The best web browsers

Chrome is still our favorite browser (but Firefox is catching up!)

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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 While it’s still used by many Mac users, it’s no longer updated on Windows anymore, so we’ve removed it from the list.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 67 183.10 1138.1ms 37635 528
Firefox 61 190.43 969.7ms 33353 497
Opera 54
189.75 1113.2ms 38207 528
Edge 42
228.67 1242.2ms 31131 492
Vivaldi 1.15
179.26 1284.5ms 36190 520

Google Chrome, currently at version 67, had long dominated the HTML5 compliance benchmark, but Opera caught up a few versions ago. Vivaldi is close behind 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, which has been in the lead here for months. Microsoft continues to work hard on optimizing its new browser, and it shows with this test at least. Firefox maintains its second place position, and Opera is closing in at 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 split results. Firefox takes a very strong first-place finish in Kraken with Opera and Chrome very close to each other in second and third place. In Octane, Opera is in 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.

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