Battle of the Betas - 4-way browser head-to-head


The good: Combines superfast performance with head-turning visual effects.

The bad: Heavy on memory, and some may find the graphics irritatingly showy.


The good: A lightweight, simple and stable browser that just keeps getting better.

The bad: Neither the fastest nor the best-featured option.


The good: Hugely extensible, with a low RAM footprint and great performance.

The bad: Rather light on features until you mess around with third-party plug-ins.

Internet Explorer 8

The good: Brings some genuinely promising new technologies to the table.

The bad: The slowest browser for JavaScript by a large margin.

Speed Tests:

Sunspider JavaScript benchmark

Chrome: 2.27 seconds

Firefox 3.0: 4.57 seconds

Firefox 3.1: 2.27 seconds

Safari 4 beta: 1.89 seconds

IE8: 7.43 seconds


Each browser has its pluses and minuses - IE is making some advances, Chrome is fast and Safari 4 is fast and slick. However, with its latest version, Firefox manages to compete with the others on speed and also has a huge community of plug-ins to bolster it. As it stands then, it wins the battle - though the others are snapping at its heels.

Darien Graham-Smith

Darien began his IT career in the 1990s as a systems engineer, later becoming an IT project manager. His formative experiences included upgrading a major multinational from token-ring networking to Ethernet, and migrating a travelling sales force from Windows 3.1 to Windows 95.

He subsequently spent some years acting as a one-man IT department for a small publishing company, before moving into journalism himself. He is now a regular contributor to IT Pro, specialising in networking and security, and serves as associate editor of PC Pro magazine with particular responsibility for business reviews and features.

You can email Darien at, or follow him on Twitter at @dariengs.