Depends on how you test fastest. Microsoft claims IE is the fastest browser. Everyone else, and I do mean EVERYONE else says it’s the slowest. So how do people test and how do they get the results they spout off?

Here’s the latest -

This test is about rendering time. It doesn’t emphasize JavaScript, it shows the rendering time to load all the elements of the web page and display them. This is a test that’s actually fairly even between browsers. They’ve all been laying out web pages for a long time and have gotten the process down pretty well. But, sure enough, IE comes in last, but it’s “only” 275% slower then Safari, Chrome and Opera and only 33% slower then Firefox.

Want a little more real-world then that? Here’s another speed comparison -

That one shows IE, Safari and Firefox pretty much neck and neck with page loading and has Chrome about 25% faster.

But it’s the chart from Test #2 that has the numbers that start to reveal the huge performance gaps that everyone talks about. The chart that shows Chrome as 10 times faster then IE and Safari as 8 times faster.

So it’s JavaScript that is the heart of the real performance differences. Here’s a test that focuses on just that -

And when you look at that test, you see that Chrome ranges from 33 to 3 times faster then IE and Safari ranges from 31 to 6 times faster.

When you pull it all together it boils down to this:

  • All the browsers actually perform well in general browsing.
  • Safari and Chrome are generally the fastest with Firefox trailing closely.
  • Safari and Chrome beat the pants off of IE in JavaScript performance.

Safari and Chrome (with Firefox coming along) are positioning themselves to take advantage of heavy, Javascript-rich web applications. Applications that IE simply won’t be able to run. For most of today’s sites, they’re all pretty fast. But for the leading edge of RIA applications, IE is a slow dog.