Browser Review Spring 2010

posted by on 18th May 2010, at 11:24pm | 4 Comments

If you’ve been following my Tech articles since article two, you’ll remember my first review of the popular browsers. I realize that I haven’t done one for nearly two years at this point, and as per request, it’s back! I’ll be reviewing the top browsers on the PC and running them through a series of four basic tests in an attempt to gauge their standards compliance, speed, and memory usage. The tests I will perform are the Acid3 test to check for standards compliance, a CSS3 test to check for CSS3 compliance, the SunSpider test to check for javascript performance, and lastly I’ll load several pages and check for memory usage.

The browsers that will be covered will be Firefox 3.6.4, Minefield 3.7a5pre (May 17th 2010), IE8 (patched up to the date of writing), IE9 Second Platform Preview, Chromium build 47601(May 18th 2010), Google Chrome build 45376, and Opera 10.53. All will be reviewed with no addons, as close to a fresh install as possible. Caches will be cleared, and browsers reset between tests.

First up, Acid3

opera 10.53 acid3

opera 10.53 acid3

minefield acid3

minefield acid3

firefox 3.6.4 acid3

firefox 3.6.4 acid3

ie8 acid3

ie8 acid3

ie9 pp2 acid3

ie9 pp2 acid3

chrome build 45376 Acid3

chrome build 45376 Acid3

Chromium build 47601 acid3

Chromium build 47601 acid3

As per usual, Webkit based browsers fare quite well in this test. Opera also aces the test, with a perfect 100/100. Internet Explorer 9 trails behind with 68/100, though considering Internet Explorer 8 scored a mere 20/100, it’s a gigantic leap forward. Firefox stable and nightly score about the same, both of which are well within the 90’s.

As for a winner, pretty much everything except for Internet Explorer. Mind, nightly builds (Chromium, Minefield) and developer previews (IE9) don’t necessarily reflect a final product, and can change from day to day.

CSS3 Compliance

opera 10.53 css3

opera 10.53 css3

minefield css3

minefield css3

firefox 3.6.4 CSS3 test

firefox 3.6.4 CSS3 test

ie8 css3 test

ie8 css3 test

ie9 pp2 css3

ie9 pp2 css3

Chrome build 45376 CSS3

Chrome build 45376 CSS3

Chromium build 47601 css3

Chromium build 47601 css3

Again, it appears as though the Webkit based browsers fare quite well, along with Opera as well as Firefox. Internet Explorer 9 PP2 fares quite well too, a huge improvement from Internet Explorer 8.

I’m glad to say that it’s pretty much a toss on this test (except for, of course, Internet Explorer 8). Mind, nightly builds (Chromium, Minefield) and developer previews (IE9) don’t necessarily reflect a final product, and can change from day to day.

Sunspider

opera 10.53 sunspider

opera 10.53 sunspider

minefield sunspider

minefield sunspider

firefox 3.6.4 sunspider

firefox 3.6.4 sunspider

ie8 sunspider

ie8 sunspider

ie9 pp2 sunspider

ie9 pp2 sunspider

Chrome build 45376 Sunspider

Chrome build 45376 Sunspider

Chromium build 47601 sunspider

Chromium build 47601 sunspider

Now the fun begins. Sunspider tests Javascript performance, one of the major factors in a browser’s ability to render a page quickly. Generally, the lower the Sunspider score (in milliseconds) the faster a webpage can be rendered, and overall appears to have a snappier experience.

Leading the pack is the nightly build of Chromium with 539.2ms, followed by Opera 10.53 at 641.8ms, Chrome build 45376 at 664.0ms, Internet Explorer 9 PP2 at 673.2ms, Minefield 3.7prea5 at 909.2ms, Firefox 3.6.4 at 1208.4ms, and lastly Internet Explorer 8 with a whopping 5715.8ms.

From these results, we can conclude that Chromium, Opera, Chrome, and Internet Explorer 9 are the top of the pack. Firefox and Minefield are a nearly 33% slower, while Internet Explorer 8 is just out of the park slow.

Memory Usage
For the memory test, I am running a total of five websites with HTML only. This eliminates flash based ads, or other discrepancies caused by loading the webpage at a different time. All files are stored on my local harddrive, so each browser is loading the exact same website each time. The sites chosen for this test are Google.com, Rsbandb.com, Runewire.com, Noscript.net, and Digg.com. The image was taken in Chromium’s about:memory utility. This added a few megabytes to Chromium’s final result, which is unavoidable for this test. Note – IE9 PP2 can not have multiple tabs running, and could not compete in this test. It’s quite a shame, as it had been doing extremely well in the previous comparisons.

memory usage

memory usage

Take what you wish from the memory usage statistics, they’re all fairly equal. I’m not one to bicker about less than 30mb difference between pages, especially when I’ve got plenty of RAM available for use. This test is using freshly opened browsers, and not a browser that has been open for hours on end. Your results will vary depending on your normal usage.

Final Results

If anything is for certain, it’s that Internet Explorer 9 is going to shape up to be a strong competitor to the current browser ecosystem. Also, if the nightly builds of Firefox and Chrome show anything, it’s that they too are improving in all around performance. These all around performance boosts in the browsers is great for the user. As more and more services move to an online medium, it’s increasingly important to have a fast, responsive, and standards compliant browser. Nobody likes waiting for pages to render, and nobody likes a page that doesn’t look correct.

As per usual, you can message me on Runewire, Twitter, or the Forums if you have any questions, or suggestions for future articles.


Since the Holiday season is just around the corner, Shane and I decided to work on our Geek Christmas Lists. Luckily, I was given the task of the pricey gifts…

The Apple Tax

posted by on 17th November 2009, at 10:13pm | 3 Comments
The idea of an Apple Tax is expressed in many ways from the traditional “z0mg!! MacBook costs $300 more than HP!!1!1!!” to cost analyses of the components going into each machine. The Apple Tax is often seen as an arbitrary price increase on hardware bought from Apple. The tax rate has fluctuated over recent years […]

September 2009

posted by on 2nd October 2009, at 2:49pm | No Comments
This past month we had a rather condensed month on Informer. September started off with a wrap up in my Windows 7 and Snow Leopard series. Next up was a look at the upcoming Call of Duty game Modern Warfare 2 or Modern Warfare Déjà Vu. Runescape brought us the next quest in the Chaos […]

Windows 7 and Snow Leopard

posted by on 8th September 2009, at 7:12pm | 1 Comment
As you may or may not know Snow Leopard (Mac OS 10.6) was released on August 28th. Windows 7 is due out officially on October 22. both of these operating systems are marketed as “fixing” or “refining” their predecessors. Snow Leopard is introducing new technologies that will propel Mac OS further to 10.7 and possibly […]

Next Page »