Sorry, benchmark followers. Not that it actually matters--in real world usage, all of these products actually perform similarly--but it turns out that the darling of Web browser benchmarks really isn't Safari. Or Chrome. Or even Firefox. It's IE 8:

Measuring Browser Performance: Understanding issues in benchmarking and performance analysis

Brief Description

This document explains the various browser and network components and how each piece can impact performance when benchmarking.

Overview

This document explains the various browser and network components and how each piece can impact performance when benchmarking. The document also compares the capabilities and limitations of various benchmarking tools, as well as ways to design tests to avoid these issues. Also included is an overview of instructions on how to set up a benchmarking environment to conduct some of the testing processes discussed in the document.

Too dry? How about a video? :)

Recently, there's been a lot of discussion about fast browsers ... lots of talk about lab testing that involves microbenchmarks that most consumers have never heard of ... And that doesn't show what's really going on.

What really matters is you.

You want things to move quickly on the web, with real web pages, in real life.

We agree.

We take your experience seriously.

Browser speed is one of the things we test in our performance lab in Redmond.

As it turns out, Internet Explorer 8 is one of the fastest browsers.

To ensure accurate testing, many factors are taken into account ... Network connectivity and congestion. Network device latency. Resource competition. Browser caching. Router caching.

That's pretty pointy-headed.

The real deal is ... How quickly can you get where you want to go, and do what you want to do?

To make sure that Internet Explorer 8 gives you a good answer to that question ... We test all day long ... Against earlier versions of Internet Explorer ... Against competing browsers ... Including Firefox's shipping version, 3.05 ... And Chrome's shipping version, 1.0. [They also tested against Safari 3.x and 4.x betas --Paul]

... And the results may surprise you.

Loading the world's 25 most visited web sites is a good way to see real world experiences side-by-side.

There's rigor in the methodology that's more than a stopwatch ... Watch closely .... and don't blink.

Speed tests ensue. IE 8 wins. And when it doesn't win, the differences are so small, they're not detectable by the human eye.

Internet Explorer 8 loads faster on:

5 of the top 10 web sites.

12 of the top 25.

3 times as many as Firefox.

1/3 more than Chrome.

Internet Explorer is fast. Just like other browsers.

The crowd goes wild. Actually, the crowd is confused. Because they've been sold a load of bull.

Which raises an interesting point, and what will be the central theme of my IE 8 review next week: Today's browsers all perform well, and in the real world, you don't actually notice a performance difference between any of them. (I saw exactly this when I looked at the supposedly superior Safari 4 beta.) What matters is what the browser brings to the table in the form of security and functionality, in how it makes you more productive on the web.

You know, IE 8 ain't so bad, folks.