Which Browser Is Fastest?
I've been using the Chrome browser because it was rated as the fastest. Now I hear the new IE9 is winning the speed tests. Which browser is fastest in real life situations, and do you recommend one over another?
Does Browser Speed Matter Any More?
Another round of the browser wars is starting, with "new, improved" releases of the most popular Web browsers having been released within a few months of each other. So the question geeks are debating endlessly now is, "Which browser is fastest?" Internet Explorer 9? Firefox 4? Safari 5? Chrome 10? Opera 11? A few pundits are coming to the sensible conclusion: it no longer matters.
The only basis for speed comparison between browsers is how fast they render web pages. Rendering involves interpreting the HTML code that comprises a web page and displaying text, graphics, animations, etc., according to the instructions embedded in the code. No web browser will fetch a webpage faster than another; that's a function of your Internet connection's speed, Internet traffic between you and the website, and how fast the web server can transmit the requested page.
I find that last factor, the speed of the website you're trying to load, makes ALL the difference in almost EVERY case. Pardon the food analogy, but if the waitress brings your rice pilaf one grain at a time, it's going to take a long time to eat dinner, no matter how fast you can eat.
These factors are beyond the control of browsers, and they matter much more than the difference between browsers' rendering speeds.
Take a look at the first chart in ZDNet's comparison of several browsers' performance on four benchmark suites. It shows the time, in milliseconds, that each of the tested browsers takes to render a set of "real-world problems" such as frames, animations, forms, etc.
Who Wins the Browser Speed Tests?
It seems IE 9 (32-bit) wins this test. But note the difference between IE 9 and the "slowest" competitor, Safari 5: less than 140 milliseconds. Seriously, this is trivial; literally, a blink of the eye.
What really matters in terms of "browser speed" is the user interface. It doesn't matter that your browser renders a page 0.14 seconds faster than the next guy's if it takes you 2-3 full seconds to find a bookmarked page. Being able to navigate a browser's many menus and features quickly is a much bigger determinant of browsing speed than how fast the software does its job. While Opera has always striven for simplicity, IE and Firefox are only beginning to clean up the clutter on their menu bars.
Personally, I use Firefox, but that's not because it's any faster than the others. I've become comfortable with the way it works and I enjoy some of the Firefox addons. I also tend to look for alternatives to Microsoft when I can. On the other hand, I do fire up IE and Chrome regularly, and they work great. Each has features that I like.
My bottom line is this: I'm glad there are 4 or 5 players in the browser market competing for a slice of the pie. The browser wars drive innovation, and that makes them all better. Without competition, we'd still all be using IE5, or something like it.
Do you have something to say about browsers, speed and what really matters? Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 11 Apr 2011
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Which Browser Is Fastest? (Posted: 11 Apr 2011)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved