In this day and age, it doesn’t really matter which browser you use. They all get the job done and none of them are world-endingly bad. There’s only one real reason to pick one over another: the little nuances are more in line with how you like to browse the web.
I personally have every major browser installed on my system — the needs of my job require it. But if I wasn’t burdened by that, I can confidently say that I’d be an Opera man. Despite using Chrome for the past eight months, I recently switched back to Opera, and here are my reasons why.
1. Opera Is Faster and More Responsive
Lots of users hold Chrome up as the gold standard for browser performance. I won’t deny that: Chrome is certainly fast! But having used the browser on all kinds of devices — a four-year-old laptop, a two-year-old PC, a brand new iMac, and an upper-class Chromebook — Chrome is surprisingly underwhelming.
I know all about browser benchmarks. In fact, last year I compared benchmarks for Chrome and Opera and found that Chrome outperformed Opera in JetStream, Kraken, RoboHornet, and HTML5 Standard tests. But in daily use, Opera feels snappier, smoother, and more responsive than Chrome.
Perhaps this goes to show that “laboratory conditions” aren’t enough to judge browser performance. Maybe there are other invisible factors that affect speed and responsiveness. Or maybe it’s all in my head. But Opera feels faster and that’s all that matters to me.
Check out the speed of Opera on your mobile device as well as our tips and tricks for using Opera on your smartphone.
2. Opera Supports Chrome Extensions
A lot of people feel trapped into using Chrome, and one of the main reasons involve Chrome’s massive collection of active browser extensions: some extensions are so important that users feel they cannot live without them.
But that’s no longer an issue. With the Download Chrome Extension extension, you can directly install any Chrome extension in Opera. It’s extremely easy to use, too. Once you have it, you just browse the Chrome Web Store like normal, find the extensions you want, and click “Add to Opera”. Start with these Chrome extensions that will make Opera even better.
3. Opera Uses Less CPU and Battery
In general, Chrome is CPU intensive. This can be a problem for older PCs because it leaves less CPU for other tasks, resulting in slower system performance. But it’s an even bigger problem for laptops: heavy CPU usage means faster draining of battery life.
This is why you should avoid using Chrome on MacBooks. But Opera offers a double benefit over Chrome: not only does it use less CPU during regular usage, it also comes with a Power Saver Mode that prolongs battery life when you really need it.
4. Opera Uses Less Bandwidth
Not only does Opera need fewer resources and less battery life than Chrome, it can also minimize bandwidth usage through something called Turbo Mode. If your internet activity is limited by ISP data caps, such a feature can prove immensely useful and even save you some money.
With Turbo Mode enabled, your internet traffic is routed through Opera servers so it can be compressed before it reaches you. Note that this only works on unencrypted pages, so HTTPS sites won’t be compressed.
5. Opera Is Its Own Unique Experience
Like Chrome, Opera is derived from the Chromium browser. Other examples of Chromium-based browsers include Brave, Comodo Dragon, Slimjet, Torch, and Vivaldi. But whereas most of these browsers feel like “Chrome alternatives,” Opera very much has its own identity.
This is mainly because Opera has several unique features. Its iconic Speed Dial is a nifty substitute for the bookmark bar. Mouse gestures grant control of the browser without a keyboard. The built-in RSS aggregator is great for staying on top of news. Pop-out player lets you watch any online video while browsing the web. Extensions can be pinned to a dedicated sidebar. The list goes on!
But one of my favorite aspects of Opera is native support for custom keyboard shortcuts. You can change the keypresses for dozens of different browser actions, and you can assign multiple shortcuts to each action. Chrome can only do this with extensions, and even then not so comprehensively.
6. Opera Has a Free Built-In VPN
Opera turned a lot of heads when it introduced its built-in VPN back in 2016 — a VPN that’s 100 percent free and unlimited. This is in stark contrast to a lot of other free VPN services, which have significant limits and restrictions.
Why should you care about this? Because it boosts your privacy and security while browsing the web. It isn’t perfect, mind you. Free VPNs have drawbacks and Opera’s VPN isn’t exempt. However, if you don’t want to pay for a VPN, then it’s one of the better ones., and you can also set up Opera VPN on your Android phone. Benefits include:
- Hiding your IP address so you can’t be tracked.
- Bypassing blocked sites and region restrictions.
- Protection against sniffers when using public Wi-Fi.
I actually use a paid VPN (we recommend ExpressVPN) but if I wasn’t, I’d be using this one instead.
7. Opera Is Not Google
In terms of the “morality” of browsers, Opera has a much better reputation than Google, especially when it comes to user privacy. Whereas Google is a monolithic (even exploitative) data-gathering company, Opera is smaller and more in-touch with users.
Opera’s built-in ad-blocker is a good example. Knowing that people want a clean and non-intrusive web experience, it implemented an ad-blocker that’s resource-friendly, fast, and effective. In general, Opera seems to have more respect for its users than Google does.
On the flipside, Google has no respect for Opera. Let’s not forget that, in 2012, Google tried to nag Opera users into using Chrome. As Google grows bigger, it becomes more appealing to rebel and pursue alternatives.
What’s Missing From Opera?
Now that I’m back on Opera, I’m happy to report that I feel no temptation or urge to return to Chrome. There is one feature that I do miss—Chrome’s user profiles—but I can live with that. Opera’s benefits more than outweigh its drawbacks and it has many useful features that make browsing fun.
Note that while I’m writing this from the perspective of Windows, Mac users should also consider switching from Chrome to Opera.