Speed Test: Firefox 3 vs. IE 8 vs Opera 9.5

Martin Brinkmann
Mar 12, 2008
Updated • Dec 16, 2012

I have not done any tests lately that would reveal the speed of each of the new upcoming browsers. The latest official builds have been tested, they are at the time of the test: Opera 9.5 build 9815/1834, Firefox 3 Gran Paradiso beta 4 and Internet Explorer 8 beta 1. I have been using the Webwait application for this test which monitors page loading times of pages that you select.

All browsers were already in memory and the following pages were each loaded once to avoid cache issues: Digg, CNN, Ghacks and Facebook. The results were pretty astonishing and I'm still thinking that some of the slow loading times might have been caused by a server hickup or a short prob with my Internet connection although I did not see any signs for that on my part. Another possible cause could be add-ons that have are already working in Firefox.

The most astonishing values are two page loading times of Firefox 3. It tool 13.17 seconds to load Digg while Opera needed 5.59 seconds and Internet Explorer 8 only 5.28 seconds. The second huge difference was encountered on Facebook where Opera 9.5 was the fastest browser with a loading time of 1.95 seconds.

Internet Explorer 8 followed with 2.83 seconds and Firefox 3 needed 22.60 seconds to load the page. Firefox on the other hand was the fastest browser when loading my site with 1.9 seconds followed by Opera with 2.38 and Internet Explorer with 4.83 seconds.

The same can be said for the loading time of CNN where Firefox needed 2.94 seocnds, Opera 3.38 seconds and Internet Explorer 8 4.58 seconds.

The only two values that stick out are the Firefox loading times of Facebook and Digg. Anyone here who would like to test the speeds on their connection and post the results in this thread ?


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  1. Tech Helper said on May 4, 2011 at 1:44 am

    Firefox is a top browser but you do need to speed it up by tweaking the settings in about:config, see here http://www.techhelpcentre.com/showthread.php?t=118553.
    Personally out of the box I think Chrome is probably superior now it used to be Firefox, Safari is very close.

  2. Alex said on August 15, 2009 at 1:52 am

    Firefox 3.5 is sooo much faster now. (on Mac, used to be much slower than Safari)

    Facebook (being logged in): 2.64
    Digg: 2.84 (down to 1.3 after refresh)
    CNN: 1.77

  3. Yeahboi said on June 1, 2009 at 1:44 am

    I get around 3 seconds for Facebook and same with Digg.

  4. Victor said on March 18, 2009 at 2:38 am

    I forgot to tell you that if you are lacking memory, do not use firefox, just use opera. Otherwise the fox is unbeatable.

  5. Victor said on March 18, 2009 at 2:35 am

    Firefox 3 is by far the fastest browser in the market. Firefox Loading problems with the above mentioned pages is due to firwall settings. I tested IE 7 Opera 9.64 and Firefox 3.0.7. All 3 with the same firewall settings used in KIS 2008. Firefox was 40% fastest than the other 2. With Opera and IE to be very close. If you use Firefox 3.0.7 and you have KIS 2008 you have to modify your firewall not to monitor the network traffic of firefox. This will have as an effect many ads and banners. However, by putting adblockplus the problems get solved. This is due to the fact that KIS 2008 has default settings for ONLY 2 Browsers, Opera and IE. So, if you use firefox the KIS 2008 will assign settings automatically as internet browser type “IE and Opera”. But this will cause certainly a problem with accessing pages since firefox has totally different code than IE and Opera. Hence, change the firewall settings.

  6. tim said on March 12, 2009 at 5:17 am

    for me opera is the best i mean very little against firefox aqnd for me is more firendly user (pretty lol) so ill stick with opera

  7. arash said on August 30, 2008 at 8:20 am

    Hello guys, i used opera for 5 years, since opera 7 was releasd
    OK, I test Google Mail
    by the way I’m leaving in iran and my internet speed is ~40kbps
    Opera 9.5 ~21 s Gmail(older version) ~28 s
    IE 7 ~ 35 s (older version) ~ 43 s
    FF 3 ~ 23 s (older version) ~ 27 s

    Just test Opera 9.52 for 1 time, I know you will love it

  8. alex said on July 1, 2008 at 3:53 am

    digg took 6 seconds
    facebook took 2 seconds
    google took under 1 second
    youtube took under 2 seconds

  9. Jeffro said on June 21, 2008 at 6:08 pm

    I tested firefox3 Final w/ black aero theme.
    5 meg cable connection.
    Digg 2.8 sec
    Facebook 2.9 sec
    ghacks 2.9 sec

    p.s. The aero theme actually feels a hair slower than the default ffox theme
    p.s.s I used a stopwatch, not webwait
    p.s.s.s the only siete that was cached was facebook

  10. joey said on June 20, 2008 at 3:23 am

    You are testing Webwait, not the browsers.
    And the conclusion is : Webwait returns random results and should be removed from your PCs :-)

  11. Antic said on June 18, 2008 at 11:58 am

    I tested Firefox 3 Final.
    My bandwith is 1 Mbs
    Facebook: 4,8 sek
    Digg: 15,2 sek

  12. AcrankyGeek said on June 7, 2008 at 4:37 am

    There are so many variables that you will never get a valid speed test. Everything from your systems mem/cpu load at the time of browsing, your router, your carriers exchange, your isp, the web route to the website, the bandwidth available to the website, the number of users on any of the above, the number of downloads/bandwidth to or from any one of the above, the time of day (carriers share/donate their capacity to other carriers under load) etc, etc. It aint never going to show you the relative speed of one browser versus another. Just select a browser based on features you need/like and on how much security does/doesnt matter to you.

  13. SteveLuke said on June 6, 2008 at 1:20 am

    Trying FF3RC2 for first time. Latest IE8 release is still B1. My results:

    FF3RC2 CNN=2.99 Digg=5.84 Facebook=1.31 GHacks=3.28
    IE8B1 CNN=7.70 Digg=6.23 Facebook=7.09 GHacks=6.08

    I am on a residential cable line, shared with 3 other computers on a 2 year old computer. This was the first time I visited any of those 4 sites on these browsers (or this computer for that matter) so I don’t think caching played a part.

    Personally, I just installed FF3RC2 today and was immediately surprised at the speed on pages I frequent regularly. Probably 3x faster over what I was seeing with FF2 for some sites.

  14. james said on May 20, 2008 at 5:51 am

    weird everyone must have slow connections all my pages load instantly on each browser opera has been the fasted and so hase firfox 3, safari is ok but lags, and ie 8 vista lags some too so far i like firefox 3 dont have 2 on mine cuz for some reason it lags ALOT

  15. ear said on April 3, 2008 at 3:51 pm

    FF 3beta5

    CNN 9.45s
    Facebook 5.17s

  16. Derek said on March 18, 2008 at 7:23 pm

    CNN.com: 14 seconds with FF3B4

  17. exglade said on March 13, 2008 at 4:58 am
  18. Anonymous said on March 12, 2008 at 11:12 pm

    Actually, for digg.com at least, I find that if I just prematurely kill the loading once the website looks loaded (I have no idea why the digg page takes so long to load when most of it loads within three seconds, is it hanging on some image or something?). Nothing big happens, it’s just annoying. I hope they get this fixed before final release.

  19. Jawwad @ Inspired Geek said on March 12, 2008 at 7:12 pm

    Yeah! they indeed are looking confusing. I also wonder if someone can come with a standardized way to test these big websites loading time to gauge the performance. Although theoretically ajax intensive websites should load/render very fast in Firefox 3.0 b4 because of the enhancements that they have made. Unfortunately personally I can’t test it very authentically because I am on a very slow connection(for now).

  20. Adi said on March 12, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    These results are really confusing, is there some benchmark for these tests and results

  21. indy said on March 12, 2008 at 11:08 am

    ok… uhmm… i’m running ff3b4, here’s my results:
    http://www.digg.com/ –> 6.22s
    http://www.cnn.com/ –> 8.38s
    https://www.ghacks.net/ –> 2.98s
    http://www.facebook.com/ –> 6.60s

    just installed opera Version 9.25 Build 687
    same order:

    not sure i really want to send this as i know it’s very useless :D

  22. BT said on March 12, 2008 at 7:34 am

    Firefox has capabilities that have not be really unleashed. If you want check out my results with Firefox 3b4
    Applying the following tweaks:
    Quick and Dirty Settings
    Fast Computer Fast Connection
    Common to all configurations

    and the results are: As you can see I got a 2.03 Second benchmark result for Facebook. I would love to write detailed guide on how to do it without all the hassle of going through all the old outdated guides.

  23. BT said on March 12, 2008 at 7:05 am

    Also check out other benchmarks,

  24. lol said on March 12, 2008 at 7:02 am

    its because digg sucks

  25. BT said on March 12, 2008 at 7:00 am

    I think it is still too early to judge firefox, Im sure they will deal with speed optimization before they release. They are doing major overhaul changes every build.

  26. Tehmul Ghyara said on March 12, 2008 at 6:55 am

    I got different results:
    Facebook, with Firefox 3 : 11.28 seconds
    Facebook, with Opera 9: 29.84 seconds
    Digg.com got stuck in both Firefox and Opera, with the statusbar in FF reading ‘Transferring data from y.digg.com’ which turns out to be a Hitbox counter

  27. Stallon said on March 12, 2008 at 5:47 am

    FF 2
    digg 9.52
    ghacks 2.71
    facebook 3.87
    cnn 13.55

    FF 3
    digg 10.84
    ghacks 2.91
    facebook 5.02
    cnn 12.39

    FF 4
    digg 10.22
    ghacks 2.83
    facebook 4.51
    cnn 12.17

    IE 8
    digg 13.53
    ghacks 9.98
    facebook 5.39
    cnn 20.27

    Opera 9.5 (could not test with webwait)

    (sorry for the terrible format of results, was in great hurry :) )

  28. Oropher8598 said on March 12, 2008 at 3:31 am

    Facebook and Digg both use forms of browser detection that look for ‘Firefox’ in the browser’s user-agent string. The problem you’re seeing is because pre-release verions of Firefox 3 announce themselves as ‘Minefield’ instead.
    While any form of browser detection is a bad idea, sites that have to do it should actually look in the user-agent string for ‘Gecko’, the underlying engine used by Firefox and an increasing number of other browsers

  29. Aaron said on March 12, 2008 at 3:28 am


    Great Blog,

    My results using Firefox and a 512kbps Broadband Connection were

    Digg – 14.09
    Facebook – 19.11 (That’s Gotta Be A Record)
    GHacks – 23.88 (But Wait, It Gets Better)
    CNN – 60.86 (That just can’t be right)

    Anyway, Make what you like of those

  30. Gemini said on March 12, 2008 at 3:25 am

    -2.22 for facebook
    -22.93 for digg

  31. Rob said on March 12, 2008 at 2:00 am

    When I loaded Digg (which I never visit) into FF3b4 over a pretty loaded corporate network with a 100Mbit feed (no, it’s not a direct pipe, theres QoS policies and a firewall in the way), it loaded in 7.96sec, the next load took only 2.56sec.

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