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Category: Opera

Using WebXPRT 4 to compare the performance of popular browsers

From time to time, we like to run a series of in-house WebXPRT comparison tests to see if recent updates have changed the performance rankings of popular web browsers. We published our most recent comparison last October, when we used WebXPRT 3 to compare Windows 10 and Windows 11 browser performance on the same system. Now that WebXPRT 4 is live, it’s time to update our comparison series with the newest member of the XPRT family.

For this round of tests, we used a Dell XPS 13 7930, which features an Intel Core i3-10110U processor and 4 GB of RAM, running Windows 11 Home updated to version 21H2 (22000.593). We installed all current Windows updates and tested on a clean system image. After the update process completed, we turned off updates to prevent them from interfering with test runs. We ran WebXPRT 4 three times each across five browsers: Brave, Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, and Opera. The posted score for each browser is the median of the three test runs.

In our previous round of tests with WebXPRT 3, Google Chrome narrowly beat out Firefox in Windows 10 and Windows 11 testing, but the scores among three of the Chromium-based browsers (Chrome, Edge, and Opera) were close enough that most users performing common daily tasks would be unlikely to notice a difference. Brave performance lagged by about 7 percent, a difference that may be noticeable to most users. This time, when testing updated versions of the browsers with WebXPRT 4 on Windows 11, the rankings changed. Edge was the clear winner, with a 2.2 percent performance advantage over Chrome. Firefox came in last, about 3 percent slower than Opera, which was in the middle of the pack. Performance from Brave improved to the point that it was no longer lagging the other Chromium-based browsers.

Do these results mean that Microsoft Edge will always provide you with a speedier web experience? A device with a higher WebXPRT score will probably feel faster during daily use than one with a lower score. For comparisons on the same system, however, the answer depends in part on the types of things you do on the web, how the extensions you’ve installed affect performance, how frequently the browsers issue updates and incorporate new web technologies, and how accurately each browser’s default installation settings reflect how you would set up that browser for your daily workflow.

In addition, 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 Edge on Windows 11 and Chrome on Chrome OS. All these variables are important to keep in mind when considering how WebXPRT results translate to your everyday experience.

Do you have insights you’d like to share from using WebXPRT to compare browser performance? 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

Using WebXPRT 3 to compare the performance of popular browsers (Round 2)

It’s been nine months since we’ve published a WebXPRT 3 browser performance comparison, so we decided to put the newest versions of popular browsers through the paces to see if the performance rankings have changed since our last round of tests.

We used the same laptop as last time: a Dell XPS 13 7930 with an Intel Core i3-10110U processor and 4 GB of RAM running Windows 10 Home, updated to version 1909 (18363.1139). We installed all current Windows updates and tested on a clean system image. After the update process completed, we turned off updates to prevent them from interfering with test runs. We ran WebXPRT 3 three times on five browsers: Brave, Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, and Opera. The posted score for each browser is the median of the three test runs.

In our last round of tests, the four Chromium-based browsers (Brave, Chrome, Edge, and Opera) produced scores that were nearly identical. Only Mozilla Firefox produced a significantly different (and better) score. The parity of the Chromium-based browsers was not surprising, considering they have the same underlying foundation.

In this round of testing, the Chromium-based browsers again produced very close scores, although Brave’s performance lagged by about 4 percent. Firefox again separated itself from the pack with a higher score. With the exception of Chrome, which produced an identical score as last time, every browser’s score was slightly slower than before. There are many possible reasons for this, including increased overhead in the browsers or changes in Windows, and the respective slowdowns for each browser will probably be unnoticeable to most users during everyday tasks.

Do these results mean that Mozilla Firefox will provide you with a speedier web experience? As we noted in the last comparison, a device with a higher WebXPRT score will probably feel faster during daily use than one with a lower score. For comparisons on the same system, however, the answer depends in part on the types of things you do on the web, how the extensions you’ve installed affect performance, how frequently the browsers issue updates and incorporate new web technologies, and how accurately each browsers’ default installation settings reflect how you would set up that browser for your daily workflow.

In addition, 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 Edge on Windows 10 and Chrome on Chrome OS. All of these variables are important to keep in mind when considering how browser performance comparison results translate to your everyday experience.

What are your thoughts on browser performance? Let us know!

Justin

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