running on the same basic WebKit engine. Other browsers weren’t too far back though, except for IE9, which apart from the impressive Sunspider score, lagged behind in every other benchmark.
In real life usage the difference is even less, with all the browsers managing to give extremely fast page loading times. Only issues I ever faced were in Opera and occasionally IE9, where the page was clearly not looking the way it was supposed to. The other three had no such issues and rendered every site correctly.
Personally, I found Chrome best of the lot in terms of features, UI and performance. Being an Internet company Google certainly knows its business and it shows in their web browser, which has some nice features lacking in others. It also has the second largest library of extensions for any of these browsers, bested only by the Firefox although realistically, Chrome’s numbers are higher because Firefox’s extensions often don’t work when the browser is updated. The implementation of the store for downloading these extensions on Chrome is also the best of the lot.
It’s because of the little things that the Chrome edges ahead. Although to be honest, you can’t really go wrong with any of these browsers. They are good all enough to be paid money for, which makes the fact that they are free even better.