The BIG browser benchmark! Chrome 15 vs Opera 11 vs IE9 vs Firefox 8 vs Safari 5

The BIG browser benchmark! Chrome 15 vs Opera 11 vs IE9 vs Firefox 8 vs Safari 5

Summary: Chrome 15 vs Opera 11 vs IE9 vs Firefox 8 vs Safari 5 ... which browser will be triumphant?

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Now that we can get out hands on the new Firefox 8, it's time to redo the The BIG browser benchmark!

BIG browser benchmark is simple - 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.

[UPDATE: Updated to add Firefox 8.0.1 and Opera 11.60, which throw up identical results to previous versions.]

Five browsers are in the running:

  • Internet Explorer 9 (9.0.8112.16421) 32-bit
  • Firefox 8 (also applies to Firefox 8.0.1)
  • Chrome 15.0.874.106
  • Safari 5.1.1
  • Opera 11.52 (also applies to Opera 11.60)

Note: The performance of the 64-bit version of IE 9 is so abysmal that I didn't bother with it this time. If you want an idea of how bad it is, check out the tests I ran back in March of this year.

And 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 1.1 - Another JavaScript benchmark developed by Mozilla. This is based on the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark test but features some additional 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.

SunSpider JavaScript Benchmark -->

SunSpider Benchmark

  • Hare: IE 9 32-bit
  • Tortoise: Safari 5

Results from March 2011 available here.

V8 Benchmark -->

V8 Benchmark

  • Hare: Chrome 15
  • Tortoise:  IE 9 32-bit

Results from March 2011 available here.

Peacekeeper Benchmark -->

Peacekeeper Benchmark

  • Hare: Chrome 15
  • Tortoise:  Firefox 8

Results from March 2011 available here.

Kraken Benchmark -->

Kraken Benchmark

  • Hare: Chrome 15
  • Tortoise:  IE 9 32-bit

Results from March 2011 available here.

Conclusion -->

Conclusion

OK, with the testing out of the way, what conclusions can we draw? Well, overall, IE 9 32-bit topped one test, and Chrome 15 topped the other three, so overall it's fair to say that Chrome 15 is the winner. But when you take a deeper dive into the data, things aren't that clear cut. For example, when it comes to the SunSpider test, the five browsers are separated by less than 60 milliseconds. What's more, little over 10 milliseconds separates Opera 11, Chrome 15 and Firefox 8. This could have been anyone's race!

Other tests are more clear cut. Chrome 15 was the clear winner of the V8 benchmark test (bear in mind that the V8 is a Google benchmark). Chrome 15 also wiped the floor with the competition in the Kraken 1.1 test too, being nearly twice as fast as the nearest rival Firefox 8 (which itself was almost twice as fast as its nearest rival).

So, what's the bottom line? Looking at the data, and combining this with real-world usage, I really don’t think that JavaScript performance is an issue any more. In real-world testing it’s almost impossible 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.

Also, given how well IE 9 performed in these tests, sticking with the default browser that comes with Windows no longer gives you an inferior web experience.

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60 comments
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  • RE: The BIG browser benchmark! Chrome 15 vs Opera 11 vs IE9 vs Firefox 8 vs Safari 5

    Just JavaScript, eh?<br><br>"I really dont think that JavaScript performance is an issue any more."<br><br>I agree. And to be honest, it hasn't been an issue for a while. I don't remember the last time JavaScript was really slowing down anything.
    CobraA1
    • it depends...

      @CobraA1
      On what you do with it.
      If you use a lot of add ons then javascript i certainly important. I think the results are suspicious. Either Adrian has a very slow PC or both Safari and Chrome are slow on Windows. For example with Sunspider Safari (Mac) finished in about half the time it took for Chrome in his test, i.e. 170 seconds on a Macbook pro with an Intel core i7.
      Mikael_z
      • RE: The BIG browser benchmark! Chrome 15 vs Opera 11 vs IE9 vs Firefox 8 vs Safari 5

        @Mikael_z

        "For example with Sunspider Safari (Mac) . . ."

        He probably tested it on PC. And I can tell you with certainty that Safari on the PC is not the same as Safari on the Mac.
        CobraA1
    • RE: The BIG browser benchmark! Chrome 15 vs Opera 11 vs IE9 vs Firefox 8 vs Safari 5

      @CobraA1

      Agreed...we live in an age of Broadband speeds and milli-seconds. I really don't see how or why there's a fuss over browsers anymore...it's like beating a dead horse. For a number of years the browser became a non-factor why is it a factor now? I find it humorous! I'll stick to my IE9.
      Rob.sharp
      • I save 372 milli-seconds a day

        @rob.sharp@...
        by using Chrome! That's over a minute and a half every year! Time is money! ;)
        William Farrell
  • RE: The BIG browser benchmark! Chrome 15 vs Opera 11 vs IE9 vs Firefox 8 vs Safari 5

    and what about security? The latest report from NSS Labs only looks at Chrome 12 and Firefox 4, showing IE9 as far ahead in security blocking 99,2% of socially-engineered malware (when Chrome 12 blocked 13.2% and Firefox 4, 7,6%)
    http://www.nsslabs.com/research/endpoint-security/browser-security/socially-engineered-malware-global-q3-2011.html
    Any update on that?
    _vJo
    • RE: The BIG browser benchmark! Chrome 15 vs Opera 11 vs IE9 vs Firefox 8 vs Safari 5

      @_vJo Those are rubbish test results that have been overly promoted by Microsoft (apparently NSS Labs is not exactly totally neutral when it comes to Microsoft) and "Socially engineered malware" is also among the least things to be concerned about, securitywise, when web surfing. Just last last month there was a pile of warnings of yet new highly critical vulnerabilities in IE9. And it isn't just a case of all browsers having periodic discovered vulnerabilities -- the design of IE, in having it artificially bundled in with the OS, makes IE vulnerabilities inherently far more problematic than vulnerabilities in other browsers, and that supposed extra security like ASLR and DEP/NX have proven worthless against more advanced exploits.
      JustCallMeBC
      • RE: The BIG browser benchmark! Chrome 15 vs Opera 11 vs IE9 vs Firefox 8 vs Safari 5

        @JustCallMeBC

        when you don't agree with the results, smudge them. classic tactic. bottom line is that I care more about that than I do about a few milliseconds in some random JS test I'll never run in real life.
        neonspark
      • RE: The BIG browser benchmark! Chrome 15 vs Opera 11 vs IE9 vs Firefox 8 vs Safari 5

        @neonspark Umm...did you not see the post I was replying to?
        JustCallMeBC
      • RE: The BIG browser benchmark! Chrome 15 vs Opera 11 vs IE9 vs Firefox 8 vs Safari 5

        @JustCallMeBC

        Over promoted...much like the javascript tests that endorse chrome as a superior browser. I'm sorry but i'll take security over Speed any day of the week!
        Rob.sharp
      • RE: The BIG browser benchmark! Chrome 15 vs Opera 11 vs IE9 vs Firefox 8 vs Safari 5

        @JustCallMeBC It's true that Microsoft used to pay NSS Labs for the survey, but that was years ago! NSS Labs realized the huge interest in these results and kept on running the analysis from their own will. And if you don't trust NSS Labs, why do you give more credibility to those tests? One was developed by Google and two others by Mozilla... wouldn't that be even more suspicious?
        <br>As for the integration of IE9 in Windows 7 specifically, it allows a higher degree of security, on the contrary, Windows 7 being the most secured OS available, and IE its browser counterpart. It also allows Microsoft to reply very quickly through Windows Update if there are security issues coming up.<br>Don't forget as well that IE and Windows are the most targeted by hackers in their categories... just as it was explained after Pwn2Own for example, the reason why Chrome didn't fall is because almost noone was trying to make it fall, when everyone was busy with Safari and IE... hence why security talks mostly come around IE, but what less people know is that when such a security issue appears, it usually takes a few hours to Microsoft to push an automatic update to solve it... quite convenient, isn't it? even though it's not always that easy, right? Those hackers! <img border="0" src="http://www.cnet.com/i/mb/emoticons/happy.gif" alt="happy">
        _vJo
  • RE: The BIG browser benchmark! Chrome 15 vs Opera 11 vs IE9 vs Firefox 8 vs Safari 5

    Didn't the turtle win the race against the hare? :)
    SinfoCOMAR
    • RE: The BIG browser benchmark! Chrome 15 vs Opera 11 vs IE9 vs Firefox 8 vs Safari 5

      @SinfoCOMAR Awesome.
      goombawa
  • RE: The BIG browser benchmark! Chrome 15 vs Opera 11 vs IE9 vs Firefox 8 vs Safari 5

    I'll stick to Firefox. Browsers are at the point where speed doesn't really matter anymore, and as such, the add-ons for Firefox makes it a win in my book. Really, that's the only thing keeping me from Chrome. NoScript is my drug.
    Aerowind
    • RE: The BIG browser benchmark! Chrome 15 vs Opera 11 vs IE9 vs Firefox 8 vs Safari 5

      @Aerowind <br><br>There's a similar plug-in for Chrome aptly called 'NotScripts'. Does the same exact thing.

      ----------------------------------------------

      I'm not too concerned about these 'synthetic' benchmarks to tell me what browser performs the best. IE 9 is lacking in HTML 5 support, web workers, and CSS 3 features...that is the main thing that prevents me from using it over Chrome.

      I will be interested in IE 10 when it becomes more widely available. The latest build (developer preview 3) only comes with the Windows 8 build, but adds all that 'missing' support that should have been included with IE 9 imo. If MS sticks to history, IE 10 will be RTM'd to Win7 by March 2012 and beta will be released before that.

      Chrome is just so fast in general compared to Firefox which gets bogged down after you install several extensions. Using NotScripts + YAGBE for storing my Google bookmarks in their cloud app is so great since I regularly switch between 4-5 different computers.
      dtdono0
      • RE: The BIG browser benchmark! Chrome 15 vs Opera 11 vs IE9 vs Firefox 8 vs Safari 5

        @dtdono0
        Chrome is faster indeed, but not better. Firefox has about:config feature, which Chrome don't have. Chrome speed up by storing a lot of cache offline. Cache can build up to 1 GB and chrome does not provide a easy way to clear cache automatically. In firefox, you can tell it to clear cache when closing.
        Chrome maybe for you, but not for me. I have a great ethernet. No cache, thanks chrome
        UStupidKid
      • RE: The BIG browser benchmark! Chrome 15 vs Opera 11 vs IE9 vs Firefox 8 vs Safari 5

        @UStupidKid
        you mean like about:flags in chrome?
        rengek
      • RE: The BIG browser benchmark! Chrome 15 vs Opera 11 vs IE9 vs Firefox 8 vs Safari 5

        @dtdono0 IE9 may be some things, but not HTML5 compliant is not one of them. Latest tests show full compliance, or at least the same as Chrome.
        goombawa
      • RE: The BIG browser benchmark! Chrome 15 vs Opera 11 vs IE9 vs Firefox 8 vs Safari 5

        @dtdono0
        I find it funny people worry about support for features the W3C hasn't finalized. Anybody that cares about standards shouldn't use beta features which aren't supported by the rest since it encourages interfaces from being changed and improved further because of dumb ass webmasters not being patient for a proper spec to be finalized. And then we end up with crap like ccs.
        neonspark
      • RE: The BIG browser benchmark! Chrome 15 vs Opera 11 vs IE9 vs Firefox 8 vs Safari 5

        @dtdono0 <br><br>Without Firefox's AdBlock or Redirector extensions, everything else is a no go.<br><br>So Firefox takes a couple more milliseconds to load. So what. Big deal.
        ScorpioBlue