Browser Speed Tests: The Windows 7 Results


Firefox 3.6 Beta 1, like every other browser, makes a claim to being “faster.” We took Firefox and all the other latest browsers, put them on Windows 7, and ran them through our human-measured speed tests to vet the bragging.

We’ve done a good number of these tests now, and the methodology remains much the same here—testing how long it takes for browsers to start up and load pages, and how much memory is eaten up, from a user’s perspective. We don’t use a fancy multi-protocol benchmarking suite, mostly because each suite is subjective to a developers’ preferences and recording errors.

Browser start-ups are measured from double-clicking to the load of a locally saved Google home page, as “cold,” or right after reboot and “warm,” with the browser already having run once. Each browser is given a folder full of nine sites—up from eight in previous tests—and forced to load them all at once. Those timings are measured with Rob Keir’s timer app, and done three times each and averaged, with way-out results discarded under the assumption of general computer wonkiness.


JavaScript testing comes from Mozilla’s Dromaeo suite, which itself incorporates Google’s V8 testing suite, Apple’s SunSpider, and a handful of independent JavaScript tests. We initially only ran the JavaScript tests in this initial round, but Chrome’s just-released Chrome beta makes a point of its prowess with DOM scripting, or the ability to use jQuery and other web scripting to alter page elements on the fly. We’ll try to add in DOM test scores later on today.

The memory results come from Windows’ own Task Manager. In the case of browsers that use multiple processes, a screenshot is taken of the processes screen after the browser “settles,” and a sum is added up there. In Chrome’s case, we used the about:memory report, as Chrome/Chromium reports its memory a bit differently. The memory used by the about:memory tab itself is subtracted from the total reported memory.

Finally, these tests were done on a Lenovo ThinkPad T61p, with 2GB of RAM and a 2.0 GHz Centrino Duo processor. For the first time since we started these tests, they were also performed on a fully updated, freshly installed final edition of Windows 7 Home Premium, rather than a fresh copy of Windows XP Professional. If you wanted to see how these browsers fared on Windows 7 versus XP, our last batch of speed tests compiled aggregate results for all browsers, with the same exact tests, minus the specific Chrome memory measurements.

Enough with the rules and regulations—here’s how the browsers fared in our latest round of slightly obsessive-compulsive ratings. Note: Click any of the images below for a much bigger, clearer view.

Boot-up and page loading—Winner: Google Chrome (Development/Beta)!

In our last go-round, Opera’s final 10th edition was just on the edge of beating Chrome’s “stable” 2.0 release at cold and warm start-up times, while Firefox 3.5 tried its gosh-darn best. Either Chrome’s development version made some huge changes between 4.0.203 and 4.0.223, or adapted better to Windows 7, or Chrome 2 bulked up a bit, because Chrome Dev consistently started up faster than its stable brethren. Meanwhile, Firefox 3.6 beta 1 bore out its claims to boosting start-up times, being nearly neck-and-neck with Chrome’s stable edition, and Opera continues to be an impressively snappy browser.

Scores (out of 28 possible)

  • Google Chrome 23
  • Firefox 3.6 beta 1: 21
  • Google Chrome 2 (stable): 19
  • Firefox 3.5.4: 17
  • Safari 4.03: 17
  • Opera 10.01: 16
  • Internet Explorer 8.0.7600: 13


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