I've got 4 browsers currently installed on one of my PC and guess what, i'm going to pit them against each other! I will compare and evaluate them according to these few critiria: looks, features, stability & general performance, and browsing speed.

For this test, a 32-bit Windows 7 is the platform OS and hardware specification includes 4GB RAM equipped with Core 2 Duo with 2.1GHz clock speed. The browser that will be evaluated includes Internet Explorer 8, Mozilla Firefox v3.6.6, Maxthon v3.0.15.300 RC2 and Element Browser v5.

1. Looks

Since all of you out there will most likely have Internet Explorer and Firefox installed, so i won't show their screens here. But regarding Maxthon v3 and Element Browser, which is pretty rarely used, here are their screenshots:

Maxthon Browser v3.0.15.300 RC2

Element Browser v5

I switch between browsers once every while to absorb their different GUI and feel and up until now, my preferred choice has always been Maxthon. I did customize my Firefox with addons to make it look prettier and handier but then Maxthon appeared good-looking right out of the box: it uses a confortable color of silvery white which plays nicely with the Aeroglass interface, has large and clean-cut buttons that glow and a classy minimalistic options menu. It almost looks like Opera's interface, yet it does not really match: that's the beauty about it.

Here are some considerations, though:

A)  Element Browser has the largest browser space by default, but the worst font of all 4 browsers.

B)  Firefox appears outdated in its default GUI, but with a little addons, you can make it prettier.

C)  Internet Explorer has the most detailed default appearance, but that detailed appearance makes it seemed cluttered.

2. Features

I am a longtime fan of Firefox and as of today, nobody can beat it in terms of features. Firefox have customizable addons, have private browsing and these two are enough to pawn the rest of the field. Sure enough, Internet Explorer and Maxthon has no addons, and Element browser's addon only contains skin changer. Likewise, Firefox and Internet Explorer have Private Browsing that works, but Maxthon and Element browser don't. With customizable addons, Firefox can further strenghten browsing experience by running addons such as AdBlocker, CoolIris and WOT!

Here are some considerations though:

1. Element browser has a large amount of built-in features that surpasses the default Firefox, including widgets, tabs-below-browser and its own in-browsing malware scanner and blocker!

2. Maxthon has inbuilt features that rarely other browsers have (at least obviously), such as an Undo List button (reopen a browser you accidentally closed in an instant) and Magic Fill feature (which can automatically fill usernames and passwords without user prompts), but on the other hand, some of its feature such as the adblocker does not work well.

3. Stability + General Performance (not including speed)

This might come as a surprise for some, but in recent months of performance evaluation, Internet Explorer actually has the best stability; no crashes, no bugs. Firefox used to be the best, but then according to review feedbacks from other tech sites, recent few versions have been more crash-prone, even after a clean re-install. I have an average of two crashes per week according to last week with Firefox, but i have none with Internet Explorer. Both Maxthon and Element Browser come off slightly worse than Firefox and Internet Explorer, but Element Browser, which uses .NET Framework for their browser, has persistent bug issues, for example, a persistent issue where new tabs could not be opened when the keyboard shortcut is pressed, as well as a .NET Framework error that often occurs whenever you try to close the browser.

As for performance, i judge them according to their CPU and RAM usage. All browsers are launched at the same time, with each browser tested with two tabs opened and running the same webpage minimized. Here are their results:

Firefox fared the worst, having accumulated the most RAM and even hogging CPU resources on idle, while Internet Explorer uses the least RAM and no CPU usage on idle. The screenshot may not show it, but Element browser also occasionally take up CPU usage. while all browser except Internet Explorer have memory issues, where memory usage keep on increasing even when not on use.

Here are some considerations though:

1. Maxthon v3 as of the latest version, is in RC and is not a final release

2. Element browser came with its built in malware scanner disabled. When enabled, Element browser performs even worse with high rate of CPU usage up to 40 clock cycles and an additional 7-8K worth of RAM being added.

4. Browsing speed

Like most browser speed testers out there, i uses SunSpider JavaScript Benchmark to judge how fast (in milliseconds) the 4 browsers performed. I regret that i could not show the documents here but here are my honest result: Maxthon is the fastest with 698.8ms taken to render javascripts, followed by Element Browser which needs 756.0ms. Firefox fall behind with 1363.0ms while Internet Explorer fell way behind, at 8781.6ms.

Now i understand why a lot of people i met claimed that they can tell that Internet Explorer is noticeably slower than other browsers they've used. Even though we're talking about a measurement of milliseconds which does not matter too much, but when people can feel the slowness of Internet Explorer by milliseconds, you can be sure that something's wrong with the browser itself.

 

As you can see, these 4 browsers have their good and bad. For now, I will reserve judgement on which browser is the best, since i wanted to hear from you. Which 4 browsers is in your opinion, the best browser?

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