Is The K-Meleon Browser Really Lightweight & Fast?

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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. 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. 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.

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Comments (22)
  • alsjf lakskf

    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.

  • Practical Preparation

    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.

  • Tiffany

    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

      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.

  • Cipricusmail

    a better image here

  • Cipricus

    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
     

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For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.