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k-meleon browserIf there is one thing that I am always on the hunt for, it’s a faster browser. I absolutely hate waiting for webpages to load. If I can find a browser that will load a page 3 seconds faster, I’ll migrate over to it, no questions asked. This comes from being a long-time, loyal user of the Firefox browser. As most of you know, Firefox has turned into an absolute beast, and got bogged down in terms of speed over the years. Add a few add-ons and plugins, and it’s game over.

For that reason, I switched over to Chrome – a browser that most of my MUO colleagues have also migrated to because of the tremendous improvement in speed, as Tim described in his review of Chrome 10 Google Chrome 10 Makes Web Browsing Faster & Safer Than Ever [News] Google Chrome 10 Makes Web Browsing Faster & Safer Than Ever [News] Read More . Still, Firefox used to be king of the hill too, so I am no longer content with staying with one browser, if I can find another that is still faster. For that reason, I was a little bit excited to discover an alternative browser called K-Meleon, which promotes itself as an “extremely fast, customizable, lightweight web browser.”

It is also based on the same Gecko engine Firefox uses, which I still feel is the better engine (because it’s the one IE doesn’t use) – so I was a bit excited to give K-Meleon a try.

K-Meleon – Faster than the Rest?

The one thing that is true is that K-Meleon is lightweight, as least in terms of the graphical interface itself. There aren’t a whole lot of bells-and-whistles, but it offers most of the things that you’d expect from an self-respecting browser. I was a little put off by the lack of tabs, until I realize that the tab control is off to the upper right, and that tabs show up as a dropdown list when you click the “>>” button off to the left. You can also expand that section to the right so you can see all active tabs like you do in most other browsers.

k-meleon browser

So, before looking at functionality, I wanted to do a full-out speed test against all other browsers. In my opinion, pageload speed is the mark of the best browser.

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To perform the speed tests, you could really use any of the online speed test tools that Saikat listed in his speed test article 10 Free Online Tools to Test Your Website Loading Speeds & Create Faster Webpages 10 Free Online Tools to Test Your Website Loading Speeds & Create Faster Webpages Creating faster webpages is one of the commandments of great web design. The first step you can take to optimize your website is to put it through a speed test. These ten tools are few... Read More . I decided to go with StopWatch over at Numion, only because it provides a few quick links you can use to common sites.

lightweight browser

First – a quick load of Google in K-Meleon shows that it came back in 2.37 seconds. That’s a decent start.

What I decided to do is go with a website that was a little bit more graphic/ad intensive. Luckily, Numion offers a quick link to the IMDB movie website. Running a test load of the site within K-Meleon produced a full pageload of the site in 7.660 seconds.

lightweight browser

Next up, I fired up my current favorite browser, Chrome, loaded up the Numion website, and gave Chrome the task of loading the IMDB main page. I’m running 14.0.835.187, for those of you keeping track. This version of Chrome brought up the full page in just 3.220 seconds. Nice. That’s about twice as fast as K-Meleon. Not a good sign.

lightweight browser

Next, I loaded up my installation of Firefox (6.0.2), and ran the speed test with Numion. Firefox performed the task of loading a fresh copy of IMDB in 5.139 seconds. A heck of a lot slower than Chrome, but still faster than K-Meleon.

lightweight web browsers

Next up, I fired up a program that I do everything I can to avoid – IE (8.0.7600.16385). Running a speed test with IE, it was little surprise to see the page take longer than most other browsers to load up IMDB – 6.909 seconds to be exact. Sadly (for the creators of K-Meleon), even IE won out in terms of speed. That’s pretty sad.

lightweight web browsers

For those of you who are curious how fast other popular browsers could load up the page in comparison, we found Opera (10.01) to take 4.421 seconds (as shown below).

lightweight web browsers

Finally, Safari (5.0), took about the same amount of time as Opera at 4.940 seconds.

The Slowest Web Browser Of All

So, instead of discovering the fastest web browser (or even a fast web browser), I discovered the slowest web browser of all. When you’re the creator of a web browser, that isn’t exactly a title you want to lay claim to.

With that said, for some people speed isn’t really everything when it comes to web browsing. Those few extra seconds of pageload time may be manageable if you’re looking for the features that web browser offers. K-Meleon does offer a few interesting perks, like the built-in translation tool that comes with the default installation.

Also, the built-in mouse gestures plugin is pretty neat as well.

k-meleon browser

You will find a few other interesting features with the “lightweight” K-Meleon web browser – so if speed isn’t at the very top of your priority list, I would still suggest you give it a quick look to see if it has any cool features you would like. The interface itself isn’t that bad, and it’s easy enough to use.

I hope you did enjoy this little exercise in browser speed testing, and I hope that, like me, you are either converted over to the world of Chrome, or further justified in your existing belief that Chrome still remains the fastest web browser in the world. But hey, don’t take my word for it. Perform your own speed tests and let us know what your results were like.

Do you have any other criteria that you look for in a web browser? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

  1. Anton Kross
    May 26, 2016 at 11:31 am

    Make this Test again now in 2016
    K-Meleon is better, FF, Chrome worser
    Don't forget that FF and Chrome are Spyware.

  2. alsjf lakskf
    July 12, 2015 at 3:50 pm

    I think someone has already made this point but I think you misunderstand "light weight" as it intended by the K meleon group. It is designed for older machines yes, but because it is it is going to be faster and very stable on any platform. You can read the code and there is simply not as much fluffery going on in K meleon's daily comings and goings. I've never read a bad review on it (save this one) with regards speed and stability. It's rendering engine is as good as anything going and if the advantage must be conceded to another browser it is only because the chrome and opera engine gives the impression of a faster cleaner load- any time difference is I would argue negligable. I like it quite a bit. I have a fifeteen year old dell laptop and because of k meleon (and qt web) I don't have to stay couped up at home to enjoy the Internet.

  3. Practical Preparation
    June 7, 2015 at 2:34 pm

    K-Mellon consumes lots of cpu cycles and ram and is extremely heavy on my Windows 7 environment.

    The browsers that run leanest on my Windows 7 environment are Chrome, Safari, and Firefox.

  4. Tiffany
    January 9, 2012 at 9:08 pm

    I was reading this, because I'm in looks for a new webbrowser, chrome keeps crashing my computer, firefox is not an options as it freezes everything I open it, opera is blah, and IE is the only thing I have right now and I hate it.  So I still may check this out.

    • Tina
      January 9, 2012 at 9:55 pm

      Tiffany,

      I use both Chrome and Firefox with many open tabs and several browser addons on both. I use them simultaneously on Windows 7. I have none of the issues you describe.

      Maybe you should see how you can fix either one of these browser. The latest version of Firefox is pretty stable. Try to create a new profile, free of extensions.

      You could also ask a question at MakeUseOf Answers for suggestions on how to fix your browser or which other browsers to try.

  5. Cipricusmail
    December 15, 2011 at 8:10 am

    a better image here

  6. Cipricus
    December 15, 2011 at 8:06 am

    You should consider k-meleon in comparison with the newer browsers in terms of memory use on any machine. people should nor update hardware just to be able to use the internet. But with Firefox 4+, Opera 10+ or Chrome one might feel pressed to buy a new laptop just for that. So, the alternative is to stick to older versions  or with browsers like K-meleon that are community supported and try to keep the pace with the new internet.
    Considering the feel-of-speed provided by Chrome (which is fast but at  too much cost I think, beside its propensity to crash): check out Seamonkey. Use latest version if you have new machine, v. 2.0 on older one and the speed of reaction will be comparable with chrome's without memory cost
     

  7. Nano
    November 22, 2011 at 4:56 am

    As I recall, K-meleon's strengths aren't in rapid page loading, but in the fast-loading and lightweight UI. If one is trying to test K-meleon's strengths, compare the time taken to cold boot + load a webpage on an older, underpowered machine. And while you're on this underpowered machine, with multiple tabs open, switch tasks and compare how well the computer performs with the browser open in the background

    • Ryan Dube
      November 25, 2011 at 4:52 pm

      Cool, thanks for the clarification Nano - it would be interesting to run some additional tests on underpowered machines to see how it performs.

  8. Mick Barker Sr
    October 15, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    Also Consider that Chrome can use up pretty much all your memory while running, I pulled up task manager to find, 8 instances of chrome running, and a whopping total of 350,011 MB of Memory usage... To Me being a multi-tasker do I wait until I am done with Chrome to start anything else.. Don't Think So... And everyday sites I visit Chrome becomes "unresponsive" as the popup says, and then I reload to get the same thing again. I Do Not Get that with IE9 or Firefox... And Testing K-Meleon, I find a reliable fast browser good enough for me to use daily. So I would rethink Your Review, and Don't pat Chrome on the Back So Fast... Just One Techs Opinion. Thanks.

    • Ryan Dube
      October 16, 2011 at 2:17 pm

      Thanks Mick - trust me, I'd be the last guy in the world to give Google more homage. I think plenty of tech guys do that. I only reported the results that I had on my particular computer and with my existing setup - although I find your own results with Chrome to be really interesting. I'll have to take a closer look at memory usage while I have several windows open and see if I have the same performance issues that you describe. Thanks for your comment.

  9. Austin Beatty
    October 15, 2011 at 2:54 am

    On my Arch Linux machine, using that same site you used to test loading speeds, my Firefox 7.0.1 and Chromium 14.0.835.202, I got very similar speed results in both (in some tests, FF was faster, in some Chrome was, neither was significantly better). I still stick with Firefox, even with all the addons I use, it never seems slow (except sometimes the initial load takes longer, but not too bad). I tested espn.com, msn.com, and imdb.org.

    • Ryan Dube
      October 16, 2011 at 2:16 pm

      Interesting, thanks Austin. I really like Firefox a lot and if it performed as well as Chrome for me I would probably switch back. Not sure why it has gotten so bogged down, but if your tests are any indication then it's probably just all of the add-ons that I added to it over the years - maybe one particular add-on that is causing problems. Thanks for your comment.

    • Cipricus
      December 15, 2011 at 8:23 am

      On new machines that don't feel the load of sometimes 800.000k vm size, FF is still unbeatable overall. Just that initial starting may seem a problem. It's all that Chrome really does better: starting. Otherwise, I prefer FF 3.6. And even better Seamonkey. Addons at comunity sites like https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/seamonkey/  or
      http://users.skynet.be/fa258499/extensions.html

  10. jasray
    October 14, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    No Pale Moon?  Hmmm . . .

  11. Ian
    October 14, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    The version used of K-Meleon is important, since the last official update was December 2010. I remember that Gecko engine. It sucked. I left Firefox about that time and went to Chrome.

    • Ryan Dube
      October 16, 2011 at 2:14 pm

      Thanks Ian - true. Please see my comment above.

  12. Bartelybee
    October 14, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    This is hardly a thorough test on browser performance.  There are many other factors that influence how a browser is loaded beyond the browser: network congestion, request routing, target site's server load at that moment, etc.  I am not defending any particular browser, just pointing out that it's not really fair to load a page in several browsers one time and then laugh at the one that rendered the slowest.  For a true performance comparison these other factors should be reviewed or the page load test should be performed several times and to get an average response time.

    • Ryan Dube
      October 16, 2011 at 2:14 pm

      Hi Bartelybee. Just as with any other scientific experiment, if you only alter one variable to compare performance, then you are running a thorough test. All other factors remained essentially the same because I was running the tests on the same PC, on the same network, and relatively during the same period of time (within a 2 hour window). The only variable altered was the browser - so, I would have to disagree with you. I think that this was a true performance comparison between different browsers.  Thanks for your comment.

  13. Josh Gunderson
    October 14, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    You left out the K-Meleon version you tested. The latest stable/released versions of the other browsers are:

     * Chrome 14.0
     * Firefox 7.0.1
     * Opera 11.51
     * Internet Explorer 9
     * Safari 5.1.1

    Just thinking you should be comparing all the latest versions instead just the latest versions of your favorites. ;)

    If you haven't tried it yet, IE9 will surprise you.

    I running Firefox x64 Nightly builds (v10.0a1 right now) at home and the latest released version (7.0.1 now) at work. I require Adblock Plus, GreaseMonkey, and Download Statusbar.

    • Chris Wyld
      October 14, 2011 at 5:04 pm

      yeah, I tested the IMDB connection with IE9 and it returned 2.389 seconds.
      not too shabby :)

    • Josh Gunderson
      October 15, 2011 at 7:01 am

      Heh, and what did the guy on here say earlier this week (or was it last?), something like "IE9 is a rubbish browser you needn't waste any time on". :D

      I'll try to find the article. Had no luck this morning.

      EDIT: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/5-easy-ways-remove-windows-bloat/
      "Internet Explorer 9 (seriously, it’s a worthless browser)" ;P

    • Ryan Dube
      October 16, 2011 at 2:11 pm

      Good point - it was the latest version of K-Meleon 1.5.4. I simply ran the latest versions of the other browsers that I had installed. Based on my experience with all other versions of IE, I highly doubt IE9 will surprise me. Even if it did, I've watched IE infect far too many computers to let myself trust it - regardless of version - ever again.

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