Browser Wars: The Best Browser of 2018

So I had this idea.

What is the best browser?

This existential question has haunted me since childhood: The days where you had to actually type in URLs instead of just googling all your answers. (I am 16 at the time of this publication).
I remember in elementary school, the entire school’s computer lab was equipped with IE (Internet Explorer), but 7-year-old troublesome me decided to try out a new of mass destruction: Google Chrome. I bedazzled my classmates with my uber-fast load speeds and search power. Point taken, I have always loved speed and browsers.

The Browser Battles

Enough chit chat lets get to the test.

Hypothesis

The newer the browser, the faster it is. Period.

Let’s find out.

Testing Strategy

You can google “best browser” and get flooded with old articles vying the “usual” browsers together against some pointless benchmark.

I’m going to do that differently. I will not use any benchmarks in this test.
Instead, we have to define best.

Best, in my opinion, revolves around 4 characteristics:

  • Energy Efficiency
  • CPU Usage
  • Memory Usage
  • (Actual) Page load speed

These 4 things are what the average user will notice the most. If a browser has bad energy efficiency, a user’s laptop battery will suffer. If the browser has high memory usage, then other applications will begin to choke. etc.

I will be testing all browsers with a MacBook Air on the latest version of High Sierra. All browsers are on the latest stable versions and I am using the same internet connection, in the same place for all tests.

The Lineup

Google Chrome

Since 2008, Chrome has climbed to the top in terms of market share and user-friendliness. Built on the V8 JavaScript engine, it is known for hogging memory and CPU usage.

Safari

Apple has always touted Safari as its built-in browser. Only recently, however, has it come to par with other browser giants.

Firefox Developer Edition

While Firefox has lacked in the past, Mozilla’s latest version holds up to the big shots. With a new CSS engine, Firefox touts a big punch (and don’t be fooled by the Developer Edition, anyone can use it).

Brave

Brave is a new, actively-developed browser built with security and privacy in mind. By blocking ads and trackers, Brave claims a very fast browsing experience. It is built on Chromium (the same browser Chrome is built on).

Opera

Opera has been around for awhile now, but the latest version now has a built-in ad blocker and battery saver. Impressive.

The Results

Lower is better

For this test, I took the average DOM load of the top 10 websites visited globally: Google, Youtube, Facebook, Reddit, Wikipedia, Yahoo, Baidu, QQ, Taobao, Google India.

What surprised me the most was Chrome. With it’s reputation, I would assume it would have one of the fastest load times. Another interesting thing that I noticed was the difference in speed between Opera, Brave, and Chrome, all of which are built off Chromium (essentially the foundation browser). This shows that even with the same tools, the developers behind the browsers can drastically affect performance.

Lower is better

With this test I took the 10-second average of the CPU usage (found in Apple’s Activity Monitor) of each browser running with just one website (apple.com) open. The difference between Brave, Firefox, and Safari is minimal.

Lower is better

Wow. Chrome has failed us again. The difference between the other browsers is minimal.

Lower is better

Safari — surprisingly — took up lots of memory, whereas Opera and Firefox did very well.

Conclusion

All in all, the latest browsers (Firefox, Brave, and Opera) did very well. Chrome came last or second-to-last in every test and Safari placed somewhere in the middle. In my own experience, I felt that Firefox Developer Edition had the most pleasant experience. The interface felt nice, plenty of extensions and themes, super-fast page loading, not too bulky. Opera and Brave were nice too with built-in ad blockers and minimalist interfaces.

I will leave it up to you to decide the best browser for you. Each browser has its pros and cons, so see which one suits you the best.

Let me know what you think of the results and if I should add any notable mentions.

Cheers!

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