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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 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?

"It looks like the iPhone 4 might be their Vista, and I'm okay with that." -- Microsoft COO Kevin Turner
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