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Browser Speed Comparisons 568

kfrench writes "Internet browser speed tests for 'cold starts', 'warm starts', rendering CSS, rendering tables, script execution, displaying multiple images and 'history'. 'Opera seems to be the fastest browser for Windows. Firefox is not faster than Internet Explorer, except for scripting, but for standards support, security and features, it is a better choice.'"
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Browser Speed Comparisons

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  • Also (Score:5, Funny)

    by beatdown ( 788583 ) * on Friday February 11, 2005 @04:36PM (#11646702)
    Firefox and Opera make tabs quicker than IE.
    • Re:Also (Score:3, Funny)

      by ben631 ( 858653 )
      Maybe... But I found IE a lot quicker with My Search Toolbar and all those great apps that IE install by himself!
    • Re:Also (Score:5, Funny)

      by RonnyJ ( 651856 ) on Friday February 11, 2005 @04:58PM (#11647002)
      Maybe, but IE crashes a lot faster than Firefox ;)
    • Unfair test (Score:3, Interesting)

      by penguinoid ( 724646 )
      Opera and Firefox run *much faster* on Linux and Macs than IE does. I bet their only speed gains come from being integrated into the OS.
  • by tcopeland ( 32225 ) * <tom@@@thomasleecopeland...com> on Friday February 11, 2005 @04:37PM (#11646704) Homepage
    ...is that a motivated user can compile an optimized version [mozilla.org] or download an optimized build [moox.ws].

    That option certainly isn't available in IE or Opera.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      and here are some simple changes [pro-networks.org] that you can make to Firefox to speed it up.
    • Obviously, since IE is faster, this is unecessary or MS has already optimized the code.
    • by chiphart ( 791140 ) on Friday February 11, 2005 @04:45PM (#11646832) Homepage
      RTFA, no? The Moox version of FF is in there and doesn't fair well.
    • yes, but if you look at the chart given when clicking on the text "FireFox 1.0" in the tables (sorry, no link), you can see that strangely the official Firefox version is often faster than the Moox version (which is supposed to be the optimized build). Can someone explain me why?
      • by xenocide2 ( 231786 ) on Friday February 11, 2005 @05:20PM (#11647272) Homepage
        Probably because the MOOX author's benchmarks for evaluating performance look at the software as a whole rather than particular uses that can be isolated and improved. Also, some of the benchmarks seem a bit fuzzy ("dragging it into the browser window and measuring its load speed"). Especially when considering a performance difference of less than 5 percent. Why not disclose what the actual numbers were too? It would certainly help us evaluate how much human error is involved in the testing process!

        The other half of it is that the builds essentially just set a few compiler options to use opcodes that may not be used (SSE2?) for webbrowsing. Additionally, its possible that some of the optimizations are hurting the cache with bloated low level code. It would be interesting to see if the Intel compiler provided any stronger oomph, at a pure compile configuration level. But we don't have any Intel CPUs in the house.
    • Ah, yes, I just got off the phone with my grandmother who's never used computers before last week, she went to copile her optimized version :)

      And even the pre-optimized ones aren't the greatest for end users, as they've just been told to get Firefox and not trust executable downloads, now they're being told to download these EXE's off some third party site? If Mozilla were to support pre-built optimized versions, then yeah, they'd be great, but until then it shouldn't be used for benchmarks or anything.
    • Reading the article (I know, I let old habits surface every so often) I noticed that he used a moox build of firefox, and that it performed far worse than vanilla Firefox in almost every test.

      Especially suprising is the startup performance, which I consider to be the weakness of Firefox versus IE (although understandable, since IE is preloaded and Firefox is not). 20 seconds versus 11.

    • RTA (Score:5, Interesting)

      by bonch ( 38532 ) on Friday February 11, 2005 @04:50PM (#11646906)
      From the article:

      The Moox Firefox install is actually slower than the standard Firefox versions distributed from Mozilla.org, even though it is supposedly optimised for my particular processor.
    • Mod parent as Informative --- this is one of Firefox's best kept secrets. The optimized builds can yield a NOTICABLE performance difference in terms of startup page-loading times

      For the mac users out there, links for mac-optimized firefox builds are below

      G4 Optimized [mac.com]
      G5 Optimized [mac.com]

      I'm using the g4 build right now and it works like a charm! (Note that these are built from the nightlies, so you might get a 'bad' one. Backup your profile before installing it over an old firefox build)
  • lynx (Score:5, Funny)

    by GillBates0 ( 664202 ) on Friday February 11, 2005 @04:37PM (#11646714) Homepage Journal
    And lynx wins on the speed comparisons, hands down.

    lynx...is there anything it can't do?

  • I'll take (Score:2, Insightful)

    by robslimo ( 587196 )
    one order of the Internet, two browsers and a side of standards compliance, please!

    The ugly truth is, I must use IE sometimes. All that microsoft extension stuff... still used way too much for me to get along without it.
    • Re:I'll take (Score:4, Interesting)

      by plover ( 150551 ) * on Friday February 11, 2005 @05:58PM (#11647595) Homepage Journal
      Perhaps you should take the opportunity to help address the problem.

      I'm trying to get into the habit of sending letters to sites complaining that they don't work with Firefox or Mozilla. I figure if more people take their business away because they have useless IE-only pages, they'll be forced to revisit these ill-considered decisions.

      The same thing is even more true for those sites with popup messages: "This site only works with Internet Explorer." Fix your damn site -- don't blame me for your stupid decision to hire VB programmers.

      Hell, even microsoft.com is perfectly usable with Mozilla and Firefox. I certainly haven't noticed a "lack of richness in my browsing experience" there.

  • Question... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by leereyno ( 32197 ) on Friday February 11, 2005 @04:39PM (#11646727) Homepage Journal
    Is "not faster" a euphemism for slower?

    To say that my camry is not faster than a porche 929 is a true statement when interpreted one way, but untrue when interpreted another. The use of amphiboly to lead someone to an erroneous conclusion is only different from an outright lie its craftiness.

    Lee
    • Re:Question... (Score:4, Informative)

      by bonch ( 38532 ) on Friday February 11, 2005 @04:43PM (#11646789)
      No offense, but I think you're using a lot of fancy words to tapdance around the (commonly accepted) fact that Opera is the fastest browser, followed by IE due to its native ties with the system, followed by Firefox because it reimplements all its own widgets in XUL, etc.

      I really don't think there's much more to it. I use Opera on Windows specifically because it is faster and uses half the memory footprint Firefox does.
      • Re:Question... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by zoloto ( 586738 ) on Friday February 11, 2005 @05:26PM (#11647327)
        I'm not really sure where people are pulling these stats. Probably from their asses, but when I load firefox, ie and opera this is the score:

        P3 1GHz - 128MB Ram - Win2k Pro

        Firefox loads the fastest
        Opera loads almost as fast
        IE... wtf is taking it so long if it's "integrated" as they say? It not only takes so much friggin time to load, but chews up the hard drive like they're going out of style!

        Sorry. I'll believe my own results on the machines I use here.

        450mhz 192Mb ram
        500mhz 128Mb ram
        1000mhz 128mb ram
        2.8ghz 512mb ram
        3.2ghz 2gb ram

        all run win2k for games (sorry, new xp interface just doesn't cut it for me to mean a "new os") and linux for the main systems.

        FF beats them hands down. I'm not a fan boy or anything, but it would be trivial to become one. I just use what's "WORKS" and works the fastest without pop-ups/problems/whatever.

        -zo
    • by AEton ( 654737 ) on Friday February 11, 2005 @04:45PM (#11646820)
      <kritical> matts: bikes go faster than cars...a bike at 60 mph is a lot faster than a car at 60 mph
      <matts> kritical: um no...
      <kritical> matts: um yes
      <kritical> my sisters sport car at 60 mph goes faster than my dads explorer at 60 mph
      <kritical> a bike at 60 mph will blow by a car at 60 mph
      http://bash.org/?1988 [bash.org]
  • extensions (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Washizu ( 220337 ) <(bengarvey) (at) (comcast.net)> on Friday February 11, 2005 @04:39PM (#11646731) Homepage
    Interesting results. Firefox may be slower at rendering than IE and Opera, but I love the Firefox extension that disables auto-running flash elements in a page. For whatever reason, my work computer locks up on certain flash pages and this was a huge help.

    • Re:extensions (Score:3, Informative)

      by Lisandro ( 799651 )
      Opera has done this as well for a while now, as an AC reply stated. It also has some nice treats to browse "ugly" sites, like being able to start and stop image loading on graphic intensive sites, and it can enable and disable plugins/Java/Javascript/GIF animation and sound on the fly.

      Great little program.
  • by nathan s ( 719490 ) on Friday February 11, 2005 @04:39PM (#11646735) Homepage
    I suppose the fact that IE has all sorts of nice direct access to the Windows code with god-knows-what tricks embedded to speed it up helps. Firefox is bound by what any non-MS program can do with the API.

    That is not to say that I find Firefox slower - but thinking about it, I believe the Firefox interface (especially tabs and yes I know it was Opera first(?)) speeds _me_ up. So my perception is that using Firefox is generally faster than using Internet Explorer, even though it may be in actuality slower.

    Really impressive work by that tester tho.:-)
    • Opera was first (and only) with MDI, but (IIRC) Crazy Browser (an IE shell) was first with tabs. Opera then took the tabs and used them as a taskbar of sorts for the MDI - the way MS should have done MDI. Opera 8 is now switching to Firefox-style tabs as default, though (you can still get MDI, FWIW).
    • by Dirtside ( 91468 ) on Friday February 11, 2005 @04:44PM (#11646809) Journal
      I suppose the fact that IE has all sorts of nice direct access to the Windows code with god-knows-what tricks embedded to speed it up helps. Firefox is bound by what any non-MS program can do with the API.
      As far as "cold starts," keep in mind that 90% of IE loads into memory when Windows boots up, whereas very little of (e.g.) Firefox is loaded into memory. Really just the Windows libraries that it uses are loaded; all its own stuff has to load on the spot, but IE's rendering engine and various other libraries are all automatically loaded when the OS starts. That gives IE a huge apparent speed boost as far as starting it up for the first time after you boot the computer.
    • by ColdGrits ( 204506 ) on Friday February 11, 2005 @04:56PM (#11646976)
      "I suppose the fact that IE has all sorts of nice direct access to the Windows code with god-knows-what tricks embedded to speed it up helps. Firefox is bound by what any non-MS program can do with the API."

      Nice try, but how does that explain IE being faster than FireFox under MacOS X as well in some areas?

      Of course, Safari kicks them both :-)
      • by prockcore ( 543967 ) on Friday February 11, 2005 @05:09PM (#11647143)

        Nice try, but how does that explain IE being faster than FireFox under MacOS X as well in some areas?


        Well, when you don't support entire chunks of the language you can be faster.

        Speed tests mean nothing if the browsers don't render the results properly.
      • I don't know about firefox but camino on osx is a lot faster than ie. I find ie hella slow on osx. I don't have the time or energy to try to test this myself but in my experience it's just wrong. IE is slow - it takes a long time to start and it renders pages at a snail's pace. Camino does it faster. Safari is even faster but I prefer Camino. No way in hell I use IE on a mac if I don't absolutely have to.
  • faster = better? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MBraynard ( 653724 ) on Friday February 11, 2005 @04:40PM (#11646748) Journal
    Just look at the Opera results for a moment. Notice how the later versions are actually slower.

    But aren't later versions better, more capable, more adverse-effects resistant?

    Also, a browser can render much more quickly if it doesn't care how badly it renders what you see. How does this balance with the loading times in the article?

    • Re:faster = better? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Jugalator ( 259273 )
      Just look at the Opera results for a moment. Notice how the later versions are actually slower.

      What? Well, some aspects, yes, but some are dramatically faster. Just look at the impressive trend of its script execution speeds. Some heavy optimizations seem to have taken place there. The cold startup time of Opera 8 is also optimized to the point it's back to the Opera 6.03 speed, which is also impressive for its vastly expanded feature set since then (rewritten rendering engine in Opera 7 among others ;-))
  • "Firefox is not faster than Internet Explorer, except for scripting, but for standards support, security and features, it is a better choice."

    And this has what to do with speed testing?
  • The one [sourceforge.net] they never include.
    • No, the winner would be Lynx (except on one thing, where Links2, a fork of your browser of choice, won). You obviously didn't RTFA. They had a whole section dedicated to browsers that didn't meet the minimum feature set for the test.
  • ahem.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Turn-X Alphonse ( 789240 ) on Friday February 11, 2005 @04:40PM (#11646753) Journal
    Can we get a realistic test? Lets see how quick IE is after a couple of days browsing some of the.... less family friendly websites. Firefox would rape it hands down.
    • Translation (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bonch ( 38532 )
      Translation: "I don't agree with the results of the test, so I'm just going to arbitrarily dismiss them for no other reason than I don't like Firefox being slower than Internet Explorer! So I'm just going to claim Firefox would rape Internet Explorer to placate my viewpoint."
    • Can we get a realistic test? Lets see how quick IE is after a couple of days browsing some of the.... less family friendly websites. Firefox would rape it hands down.

      Internet Explorer can be *very* secure by setting the slider to highest as demonstrated here:
      http://johnhaller.com/jh/mozilla/ie_security_humor / [johnhaller.com]
    • Re:ahem.. (Score:3, Informative)

      by Jugalator ( 259273 )
      As long as you don't run into the memory deallocation issue in Firefox before that. I've browsed some gallery sites in Firefox and opened a few tabs in it, and at times it reaches 200 MB+ RAM usage. Which is maintained after you've closed all tabs of course. Oh well, it's at least a documented bug [mozilla.org]. :-/ (with 232 votes, hehe...) A major reason I've went back to Opera for now. I'll take another look in Firefox 1.1. My poor 512 MB RAM system simply can't stand these symptoms [mozilla.org].
  • . . . but nothing beats it's stability on my 500MHz G4 powerbook.

    When you can't have speed, it's nice to have stability.
  • Firefox patches (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ad0gg ( 594412 ) on Friday February 11, 2005 @04:42PM (#11646784)
    I recently switched to Firefox and on NTBugTraq last week, 3 exploits were announced with status of patched. I ran check for updates on firefox and reported nothing. I check A noticed [secunia.com] a bunch of other vunerabilities that say patched yet firefox.exe says there's no updates. I went to mozilla.org and even the default download is to the original 1.0 build. What gives? I'd expect update to actually work, there's no way i can install firefox on my parents machines because the only way they actually apply patches is when windows update actually downloads and prompts them. I can tell my parents to find the buried update feature and run it everyday, and that doesn't even seem to work.
    • Re:Firefox patches (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bogie ( 31020 )
      I have to say you do have a very good point. Post 1.0 there are published security flaws in Firefox yet no client-side patches. Where are the patches? Fixed in CVS? Post 1.0 the firefox crew has imho dropped the ball in some areas. Seven months from 1.0 till 1.1 with no security updates in between? I know these aren't load a webpage and your computer explodes type flaws but they are flaws and should be addressed.

      Btw lest people think "Ha gotcha!", the same problem occurs with IE. Many IE vulnerabilities ha
    • Re:Firefox patches (Score:3, Informative)

      by cyfer2000 ( 548592 )
      1.01 is on the way [mozilla.org].
  • I don't know about everyone else but I did not move to Firefox becuase I thought it was fatser. I moved over because of the relative securty and opposed to IE and the super-neato plugins. Without mousegestures, webrowsing just isn't the same. Besides, most people who use Broadband internet won't notice a difference between browser speed. Ossus
  • by Sheetrock ( 152993 ) on Friday February 11, 2005 @04:43PM (#11646794) Homepage Journal
    Having deployed Firefox in a large installation, I noticed a great deal of complaints. While it seemed somewhat snappier, albeit slower to load, than it's IE counterpart, it was incapable of properly processing the internal helpdesk software that was designed with FrontPage to the latest standards.

    Unfortunately, this meant rolling back to Internet Explorer. While I personally prefer Opera, most of the users agreed that Internet Explorer did the best at talking with the internet after this experiment.

    • Re:I have to say... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Misch ( 158807 ) on Friday February 11, 2005 @05:02PM (#11647051) Homepage
      incapable of properly processing the internal helpdesk software that was designed with FrontPage to the latest standards

      Excuse me, If I was Dogbert, my tail would be wagging right now.

      You're designing your software with Frontpage?

      Wow... that's great... There's your first problem.

      Frontpage? Standards? What ones are those?
  • I find it laughable, that although Firefox appears to be short in the speed department (at least it loads faster than the current version of Mozilla I'm running on my laptop), the author still feels he needs to shill Firefox by expounding its totally unrelated virtues.
  • The actual MS Internet Explorer was not tested :(

    I am talking about the one loaded with spyware and viruses.
  • by jd ( 1658 ) <imipak&yahoo,com> on Friday February 11, 2005 @04:43PM (#11646801) Homepage Journal
    ...on returning the error message when the server is being pummeled by Slashdot readers?
  • Firefox is not faster than Internet Explorer

    Or, put differently, Internet Explorer is faster than Firefox...but I guess we aren't allowed to say that on here.
  • It'd be interesting to see just how K-Meleon [sourceforge.net] compares - it seems extremely fast compared to both IE and Firefox, although it does use the Gecko rendering engine.

    For those that haven't heard of it, here's the description from the homepage:

    K-Meleon is an extremely fast, customizable, lightweight web browser for the win32 (Windows) platform based on the Gecko layout engine (the rendering engine of Mozilla).

  • Waste of time... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ajaf ( 672235 )
    ... I don't care about speed in a browser, difference of 2 or less seconds? who cares.
  • Quality (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jeffrey Baker ( 6191 ) on Friday February 11, 2005 @04:47PM (#11646866)
    There doesn't seem to be an allowance for correctness of rendering and conformity of the javascript implementation. If you discard all requirements for rendering and outcome of the script, cat(1) is the fastest browser hands down. Which explains Opera's performance; Opera's rendering and scripting off by just the tiniest bit in every conceivable feature. There's a definite speed/correctness tradeoff and Mozilla has always opted for correctness when practical.
  • by bonch ( 38532 ) on Friday February 11, 2005 @04:48PM (#11646869)
    From the article:

    Surprisingly, Mozilla is now faster at most tasks than Firefox.

    Again, I ask--what exactly is the point of Firefox these days? When it was being billed as the replacement for Mozilla's browser, it made more sense. But Firefox is neither faster or slimmer than the official Mozilla browser, and now it seems it's actually slower too!

    I'm just curious what the incentive is supposed to be to use it over Mozilla.
    • by edwdig ( 47888 ) on Friday February 11, 2005 @05:08PM (#11647123)
      I noticed that too and started to wonder. I can understand Mozilla being a bit faster than Firefox since they used the latest 1.8 builds, whereas Firefox branched off the trunk last summer. What really surprised me was that Mozilla beat Firefox in startup time significantly. That means either the Mozilla.org people did a hell of a job optimizing the startup time of the suite, or the extra complexity of the suite doesn't drag it down nearly as much as Firefox fans want to believe. I'm leaning towards the latter being the more significant factor.
  • Next time (Score:2, Funny)

    by mr.newt ( 244023 )
    I'll know which browser to use to reload Slashdot over and over to get first post.
  • by catdevnull ( 531283 ) on Friday February 11, 2005 @04:49PM (#11646891)
    For my browser choice, a few fractions of a second rendering doesn't make me feel warm and fuzzy. I get my cyber jollies from using a browser that has the least number of vulnerabilities [securityfocus.org]. Afterall, those few milliseconds don't add up to the all the down time you might otherwise be stuck with.
  • by Grey Ninja ( 739021 ) on Friday February 11, 2005 @04:54PM (#11646952) Homepage Journal
    I tested browsers myself a while back with Stopwatch [numion.com], and I found Firefox to render consistently faster than IE6. I collaborated with others on the test, and we found that overall, Firefox was about 25% faster. There were some exceptions to the rule though... (most notably, mozilla.org rendered faster in IE. But Microsoft.com rendered faster on Firefox).

    I honestly don't know what this guy did differently to achieve opposite results.
  • by IvyMike ( 178408 ) on Friday February 11, 2005 @04:55PM (#11646973)
    This has been popping up on del.icio.us/popular for a while now:

    Speeding up Firefox the right way [codebetter.com].

    This page contains detailed tips about getting the fastest firefox experience, customized to different speed computers and network connections.
    • Some of these are BAD to do. In particular:

      user_pref("network.http.pipelining", true);

      While many webservers have no problem with pipelining, it breaks many load balancing devices (except for the one made by the company I work for though... Cough Netscaler Caugh). As such, it can cause odd problems on those websites, and sometimes performance issues for the website itself. As a general rule you shouldn't do pipeling to general websites. To proxy servers, it makes more sense though, as they won't send t
  • Whats the Point? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by westyvw ( 653833 ) on Friday February 11, 2005 @04:56PM (#11646983)
    What is the point of this? I thought browser speed just didnt matter anymore, at least it doesnt to me. Does anyone even notice rendering anymore? I dont use a computer slow enough, nor have internet fast enough (only a T1) to notice any damn difference. This might have been interesting in the ancient slow days but anymore? come on?

    And just how do you test a cold boot of IE? reboot the computer? And if your not using windows why would you ever shut off your browser?
    • The fact that it doesn't matter to you has no relevance to anyone else. You are not the center of the universe.

      There are people still running 300MHz systems, 1GHz systems, 2GHz systems, and 3GHz+ systems. There are people on everything from analog modems to high speed links. And they run everything from Windows 95 to whatever version of *nix came out 37 minutes ago.

      And to a great many of them, speed matters. Whether it's a 30 second load vs a 15 second load, or a 1 second load vs a half second load.
  • by sabNetwork ( 416076 ) on Friday February 11, 2005 @05:01PM (#11647043)
    Each intermediate page must be allowed to load completely ... This means that any indicators that the browser provides to show that the page is loading must show the page as loaded before navigating to the next page.

    If you read this, you'll know that these benchmarks are mostly useless. How many people wait until a page is completely finished loading before looking at it or clicking links?

    Users will tell you that Browser A "feels" faster than Browser B. This doesn't mean that A downloads and renders the entire page faster than B. It means that A displays the necessary content faster than B.

    I don't care if it takes 2.5 seconds to load a page if I can see 75% of the content after 0.6 seconds.

    Who cares when the progress bar disappears?
  • A few thoughts (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dbaron ( 463913 ) on Friday February 11, 2005 @05:02PM (#11647059) Homepage

    There are a bunch of things I'd have done differently when doing a report like this.

    The most important one is trying to measure something as close as possible to the Web browsing experience. That means loading pages over a network (at 56K, DSL, Cable, and/or T1 speeds, with some latency) rather than from local files, and loading pages that look more like a random sampling of Web pages rather than constructed examples (e.g., a page with tons of absolutely positioned elements). When the author of the test constructs examples like those used here for the "Rendering CSS", "Rendering Table", "Script speed", and "Multiple Images" benchmarks, the results will have a bias (relative to average performance browsing the Web) towards one browser or another. I'm not saying the author of the tests chose to bias it in a certain direction; merely that constructed tests like this will always have some bias. When such tests become widely used by the press (as iBench has), it even leads browser makers to optimize for the tests rather than for what matters for users.

    Also, when testing startup times on Linux (especially cold startup), it makes a huge difference whether starting in a KDE (QT-based environment), GNOME (GTK+-based environment), or other environment, since it affects which shared libraries are already in memory. Testing Mozilla's startup times under GNOME (especially if using a GTK2 version of Mozilla under GNOME 2, or a GTK1 version of Mozilla under GNOME 1) would have improved its performance significantly.

    Finally, Mozilla 1.8 hasn't been released yet, so I'm a little puzzled how it was tested. The released version will have changes from the current development version, so it will perform differently. It may be a slight difference, but the report should really say exactly what is tested.

  • Gotta love Opera (Score:3, Interesting)

    by adolfojp ( 730818 ) on Friday February 11, 2005 @05:03PM (#11647067)
    What I love about Opera is that it is fast with all of its features turned on. To have similar functionality on Firefox I need a dozen plugins that are not seamlesly integrated and that weight the browser down.

    Still, for most people I recomend Firefox. Its lack of ads and free price cannot be beaten and its default feature set don't confuse people who switch fron IE.

    Either way you can't loose. Its the only way to live malware free.

    Cheers,
    Adolfo
  • by D. Book ( 534411 ) on Friday February 11, 2005 @05:08PM (#11647125)
    Few people (mainly those in libraries/'net cafes, and privacy nuts) use a "clean" browser. Most people will have hundreds, often thousands, of links in their browser history, tens of megabytes in the cache, a big collection of bookmarks, and plugins like Flash and toolbars. In my experience, a browser will be nice and snappy fresh out of the box, but after a few weeks of piling these things on, it may slow significantly, either in its startup time or while browsing. Some browsers may be worse than others in this regard. The author of the linked article has done an outstanding job, but since it appears most of the tests were performed on freshly-installed, "clean" browsers, the results should be considered with caution.
  • by myc ( 105406 ) on Friday February 11, 2005 @05:11PM (#11647169)
    it's free, and it's Free. Who cares if one browser is milliseconds faster or slower?

  • by CODiNE ( 27417 ) on Friday February 11, 2005 @05:27PM (#11647338) Homepage
    I'm actually a bit impressed with how well the 400MHz Mac numbers came out compared to the 800MHz PC numbers, that is Linux and Windows. Especially since they all had 256MB of RAM which everyone seems to say is not enough RAM for running OS X acceptably. The script speed seems to be the only dog for Safari. Perhaps this is something I should be mentioning to potential switchers.
  • Grain o' Salt (Score:3, Interesting)

    by GarfBond ( 565331 ) on Friday February 11, 2005 @05:50PM (#11647509)
    While these tests are nice for having empirical data, it's also important to not focus too much on this data. In many cases, the differences in results was not much more than a second. IE sucks for many reasons that are not its speed. Firefox and Opera have far more benefits other than what speed it displays pages at.

    The point is, for most of these browsers, they all run 'fast enough.' A second or two here and there isn't going to significantly impact your browsing experience. Tabs, intelligent UI design, intelligent security decisions, and perhaps themes/extensions will add up to the overall experience.
  • by Jugalator ( 259273 ) on Friday February 11, 2005 @05:52PM (#11647530) Journal
    IE is a slimmed down browser where I can imagine its rendering engine simplicity combined with Microsoft's unique experience with the Windows kernel and the integration makes for a fast browser.

    Opera seems to be a minor miracle in terms of code optimizations, at least on the Windows platform, since it's not OS integrated or cheats with pre-loadings, and the Opera team lacks Microsoft developers with knowledge about undocumented API calls, etc. Still it usually beats IE hands down with a vastly superior rendering engine, on par with Gecko. It's only unfortunate it's ad supported and closed source.

    Finally, Firefox/Gecko is a very nice open source browser with nice extension support, but building on the cross-platform UI toolkit XUL instead of using native widgets, along with being built for platform independence instead of being heavily optimized for various platforms (I imagine the Opera team has to do more work for their browser to work on other platforms). I think some of these things play a role in some of Firefox's speed issues. There's no problem with the code I think, just a side effect from what Mozilla is trying to accomplish with the code.

    It would've been interesting to have him compare to K-Meleon or Galeon as well, since it's slimmed down to the bare bones Gecko layout engine with just minor stuff in addition, and that stuff is also using native widgets AFAIK. Might have a positive effect on the loading times at least.
  • Opera vs. Firefox (Score:4, Interesting)

    by OneFix at Work ( 684397 ) on Friday February 11, 2005 @05:57PM (#11647580)
    I would actually like to see a comparison of a P3 optimized Firefox (Moox) against Opera. My guess is that Opera uses speed optimizations for higher end processors that would not be available in the vanilla distro of Firefox.

    Another question is, did they test the free "Adware" version of Opera or did they use the $40 "Commercial" version (I know Opera 8 was the Beta, so that one is obvious)?

    I would personally like to see if Firefox could beat Opera with processor specific speed optimizations and some fairly standard performance tweaks to the about:config...remember, these optimizations would not be available on Opera...

    I would also like to see how the much used Adblock extension slows down or speeds up Firefox in rendering some basic pages.
  • by bergeron76 ( 176351 ) * on Friday February 11, 2005 @07:14PM (#11648321)
    I doubt they had pipelineing enabled on FireFox.

    These days, I take tests like these with a grain of salt. Particularly after the Gartner groups speed tests of Windows vs. Linux. They tweaked the hell out of a Windows machine, and used a stock Linux install and claimed Windows was faster.

    When called on it, they conceded.

    I have a feeling something similar is happening here.

  • by Goeland86 ( 741690 ) <goeland_86 AT yahoo DOT fr> on Friday February 11, 2005 @09:39PM (#11649165)
    Ok so I haven't read the article, but from the disclaimer, it doesn't sound like it's possible to make a fair test. What I mean, is that IE is EMBEDDED in windows. IE loads when you open windows explorer, or "My computer" or whatever else file-viewing window it's IE behind it. So there are no real "cold starts" for IE. So that's my first comment on comparing "cold starts" and "hot starts". Second, Firefox shows much more speed on a linux platform. I don't know if that's because I'm running gentoo with a bunch of USE flags to speed up and prelink on top of that, or if it's just because it's linux. Now on the other hand, there's no IE for linux (thankfully!!!). Besides, most users are concerned not about rendering pages but about connection speed and features of their browsers. Not the speed on the machine. Only at work or in a college dorm will you have a connection that could make those speeds perceptible to the user. So, next, comparing Opera to Firefox. Great. Whatever happened to the saying "don't look at gift horse in the mouth?". Opera is not free. Firefox is. Why would you compare something free with something you want a better quality from? It's fine if you want to determine whether it's worth spending the money on another browser, but then you're looking at features, not at speeds. After all, if the whole of the industry wanted lots of speed from their systems, they'd all have dual processor machines running a linux-smp enabled kernel, with blackbox only, right? So, while it may be interesting to compare the ALGORITHMS behind it all, it's not that interesting to me to compare actual speeds, because they're going to vary by environment, machine and user. Someone who has several apps open in the background will notice everything slow down a bit, when someone who only browses without popups will find it more responsive, at least for local operations. Just my $.02 worth.
  • by Brandybuck ( 704397 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @12:20AM (#11649810) Homepage Journal
    What's the fastest Free Software browser for Free Software operating systems? Konqueror! I can't believe this is being ignored in the summary. I can't believe this is being ignored by the posters. Except for script speed, Konqueror is faster than all other Free browsers on KDE. It's faster than every other desktop's native browser!

    KDE needs to trumpet this one loudly. I think that stupid suggestion to replace KHTML with Gecko just died a quick and deserving death.

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