Guide: What is the most efficient browser for Windows?
In June, we published a guide comparing the performance of popular browsers available on Windows. The article allows you to determine which browser offers the best performance and compare its strengths and weaknesses with its competitors. Now is the time to focus on energy efficiency – another vital aspect of modern browsers. After all, what’s the point of using a fast browser if it destroys your laptop’s battery in just a few hours?
Four browsers participated in the contest: Chrome, Edge, Firefox and Vivaldi. Our test machine is a relatively inexpensive laptop from HP with the following specs:
|HP Pavilion 14 x360|
|Processor||2.00GHz 11th Gen Intel Core i3-1125G4|
|RAM||8GB DDR4 3200MHz|
|Storage||500 GB SSD|
|Filter||14 inch touch screen
1920×1080 pixels at 40% brightness
|Operating system||Windows 11 21H2|
|Supply Mode||Balanced, 20% battery saver
Standard Windows Setup
We attempted to find the most power-efficient browser by running two tests: looping YouTube video playback at 1080p and refreshing two “heavy” websites every 60 seconds (hard refresh with cache). We’ve enabled synchronization in all four browsers, added several extensions, and disabled ad blockers for additional strain to simulate how the average user browses the Internet.
Important: You may experience slightly different results depending on software and hardware configuration.
Test 1 – YouTube in 1080p
Unsurprisingly, Chrome showed the best power efficiency when playing YouTube, and it lasted 6 hours and 57 minutes. Vivaldi came in second with an almost identical time of 6 hours and 56 minutes.
Although Microsoft Edge uses Chromium just like Chrome and Vivaldi, it showed significantly lower battery performance when playing YouTube – 5 hours and 59 minutes. A one-hour difference is a blow to Edge, which might make users consider other browsers to get the best battery life for media consumption. The ability to watch one or even two additional episodes of your favorite series is no joke.
Still, Edge wasn’t giving up so easily. Microsoft’s browser has a built-in efficiency mode that reduces CPU usage to improve battery life. This helped Edge earn an extra 25 minutes, proving that Efficiency Mode isn’t just a marketing gimmick. 25 minutes might not sound impressive, but it’s still a solid result overall.
Finally, Firefox finished with 5 hours and 27 minutes of YouTube playback, proving once again that developers optimize their websites and services primarily for Chromium-based browsers. Unfortunately, in addition to lower performance, Firefox users have to contend with lower power efficiency.
To note: Chrome, Edge and Vivaldi used VP9 codec while Firefox chose AV1.
Test 2 – “Internet browsing simulator”
Vivaldi finished first (spoiler: not for long) with a solid time of 6 hours and 27 minutes. Unlike the previous test, Chrome came second with 5 hours and 48 minutes. Edge scored 5 hours and 31 minutes, and Firefox came last, posting a time of just 4 hours and 43 minutes.
And then Microsoft Edge removed its efficiency mode wildcard. The browser got a major boost in battery life, gaining over an extra hour. Efficiency mode allowed Edge to crush the competition and finish first 8 minutes ahead of Vivaldi. Quite an impressive result.
Vivaldi might be your best bet if you need a browser that offers solid battery life over the competition and doesn’t require you to enable power-saving modes. Additionally, Vivaldi is a privacy-focused browser that does not use Google’s data mining probes or controversial APIs.
Chrome’s average overall performance is another proof of why it’s the most popular browser. Chrome offers top-notch performance and compatibility paired with decent battery life. You can’t go wrong with Chrome, but you can get better battery life in Vivaldi without sacrificing compatibility.
Microsoft Edge surprised us in a negative way, but it redeemed itself with Efficiency Mode. Nevertheless, users should keep in mind that using efficiency mode results in slightly lower performance which becomes noticeable on specific websites.
As for Firefox, you probably have to look elsewhere if you want a browser with the best battery life. Firefox isn’t a bad browser per se, but it just can’t keep up with Chromium alternatives and their superior power efficiency.