M2 Mac web browsing speeds are the fastest ever seen

We’ve seen the results of a whole bunch of benchmarks measuring M2 Mac speeds in the latest MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models. We can now add web browsing speed to the mix – for whatever that’s worth.

On the one hand, web browsing is probably the most frequent activity on a Mac. On the other hand, the speed of the browser itself pales in comparison to your connection speed and the speed of the web server on the other end. There is also a third reality factor…

Namely, the other apps your Mac is running at the time. You will only see the fastest speeds your machine can achieve when only the browser is open. If you have a lot of other apps open doing things in the background, you’ll see dramatically slower speeds. But with these things noted, let’s see how the chips compare.

Apple’s WebKit team designed Speedometer as a way to simulate user interactions with websites and web-based apps to measure browser responsiveness. Macworld discovered Basecamp founder David Heinemeier Hanson tweeting his own results using the Apple tool Speedometer 2.0.

Apple’s chip team continues to disrupt everyone else in the industry. Just got a 400 in the Speedometer 2.0 test for the M2 Air. That’s 33% faster than the M1 (and A15) can do. 2.5x faster than a 4.2Ghz i7 Intel iMac. Bananas.

The site decided to run its own tests, which included cross-browser comparisons. It tested the following chips using equivalent MacBook Pro machines:

On each, it tested the latest versions of:

  • Safari
  • Safari technology preview
  • Chrome

Here’s what it found, first for the different chips:

When I tested Safari 15.6, I saw an 18 percent increase in M2 over M1. That’s a little more than half of what Heinemeier Hansons tweeted, but he’s comparing the M2 to an M1 score that isn’t specified. As I pointed out earlier, a 33 percent increase would give the M1 a score of 300.

Our results are an average of three trials, and while I didn’t get an exact 400 score for the M2, I averaged just above that, and one of the trials actually scored 408. Our tests also found an 11 percent lift of the M2 over M1 Pro.

There was a smaller difference when using Chrome 104. The M1 and M1 Pro scores were almost identical at 308 and 309, and the M2 topped out at 339.

This apparently shows that Chrome – which Google always likes to claim is the fastest browser – can’t keep up with Safari on Apple Silicon. However, as Macworld Roman Loyola notes, we must remember that Speedometer is an Apple-designed tool, and Safari may therefore be optimized for the browsing activities that the tool simulates.

That doesn’t mean Apple is doing anything malicious. It simply means that the company has its own ideas and data about which browsing features are used most often, and it designs Safari to optimize those activities and Speedometer to measure them.

Finally Safari Technology Preview. This is the latest public beta version of the next version of the browser and it hit an average score of 420, with a maximum of 425.

If you’re trying to decide between the M1 and M2 MacBook Air, we’ve put together a video discussing the differences. This covers design, ports, keyboard, trackpad, screen, camera, performance and SSD.

If you want to measure your own machine’s browser speed, you can do it here. However, remember to close all other apps – or not if you want to see the real speed! If you do real tests of the M2 Mac speeds, post your results in the comments.

Photo: DHH

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