When browsing the web, few things matter to users as much as how quickly a page loads.

Nearly half of web users questioned said they expect a site to load within two seconds or less and much of the success of Google’s Chrome browser is put down to its speed.

Making pages nippier is an area that Microsoft has focused on since launching its new Edge browser for Windows 10 in March.

Microsoft’s efforts appeared to be paying off by this May, when Edge came close to besting Chrome in our browser performance tests.

So have months of improvements to Microsoft’s browser in the interim finally given it an edge over Chrome when it comes to speed? We tested how Edge measures up to other browsers in the latest preview build of Windows 10 (10565).

Interestingly the results seem to show that Edge has noticeably improved, as it and Chrome jostle for pole position, with Microsoft’s browser coming top in some benchmarks and Google’s in others.

The first set of benchmarks focus on how the browsers handle JavaScript, the default scripting language of the web. JavaScript is at the core of the modern web, with heavy pages loading in tens of scripts that in turn fetch more JavaScript. If your browser is slow at JavaScript, it’s slow full-stop.

The Octane, JetStream and Kraken benchmarks below measure JavaScript performance and importantly are not produced by Microsoft but by their rivals, Octane by Google and Kraken by Firefox-creator Mozilla.

Interestingly Edge beat Chrome in JetStream but lagged behind in the Kraken and Octane benchmarks – suggesting both browsers have differing strengths when it comes to handling JavaScript.

Of course, the speed at which a web page is rendered also influences overall performance. To test this we used WebXPRT, which measures a browser’s HTML and Javascript handling and how it copes with tasks such as photo manipulation and face detection.

In this more general test Edge beat the other browsers, coming in some 30 points ahead of Chrome, which on paper should bode well for the overall performance of Microsoft’s browser.

Finally, HTML6 Test probes how well each browser supports the latest web technologies that enable browsers to be used for sophisticated tasks, such as running 3D games or video calling.

Microsoft has committed to improving support for the latest web standards in Edge but its browser lagged both Chrome and Firefox in HTML6 Test.

In conclusion, it seems like Chrome and Edge are pretty close in terms of browser performance when it comes to Windows 10 – with Edge able to outgun Chrome in a couple of tests for the first time.

Unfortunately, for me these tests don’t reflect the experience of using the browser. I found that Edge still suffers from a problem that makes pages feel slower to load. On JavaScript-heavy pages Edge forced me to wait for nearly all the scripts to load and elements to be rendered before I could scroll – in effect freezing the browser every time a new page loaded. The other browsers I tested didn’t suffer from this issue on Windows 10.

As far as I can tell not everyone has this problem, so it may just be me but it is something to be aware of.

  • Tests were run on a Toshiba Portege laptop. The machine has an 2.1GHz Intel Core i7 4600U processor, with 8GB of memory and a 256GB SSD.