How does Microsoft's new Edge browser perform against the competition?

Microsoft said Edge would be faster than IE 11. So how does it compare in a benchmark showdown?

Microsoft Edge browser performance test IE 11, Firefox, Chrome

With the launch of Windows 10 came a whole new browser, Microsoft Edge. With Edge, Microsoft stripped out a lot of old code from failed or dead standards, many of which it tried to impose on users. It also updated the JavaScript engine and beefed up support for HTML5.

So I wanted to see how it fared. Prior to updating my system to Windows 10, I ran a series of browser benchmarks that looked primarily at JavaScript execution but also graphics, adherence to Web standards, and other tests. IE 11's performance relative to the latest versions of Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox was, to be diplomatic, lacking.

(Test machine: Core i7-4700k, Gigabyte Z87 motherboard, 16GB DDR3 memory, OCZ Vertex 4 SSD boot disk, Nvidia GTX 6700 graphics card, Windows 7 64-bit edition)

screen shot 2015 09 03 at 12.49.21 pm Andy Patrizio
Andy Patrizio

As you can see, IE isn't even close to Chrome or Firefox in any of the tests. 

Interestingly, when I upgraded to Windows 10, there was a notable performance bump. On the exact same hardware, things got much faster. The boot time went from 35 seconds to 29 seconds, according to Wise Care 365, a utility I highly recommend.

I also noticed improvements while gaming, especially "EverQuest" and its hard zone lines that have to be loaded (unlike "World of Warcraft," where you never really zone). The same was true for "Diablo 3." Zoning was much quicker than on Windows 7. The result was IE 11 saw some improvements just upgrading to Windows 10.

Andy Patrizio
screen shot 2015 09 03 at 12.49.37 pm Andy Patrizio

Canvasmark shot up 38% for IE while Browsermark rose 11%. The reason, apparently, is DirectX 12, which greatly reduced CPU overhead and accelerated WebGL performance. Those two benchmarks both test HTML5 2D canvas rendering.

So now we come to the overall Windows 10 performance, with the same three browsers plus Edge.

screen shot 2015 09 03 at 12.49.52 pm Andy Patrizio
Andy Patrizio

While the Canvasmark and Peacekeeper benchmarks only rose a little, meaning Microsoft still has work to do on the 2D rendering part of Edge, the pure JavaScript benchmarks like Jetstream and Octane rose drastically, nearly doubling in one case, putting it ahead of Chrome and Firefox.

This is what Microsoft was promising for Edge; stripping out junk like ActiveX support and beefing up JavaScript. For the pure JavaScript benchmarks, Edge is better than Chrome and Firefox.

So it seems Edge lives up to its billing, for the most part. It offers competitive JavaScript performance and better, albeit not best, performance in other areas. Most telling is the low Peacekeeper performance, because Peacekeeper checks a wide variety of standards. So for the most part, Edge is a better browser than IE was.

Edge is still a work in progress, and I would expect improved performance in time. For example, it was just announced that Edge would add support for the .WebM video format. So the browser will keep evolving. The challenge now is for Microsoft to win back those defectors to Chrome and Firefox.

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Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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