The BIG browser benchmark: Chrome 17 vs Opera 11 vs Firefox 11 vs IE9 vs Safari 5

The BIG browser benchmark: Chrome 17 vs Opera 11 vs Firefox 11 vs IE9 vs Safari 5

Summary: The BIG browser benchmark! Chrome 17 vs Opera 11 vs Firefox 11 vs IE9 vs Safari 5 ... which browser will be triumphant?


Now that Mozilla has released Firefox 11 it's time to update the 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.

Here are the browsers that will be run:

  • Internet Explorer 9 32-bit
  • Firefox 11
  • Firefox 10 (left in the running for comparison with Firefox 11)
  • Chrome 17
  • Safari 5
  • Opera 11

Note: All browsers are the latest build.

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

SunSpider is a JavaScript benchmark developed by Apple's WebKit team in 2007.

  • Hare: IE9 32-bit
  • Tortoise: Safari 5
  • Firefox 11 score slips behind that of Firefox 10 and Opera 11 and is significantly slower than Firefox 10 in this test.

Results from February 2012December 2011.

V8 Benchmark -->

V8 Benchmark

A pure JavaScript benchmark used by Google to fine-tune the V8 JavaScript engine of the Google Chrome browser. The final score is computed from the results of seven demanding tests.

  • Hare: Chrome 17
  • Tortoise: IE9 32-bit
  • Firefox 11 is slightly faster than Firefox 10.

Results from February 2012December 2011.

Peacekeeper Benchmark -->

Peacekeeper Benchmark

A browser benchmark tool from Futuremark, the makers of benchmarking tools such as 3DMark and PCMark. Covers a lot more than just the JavaScript engine and gives a good overall view of how fast the browser is.

  • Hare: Chrome 17
  • Tortoise: IE9 32-bit
  • Firefox 11 is slightly slower than Firefox 10 in this test.

Results from February 2012

Kraken Benchmark -->

Kraken Benchmark

This is Mozilla's JavaScript benchmark tool. A very demanding test.

  • Hare: Chrome 17
  • Tortoise: IE9 32-bit
  • Firefox 11 and Firefox 10 are effectively neck-and-neck in this test.

Results from February 2012December 2011.

Conclusion -->


Little has changed since the last time I ran the Big Browser Benchmark because the only big change is that Mozilla has release Firefox 11. Overall, Firefox 11 offers about the same performance as Firefox 10. The biggest slip in performance is on the SunSpider benchmark test, where Firefox 11 has now slipped behind Opera 11. I found this quite interesting, so much so that I reran the test to make sure that there wasn't an anomaly.

That said, the gulf between Firefox 11 and Firefox 10 is small. Tiny in fact. Even on the SunSpider test, the difference between the two browser is a little over 10 milliseconds.

I've said it before, but it's worth saying again. 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 (some HTML 5 sites not withstanding, given that some 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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  • A request.

    Hi Adrian,

    I mean no offense, but if you say that you 'don???t think that Java Script performance is an issue any more' then why did you just spend 6 pages of blog analyzing it?

    I've been impressed by your knowledge in other postings, so I would like to make a suggestion; why not write a blog testing security under the different browsers? Perhaps followed by a series of how to harden each one by fine tuning their respective configuration options?

    I would find that useful, and think that many others might also.

    Thank you in advance for any consideration you may make of this request.

  • Behind Opera?

    You say that Firefox 11 has fallen behind Opera 11 in SunSpider, yet the graph shows it is over 13 milliseconds faster.

    Did you mean that it had slipped behind Chrome, or is the graph wrong?
  • SunSpider Graph

    You need to display all graphs starting at the origin. The SunSpider graph does not provide a visual indication of the relatively close numbers. It is only when you expand the x-axis do the relative differences become apparent. All the other graphs start at zero.
  • You Need Better Tests

    The things that really differentiates browsers these days are: speed in pulling up busy, mixed/multimedia sites; playing online videos in 1080p; adverse effects, if any, on computer performance and memory; password management; and behavior when dealing with an attack or infected website.
    • What do you recommend then?

      What do you recommend then to the layman?
  • Safari 5.1.4?

    Apple recently released Safari 5.1.4, claiming significant boost in JavaScript performance. Did you test that?

    If Apple's release is because of your tests, then they are darn quick at addressing heir browser's shortcomings :)
  • Why IE 32 bit and not 64 bit

    Why did you ignore IE 64bit?
    • Easy

      Can I go to the firefox page and download the 64-bit build?

      Michael Alan Goff
    • Because...

      IE 64bit does not have the same JavaScript engine. The optimized "Chakra" engine is (at least was) only present in the 32bit version.
    • Because it is slow compared to the 32 bit, real slow.

      And I'm a Windows developer and user. Still, I love Chrome. I believe it is more secure and I simply like the user interface better. And it simply loads quicker than IE9. Just feels overall snappier. If Microsoft came up with something better I would use it. I prefer IE over firefox in the rare cases where I find that Chrome doesn't work well.
  • Enough with synthetic benchmarks...

    What can't you test more real day-to-day browsing scenarios?
    And what about integrated security features?

    Just chasing for the numbers game does not advance the "browsing science" for consumers as much as it should.
  • Hmmm...

    I agree, more than one benchmark software should be used, then draw conclusions based on average of all results, not just one benchmark software.
    If you grab at least 3 different programs, test, add up the results of each browser and find the average, and have that as the final total benchmark result, it would be more accurate in real world scenarios because different benchmark software might have different algorithms for testing javascript performance.
  • Javascript performance IS important with multiple add-ons

    One of the oversights in making a statement that Javascript performance is not important anymore ignores the impact of having multiple add-ons with a browser.

    For Firefox, the browser that tends to be customized the most due to its large inventory of add-ons (I know, I use around 80, once as high as 100+), javascript performance IS important, as the multiple add-ons tax the javascript engine.

    I would like to see a suite of add-ons included in Firefox testing to see how this impacts the performance of Javascript. It does not matter too much what the suite is, as long as it includes: many popular add-ons and is a large suite to push the limits of the Javascript engine.
  • IE10 on W8 has the order of magnitude

    Actually using Sunspider in IE10 on W8 is several magnitudes faster than IE9 on W7.
  • Old Opera

    What version of "Opera 11" are you using specifically?

    From Opera 11.0 to 11.5x to 11.60/61 there could have been huge improvements.
  • My results

    test environment: 12GB ram, CPU Intel Core7 2860QM 2.5 GHz,
    Dual NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560M SLI graphics, OS Fedora 16 64 bit:

    sunspider: (smaller is better)
    chrome 17: 256.8ms +/- 7.0%
    firefox 11: 201.7ms +/- 3.5%
    opera 11: 262.1ms +/- 4.9%

    V8 Benchmark Suite - version 7: (larger is better)

    chrome 17: 10328
    firefox 11: 7658
    opera 11: 5283 (larger is better)

    chrome 17: 4217
    firefox 11: 938
    opera 11: 3411 (kraken-1.1) (smaller is better)

    chrome 17: 2034.2ms +/- 1.1%
    firefox 11: 2915.8ms +/- 1.2%
    opera 11: 7972.2ms +/- 0.9%

    Today I realized how slow the Chrome browser loads in all the 30 tabs (30 web pages) under windows 7 64 bit while under Linux 64 bit using the same computer (Linux/Windows dual boot) the same Chrome browser loads all 30 tabs pretty much instantaneously. I think that in Linux all browsers have more efficient hardware access while under windows only IE 9 enjoys that privilege.
    • x

      " Vincecrue " well said !! "that in Linux all browsers have more efficient hardware access while under windows only IE 9 enjoys that privilege."
      Siddharth Mone