Best Free Mega Web Browser

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Introduction

The selection of web browsers has become more bewildering due to the proliferation of browsers and the increased frequency of browser updates. What will make it easier to choose between them is to be aware of four conditions: popularity, web engines, key features and performance. Read more about these conditions on how to select a browser at the end of this page.

Your final choice will probably be decided by which one you prefer subjectively rather than by objectively comparing feature by feature. It is relatively easy to switch web browsers provided that you are not dependent upon unique features or specific add-ons. I suggest that you install more than one web browser so you have an alternative if you strike any problems with your preferred browser.

This page covers Mega Browsers. You might want to check out our reviews on Lightweight Browsers and Specialised Browsers.

 

Rated Products

Google Chrome  

The most popular, fastest, secure and standards-compliant browser


Our Rating: 
5
License: Free
Supports multiple operating systems, frequent & silent updates, built-in flash and pdf viewer, large selection of extensions, cloud printing, now has a 64-bit Windows version.
Getting slower, newer version has some backward software compatibility.
Read full review...

Mozilla Firefox  

A popular open-source web browser well-known for its add-ons


Our Rating: 
4.5
License: Free (Open source)
Simplified interface, competitively fast, broad cross platform support, very secure, sync & panoramas, thousands of add-ons, excellent website compatibility, large developer community.
Doesn't play well with Adobe Flash Player.
Read full review...

Internet Explorer  

The oldest mega browser bundled with Windows


Our Rating: 
4
License: Free
Amazing speed, minimalistic interface, pinned sites, improved web standard compliance, download manager with malware protection, tracking protection, hardware acceleration, good OS integration.
Tab handling not as good as others, limited extension support, not as cloud friendly, no cross platform syncing, Windows only.
Read full review...

Opera  

A refreshing web browser that is fast and efficient


Our Rating: 
3.5
License: Free
Fast, feature rich, cross platform support, tab stacking, web standard compliant, built in mail & torrent client, extension & themes support, visual tabs & mouse gestures, Opera turbo, account syncing.
Limited Extension gallery, key features layered in extensive menus.
Read full review...

Maxthon  

A light and fast web browser with some distinctive features


Our Rating: 
3
License: Free
Small footprint, fast, true cloud sync across devices, split screen view, custom skins, cloud push, cloud download, resource sniffer, dual engine (but only useful for compatibility).
Inadequate tab functions. The core is still lagging some technologies of bigger browsers.
Read full review...

How to Select a Browser

Most Popular Browsers

The most popular browsers globally are Google Chrome, Internet Explorer (IE), Mozilla Firefox, Safari, and Opera with about 95% of the online market share and Chrome has half of that. StatCounter's graph of the top five desktop and tablet web browsers for the last five years or so illustrates the decline of IE and the rise of Chrome.

Chrome and Firefox tend to lead the pack technically for two main reasons: strong application support and compatibility with many platforms (Windows, Apple OS and iOS, Linux and other Unix-like operating systems including Android). These browsers also have a range of variations built on the same engines. For Google Chrome this can be quite confusing because the web browser code which Chrome is based on is called Chromium. You will see that there are several other browsers built from the Chromium code-base.

Most Popular Web Engines

Most web browsers create web pages by using software called a web engine. Many of these web engines or layout and rendering engines, as they are also named, are used by more than one browser. This software combines the mark-up content (HTML, XML, SVG, JPEG, PNG, etc.), the formatting (CSS, XSL, etc.), and the scripting (JavaScript) to display it on your screen. Typically a web engine uses a JavaScript engine to process JavaScript instructions. Taking the WebKit engine as an example, it has two components: the WebCore layout engine and the JavaSciptCore engine.

If you are having problems with the engines in your web browser then one way to resolve this can be to choose another web browser that uses different engines.

The four main web browser layout engines being actively developed are displayed in Table 1 in order of age. I have omitted the fifth major web engine in use, Presto which is used by older versions of Opera. You can also view a more detailed time-line graphic.

 Mega Browsers 

 

 Lightweight Browsers 

 

 Specialised Browsers 

Table 1 - Current web engines

Trident
(1997-now)

Gecko
(1998-now)

WebKit
(2003-now)

Blink1
(2013-now)

Microsoft Windows
Internet Explorer
Chrome + IE Tab
Mozilla Firefox + IE Tab
Maxthon
SlimBrowser
Avant Ultimate
Avant Lite
Lunascape
Sleipnir (v.4+)
SeaMonkey + IE Tab
K-Meleon + IE Tab
Mozilla Firefox
Waterfox
Comodo IceDragon
Avant Ultimate
Lunascape
PaleMoon
SeaMonkey
K-Meleon
Chrome (to v.27)
Maxthon
Comodo DragonC
TorchC
SlimBoat
Avant Ultimate
Lunascape
Sleipnir (v.3.5+)
Konqueror (v.4+)
EpicC
SRWare IronC
Midori
QtWeb
QupZilla
rekonq
xombrero
Chrome (v.28+)
Opera2 (v.15+)
Sleipnir (v.4.3+)
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Key Features

Due to modern advances and competitiveness, all of the major web browsers share similar, and what I would call, essential features. Examples of these features are; tabbed browsing, privacy browsing, password manager, download manager, searchable address bar, and cross application syncing. The individual browsers may use different names for their respective features but the functions are basically the same. The reviews will attempt to highlight the key elements of each browser to help you decide which browser may be best for you.

Wiki Comparison of Web Browsers compares web browsers in several categories.  For a web browser to be classified as Mega, it must compare to IE, Chrome and Firefox in all similar categories.

Performance

There are two aspects of performance: compliance with web standards and speed of processing. There are standard tests for benchmarking the performance of your web browser. The best known are benchmarks like html5test, acidtests and Octane but there are several others. They primarily test the compliance of the browser's HTML layout and the processing speed of the JavaScript engine.

You can use these tests yourself but be aware that they won't tell you how well the browser suits the way that you work. That is why I recommend that you select your browser based on the features that you use  because there is not as much difference between the performance of the main browsers. If you decide to test browsers yourself then be aware that your particular combination of hardware, software and browser configuration will affect performance. So your results may be wildly different to other people's benchmark results.

If your hardware is very limited then you should refer to the lightweight web browsers which require less resources.

 

Related Products and Links

You might want to check out these articles too:

 

Editor

This software category is in need of an editor. If you would like to give something back to the freeware community by taking it over, check out this page for more details. You can then contact us from that page or by clicking here.

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Comments

"...AOL Shield Browser is based off of the popular Chromium browser framework, and supports most Chrome extensions, apps, themes, and more ... ": http://discover.aol.com/products-and-services/aol-shield-browser pcxFirefox: http://sourceforge.net/projects/pcxfirefox/ lawlietfox: http://sourceforge.net/projects/lawlietfox/ Tete's private builds of FF: http://www1.plala.or.jp/tete009/en-US/software.html#FIREFOX

You can add Slimjet to Blink Engine browsers. It is a nice browser on chromium and way faster and better than many browsers listed here.

It has best of the features and does not really annoys you like Chrome crashes or Firefox for that matter.

Secure and in built Ad blocker, Download accelerator..

nice one really!

http://www.slimjet.com

I have tried the W10 Edge browser.
I cannot for the life of me, find how to show menus.
Can anyone help ?
Rob
PS I am not a fan of minimalistic browsers such as Chrome
PPS For general browsing I only feel safe, when using FF with NoScript
PPPS For those frustrated with the need to click "allow scripts" a few times, I have found the setting that can reduce it to a single click.

Hi, Everyone, and here is my latest discovery- 7star browser.
Yes, it is chinese product, which some won't use (being afraid of spying-for one of reasons), but..
I'm working with it for a few days now and found it to be fast ( it's base- Chrome ), reliable (it gives me foreign radiotranslations and videos, which some browsers refuse to do, and plenty of functions; also, it has another engine- Internet Explorer ( which isn't all that exciting these days ) and auto or manual switching - depending of which site you want to open.
Try it, boys and girls, I'm quite sure You'll be glad You did. ARaa.

"... Cent Browser is an enhanced version of the Chromium web browser that bundles many useful features, such as scrollable tab bar, automatic memory optimization, lazy session loading, mouse gesture, super drag and a lot of tab options.It makes your web surfing easier, more comfortable and more secure ...:"
http://www.centbrowser.com/

Opaque browser:
http://opaquebrowser.com/

Two complaints (just mumbles) -
1) Cannot find much info about it on the web (nor on their home page)
2) Compatible with Windows Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, and 10

Still using XP,
Rob

"... Iridium is a free, open, and libre browser modification of the Chromium code base, with privacy being enhanced in several key areas. Automatic transmission of partial queries, keywords, metrics to central services inhibited and only occurs with consent. In addition, all our builds are reproducible, and modifications are auditable, setting the project ahead of other secure browser providers ...":
https://iridiumbrowser.de/

Thanks Remah, found a replacement for Opera - ruined by the latest update. Tried a couple, eventually settled on Comodo Ice Dragon (found on another page here). It really is a very good browser. Thanks again! :)

Yes it is very good.
It is FF, but usually a couple of versions behind.
They have trimmed it slightly, and you can enable their extra security (ensure web site that you try to go to, are safe).
Also you can have (multiple) portable versions, by simply ticking a checkbox on the 'installer' screen.
I have many for different categories of browsing.
The one proviso is, I never have two of them running at the same time (just in case they interfere with each others settings)

Rob
PS For all those Chrome lovers out there, I wish I could find a cure for you.
If you have a weak/old PC, you can occasionally find your computer running so slow, you will think it has a virus. But you will find it is Google's updater running in the background.
For those that love Chrome, and wish to avoid Google's disregard for Windows conventions, you can Get Comodo Dragon (No 'Ice'), and 'Install' it as portable.
I have done that, and it runs fine (but I still hate Chrome).

I tried to install IceDragon as portable by checking the box, only for the interest value since you don't normally get that option. The info says it installs the user profile in the program folder, as against the usual place in user data probably. The install failed (W7/32) so I went back and installed again without checking the portable option, and it was fine. Tried SWiron version of Chrome a while back but it wouldn't install for me. No doubt all these issues can be fixed but as far as I'm concerned - these days anyway - it needs to do what it says on the box or I move on. No time or energy to play, or fix bad coding, now...

That failure would likely be MS fault, NOT Comodo
MS decided to be the 'Nanny' in W7, and limit our powers in many locations.
Create a Folder C:\PGMS
And create a sub folder called IceDragon
Tick the checkbox and browse to that location.
I would bet my left family jewel that it will 'Install' there.
Don't run it at the completion of the 'Install'
Go to the folder, and drill down the sub folders that have appeared, and copy the files etc from the lowest level to the top level, and delete the left over empty sub folders.
Then run it.

Let me know if I will have to sing in a higher key,
Rob

That's a great method, Rob, I'll make a note of it for when I need it on a USB stick. Soon probably. A portable browser that uses its own DNS IPs seems useful in some circumstances. Thanks.

I'm not quite as computer-savvy as most of you here, but I could really use some help in figuring out all these different browsers.

I recently had some trouble with Silverlight playing Netflix through Firefox. Digital Rights Management errors keep coming up and I tried uninstalling/reinstalling Silverlight, which didn't work, and the troubleshooting articles I found didn't help either as there are some features missing on my system that are necessary to do the fix. Sooo, I called Netflix and they suggested downloading Chrome as the browser to use for Netflix. I was reluctant because I don't like anything to do with Google, but if this was the only way to get Netflix to play, then I had to.

Something really weird keeps happening when I open Chrome. I get an initial tab for Astromenda. I don't know what that is (search engine?), and I don't want it. While I was on the phone with Netflix, I found that in my list of programs and I deleted it, but it still keeps coming up when I open Chrome. What is this thing and how do I get rid of it?? It seems to be a default in Chrome.

Also, in streaming videos through Netflix (through Chrome), the audio and video is crappy. It crackles, skips, stutters. It's very annoying, to say the least. Sometimes it freezes completely and I need to click the pause and start button again. I really miss watching Netflix through Firefox - it was easy and played well (most of the time).

Are any of the other browsers any better with regard to playing Netflix, and are not reliant on Silverlight? My operating system is XP, so MS doesn't support that anymore, so I can't ask them why Silverlight suddenly doesn't work for me anymore. Anyway, any help/insight you all could share with me would be greatly appreciated! Thanks.
Phyllis

The article comments are not the place to deal with your various issues. You should post them in our support forums for Internet and web browser issues.

Oops, sorry about that. I didn't realize that. Will check that out when I get a chance. Thanks for letting me know.

There is another great alternative out there called Polarity Browser. It is light on resources and very fast.

Airfox: fast, clean, very basic browser. Used on Win7 32-bit: Cannot remember window size or placement (could be a deal-breaker for some). Hard to use - keyboard shortcuts *do not work at all* on Win7/32. Everything - and I mean everything - must be done through the Settings button at top right (3 stacked bars). There is no other menu of any kind anywhere. First job is to set Bookmarks - set about:blank as homepage, open tab, set about:blank as a bookmark. Remove the Start.me page and Airfox Start Page from Bookmarks as they just cause the browser to lock up and freeze for minutes on end. Has no plugin facility. Looks as if there is only one dev - this usually means the project will die at some stage. OK if you need an ultra skinny browser to check something with. The only modern facility it has is tabs. Reminds me of Netscape in 1998, with tabs. Would be nice to have some kind of a menu, somewhere, given that k/b shortcuts don't work.
Otter browser beta 4 is out: "... Most important changes since beta 3: - added support for mouse gestures; - added initial support for customizing toolbars; - allow to load plugins on demand; - more actions (over 150 in total); - added Go to Page dialog (F2); - allow to customize menu button (JSON file); - lots of other fixes and improvements ...": http://otter-browser.org/
Went to Sourceforge to download. No download available, just binaries for devs etc. Not a real browser as yet. Looking forward to trying it once it's a stable release.

Hello Remah,

I would like to recommend for your review an additional browser that I have found simply spectacular in all of its (comprehensive) offerings: SlimJet. I have tried and tweaked and relied on all browsers that are listed on Gizmo's Site for so many years (best software review site on the net, by the way :-) and I am now relying on SlimJet as my work-horse browsing tool (W7 DELL XPS 1645 laptop). A very strong recommendation. Also: I am relying on the remarkable extension "ublock" to assist me with my browsing.

Vimprobable is a lean stand-alone web browser optimised for full keyboard control (inspired by Vimperator): http://sourceforge.net/projects/vimprobable/
Hi all. I have just taken over as editor of the three web browser articles so expect an update soon. Remah
The updated article was released a little bit early - my own mistake. So I'll be making further changes over the next week.

I don't know about torrents, but mail is now separate from the browser in Opera, right?

Good work.
Browsers seem to be getting increasingly problematical - firefox with flash and and nagging to synchronise, chrome with it's continual nagging to use chrome feature. Only IE supports active-x.

It's good to have a new monitor on this.. I love trying new browsers and I've tried a lot...
So far Opera even being chrome connected now works and feels like the old opera..
In fact I think it works better then most of the webkit browsers out there.. Low ram uses on my win 8.1 8gb, Athon 2 Acer computer.
always staying around 25% ram usage or less
Even one of my other favorites Qupzilla can't compare..in fact it freezes up and so does Midori
Slim jet ..another one that crashes and is a slug on my system.
Keep the new ideas coming and I'll gladly try them :)

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