Microsoft 'new' Edge review: Microsoft's Chromium-based browser gets the job done

Microsoft's new Edge is heading to your PC with a new look and feel, Chromium underpinnings that allow you access to more extensions, and a couple of cool features.

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microsoft new edge html5test basemark Mark Hachman / IDG

The Basemark Web 3.0 test indicates that Microsoft’s new Edge performs on a par with its competition.

Finally, we took a real-world look at how well each browser did in terms of memory usage and CPU utilization. Because this is a real-world test, it's not repeatable. We used 30 tabs of media-rich sites, including our own, loaded each, then waited for 60 seconds to let the system “settle down” and measured the results. Ads will vary, the content will vary—what we hoped to achieve was to load the sites within the same window to hopefully minimize variation, but this is a very subjective, content-dependent test. We ran the tests without any extensions or plug-ins enabled, and turned off the “Shields Up” ad-blocker within Brave. 

microsoft new edge cpu memory resources Mark Hachman / IDG

CPU usage is highlighted in blue, with memory usage represented by the secondary orange line. The new Edge’s memory usage is just fine, but it’s still a bit of a CPU hog.

What we saw here was that while memory usage was on a par with that of other browsers, there’s still room for improvement as far as CPU utilization was concerned. In this case, it’s probably fair to allow Edge a little leeway as Microsoft’s developers fine-tune it.

Conclusion: The new Edge holds its own

Although Edge hadn’t quite been finalized by the time of our review, our impression can be summed up by one word: Okay. Over time, I suspect Edge will be defined by its convenience, and how well it worms its way into the desktop and smartphones as well. Features like Collections, which encourage you to use Edge as a shopping tool, may motivate some users to give up on other browsers entirely.

For now, Edge has one big advantage. For all of the praise we’ve lauded on Firefox, Opera, or Brave, none come anywhere close to Chrome’s market share. Each also requires users to seek them out, download, and install them. The new Edge will land on your home PC whether you like it or not. That hasn’t stopped the “old” Edge from being passed over, of course, but maybe the second time’s the charm.

Convenience, ubiquity, and moderate power make the new Edge a solid if somewhat uninspiring browser right now. If nothing else, the new Edge will be worth checking out, as it stares at you from your PC’s taskbar.

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At a Glance
  • Microsoft's new Edge browser is now built upon Chromium, which gives it access to the vast array of extensions available to Chrome. While it's a sold contender, it has few "must have" features.

    Pros

    • Moderately good performance
    • Closely compatible with Chrome extensions
    • Integrated within Windows 10
    • Collections is a useful tool
    • Free

    Cons

    • Somewhat bland
    • Some features were unfinished at press time
    • Changing the search engine requires real effort
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