Google’s got a new “Crankshaft” in its bleeding-edge Chrome, Internet Explorer 9 is out to prove its modern mettle, Firefox 4 is nearly complete, and Opera’s adding extensions. It’s a good time to put these browsers head to head.
Now—on with the tests. Click on any of the images below for a larger view.
Boot-Up and Warm Loading—Winner: Tie—Chrome 10 (Canary) and Opera 10!
When it comes to cold boot-ups (a.k.a. just after booting up), Opera has the ever-so-slight edge. When booting up again, or bringing up after a little inactivity, Opera and Chrome 10, in its “Canary” form, are nearly instant in raising up—so close that human-measured timers might be too close to call. Firefox 4 beta 7 had some seriously long start-up delays, such that we were throwing out 20-second results more than once to try and reach equilibrium.
Tab Loading—Winner: Chrome 8 (Stable)!
How is the stable, consumer-facing version of Chrome slightly better at handling the quick loading of nine tabs—including YouTube, Hulu, Lifehacker and Gizmodo, and each browsers’ own home page, plus Google? We have no idea, but keep in mind that Chrome Canary is a rougher build of both engine and interface than what’s normally put out by the Chrome team, so optimizations may happen down the line.
DOM/CSS—Winner: Opera 11!
Odd to see Chrome 10 work a bit slower at processing page layout elements and other aspects of design, while Opera’s latest beta release does some serious leapfrogging. IE9 beta was, alas, unable to complete the test.
Memory Use (No Extensions)—Winner: Firefox 3.6!
In its naked form, we’ve learned over these tests, Firefox can actually be pretty light on memory. It was a close call with Opera, but the current Mozilla browser wins out. IE9 beta turns in a fairly decent performance, too.
Memory Use (With Extensions)—Winner: Firefox 3.6!
It’s a tough call, because one extension, Cooliris, wasn’t available for both the beta-level Firefox 4, or in much any form for Opera 11’s nascent extension market. But we went and tested what we could get anyways, and it appeared as though Firefox 3.6 was still pretty good with memory, even with five extensions installed and nine tabs loaded.
No matter what formula you rank a browser on, the “winner” is the one that best fits your needs, whether in design, online experience, or pure, raw speed. But since we’ve already got the numbers all tabulated here, we thought you’d like to see how the browsers scored on their “test.” We rated each of the 7 browsers in the categories they were tested in, then scored them university-style against the total number of points they could have received. The major difference is in the browsers that do offer extensions—five of the seven competed in that area, too.
- Chrome 10 (Canary): 72.5%
- Opera 10: 71.4%
- Chrome 8 (Stable): 70
- Opera 11 beta: 62.5%
- Firefox 4 beta 7: 52.5%
- Firefox 3.6.13: 52.5%
- Internet Explorer 9 beta: 45.7%