The Performance Edge: The Browser Wars In The New Millennium Battle - What's Faster Netscape, Microsoft Or iCab?

There are 4 companies working on different Web browsers for the Mac. Netscape has version 4.7.3 of their Communicator browser and a very rough preview version of Netscape 6. Microsoft has it's ubiquitous Internet Explorer 5.0. A German company has the endearing iCab browser. And a Norwegian company has the Opera browser in the works - which should be available for the Mac soon.

Below we are going to look at the available browsers from Netscape, Microsoft and iCab, from a performance standpoint. Communicator 4.7.3, iCab preview 2.0 and Internet Explorer are fairly polished products. Netscape 6 however is very, very rough and still needs a lot of polishing before it will be a serviceable browser.

On most performance tests Communicator 4.7.3 and iCab won the speed test. Internet Explorer was not that far behind and in the Java test it blew the Netscape away.

System Requirements

Browser RAM Requirement Hard Drive Space Required Download Size Minimum OS & Processor
iCab preview 2.0 4MB 2.5 1.1MB


Communicator 4.7.3 8.1MB 18.3MB 13.5MB 7.6.1
Internet Explorer 5.0 12MB 27MB (includes Outlook Express - browser only 12MB) 11.4MB(includes Outlook Express - browser only 6.4MB)


Netscape 6 Preview 1 14.8MB 26MB 8.5MB 8.5
PPC 604e/200MHz

For the results below 8 tests were run on a iMac/233 running OS 8.6 over a Pacbell ADSL connection. They consisted of:

The tests utilized a stopwatch and each test was run two times and the average taken. The Browser's caches were set to their default and the Browser was relaunched after each test. Scores are relative to the best browser result, which receives a score of 100%. Shorter bars (for the first 7 tests) are better.





Note: If you uncheck the debug preferences in Netscape 6, scrolling speed increases dramatically, to be on par with Explorer 5.0


It appears that the browser cache on Netscape 6 was not functioning

For the Java test longer bars are better. Test run under System 9.0

Actual Download Times - In seconds

Browser Time To Launch Browser Web Graphics Download Web Text Download Complex Web Page Download
iCab preview 2.0 4.5 12.02 14.72


Communicator 4.7.3 7.46 10.48 14.63 19.12
Internet Explorer 5.0 6.12 9.05 31.47


Netscape 6 Preview 1 20.08 12.15 24.15 85.09
Browser Scroll Test Previous Page Test FTP Test Java Test
iCab preview 2.0 3.83 1.54 14.65


Communicator 4.7.3 3.89 14.29 13.15 667
Internet Explorer 5.0 5.86 3.51 14.82


Netscape 6 Preview 1 34.88 83 14.15 Would Not Run Test