The BIG browser benchmark (January 2013 edition)

Summary:The BIG browser benchmark -- where the leading browsers are pitted against six of the toughest and most comprehensive benchmark tests -- which browser will be triumphant?

Peacekeeper Benchmark

A browser benchmark tool from Futuremark, the makers of benchmarking tools such as 3DMark and PCMark. The test covers a lot more than just the JavaScript engine, and gives a good overall view of how fast a particular browser is from the front-facing end.

Google Chrome 23 manages to keep Chrome 24 out of the top spot, with Opera 12 coming in a distance second place -- Opera's best score to date in this series of tests.

Firefox 18 achieves a better score than Firefox 16, but this is a test where Mozilla trails far behind the pack.

Kraken Benchmark

This is Mozilla's JavaScript benchmark tool. A very demanding test that, like SunSpider, focuses on creating realistic browser workloads. 

A close fight between Firefox 18 and Chrome 24, with Firefox 18 coming out in the lead. It seems that both Mozilla and Google have worked hard on their respective browsers to improve their score given the significant improvement.

Internet Explorer 10 holds fifth place, and Microsoft has a lot of work to do if it is to have a chance of beating Mozilla or Google in this test.

RoboHornet Benchmark

This is the new kid on the browser benchmark block. It is Google's vision of a modular, independent, and open-source benchmark comprising of tests created and voted on by developers and designers, with consultation from standards bodies and vendors.

RoboHornet is currently in alpha testing, so it is very much a work in progress and as such the results should be taken with at least a small pinch of salt. That said, it is a test worth keeping an eye on, and is another metric by which to test modern browsers.

Firefox 16 narrowly beats Firefox 18 to the top spot, with Opera 12 in third place. Chrome 23 is in fourth spot, with the newer Chrome 24 also being beaten by its older brother.

Octane Benchmark

This is Google's new benchmark, based on the V8 suite. This is the test suite that Google puts the Chrome browser through.

Google's Chrome browser comfortably beats the competition, with Firefox 18 a distance second. Internet Explorer 10 and Opera 12 are in a distance third and fourth place.

Conclusion

So, with all that, which browser is best?

As with every browser benchmark, it's hard to draw any definitive conclusions from the data given that there's no overall winner. Chrome 24 grabs the top spot in two of the tests, with the other top spots going to Internet Explorer 10, Chrome 23, Firefox 18, and Firefox 16, making statistically the latest version of Google Chrome the overall winner.

That said, the score that Microsoft's Internet Explorer 10 achieves in the SunSpider benchmark is impressive, and it pulls in a respectable score in the other four tests, so it's clear that Microsoft has done a lot of work to make its browser better.

It's also interesting to note that in several of the tests, the older version of the browser beats the new release, which suggests that either Mozilla and Google aren't focusing as heavily on speed as they once were, or that the tests don't accurately reflect they improvements made in the browser.

Having said that, I don't think that JavaScript performance is an issue any more, and certainly when it comes to real world testing it's hard to see a difference between any of the browsers (certain HTML5 sites notwithstanding, given that some are heavily optimized for a particular browser). In fact, unless one of the players managed to boost JavaScript performance by an order of magnitude, shaving a few milliseconds off here and there hardly matters any more.

Topics: Browser, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Open Source

About

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes is an internationally published technology author who has devoted over a decade to helping users get the most from technology -- whether that be by learning to program, building a PC from a pile of parts, or helping them get the most from their new MP3 player or digital camera.Adrian has authored/co-authored technic... Full Bio

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