IE9 vs Chrome 10 vs Firefox 4 vs Opera 11.01 vs Safari 5 - The BIG browser benchmark!

IE9 vs Chrome 10 vs Firefox 4 vs Opera 11.01 vs Safari 5 - The BIG browser benchmark!

Summary: Now that Mozilla has finally released Firefox 4 to the masses, it's time for a BIG browser benchmark where we take the leading browsers and pit them against four of the toughest benchmark tests available to see which is the tortoise, and which is the hare.

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Now that Mozilla has finally released Firefox 4 to the masses, it's time for a BIG browser benchmark where we take the leading browsers and pit them against four of the toughest benchmark tests available to see which is the tortoise, and which is the hare.

Note: This post has been updated for the final release of Firefox 4.

Here are the browsers that will be run:

  • Internet Explorer 9 (9.0.8112.16421) 32-bit
  • Internet Explorer 9 (9.0.8112.16421) 64-bit
  • Firefox 4
  • Chrome 10.0.648.151
  • Safari 5.0.4
  • Opera 11.01

Here are the tests that the browsers will face:

  • SunSpider JavaScript 0.9.1 - A JavaScript benchmark developed by Mozilla with a focus on real-world problem solving.
  • V8 Benchmark Suite - A pure JavaScript benchmark used by Google to to tune the V8 JavaScript engine.
  • Peacekeeper - FutureMark's JavaScript test which stress-tests features such as animation, navigation, forms and other commonly utilized tasks.
  • Kraken 1.0 - Another JavaScript benchmark developed by Mozilla. This is based on SunSpider but features some enhancements.

All testing carried out on a Windows 7 64-bit machine running a Q9300 2.5GHz quad-core processor with 4GB of RAM and an NVIDIA GTX 260 graphics card.

On with the testing!

SunSpider JavaScript Benchmark -->

SunSpider JavaScript Benchmark

  • Hare: IE9 32-bit
  • Tortoise: IE9 64-bit

V8 Benchmark -->

V8 Benchmark

  • Hare: Chrome 10
  • Tortoise: IE9 64-bit
  • Peacekeeper Benchmark -->

    Peacekeeper Benchmark

  • Hare: Chrome 10
  • Tortoise: Firefox 4
  • Kraken Benchmark -->

    Kraken Benchmark

  • Hare: Firefox 4
  • Tortoise: IE9 64-bit
  • Conclusion -->

    Conclusion

    OK, so what conclusions can we draw? Well, let's begin with the obvious and say that Internet Explorer 9 64-bit is an absolute dog when it comes to JavaScript performance. This is to be expected given that IE 9 64-bit is using an older, slower JavaScript engine, while IE 9 32-bit was using the newer, more efficient Chakra JIT.

    OK, with the loser out of the way, what's the winning browser? Well, out of the four benchmarks, Chrome 10 won two, IE9 32-bit won one and Firefox 4 won one, so in the strictest sense, Chrome 10 is the winner. But in the SunSpider test there is so little separating the four fastest browsers (a shade over 40 milliseconds) that you could almost say it is a tie. Then there's the V8 test, which Chrome 10 aces, but then that's to be expected given that Google, by its own admission, use that benchmark to tune the V8 JavaScript engine.

    So, what's the conclusion? Simple, IE9 64-bit is shockingly bad, and all the other browsers are, on the whole, pretty evenly matched. I'm pleasantly surprised that IE9 32-bit actually aces the SunSpider test, but I expect that over the coming weeks Google will manage to catch up and take the lead once again (Microsoft's painfully slow update cycle for IE (especially compared with Google's aggressive update cycle) works against it in the long run. Microsoft has worked hard on IE, taking it from being the slowest in the pack to one of the fastest. That itself is worthy of recognition.

    Note: The 64-bit version of IE is only available to those with a 64-bit OS, and even then you've got to go searching for it. My advice, don't bother.

    Bottom line, I really don't think that JavaScript performance is an issue any more, and certainly in real-world testing it's hard to see a difference between the browsers (some HTML 5 sites not withstanding, given that many are 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.

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    • With that settled, maybe talk features?

      I found that the various betas of FF 4 would oftentimes lose my tab groupings, and sometimes the tabs themselves. This seemed to improve in the newest betas, though.

      The absence of a drop-down for the back button is a "feature" I don't understand. Notice the behavior when you go to a site that submits form data. Just TRY to go back to the page BEFORE the form, using just that back button. I don't think you CAN. Thankfully, I found an add-on that restored the drop-down. Small a thing as it is, it would have been a deal-breaker for me. Out of curiosity, WHY did they dump it?
      bmgoodman
      • RE: IE9 vs Chrome 10 vs Firefox 4 vs Opera 11.01 vs Safari 5 - The BIG browser benchmark!

        @bmgoodman - What's settled? Presenting a few select "benchmarks", some of which include tests for features which have been deprecated from the HTML5 specs (Acid3) and one browser-vendor's benchmarks (V8?), but not others?

        How about including some of Microsoft's comprehensive performance tests from http://ie.microsoft.com/testdrive? And how about including the currrent results from the W3C's HTML5 Conformance Tests: http://w3c-test.org/html/tests/reporting/report.htm?
        bitcrazed
        • RE: IE9 vs Chrome 10 vs Firefox 4 vs Opera 11.01 vs Safari 5 - The BIG browser benchmark!

          @bitcrazed
          I'm with you, what good is speed if the browser doesn't render a page correctly. How about showing us how well they do with rendering open standards of today.
          observer1959
      • Hold Down the Back Button for History!!!!!

        @bmgoodman You can just hold the back button and your history for that tab will drop down from the button. There is no need for the extra button or an addon. The functionality is still there.
        Browser Fanatic
        • RE: IE9 vs Chrome 10 vs Firefox 4 vs Opera 11.01 vs Safari 5 - The BIG browser benchmark!

          @Browser Fanatic Cool! I didn't know that. I like it.
          Badge3832
      • RE: IE9 vs Chrome 10 vs Firefox 4 vs Opera 11.01 vs Safari 5 - The BIG browser benchmark!

        @bmgoodman

        I wish that, before people make public criticisms of software, the would learn to USE it. If you right click on the back button, or left click and hold, you will find your dropdown.
        rphunter42
        • Same for IE9

          @rphunter42

          Although the delay in FF4 is slightly longer when you click and hold. Perhaps that throws people off?
          LiquidLearner
        • RE: IE9 vs Chrome 10 vs Firefox 4 vs Opera 11.01 vs Safari 5 - The BIG browser benchmark!

          @rphunter42 and @bmgoodman
          You can also right click for the same functionality
          geekilized
      • RE: IE9 vs Chrome 10 vs Firefox 4 vs Opera 11.01 vs Safari 5 - The BIG browser benchmark!

        @bmgoodman The dropdown is still there, but for some reason they took away the down arrow. Click and hold the left mouse button and the dropdown shows up. Weird decision.
        MikeR666
      • RE: IE9 vs Chrome 10 vs Firefox 4 vs Opera 11.01 vs Safari 5 - The BIG browser benchmark!

        @bmgoodman Actually if you hold your click on the Firefox back button you get exactly that functionality.
        conualfy
      • RE: IE9 vs Chrome 10 vs Firefox 4 vs Opera 11.01 vs Safari 5 - The BIG browser benchmark!

        @bmgoodman
        In FF you now use the history button for recently visited sites...it works the same as the drop down from the old back button.. it only shows the viewed pages from the session of the tab you are on...simply select a different tab and do the same .
        leadcatcher
    • RE: IE9 vs Chrome 10 vs Firefox 4 vs Opera 11.01 vs Safari 5 - The BIG browser benchmark!

      Please present your data on a log scale so that we can actually appreciate the differences in terms of what they mean for performance.

      "Twice as fast" (0.3 log units) is the important measure, not raw ms.
      x I'm tc
      • RE: IE9 vs Chrome 10 vs Firefox 4 vs Opera 11.01 vs Safari 5 - The BIG browser benchmark!

        @jdakula -- excellent point!
        bozarth
    • RE: IE9 vs Chrome 10 vs Firefox 4 vs Opera 11.01 vs Safari 5 - The BIG browser benchmark!

      Looks like I'll continue to use IE9 and FF4. They are plenty fast.
      Loverock Davidson
      • Agreed!

        @Loverock Davidson Ditto. In my mind, all of the browsers passed the minimum rendering speed threshold a few years ago. The speed of the computer and speed of the connection make more difference than the browser, now. These days, it is more about the features and user interface preferences. I won't be switching from my IE + FF combo any time soon.
        BillDem
    • LAME! javascript benchmarks only measure a small fraction of performance

      please run something at least a little bit more meaningful and comprehensive. This isn't the 90's anymore. End to end page load, dom, layout, rendering, etc. If the page loads and all the script is jit'd and it still runs like crap because it has a weak rendering engine the bench marks should hammer it...
      Johnny Vegas
      • RE: IE9 vs Chrome 10 vs Firefox 4 vs Opera 11.01 vs Safari 5 - The BIG browser benchmark!

        @Johnny Vegas - couldn't agree more. Sadly, Adrian's own biases are sadly amplified through "reporting" like this and inaccurate stereotypes are being reinfoced.

        Very sad.
        bitcrazed
    • RE: IE9 vs Chrome 10 vs Firefox 4 vs Opera 11.01 vs Safari 5 - The BIG browser benchmark!

      Dude, if you include Kraken & V8 to your tests (which are their own browser optimized) you should add Microsoft's HTML5 demos... Since Chrome will be ALWAYS top in V8, Firefox will be ALWAYS top in Kraken...
      AmediaN
      • RE: IE9 vs Chrome 10 vs Firefox 4 vs Opera 11.01 vs Safari 5 - The BIG browser benchmark!

        @AmediaN
        Completely agreed.
        Ram U
      • If he did that

        @AmediaN

        He would have to say that IE9, at least in technical terms, is at the very least tied with Chrome in speed, assuming the MS tests were all counted as one benchmark. Of course we'll also hear that's unfair, since it's an MS benchmark, neglecting the fact that both FF and Chrome got tested on their own benchmarks.
        LiquidLearner