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Darth Gerbil
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Browser speed: Can't tell the difference

Tue Sep 27, 2011 7:34 pm

I regularly use Firefox 6 and Chrome on my home computer (WinXP). On my MacBook Pro (OS 10.4) I use Safari, Chrome, and Firefox. On my work PC (Windows 7) I use IE, Chrome, Safari, and Firefox. Aside from the odd compatibility quirk here and there, all of these browsers feel exactly the same speed to me. The Internet connection is the biggest factor in speed followed by the number of add-ons where available. No matter what I do, the daily use of all of these browsers on all these platforms yields my complete confusion as to how anyone can tell a difference in speed between any of them. I'm sure there is a technical difference in speed, but I often forget which one I'm using unless I specifically look towards the corners of the browser window and see the UI. The experiences are largely the same.

I can understand different C/GPU's and the like because of performance but I'm puzzled about browsers. Why is browser speed such a big deal?

fwiw, I find it useful to have all of these options so I can load multiple instances of a web page, for example, in different browsers, or have different browsers for different logins.
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Grand Admiral Gerbil
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Re: Browser speed: Can't tell the difference

Tue Sep 27, 2011 8:26 pm

I haven't tried it on all the latest versions of other browsers, but that Arcade Fire "We Used to Wait" site was kind of the Crysis of browsers, in that it choked everything except Chrome. Especially on slower/older machines. There are other bleeding edge examples with HTML 5 where differences show up too. But in terms of real-world stuff, axeman is right: it's the javascript-heavy AJAX is stuff where you might see a difference -- mostly on the more specialized or proprietary (intranet) sites, because the sites that are aiming at the largest possible audience get written for the lowest common denominator, so every browser seems fast. (Which is not a reason to not keep optimizing browsers, since that's the only way to raise the lowest common denominator).

And of course if they're using Flash, that's tends to make the browser irrelevant (and seemingly slow) anyway.
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Re: Browser speed: Can't tell the difference

Tue Sep 27, 2011 9:32 pm

Most users most of the time won't notice the difference. But these are some the selling points that browsers have to work with. The fact that you don't notice the difference is possibly a good sign - competition has made it so that all major browsers have reasonable performance, from the point of view of the average user. Some might argue that wasn't the case 10 years ago, although there were many factors involved other than just the 'speed' of the browser.

For many users in many circumstances (by no means all) performance benchmarks are meaningless minutiae. When people ask me what laptop to buy, the features and hardware are usually pretty indistinguishable to them... if they've got a built in webcam and wirelss, they're pretty good to go... so I tell them to pay attention to things that may seem pointless, like which one looks nicer, which one has a better feeling keyboard... in many cases web browsers aren't any different.

But if you happen to know better for one reason or another, then you can already make your own choice :D
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Re: Browser speed: Can't tell the difference

Tue Sep 27, 2011 11:17 pm

You need more internets. See, browser speed in real-world use is like the audiophile area of computer nerd-dom. It's all highly subjective, with lots of theories and ideas and even some testing, but then also contradictory testing and it all really comes down to opinion anyway. Plus at the end of the day, I will save more time just using the browser I'm using even if it 'loads slower' than f'ing around trying all sorts of different browers, versions, and plugins.

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