What’s the fastest browser for surfing the Web?

While Chrome and Firefox may still feel new, they’re anything but. Chrome debuted almost fifteen years ago, Firefox almost twenty. In that time, a new generation of browsers like Brave has emerged, with far more focus on privacy and speed. But which option is the fastest web browser?

In this article, we’ll discuss:

  • What makes a browser fast
  • Which offers the fastest browsing
  • How to improve speed on your browser

What makes a web browser fast?

No one likes waiting for the web. We expect our browsers to load pages, download content, and stream videos with lightning speed. But a lot has to happen behind the scenes to meet these expectations. Let’s start by looking at the external factors (those outside the browser itself) and internal ones (those within the browser) affecting browser speed.

Externally, internet bandwidth (the service from your internet service provider), cell signal, the number of devices on a network and what those devices are doing, computer processing speed, the make and age of your device’s operating system, and more can all contribute to a fast (or slow) browsing experience.

Internally, a number of factors within the browser itself can also affect browsing speed, the two most significant being layout / browser engine, and Javascript engine.

Layout or browser engine

Every browser has an “engine.” This is the core software codebase that runs the browser. Some browsers have their own engine; others might share one, and then make custom optimizations. Chromium-based browsers like Brave share the Blink browser engine. Mozilla Firefox uses Gecko, while iOS browsers use Webkit. These engines “drive” the browser through the web page—they determine how, and in what order, the page’s different elements are processed.

This loading order can affect browsing speed—page elements load at different rates, and in different order, on different browsers. And some browsers handle particular on-page elements better than others.

Javascript engine

Javascript determines a user’s interactions with the web page. For example, when you fill in a web form or click a button on a page, Javascript works in the background to make those interactions happen. Every browser uses some form of Javascript engine, but the engine can vary. Brave and other Chromium-based browsers use the V8 Javascript engine.

More than just an engine

As discussed above, most popular browsers share their underlying code. For example, Brave, Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Opera are all based on the open-source Chromium language. Thanks to this shared source code, you can expect broad similarities in feel and functionality. However, the way each browser is built on that engine can bring radical differences in performance.

A brief case study: Brave vs. Chrome

Brave’s browser speed derives from its radically different approach to Internet privacy. Because Brave blocks third-party ads and trackers, it streamlines the website loading process. This increased speed is especially noticeable with slower internet connections, or on older computers. There are two significant benefits here that result in a faster user experience:

  • Reduced Bandwidth Use: Brave cuts out third-party ads and trackers, so it doesn’t need to load those elements on the page. Fewer elements to load means less bandwidth used (basically less data being drawn from your internet connection). And reduced bandwidth means an overall faster experience on every page.
  • Reduced Javascript CPU Use: Javascript runs automatically while viewing a web page—it’s part of the core that allows most pages to function. Brave doesn’t remove Javascript, but by blocking third-party ads and trackers, it does execute fewer of these scripts overall.

Over time, these two factors can add up to hundreds of hours saved—time you would’ve otherwise lost while waiting for webpages to load. And Brave calculates this for you in its count of estimated time saved. It’s a quick and easy way to see how much faster the Brave browser is in comparison to Google Chrome, despite their shared codebase.

How to choose the right browser

So how do you choose the fastest web browser? Consider the following:

1. Balance speed and privacy

Speed isn’t the only important factor in the realm of browsers—privacy matters, too, so be sure to examine both when choosing a new browser. Some browsers, like Tor, will maximize privacy. But they can also be complex to set up, and lead to significant slowdowns in browsing. Chrome may be faster, but it also allows many third-party ads & trackers through, and brings numerous other privacy risks. A browser like Brave offers the best of both worlds, combining speed with enhanced privacy.

2. Choose features that fit you

Each browser has its own unique set of features—its own personality. Some are optimized for gaming. Others for email or other apps. Brave, for example, offers private video calls, a browser-native crypto wallet, a truly private, independent search engine, even offline playlists. And of course, default privacy that’s optimized for speed. All right out of the box. Whatever you’re looking for, be sure to check each browser’s custom feature set before downloading.

3. Use a next-generation, supported browser

In general, the fastest browsers are the newest ones. So, whichever browser you choose, be sure you’re using a new, modern browser (e.g. something newer than Internet Explorer) that’s still being supported and developed by the company that makes it.

How to improve browser speeds

You’ll probably notice an improvement if you upgrade your Internet connection, invest in a new computer, and download a browser optimized for speed. If you’ve already done those things, there are also ways to improve speed within the browser:

1. Close tabs and extra windows

Some online housekeeping can go a long way in making your browser faster. First, reduce the number of tabs open on your browser to reduce the load, especially tabs with resource-heavy sites like YouTube. Likewise, consider closing unused windows of your browser.

2. Remove extensions

When used correctly, browser extensions can be helpful software add-ons. But it’s worth remembering that every extension you add makes extra work for your browser. Too many extensions can lead to noticeable slowdowns in performance.

For the fastest browsing experience possible, remove any old extensions and carefully consider before adding new ones.

(Also: Note that some browsers, like Brave, have ad-blocking and other features built in. This means no need to install extensions in the first place.)

3. Update to the latest version

Whichever browser you use, be sure to install updates so you’re always on the latest version. These updates can bring critical security patches and performance improvements. Usually, a browser will prompt you to update if there’s a new release. You can also find the latest version by simply visiting that browser’s homepage or download page.

The fastest web browser for you

Now that we’ve discussed the factors that can lead to browser slow-downs, and how to correct them, let’s take a quick look at the fastest browser overall for each operating system.

Fastest browser for Windows

Edge is the default option for many Windows products. But Brave, Chrome, and Opera all work on Windows machines as well. And, given that Edge is particularly ad-heavy, you should consider changing your default browser. As previously discussed, Brave’s default ad-blocking gives it a real advantage over even these other Chromium browsers. Brave loads pages up to 2x faster on Windows.

Fastest browser for Android

Android devices can come with a variety of default browsers. But, as with Windows, on Android Brave is the clear winner vs. all of them. It’s exponentially faster, and brings unmatched privacy.

Fastest browser for Mac and iOS

Safari is the default option for all Apple products. But Brave, Chrome, Edge, and Opera all work on Mac and iOS. And, given that Apple users can now change the default browser, it’s worth considering a better alternative to Safari.

Brave offers advanced security features that Safari lacks. And, given its Chromium codebase, it brings smoother (albeit more private) integration with popular Google apps like Gmail and Google Docs. So if you want something that prioritizes your privacy and provides an extra jolt of surfing speed, consider adding the Brave browser to your Apple device.

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