The BIG browser benchmark (January 2013 edition)

The BIG browser benchmark (January 2013 edition)

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


It has only been a couple of months since the last Big Browser Benchmark but there has been enough changes to warrant a re-running the tests. There's also a new benchmark test to put the browsers through their paces.

Let's pit the leading browsers against four of the toughest benchmark tests available to see which one is triumphant. Here are the browsers that will be put through their paces:

  • Chrome 24
  • Chrome 23 (left in the listing for comparison with newer release)
  • Firefox 18
  • Firefox 16 (left in the listing for comparison with newer release)
  • Opera 12
  • Internet Explorer 9 (32-bit)
  • Internet Explorer 10 (32-bit)
  • Safari 5

Here are the tests that the browsers will face:

  • SunSpider JavaScript 0.9.1: A JavaScript benchmark developed by Apple's WebKit team in 2007 with a focus on real-world problem solving;
  • V8 Benchmark Suite: A pure JavaScript benchmark used by Google 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 crucial benchmarking enhancements;
  • RoboHornet: A Google-led open-source browser benchmark.
  • Octane: Google's new benchmark, based on the V8 test suite.

All testing carried out on a Windows 7 (32-bit) machine, running a P8600 2.4GHz dual-core processor, 4GB RAM, and an NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics card.

SunSpider JavaScript Benchmark

SunSpider is a JavaScript benchmark developed by Apple's WebKit team in 2007, and has its focus in real-world JavaScript uses such as text manipulation and encryption. SunSpider is considered by many to be the most comprehensive browser benchmarks available, but as browsers have become faster the tests are now seen as too easy.

The clear winner here continues to be Internet Explorer 10, clearly halving the time it took Firefox 16 and Internet Explorer 9 to complete the test, which themselves are comfortably ahead of the rest of the pack.

While Google seems to have managed to make Chrome a little faster, Firefox 18's performance is slightly worse than that of Firefox 16.

V8 Benchmark

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

Chrome 24 aces this test, closely followed by Chrome 23, both of which are significantly ahead of Firefox 18 and the rest of the pack.

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

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  • I am shocked

    Firefox is #1 in the benchmark they created, and Google is #1 in most of theirs.
    Michael Alan Goff
    • What is your point?

      It sounds like Google's developers profile their browser against Google's own benchmarks, and the same for Firefox and Mozilla's developers. No doubt IE does very well against whatever benchmarks MS's developers use too.

      Has MS released any benchmarks for anyone to test IE against?
      • Sun spider is useless with today's browsers

        It was only created to make IE look good.

        All other tests clearly place IE10 at 30% of the top performer, which can Chrome 24 or Firefox. Safari is clearly last.

        If you use these browser on a side by wide basis, you come to realize that when you use IE10, you are just waiting your time.
        • Ermmm ... no.

          Sun Spider was originally used to berate IE7 & 8. Since IE started catching up, Google and Mozilla started creating other benchmarks that largely exercise specific areas of their browsers that they feel did better thank others'.

          Interesting how ZDNet continue to publish Google and Mozilla's benchmarks but still refuses to include and of Microsoft's home grown perf benchmarks.
          • You don't need Sunspider to berate IE7 and IE8!

            We found those browsers' Javascript performance to be ridiculously slow using just our naked eyes, and without any help from Sunspider at all. They were blatanly slower than contemporary releases of Firefox and Chrome.
          • hmmm....

            It's difficult for me to trust a benchmark made by a company that competes in the browser war. Is it any surprise that Chrome dominates the benchmarks made by Google? If you have BB access a fraction of a second means diddlysquat. This browser war crap is getting old. I personally use IE10, speed is good, it's clean, clutter free and works well for what I need.
        • Sunspider made to make IE look better?

          You must not remember versions before 9 where they were dead last.
          Michael Alan Goff
      • My point is

        Each company makes tests to make their own browser look better.

        IE released their hardware accelerated fish thing, for example, because they knew they'd win it.
        Michael Alan Goff
        • With the slow Internet speed many people have,

          do benchmarks on *any* browser even matter? Maybe they do if you have a fiber optic connection to the Internet, but for most people this is an exercise in irrelevance. Most days our slow Internet connection is barely greater than 1 Mb/s
          • They've always been irrelevant

            And they likely always will be.

            My point was that you can't just look at benchmark A or B and say "yep, X is best browser"
            Michael Alan Goff
    • I totally agree

      So each browser can do well on a test they put together? They also do pretty well on each others tests. In fact unless you are a robot and worry about mil seconds of difference. They all perform pretty well. I think the clear point is that any modern up to date browser can be a significant improvement over previous ones. Well let's hope so.
      • Try this performancetest made by Microsoft to see the difference

        It is useless using only the benchmarks by Google and Mozilla as they will have omitted any the tests they are not very good in.
        • Yes, I browse Mandelbrot sets every single day on the Web!

          Can you explain which aspects of this test apply to Real World browser workloads, please? Because I don't think many people care about a few seconds difference when drawing fractals.
          • Do you think most of those benchmarks

            have anything to do with real use?
            Michael Alan Goff
          • For developers' benchmarks, yes.

            As a developer, I want my page to render and respond quickly. And I will shun and disparage browsers that perform poorly, viz IE6, IE7 and IE8. So it's absurd to suggest that developers are wasting their time optimizing browsers solely for the benefit of PR-led benchmarks if that means that the browser performs poorly in the Real World.

            Assuming that there is a choice of browsers available, of course. Obviously a particular browser's performance doesn't matter if it's the only game in town.
          • It is a waste of time.

            A lot of benchmarks are... javascript benchmarks.

            The internet is a lot more than javascript.
            Michael Alan Goff
        • performancetest

          I tried the microsoft benchmark on my PC. (8 core, 16 Gb ram, SSD)
          and guess what?
          Google : Fine detail: 51,777,896 iterations in 8.21 seconds
          Firefox: Fine detail: 51,777,896 iterations in 4.85 seconds
          IE9: 51,777,896 iterations in 26.40 seconds
          Seems Microsoft IE is not that fast, something I see very often when supporting people using IE. I use FF and Chrome since early days, sometimes Opera.
          • IE10

            Does much better: 51,777,896 iterations in 4.32 seconds (on a 8 core, 16GB RAM, SSD)
            So the latest versions are very similar.
        • TF201 Android 4.1.1 ff mobile

          Fine detail: 51,777,896 iterations in 16.81 seconds
          Beast Of Bodmin
  • IE10 fastest and saftest with tracking protection

    Google results are always cooked so the results of Google developed benchmarks don't get much credibility

    "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 better."

    - With tracking protection built in IE10 is the fastest and saftest browser. Chrome may be fast, but is full of holes that sucks your privacy and other stuff.