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Chrome 21 is a browser built more for speed than style

Nathan Alderman | Sept. 4, 2012
The designers of high-end sports cars often strip their cars of every inessential component, just to coax the greatest power and speed from their creations. Google's Chrome reminds me of those speed demons: It lacks the fit and finish of Apple's Safari ( Macworld rated 4 out of 5 mice ), but man, does it ever burn (virtual) rubber.

In Google's own V8 JavaScript benchmark suite, Chrome's score beat that of every other browser by at least 25 percent. Even in the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark, Chrome edged out Firefox for the fastest time, trouncing the others by even wider margins.

And Chrome downright embarrassed the competition in's check of standards compliance. Its score of 431 (plus 13 bonus points) out of 500 exceeded its nearest rival, Opera 12, by 41 points, with the rest of the pack trailing considerably farther behind.

However, when it came to actual HTML horsepower, Chrome fell surprisingly short. Its score in an HTML5 vector graphics test beat Firefox's handily, but still totaled less than half Safari's mark. It ran about 19 percent slower than the leading scores in HTML5 bitmap graphics, and placed fourth after Safari, Opera, and Firefox in HTML5 text handling--albeit by a narrower gap.

In regular use, Chrome felt generally fast, responsive, and fun to use, on par with its latest competitors.

Bottom line

If you like to browse without frivolous bells and whistles, or need first-rate JavaScript performance, Chrome is the browser for you. What it lacks in surface refinements, it more than makes up for in raw power.

Nathan Alderman is a writer, editor, and occasional Top Gear viewer in Alexandria, Va.


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