Windows Browser Speed Comparison

With the recent release of Safari 4 Beta, there are 4 viable browser options for Windows users. I don’t consider Internet Explorer a good option (measured by security, speed, user friendliness and adherence to web standards) but one could argue there are 5. I’ve heard murmurs that IE 8 is a big improvement, but I’ll reserve commentary until I’ve used it.

I remain a loyal Firefox user because of all the useful extensions, but I keep Chrome and Opera in my back pocket. I use IE as infrequently as I can, which is basically only when the site requires nothing other than IE to function properly.

Safari is fairly new to me but it looks promising. They’ve imitated Chrome’s look but added a few nuggets of their own. I disliked a few things right off the bat. One of the main issues is they bundle Quicktime with the install. There is no good reason for this. There is a good reason to uninstall Quicktime and replace it with Quicktime alternative. My first order of business was to do just that. I also made sure to uncheck Bonjour and Apple update during the install. Just give me the browser without any cruft please.

Speaking of updates, more apps should work like Firefox. It checks for updates periodically when it’s running. If an update is available, it asks if you want to update, you say yes and you’re done. Opera is second best in this category. It checks for updates but when it finds one you have to download the update yourself and exit Opera to install it. But both checks are lightweight and infrequent enough that you don’t even notice them. They stay out of your way. Apple and Google’s updates go out of their way to install separate services just to check for the version, even when you’re not running the program. That is naughty. Enough said.

Here are the results of Sunspider, a Javascript benchmark, for each of the browsers.

I tested with whatever versions I had on my machine. This is by no means a rigorous scientific evaluation, but it doesn’t take a genius to see that IE is woefully behind. Chrome is ahead by a nose with Firefox 3.1 hot on its tail. The other three are neck and neck.

Browser speed comparisons


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  1. This is only slightly relevant, but you mentioned you liked the quicktime-alternative. In my Fedora 10 Linux box, the problem is Flash and video is basically unwatchable because the flash plugin takes me to 100% and it’s all jitter. Do you have a flash substitute you like?

    Comment by Cameron on February 26, 2009 @ 10:04 am
  2. I haven’t had problems with Flash on Ubuntu so I haven’t searched for any replacements. Maybe the Flash forums have some info?

    Comment by Dan on February 26, 2009 @ 12:48 pm
  3. Yeah, I was looking there earlier and, for instance, saw posts like this:

    I’m guessing the developer doesn’t see the problem because he has a beefy-enough machine. Mine is a Athlon 1700 – a bit old, but it should be perfectly able to run flash video. I’m guessing the plugin has become serious bloat-ware.

    Comment by Cameron on February 26, 2009 @ 1:03 pm
  4. That could be the reason I haven’t seen problems – I have a dual Xeon (dual core) with 4GB of RAM.

    Comment by Dan on February 26, 2009 @ 2:10 pm
  5. firefox 3.2alpha is the best

    Comment by igor on March 8, 2009 @ 11:37 pm
  6. What do you think of Avant?

    Comment by J J on April 2, 2009 @ 11:58 am
  7. @JJ Avant is nice, but it uses the same layout engine (Trident) as IE.

    Comment by Dan on April 2, 2009 @ 5:18 pm
  8. Some straightforward results can be found here:

    Comment by Bhushan on January 19, 2010 @ 12:57 pm
  9. @Bhushan Beware of biases given that Microsoft has a vested interest in making it appear their browser is fastest. Third-party benchmarks indicate Chrome is faster by a lot.

    Comment by Dan on January 19, 2010 @ 1:35 pm

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