When you’re choosing what web browser to go with, speed is a crucial metric. However, it’s one that can be difficult to test and — due to the ever-evolving nature of web browsers — challenging to find any concrete information that isn’t horribly outdated. Thus, we have tested all the major web browsers to find the fastest one around.
To cut right to the chase, Vivaldi is the fastest internet browser we tested. It performed great in all three benchmark tests we used to compare the providers, outpacing all the competition. However, Opera wasn’t far behind, and when looking purely at graphically intensive tasks, Opera and Chrome were the fastest.
These results represent the performance of the browsers today and, even if you’re reading in the far future, should provide some guidelines on where to look for the fastest web browser. If you’re wondering how we made our list, be sure to jump down to the bottom to read our web browser speed-testing process.
The Fastest Browsers 2021
- Google Chrome
The Vivaldi browser has featured prominently in our rankings, topping the list of the best browsers, in general, and coming in fourth place for the best browser for Mac, where it would’ve been higher if it wasn’t for the lack of an iOS version.
It was also our third pick for the most secure browser, meaning you won’t have to choose between performance and security with Vivaldi. If you want to learn why we think it’s the best web browser, make sure to read our Vivaldi review for all the details.
Although it didn’t do as well with graphically intensive tasks, for most users this is a far less common use-case for a browser and, as such, is less important.
Opera has been around a long time and changed a lot over the course of its development. If you’d like to learn everything there is to know about the elder statesman of internet browsers, check out our full Opera browser review.
If you’re concerned with privacy and security, then few browsers will be able to compete with Brave, as we covered at length in our full Brave review. It’s also our number-two pick for the best browser for Android, as well as our choice for the best browser for Mac.
4. Mozilla Firefox
Firefox is an excellent browser, noted for its serious commitment to privacy and wide range of features, as we noted in our Firefox review. Although it hasn’t won any of our rankings outright, it has featured in the top five in all of them and handily won our comparisons of Firefox vs. Chrome and Opera vs. Firefox.
Nevertheless, Firefox is still a fast browser and easily beats our final pick of this list due to its good results for lightweight web applications, which, as mentioned earlier, is the most important criterion we tested for.
5. Google Chrome and Chromium
It’s worth mentioning that if you’re comparing Chromium vs. Chrome in terms of speed, there is very little difference to speak of, with Chromium being perhaps a little bit faster than its much more popular offspring. Because the results were so similar, and the fact that there’s not much difference between them to begin with, the two browsers share the final spot on the list.
Be sure to read our Chromium review before you switch over, though, as there are some serious stability concerns with the open-source browser that you should consider before making the switch from Chrome to Chromium.
If you want to compare them yourself, you can read our Google Chrome review, as well, so you have all the information you need on both alternatives.
How to Test Your Web Browser’s Speed
Testing the speed of a web browser is not as simple as it sounds. Most speed tests you’ll find online are focused on measuring your connection speed and not the speed of the browser itself. However, BrowserBench has helpfully created a suite of benchmark tests focused on three different aspects of web browser performance.
First and most important is Speedometer 2.0, which runs 480 different standard web applications in swift succession, measuring how quickly the browser handles them and averaging the results to give you a score that represents the maximum runs per minute the browser can do.
Out of the three tests we used, we put the greatest emphasis on this one, as it covers what is likely to be the majority of your browsing activity and thus will be much more noticeable than the other two tests.
Using JetStream to Test Uncommon Web Applications
Next is JetStream, which covers more advanced, heavier and less common web applications in a similar process. Four out of the five browsers (with Firefox as the odd one out) got very similar scores in this test, meaning it didn’t factor as heavily in our ranking.
Finally, MotionMark renders a bunch of advanced visuals, measuring how well each browser’s graphics engine performs when put under heavy load.
Stabilizing Our Web Browser Speed Test Results
When using these tests, it’s important to ensure that you’re connected to a stable internet connection, as swings in connection speed can easily influence the results, tainting them and rendering them pretty much useless.
To account for this, we used a stable connection and ran the tests for each browser several times, averaging out the scores before ranking them accordingly.
It’s also important to free up all your system’s resources for the test, so if you want the most accurate results, shut down everything (including extensions) except for the browser you want to test.
For the purposes of these tests, we used an Acer Aspire E5-575G laptop with an Intel i5-6200U CPU running at 2.40GHz, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 950M graphics processor, 6GB of RAM and a standard (non-SSD) 120GB hard drive running 64-bit Windows 10 Home version 1903.
This means that this list focuses on the fastest browser for Windows 10 (and to a certain extent the fastest browser for Windows 7, as the performance should be identical), rather than the fastest Android browser or the fastest browser for Mac.
With that, our list of the fastest web browsers is finished. In securing the first place, the Vivaldi browser continues to cement itself as an all-around excellent browser. Opera, Brave and Firefox also did very well, and Chrome and Chromium certainly aren’t slow, either, even though they ended up tied in last place on this list.
If you’re interested in learning more about the various internet browsers out there, you can check out our collection of browser reviews. We’ve also pitted several browsers against each other in head-to-head battles, such as Microsoft Edge vs. Chrome and Opera vs. Chrome.
If security is your main concern, we also ranked the most secure web browsers, featuring several that weren’t included here, such as Tenta and Puffin (which is incredibly fast on iOS but painfully slow on other platforms). If you’re using a Chromium-based browser and want to make it even more secure, then you should read our list of the best browser security extensions.
What do you think of our browser speed ranking? Have you experienced different results from the ones in this list, or did we neglect a performance test that you like? Let us know in the comments below. Thank you for reading.