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Which Mac Browser Is the Best?

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Best Mac Browser - The Tests
Mac Browser Shootout 2010 - How We Test Mac Browsers

Peacekeeper, one of the four browser benchmark tests that we'll use in our browser shootout.

To test our 10 Mac browser candidates, we're going to turn to four publicly available browser benchmark tests. We'll use two of the tests to measure how well each Mac browser handles JavaScript, a major underpinning of web site design. We'll also check conformity to standards, and look at overall rendering performance.

The Four Mac Browser Benchmark Tests

Peacekeeper measures a browser's performance in rendering pages, using social networking systems, which are heavily JavaScript based; text parsing; complex graphics manipulation; and data and DOM (Document Object Model), a standard way to describe objects that can be manipulated in an HTML, XHTML, or XML document.

Acid3 is a web standards test that measures how well a browser complies with selected web standards. Specifically, it tests how well a browser supports CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), ECMAScript (a standard version of JavaScript), DOM Level 2, SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics), XML (Extensible Markup Language), and data URI (Uniform Resources Identifier).

V8 Benchmark v6 is a JavaScript benchmark suite that Google created for fine tuning its own V8 JavaScript engine, which is used in Chrome. Overall, this benchmark test is a good indicator of how well a browser's JavaScript engine will perform.

Since we will be testing Google's Chrome, it didn't seem fair to rely on Google's own benchmark, which some consider to be optimized for the Chrome JavaScript engine, so we added a second JavaScript benchmark.

SunSpider JavaScript Benchmark tests how well the JavaScript engine in a browser works with real-world problems for which a web developer may use JavaScript. This makes it a good indicator of the overall JavaScript performance you would actually perceive when visiting web sites.

The Test Procedure

We'll be using the 2010 edition of the Mac Pro, configured with a 6-Core 3.33 GHz Intel Xeon Westmere processor and 6 GB of RAM for the testing. The only applications that will be running at the time of the testing are the browser and TextEdit, for taking notes before and after each test. The browser will always be the front most application.

Before each test, we reboot the Mac and launch the web browser and Text Edit. This ensures that the web browser doesn't contain any cached information in its local memory or on disk.

With the exception of the Acid3 test, each test is performed three times; the final result is an average of the tests. In the case of Acid3, the test is only performed once, because it's essentially a pass/fail test, rather than a test that measures performance.

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