Opera vs. Google Chrome

Compare these browsers' biggest features

Opera and Chrome are popular web browsers, but how do you know which one's right for you? The Opera web browser is built on the Google Chromium engine, so it shares some DNA with its competitor. Chrome has become the world's go-to web browser, accounting for the majority of the global internet browser market. But how do you choose one over the other? We reviewed both to help you decide which web browser will work best for you.

Opera vs Chrome
 Lifewire 

Overall Findings

Opera
  • Built-in ad blocker.

  • Pop out any video in a separate window and watch it while browsing the web.

  • A virtual private network (VPN) is built-in.

  • Battery-saving mode promises longer browsing.

  • Compatible with many Chrome extensions.

  • Turbo feature compresses data to make web pages run faster.

Chrome
  • User-friendly, with continuous support from Google.

  • Preinstalled on all Android and Chromebook devices.

  • Highly customizable, with extensions and themes available on the Chrome Web Store.

  • Part of the Google ecosystem.

  • It's a resource hog.

  • Features like ad blockers and VPNs require third-party installations.

These are both great browsers, and they have more in common than they have differences. For example, they both offer popular features such as:

  • Tabbed browsing
  • Private browsing
  • A password manager
  • Data syncing across devices
  • Extensions and themes
  • Tab pinning

Chrome is the go-to web browser for the majority of internet users. As of April 2019, it has nearly 70% of the desktop browser market share worldwide, according to Statcounter. It's the default browser for Android and the backbone of the operating system on Chromebook devices, which explains why it's popular.

Opera began as a research project at Norwegian telecommunications company Telenor in 1994. A year later, its creators founded their own company with the belief that everyone should be able to browse the web on any device. These days, Opera markets itself as an alternative to Chrome. People who want to make the switch from Chrome to Opera can automatically import their data and take advantage of some of Opera's unique features.

So, you've seen the similarities between Opera and Chrome. But, it's the differences that will help you decide.

Ad Blocking: Check to Opera

Opera
  • Built-in ad blocker.

  • Increased browsing speed.

Chrome
  • Ad blocking requires a third-party extension.

If you want an ad blocker in Chrome, you have to download it as an extension. Opera comes with an integrated ad blocker. Opera is the first major browser to build ad blocking into the browser engine. The result is quicker page loads and a faster overall browsing experience.

VPN: It's Built-In With Opera

Opera
  • The included free and unlimited VPN provides an extra layer of security on public Wi-Fi networks.

  • The VPN feature results in low network performance.

Chrome
  • VPN service requires a third-party extension.

As with the ad blocker, Opera is the only major browser with a built-in VPN. It's available without a subscription, and unlike Chrome, no third-party extension is required. The VPN does have some great features. For example, you can use it in a private browsing window, you can mask your physical locations, and it can block cookies. The trade-off of extra security, however, is decreased speed and performance.

Effect on Battery Life: Opera Has the Edge

Opera
  • Battery-saving mode promises up to 1 extra hour of run time compared with Chrome.

Chrome
  • Your RAM will take a hit when you run Chrome.

Chrome is a memory hog. That's because Chrome is more than a search engine. It's a collection of services and extensions that enable Chrome to provide a powerful multimedia experience. However, each of those services and extensions has an impact on your RAM and processing speed.

Opera provides a longer browsing experience through a feature it calls Battery Saver. This feature works by temporarily disabling plug-ins you don't need and reducing background activity while the browser is on. Battery Saver also monitors your computer's battery status and warns you when the battery reaches 20%.

Watching Video: Opera's Pop-Out Window Rocks

Opera
  • Watch videos in a separate pop-out window.

Chrome
  • See picture-in-picture with a third-party extension.

Opera offers an integrated feature called Video Pop-Out. With it, when you watch an online video, you have the option of seeing it in a floating window that you can position above the web page you're viewing.

Chrome offers a similar experience through the Google Picture-in-Picture extension, available from the Chrome Web Store. Note, however, that the extension works only in the desktop version of Chrome.

Final Verdict: You Can't Lose With Either One

Chrome is a fine choice for most people. It's the default browser on Google devices, and it's user-friendly and highly customizable through the thousands of Chrome extensions and themes available on the Chrome Web Store. Chrome is an especially good choice if you're a fan of the Google ecosystem of apps (Gmail, Drive, Docs, Sheets, and others). You can create a Google account for free and sync your information across all your devices.

If you have an older computer or a sluggish internet connection, give Opera a try. Because it's built on the Chromium engine, Opera can use many extensions and add-ons designed for Chrome but is less taxing on your device's memory than Chrome. In addition, its turbo feature can speed up web browsing by compressing data found on websites. It's also a good choice for laptop users looking to save a bit of battery life.