Web browsers performance on RaspberryPi

As I've mentioned previously

I spend most of my personal computing time on RaspberryPi 3B+

Everything runs slower, but not by much. Except Web browsers. They're terribly slow!

I'm very interested in reduced small browsers that can render modern Web pages and be somewhat fast. Today I've measured performance of a few: Chromium, Firefox, qutebrowser, vimb, and NetSurf.

Here is what I've measured:

I've measured by hand but tried to prepare equal environment for each browser, restarting the RaspberryPi between runs.


I've never thought of actually using it on RaspberryPi. But I'm curious how fast or slow it is.

Well, it didn't start at all:

GPU process isn't usable. Goodbye.

I guess we'll never know. Goodbye to you too, Chromium!


Firefox uses its own engine Gecko.

Startup:    14.6s,  5.9s,  6.7s,  6.6s
Wikipedia:   5.7s,  4.4s,  4.9s,  5.6s
YouTube:    19.2s, 13.1s, 14.2s,     ~

Startup is slow, but loading pages is okay. Except it froze whole system when I opened 4th tab with YouTube.

I've used it for a few months on this computer. Overall it's a fine choice.


qutebrowser uses QtWebEngine based on Chromium's Blink engine.

Startup:    22.6s, 10.6s, 10.4s, 10.0s
Wikipedia:   3.9s,  2.7s,  2.8s,  3.0s
YouTube:    14.6s, 12.4s, 12.5s, 12.4s

Startup time is almost twice as slow as Firefox. Pages load quite a bit faster. More importantly, I've opened 6 YouTube tabs without much slow down. 7th tab took twice longer and 8th took a few minutes. However it kept window manager quite responsive the whole time. Impressive!


vimb uses webkit2gtk, so it's based on Safari's WebKit engine.

There is no tabs, so I opened a new instance of vimb while keeping previous ones running.

Startup:     5.5s,  1.7s,  1.6s,  1.6s
Wikipedia:   4.0s,  2.8s,  2.9s,  2.7s
YouTube:    25.2s, 23.5s, 23.1s, 25.6s

Starts much faster. But then heavier pages load much slower. To make it worse, vimb keeps the blank screen almost till the very end of loading a page. Other browsers start showing something much earlier.

Also, next 5th open window never finished loading YouTube and froze.


NetSurf implements its own rendering engine. It's not as full-featured as others and doesn't support a lot of modern Web standards. But it's also much less bloated for the same reason.

Startup:    3.7s, 1.4s, 1.2s, 1.2s
Wikipedia:  2.7s, 1.5s, 1.7s, 1.4s
YouTube:       ~,    ~,    ~,    ~

It is very fast! But then it couldn't load YouTube at all, just a bunch of grey squares. Unlucky!


Apparently surf is not in the Arch's official repository, only in community's. I decided to skip it from this experiment.


Just to feel good, let's also measure a Gemini browser.

Startup:         3.8s, 1.4s, 1.2s, 1.3s
Nightfall City:  1.0s, 0.7s, 0.8s, 0.8s
Antenna:         1.2s, 0.2s, 0.1s, 0.1s

How refreshing! For Nightfall City I typed the address in every new tab, so it properly loaded. For Antenna I loaded from bookmarks and Amfora used cache after the first load. Those 0.2s and 0.1s basically feel instant.

Thank you, makeworld!

So what do I use?

I've been using qutebrowser for a while now and recently uninstalled Firefox. I wish it would start faster, but besides performance it has a very minimal UI and can be controlled entirely with keyboard.

I like it quite a bit and today installed it on my bigger desktop as well. It's a great browser!

2022-01-09 | #raspberrypi #browser

Agent Parsley

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