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Web browser speed test: Chrome, Firefox, IE9, Opera and Safari head-to-head

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Is Firefox faster than Chrome? Does Safari wipe the Web with Internet Explorer 9? Is Opera really the fastest browser on the planet? Fanboys may want to sit down before reading the rather unexpected results of this DaniWeb real-world speed test...
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With Internet Explorer 9 being acclaimed as the fastest ever browser client from Microsoft, DaniWeb decided to put it to the test against Chrome, Firefox, Opera and Safari and see just how quick it really is in a real world test of web browsing speed.

You can read our review of the Internet Explorer 9 Beta here .

speed000.jpg A certain degree of nerdiness, no doubt, drives so many publications to take the microsecond benchmarking suite approach to testing. While we certainly do not dismiss these tests as pointless, measuring the speed of the browser JavaScript engine and core rendering speeds are important metrics in the scheme of things, we don't happen to think that most users really care too much about them. What users care about, and what we have been asked to produce as a result, is a measure of the real-world speed of browsers when faced with the average online content mixture facing an average user day in and day out. This was never intended on being a lab coat wearing scientifically benchmarked exercise, so please do not berate us for that. What it is, is an at-a-glance comparison of how the leading web browser clients stack up against each other in terms of real-world application when it comes to the single metric that is speed of use.

We fully appreciate that any shoot-out of web browser clients must come with a 'your mileage may vary' warning as far as the results are concerned, what with there being so many variables to consider. Your Internet connectivity is going to be different to ours, and the computer upon which your web browser client is loaded is going to be different as well. The important thing here being that all these tests were performed using the same broadband connectivity, the same computer from the same endpoint at the same time of day. Which makes this as even a playing field as possible for all the web browser clients being put to the test. Talking of which, we used the following client versions during our testing: Apple Safari 5.0.2, Google Chrome 6.0.472.63, Internet Explorer 9 Beta 9.0.7930.16406, Mozilla Firefox 3.6.9 and Opera 10.62. each of the following tests was performed three times, with system reboots inbetween where necessary, and the average time across all three tests used.Cold test

Each browser was setup to point at www.happygeek.com and then started from cold, immediately after the computer was rebooted in order to judge initial first use speed. In fastest order, the results were as follows: Chrome 9.8 seconds Opera 11.9 seconds Safari 13 seconds IE9 13.5 seconds Firefox 18.4 seconds speed001.jpgWarm test

Each browser was setup to point at www.daniweb.com and then closed, but the computer was not rebooted inbetween tests, in order to judge typical loading speeds in day-to-day usage. In fastest order, the results were as follows: Opera 19.4 seconds Chrome 19.6 seconds Safari 20.2 seconds IE9 23.4 seconds Firefox 24.8 seconds speed002.jpgWebmail test

Each browser was pointed at a webmail inbox at http://mail.google.com and the time taken from clicking on the completed login to the priority inbox being fully loaded and ready to read measured. In fastest order, the results were as follows: Safari 8.5 seconds Chrome 9.7 seconds Firefox 10.2 seconds Opera 10.9 seconds IE9 11.3 seconds speed003.jpgVideo test

Each browser was pointed at www.youtube.com and we measured how long it took to search for the 'Evolution of Dance' video and start it playing. In fastest order, the results were as follows: Safari 13.3 seconds Opera 14.6 seconds Chrome 17.9 seconds IE9 18.8 seconds Firefox 19.2 seconds speed004.jpgNews test

Each browser was pointed at www.msnbc.msn.com in order to see how a complex page full of continously updated text feeds as well as live streamed multimedia would take to be fully loaded. In fastest order, the results were as follows: Safari 28.6 seconds Opera 29.7 seconds IE9 34.1 seconds Chrome 36.2 seconds Firefox 38.4 seconds speed005.jpgBrowser homepage tests

We gave each browser an opportunity to shine by testing how long it took them to load their own homepage, that is the one that is used to market the browser in question online. While you, and indeed we, might expect these to be tweaked to ensure that the browser concerned loads as quickly as possible the tests suggest that this is not always the case.

Internet Explorer 9 Test Drive IE9 4.4 seconds Safari 4.8 seconds Opera 5.2 seconds Chrome 5.8 seconds Firefox 7.9 seconds speed006.jpgGoogle Chrome Opera 1.4 seconds Chrome 1.8 seconds IE9 2.1 seconds Firefox 2.4 seconds Safari 2.7 seconds speed007.jpgMozilla Firefox Firefox 4.6 seconds Chrome 6.2 seconds Safari 6.4 seconds Opera 6.5 seconds IE9 6.9 seconds speed008.jpgOpera Chrome 3.9 seconds Firefox 4.8 seconds IE9 4.9 seconds Opera 5.9 seconds Safari 7.1 seconds speed009.jpgSafari Safari 3.7 seconds Chrome 4.0 seconds Opera 5.2 seconds Firefox 7.6 seconds IE9 8.4 seconds speed010.jpgAnd the winner is...

To come up with an overall fastest browser winner, we awarded a simple one to five point sliding scale for each test performed with the fastest getting the full five points and the slowest just one. The points from all ten categories were then combined to produce the overall result with a score out of a maximum possible of 50.

And so, without any further ado, the results of the Great DaniWeb Browser Speed Shoot-Out are: Chrome (37/50) Safari (35/50) Opera (34/50) IE9 (23/50) Firefox (21/50) speed011.jpg


Internet Explorer 9 may well be the fastest web browser yet from Microsoft, but our tests reveal it still has a long way to go to catch up with the crowd as far as real-world, day-to-day web usage is concerned. Our tests also revealed that Firefox, whilst having the biggest market share of the Microsoft alternatives, is struggling when it somes to pure browsing speed.

Attachments speed000.jpg 46.54KB speed001.jpg 41.81KB speed003.jpg 36.1KB speed004.jpg 38.93KB speed005.jpg 37.74KB speed006.jpg 38.03KB speed007.jpg 33.9KB speed008.jpg 40.05KB speed009.jpg 36.6KB speed010.jpg 35.67KB speed011.jpg 39.35KB speed002.jpg 37.89KB
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Davey Winder

I'm a hacker turned writer and consultant, specialising in IT security. I've been a freelance word punk for over 20 years and along the way I have seen 23 of my books published, produced and presented programmes for TV and radio, picked up a bunch of awards and continue being a contributing editor with PC Pro - the best selling IT magazine in the UK .

 
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You Idiots , you took beta or the latest version of every other browser , and took Firefox 3.6.9 for testing , Is that even close to fair ??? , Take Firefox 4 beta 6 or the latest nightly build and then do the testing , I bet Firefox will beat even chrome as of now . This was the worst comparison made ever by any blogger .

 
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sorry but i have no way to agree with the upstair.
Since you post it at Oct.
the firefox 4.6b has been released for a long time...

 
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If you add the times for all the tests together the total time is
Safari =108.3
Opera =110.7
Chrome =114.9
So the fastest browser was Safari in second place was Opera & Chrome was third

@ scrapmac Not sure about the other browsers But Opera is now on version 10.63 its not a beta
this review was pretty flawed as no benchmarks were used all the tests were just timed so adding all the test times together seems the most obvious & fairest way to go.

 
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You Idiots , you took beta or the latest version of every other browser , and took Firefox 3.6.9 for testing , Is that even close to fair ??? , Take Firefox 4 beta 6 or the latest nightly build and then do the testing , I bet Firefox will beat even chrome as of now . This was the worst comparison made ever by any blogger .

The Firefox Nightly Build (aka Minefield) is quite a lot slower than the Firefox Beta (at the moment) but I have no doubt that the next version of Firefox will be much faster.

:)

 
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@scrapmac

Actually, the reason we tested against the IE9 beta is explained in the opening statement "With Internet Explorer 9 being acclaimed as the fastest ever browser client from Microsoft, DaniWeb decided to put it to the test against Chrome, Firefox, Opera and Safari and see just how quick it really is in a real world test of web browsing speed" and we tested that against the latest release versions of the other browsers. Firefox 3.6 being the latest release version (3.6.9 at the time our tests were being run, although we note that this has now moved to 3.6.10 but doubt that would have made of a difference to the results).

@stve100

I think we made it quite clear that this was not meant to be a scientific benchmark...

 
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Why are you not using Firefox 4 beta if you are using IE beta ... Also you are not even using the most updated Firefox 3.6.10

 
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The Firefox Nightly Build (aka Minefield) is quite a lot slower than the Firefox Beta (at the moment) but I have no doubt that the next version of Firefox will be much faster.

:)

I'm not sure what you are smoking but the latest beta is the fastest Firefox yet, also the pre8 has some issue but is defineatly not slow

 
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I'm not sure what you are smoking but the latest beta is the fastest Firefox yet, also the pre8 has some issue but is defineatly not slow

I'm not smoking anything, it has been running slow with me. I will delete my temp files and check it again.

 
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Alright, so you took the latest stable versions of Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Safari - and took a beta version of IE. You know what I'm getting to...

Anyways, IE9 still is not the fastest browser and unlike it's competitors, it won't become much faster, FF4 has shown that it's pretty fast, the next Chrome will be faster than the light, Opera will catch up with the others and Safari - well, noone cares about this browser but it will keep up with the others i guess.
So aain, IE will be the slowest of all at the point of a stable release.

 
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Get life, Firefox rocks!!!!!!!!!!! ;)
Just like my UBUNTU BABY ;)

 
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There's one problem with your tests. They don't include Maxthon 3. Two sites -- http://www.downloadsquad.com/2009/09/01/maxthon-3-gets-turbo-charged-with-webkit/ and http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/10238-63-fastest-browser-test-surprising#t56378 -- reported independent tests for the "Big Five" browsers and Maxthon. Hands down, Maxthon was the winner for fastest browser.

 
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By testing against real-world sites you're also throwing network randomness into the equation. I bet if you ran the same set of tests five times in a row, some of the numbers would be quite different. I think it'd be a fairer to test to run against copies of sites stored on a server on the local network.

 
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I will settle for a Firefox i586 3.5.10 that has gone through the wars of upgrading on a openSuSE 11.1 x86-64 machine that apart from using Bleachbit occasionally still works like a champ. Maybe a little slower than Chrome but it stays working and is virtually bullet proof. I look forward to Firefox 4 but the durability of the installation is great.

Perhaps we need to run this survey after first visiting the top 10 malware web pages? Firefox seems to just shrug this off with noScript and WOT installed.

 
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.

There's one problem with your tests. They don't include Maxthon 3.

That's not a problem. That's a good thing. Maxthon is nothing but a ripoff.

Two sites -- http://www.downloadsquad.com/2009/09/01/maxthon-3-gets-turbo-charged-with-webkit/ and http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/10238-63-fastest-browser-test-surprising#t56378 -- reported independent tests for the "Big Five" browsers and Maxthon.

Both of these are nonsense. The first one is just going on about how Maxthon started using Webkit, and the second one is some amateur in a forum running some "tests" that are a complete travesty.

Also, notice how the first article is more than a year old? Nice honesty there, Maxthon.

 
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> this review was pretty flawed as no benchmarks were used all the tests were just timed so adding all the test times together seems the most obvious & fairest way to go.

I dunno. Any comparison over a range of tests will give different results depending on the way you decide to score them. "Lies, damn lies and statistics"...
Using the time sum doesn't make much sense to me as one of the tests was about 30-odd seconds compared to about half that or less with most of the other tests. With such a difference, I don't think that 'summing' would be useful. An arbitrary 5-point system like the one used is also flawed for obvious reasons, but the author said that it wasn't a scientific study.

I like Chrome (a lot), Opera and Firefox. I sometimes use Safari (seems to download files a lot quicker than the others - don't know why). I NEVER use IE, unless for compatibility testing. This study, although not 'lab-based', seems to reflect what I've experienced myself (although I haven't downloaded IE9b yet), except that I've noticed FF has become very clunky - probably all those plug-ins.

Speed won't be the only factor in deciding which browser to use. Looks, plug-ins/add-ons, convenience, customization, etc etc will all play a part. I still can't see myself upgrading to IE9b. Why bother? I need to test for incompatibilities with IE6/7 - after all that's what the majority of the world will be using!

BTW HG - if it isn't obvious from the post, I enjoyed the article - informative without the millisecond BS.

 
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i liked it, informative and interesting how there is no one browser that seems to be the king of every scenario... for anyone who is interested in a benchmark try Futuremark Peacekeeper - according to this benchmark Chrome smokes Safari4b.

From my laptop, running IE8 i got a score of: 316

(I'll try from my desktop soon running Chrome)

 
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for anyone who is interested in a benchmark try Futuremark Peacekeeper - according to this benchmark Chrome smokes Safari4b.

Opera is faster than Chrome on Peacekeeper, though.

 
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Peacekeeper remains, though, just a test of JavaScript performance and nothing else - like most of the benchmarking resources out there. What would be cool was if someone could come up with a real 'Daddy Browser' suite that covered all bases and really put clients through the mixer.

 
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absolutely right happygeek. like i said i really liked the real-world style approach you took with the review, just suggested peacekeeper to those who were interested in benching theirs. btw, my chrome browser at the office scored 8041.

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