Does browsing speed depend on the browser?

Modified Nov. 3, 2023, 8:45 p.m.


Why not everyone prefer the same browser? Let’s see if browsing speed can vary between all of them.

Yes, the browsing speed depends on the web browser you use. Web browsers are different and are handling page rendering and others useful things differently, making the browsing speed different depending on the page and website. Browsing speed also depends heavily on your network connectivity, as you are sending requests to the internet while browsing.

Why is browsing speed dependent on the browser?

The browsing speed can be split into two parts:

  • The time needed to download the page
  • The time needed to render the page for the user to be able to read it

Each browser does different choices to speed up each of these parts, using different features.

Time needed to download the page

When you are browsing and going to a new page, the first thing your browser needs to do is to download the page content. It first downloads the page itself, the HTML part, and then downloads every other information that the page told him to download. It can be JavaScript code for an extra feature on the page, images, or CSS to make the page more beautiful and easier to read.

To speed up this process, browsers are using tricks that can be different from one browser to another.

Here are some of the features used by browsers to speed up the download of the page:

  • Caching page and information - All the statics files, it means the JavaScript, CSS, images, or any other file that does not change very often, are saved on your computer for a specific time or until there are too many things cached.
  • Maximum number of HTTP connections - Each download requires an HTTP connection, a browser can handle multiple HTTP connections at the same time. This number depends on the configuration of the browser, but the default number can vary between browsers.
  • Compression support - When transferring files using the HTTP protocol, the web servers can often compress the files before sending them to the browser, to reduce space. But compression can only be used if the browser supports it. Today all browser supports compression by default, but there are different algorithms and some browsers support more algorithms than others.

Time needed to render the page

Once the browser has all the needed files, it can start to render it, to make it readable by the user. The rendering process has to be fast but also needs to avoid making too many changes. You don’t want to see a page that changes multiple times in the first few seconds.

Because of this, the rendering process is not the same in every browser, here are the key points making rendering speed different:

  • Rendering engine - Today, 3 different rendering engines exists and are used by browsers to render the web pages. Each of these rendering engines has its advantages and disadvantages, here are the 3 rendering engines:
    • Blink - The most famous one, it has been developed by Google for Chrome browser at first, but it’s now used by many browsers like Microsoft Edge or Opera. Each browser can use a different configuration of Blink though
    • WebKit - It has been developed by Apple and is used in Safari, but all the browsers have to use this WebKit rendering engine in iOS because of the operating system specificities
    • Gecko - The older one. Developed by Mozilla Firefox. Built in 1997 but open-source and released in 1998, Gecko has been continuously improved by Mozilla since then.
  • JavaScript performance - JavaScript is a code that has to be executed on the client side, meaning by the browser. JavaScript performance can be different between browsers.
  • Rendering starting time - To speed up the process, the browsers are not waiting to have all the information before starting the render process. But as they are also trying to avoid having to change the page for a better user experience, the point at which a browser decides to start the rendering process is different between browsers.

What is the fastest web browser?

As each browser is making a different choice and the fastest web browser does not mean the same thing for all people, it’s difficult to give a precise short answer here.

But we can agree that generally speaking, Google Chrome is the fastest web browser today.

It also depends on your computer configuration though, some browsers are using more RAM and CPU than others, so if your computer is not so good, you should try different browsers like Firefox or Opera to find the best for you.

Does the download speed depend on the browser we use to download?

No, the download speed of files is not depending on the browser we use. There are a few differences between browsers, but the download speed is more a topic related to your network configuration and speed.

Be sure to close as many tabs as possible to avoid having anything that can slow down a bit the download speed.



Maxime Levesque is a technical engineer with more than 5 years of professional experience. He is an expert in computer and phones, mostly on Apple products. Maxime is also the founder of TechBrowser.

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