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It’s the fastest browser I’ve ever used. That’s the kind of statement that doesn’t really mean much anymore in the browser world, mostly because the Big Four — Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, and Opera — keep dethroning each other in cycles. But for the first time in a while, we actually have a clear, longshot winner.

That winner’s name? Maxthon Nitro, sometimes referred to as MxNitro or simply Nitro. Though new, this slimmed-down browser Are You Really Using The Best Web Browser For Windows? Are You Really Using The Best Web Browser For Windows? Ask anyone about the best browsers in the web browsing market and you’ll likely get the following list - IE, Chrome, Firefox. Those who are more tech-savvy might list Opera as an alternative. Those are... Read More is one to keep an eye on because it offers an experience that no other browser can currently replicate. But is it worth using? Let’s take a look.

Note: This article was written using Maxthon Nitro build 1.0.1.3000, which is the one released on April 10, 2015 and the latest one available at the time of writing. All forthcoming impressions are based on this build.

What Is Maxthon Nitro, Anyway?

Nitro is actually an offshoot of a much older freeware browser called Maxthon Maxthon Cloud Browser: A Completely Different Browsing Experience Maxthon Cloud Browser: A Completely Different Browsing Experience Maxthon has come a very long way since originally dubbing themselves as a mere replacement to Internet Explorer. As MyIE Browser, it boasted features like tabbed browsing and mouse gestures. Today, it's much more. You... Read More , which is actually developed by a Chinese company. It debuted in 2005 under the name MyIE2 and put itself out there as a strong alternative to Internet Explorer.

Unfortunately, Maxthon was quickly drowned out by the popularity of both Firefox and Chrome and, to a lesser extent, Opera.

maxthon-nitro-interface

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But the browser persevered, continually adding new features and improving performance. It wasn’t until 2011 that it received a bit of public recognition thanks to PCWorld’s list of Best 100 Products of 2011. Maxthon came in at 97th.

In light of a perpetually shifting landscape, Maxthon discovered a portion of web-browsing users that remained ever unhappy with the lack of speedy browsers on the market:

“Our focus groups and longitudinal surveys detail a growing segment of users who want speed above all else. 80% of users say that speed is their #1 decision-making criteria and that they are willing to forego extensive features and add-ons to get more of it,” said Jeff Chen, CEO of Maxthon. “This product is dedicated solely to that important and growing consumer niche.”

In September 2014, the first open beta build What Does "Beta Software" Really Mean? What Does "Beta Software" Really Mean? What does it mean for a project to be in beta and should you care? Read More was released to the public. And thus, Nitro was born.

5 Reasons Why I’m Keeping Nitro

Having installed Nitro simply to test it out, I was surprised that I decided to keep it installed on my system. Would I use it as my primary and only browser? Not yet, and we’ll go over the downsides in the next section, but it definitely has a lot of potential.

Faster startup. Upon first release, Maxthon claimed that Nitro was three-times faster than Chrome 37 when it came to starting cold. With Chrome 37 being the fastest at the time, this ended up being a significant point of comparison. No more twiddling your thumbs while waiting for the browser to start.

maxthon-nitro-speed

Faster page load. Nitro also beat out Chrome 37 in another metric: page load speed. How much faster is it? About 30% on average. You’ll notice it immediately. Open a new tab, browse to a web page, and it’ll be on your screen faster than you can blink.

Low resource usage. Right now with Firefox, Chrome, and Nitro all open with similar tabs, Nitro is winning in terms of CPU and RAM usage. While Firefox and Chrome constantly use a bit of CPU in the background, Nitro uses none. And Nitro’s 57MB beats out Chrome’s 61MB and Firefox’s 184MB.

This is great news for those who have old laptops, netbooks, and weak Windows tablets: Nitro will run better on your system than its competitors.

maxthon-nitro-resources

Portable. As a portable browser, Nitro can be used without having to install it. This means you download it and you’re good to go. Fast, no hoops to jump through, and no pollution of your Windows registry or disk space. Stick it on a USB thumb drive and carry it with you if you want.

Nitro is by no means the first or only portable browser 4 Little-Known And Portable Browsers That Should Be On Your USB Drive 4 Little-Known And Portable Browsers That Should Be On Your USB Drive Your browser is the centerpiece to your internet experience and keeping it nice and portable is an awesome luxury. You may not have heard of a couple of these browsers, but each and every one... Read More , but it’s one of the better ones. After all, portability is often associated with speed and low resource usage — and Nitro delivers both. It’s one of the few browsers that feels like it was meant to be portable.

Minimal interface. Interface design is mostly a subjective matter so I don’t blame you if you disagree here, but I really like Nitro’s design. It incorporates elements from Firefox, Chrome, and Opera, but combines them in a way that makes it its own. Simple, sleek, and modern.

And while it’s not immediately clear, Nitro does have full bookmark support. Unfortunately, it is missing a few important features that some might consider dealbreakers.

But Nitro Is Still Immature

No adblock. While I personally try to avoid using adblock except in the direst of circumstances, I realize that a lot of people can’t live without it. Maxthon recently added built-in adblock functionality to its main browser but Nitro still remains without.

Will it get adblock? Yes, but no one knows when. Maxthon has been saying “Coming soon!” since January 2015 so presumably the wait won’t be too much longer.

No saved tab sessions. The ability to close and reopen the browser without losing the open tabs is an important feature in this day and age, at least for me. Without it my productivity drops a considerable amount, plus it serves as an easy way to keep web pages open for later Never Lose That Webpage Again: 6 Ways To Read It Later On Any Platform Never Lose That Webpage Again: 6 Ways To Read It Later On Any Platform Few things are more frustrating than needing a bookmark only to find there's nothing you can do to visit it. Rest assured, however, because there's a handy solution. Read More .

Nitro doesn’t have this feature.

maxthon-nitro-settings

No settings or options. One of the more interesting design decisions for Nitro is that there’s no way to customize the browser 5 Ways To Customize Your Browser & Have Websites The Way YOU Want Them To Be 5 Ways To Customize Your Browser & Have Websites The Way YOU Want Them To Be You’re probably familiar with browser extensions, but there are many other ways to customize your browser and tweak websites. The web isn’t a one-way, passive medium – you have the ability to remix websites you... Read More . In fact, there’s no settings page at all. Want to change fonts, download directories, or set browsing data to clear on exit? Nitro has none of that.

All that being said, Nitro’s purpose is crystal clear: it’s meant to be the perfect browser for fast, temporary sessions. It’s admittedly niche, but I think it’s a niche worth filling and I’m excited to see how it evolves over the next few months.

Want to give it a try? Download Maxthon Nitro.

What do you think about Nitro? Will you use it or are there too many dealbreakers? What would get you to use it? Does the Internet have room for a browser like this? Share your thoughts in the comments!

  1. Uncle Bobee
    February 10, 2016 at 7:16 pm

    I downloaded Nitro 4 times !!!! Each time I ran the .exe file, a screen came up asking me if Iagree and a big 'GO' box. Running the 'GO' box shows a loading bar, which only goes part way and then shuts off !! I CANNOT find a Nitro installation anywhere on my computer ! I guess it;s so fast, it installs and un-installs right away ????

  2. elias
    January 14, 2016 at 7:44 pm

    nitro is the most simple and faster it doesnt save password of anything and about fast here in my country its alot faster even opera that i have too the stable that if its a lot of videos on one page is loosing control!!!!!of course if you like a browser that keep user name and password and any one can see them(it happens with all browsers specialy Chrome)we can use any browser if you use nitro you cant find not even temp files after closing the browser!!!!!but the bad is that doesnt do anything auto!!!!sorry for the mistakes in my english!!!!

  3. Edson Cabral
    October 9, 2015 at 3:39 pm

    I know Mxnitro and home use as primary browser because i have access fast to what interests me right away, but i use Maxthon as backup-browser, saving the favorites and to download videos (open the video feature on a separate tab and ability to download in various formats is very interesting), also appreciate the split screen and perfect sync, add-block extension and notepad make the difference and equals the Vivaldi (although it has not been tested yet. I say that has long been time i tested browsers) despite knowing other sites have i still do not downloaded but certain test reports, found here, caught my attention (usually see in Brazilian sites and this browser is not much quoted) and i will try to use a test. Before i met Maxthon, very used Sleipnir, through its tabs group system and state-of-art designed interface, it was my default browser for a long time, migrated to the Maxthon mainly for their sync system.
    Lately i have doubts regarding the PSafe Internet browser, fast as Maxthon, i haven't come to complete the tests to any conclusions about it. Like an opinion from you guys about this browser :) i believe to be very useful.

  4. Joel
    May 23, 2015 at 4:16 am

    "Nitro is actually an offshoot of a much older freeware browser called Maxthon, which is actually developed by a Chinese company"

    Does this mean ANYTHING in light of the prodigous amount of hacking the Chinese are doing, a lot directly at our universitys and other institutions? Do you really want to download a Chinese-engendered browser? Sounds like a major violation of the Precautionary Principle.

    • Joel Lee
      June 10, 2015 at 4:11 am

      I understand why some would want to be cautious about using a Chinese program, but my own perspective is that it's ignorant to assume that every Chinese product is somehow tainted with evil. Maxthon hasn't fallen into disrepute (as far as I know) so I don't see why Nitro would be any worse in that regard.

    • xerxesium
      August 19, 2015 at 6:05 pm

      You're so naive it's unbelievable. "Wah, wah, wah, the Chinese are spying on me!" What do you think your government is doing, you buffoon? Oh, I get it, if it's your government doing the spying, it's all right, no problem whatsoever.

      People like you make me sick. You're like the sheep in Animal Farm, always following your government's directive. How about you start thinking for yourself.

      • Jazz Apple
        August 19, 2015 at 7:49 pm

        Are you talking to me? If so, you "get" nothing. But you assume a lot because you have a precomposed diatribe in search of a target. Flash: you've addressed the wrong target. Find another scapegoat pinhead.

        Joel, regarding my May 23 comment

  5. jimvandamme
    May 23, 2015 at 2:22 am

    Midori is a nice lightweight browser for Linux. But with my massive 3GB of RAM, Firefox works for me.

    • Joel Lee
      June 10, 2015 at 4:11 am

      Midori is nice, I agree, but definitely not as fast as Nitro. Then again, Midori does offer settings and such to tinker with, so there's a valid trade-off.

  6. Tiago Fernandez
    May 19, 2015 at 5:45 pm

    Simply I think the nitro is a random browser of maxthon that wants to be the fastest browser of all, failed anyway.
    Also heres again the thing: There isn't a best browser of all, its a decicion that only ourselfes should make, any review or preview is only a showcase of it.
    The only way to know the best browser is just trying it, my best browser is opera, i love the speed dial, also the themes and the extensions give all I need, so I always use whatever I can.
    It cannot be the fastest, but for me its the best.

    • Joel Lee
      June 10, 2015 at 4:12 am

      Of the Big Four browsers, I'd put Opera on top for speed. It's really good.

  7. Bruce Barnes
    May 19, 2015 at 12:59 pm

    Windows only + I mistrust Chinese software that isn't open-source.

  8. Chinmay S
    May 19, 2015 at 9:13 am

    Yeah it is really fast. The feature I liked the most is that to open a link in new tab you just have to drag the link anywhere on the screen and it will open in new tab.

    • Doc
      May 19, 2015 at 12:22 pm

      Really? In any browser you can middle-click (wheel click) or CTRL+click to open a link in a new tab. I've also got Firefox set (using TabMixPlus) to open all links to other sites in new tabs.

    • Chinmay S
      May 19, 2015 at 12:39 pm

      Really? You think clicking a button or pressing some combination of keys is faster than dragging. 5G network will be available in 2020. I would request you to note 5G speed in loading webpages and then compare it to time taken in dragging a link in Nitro. The result will be in front of you.

    • Philip
      May 19, 2015 at 5:55 pm

      Wait, so you think pressing and holding the left mouse button and then physically moving your mouse and then letting go of the left mouse button is faster than single-clicking the middle mouse button one time? And what on earth does 5G speeds in 2020 have to do with Doc's comment about single middle-clicking being faster than dragging a link? Doc is right, and your reply to him makes my brain hurt. :|

    • Chinmay S
      May 20, 2015 at 4:52 am

      @Philip: You don't have to drag your mouse to a specific location. You just have to drag it anywhere and that can be done within 5/100th second of the blink of your eye. You don't have to locate the middle mouse click and then apply force to open link in new tab.

      And if you haven't noticed yet, middle mouse click opens the link in new tab but you have to manually go there but in case of dragging, the new tab will be in front of you.

    • Roccondil
      May 24, 2015 at 2:17 am

      You know, you CAN set other browsers to flip directly to the new tab... I know Firefox can. Just checked, actually. Can't find the setting in Chrome... but it's probably there, somewhere. So I'll take my single-click over your click-drag method...

      • Shelton Lee
        July 19, 2015 at 4:21 am

        Are you stupid? That’s not the right solution. It is annoying when every single click of a link opens in new tab. I open in new tab only when I want to at times, for specific links. For ex. there are some other stuff I need to read in the current page, but there is a link I want to read it later. THEN, I open that link in a new tab. Otherwise, I don’t want every single link to open in new tab.

  9. Warren
    May 19, 2015 at 5:37 am

    Hmmmmm... Installed and when I go to open I get"this program is blocked by group policy" and I'm the admin and only user on this machine.

  10. ABrown
    May 19, 2015 at 1:59 am

    As a Linux user i find the lack of Linux support disturbing!

    Ever since I started using Linux almost exclusively I've become a Firefox convert. It's not perfect, and Chrome is still the king of sync. But it's come a long way. It used to be super slow and buggy for me, but I gave it a second chance and it's gotten better. I still miss the Omnibar from time to time, but considering how easy it is to ctrl + K, or ctrl + L to get right where I want it's not so bad. And, at least on Linux, Firefox is faster than Chrome.

    • Joel Lee
      June 10, 2015 at 4:13 am

      I like Firefox better than Chrome, and if I were on Linux, Firefox would be my choice. If Nitro were open source and available on Linux, I think it'd be a great option.

  11. Joel Rodriguez
    May 18, 2015 at 11:16 pm

    The Only thing keeping me for using Maxthon or Nitro as my main browser instead of Chrome, its the hability to grab a tab and snap it out into its own window, cant live without this on dual monitors.

  12. Marvin
    May 18, 2015 at 10:21 pm

    Kinda appreciate Chrome's auto sync across multi platform. And also ability to restore the same setting to any browser on any machine that I log on to, save time having to reconfigure again.

    • Joel Lee
      June 10, 2015 at 4:14 am

      Yeah, if you need "real" features like that, you're better off sticking with Chrome.

  13. Z.
    May 18, 2015 at 10:11 pm

    You can close a browser window without losing open tabs? How do you do that in Chrome?

    • mur_phy
      May 23, 2015 at 6:30 am

      With Chrome open, click on the 3 small horizontal lines next to the address/search field and select settings. The second item down is on Startup. Select continue where you left off and click apply. Next time you close and reopen Chrome, all open tabs will reload. My IE 2 had this option as I recall as it was my browser of choice until Maxthon did not seem to work the way I liked and I moved to Chrome which has been fine but I also have about 10 other browsers installed and used a couple of them regularly as periodically something happens in Chrome which defeats some things I like to do and I don't have the same issue with another browser. Always a good idea to have multiple browsers installed in any even. A very fast limited browser is Browzar Black and one I will often file transfer to other users when in PC Tech in Paltalk. K Meleon is nice but unless changed does limit on to 200 bookmarks whereas I have about 6000. Vivaldi is nice but I have not imported all my bookmarks as I want to see it make fewer updates as it nears completion before deciding if I will switch from Chrome.

  14. Fik of Borg
    May 18, 2015 at 8:20 pm

    Not my intention to be too suspicious, but you lost me at "... developed by a Chinese company".
    Not that one should trust Chrome(ium) or Firefox, but at least they are open source and one can in principle check that nothing strange is happening under the cyberhood.

  15. Dennis Myers
    May 18, 2015 at 7:02 pm

    I worked in marketing for IBM over 30 years, spending a lot of time with customers comparing features and functions of software offered by different vendors. My advice to customers was always the same: the best product is the one that does what you need it to do and that you feel comfortable with and know how to use. I think that still applies.

    • bnjohanson
      May 18, 2015 at 8:15 pm

      Really? I wonder why the World isn't still carrying around a pad and pencil and computers ever made it out of their garage at NASA...

    • Joel Lee
      June 10, 2015 at 4:17 am

      I agree. Technology is ultimately meant to help us, after all. If you don't like something, don't use it. (That goes for Nitro as well as anything else.)

      @bnjohanson: If someone like George RR Martin prefers to write epic novels using an old machine with way outdated software, why not? It works best for him. Using a tool you don't like is far more detrimental to productivity than using something you're comfortable with.

  16. Saikat
    May 18, 2015 at 4:17 pm

    In the alternate browser market, could it be a battle of Vivaldi vs MxNitro?

    • Stephen
      May 18, 2015 at 8:07 pm

      I'm on Vivaldi right now and I love it, it runs great for me, may give Nitro a chance though in time, numbers look good especially the cpu and memory %

    • Dels
      May 19, 2015 at 5:08 am

      Vivaldi rocks

    • Chinmay S
      May 19, 2015 at 5:23 am

      Is Vivaldi fast or it is just another web browser?

    • Saikat
      May 19, 2015 at 11:29 am

      Well, it uses Chromium as its rendering engine and is pretty much competitive with Chrome itself.

  17. SpoonmanWoS
    May 18, 2015 at 4:09 pm

    Yeah, as much as I hate home much Chrome can bring my machine to a complete halt from time-to-time, speed is the last thing I consider when considering a browser...if it's taken into consideration at all. The only time I ever think "man, this page is taking forever to load", there's usually a network issue that's causing it, but then I started out on the web using Slipknot over dial-up. :) As for launch time, Chrome comes up in a second or two, so "shaving" that down really doesn't buy me a lot, especially considering everything I'd be trading off.

  18. Thant Zin
    May 18, 2015 at 2:37 pm

    No love for Mac?

    • jena
      May 18, 2015 at 7:42 pm

      nor linux..

  19. Maryon Jeane
    May 18, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    I tried Nitro some time ago (a couple of years, I think) but I found it - at that time - still not as fast and light as my all-time favourite, K-Meleon. I'll try Nitro again now and see if the ranking has changed.

    I definitely think that a fast, light browser is essential, as one of several browsers. There is no 'best' browser because not only do different people need different things of their browsers, but the same people need different things at different times and for different purposes. If you're just zooming around doing the basic everyday things (looking for information, buying things, etc.) then the smaller, lighter and faster the browser the better the browsing experience. On the other hand, if you're reading and doing some more academic-type research, then the ability to save sessions and have plenty of security may be paramount, plus - and this is certainly a deal-breaker for me - a browser which supports the Evernote Clearly plugin (or similar) so that I can read uninterrupted by the crud and clutter of the average web page.

    Then there are the confounded websites which have only been constructed to run on the usual culprits, so one at least of the usual culprits (Firefox, Opera, Explorer, Chrome, etc.) is a must. I prefer Waterfox (the 64-bit version of Firefox), but periodically it seems to get clogged up and slows down so I have to uninstall and use an alternative for a while (Opera at the moment - and I'm not impressed: a touch clunky and far too many knobs and whistles).

    I don't use bookmarks and I don't rely on saved sessions because they are so easily lost; launchers and saving URLs in a text expander (I use Breevy) is far more secure - and secure is essential if you're researching. So these functions aren't necessary for me in a browser. Each of my browsers is launched with a launcher in Breevy too, so switching from one browser to another is very fast.

    K-Meleon's only real downside is that the upgrades are erratic, but that's only caused a breakdown in functioning once or twice over all the years I've been using it (the majority of websites wouldn't render properly in each case). However someone soon gets onto the case and lo and behold - K-Meleon is back in the running. Love it!

  20. dragonmouth
    May 18, 2015 at 1:24 pm

    The last time I used Maxthon, it was an overlay for IE. Does it still require IE to run or has it become an independent browser?

    • Joel Lee
      June 10, 2015 at 4:18 am

      No, it hasn't been an overlay for IE for quite a while. Maxthon and Nitro are both independent browsers now. :)

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