The BIG browser benchmark: All the latest browsers tested

The BIG browser benchmark: All the latest browsers tested

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

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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 is once again comfortably ahead of the competition, with Opera 12 coming in a distance second place -- Opera's best score to date in this series of tests.

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 16 and Chrome 23, but Firefox 16 manages to take the lead. Internet Explorer 10 holds third place, but Microsoft has a lot of work to do if it is to have a chance of beating Mozilla or Google.

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.

Interestingly, it is Apple's Safari 5 that comes first in these test, which is curious given that Apple hasn't updated it in months and has not made Safari 6 available to Windows users. Second and third place spots go to the two most recent versions of Internet Explorer, version 10 and 9, with Chrome 23 in fourth place.

Conclusion

So, with all that, which browser is best?

To be perfectly honest, it's hard to draw any firm conclusions from the data given that there's no overall winner. Chrome 23 grabs the top spot in two of the tests, with the other three going to Internet Explorer 10, Firefox 16, and Safari 5, 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 a lot better.

Mozilla's Firefox 16 is also no slouch, also pulling in respectable scores in most of the tests.

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 (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, Operating Systems

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44 comments
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  • Memory usage more important

    Chrome, when running, makes everything else on the computer drag, since it is a resource hog. IE and Firefox are both dramatically "lighter" weight. Chrome also takes the longest time to start and display its home page of "the big three."

    Thus, I find it bloated. Combine that with the fact that it is spyware, and Chrome is a nonstarter.
    x I'm tc
    • What?

      I don't know what you're running Chrome on but it doesn't bring any of my computers to a drag. It also doesn't use that much resources.
      IzzuThug
      • Just did a test

        I jsut did a test with opening Chrome and IE9 to this page. IE9 used 140 MB of ram. Chrome 180 MB.
        schultzycom
        • Now open 5 more tabs

          And watch Chrome's memory use explode.
          x I'm tc
        • 20 MB more RAM?

          Whoop dee doo! I have 16GB of RAM in my system. Chrome is welcome to use a big old chunk of it.
          AnalogJoystick
      • facts!

        I had an average popular spec single core 3.1 GHz HP 4GB laptop and now have a popular spec duel core 3.2 GHz 4GB Acer, both with light weight free all around Comodo Internet Security in system tray. I'm lucky to run windows media player 12, iTunes, or Winamp along side Chrome without fans kicking in on high and scroll bar freezing too offten. have trouble listening to music and Doing research as word takes forever to type.
        Squirrleydew
    • it does take more memory

      which is an issue for low memory devices. but as long as you have a reasonable amount of memory (my 5 year old laptop I'm typing this on has 3GB and has no problems), Chrome won't bring your computer to a halt. and while FF is nice I find chrome boots and loads slightly faster.
      The main reason I go for chrome over FF is that for some reason FF seems to have jerky scrolling compared to chrome which irritates me.
      theoilman
    • Windows seems to be a problem too

      because everything seems to run 2 or 3 times faster on a Mac these times even if my Mac isn't the latest and the greatest.
      Mikael_z
      • That's interesting because ...

        ... my Core-i5 256GB SSD packing Sony Vaio Z Series (1st gen) generally runs rings around my 17" Spring 2011 MacBook Pro thanks largely to the shitty 5400RPM HDD that Apple fitted this overpriced lump of aluminium with.

        When comparing comparable hardware, Windows 7/8 give OSX a run for their money. Further, I'd argue that many more Windows apps have been written to take advantage of multiple threads: I see FAR more OSX apps choke while they consume a single thread that Windows apps do.
        bitcrazed
  • Correction

    Windows browsers
    Not OSX, not Linux
    frogspaw
    • It is interesting...

      I just did this test on OS X (iMac) and the differences between all of the browsers are very minor (5-10%) on most of the tests.

      It would be interesting to see an Linux box (not running under a VM).
      Bruizer
  • The BIG browser benchmark: All the latest browsers tested

    Microsoft certainly took it up a few notches with IE10 which when you use it does feel quite snappy and fast. Good to see Firefox still running towards the top as well. The other browsers I won't use.
    Loverock Davidson-
    • Mozilla Firefox and IE

      The Firefox team and the Internet Explorer team are actually quite good friends even though they compete in browser marketshare. Every once in a while when Mozilla releases a new version of it's browser, the IE team sends them a cake complementing them and Mozilla does the same for IE when they release a new version. However since Mozilla releases new version faster than IE does, they send Mozilla cupcakes instead to "not give them diabetes" lol. Point is, they don't have to be bitter enemies. They can compete and live happily alongside eachother.

      http://thenextweb.com/insider/2012/10/27/mozilla-sends-the-ie-team-a-cake-proving-that/
      Jabe124
  • One sentence says it all

    "when it comes to real world testing it's hard to see a difference between any of the browsers"

    Exactly. While it might be tempting to jerk off to these benchmark numbers (nya nya my browser gets a bigger number on a benchmark than yours does) in the end, real world performance is all that counts.

    This certainly puts Chris Pirillo's assault on Surface RT by jerking off to Peacekeeper numbers on a screen in perspective. "Everyone should buy the iPad because it has numbers that are bigger on a spec sheet." Thanks Adrian, you've just proved why such advice is so bad and even dishonest.
    toddbottom3
  • MS is clearly just optimizing

    it for the sunspider test as that was all the rage a year ago so they could tout big numbers but now no one cares about that anymore. Same thing in the RT tablets, where the sunspider blows away all others, but the actual real world use seems even a bit sluggish.
    On my 8 core fedora system, I get 164ms sunspider on chrome but actually using it doesn't seem any faster than anything else.
    deathjazz
  • On sunspider

    i get 258 on an older core2 duo under 32 bit kubuntu so I'm not sure if sunspider/chrome takes full advantage of 8 cores.
    deathjazz
    • Does any software

      Does any current software on the market take advantage of that many cores on a PC. Beyond games and specialist tools tools such simulation software, 3d modelling.
      Knowles2
      • Games might use 4 cores.

        MIGHT being the key word. Most of my games that I play run on 2 or 3 cores, with the graphics card being the important piece of the puzzle. However, anything that encodes video or renders 3D animation, and most of the apps in the Adobe CS suite (going back to when those programs were known by their individual version numbers) will take advantage of multiple CPU cores if you have them. Otherwise, an animation workstation with 2 xeons, 8 cores a piece, would be overkill.
        Champ_Kind
      • Yes but it is more complicated than that.

        Yes, I have looked at the number of threads common applications run and sometimes it is quite a number.

        But the real issue are the number of processes running in parallel. For example, anti-virus, everytime you open a file it will get scanned. That scan could be run on a separate core. If you are listening to music while browsing, another process. In Chrome everytime you open another tab that starts another process, which during load will want to execute in parallel to whatever else you are doing.
        DevGuy_z
  • I tested all of them and I can't see any difference at all.

    They all brought up the same web page at the same speed, or so it looked to me.
    William Farrel