Firefox vs. Internet Explorer vs. Maxthon vs. Element Browser: Let’s Decide Who’s Best!!!

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B)  Firefox appears outdated in its default GUI, but with a little addons, you can make it prettier.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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No comments to this article

  1. MerleOne

    on July 19, 2010 at 07:16 - Reply

    Hi,

    It would be nice if you could also benchmark "TheWorld3", which I find excellent !

    View Comment
    • James

      on July 19, 2010 at 22:45 - Reply

      I am trying to fit it in in my upcoming benchmark test. Stay tuned! =)

      View Comment
      • PaulCrousel

        on July 19, 2010 at 23:58 - Reply

        IE is well known for crashing, but microsoft updates comes from it. SO the choice will be maxthon, but there is also Flock The browser undoubtedly intended to snags social networks, more than the regular Internet users.

        View Comment
        • corno

          on July 20, 2010 at 00:08 - Reply

          I use Opera by default, but each his own.

          View Comment
        • James

          on July 20, 2010 at 08:34 - Reply

          Depends on which IE we use, IMO. I used IE6, IE7 and IE8; IE6 can be crash-prone when PC resources runs low and IE7 crashes on me like hell. However with IE8 there are relatively few, especially with those updates & patch from Windows Update.

          Flock is also one of the browser i am currently benchmarking for my upcoming post.

          View Comment
  2. KOR

    on July 19, 2010 at 11:36 - Reply

    I have several browsers on my system and I have used all the browsers you mention.  I must say that OPERA is the fastest I have ever used and is my favorite.

    I would be interested in you doing some tests with OPERA and see how it compares.

                      KOR-

    View Comment
    • James

      on July 19, 2010 at 22:43 - Reply

      I have lots of other browsers (including Opera) installed on my other PCs. It’s just that I did this benchmark just for the 4 browsers i have on one of them.

      That’s a nice suggestion of yours, though. In fact, i was now thinking of doing more browser benchmarking on the same PC. Perhaps next round i am including Chrome, Opera, TheWorld and Flock in my tests. If there is one thing that my benchmark result proved, it is that some less popular browsers can actually match with more popular browsers. I am interested in finding out more of those browsers who deserve the attention.

      View Comment
  3. drtank

    on July 20, 2010 at 06:01 - Reply

    Very Good research !!!!!

    and I thought Firefox was best….

    i'll definitely give Maxthon a try…

    View Comment
  4. ha14

    on July 20, 2010 at 12:43 - Reply

    Hi

    Nice benchmark

    Try to see  Each browser was configured to open new URLs (30) using a  command line into new tabs, with each previous page being kept accessible from the tabbed interface thenYou should also calculate memory during peak periods.But this takes some effortspossily not necessary.

     

    is also Smart Browse http://www.worldstart.com/smartbrowse.htm

    TheWorld http://www.ioage.com/en/

    therewas alo a navigator by thna SmartBro???

    View Comment
    • James

      on July 21, 2010 at 00:04 - Reply

      My upcoming benchmark contains more detailed tests; possibly not the kind that you suggest since it takes time and i have accumulated more than 15 browsers to test and analyze their results. Of course i would like to try something creative and realistic as you mentioned.

      TheWorld browser (v3.1) is part of my upcoming benchmark. But i’m afraid i’ll pass on Smart Browse since according to your link, it regrettably does not work on Windows 7…=(

      View Comment
  5. Dr Anurag

    on July 20, 2010 at 18:51 - Reply

    surprise omission is google chrome

    View Comment
    • James

      on July 20, 2010 at 23:48 - Reply

      Google Chrome is part of the browser lineup i am benchmarking on my next test. I didn’t test it because it is not immediately available on my test machine but rather, my other PCs.

      View Comment
  6. Josh

    on July 21, 2010 at 09:15 - Reply

    I use Firefox alot and frankly, Im bored with it.

    Maxthon and Element Browser though look really nice :)

    View Comment
    • Perti

      on July 21, 2010 at 20:35 - Reply

      Thak you ha14 for this reminder (even though its your first comment about DK Secure Browser). We have it already on our watch list and James is working on it.
      Regards,
      Perti

      View Comment
    • James

      on July 22, 2010 at 05:09 - Reply

      browser noted but i tried it and couldn’t get it to work, most probably due to it not working properly with Firefox 4 Beta. I would compromise a little and see if it works with older version of Firefox. Anyway, seems like it is using exactly the same browser itself although being a sanboxed one. In terms of test results i highly doubt it would different a lot.

      Thanks for the link, by the way.

      View Comment
  7. Jeff

    on July 21, 2010 at 14:12 - Reply

    Hello, I like opera best, tried something called Lunascape.  It was very interesting with three different  engines.  It also had some nice features but took over a lot of actions.

    View Comment
    • James

      on July 22, 2010 at 05:06 - Reply

      LunaScape is part of my next browser benchmark, stay tuned.

      View Comment
    • James

      on July 23, 2010 at 01:54 - Reply

      Haven’t you notice that the Maxthon i tested in this article is in version 3? Do read carefully, my friend!

      Anyway, it is still being tested for my upcoming benchmark, so well, could serve as a reminder.

      Cheers,

      View Comment
  8. Josh

    on July 30, 2010 at 06:01 - Reply

    Ok, I tried Element Browser 6 and I love it, its now my primary browser!

    And the live tabs is just pure awesome, nothing can beat it :)

    Thanks for bringing it to my attention, James.

    View Comment
    • qzz2212

      on September 9, 2010 at 18:43 - Reply

      I agree.

      This browser deserves more attention.

      View Comment
  9. Susan Smith

    on June 7, 2011 at 10:35 - Reply

    Great
    post! However as per my point of view both are good internet browsers,
    provides best internet surfing experience
    Cheers,
    Susan Smith.
     

    View Comment

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