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:

 

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Comments

I use Maxthon portable but whenever I print in PDF I cannot edit it or just plain copy or highlight anything. This is the same as of Google Chrome. Dragon, Ice Dragon, Firefox, Iron are not like that.

I sympathize with your feelings. I encounter similar stuff frequently with Linux systems and apps. A bit of searching usually brings up a solution in one forum or another. My attitude though, is for the solution to exist there is obviously a problem, so why isn't the solution already built into the product? MC - Site Manager.

Sleipnir has a portable version for download. It's with the .zip extension.

I have a question, which perhaps should be on everyone's lips (everyone using XP)
Which browser is so much based on IE, that web pages designed to only run on IE, will run on that browser ?
The reason that question should be on many lips is, the cessation of XP security updates, means hackers are targeting IE.
For users out there that need the ability to open web pages designed for IE, which browser will allow that SAFELY ?

Rob

Has anyone heard any good reviews for 360 Browser from the makers of 360safe antivirus? I know the antivirus is one of the best free available with great detection rates, but I'm curious about their web browser. Its suppose to be similar to IE only safer.

Link: http://www.360safe.com/browser.html

In case anyone wants to check it out. Thanks!

I am trying your 360 browser.
I assume that Webkit means Chrome ?
It in nearly all respects looks to be Chrome based (even the irritating minimalistic approach that is spreading like a disease)
I decided to check it out in case it was the answer to the question I posted above (Safe IE based alternative)
I can only find one hint that IE mode is possible, in the Settings, where it says -
Browsing Engine - Pick the right engine for me

If I am correct, and hackers are now targeting IE, does that mean - that exploits they discover for IE, will also exploit 360 Secure Browser, when it is in IE mode ?

Thanks,
Rob

It runs on Webkit and IE engines, but the interface looks like that of Opera to me :D

Hi Victor, I just wanted to mention that Maxthon have been offering a portable version of their browser for quite a long time now.

v 4.4.1.2000 here - http://forum.maxthon.com/thread-11649-1-1.html

George,

It is Stephen Cheng From FlashPeak Inc. Can you list our Slimjet Web Browser from http://www.slimjet.com here? Slimjet is based on the Chromium project and adds a lot of convenient and smart features on top of it. It is the best browser we've made so far. While it shares a similar set of features with SlimBrowser/SlimBoat, it beats the other two in terms of performance, stability, web site compatibility and support of the latest web technologies. It is currently built on top of Chromium m35. We will keep it synchronized to the Chrome releases as closely as possible.

Thanks.

I can endorse the Slimjet browser. I use a number of browsers as each one seems more adept for certain functions and uses. They are Slimjet, Opera, Maxthon and sometimes Firefox and Google Chrome. I have tried many others over the years but never found one to consistently offer what the mainstream ones do.

Another browser, K-Meleon is actually THE lightest browser of all on system resources but sadly lacks the compatibility necessary to be useful across the board. There are independent developer versions of it still being released from time to time but for the average user these require a fair degree of computer knowledge and are a no go for most people.

My issue was with just having a basic 4GB laptop I was experiencing memory and CPU usage issues when using sites like Facebook and Youtube. So I started using a separate browser just to have Facebook open in (Opera.) Then I would use either Maxthon or Google Chrome or Firefox for everyday browsing. This approach has both advantages and disadvantages.

I have been using Slimjet for the past couple of months now and am very happy with it. It uses the same Chromium engine used by Google and Opera but has added some built in features that are only provided by way of extensions in the others. Also it is not Google so I have reduced concerns of there being any backdoor into the browser.

Google Chrome used to regularly eat up a lot of memory and CPU resources and I was often having to restart the browser. I recommend Slimjet to anyone. I am sure you won't be disappointed. Also, it comes from Flashpeak which has been around for a long time with their SlimBrowser and more recently SlimBoat browsers.

I have three problems with Chrome -
- I don't like the minimalistic rubbish young programmers (not Analysts) are foisting on us.
- Chrome does not have NoScript
- Google do not give a toss about MS conventions, and as pjpw has noticed it can slow your PC to a crawl
On that latter, the first time it happened to me, everything was freezing, and I was sure I had a virus. I went back to my most recent image (Seagate DiscWizard), which unfortunately was a week old (TCH! TCH!). Thus much time was spent trying to copy my last weeks activities, before I went back to that earlier image (Cost me many, many hours).
The next time this happened, I investigated, and found it was Google's flippin updater freezing my PC.
I removed it all (and that is not an easy process), and Google will never darken my PC doorstep again. (I will still use the Google Search engine, which ain't as good as it used to be)

I will give Slimjet a try as I can -
- Breath easy, as it looks like it does not have the Google updater disaster.
- Only use it for web sites, where I don't need NoScript
- Try to make it as non minimalistic as I can.
Rob
PS
Watch out if you are elderly and feeble minded, as you may download SlimBrowser by mistake.
I did, and I love it.
Fast, and NOT minimalistic
PPS
SlimBrowser crashes (within Tab) way to often.
May be to do with inherited extensions, but I cannot find out how to get rid of them, OR how to run in safe mode (Add-Ins disabled).
So looks like I have to suppress my hatred of Chrome, and try SlimJet

Crombierob, apart from the issue you mentioned with No Script and the minimalistic interface of the Chromium browsers (which I have come to like) I think you will find Slimjet an enjoyable experience compared to Google Chrome.

I too had the freezing issue on updating with Chrome, not all the time but more often than not, and that plus the memory and CPU issue with Chrome were the main reasons I looked for an alternative. At the same time Firefox (still a resource hog too) was having a lot of issues with Update 29 I think it was so I avoided going back to FF for those reasons.

Please post your thoughts on Slimjet back here as I for one would certainly be interested in your experience with it.

Cheers
Peter

One of the biggest reasons that we start the Slimjet project is we don't like the minimalist design of Chrome. Slimjet doesn't auto-update like Chrome. Slimjet includes a download control button which allow you to easily allow/disallow script on selected domains. That is similar to what NoScript offers. It has a fully customizable toolbar where you can add more buttons to gain quick access to various functions. Slimjet uses slightly more memory than SlimBrowser but is more stable and responsive. Give it a few days and you will like it.

360 Browser: What's new in the latest version? 1. Ad Filter: hide unwanted advertisements. 2. Dual Engine: powered by both Webkit and IE web engines. 3. Secure Browsing: filter phishing and malicious URLs. 4. Video Pop-out: place video in an always-on-top window. 5. Themes: personalize 360 Browser with beautifully designed themes. http://360safe.com/browser.html
Beta version of Otter Browser (project aiming to recreate classic Opera (12.x) UI using Qt5) is out: http://otter-browser.org/

Sleipnir does seem worth trying! however upon trying it I was prompted to install a media player and it recommended VLC. All sounds well and good until it installed the player and tried to get me to accept about 5 changes to my computer search and browsers and I don't know what all. I refused all and it still screwed up my browser and search. Guess the relationship going forward is a bit too pricey for me and great text will have to wait until the price isn't too high.
I lost a lot of work and it left a very bad taste in my mouth.

Personally I haven't tried Sleipnir for a long time, but Softpedia confirms the product as clean: http://www.softpedia.com/get/Internet/Browsers/Sleipnir.shtml The problem that you had usually comes when you download softwares from sites other than the homesite or reputed software download sites like Softpedia. Next time be careful when you download.
Certainly sounds like a wrapped installer. Cnet and Softonic for two would definitely have bundled unwanted components with the download. I just installed the program into Windows 7 from our download link and there was nothing else included. This is actually quite impressive. All my Chrome extensions and settings imported including the site WOT script. :) More information about how to avoid bundled software below: MC - Site Manager. http://www.techsupportalert.com/content/what-else-have-you-just-download...

I have been struggling with FF for over a month now.
It gets very slow to load or refresh a tab, and then causes my CPUs to overheat, which then slows things as well.
I have Googled, and I am not alone with this problem.
ADVs will probably add to the problem.

Is it true that mozilla planing to serve ads in browser? If it is true that will be a big time crash for her, i would still chose chrome or opera any time...

http://geekperspective.net/mozilla-plans-to-run-ads-in-its-browser/

I don't think it'll be having much of an impact... the ads will be shown in the tiles of the New Tab page so anyone who is especially bothered by them can just replace that with one of the many alternatives or even just opt for a blank page instead.

I expect there will be some complaining for a while and then back to business as usual, that's what generally happens when a vendor introduces some less-than-popular change.

Thanks for the correction, Anupam. And thanks for the information! Please, would you tell me how to go about allowing it manually. When I go to the page that FF sends me to to manage add-ons, I am informed that Flash player is banned because of unspecified malware problems, and no work-around suggestion is offered.

We all use our browsers with personal ideas of what functionality is required, and I know that many, many people are happy with Chrome. I'm not one of them. I've tried a few other browsers over the last few days, and I realize that for my purposes Foxfire is very much what I need to use, so I am grateful for suggestions of how to cure the flash problem.

youngjoe, please post your queries here in the forum: http://www.techsupportalert.com/freeware-forum/internet-web-apps-and-net... When you post the thread, in the content, please post the Windows version on your system, the Firefox version installed, and also the flash player version. See you in the forum :).
Please post user questions in the Freeware Forum, you'll get more help. This section is for comments regarding reviews or suggested software. Thank you.

Gotcha joe!

Two killer problems (for me):

1) I download a lot of text files. Chrome won't let me do that -- it converts them all to chrome's proprietary html format. I've seen a forum discussion of this. Many people have complained. Google doesn't give a damn. The other browsers offer downloaders a choice of formats.

2) Current Firefox doesn't permit use of current Shockwave Flash. I'm a musician and I can't use a browser that won't let me view videos.

I used Firefox happily for years, but this problem kills it for me.

You had written Firefox as Foxfire, which I corrected in your post. Please take care to write the proper name. Firefox does allow use of Flash. But, you have to allow it manually, since in recent versions, Firefox has implemented click to play for Flash videos.

Tried firefox ultimate. It is terrible. Freezes (not responding) constantly.

"... Light - a light Firefox edition. Many components are slimmed down. So it can start faster and use less memory. By default, Light can run along with official Firefox ...": http://sourceforge.net/projects/lightfirefox/
Firefox Ultimate - Modified and optimized version of Mozilla Firefox: http://sourceforge.net/projects/firefoxultimate/

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