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Opera and Firefox: speed


Yesterday I had to install Windows 98 on a really slow computer by "today's standards", a Pentium I, with only 32 MB.

The computer is a bit unstable. During system installation had some BSODs (probably corrupted RAM and/or damaged mother board).

This guy will have a broadband Internet connection.

As a browser, I, of course, excluded Internet Explorer as an option.

I got Opera 8.5 with all settings to the minimum (no skin, no smooth zoom, no smooth scrolling, no special effects, nothing). Booted and worked really fast, loved it ;). I wasn't expecting that. Yet, it causes BSODs on Opera's own site and some other sites (told you the computer is unstable!).

Now, I had to give Firefox 1.0 a try, hoping it's not slower and won't cause as many BSODs as Opera.

Yet, yesterday I finally saw for the first time the true speed difference in start-up times between Opera and Firefox. Starting Opera takes less than 3 seconds ... yet with Firefox ... you wait and wait more :), from double to triple more time. Page rendering, scrolling and overall browser usage is also slower (menus, preferences, etc).

Sadly, there's nothing to configure in Firefox to really make it faster. Also, Firefox crashed on few starts and on some sites (like mine).


  1. Firefox is not more stable than Opera (nor vice-versa). The stability issues have been caused by the hardware.
  2. Opera is a lot faster. Really usable on such a slow computer.

The only problem of Opera is PNG rendering. On my site Firefox was a tad faster :).

I actually managed to browse my site with Opera ... but Firefox crashed :).

P.S. This is not an "Opera fan rant". It's clear to me now which browser is faster: Opera. Those who really want to know which browser is faster got to try them with a really slow computer.