If 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.