Does speed matter to you anymore when you pick a web browser?

  • Vivaldi Team

    Hi, I remember a time when there were speed tests of browsers all the time and it was an important aspect of choosing a browser. These days with faster Internet connections (not for all), faster computers (for most) with more memory does the speed of the browser still matter to you, or are they all now so fast that you do not notice the milliseconds one is faster than another? I have not made up my mind whether speed in general matters to me anymore, but it does still matter to me that the browser opens fast and has a "snappy" feel to it. Which is my favorite browser in this regard these days? It's not the one I use all the time, so I guess that speed isn't as important to me anymore as it used to be. On the mobile side it does matter a lot still, but my latest phone is more powerful than the laptop I used 5 years ago, so with my next phone this may not be important on mobile either.

  • Recalculating…

  • @christian:

    I have not made up my mind whether speed in general matters to me anymore, but it does still matter to me that the browser opens fast and has a "snappy" feel to it. ...

    I would agree. To me, it's not so much that the browser needs to be "fast", but that it not feel "slow" - and there really is a difference in the two ways of describing it. A fast browser is one that maximizes performance stats in formal speed tests and makes for great advertising copy; a slow browser is one that perceptibly lags, hangs, delays, or generally feels sluggish in real-world website page-loading or viewing, and which can occur even if the speed tests imply otherwise. Put another way, I don't much care if a browser is "fast", but I always avoid using a browser that is "slow".

  • Of course speed (1) matters - but real world speed on my system and in the way I use it (open tab junkie). I have no use for a browser that brings my system to a staggering halt with mere 30 tabs open …

    ... or a browser that cheats while rendering animations like this:
    (best browser with that is O11 here, not 12 btw. all others cheat and don't display it smooth)

    speed (2) matters too: How fast can I do a certain task in a browser, one example: Open a sitemap with many links, how long does it take to open a bunch of links? Can I watch more than one page at a time like e.g. tugging a mobile webpage into a panel to see what happens there or MDI like comparing two pages in a side by side view?

    and speed (3): How easy can I change site contents for better accessibility, readability (kill offending color combinations, change font sizes, widths, line heights, stop distracting animations, sounds, etc.)

    speed (4): Can I e.g. take rip offs (notes) of webpages to reference them for later, (5) can I save sets of sessions, (6) ...

    ... I can go on for a long time. Yes parts of that sound geeky, but if you have to read longer articles and you can change e.g. the line height or override crappy font choices you can feel for yourself how it speeds you up - and in the end that is the only speed that counts: Mine.

    Yes, there is more than one definition of speed, and the browser that matches the mix best is the best for me.

    Extra points if I can access the rest of the internet like Mail, RSS, IRC too.

  • Vivaldi Team

    Actually, the speed is always important. Of course, today it is more "speed feeling" than "speed calculating", but, anyway, when you spend a little bit more time for each action during full work day (for most people it mean 16-18 hours in browser), you feel yourself more tired.

    That's why I hate JS animation - very often this animation just spend my seconds every hour without additional comfort 🙂
    If you see it once - you says "wow, it's cool!", but if you see it every minute or even more often - it's really ugly.

    For me the perfect browser should finish action exactly after the mouse button click. Without animation, fading out, etc.

  • @Shpankov:

    For me the perfect browser should finish action exactly after the mouse button click. Without animation, fading out, etc.


    … but sometimes an animation can improve accessibility - when I think of pure CSS menus a little animation can prevent nervous flickering of submenus, see rationale last paragraph here:

  • Vivaldi Team

    Yes, animation is good in some cases, but these cases should cover less than 5% of the functionality, not more 🙂

  • Not really. To some degree a browser needs to be fast. But I think most modern browsers are fast enough when compared to each other.

    Ease of use is much more important. A feature like Mouse Gestures or Rocker Gestures saving seconds of time is much more important than one browser rendering something a hundredth of a second faster.

  • No, it no longer matters to me because all of the browsers I use (IE11, Chrome, 31, FF26, Opera 18) render pages more or less equally. Of more important to me is having a stable browser, one that is compatible with the internet sites I frequent and one that I can configure to my own liking. Frankly I see very little difference between the main browsers speed-wise given the way in which I use a browser (never more than four or five tabs).

  • Speed matters enough to me to always go through chrome://flags and opera://flags to enable (or make sure it's enabled):

    • GPU compositing on all pages.

    • Threaded compositing.

    • Accelerated overflow scroll + Universal accelerated overflow scroll.

    • Accelerated 2D canvas.

    • Accelerated CSS animations.

    • GPU accelerated SVG filters.

    • Direct3D 11 (on hardware/drivers that support it).

    • Fixed position elements create stacking contexts.

    • Compositing for fixed position elements.

    • Compositing for RenderLayers with transitions.

    • Compositing for fixed root backgrounds.

    • Delegated Renderer.

    • Deadline scheduling.

    • UI deadline scheduling.

    • Map-image rasterizer (AKA Zero-copy).

    • Disable compositor touch hit testing.

    • Enable accelerated scrollable frames.

    • Enable composited scrolling for frames.

    • Enable lazy session loading.


    , which I check with opera://gpu and chrome://gpu (and also check that flash hardware acceleration is on) and experiment with.

    I also enable SPDY and ASYNC DNS.

    I also go into chrome://plugins and make sure PepperFlash is being used instead of regular flash. The former is more responsive (but uses more resources). YMMV though.

    Using a process for each tab helps too. Browsers lazy-loading images as you scroll helps too.

    When I do something in a browser, I want it to happen as fast as possible. So, a browser has to have those configuration option goodies for acceleration. (Firefox for example does HTML parsing in another thread.)

    Now, with that said, UI speed/feel is even more important to me. Opera Presto has always been the fastest there. On recent hardware though, it's harder to tell. Firefox has improved a lot over the years. But, I still like Chrome even if opening/closing tabs isn't as fast as Opera Presto and Firefox. Chrome starts up super fast (with a warm start at least), which is awesome since closing the last tab closes the browser (no extension works around that 100% of the time).

    Besides that though, I'm more interested in stability (including updates not introducing regressions), support for all the new web APIs and goodes, and things just working.

    In short, speed still matters to mew when picking a browser, but there are other things that are more important.

  • Vivaldi Team

    Wow, that was a comprehensive and very useful post! I've been checking Chrome flags all morning! Thank you! 🙂

  • @ christian

    • On my desktop PC and on a fast connection I hardly can notice any speed differences whether I'm using OperaPresto or Firefox.
      A few milliseconds more or less are irrelevant for me.
      For instance SPDY is always disabled in my browser. Having control over the content a server is pushing is much more important than a theoretical speed gain of some milliseconds.
      Nevertheless I care for speed in general:
    • I'm running a local filtering proxy.
    • Most of the time scripting is disabled.
      Unfortunately JavaScript is the most misused scripting language. An ideal opportunity to serve lot of junk, to snoop or even worse, to use it as a handy attack vector.
    • Responsiveness of the GUI is also important. (Firefox has improved XUL so it isn't a PITA anymore, at least on my machines the GUI is fast)

    • Last but not least, the way I can work/interact with my browser is eminently important (configurability & customization of the GUI) .
      Accessing and changing some settings quickly on the fly are a must-have for me - for instance settings like enable/disable JavaScript or proxy.

  • One of the biggest things in Presto is not reloading every single page when you go Back; I've yet to find another browser which even compares in that regard. Getting a new page up quickly is also a good thing, but these days there's little difference between browsers there - with certain exceptions. There are a couple of extremely long listings I've seen that render well in Presto while bringing Chromium to a standstill. But that's only a couple of pages which I absolutely have to use Presto for … and in that sense it isn't speed really.

  • i must say that to me, speed still matters, particularly when you are on a slow connection. at home, it's not a big issue. on the road, you can't always ensure you have strong connectivity, there's only so much you can do to improve your connection strength. browser speed matters a lot in cases like this.

  • I'm a speed junkie! I disable everything that I can to improve performance, be it plugins, ads, scripts, or page elements that doesn't bring anything to my daily browsing experience.
    I also despise ajax and flash content.

    Opera (Presto) and Proxomitron deliver what I want regarding speed.

  • Yes, browser speed matters a lot to me when I'm abroad. :woohoo:

  • Yes. Speed drew me to Opera back in the dialup days. For a few years after getting broadband, browser speed didn't seem to matter, but now I'm encountering more and more pages with so many ads, photos and pulling in so many social network like and share buttons and so much Ajax that the pages load at almost dialup speeds again.

    I don't need the fastest browser, but one that can handle lots of Ajax and still give competent speeds.

  • Usually not anymore.

    But O12 and the latest QNAP NAS are a nice example of a speed issue. The configuration pages of the NAS are barley usable. They switched to some kind of OS-Like look and feel with animations sigh. You click on one item and wait 5 seconds until the action is finished. Probably this is not a real speed issue, but a implementation issue on either side (no finger pointing).

    Another point is that faster implementations might tend to be more power efficient on todays systems (so called 'race to halt'). As modern CPUs have a high dynamic of deep sleep / performance modes and the ability to fast switch between the CPU can earlier go to power saving modes and stay longer in them if rendered pages are done faster.

  • I can say very confidently that speed does not matter to me, as long as it is "fast enough" as has already been said.
    I had been using Chrome (under Windows) for years until recently.
    After I got a new laptop I decided to ditch Chrome for IE11. Why, you ask?
    Battery. With Chrome my shiny new (well, matte black ThinkPad 😎 ) was struggling to eke out 4 hours of battery. As I usually do no more than browse the web, OneNote, and keep a shell open web browsing battery life was extremely important to me.
    When I switched to IE11 I was astounded. Where I normally got 3.5 hours from an Ivy Bridge and a 6-cell I now get 6 or more. Outstanding!
    Browsers are superficially very similar these days; it's the extras that set them apart. For me, IE11's draw was battery life. I'm willing to ditch a few milliseconds of speed and a few key extensions to double my runtime.

  • I don't think that the speed of opening a web page is important to me. Hell I even got a "slow" internet connection at my place, because I thought "what do I need 50Mbit???" So I'm basically slowing me down by myself.
    What I think is important though is, that the browser keeps its speed, even if it is "under pressure". i.e. if you have 25 tabs open and watching 3+ different live streams, there should be no real change!


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