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Browser Speed Comparisons

Monday, 5 June 2006 benchmarks browsers networking

Quite a while ago there was a big grid comparison of all the browsers including their initial load times and rendering times. The same article has been updated very little and has resurfaced around the internet as a “good reason to get off FireFox”.

The article itself concludes that what you use is completely up to you, but many people try to use the figures for arguments to use browsers that perform better on the lists. The reason that the differences between browsers (namely Opera and FireFox) are so massive are twofold.

Firstly there’s a little line that most people overlook saying:

Hardware; 800 MHz Intel Pentium 3, 256 MB RAM.

I’m not saying that some people don’t use this spec of machine anymore, but its a million miles from a typical PC today. Mine is just four times faster… Many peoples’ are five to six times faster. Once you start getting this fast, a fifteen second load time difference between the latest versions of Opera and FireFox is reduced to a couple of seconds.

Secondly you have to look at what the browser does. I recognise that all installs of browsers were “stock” installs without any plugins but FireFox is supposed to be extended. Its entire GUI is built on the gimmick that you can make a small plugin in nice interpretive XML code without having to compile anything to get it working. For day to day using, FireFox can deliver so much more than Opera if you need that functionality.

Certain examples of this include the “web developer” extension. With it, I can outline any table or div, see the properties of any item on the page, have the CSS Class names shown inline on the page, even edit the CSS and HTML live so I can get my CSS designs working really well without having to keep uploading something every 2 minutes. This level of extension in Opera is painful to the nth degree compared to FireFox.

The second argument to all this is: How often do you restart your browser? How often are you really going to be bumping into this “long” load time? Personally my instance of FireFox will survive about 3 days before I get bored of how many tabs I’ve got open and do the Etcher-Sketch cleaning method, or restart the computer. If you like to restart your 400mhz machine every 20 minutes, sure use opera, but with over 3ghz of steam power over here, I’m happy waiting 3 seconds for my cold load which I only ever do every few days.

What I’m trying to suggest here is to use what suits your habits. If you need or would like access to a billion and five complete extensions and overhauls, welcome to FireFoxLand. If you need pure speed and a few built-in applications, use Opera.

More importantly, If you’re making a suggestion for someone else, take the time to see what they need from a browser before just suggesting what you use. FireFox might not be the best thing for their machine or what they need to do with it.