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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

Exploring the WebXPRT 4 results viewer

Now that WebXPRT 4 is live, we want to remind readers about the features of the WebXPRT 4 results viewer. We’re excited about this new tool, which we view as an ongoing project that we will expand and improve over time. The viewer currently has over 100 test results, and we’re just getting started. We’ll continue to actively populate the viewer with the latest PT-curated WebXPRT 4 results for the foreseeable future.

The screenshot below shows the tool’s default display. Each vertical bar in the graph represents the overall score of a single test result, with bars arranged from lowest to highest. To view a single result in detail, the user hovers over a bar until it turns white and a small popup window displays the basic details of the result. Once the user clicks to select the highlighted bar, the bar turns dark blue, and the dark blue banner at the bottom of the viewer displays additional details about that result.

In the example above, the banner shows the overall score (227), the score’s percentile rank (98th) among the scores in the current display, the name of the test device, and basic hardware disclosure information. Users can click the Run info button to see the run’s individual workload scores.

The viewer includes a drop-down menu to quickly filter results by major device type categories, and a tab that allows users to apply additional filtering options, such as browser type, processor vendor, and result source. The screenshot below shows the viewer after I used the device type drop-down filter to select only laptops.

The screenshot below shows the viewer as I use the filter tab to explore additional filter options, such browser type.

The viewer also lets users pin multiple specific runs, which is helpful for making side-by-side comparisons. The screenshot below shows the viewer after I pinned four runs and viewed them on the Pinned runs screen.

The screenshot below shows the viewer after I clicked the Compare runs button: the overall and individual workload scores of the pinned runs appear as a table.

We’re excited about the WebXPRT 4 results viewer, and we want to hear your feedback. Are there features you’d really like to see, or ways we can improve the viewer? Please let us know, and send us your latest test results!

Justin

How to submit WebXPRT 4 results for publication

Each new XPRT benchmark release attracts new visitors to our site. Those who haven’t yet run any of our benchmarks may not know how everything works. For those folks, as well as longtime testers who may not be aware of everything the XPRTs have to offer, we like to occasionally revisit the basics here in the blog. Today, we cover the simple process of submitting WebXPRT 4 test results for publication in the WebXPRT 4 results viewer.

Unlike sites that publish all results that users submit, we publish only results—from internal lab testing, user submissions, and reliable tech media sources—that meet our evaluation criteria. Scores must be consistent with general expectations and, for sources outside of our lab, must include enough detailed system information that we can determine whether the score makes sense. Every score in the WebXPRT results viewer and on the general XPRT results page meets these criteria.

Everyone who runs a WebXPRT 4 test is welcome to submit scores for us to consider for publication. The process is quick and easy. At the end of the WebXPRT test run, click the Submit your results button below the overall score, complete the short submission form, and click Submit again. Please be as specific as possible when filling in the system information fields. Detailed device information helps us assess whether individual scores represent valid test runs. The screenshot below shows how the form would look if I submitted a score at the end of a WebXPRT 4 run on my personal system.

After you submit your score, we’ll contact you to confirm how we should display the source. You can choose one of the following:

  • Your first and last name
  • “Independent tester” (for those who wish to remain anonymous)
  • Your company’s name, provided that you have permission to submit the result in their name. If you want to use a company name, please provide a valid company email address.


We will not publish any additional information about you or your company without your permission.

We look forward to seeing your score submissions. If you have suggestions for the WebXPRT 4 results viewer or any other aspect of the XPRTs, let us know!

Justin

WebXPRT 4 is live!

We’re excited to announce that WebXPRT 4 is now available! Testers can access the benchmark at WebXPRT.com. If you’ve already been using the WebXPRT 4 Preview, your Preview test results will be comparable with results from the current official build.

Longtime WebXPRT users will notice that WebXPRT 4 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 will continue to make WebXPRT 3 available for legacy testing.

If you missed earlier XPRT blog posts about WebXPRT 4, here is a quick overview of the differences between WebXPRT 3 and WebXPRT 4:

General changes

  • We’ve 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’ve 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’ve updated the base calibration system for score calculations, and adjusted the scoring scale. WebXPRT 4 scores should not be compared to scores from previous versions of WebXPRT.

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.

We’re thankful for all of the feedback we received during the WebXPRT 4 development process, and we look forward to seeing your WebXPRT 4 results!

Justin

WebXPRT 4 is almost here!

We’re putting the last pieces in place for the WebXPRT 4 GA, and expect to take the final build live by this time next week! When we released the WebXPRT 4 Preview and encouraged testers to submit and publish results, we said we’d try to limit any changes to things that would not affect test scores. We’re happy to report that we’ve achieved that goal, and Preview testing results are comparable with GA build results.

If you missed the blog post about the differences between WebXPRT 3 and WebXPRT 4, we encourage you to check it out. Everything we mentioned about the general and workload-specific changes in the Preview build holds true for the upcoming GA.

Keep an eye on the blog and WebXPRT.com for more information in the coming week. We look forward to seeing your test results!

Justin

A note about WebXPRT 4 and Internet Explorer

During some recent internal WebXPRT 4 Preview testing, we discovered that the WebXPRT 4 Preview does not run in Internet Explorer (IE) 11. In fact, before the first workload begins in IE, the WebXPRT 4 built-in WebAssembly (WASM) check fails and produces an error message.

The reason we haven’t tested WebXPRT 4 on IE 11 before now is that Internet Explorer is currently in its end-of-life phase. Microsoft has been removing support for IE 11 in Microsoft 365 and other apps for some time, they did not include the desktop version of IE 11 in Windows 11, and they are removing support for IE 11 in Windows 10 on June 15, 2022. Among Windows users, the most popular browsers are now Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, and Mozilla Firefox.

We’re proud that WebXPRT has historically had broad, cross-platform compatibility in almost any browser. However, the modern web is rapidly incorporating powerful tools such as WASM that do not work in older legacy browsers. To maintain the benchmark’s relevance in future years, we need to deprioritize some level of legacy compatibility, and this begins with WebXPRT 4 release.

For the WebXPRT testers who wish to continue testing with IE 11, WebXPRT 3 will remain on our site for the foreseeable future. Barring any further changes from Microsoft, the benchmark should continue to run in existing instances of the Internet Explorer desktop app.

The official WebXPRT 4 launch is approaching, and we hope to announce the release date within the next few weeks! Until that time, we will continue to share the latest updates here in the blog. If you have any questions or comments about WebXPRT 4 or compatibility with legacy browsers, please feel free to contact us!

Justin

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