Safari 5 review

We take a look at Apple's latest browser to see what Safari 5 has to offer users.

Speed

Apple's speed claims are less bold than in previous versions, claiming to be a mere three per cent faster than Chrome 5.0 when it comes to JavaScript performance. Results may vary depending on the configuration of your computer. Ours was a 3.06GHz Core 2 Duo iMac with 27in screen and 4GB of RAM.

The only major hardware component that differed from Apple's quoted test spec is the graphics processor, a more powerful ATI Radeon HD 4850 instead of its NVIDIA GeForce 9400M. We tested on Mac OS X 10.6.3 and on the 32-bit edition of Windows XP SP3 (under Boot Camp)as our baseline for Microsoft's OS, so the slower results on that system reflect a likely worst-case scenario if your business is still in the process of migrating to Windows 7. On both systems we ran the SunSpider 0.9.1 test.

On Mac OS X, Safari led the pack by a relatively small amount, as expected. Its overall SunSpider score was 284.4ms, not too far ahead of Chrome 5.0 on 325ms and Opera 10.54 on 353.2ms. Firefox 3.6.4 trailed far behind with 791.8ms, which reflects Apple's quoted order of performance.

On Windows, Safari 5.0's score of 551ms is a marked improvement on Safari 4.0.5's 736.8ms. However, it was edged out by Chrome 5.0, the leader of the pack at 489.6ms. Opera 10.54's performance remained close to Apple's and Google's browsers with 540.6ms, while Firefox 3.6.4 again fell behind with 1139.8ms. Meanwhile, Internet Explorer 8 looked like an infant performing at the Olympics with its rating of 4053ms.

So, it's clear that Safari 5 is, for the time being, is a better option than the previous version for running JavaScript-based web applications on Windows, but we doubt it will lure you away from your existing browser, or from the temptation to switch to Chrome.

Verdict

Extensions are so new to Safari that they don’t provide a convincing reason to switch right now. Right now it's Reader that has the biggest impact on your reading. Even speed isn't significantly different to Chrome, though that's a virtue that makes Safari 5 worth checking out if you've discounted previous versions as being too slow with rich internet applications. Safari is a much better browser for Windows. But we can't really see an overwhelming reason to switch to it on Windows, especially when its most notable feature can be had in other browsers through a bookmark.

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