Firefox had a unique advantage that in many ways could be considered faster than Webkit browsers in its unique forced prefetching plugins (Namely the prefetching enabled Fasterfox plugins, which also used a bunch of rendering tweaks to further enhance load speeds).
Prefetching is the practice of loading a page before it is clicked. This is done by way of waiting until bandwidth is no longer being used, and loading as many links on the page as possible in the background using the spare unused bandwidth, so that when clicked they load instantly. Not only does this make pages load instantly, but it also puts good use to bandwidth which otherwise would not have been used.
Here are the approximate average results I got on the Sunspider benchmark (Run in identical environments consecutively, multiple times, in a random order):
Firefox ~1800ms (I had Fasterfox on, which may have had a minimal effect at the cost of extra ram use)
IE ~ Unable to pass test in 5 minutes every test so I gave up (haha)
The above results were consistent in terms of relative speed with both the Dromaeo benchmark test and the same tests done on my other computers (NOTE: All using windows).
The webkit browsers are less CPU intensive.
Opera and Firefox have huge versatility by comparison.
Minefield is less versatile than Firefox or Opera, but more versatile than the webkit browsers.
Safari is not open source, Chrome is mostly open source, and Firefox is fully open source.
Firefox has a larger developer community than the other browsers.
Chrome is Google. Google rocks!
***If you are too lazy to read the above here is the summary:***
Minefield is the fastest in both active and non-active pages, but may be less reliable due to its bleeding edge status (Although I myself have not noticed a difference in terms of stability).
Chrome follows in active pages.
Firefox with Fasterfox follows in nonactive pages.
In terms of choosing a browser, follow these guidelines:
-For a ridiculously fast browser that is less stable use Minefield.
-Another option is to wait for Minefield's functionality to be added to regular Firefox, which will in all likelihood be a while away. Choosing this option means a versatile, ridiculously fast, incredibly stable browser. Of course this option means waiting for some time.
My personal recommendation is Minefield. Its significantly faster, still fairly versatile, and quite stable, as well as convenient with a nice developer community backing it. Being open source is also nice if you are into the programming thing.
Unhealthy amounts of browser use
6 years + of Programming experience
Personal benchmarking tests using Sunspider
(^ See Tracemonkey section of above page)
see also: Sunspider: