Safari 11 Really is the Fastest Mac Browser

The Ares-6 JavaScript Benchmark. Lower is better.

Safari 11 will be released with macOS High Sierra this year. If your primary concern when browsing the web is doing so quickly, you’re going to want to pay attention. While many Mac users have switched to Chrome or Firefox, either for speed or their extensions, the extreme speed of Safari in High Sierra could bring users back to the browser. Apple claimed the new browser would be the fastest Mac browser available, but Macworld wasn’t willing to accept that as fact without testing it first. They ran a number of browser benchmark tests meant to test the speed of the browsers in a number of ways, including JavaScript performance, HTML5 performance, graphics, speed of user interface interactions, and many more web features using a generalized test. Safari crushed the competition in every test they threw at the browser but one, taking second place in an HTML5 test. Head over to Macworld to read their whole writeup and check out the benchmark scores for yourself. 

Data via U.S. Digital Analytics Program, Compiled in 2016

Safari is, by far, the most popular browser on iOS. This is because Apple doesn’t allow users to change their default browser, so links in a majority of apps will open in Safari by default. Most people never attempt to use a third party browser on iOS because of this. This is fine though, as iOS’s Safari has the most third party extensions out of any browser on the platform, and it’s also the fastest. However, Safari’s lead over other browsers isn’t as gargantuan on macOS. In fact, among certain users (techies, in my experience), Chrome is the most popular browser. However, among the general population, Safari still has a lead over Chrome.

Performance alone might not be the only thing that can keep Safari in the lead on macOS. The browser still lags behind Chrome, Firefox, and even Microsoft’s Edge in terms of browser extendability. However, that tradeoff comes with enhanced security, and Safari is still the fastest and most efficient browser, and its cross-platform syncing over iCloud is seamless. With the performance gap between Safari and other browsers becoming so dramatic, could we see a swing of users returning to Safari on macOS, or are people too reliant on their extensions and themes to give it a try? We’ll have to wait to see if the Safari enhancements in High Sierra bring about a change over time. 


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