Pale Moon 5 outshines sibling Firefox 5

Pale Moon 5

Firefox 5 may be short on visible new features, but look under the hood and you'll find plenty of useful tweaks that both cut resource use and improve performance. If you like the browser but would prefer even more speed, though, there is an alternative in Pale Moon 5, which was released today.

The program looks more or less exactly like Firefox 5, which is no great surprise as it's based on the same source code. So there's no learning curve, everything works more or less as it always did, except Pale Moon has been carefully optimized to improve its speed and efficiency.

Some of these tweaks simply involve removing components that most people don't need. So say goodbye to the accessibility features and parental controls, for instance. The crash reporter has gone as it requires server-side support that isn't available at the Pale Moon site. And ActiveX support has been ditched, too, which offers security benefits as well as reducing the size of the code base.

Pale Moon is also compiled to take better advantage of modern CPUs and their instruction sets, and that can give it a real performance edge over Firefox in some areas. It also means it won't run on really ancient CPUs -- the Pentium II, say, or first generation AMD Athlons -- but that's unlikely to be a problem for most people. (If you're worried you might be an exception, check the developer's site for information on CPU compatibility.)

So what sort of speed increase can you expect? We compared Firefox 5 and Pale Moon 5 using three popular benchmarks, to help us find out. SunSpider 0.9.1 placed Pale Moon in front for most of its tests. In some cases this was by a significant amount -- 18.5% in one element of the Math test -- but in others it was much less, so overall Pale Moon was rated at around 4 percent faster.

It was a similar story with Dromaeo, which reported that Pale Moon 5 was up to 24 percent faster in trig calculations, and a notable better performer in the important DOM-related tests, but was also 4 percent faster overall (see the full test results on the Dromaeo site). And PeaceKeeper gave Pale Moon a general 10 percent performance lead over the latest Firefox competition.

These figures don't tell the whole story, though, as Pale Moon's optimizations don't just apply to page rendering, or JavaScript -- they're global, and can affect every area of the browser's operations.

And the program has other advantages, too. Tired of waiting for an x64 version of Firefox, say? Pale Moon has one available right now. And useful extras include a comprehensive selection of language packs -- there are now more than 70 available.

Most conveniently, if you're interested in trying out Pale Moon 5, then you can install it alongside Firefox 5, and even run them both at the same time without difficulties, making the program very easy to evaluate. There's also a portable version, and they're all available for download now.

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