The final results of our Mac browser testing for the summer of 2011 rank our four contenders as follows.
- Google Chrome
But that is just an overall performance ranking based on the Peacekeeper benchmark test. It's important to understand that performance is only one small component of judging which Mac browser is best for you. Equally important are which features meet your needs, and how well the user interface meets your expectations.
Having the fastest browser in the world does you no good if it's missing key elements that you need. And "fast" is a very interesting concept. In many of the tests, the spread between slowest and fastest was trivial. In tests that had a wide spread between worst and best, the actual difference may not be easily detectable in real-world usage.
Mac Browser Recommendations
Firefox - Install: Although Firefox was at the bottom of our tests, it still rates an install recommendation, based on the fact that it's still one of the leading browser platforms. As a result, just about every web designer out there tests his or her site's performance against Firefox. I have often had to fire up Firefox in order to access a web site that didn't render correctly, or had a feature that didn't work in other browsers. For this reason, Firefox retains a home on my Mac.
Safari - Recommend or Install: I'll be honest; I like Safari's features and its user interface. It is by far the most Mac-like of the available browsers. For these reasons, it remains my personal preferred web browser. However, if you're not as enamored with it as I am, then Safari only rates an install.
Opera - Recommend: Opera has a lot going for it. It was the fastest in rendering and text parsing, and the second fastest in social networking use. That earns Opera its recommended status.
Chrome - Recommended: Chrome took first place, largely based on how well it performed in the data test. But since data manipulation is the lifeblood of web-based applications, such as Google's own web services, Chrome is an obvious choice as a recommended browser.