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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

Potential web technology additions for WebXPRT 4

A few months ago, we invited readers to send in their thoughts and ideas about web technologies and workload scenarios that may be a good fit for the next WebXPRT. We’d like to share a few of those ideas today, and we invite you to continue to send your feedback. We’re approaching the time when we need to begin firming up plans for a WebXPRT 4 development cycle in 2021, but there’s still plenty of time for you to help shape the future of the benchmark.

One of the most promising ideas for WebXPRT 4 is the potential addition of one or more WebAssembly (WASM) workloads. WASM is a low-level, binary instruction format that works across all modern browsers. It offers web developers a great deal of flexibility and provides the speed and efficiency necessary for running complex client applications in the browser. WASM enables a variety of workload scenario options, including gaming, video editing, VR, virtual machines, image recognition, and interactive educational content.

In addition, the Chrome team is dropping Portable Native Client (PNaCL) support in favor of WASM, which is why we had to remove a PNaCL workload when updating CrXPRT 2015 to CrXPRT 2. We generally model CrXPRT workloads on existing WebXPRT workloads, so familiarizing ourselves with WASM could ultimately benefit more than one XPRT benchmark.

We are also considering adding a web-based machine learning workload with TensorFlow for JavaScript (TensorFlow.js). TensorFlow.js offers pre-trained models for a wide variety of tasks including image classification, object detection, sentence encoding, natural language processing, and more. We could also use this technology to enhance one of WebXPRT’s existing AI-themed workloads, such as Organize Album using AI or Encrypt Notes and OCR Scan.

Other ideas include using a WebGL-based workload to target GPUs and investigating ways to incorporate a battery life test. What do you think? Let us know!

Justin

Results details and unexpected behavior with the CrXPRT 2 battery life test

It’s been two weeks since the CrXPRT 2 public release, and we’re happy to see widespread interest in the test right out of the gate!

This week, we received a couple of questions about its battery life test from Melissa Riofrio at PCWorld. First, she asked for clarification about the relationship between the rundown time and the 30-minute increments that appear in the iteration details table for each battery life run. Second, she asked what could be causing her to get “N/A” and “test error” battery life results at the end of what appeared to be successful tests. Both topics may be of interest to other CrXPRT 2 testers, so we’ve decided to address them here in the blog and invite our readers to provide any relevant feedback.

Rundown time vs. elapsed time

When you’re viewing previous CrXPRT 2 test results and click the Details link for a specific battery life test run, a window displaying additional test information appears (the screenshot below shows an example). The window first provides performance details, then presents a table with several data points for each iteration.

The data point in the far-right column, elapsed time, can be slightly confusing. Each test iteration runs for 30 minutes, and this column provides a cumulative total of these 30-minute increments. In some instances, these totals accurately reflect the actual time elapsed from the time that testing begins. However, if the test system shuts down for some reason before running the entire iteration, this table will still show the entire 30 minutes allotted for the that iteration. In these cases, the cumulative elapsed time value in the far-right column will not match the rundown time that the test reports for the system’s battery life. For that reason, testers should always consider rundown time as the definitive value for battery life.

 “N/A” and “test error” battery life results after apparently successful tests

We’re actively investigating this issue at present. We’ve tested a wide range of Chromebooks, both old and new, on several versions of Chrome OS, including the latest versions, and have been unable to reproduce the problem. Have you witnessed this behavior at the end of a CrXPRT 2 battery life test? If so, we’d love to get more information from you about the system under test and your testing procedures, so please contact us.

We’re grateful to Melissa for raising these questions, and we appreciate everyone’s feedback on CrXPRT 2. Hopefully, we’ll soon be able to determine the cause of the  “N/A” and “test error” results and find a solution. We’ll be sure to share that information here in the blog once we do.

Justin

Principled Technologies and the BenchmarkXPRT Development Community release the CrXPRT 2 benchmark for Chromebooks

Durham, NC, April 20— Principled Technologies and the BenchmarkXPRT Development Community have released CrXPRT 2, a free app that measures Chromebook battery life, as well as how fast a Chromebook handles everyday tasks like playing video games, watching movies, editing pictures, and doing homework. Testers can install the app on Chromebooks from the Chrome Web Store or by clicking the Chrome Web Store button on CrXPRT.com.

The CrXPRT 2 performance test, which measures a Chromebook’s speed, gives testers an overall score and individual scores for each workload. In addition to an estimated battery life expressed in hours and minutes, the battery life test produces a separate performance score and a frames per second (FPS) rate for a built-in HTML5 gaming component. CrXPRT is user-friendly, delivering results that consumers can understand.

“CrXPRT is a popular, easy-to-use benchmark run by manufacturers, tech journalists, and consumers all around the world,” said Bill Catchings, co-founder of Principled Technologies, which administers the BenchmarkXPRT Development Community. “CrXPRT 2 continues CrXPRT’s legacy of providing relevant and reliable performance and battery life data for Chrome OS devices.”

CrXPRT is part of the BenchmarkXPRT suite of performance evaluation tools, which includes AIXPRT, CloudXPRT, WebXPRT, TouchXPRT, HDXPRT, and MobileXPRT. The XPRTs help users get the facts before they buy, use, or evaluate tech products such as servers, desktops, laptops, and tablets.

To learn more about the BenchmarkXPRT Development Community, go to www.BenchmarkXPRT.com.

About Principled Technologies, Inc.
Principled Technologies, Inc. is a leading provider of technology marketing and learning & development services. It administers the BenchmarkXPRT Development Community.

Principled Technologies, Inc. is located in Durham, North Carolina, USA. For more information, please visit www.PrincipledTechnologies.com.

Company Contact
Justin Greene
BenchmarkXPRT Development Community
Principled Technologies, Inc.
1007 Slater Road, Ste. 300 Durham, NC 27703
BenchmarkXPRTsupport@PrincipledTechnologies.com

CrXPRT 2 is here!

We’re excited to announce that CrXPRT 2 is now available to the public! Testers can install the app on Chromebooks by using this link to the Chrome Web Store listing, or by clicking the Chrome Web Store button on CrXPRT.com.

For those who may have missed our previous discussions about what’s new with CrXPRT 2, here is a recap of the key differences between CrXPRT 2015 and CrXPRT 2:

  • CrXPRT 2 has an all-new UI, with a focus on intuitive navigation.
  • The CrXPRT 2 performance test includes six of the seven workloads in CrXPRT 2015. Newer versions of Chrome can’t run the Photo Collage workload without a workaround, so we removed it from CrXPRT 2.
  • We updated the image resolutions and sizes for the Photo Effects and Face Detection workloads.
  • The battery life test now requires a full rundown, so the length of battery life tests will vary according to the battery life of the systems under test.
  • CrXPRT 2 no longer requires testers to enter luminance and audio measurements for battery life tests.
  • We added a second video playback segment to each battery life iteration.


As we’ve noted before, CrXPRT 2 overall performance test scores and battery life measurements are not comparable to CrXPRT 2015 scores. For testers that need to access CrXPRT 2015 for legacy comparison testing, we will continue to make CrXPRT 2015 available via a link on CrXPRT.com.

We appreciate everyone’s input during the CrXPRT 2 development process. If you have any further questions about CrXPRT 2, please let us know!

Justin

Odds and ends

Today, we want to share quick updates on a few XPRT topics.

In case you missed yesterday’s announcement, the CrXPRT 2 Community Preview (CP) is now available. BenchmarkXPRT Development Community members can access the preview using a direct link we’ve posted on the CrXPRT tab in the XPRT Members’ Area (login required). This tab also provides a link to the CrXPRT 2 CP user manual. You can find a summary of what’s new with CrXPRT 2 in last week’s blog. During the preview period, we allow testers to publish CP test scores. Note that CrXPRT 2 overall performance test scores and battery life measurements are not comparable to those from CrXPRT 2015.

We’ll soon be publishing our first AIXPRT whitepaper, Introduction to AIXPRT. It will summarize the AIXPRT toolkits and workloads; how to adjust test parameters such as batch size, levels of precision, and concurrent instances; how to use alternate test configuration files; and how to understand test results. When the paper is available, we’ll post it on the XPRT white papers page and make an announcement here in the blog.

Finally, in response to decreased downloads and usage of BatteryXPRT, we have ended support for the benchmark. We’re always monitoring usage of the XPRTs so that we can better direct our resources to the current needs of users. We’ve removed BatteryXPRT from the Google Play Store, but it is still available for download on BatteryXPRT.com.

If you have any questions about CrXPRT 2, AIXPRT, or BatteryXPRT, please let us know!

Justin

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