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 ... which browser will be triumphant?
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

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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