About a month ago, MacWorld published an article showing that Safari 11 is the fastest browser for the Mac. Apple has made those claims before. I tested that claim about Safari 8 three years ago and found that Safari wasn’t any faster than Chrome or Firefox. In MacWorld’s testing, Safari 11 comfortably beats the competition but I had a couple issues with that post.
First, they didn’t say anything about the hardware they benchmarked on. Was it a MacBook? MacBook Pro? iMac? That matters. I also thought it was a bit disingenuous to benchmark a beta version of a browser against its stable contemporaries. So I decided to benchmark it myself against the latest preview versions of Firefox and Chrome.
I have a 2012 MacBook Air. Inside is a 1.8Ghz Core i5 and 8GB of RAM. At this point, it’s feeling a bit old (particularly compared to my 2016 iMac at work), but it’s still kicking. If you have a newer Mac, your results could vary.
The browser benchmark landscape has changed significantly since I tested Safari 8. I decided to run most of the same benchmarks as MacWorld, but skipped a couple to save myself some time. I also didn’t test Opera for the same reason. The charts below show the average of 3 runs of each benchmark. Each run was a “cold” run, meaning I restarted the browser between runs.
Here’s what I found:
As you can see, Safari 11 still came out on top in everything except Speedometer. Firefox is still trailing, though the margin seems a bit smaller than MacWorld’s tests showed.
This also comes with the caveat that all of these are still preview versions and the final performance could change by the time they go stable. As of right now though, Apple’s claim that Safari 11 is the fastest desktop browser actually appears to be true.
Color me surprised.