A first look at Maxthon's MxNitro browser

Martin Brinkmann
Sep 30, 2014
Updated • Sep 30, 2014

While the Maxthon browser has not reached the popularity of browsers like Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox or even Opera yet, it has a loyal following that likes what it offers.

It may come as a surprise to many that the company Maxthon has created a second browser called MxNitro. Both web browsers don't share many similarities apart from the fact that they are created by the same company though.

MxNitro is currently available as an alpha preview build that Windows users can download and run on their system. Maxthon promises the "fastest-starting, quickest-loading and most visually uncluttered web browser in the world".

The browser installs and starts up really fast which can partly be explained by its minimalistic nature. If you thought that Google Chrome was rather bare-bones, wait until you see MxNitro.

The interface displays tabs at the top, an address bar, a back and reload button, a home button, and an option to favorite a page. Even the close, minimize and maximize buttons of the browser window are not displayed by default and only appear when you move the cursor to their location first.

maxthon mxnitro browser

There are not any other buttons or menus which means that you cannot modify basic settings such as the homepage of the browser, search providers or privacy settings.

This is a stark contrast to the company's own Maxthon browser which comes packed with features, and to the majority of other browsers available today.

The company notes that speed was the core metric during development and that stripping down the browser of ballast helped make that goal become a reality.

The project website reveals details about other features of the browser. It uses pre-fetching based on "browser and search history" as well as "usage patterns" and establishes connections to websites and pages using algorithms to determine the most likely targets.

So who is this for?

maxthon nitro 5 pages

It is for users who just want to display websites on their computer, who want fast startup times and the browser to establish connections to websites fast.

It is using less memory than other browsers especially after start without websites open but also when some pages are open in the browser. The browser's memory usage increases quickly though once you start opening more than a handful of pages.

And who is it not for?

It is not for users who want any form of control over what their browser does or require any features that improve the usability of it.

There are no extensions, no interface customizations, and no settings at all. Plugins appear to be loaded but there is no option to prevent that other than uninstalling them on the system.

Closing Words

The Nitro browser takes minimalism to new extremes. That's great for users who want the browser to get out of the way and just display websites fast, but not so much for users who like to customize the browser or at least control what it loads and does and what it does not.

I can see this become a hit in the mobile world but on desktop systems, it is unlikely that it will make a large impact.

What's your take on this minimalistic browser?

software image
Author Rating
3.5 based on 4 votes
Software Name
Maxthon Nitro
Operating System
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  1. Ray said on October 2, 2014 at 1:40 am

    Looks like a Chromium-powered browser with a simplified UI.

    UI looks pretty slick though.

  2. Binner said on October 1, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    It reminds me of Mozilla’s Lightspeed concept.

  3. ACow said on September 30, 2014 at 11:56 pm

    Lack of control over security/privacy/settings is not a problem only the MxMathon suffers form. The main Maxthon browser doesn’t provide the option to manage or even list the cookies stored on the computer. This is the only problem I have with the browser. Other than that, it’s pretty awesome. Responsive, stable, based on Blink and, what makes it really stand out, its interface is customizable.

    1. Tom Hawack said on October 1, 2014 at 11:04 am

      Looks like Maxthon is closer to a Beijing behavior than to a Hong-Kong openness. I just don’t like that.

  4. Tom Hawack said on September 30, 2014 at 9:00 pm

    The concept of a bare-bone browser can be interesting should it be when reserving it for short site-targeted sessions. Nevertheless I cannot imagine surfing blindly concerning the fundamentals, that is caches, history, cookies. I have to know what remains of my sessions. Otherwise I won’t even test such a browser. Security ans privacy datas, to know where they are is a minimum IMO.

  5. Daniel said on September 30, 2014 at 8:03 pm

    Even IE starts up fast…

    Maxthon might have a niche of its established users that want a bare-bones browser but i don’t think it will ever make a dent in the browser market at large.

    Let’s face it!
    People were starting to like Maxthon1 then they flipped the switch and then came Maxthon2 which was pretty good but needed a bit of tweaking (perfecting).
    Then oops! Here came Maxthon3, then Maxthon4.
    None of these have been brought to become full, mature browsers.
    They just seem to all remain on a permanent beta level.

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