Browser Benchmark: New Chromium-based Edge vs. Edge, Chrome & Firefox

In December 2018 Microsoft announced, to the surprise of many, that they would be replacing their existing Edge browser with a new version based on the Chromium open-source browser project. Other browsers based on Chromium include Google’s Chrome, Opera, and Brave. Microsoft also announced that they would be actively contributing to the Chromium project, which appears to be the case, with over 275 commits as of April 8, 2019.

The replacement for the original Edge browser, hereafter referred to as Chromium-Edge, is still in early development, with no beta release available as of late-April 2019. However, being based on a mature engine like Chromium, it is still and loads most sites without issue already. What is currently offered via the Microsoft Edge Insider site, are versions for Windows 10 in a Dev build channel with targeted weekly updates, and a Canary channel offering daily builds. There is a Beta channel listed, suggesting updates every six weeks, but so far no beta is available. The Insider site also lists Windows 7, 8, 8.1 and macOS as platform targets coming soon. That last bit is interesting since Microsoft hasn’t developed a broswer for Mac since Internet Explorer 5 Mac Edition’s last update in 2003.

Given that this is a significant shift in browser strategy for Microsoft, I decided to test what the performance impact might be for Windows 10 users. Using a variety of benchmarks, I tested the new Chromium-based Edge browser against the current releases of Google Chrome (73.0), Mozilla Firefox (66.0), and the EdgeHTML-based version of Microsoft Edge (44.17763) in Windows 10 1809. Microsoft has only released early builds of Edge in its Chromium flavor, so I tested the initial Dev release (74.1) and one of the daily Canary builds (75.0.134). The benchmarks used for this test are:

  • Google Octane 2.0
  • Sunspider 1.02
  • Mozilla Kraken 1.1
  • Speedometer 2.0
  • JetStream 2
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Virtualization on macOS: Parallels vs VMware Benchmarks

Currently there are two main commercial players in the virtualization market on macOS providing type-2 hypervisors, Parallels and VMware. These products allow one to run additional operating system instances on top of their current OS, providing the host system has the necessary resources available. For example, a user with a MacBook may want to run apps that are only available on Windows, alongside their Mac apps. Running an instance of Windows 10 in a virtual machine on top of Parallels Desktop or VMware Fusion allows them to do that.

Type-2 hypervisors, like Parallels and Fusion on Mac, VMware Workstation on Windows, or VirtualBox on both platforms, are those that run on top of a base desktop or server operating system such as Windows or macOS. Type-1 hypervisors run on bare-metal, without a thick operating system in between, and include Microsoft’s Hyper-V and VMware’s ESXi. In general, type-1 hypervisors provide better performance, but have much more specific hardware requirements. Generally, type-2 hypervisors will also provide extra integration features, such as sharing host folders with guest VMs, or displaying an app running in the guest VM right on the host desktop, as if it was running right on the host OS. Rather than a feature comparison though, this test will focus on performance of the guest virtual machines.

For this test, I used an iMac from Late-2013 (see specs below) running macOS Mojave (10.14.2) to test out which of the type-2 hypervisors provided better performance. First, I installed VMWare Fusion 11, created virtual machines running Windows 10 version 1809, and ran a series of benchmarks to test virtual machine performance. After the tests on Fusion were completed, the VMs were destroyed and Fusion completely removed from the system. Next Parallels Desktop version 14 was installed, VMs created to identical specs, and the same benchmarks run in the same order.

iMac 27″ (Late-2013) Host Specs
CPU Intel Core i7-4771; 4-core/8-thread; 3.5GHz / 3.9GHz turbo; 8MB L3 cache; 84W TDP
RAM 24GB DDR3-1333
Storage 500GB SATA SSD
GPU Nvidia GTX 775M 2GB GDDR5 – 1344 CUDA cores; 256-bit memory bus; Kepler architecture

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