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

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Comments

Don't understand why Google Chrome has been given top marks, given what I've read about Chrome being a security risk because Google is tracking & recording everything the user does online. Just do a search -- Google Chrome invasive OR invading privacy -- & you see many articles expressing concern. Can anyone please comment on that. Also, how do you rate SRWare Iron browser. It is based on Chrome, but with "massively modified source" to remove the privacy robbing features built into a full version of Chrome from Google.

Privacy and Security are two different facets in a browser, and they aren't related. Chrome is one of the most secure browsers out there. Sandboxing, Built-in Flash and PDF Viewers with critical auto-update feature, Safe browsing technology to name a few. Add to that there are a number of extensions available at Chrome store to improve security beyond your imagination. On the other hand, there have been many conspiracy theories against privacy of the browser. To an average user who's simply surfing around the web and cliking on links, there are wouldn't be any privacy problems, and in fact there is only limited communication b/w Chrome and Google.com. Read here: Preventing paranoia Browsing the web without sharing *any* information is a task which is nearly impossible in most of the cases. Google Search became the ultimate source of information around the web due to a reason, and there is certainly a 'Give and Take' policy concerning everything that's useful. For instance, I don't mind when the Search tries to correct my mispelled word to match it with their database to give better/suitable results. Most of the privacy related options in the browser can be controlled and toggled from Under the Hood, and this article shows you how: Optimizing Chrome for better privacy Changing your default search engine from Google to an alternative like DuckDuckGo or Ixquick would relieve most of your privacy concern, while still getting the best bits of the browser.

George, do you have an update about Safari and the advisability of using it on Windows?

The browser hasn't been updated for a long time since my last review, and could you be more specific as to what you need advice on?

Just came across an(other) open source browser (it is still in beta, and appears to be actively developed)

https://opensource.conformal.com/wiki/xombrero

as per their homepage

xombrero is a minimalist web browser with sophisticated security features designed-in, rather than through an add-on after-the-fact. In particular, it provides both persistent and per-session controls for scripts and cookies, making it easy to thwart tracking and scripting attacks.

Hope it is worth your time...

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