Browser Wars: What Performance Does Internet Explorer 11 Deliver?

Windows 8.1 also includes the new Internet Explorer 11. If, from a user interface perspective, this browser doesn't bring important changes, Microsoft has promised better standard compliance and more performance. Does it deliver on these promises? And how does it compare with the other important browsers: Chrome, Firefox and Opera? Let's find out in this test comparison.

The Benchmarks Used for Testing

I used the following benchmarks: HTML5 test, SunSpider, Kraken, Octane and Peacekeeper.

To quote their website, "The HTML5 test score is an indication of how well your browser supports the HTML5 standard and related specifications."

The SunSpider JavaScript Benchmark measures JavaScript performance on tasks relevant to the current and near future use of JavaScript in the real world, such as encryption and text manipulation. This is one of those benchmarks where it is important to receive a lower mark. The lowest results mean faster speed and better performance.

The Kraken JavaScript benchmark is Mozilla's version of SunSpider. In this test is also important to receive a lower score. Lower scores mean faster speeds and better performance.

Octane v1 - is a JavaScript test suite developed by Google and it used to optimize the Google Chrome browser. The higher the score, the better the overall performance. If you would like to learn more about it, read its FAQ page.

The Peacekeeper benchmark measures the browser's performance by testing its JavaScript functionality and its ability to handle commonly used JavaScript functions. If you want to know more about what it tests, check their FAQ page. This is the only fully independent test and it is important who scores highest.

The Test System & The Browsers Being Tested

I used my personal PC to make these tests, which has the following configuration: an AMD FX-8320 eight-core processor, a Gigabyte 990FXA-UD3 motherboard, 8 GB of RAM DDR3 Kingston HyperX Predator running at 2133 MHz, a Gigabyte Radeon HD6870 OC 1GB DDR5 video card & an 256GB ADATA SX900 SATA III SSD drive.

All tests were performed on a fresh Windows 8.1 Pro x64 installation. No add-on, extensions or toolbars were enabled in any of the browsers being tested: Internet Explorer 11, Google Chrome 30, Mozilla Firefox 24 and Opera 17. All browsers used their default settings.

Each benchmark was run three times in each browser. I used the average score for all the stats and graphs below.

HTML5 Standard Compliance - winner Google Chrome 30

The HTML5 test shares how each browser supports the HTML5 standard and related specifications. It doesn't give you any metric related to performance. As you can see in the graph below, the winner is Google Chrome 30, with a total of 463 points out of a maximum of 500.

Internet Explorer 11, Chrome 30, Firefox 24, Opera 17, Benchmark, Comparison

Since we tested Internet Explorer 10 last year, Internet Explorer 11 has improved the compliance score. However all other browsers have evolved at a faster pace and their HTML5 compliance has improved by a wider margin in the same time period. The biggest gain is noticed when evaluating Opera. It's adoption of the WebKit rendering engine has paid off in terms of standards compliance and pure browsing performance, as you will see in all the benchmarks below.

Unfortunately for Microsoft, their "traditional" development model means that Internet Explorer has a slower improvement rate than its competitors.

SunSpider 1.0.2 - winner Internet Explorer 11

Sunspider is the only benchmark where Internet Explorer 11 is the winner.

Internet Explorer 11, Chrome 30, Firefox 24, Opera 17, Benchmark, Comparison

The desktop version of Internet Explorer 11 was 57% faster than the slowest browser in this test - Mozilla Firefox. Also, there is a 10% performance difference between the app version of Internet Explorer 11 and the desktop version.

Kraken 1.1 - winner Google Chrome 30

Mozilla's benchmark reveals that Internet Explorer 11 is the slowest browser. It was 44% slower than Google Chrome 30 - the detached winner in this test.

Internet Explorer 11, Chrome 30, Firefox 24, Opera 17, Benchmark, Comparison

I find it funny that Firefox doesn't win this benchmark even though it was developed by Mozilla. This is a statement to the fact that Mozilla did their best to develop a relevant test that it is not used only to show that Firefox can win at least one benchmark.

Another interesting result was that the app version of Internet Explorer 11 performed 9% better than the desktop version.

Octane V1 - winner Google Chrome 30

Unsurprisingly, Google's benchmark is won by Google Chrome 30 with a huge margin versus Internet Explorer 11 - 34%.

Internet Explorer 11, Chrome 30, Firefox 24, Opera 17, Benchmark, Comparison

The Internet Explorer 11 app was 14% slower than the desktop version. Another notable fact in this benchmark and all others is that Opera 17 is always a close second place to Google Chrome 30. In this test it was only 5% slower.

PeaceKeeper - winner Google Chrome 30

PeaceKeeper has shown one more time that Google Chrome 30 is the uncontested performance leader in the realm of Internet browsers.

Internet Explorer 11, Chrome 30, Firefox 24, Opera 17, Benchmark, Comparison

It this test it was almost twice as fast than Internet Explorer 11. However, the last place was claimed by Firefox 24 while Opera 17 was a very close second place - with only 2 points separating it from the leader.


After testing all browsers and studying the results, there are some conclusions I would like to summarize:

  • Google Chrome remains the leader in terms of performance but Opera has become a very strong contender after its migration to the Webkit rendering engine.
  • If Opera expands its ecosystem of extensions and add-ons it has a good chance to become more popular, especially with users that don't appreciate Google's data collection and retention policies.
  • Internet Explorer 11 is delivering good improvements versus Internet Explorer 10 both in terms of HTML5 standard compliance and real browsing performance.
  • The Internet Explorer app delivers good performance but, in most tests, it is approximately 10% slower than its desktop counterpart.
  • The rapid release schedule used by other browsers means that they are improving at a faster pace than Internet Explorer. If Microsoft wants to transform Internet Explorer into a performance leader, it needs to deliver new releases more often than once per year.

I hope you found these tests informative and revealing. If you have any questions or observations, don't hesitate to leave a comment.

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