Review: Chrome 17, faster than ever, more secure than ever.

Review: Chrome 17, faster than ever, more secure than ever.

Summary: Google's popular Chrome Web browser just keeps getting faster and more secure with every release.

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Google s Chrome 17 Web browser is better than ever.

Google's Chrome 17 Web browser is better than ever.

Google's been really busy lately. They may be releasing "G-Drive," a personal cloud storage service ala Dropbox. They have released a beta of the Chrome Web browser for Android. And, with all that, their developers have also been hard at work keeping Chrome on top of the Web browser hill.

Chrome 17, the latest and greatest, is fast. But, then Chrome has long been faster than its competition: Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Opera, and Apple Safari. This latest update though has more than pure speed. It also comes with some new, useful features.

The best of these is security related. Besides such squashing potentially dangerous security bugs, Google now automatically runs checks on executable .exe and .msi files. If the program doesn't match a built-in white list of OK programs, Chrome then automatically checks in with its Safe Browsing site to see if the Website you picked the program is known for of malicious downloads.

If the file isn't from a known source, Chrome automatically sends the URL and IP of the host and other meta-data, such as the file's hash and binary size, to Google. The file is then automatically classified using machine learning analysis and the reputation and trustworthiness of files previously seen from the same publisher and Web site. Google then sends the results back to Chrome, which warns you if you're at risk.

Google also wants you to know that "It's important to note that any time Safe Browsing sends data back to Google, such as information about a suspected phishing page or malicious file, the information is only used to flag malicious activity and is never used anywhere else at Google. After two weeks, any associated information, such as your IP address, is stripped, and only the URL itself is retained."

Don't trust Google? Fine. You can turn Safe Browsing off. Mind you, I think you'd be an idiot to do this. Windows users, in particular, are in constant danger from malware and this is a simple, slick way of cutting down on potential viruses. From where I sit, you're in a lot more danger from malware than you are from paranoia about Google tracking your file downloads.

Another handy feature is what Google calls Omnibox pre-loading. What that mouthful means is that when you start typing a URL into the Chrome's address bar, aka the Omnibox, you'll see various suggestions about what site you might be looking for. That's in been in Chrome for a while Google has taken the next step though. If Chrome's is absolutely sure it knows what site you're going to, it will start pre-loading the site. So, for example, when I start to type in "zd," "plu," or "Fac," Chrome 17 will start loading, respectively ZDNet, Google Plus, and Facebook.

This can have the effect of making Chrome look even faster than it is... so long as it's guessed correctly. In my experience, Chrome gets it right almost every time, but then I tend to visit the same dozen or so sites over and over again. If you visit dozens or hundreds of sites, you'd be unlike to notice any improvement. If it doesn't seem to be working for you, or, worse still, it starts pre-loading the wrong sites so your performance seems worse, you can switch it off by un-checking "Predict network actions to improve page load performance" in Options > Under the Hood.

With that out of the way, let's move to the testing. I'd been running Chrome 17 on my usual mix of PCs. That includes several Linux desktops, including my Linux Mint desktop, several Macs running Snow Leopard and Lion; and a couple of PCs running Windows XP SP3 and Windows 7 SP1. It ran on all my platforms.

Like all modern browsers, Chrome gets a perfect score on the Acid 3 compatibility test, which checks how well a browser complies with various Web standards such as CSS, JavaScript, and Extensible Markup Language (XML),

On the HTML5 Test, which checks to see how compliant the Web browser is with the HTML5 Web page standard, Chrome 17 scored 374 out of a possible 450. Coming in second was Firefox 10 with a score of 332.

For performance testing, I ran Chrome against the latest releases of Firefox, 10.0, and Internet Explorer, 9.08, on a Gateway DX4710 Windows 7 SP1 test box. This PC is powered by a 2.5-GHz Intel Core 2 Quad processor and has 6GBs of RAM and an Intel GMA (Graphics Media Accelerator) 3100 for graphics. It's hooked to the Internet via a Netgear Gigabit Ethernet switch, which, in turn, is hooked up to a 100Mbps (Megabit per second) cable Internet connection.

For my first performance test, Chrome went up against the other contenders on Mozilla's Kraken 1.1 benchmark. In Kraken, which like most Web browser benchmarks measures JavaScript performance, lower scores are better. Here, Chrome left Firefox and IE eating its dust with a score of 3677.6ms. This was actually slower than Chrome 16. Still, that was far faster than the others. Firefox came in next with a score of 4342.6ms. To Firefox's credit that's much faster than Firefox 9.

On Google own JavaScript V8 Benchmark Suite, where higher scores are better, Chrome, roared by the others with a score of 8,153. Firefox, once more, was much better than it had been, but it still came in far behind at 5,145. IE trailed well behind the open-source browsers with a score of 2,230.

On the oldest JavaScript test, SunSpider 0.9.1, where lower results are better, Chrome didn't show well at all. IE won this one with a score of 282.6ms, Firefox came in second with 274.8ms, and Chrome was in the rear with 307.1.

On the Peacekeeper Web browser test suite, which looks at JavaScript performance and also glances at HTML5 compatibility, video codec support and other Web browser features, Chrome won once more. On this benchmark, where higher is better and Chrome took first with a score of 2,425. IE took second with 1,626 with Firefox hot on its tail with 1,619.

Taken as a whole, Chrome remains the fastest browser around. When you include its new features, it's clear to me that Chrome is continuing to be the top Web browser.

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

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67 comments
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  • Faster ... "secure" and still sucks at displaying websites right

    And I put "secure" in quotes ..... because you have to ignore the built-in Google spyware, which is legalized by the license to claim security.
    wackoae
    • RE: Review: Chrome 17, faster than ever, more secure than ever.

      @wackoae - Not interested in installing known spyware on my computer. Ever.
      terry flores
    • RE: Review: Chrome 17, faster than ever, more secure than ever.

      @wackoae We're mentioning Google... Does everyone have their tinfoil hats on and are you taking your positions cowering in the closet? You know that your Android phone spies on you when you take a pee, right?
      thoiness
      • RE: Review: Chrome 17, faster than ever, more secure than ever.

        @thoiness

        All phones spy on you when you take a pee. What do you think GPS does?

        Solution? Don't buy a phone. Stick to land lines.
        ScorpioBlue
    • RE: Review: Chrome 17, faster than ever, more secure than ever.

      @wackoae are you bott?
      allspammailhere
    • RE: Review: Chrome 17, faster than ever, more secure than ever.

      @wackoae Yes, I still have more trouble with Chrome then any other. But should we blame Chrome? I mean I see all these test indicating that browser pass Acid 3 and they conform to HTML5 and all that good stuff. But is it the sites that are not doing their job?
      jscott418-22447200638980614791982928182376
    • RE: Review: Chrome 17, faster than ever, more secure than ever.

      @wackoae

      "... ignore the built-in Google spyware, which is legalized by the license to claim security..."

      If you want REAL security and privacy.. don't use a computer that is connected to the net... in fact don't use a computer... Like MS doesn't spy on us... please.
      IceQ
  • RE: Review: Chrome 17, faster than ever, more secure than ever.

    "Besides such squashing potentially dangerous security bugs, Google now automatically runs checks on executable .exe and .msi files."

    Which Firefox and IE already do -_-.

    "On the HTML5 Test, which checks to see how compliant the Web browser is with the HTML5 Web page standard, "

    Or the portions the authors of the test deem as important to them and humiliating to Microsoft. And it tests a bunch of stuff unrelated to the standards.

    Not much new here - a bunch of backend tweaks most users are unlikely to notice.
    CobraA1
    • RE: Review: Chrome 17, faster than ever, more secure than ever.

      @CobraA1<br>That HTML5 paragraph is copy-and-paste from his old "Chrome test" article template. <br><br>Everybody, fan or not fan of Google Chrome, already told SJVN in talkback that it was a flawed test and SJVN just ignore it. Maybe he doesn't want to use another test that put Chrome in bad light? <br>After all the topic has always been something like "Win Win Chrome faster blah blah blah".
      Samic
      • RE: Review: Chrome 17, faster than ever, more secure than ever.

        @Samic <br><br>I emailed him about his IE9 ACID scores and he point stated that his results were correct and run recently
        the.nameless.drifter
      • RE: Review: Chrome 17, faster than ever, more secure than ever.

        @Samic Now there's fanboys of browsers?? Oh wow, what will they think of next? I use Chrome because it loads like 10000x faster than any other browser, and doesn't freeze up under heavy loads (cough mozilla cough).
        thoiness
      • RE: Review: Chrome 17, faster than ever, more secure than ever.

        @Samic Yep, pretty much. I lost respect for any objectivity long ago. Having said that, I do think Chrome is more secure... however, there are reasons I continue to use Firefox. One of them is that I'm not an average user, I use Microsoft's EMET tool which guards not only Firefox but various other applications that have been prone to attack, exemplary among them would be Adobe's Flash and PDF reader. Outside of that, there's the fact that Firefox has had HTTP Pipelining since 2004 (part of the 1999 HTTP/1.1 spec) and Google is only getting around to bothering now is another reason. If you're ever tethering or using a 3G card, HTTP Pipelining is for you.
        betelgeuse68
  • RE: Review: Chrome 17, faster than ever, more secure than ever.

    Chrome is fast, but the chrome engine in my Avant browser sometimes open page very slow. especially when I switch a page from firefox engine to chrome engine.
    Don't know why.
    Compared with firefox, chrome is much better now.
    Nikata
  • RE: Review: Chrome 17, faster than ever, more secure than ever.

    SJVN is out again with his fanboy article. Nobody cares about some rigged speed test.

    Anybody with a bit of intelligence is not going to use google spyware.

    IE9 /IE10 is simply the safest, fastest and provides privacy protection and is all set to re-take the lost market share. On windows, IE is totally integrated with Jumplists and other stuff and website behaves like apps. You can straight away dive into part of a website right from the taskbar, which is pinned.

    Chrome or any google spyware has no place in windows, dump it and be safe.
    owlnet
    • Awww.....The truth hurts you that much???

      @owlnet

      Well...That is just too bad. IE is the worst browser on this, or any other planet. I'll keep using the best OS and Browser, not the most popular.

      Great update on Chrome, Steven!!!
      linux for me
      • Master Joe Says...So...

        @linux for me Best OS? That's Windows, whether you like it or not. Best browser? There's room for debate here, much more than on the OS topic. IE 9 is a very solid browser. But, I admit that I tend to use a combination of IE 9 and Firefox 10 at home, mostly because of the AdBlock Plus add-on for Firefox. If there was an add-on to do that in IE 9, I'd be IE all the time. You can try to talk up open source all you want. It has improved dramatically in the past decade. But, there are advantages that the closed source, proprietary companies with the financial backing have over open source that open source counterparts can't match. For Google, well, they are willing to invest the money because of the amount of user data they can harvest and use in their products. Don't agree with me? Read the EULA.

        --Master Joe
        SteelCityPC
      • RE: Review: Chrome 17, faster than ever, more secure than ever.

        @owlnet noted that "IE is the worst browser..., or any other planet." Well he is in error! On planet Xunil in the Brainiac quadrant there is a browser that is so slow, how slow is it? It is so bad that its search engine cannot even find ZDNET and interact with all of us wise guys.
        MikeBytes@...
      • RE: Review: Chrome 17, faster than ever, more secure than ever.

        @linux for me The "best" for [i]who[/i] exactly? Linux is NOT the best OS for me as it does not have an iTunes client or the ability to sync with my iPhone. It does not have a client for any of the MMORPGs I play. So for me Linux is NOT the best OS. Neither is Mac OSX. Windows fit's that bill for me. The best browser? Actually for me that would indeed be Chrome but I will not rule out Firefox or even IE.

        Either way you blatant sucking up to SJVN is nauseating at best.
        athynz
      • Hmmm....Master of nothing I think.

        @--Master Joe

        Windows is the WORST OS whether you like it or not. And I have read the EULA
        linux for me
      • Your last name would not happen to be

        @linux for me
        "Vaughan-Nichols"?
        Tim Cook