Web Browsers are a menial and boring thing to think about, do you really care what one can do better than the other or which uses more memory? I am here to tell you that you should care and you will by the end of this article. I will guide you through each browser that matters and the pros and cons of each.
The competition is fierce in the browser wars. From the start there was intense competition from Lynx, Mosaic Netscape and Opera (those of you who remember these browsers also probably enjoyed the music stylings of Coolio’s Gansta’s Paradise and doing the Macarena). As time has progressed browsers have got smarter, more powerful and easier to customise.
So we will compare each one and what they can offer or not offer the consumer. Below is the main list of browsers you would be very likely to use:
Mozilla Firefox is a free and open-source multi-platform web browser created by the Mozilla Corporation. The initial release was in 2002 in which for the past 13 years has enjoyed an excellent reputation and is second behind Google Chrome in worldwide browser usage. This browser gives the feel of security and openness for users with a little bit more technical knowledge, but by no means is it bad for beginners. If this browser was a student in college it would be the skinny nerd at the front snickering at the physics jokes that could be one of the guys now and then.
Google Chrome is a freeware non open source multi-platform web browser created by the Google Corporation. The initial release was in 2008. Google Chrome has had a mixed reputation among mainly power users in which Chrome offered great functionality and speed but at a cost of RAM and CPU usage. Chrome is the most used web browser in the world by a large margin even despite not being installed on new computers. Chrome looks nice and impresses straight out of the box. Chrome is the popular kid in college that is well rounded although a little too fond of eating pies and drinking.
Microsoft Internet Explorer
Microsoft Internet Explorer is a freeware web browser created by the Microsoft Corporation. The initial release was in 1995 of IE1. Internet Explorer has had a very turbulent past. Internet Explorer is ideal for integration with Microsoft web services and applications and more often than not is the default browser on a new computer you buy. Internet Explorer is a close third to Firefox in global usage and is often essential when creating web pages due to the vastly different framework it uses compared to most of its competitors. IE is basic out of the box and functional – it is reliable but there are many disadvantages. Internet Explorer is the oldest person in college, very knowledgeable and always reliable but always lamenting about “back in my day”.
The Safari browser is a freeware browser (only on apple devices) which is created by the Apple corporation. The initial release was in 2007. Safari has a good reputation throughout its time span, it is probably the most seamless browser that is smooth and cool but lacks application support and multi-platform support. Safari is the most used browser on MAC computers followed closely by Google Chrome. Safari is really a mix of the above three browsers. Safari will take no further part in these tests due to the computer used for testing is a Windows machine and no Apple Mac was available. Safari is the cool / uncool hipster trying to be alternative and failing since this person is not as different as they think.
Opera is a multi-platform non open source web browser created by Opera Software Corporation. The initial release was in 1995 close to the time IE1 released. Opera has a nice reputation even though it has the lowest usage rate of these browsers. It was the first to implement a lot of the features you get today in modern web browsers like pop up blocker, browser sessions, tabs and private browsing. If you are looking for innovation, looks and reliability then Opera is for you and impresses right out of the box like Chrome. Opera is the attractive quiet girl who is confident in her abilities and is always first to the table with new ideas.
Microsoft Edge browser is a freeware non open source single OS platform (Windows 10) web browser created by the Microsoft Corporation. The initial release of this shiny new browser was in 2016. Microsoft edge is due to replace IE over time; it has vastly improved over IE especially in speed which IE was lacking. It looks fresh and opens very quickly, however like chrome be prepared to use lots of RAM. Edge is the strong and fast sprinting athlete who has a craving for food to feed his sprinting habit.
Test 1 – Speed Test
Our first test will be a straight up speed test – I will be using a Dell XPS 15 using Windows 10 with an intel core i7 6700 HQ CPU processor with 16 Gigabytes of ram. The one omission of this test is that Safari cannot be tested due to the Dell being a regular Laptop rather than an Apple Mac. Each test will be run three times with an average taken for consistency as results can vary. It must be noted that no test that follows are fully scientific, browser cache and history are cleared before each test and only one browser with no other relevant applications will be running at any one time during a test.
These versions are:
- Firefox 47.0.1 – Latest stable release (Ireland)
- Edge 25.1 – Latest stable release (Ireland)
- IE11 – Latest stable release (Ireland)
- Chrome 52 – Latest stable release (Ireland)
- Opera 39 – Latest stable release (Ireland)
- Safari – Not applicable
We are using http://www.speed-battle.com/speedtest_e.php which will gauge three categories: Pure calculation, storing capacity and rendering. All categories are important but an emphasis on overall score would find the best overall browser, however if you want one category to be top then that could lead you to a different browser than the all-rounder. Three tests will be conducted and the average will be taken.
Mozilla Firefox Speed Test
Firefox performs very well all round due to low overheads and strong calculation power, storage and rendering web pages – its main weakness as suspected is calculation speed which is why other browsers are quicker and preload and cache pages due to employing more ram. Be sure to remove add-ons for far better performance.
Google Chrome Speed Test
Chrome performs very well all at calculations but is above average / average at storage and rendering. But it must be noted add-ons and extensions will slow performance. In reality Chrome is a leading browser that is comparable with high performance browsers like Firefox.
Internet Explorer Speed Test
IE11 is the latest of the last generation browser for Windows machines. Looking at the results it scores respectable calculation and rendering results but storing is way below any other browser. It is no doubt a usable browser but it would be bottom of the list regarding which browser to use here.
Opera Speed Test
Opera is a great browser that his similar performance to Edge and Chrome although a slight step behind. If you want a browser that does not hog your computers performance, then this is the browser to go for as it uses least resources compared to every other competitor.
Microsoft Edge Speed Test
Microsoft’s new browser for Windows 10 scores an admirable second place due to its outstanding calculation performance and above average storing credentials. Be warned though that that this browser like chrome will happily eat your memory for quicker load times. Ideally this browser should be used when speed is necessary.
Result of the Speed Tests
Overall the all around winner of this test is Firefox by a large margin over the other browsers tested, It is indeed the quickest overall with suprisingly Microsoft Edge in second and Google Chrome a close third. Fourth place goes to the least used worldwide Opera, this browser with some small tweaks can take on the top three and is the best on usage of the processor and memory. IE11 is the last iteration of the infamous Internet Explorer browser and is being retired due to Microsoft Edge taking over fully in the future. From the reults it is clear IE is not up to par any more, but that does not mean it is not useable – just unpleasant. It must be noted that Safari is a great browser and Is on Chrome and Firefox’s level – If you have an Apple device, use Safari.
I will leave you with this puzzle to solve, I can’t for the life of me work out which browser the last one, can you?