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What browser is the best? We have the information you need to decide

In the last segment of our next generation browser benchmarking and comparison, we looked at user interface features and installation details.  We also benchmarked install times and application launch times.  We now will turn our attention to CPU and memory usage in this segment.  We'll also briefly contrast security in the next gen browsers.  This segment will be followed by a third and final installment in which we'll examine performance in popular benchmarks and standards support.

4.  Resource Usage

One of the most critical aspects of a program is the amount of resources it uses per the amount of work it does.  We measured memory and CPU usage for each browser with ten tabs open and loaded -- DailyTech, AnandTech, CNET, CNN, Sports Illustrated, Gamefaqs, Google, Yahoo, Bing, and Facebook (logged in).  We then took measurements after 15, 20, and 25 minutes of operation.

When it comes to memory, Firefox really shows its worth.  This may be surprising to some as early in its development the Firefox browser was known as a memory hog, due to memory leaks.  This has completely turned around and it is now the slimmest entry. Namoroka uses significantly more memory than 3.5.2, but hopefully this is just one of the rough edges that are to be expected of an alpha release.

Looking at the rest of the pack, Opera deserves an honorable mention for a close second in memory usage.  Safari and Chrome, on the other hand, were both memory hungry.  However, no application was quite as bad when it came to memory as Internet Explorer 8, which used nearly twice the memory of its closest competitor.

Turning to the CPU, Opera was in the lead for least average use.  Opera 9.6 also led for the lowest maximum observed CPU use.  Opera 10.0 did show a rather high maximum usage.  This is due to a brief, rather uncharacteristic, spike.  This appears to be a rather isolated occurrence, but nonetheless we kept the result.

Chrome, Safari, and Internet Explorer were all rather poor when it came to CPU use.  Chrome 4 ate up the most CPU, topping at an unpleasant maximum of 64 percent.  Firefox, on the other hand, showcased low usage (with no add-ons installed), though 3.6a1 was a bit more CPU hungry than 3.5.2.  Again, hopefully these issues will be resolved before release.

5.  Security:

Having looked at the resources used, its also important to look at what is being done with them.  We already concluded that Opera provides the most built in features (non-security) in our first review (though Firefox wins when add-ons are considered).  But what about security features?

The below table illustrates some highlights of these browsers' track record:

Browser Tab/Process Isolation Private Browsing Mode Popup Blocking Ad-Filtering (JS, Flash) Anti-Phishing Malware Blacklist Unpatched Security Flaws, Secunia Unpatched Security Flaws, SecurityFocus
Opera 9.6 No No Yes Yes, click required Weak Weak 0 2
Opera 10.0 No No Yes Yes, click required Weak Weak 0 2
Firefox 3.5 No Yes Yes Via add-on Moderate Moderate 0 0
Firefox 3.6 No Yes Yes Via add-on Moderate Moderate 0 0
Chrome 2 Yes Yes Yes No Weak Weak 0 0
Chrome 3 Yes Yes Yes No Weak Weak 0 0
Chrome 4 Yes Yes Yes No Weak Weak 0 0
IE 8 Yes Yes Yes Yes (via InPrivate Filter) Strong Strong 2 16
Safari 3 No Yes Yes Via add-on Weak Weak 0 0
Safari 4 No Yes Yes Via add-on Weak Weak 0 0

As you can see, security is a rather confusing topic to rate the browsers on.  On one hand, IE 8 offers an excellent private browsing mode, tab isolation, and great blacklisting of malicious sites.  On the other hand, its InPrivate Filter doesn't catch all ads.  IE 8 is also the most frequently attacked and exploited browser, though Microsoft puts great effort into patching as quickly as possible. 

Despite this, IE 8 for the very inexperienced/naive user is probably the best bet as it blocks more blatantly malicious sites than the rest of the field.  Microsoft-sponsored research puts this block rate at 81 percent versus the next closest competitor -- Firefox -- at 27 percent.  This may be a bit of an exaggeration, but Microsoft deserves praise for its progress on this front. 

Chrome offers good overall protection with tab isolation, a private browsing mode and less vulnerabilities, but it is victim to probably the most ads of any of the browsers.  Firefox is a close runner up to IE 8, especially when add-ons are considered.  However, it lacks tab isolation.  Opera and Apple have both put a fair deal of thought into their security efforts, but they just aren't as strong or focused as those of Microsoft, Mozilla, and Google.

Note: All benchmarks were performed in 32-bit Vista on a Sony VAIO laptop with 3 GB of RAM, a T8100 Intel Processor (2.1 GHz), and a NVIDIA 8400 GT mobile graphics chip. The number of processes was kept consistent and at a minimum to reflect stock performance.

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RE: Something is wrong.
By Smilin on 9/8/2009 5:46:39 PM , Rating: 2
I just got 158.7 w/ IE 8 on a clean W2k8 machine. No flash or other add-ins loaded.

I'll leave it up overnight and see what happens in the morning.

RE: Something is wrong.
By fatedtodie on 9/9/2009 9:59:32 AM , Rating: 1
I have heard now 3 people testing IE... yet not a single one has posted they also tested data on a SINGLE other browser. This makes all of your data worthless. If even a single one of you also did a FF 3.5 or a safari test, then your comments would be worth while, instead they are more fodder for the author.

RE: Something is wrong.
By SandmanWN on 9/9/2009 10:43:50 AM , Rating: 2
you haven't heard anything yet but your own lips flapping.

I tested chrome and firefox. Both were similar to the article. IE was not. That is the problem.

Where are your tests? I hear a lot of garbage coming out of your mouth but no testing data from you. All that talk and you would figure you would have done the tests yourself.

RE: Something is wrong.
By fatedtodie on 9/9/2009 11:08:55 AM , Rating: 1
So after 3 or 4 requests for someone to mention numbers for other than IE you finally respond and I am the idiot? hrmm someone needs to learn how communication works (hint it isn't me).

As I predicted in my first comment along these lines, it isn't like the article author has anything against Microsoft with his steller and unbiased reporting... just in case you missed this the first time I will clarify... that is complete sarcasm.

Whining at me for asking for more information makes your case look weak. Also you have only posted numbers for IE here so am I supposed to read your mind and assume you did others? or maybe you might want to add that little tidbit in next time huh?

RE: Something is wrong.
By SandmanWN on 9/9/2009 11:26:48 AM , Rating: 2
and the lips keep on flapping. I have my numbers for both chrome, firefox and safari. I am intentionally holding them from you because you are indeed an idiot.

heres a hint...
without flash one of the browsers scores 76.8M at 0-1% cpu utilization.
with flash its 144M with 78% cpu utilization.
as to which one it is... it doesn't really matter.

we are discussing the IE numbers. They are fudged in the article. try to keep up with the rest of the group.

ps. no one is whining at you, they just want you to STFU and let the author speak for himself, troll.

pss. im still not telling you the other numbers, live with it...

RE: Something is wrong.
By fatedtodie on 9/9/2009 12:34:30 PM , Rating: 1
You are complaining (which is another term for whining BTW) about my comments. My comments are playing devil's advocate with your data. If you do not give some legitimacy to your data (with the Firefox, Chrome, or Safari numbers you claim you got) then your data is as bogus as the author's.

You can tell me to quit my "flappin" all you want, it does not make my point any less right. I would use a metaphor to point out your folly but people on this site tend to complain even more about that than you do about me trying to point out you are fanboy-ing for Microsoft when you make wild claims without facts.

RE: Something is wrong.
By SandmanWN on 9/9/2009 2:56:13 PM , Rating: 2
you can't legitimize the data because there is no baseline for comparison as none of the browsers meet 100% specifications. You quest for legitimacy is unattainable.

The only common data point is the page content itself, which is also in question because we don't know anything about the testing methodology. Given there is only one test machine then it is highly unlikely the test was done simultaneously which opens the door for a change in the website to askew the results.

There can also be browser specific ads on these sites that will cause differences in the amount of data used by each browser visiting the exact same site which also invalidates the testing methodology completely. The testing should have been done in a controlled environment.

fanboying for MS? The old fanboy argument? Seriously idiot? The browser I'm typing this in is Firefox, get real loser.

The IE data is garbage. Get over it.

RE: Something is wrong.
By fatedtodie on 9/10/2009 1:19:11 PM , Rating: 1
"you can't legitimize the data because there is no baseline for comparison as none of the browsers meet 100% specifications"

To obtain legitimacy in my eyes I need atleast 1 person to show real data from 2 browsers. How is that unattainable? if you computer incapable of handling 2 different browsers?

Step 1, Do the 10 pages with IE8, record data. Post data.
Step 2, Do the 10 pages with FF3.5 record data. Post data.
Step 3a, Discuss how the IE8 data did not match while the ff3.5 did, OR
Step 3b, Discuss how the IE8 data did not match nor did the ff3.5, and mention how both were off by X ammount +/- the article.

That is how a debate/discussion should work.

Instead you did just Step 1 and went straight into left field and claimed that step 2 and 3 weren't needed because due to your own biased opinion it would produce incorrect results from what you expect.

I understand you want to complain about the "incorrect" results about IE8, I also note that the author has never been kind to Microsoft products. This alone does not make his data incorrect.

To sum it up one more time seeing as you miss it time and time again, If you show 1 point of data it is worthless unless you give it a bit of validity with providing firefox or safari or chrome data as well. As much as you guys are crying about the issue I am surprised people haven't just provided fake information by now just to make their point (albiet it is just as BS as anything else you have been posting atleast it is "data").

I understand you are all up in arms because my opinion is different than yours so you have to hate me just because you haven't learned adult interaction, but if you want your point to come across as more than just fanboy comments and have a bit of intelligence into them, then you need more than just "hey you are wrong! boo hoo"

RE: Something is wrong.
By BuckinBottoms on 9/10/2009 2:53:10 PM , Rating: 2
you don't understand anything.

all the steps have been done by myself and others. ive tested nearly all the browsers in the article.

and no, one point of data is fine. the data is checked against the sites themselves as they are the baseline. the browsers are the variables. there is no baseline between variables because there is no browser that renders all pages perfectly. get it genius?

RE: Something is wrong.
By Smilin on 9/9/2009 11:40:11 AM , Rating: 2
Really the numbers on the other browsers are irrelevant.


Don't try to explain about how you need to compare all on an equal platform. I understand that and I don't care. I am interested to know why the numbers for IE are utterly retarded. .

If the difference was subtle then yes I could see platform variations accounting for the difference and comparison with all the other browsers would be beneficial. This is NOT the case.

We've had 3 people check IE and I myself have checked on 3 machines. So basically 5 machines are falling into the ~180 meg range yet the article says half a gig.

If you think this data is irrelevant then you'll have to explain away the statistical significance of 5 machines getting the same number.

Since you're all gripey whiney why don't YOU go test all of them. If they sanity check then let us know what number you are getting for IE8.

My preference would be for the author to get off his rear and explain this.

RE: Something is wrong.
By fatedtodie on 9/9/09, Rating: 0
RE: Something is wrong.
By Smilin on 9/9/2009 3:18:52 PM , Rating: 3
Let me explain this again for those in the cheap seats as you are missing my point blantantly.

Please try to keep up with the discussion next time.

You need to lose the condescending attitude. It is unnecessary and it just makes you look like a tool with a weak argument. I am not insulting you (defending you in other posts actually) so do not insult me. Nothing about this is personal so don't make it that way.

You have explained your self repeatedly and everyone understands what you are trying to say. They are not disagreeing because they fail to understand your point. They are disagreeing because your point is wrong.

We are not interested in comparing IE to FF. It is not necessary to use FF as a data point on two different machines. I do not care if the same IE to FF ratio is maintained or differs on other machines. I am not interested in a correlation or lack thereof with other broswer performance across multiple platforms. I simply care about the IE to IE comparison on two machines.

Look at it this way... Imagine this article was not a browser comparison at all. Instead imagine it is simply an article about memory usage in IE. The author has stated that with a given set of pages open that IE consumes 500 megs of memory. 5+ other machines show it to be in the ~180 meg range. There is a problem with that. The benchmarker needs to go review his testing and find out where he introduced a variable. (and does not matter if that same variable affects FF or doesn't...not interested)

RE: Something is wrong.
By Nekrik on 9/9/2009 8:24:29 PM , Rating: 3
It's been a day since your original post and still no response from JM or any other of the staff members. By now it would be appropriate for them to at least acknowledge that they are looking into it regardless if they have found the cause of the discrepency.

RE: Something is wrong.
By fatedtodie on 9/10/2009 2:46:00 PM , Rating: 1
"You need to lose the condescending attitude. "

You mean like the comments I was responding to that were quite professional.

Some examples;

"Since you're all gripey whiney why don't YOU ..."

"fanboying for MS? The old fanboy argument? Seriously idiot? The browser I'm typing this in is Firefox, get real loser."

"and the lips keep on flapping. I have my numbers for both chrome, firefox and safari. I am intentionally holding them from you because you are indeed an idiot."

And in your own reply you say:
" It is unnecessary and it just makes you look like a tool "

Calling someone a tool isn't rude?

So, when I try to comment professionally I am called an idiot, when I am rude I am called an idiot, so your point is what again?

I think you forgot how communication works. Thank you for your comments and have a wonderful day. =)

RE: Something is wrong.
By Smilin on 9/11/2009 2:31:32 AM , Rating: 2
You're doing it again.

This is not personal.

RE: Something is wrong.
By Smilin on 9/9/2009 11:30:11 AM , Rating: 2
177.4 megs approx 11 hours later.

RE: Something is wrong.
By Smilin on 9/11/2009 2:57:26 AM , Rating: 3
And actually because some people are tards I'll go ahead and provide some FF data. This is on a different machine:

Memory use after 25min.

FF 3.5: 196,924 KB (started at ~156meg)
IE 8: 200,632 KB (started at ~185meg)

Windows 7 RTM.
Intel i7 950, 6gig DDR3

This is a far cry from 526megs that jason's previous data shows.

Now that I've done it...does someone want to explain to me what value the FF data added?

RE: Something is wrong.
By Nekrik on 9/12/2009 4:49:23 PM , Rating: 2
well obviously it explains everything! the reason IE is not using as much memory in your test scenario is because FF has already claimed it :).

I say that in total jest hoping some people will enjoy it just for shits and giggles, but I'm also concerned some people might actually try to back it up and if that happens I am very sorry.

RE: Something is wrong.
By Smilin on 9/15/2009 12:05:10 PM , Rating: 2
I'm sure what's his name will come along soon and say something is wrong with it.

He's like one of those nutbags who believes Obama isn't American...nothing will convince him.

"It seems as though my state-funded math degree has failed me. Let the lashings commence." -- DailyTech Editor-in-Chief Kristopher Kubicki
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