updated 04:55 am EDT, Wed August 31, 2011
Browsers vary wildly on different platforms
Noted Windows review site Tom's Hardware recently reviewed the latest versions of some of leading web browsers running on Mac OS X and Windows 7 and found that, overall, Mac browsers -- particularly the one judged the best overall, Safari (v5.1) -- were catching up and in a few cases exceeding the Windows browsers, particularly with page load times, Flash, HTML5 and WebGL. Google's Chrome was judged the best overall for Windows and a stiff competitor on OS X as well.
Windows browsers overall were still judged to be somewhat faster than Mac browsers overall, but the differences that were once very pronounced are getting narrower. Windows programs emerged as faster in 19 of the 29 categories listed -- which covered many aspects from startup times to hardware acceleration stress tests -- but often with only minor differences.
On the Windows side, Chrome and Firefox were judged to be very evenly matched, with only the latter's lackluster CSS performance holding it back. The new and more standards-compliant Internet Explorer 9 was determined to be best with Flash, HTML5 and memory management, while Safari on Windows racked up the lowest scores for that platform, trailing even the Opera browser. Apple has much more work to do with the program beyond relying on the WebKit engine, particularly in the areas of HTML5 hardware acceleration and WebGL support.
For Macs, the main race was between Safari and Chrome, with Opera again taking third place but with Firefox being judged the worst of the four on the Mac. Chrome was held back only by poor memory management, lack of HTML5 hardware acceleration and spotty reliability. The substantive differences in performances between browsers on different platforms means that Windows users cannot rely on their own experiences to recommend a possible Mac browser, and vice-versa.
The website, known for its expertise on Windows-based systems, had high praise for the overall Mac OS X 10.7 ("Lion") experience, but did note that the tests for Mac were conducted on a "Hackintosh" rather than genuine Apple hardware -- a factor that could, it said, actually improve the already impressive performance of the Mac in catching up to Windows browsing speed. [via Tom's Hardware]