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Category: Performance benchmarking

We fixed two bugs affecting the WebXPRT 4 Preview results-page

We launched a preview of the WebXPRT 4 results viewer just before the new year, and have published over 75 results from a wide range of devices. We appreciate the results submissions we’ve received from independent testers so far, and will continue to populate the viewer with WebXPRT 4 Preview results from both our own testing and PT-curated external submissions.

If you’ve run the test and have tried to submit results, you may have encountered one or both of the following bugs, depending on the device type you’re testing:

  • You filled out the results submission form, but the Submit button didn’t seem to do anything.
  • The test automatically downloaded the results csv file multiple times.

We’ve identified the causes of the two bugs, and have instituted fixes. The bug fixes do not affect the benchmark’s workloads or scores. If you tested the WebXPRT 4 Preview and were frustrated by the results submission bugs, we apologize for the inconvenience, and invite you to retry the submitting your results.

If you have any questions or comments about the WebXPRT 4 Preview or the results viewer, please feel free to contact us!

Justin

The WebXPRT 4 Preview is here!

We’re excited to announce that the WebXPRT 4 Preview is now available! Testers can access the Preview at www.WebXPRT4.com or through a link on WebXPRT.com. The Preview is available to everyone, and testers can now publish scores from Preview build testing. We may still tweak a few things, but will limit any changes that we make between the Preview and the final release to the UI and features we do not expect to affect test scores.

Longtime WebXPRT users will notice that the WebXPRT 4 Preview has a new, but familiar, UI. The general process for kicking off both manual and automated tests is the same as with WebXPRT 3, so the transition from WebXPRT 3 to WebXPRT 4 testing should be straightforward. We encourage everyone to visit the XPRT blog for more details about what’s new in this Preview release.

In addition, keep your eye on the blog for more details about the all-new WebXPRT 4 results viewer, which we expect to publish in the very near future. We think WebXPRT testers will enjoy using the viewer to explore our WebXPRT 4 test data!

After you try the WebXPRT 4 Preview, please send us your comments. Thanks and happy testing!

Justin

The WebXPRT 4 Preview is almost here

Last week, we provided readers with an overview of what to expect in the WebXPRT 4 Preview, as well as an update on the Preview’s release schedule. Since then, we’ve been working on UI adjustments and bug fixes, additional technical tweaks, and follow-up testing. We’re very close, but won’t be able to meet our original goal of publishing the Preview today. We believe it will be ready for release early next week.

As a reminder, once we release the WebXPRT 4 Preview, testers will be able to publish scores from Preview build testing. We will limit any changes that we make between the Preview and the final release to the UI or to features we do not expect to affect test scores.

If you have any questions about WebXPRT 4 or the Preview build, please let us know!

Justin

Here’s what to expect in the WebXPRT 4 Preview

A few months ago, we shared detailed information about the changes we expected to make in WebXPRT 4. We are currently doing internal testing of the WebXPRT 4 Preview build in preparation for releasing it to the public. We want to let our readers know what to expect.

We’ve made some changes since our last update and some of the details we present below could still change before the preview release. However, we are much closer to the final product. Once we release the WebXPRT 4 Preview, testers will be able to publish scores from Preview build testing. We will limit any changes that we make between the Preview and the final release to the UI or features that are not expected to affect test scores.

General changes

Some of the non-workload changes we’ve made in WebXPRT 4 relate to our typical benchmark update process.

  • We have updated the aesthetics of the WebXPRT UI to make WebXPRT 4 visually distinct from older versions. We did not significantly change the flow of the UI.
  • We have updated content in some of the workloads to reflect changes in everyday technology, such as upgrading most of the photos in the photo processing workloads to higher resolutions.
  • We have not yet added a looping function to the automation scripts, but are still considering it for the future.
  • We investigated the possibility of shortening the benchmark by reducing the default number of iterations from seven to five, but have decided to stick with seven iterations to ensure that score variability remains acceptable across all platforms.

Workload changes

  • Photo Enhancement. We increased the efficiency of the workload’s Canvas object creation function, and replaced the existing photos with new, higher-resolution photos.
  • Organize Album Using AI. We replaced ConvNetJS with WebAssembly (WASM) based OpenCV.js for both the face detection and image classification tasks. We changed the images for the image classification tasks to images from the ImageNet dataset.
  • Stock Option Pricing. We updated the dygraph.js library.
  • Sales Graphs. We made no changes to this workload.
  • Encrypt Notes and OCR Scan. We replaced ASM.js with WASM for the Notes task and updated the WASM-based Tesseract version for the OCR task.
  • Online Homework. In addition to the existing scenario which uses four Web Workers, we have added a scenario with two Web Workers. The workload now covers a wider range of Web Worker performance, and we calculate the score by using the combined run time of both scenarios. We also updated the typo.js library.

Experimental workloads

As part of the WebXPRT 4 development process, we researched the possibility of including two new workloads: a natural language processing (NLP) workload, and an Angular-based message scrolling workload. After much testing and discussion, we have decided to not include these two workloads in WebXPRT 4. They will be good candidates for us to add as experimental WebXPRT 4 workloads in 2022.

The release timeline

Our goal is to publish the WebXPRT 4 preview build by December 15th, which will allow testers to publish scores in the weeks leading up to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January 2022. We will provide more detailed information about the GA timeline here in the blog as soon as possible.

If you have any questions about the details we’ve shared above, please feel free to ask!

Justin

Thinking about experimental WebXPRT workloads in 2022

As the WebXPRT 4 development process has progressed, we’ve started to discuss the possibility of offering experimental WebXPRT 4 workloads in 2022. These would be optional workloads that test cutting-edge browser technologies or new use cases. The individual scores for the experimental workloads would stand alone, and would not factor in the WebXPRT 4 overall score.

WebXPRT testers would be able to run the experimental workloads one of two ways: by manually selecting them on the benchmark’s home screen, or by adjusting a value in the WebXPRT 4 automation scripts.

Testers would benefit from experimental workloads by being able to compare how well certain browsers or systems handle new tasks (e.g., new web apps or AI capabilities). We would benefit from fielding workloads for large-scale testing and user feedback before we commit to including them as core WebXPRT workloads.

Do you have any general thoughts about experimental workloads for browser performance testing, or any specific workloads that you’d like us to consider? Please let us know.

Justin

Using WebXPRT 3 to compare the performance of popular browsers in Windows 10 and Windows 11

People choose a default web browser based on several factors. Speed is sometimes the deciding factor, but privacy settings, memory load, ecosystem integration, and web app capabilities can also come into play. Regardless of the motivations behind a person’s go-to browser choice, the dominance of software-as-a-service (SaaS) computing means that new updates are always right around the corner. In previous blog posts, we’ve talked about how browser speed can increase or decrease significantly after an update, only to swing back in the other direction shortly thereafter. OS-specific optimizations can also affect performance, such as with Microsoft Edge on Windows and Google Chrome on Chrome OS.

Windows 11 began rolling out earlier this month, and tech press outlets such as AnandTech and PCWorld have used WebXPRT 3 to evaluate the impact of the new OS—or specific settings in the OS—on browser performance. Our own in-house tests, which we discuss below, show a negligible impact on browser performance when updating our test system from Windows 10 to Windows 11. It’s important to note that depending on a system’s hardware setup, the impact might be more significant in certain scenarios. For more information about such scenarios, we encourage you to read the PCWorld article discussing the impact of the Windows 11 default virtualization-based security (VBS) settings on browser performance in some instances.

In our comparison tests, we used a Dell XPS 13 7930 with an Intel Core i3-10110U processor and 4 GB of RAM. For the Windows 10 tests, we used a clean Windows 10 Home image updated to version 20H2 (19042.1165). For the Windows 11 tests, we updated the system to Windows 11 Home version 21H2 (22000.282). On each OS version, we ran WebXPRT 3 three times on the latest versions of five browsers: Brave, Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, and Opera. For each browser, the score we post below is the median of the three test runs.

In our last round of tests on Windows 10, Firefox was the clear winner. Three of the Chromium-based browsers (Chrome, Edge, and Opera) produced very close scores, and the performance of Brave lagged by about 7 percent. In this round of Windows 10 testing, performance on every browser improved slightly, with Google Chrome taking a slight lead over Firefox.

In our Windows 11 testing, we were interested to find that without exception, browser scores were slightly lower than in Windows 10 testing. However, none of the decreases were statistically significant. Most users performing daily tasks are unlikely to notice that degree of difference.

Have you observed any significant differences in WebXPRT 3 scores after upgrading to Windows 11? If so, let us know!

Justin

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