The best web browsers

Chrome is still our favorite browser, but Firefox developments keep it in the race

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Benchmark tests

All right, so you’ve seen our recommendations — but if you still want to know more, check out our test results below.

You’ll notice we’ve included Internet Explorer. This aging browser has had some improvements over the years, but it’s no longer the default browser on Windows 10 and it doesn’t offer much beyond the bare minimum. Internet Explorer only exists today because some companies need it for legacy applications. That said, it still provides a familiar baseline and some users still have it installed. We’ve also taken out Apple’s Safari web browser. While it’s still used by many Mac users, it’s no longer updated on Windows anymore, so we’ve removed it from the list.

Most browsers are compatible with web standards and handle performance with relative ease. A casual user probably won’t notice a difference in the rendering speed between today’s modern browsers, as all six browsers are much faster and leaner than those of a few years ago — and become even more so with each new build. Below are our benchmark results for the six browsers, with bold text indicating the winner for each category.

We ran the following benchmarks on a desktop with an Intel Core i7-4770K processor, 16GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. All browsers were the most current production versions as of when the tests were run and all were at their default settings.

JetStream 1.1 Kraken JavaScript 1.1 Octane 2.0 HTML5 Compliance
Higher is better Lower is better Higher is better “555” is perfect
Chrome 64 191.03 1064.5ms 40053 528
Mozilla Firefox 58 203.09 868.4ms 36454 486
Opera 51
199.04 1071.2ms 40319 528
Edge 230.80 1198.8ms 31693 471
Vivaldi 182.47 1276.2ms 38282 520

Google Chrome had long dominated the HTML5 compliance benchmark, but Opera has caught up with version 51. Vivaldi is in second, while Firefox and Edge are well behind the leaders.

The Jetstream benchmark — which focuses on modern web applications — has a surprising winner: Edge. Microsoft continues to work hard on optimizing its new browser, and it shows. Firefox 58 has taken a strong second place, and Opera takes over third. Chrome and Vivaldi battle it out for a last-place finish.

Two Javascript benchmarks, Mozilla’s Kraken benchmark and Google’s Octane 2.0, give us more split results. Firefox takes a very strong first-place finish in Kraken with Chrome and Opera very close to each other in second and third place. In Octane, Opera takes the lead with Chrome nipping on its heels in second place. Vivaldi, Firefox, and Edge round things out.

Security and privacy

The most valuable tool for secure browsing is user discretion, especially when you consider that every web browser has encountered security breaches in the past. In particular, Internet Explorer and Chrome’s reputation for protecting users’ security and privacy credentials is spotty at best.

Chrome, Safari, Vivaldi, Opera, and Firefox all rely on Google’s Safe Browsing API to detect potentially dangerous sites. Thanks to constant updates, Mozilla, Chrome, and Opera all make constant security improvements.

All browsers offer a private session option, too. Private sessions prevent the storage of history, temporary internet files, and cookies. Browser support for Do Not Track remains spotty, and it’s worth noting that a 2013 NSS study showed only Internet Explorer blocking trackers used on more than 90 percent of potentially hazardous sites.

Mozilla has made some strides to try and differentiate itself from the others with a real focus on privacy in recent years. It even recently debuted a Facebook Container to make it harder for the social network to harvest a user’s information.

If you’d like to take further control of your privacy online, CloudFare has an intriguing new service to help hide your tracks online and you could always use a VPN as an additional layer of security.

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