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Firefox Takes the Performance Crown From Chrome 326

Posted by timothy
from the war-you-can-win dept.
diegocg writes "Recent browser benchmarks are showing surprising results: in 'a geometric mean of all four performance-based categories: Wait Times, JavaScript/DOM, HTML5/CSS3, and Hardware Acceleration,' Firefox 22 'pulls off an upset, replacing the long-time performance champion Google Chrome 27 as the new speed king.' (Other browsers benchmarked were IE10, Opera 12, and Opera Next.) With these results, and Firefox developers focusing in fixing the UI sluggishness, can this be the start of a Firefox comeback, after years of slow market share decline?"
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Firefox Takes the Performance Crown From Chrome

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  • Adblock plus (Score:5, Informative)

    by i kan reed (749298) on Tuesday July 02, 2013 @10:13AM (#44165147) Homepage Journal

    Real adblock that stops unnecessary downloads makes more performance difference at this point, than any sort of rendering engine chances. It has the nice side effect of limiting how much tracking of you goes on too.

    • Re:Adblock plus (Score:4, Insightful)

      by h4rr4r (612664) on Tuesday July 02, 2013 @10:18AM (#44165225)

      Real addons period.
      Chrome still can't really be customized. A great example is vimperator.

      • I find way more useful extensions in the Chrome web store than I do in the Firefox store nowadays. In fact, Chrome's addons are what keep me tied to the browser.

        • by gnick (1211984)

          ...Chrome's addons are what keep me tied to the browser.

          Why be tied to anything? At work, I only use 2, depending on what I'm doing. At home, I use 3. I used to be a FF aficionado, but have strayed as its memory hogging has bloated. Now, I typically stick to Chrome except when things don't work. Then I resort to IE or FF. Do we really have to decide whether we want burgers OR tacos for the rest of our lives, or just pick according to floating whims?

          • by h4rr4r (612664)

            For me it is because of vimperator. I wish chrome had proper support for it. That means stripping out all the normal UI. no URL bar, no back and forth nothing.

          • by Luthair (847766)
            Erm Chrome actually uses the most memory while Firefox uses the least.
            • by gnick (1211984)

              Depends on how you use it. [In my experience] Chrome does well with Netflix, but flakes out when my wife is trying to play FB games. FF will play her games, but cannibalizes itself on memory if she does it for long - IE does better (as dirty as I feel saying that.) Chrome and FF come out as about a wash for casual browsing but, for reasons that may be irrational, I've leaned toward Chrome ever since FF ticked me off for blowing out memory when my wife was gaming. [Damn you Candy Crush! I used to actual

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      Annoying when I have AdBlock installed in Firefox it freezes for several seconds when starting. Remove AdBlock and the freeze goes away. Chrome is fine.

    • Privoxy [privoxy.org]

      What's an AdBlock?
      • Re:Adblock plus (Score:5, Informative)

        by Trepidity (597) <<gro.hsikcah> <ta> <todhsals-muiriled>> on Tuesday July 02, 2013 @10:42AM (#44165551)

        Another vote for Privoxy. I recently switched to Privoxy from Ghostery, and have found it much faster. The addon-based ad-blockers seem to have some overhead, because they have to traverse the DOM and generally interact with the browser's rendering pipeline. I found my RAM usage in Firefox significantly declined, and the browser got much more responsive, after I removed Ghostery. Privoxy does the same job in some fast C code that runs in its own process, outside the browser.

        As a side note, it's the modern descendent of the Internet Junkbuster, so has been around just about as long as internet advertising has been.

    • Also the bundled webdev tools are some next level Tony Stark type stuff, man. Love em and they've actually proven really useful a few times.

    • by Hentes (2461350)

      Mind you that the tested browser was a Firefox without any addons, which is why it appeared so fast.

    • Real adblock that stops unnecessary downloads makes more performance difference at this point, than any sort of rendering engine chances. It has the nice side effect of limiting how much tracking of you goes on too.

      You mean like the size of the SSD and the RAM makes more of a difference in the long term usability of your laptop than whether it has an 1,7 or 1,8 GHz Core i5 CPU? That still does not stop people from trying to wring a 40% discount out of the fact that the thing 'only' has the 1,7 GHz CPU when you try to sell it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 02, 2013 @10:15AM (#44165175)

    I don't get the love for Chrome among geeks. Why would anyone willingly use a browser funded by a search giant who makes money off of scouring your privacy and already has a history of handing things over to the NSA?

    • by MightyYar (622222)

      They like it for the same reason non-geeks do: it is very fast and stable, and it doesn't seem to leak memory like Firefox.

      That said, I abandoned it because they got rid of their support for vertical tabs.

      • by Spazmania (174582)

        I abandoned it over backspace = page back. Lost too many web app sessions that way.

        But the firefox memory leaks really bother me. Every couple of days it's kill the process and restart.

      • I don't think Firefox has leaked memory for some time, except for some add-ons. If you've read any of the last few Browser Grand Prix comparisons at Tom's Hardware, Firefox has become decent.

        But there was a long stretch when Chrome was clearly superior, and even now Firefox occasionally has some pauses that I just don't see in Chrome. I just hope Firefox continues to succeed because I don't want "one browser to rule them all", even if that browser is built on an open source core.
    • by Virtucon (127420)

      TLS 1.1 support that isn't wrapped up in Internet Explorer for one and the DEV versions now have support for TLS 1.2. Firefox needs to get with the program (Firefox 23 will have TLS 1.1 support)

    • by flimflammer (956759) on Tuesday July 02, 2013 @11:52AM (#44166449)

      Firefox is funded by the same search giant.

    • I love the way the Chrome tabs take up less space. Very useful on a 13" MacBook.

  • Neat test but I think the summary could at least clarify that the test system is Windows 8 64 Bit [tomshardware.com]. It doesn't really mean a whole lot to me when I'm running a 64 bit distribution of GNU/Linux. Also the tests are selected by Tom's Hardware as a suite ... some of these tests are fairly meaningless to me and I feel like something like cold start time should be more heavily weighted than, say, hardware acceleration performance. The wait time on start up affects everyone and is unavoidable where hardware acceleration is nice but also not something I focus on. Also, why is a topic like "security" included in a "performance" test? I think standards compliance and security should be separated out to their own scores.

    Is anyone reading this actually using Windows 8?
    • by Ambassador Kosh (18352) on Tuesday July 02, 2013 @10:24AM (#44165309)

      On all my systems I start the system when I boot up and it stays running pretty much indefinitely. When I am done with the system for the day I just hibernate the system. I just care how well the browser works over time and that it doesn't go nuts memory wise. Since my laptop has 16GB of ram I worry very little about the browser.

      I do like hardware acceleration a lot though. What I find is that it translates to better battery usage and the system runs faster while also running longer.

      Overall I care about performance, standard compliance, security, responsiveness, and to some extent memory usage. At this point though it doesn't really matter if you choose Firefox or Chrome.

    • by Urkki (668283)

      Start up speed? It seems to be fast enough on any browser with a laptop from 2009, so I don't see it as relevant thing to measure. Or how many times per week do you restart a browser?

      • by hedwards (940851)

        The Fx on my system has serious issues with start up time. I'm not sure what the problem is exactly, but it's gotten quite bad lately. I suspect that it has something to do with the large number of bookmarks I have as I don't have very many extensions installed and I'm carrying over bookmarks from years ago because I haven't bothered to go in and clean house.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      Hardware acceleration gives you nice smooth scrolling. It is also vital for Firefox because they changed the way images are decoded in a misguided attempt to reduce memory consumption. Instead of decoding images are as they are loaded they are now decoded as they are displayed, so unless you have top-notch hardware with full acceleration scrolling judders like mad on pages with medium sizes images.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 02, 2013 @10:18AM (#44165219)

    I use it because it respects my privacy and freedom, not that i ever complained about firefox being slow, but speed was never the main factor of my decision to use firefox instead of chrome.

  • Memory hog (Score:4, Interesting)

    by EmperorOfCanada (1332175) on Tuesday July 02, 2013 @10:20AM (#44165249)
    I regularly see my Firefox cracking a gig of memory. Then after a few days use it often starts getting weird. Then when I try to quit it the damn thing won't go away so I have to do a "Force Quit". I primarily keep using it because firebug is so good.
    • Re:Memory hog (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MightyYar (622222) on Tuesday July 02, 2013 @10:27AM (#44165357)

      Same here. It can get so large and complicated in memory that it takes 10 minutes to quit. This seems to be mostly limited to the Mac version. I'm a slave to vertical tabs, though, so I haven't used Chrome since they abandoned that feature.

    • by silviuc (676999)
      Go on add-on diet friend. I'm using just lastpass and status-r-evar (stupid name, yes) and I barely see it climb over 600MB. It usually sits around 500MB. Also, I have it set up so that plugins start on-demand.
    • by hedwards (940851)

      Are you sure that it's Fx and not an extension you're running? The only times I see Fx using more than 512mb of RAM is when I'm playing one of those stupid flash games. And most of the time Fx is using less than 300mb or so of RAM.

      I suppose you might also have a much larger number of tabs open than I do, but still.

    • by marsu_k (701360)
      I also keep using FF because of Firebug (and AdBlock+) - but in my experience, with many tabs open, Chromium takes much more memory. This is on x64/Linux, YMMV.
    • by caspy7 (117545)

      It's no defense of Firefox, but one, not-fully-solved issue is crufty profiles. Over time a profile *can* acquire database corruptions as well as other issues (like already uninstalled addons having changed and left about:config settings). These can all lead up to:

      • - Poor memory use
      • - Slow startup/shutdown
      • - Increased jitters & pauses
      • - Instability

      The profile isn't always the issue, but if you've chased down other potential causes (poorly behaving addons, plugins, etc) and your profile is a year or two old

    • I think this is due to Firebug and some websites. Quite often I have to restart Firefox because it has become sluggish after using Firebug for a while. I haven't taken the time to further investigate the issue.

  • I cut back on Firefox because it froze up on me too many times on sites with Flash - even with Flashblock enabled and all software updated. I do most of my surfing on Chrome now.

    However, the reason why I typically run three browsers at a time at work is this: one for my corporate ID (IE), one for web surfing and personal sites (Chrome), and one for my alternate IDs (Firefox). I know Google Chrome is capable of split personalities (i.e. Incognito mode); if there was one feature that would get me to consoli

    • It's not perfect but Multifox [mozdev.org] provides the ability to use seperate environments within Firefox. As an alternative you can manually create launchers for Firefox with the -P flag.

    • by NormHome (99305)

      I still use FireFox as my browser but I agree, in the last two or three versions I've seen FireFox crashing and restarting much more than it ever did before and in the last six months it seems to me that FireFox is not as responsive as it once was.

      Also I've seen at least once a day (most of the time 3 or more times) "the flash plugin has crashed" or "the flash plugin has stopped responding" and I have to click "Stop plugin" to continue. I'm not saying this is a FireFox problem as it could be a Flash plugin

    • by unrtst (777550)

      if there was one feature that would get me to consolidate to a single browser it would be the ability to run multiple instances as different personalities at the same time.

      firefox -ProfileManager
      firefox -P

      Maybe i'm reading your request wrong, but that sounds like exactly what you are looking for. I do wish it was integrated into the firefox browser window menu's themselves though (ie. it'd be nice to hit: File->New Profile Window->Profile Name).

      That said, I end up doing the same thing but I divide them up a little differently based on "long running stuff that I'm ok with restarting all at once but don't want to be interrupted by other stuff - ex. gmail, calendar, etc i

  • by oGMo (379) on Tuesday July 02, 2013 @10:31AM (#44165411)

    It doesn't matter that much if one is slightly faster in Javascript or rendering when Firefox will halt up for 5-10 seconds rendering a new tab. Maybe it's faster than Chrome, but if I have to wait for it, it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter how much Firefox devs work on "UI sluggishness" if it's a single thing can lock up all input to the browser.

    • There's also the intuitiveness and cleanness of the UI in Chrome. It's fast, and it does things I didn't even know I wanted it to do (like rendering my bookmarks toolbar within the browser window in new tabs when I've hidden it.) I was a big Firefox advocate several years ago, but they're going to have to do a lot more than being slightly faster at loading certain parts of a web page to get me off Chrome now.
      • by Patch86 (1465427)

        There's also the intuitiveness and cleanness of the UI in Chrome.

        That's subjective. I can't stand the stripped-down Chrome-style UI. In fact one of my biggest complaints about Firefox (still my main browser) over the last couple of years have been the "Chromification" of the UI.

    • when Firefox will halt up for 5-10 seconds rendering a new tab

      You've noticed that also.

      .
      Though I would call it more of a paralysis than a halt. Firefox goes completely unresponsive. Unnerving at best. And hardly what I would expect of a top-rated "performance-crown-winning" browser.

    • It doesn't matter how much Firefox devs work on "UI sluggishness" if it's a single thing can lock up all input to the browser.

      The Gods have smiled and sent the clue-bat flying through MoFo last month, so Electrolysis [mozilla.org] is back on.

  • by asavage (548758) on Tuesday July 02, 2013 @10:37AM (#44165489)
    The test with the biggest difference was memory usage, with Firefox using half the memory of Chrome. This matches comparisons I have done. If you ever have to use an older computer with 2GB of RAM Chrome is pretty much unusable while Firefox works fine. I have an SSD so I turned off virtual memory. With 8GB of RAM I would have to close Chrome if I want to play a game but have no problems with Firefox.
    • The test with the biggest difference was memory usage, with Firefox using half the memory of Chrome. This matches comparisons I have done. If you ever have to use an older computer with 2GB of RAM Chrome is pretty much unusable while Firefox works fine. I have an SSD so I turned off virtual memory. With 8GB of RAM I would have to close Chrome if I want to play a game but have no problems with Firefox.

      Firefox has always been slimmer than Chrome.

  • With these results, and Firefox developers focusing in fixing the UI sluggishness, can this be the start of a Firefox comeback, after years of slow market share decline?"

    I see these sorts of "performance" comparisons all the time. As I type this I have both Chrome and Firefox open and in use and honestly I cannot see any meaningful difference in speed between them. I'm sure some benchmark suite could find a difference but in day to day usage it simply does not matter which I choose. Any difference in speed on my computers is basically insignificant.

    I have had problems with Chrome's printing being flakey but it's not a speed issue.

    • by Shados (741919)

      It doesn't matter which you choose, which is the point.

      As all browsers get faster, developers can write more complex applications (or...unfortunately, write worse code and no one will notice).

      We have a very complex JavaScript app here, and as browsers get faster, we can add more features. We have to gracefully degrade for old versions of IE (not in term of features, but in term of how "pretty" these features are...animations and stuff) but that's it. If Firefox or whatever were not keeping up, we could not

  • by QuietLagoon (813062) on Tuesday July 02, 2013 @10:59AM (#44165747)
    ... Firefox by a relatively small margin. Indeed, in some areas, Firefox is slow, other areas, such as Javascript, Firefox is, at best, middling.

    .
    At this point, if you are deciding upon which browser to use, perhaps the browser with the marginally highest performance benchmark numbers may not be the browser for you. Here is a difference that matters more to me: when I change the http proxy settings in Firefox, only Firefox is affected. However, when i change the http proxy settings in Chrome, the proxy settings for Windows are changed, meaning that other applications are affected. For this reason I use Firefox instead of Chrome, even though Firefox is a lot slower on a web page I frequent a lot [comcast.net].

  • Maybe it's that javascript engines don't matter as much anymore? Chrome loads pages and responds so much faster than Firefox. I would like to use Firefox, but it's a dramatic difference in performance between the two browser. Can anyone explain why?

    • I think it's the pauses. This is mostly speculation, but from what I understand Firefox runs very quickly but much of it is still single-threaded (or in simpler terms, most of what it does is running in a single sequential order). That means Firefox might be doing important calculations lightning fast in the background, but while those calculations are running the graphical window in front of you pauses temporarily. Chrome is better at multi-threaded, multi-process execution, so the user interface is responsive while background work happens.

      Both might take 12 seconds to render a particular web page, but Chrome might load one visual element every few tenths of a second for the entire 12 seconds. Firefox will appear to load half the page, freeze for 9 seconds, then load the last bits. Either way you're done in 12 seconds, but Firefox gives the impression of being painfully slow.

      The good news is, per the article Firefox is putting a renewed investment in asynchronous operations: https://dutherenverseauborddelatable.wordpress.com/2013/04/10/announcing-project-async-responsive/ [wordpress.com] (same link as up top) and further up in the discussion someone mentioned that Firefox has decided to revisit their abandoned project to split individual browser tabs into separate threads and processes http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3929071&cid=44165865 [slashdot.org]
  • by msobkow (48369) on Tuesday July 02, 2013 @11:10AM (#44165907) Homepage Journal

    Only the worst of Java-script heavy pages slow down on modern hardware with any of the browsers. 99.999% of the time the "slow" is because of AJAX queries to an unresponsive website, and there is bugger all the browser can do about that.

    I tweak code performance beyond reasonableness, too. It's a "hacker thing." But it's not something the user can really see or notice once the first rounds of tuning are done, though. But there's an ego involved in producing the best and fastest code possible, even if no one else can tell the difference without a nanosecond stopwatch.

  • by jbssm (961115) on Tuesday July 02, 2013 @11:29AM (#44166177)

    Although I can believe this to be true in the Desktop - at least in Windows desktop.

    The truth is that on the Android platform the situation is quite diferent. You can check this link: http://www.cactusinception.info/2013/06/android-browser-benckmark-june-2013.html [cactusinception.info]

    The comparison is from last month, and if you read the iOS post about the browsers, you can see the testing methodology changed a bit. But still, using the new tests, Firefox still comes out in the back, altough in that case Opera surpasses Chrome. That part will be updated very soon.

  • Install and run NoScript.

    Honestly, 90% of the websites out there are written by morons. Their javascript and flash are so convoluted and a mess that it even causes lockups on the browser.

    Even slashdot has far too much JS in it for what the site is presenting.

  • Who the hell cares if a page renders .02 seconds faster?

    Lynx will always be the fastest!

  • I guess rapidly increasing the Firefox version number to the point of meaninglessness actually did pay off. I await Chrome 20,000 any day now, and Firefox once again playing catch-up.

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