Safari 4 rivals Google Chrome in JavaScript race

The newest version of Apple Safari is not the world's fastest browser.

Contrary to Apple's claims, the newest version of Safari is not the world's fastest browser, benchmark scores show. But it is dramatically faster than rivals being built by Mozilla and Microsoft.

According to JavaScript rendering tests run by Computerworld, the public beta of Safari 4 is in a virtual dead heat with the most recent edition of Google's Chrome, but is 38 percent faster than the newest version of Firefox, more than three times faster than the production edition of that open-source browser, and over five times faster than Microsoft's Internet Explorer 8.

Computerworld ran the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark suite in Windows XP three times for each browser, then averaged the scores.

Safari 4, which Apple released Tuesday as a public beta , scored just slightly higher than Chrome 2.0.164.0, a developer-only build of Google's browser that was issued only last week. The difference, however, was minute: Google was only about 7 percent faster. Although Chrome and Safari are both built around the same open-source WebKit engine, they use different JavaScript engines. The former features Google's own V8 engine, while Safari 4 relies on Apple's new Nitro.

That new engine was most in evidence when Safari 4's scores are compared to those of Safari 3.2.2, the current shipping version on Windows: The beta of Safari 4 was about 3.7 times faster.

Safari 4 also proved faster than the newest Firefox, a nightly build in the run-up to Firefox 3.1, although at just 38 percent faster its edge was much smaller.

It easily beat Firefox 3.0.6, Mozilla's production browser, and IE8 Release Candidate 1 (RC1), Microsoft's latest public release of its still-under-construction successor to the three-year-old IE7. According to SunSpider's tests, Safari 4 is nearly 3.5 times faster than Firefox and about 5.6 times faster than IE8.

When IE7 is brought into the picture, Safari 4 looks lightning-quick: Apple's browser is more than 76 times faster at completing the JavaScript tests than Microsoft's.

Most browser makers have been aggressively promoting improved JavaScript performance for months. Google, for example, bragged up Chrome's when it debuted the browser last September , while Mozilla has been talking up Firefox 3.1's TraceMonkey engine since August.

Microsoft, however, has disparaged the benchmark bragging as a "browser drag race" that it's not interested in joining. Instead, senior product manager James Pratt has tried to steer the conversation away from JavaScript and toward a more subjective interpretation.

"We're at the point, with what people do in the browser, that users can't really tell the difference between browsers," he has argued. "Beyond building a performance lab, which we've done, it's very difficult to tell which browser is fastest. The reality is that for most users, they'll all be comparable."

On the Mac, where Safari doesn't have to compete with Google — Chrome has yet to be ported to Apple's operating system — the beta of version 4 is almost twice as fast as Firefox 3.1 Beta 2 and nearly four times faster than Firefox 3.0.6, according to SunSpider tests run on a 2.4GHz "unibody" MacBook.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags AppleGoogle Chromefirefox 3.1safariinternet explorer 8

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Gregg Keizer

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Brand Post

PC World Evaluation Team Review - MSI GT75 TITAN

"I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it."

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?