There are so many ways to measure browser performance that trying to determine which browser is fastest can leave one spinning in circles. All three of these browsers are hardware accelerated and have strong next-gen JavasScript engines. So how did they do when tested on our ASUS U36Jc with its Core i5 CPU, Nvidia 310M graphics, and 5,400 rpm hard drive?
|Browser||Sunspider (ss = lower is better)||Kraken (lower is better)||Peacekeeper (higher is better)|
Graphics performance was a mixed bag. It was also hard to measure due to conflicting standards. Both Chrome 10 and Firefox 4 support the WebGL standard for hardware-accelerated 3D graphics. Therefore we were able to test both browsers on Google’s Aquarium 3D test, which shows 1,000 fish swimming in a bowl. Chrome 10 came out way ahead of Firefox with a score of 22 versus 15 fps. Since IE 9 does not support WebGL, we loaded up Microsof’ts own IE Fishbowl test and were not surprised to find that IE9 aced Microsoft’s test by delivering 26 fps with 1,000 fish. Firefox and Chrome 10 were competitive with scores of 21 and 22 fps, respectively.
On Webvizbench, another graphics-heavy web test, IE 9 blew away the competition, scoring 28.3 fps to Firefox’s 10.98 and Chrome 10’s 7.64. However, the fact that this site shows a message asking you to download IE 9 when you first load the test tells us that it might favor Microsoft’s browser.
|Browser||webGL Aquarium||Microsoft Aquarium||Webvizbench|
|IE 9||N/A||26 fps||28.3 fps|
|Firefox 4||15 fps||21 fps||10.97 fps|
|Chrome 10||22 fps||22 fps||7.64 fps|
These days, almost everyone uses more than one PC to connect to the Internet. That means multiple browsers with different settings, stored passwords, and bookmarks. Both Chrome 10 and Firefox 4 try to keep things organized with built-in synchronization services. In our tests, both services took no more than a couple of minutes to set up and immediately brought over our settings. That said, Firefox set up was a bit more complex as we also had to enable a setting on the first machine to make it sync with the second while Chrome just asked us to enter our Google account username and password.
However, we did notice some subtle differences between Firefox 4 and Chrome 10 sync. Chrome brought over our browsing history and also added our extensions, but did not import the browser theme we had installed to our second computer until after we had restarted the browser on the second machine . Firefox brought over our persona, but not our add-ons. After a few minutes, our history still hadn’t arrived. Firefox also has a menu option you use to force the browsers to sync manually while Chrome syncs so frequently by itself that this isn’t necessary or available.
IE 9 does not have built-in sync, though Microsoft invites you to use a Windows Live Sync plug-in that it says will only sync your Favorites.
Winner: Chrome 10. While we wish Chrome 10 would have synced our browser theme more quickly, it did everything else faster and more easily than Firefox.
You really can’t go wrong with any of these browsers, and which one you choose as your main portal to the web will really depend on what is most important to you. If you want the browser that gives you the most screen real estate and the ability to get gorgeous custom Jump Lists and great privacy protection, IE 9 is for you. If you value app open speed and great sync capability, Chrome 10 is your best choice. And, if you love to customize the look and feel of your browser, Firefox should be at the top of your list.
However, in this battle of champions, there can be only one winner. So we awarded points to all the browsers based on how they placed in each round. Here’s how we scored: 3 points for the winner, 2 for the second place, and 1 for third. By the narrowest of margins, IE 9 wins this battle. Its strong combination of performance, stand-out features, screen real estate, and speedy app opens makes it the best overall choice right now. However, as more hardware accelerated web content become available, the real performance leader may become clear and we’ll have to revisit this verdict.
|Round||Chrome 10||Firefox 4||IE 9|
|Application Open Time||3||1||2|
Winner: IE 9