Every month, we publish browser statistics and share the latest market share data for the most popular browsers. Google Chrome is number one with the largest user base, Microsoft Edge is second, and Firefox is third. There are other “indie” projects, like Vivaldi, that try to disrupt the market by offering more unique features. They’re not as popular as Edge or Firefox, but their capabilities and fast pace of development are worth it.
Which of these four browsers is the best to use on Windows?
Answering this question is difficult, if not impossible. Each user has their preferences, tastes, needs and hardware configuration. What works best for one won’t work for another. This article reviews four popular browsers, compares their raw performance, and examines the pros and cons to find the best one.
We tested Chrome, Edge, Firefox, and Vivaldi on two systems with AMD and Intel processors. Keep in mind that your system performance may be slightly different depending on the power of your hardware.
Jetstream 2 is a complex benchmark that measures the performance of web applications. A browser that launches quickly, runs code faster, and runs smoother gets a higher score.
In Jetstream 2, all Chromium-based browsers received more or less identical scores. However, Firefox performs considerably worse, and its inability to keep up with Chromium can be noticeable in day-to-day browsing.
Motionmark is another benchmark that shows the dominance of Chrome’s Blink engine over other engines. This benchmark tests browsers’ abilities to render complex graphics and effects that are becoming increasingly popular.
Chrome showed the best result, Edge came second, Vivaldi third, and Firefox finished fourth with a significantly lower score. On our Intel machine, all Chromium browsers got similar results.
The third test measures the responsiveness of web applications. The higher the score, the better your experience while running websites and web applications. On AMD, Firefox beats both Edge and Vivaldi and tied when tested on the Intel-based PC. Chrome finished first with an overwhelming dominance over its competitors on both systems.
The final test we performed was less scientific and more realistic. We fired up ten web pages (a YouTube video, stores, large documentation pages, and websites with complex animations) to see how much RAM each browser consumed. Again, the results were mildly surprising.
Contrary to popular belief, Chrome wasn’t the most RAM-intensive browser. In fact, it consumed 350MB less memory than Edge and 10MB less than Firefox. Vivaldi surprised us with the best RAM efficiency: it only needed 960MB of RAM to display all ten tabs.
It is worth mentioning that Microsoft Edge has a feature to freeze inactive tabs to reduce RAM consumption. Sleeping tabs in Edge can save around 30-40MB of RAM per tab, but our tests showed no significant savings after sleeping nine tabs. You may get better results when working with “heavy” tabs that consume a lot of memory.
So Chrome is the best, right?
Not exactly. While it’s hard to ignore Chrome’s better raw performance, superior compatibility, and cross-platform capabilities, Google’s browser lags its competitors in several other aspects.
firefox is a better choice if you’re willing to trade performance for privacy. You may come across poorly designed websites that don’t play well with Firefox, but others launch without significant issues, although sometimes noticeably slower. Plus, Firefox is your best friend if you’re looking for the open web and want to break free from Chromium’s domination.
The latter is the unfortunate reason why Firefox and Apple’s Safari have such a hard time keeping up with Chrome, Edge, Vivaldi and other Chromium-based browsers. Most developers focus their efforts on optimizing for Chromium and sometimes overlook the alternatives. And because Firefox and Safari have a relatively small user base compared to Chrome, things turn into a vicious cycle.
Fortunately, Google, Microsoft, Apple, Mozilla, and others recently announced a joint effort to improve interoperability and ensure users have the same experience across browsers. Hopefully Firefox will yield positive results from this initiative. Until then, Firefox remains a decent browser with a big “but”.
Microsoft Edge has several cool features that make it easier to recommend on Chrome. For example, Startup Boost in Edge allows the browser to launch instantly. Edge also has arguably the best-in-class cross-platform password manager. Other notable features include performance optimization tools, shopping assistant, collections, sleep tabs and many more.
Another thing to point out is that Edge has arguably the best user interface on Windows. Of course, you don’t choose a browser for its looks, but Chrome is starting to look like the developers just don’t care about visuals.
On the other hand, some argue that the browser is too bloated and everyone hates the user-unfriendly practices that Microsoft refuses to abandon. And, while it doesn’t have some of the controversial parts of Chrome, Microsoft Edge still harvests a lot of your data and annoys you with it.
Vivaldi is another Chrome derivative that tries to combine the best of everything. It emphasizes privacy and offers an impressive amount of customization. The latter could become a bit of a hassle for an unprepared user as it’s all too easy to get lost in Vivaldi’s jungle of settings. Still, if you’re willing to invest the time to get to grips with Vivaldi, you’ll have a solid browser that offers unique features without compromising on performance or compatibility.
Of course, Vivaldi isn’t perfect. For example, there is no version for iOS, and some of its features are significantly worse compared to Chrome or Edge (page translation, for example). Below, you’ll find a tabulated list of some of the pros and cons of each browser:
Ultimately, selecting the best browser for Windows comes down to balancing functionality, privacy, and performance. It’s not that hard to see why Chrome is so popular. It’s a fast and reliable browser that gets the job done. For a regular consumer, faster loading speeds and seamless compatibility are more important than privacy.
If you have slightly higher privacy standards, you might want to consider Edge or Vivaldi. Both will give you a more than satisfying experience without Google’s data probes, and you’ll get some useful productivity features and capabilities. Finally, Firefox is the best choice for those who value privacy and open source software more than performance.
Do you agree with the arguments in this article? What is most important to you in the browser you use? Share your thoughts and preferences in the comments.