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Firefox 4 performance lags behind Chrome 10 and IE 9

Chrome 10 kicks the butts of Internet Explorer 9 and Firefox 4 in my benchmark tests

When it comes to browsers, faster is better. Chrome 10 kicks the butts of the brand new Firefox 4 and Internet Explorer 9 in benchmark tests run on my 2Ghz Intel-based Windows 7 PC. All three new editions of browsers released this month promise performance gains. Of them Chrome 10 really delivers and Firefox 4 is the slowest of the bunch.

So finds Futurmark's Peacekeeper Javascript browser benchmark test.

Chrome is twice as fast as the Firefox 4. Higher score is better. Click to enlarge.

I should note here that Firefox 4 is my default browser. I've been using the RC version until Mozilla kindly upgraded me to the final code yesterday (a day before general release today). I'm not compelled to change default browsers because of these tests though I do use Chrome 10 more often. I like the Firefox add-ons I use. I don't like the feeling that Chrome is tracking ALL of my browsing habits. I leave Chrome signed into my Google accounts and Firefox signed out, so Google can't associate all my online activity with my Google account.

I use IE 9 for one of Network World's CMS apps (it prefers IE, and especially prefers it in IE6 Compatibility Mode). I also use IE9 for accessing my Windows Live accounts, though Windows Live performs fine in both Chrome and Firefox.

Still ... I was blown away to discover that Chrome 10 is TWICE AS FAST as the new Firefox 4 officially released today and about a third faster than Internet Explorer 9. Meanwhile Microsoft obviously had Firefox in mind when finalizing IE9. The final version of IE9 is faster than Firefox 4, as tested on my older Dell PC running Windows 7. The final IE9 showed a marked performance leap over the RC version of IE9 ... seemed specially targeted to beat Firefox 4.

  Benchmarks run with IE9 RC, Chrome 10, Firefox 4. Click to enlarge.  

As mentioned, the benchmark was run on my Dell D620 laptop which uses an Intel dual-core 2Ghz T2500 (with 2M Cache) running Windows 7. The laptop is old (about four years), but the chip's speed is fast enough to give a fair speed comparison, and all browsers were run on the same machine. My PC doesn't have a graphics processor, however, and Intel's newer built-in graphics capabilities have come a long way since this machine was built. In other words, your results may vary.

Peacekeeper tests for what it calls "complex graphics" performance, meaning 'Canvas', a new web technology for drawing and manipulating graphics without external plug-ins. Not all browsers on the market support Canvas, so it doesn't include those scores in the final overall total. So here's the breakout details of how each browser did in the individual tests. ( More details on the individual tests.)

  Chrome gained its winning score thanks to its data handling. Click to enlarge.   Firefox screams when it comes to Canvas graphics. Click to enlarge.   IE9 had solid numbers all around and bested the others in text parsing. Click to enlarge.  

As you can see, if Peacekeeper had included its Complex Graphics tests in its totals, Firefox 4 would have done far better overall ... probably coming out even with, if not faster than, IE9. Chrome killed in its ability to handle data -- not surprising given it was built by search and Web app giant Google.

The final JavaScript benchmark I used was the Acid 3 test, which measures how well each browser conforms to certain JavaScript and DOM Web standards. Chrome killed it here, too.

Chrome Acid3 test

Chrome 10 on Acid3.  

Firefox Acid3 test

Firefox 4 on Acid3.  

IE9 Acid3 test

IE9 on Acid3.

IE9's performance on the Acid3 test is particularly disappointing, given how much trouble Microsoft has given Web developers by not following standards and how many promises it has made to conform to them. We can see it still has a way to go with JavaScript and DOM, though Firefox wasn't perfect either.

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