Opera vs Firefox: Features and performance comparison

Milan Stanojevic
by Milan Stanojevic
Windows & Software Expert
Milan has been enthusiastic about PCs ever since his childhood days, and this led him to take interest in all PC-related technologies. Before joining WindowsReport, he worked as a front-end web developer. Read more
Affiliate Disclosure
  • Opera and Firefox are quite popular web browser, and in today’s guide, we’re going to compare the two and see which one is better.
  • Opera has some unique productivity features, as well as integration with various social networks and instant messengers.
  • Firefox is focused on user privacy, and since it’s an open-source software, you can rest assured that your data is safe.
  • If you’re interested in Opera and Firefox RAM usage and security, this guide will tell you everything you need to know about these subjects.
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The web browser market is dominated by several web browsers, but how do they compare one to another? In today’s guide, we’re comparing Opera and Firefox to find out which one is better.

We’re going to test the performance on a low-end computer, so even the users that aren’t using the latest hardware can find out how each browser will work on their PC.

In addition to the performance, we’re going to compare the unique features that both Firefox and Opera offer, as well as their security and privacy features, so let’s get started.

Opera vs Firefox, which is the better browser?

A short history lesson and introduction

Opera: Browsing veteran from the ’90s

Opera browser first appeared in 1995, and in the beginning, it used Presto layout engine, however, the company made a switch to Chromium in 2013, and ever since Opera has been running on Chromium.

Opera is now available on all desktop and mobile platforms and it’s constantly getting new features and users.

Firefox: Open-source powerhouse

The first version of Firefox was released in 2002, and in the early days, the browser used to run on Gecko engine but in 2017, Mozilla switched to a new and improved Quantum engine.

Firefox is open-source software, and as expected, do note that it is available for all desktop and mobile platforms.

Now that we’re familiar with our contenders, let’s see how do they compare.

Visual interface

Opera: Sleek and Chromium-based

Opera comes with a simple visual interface that resembles Chrome. This is no surprise since the browser is based on Chromium, and if you ever used Chrome, you’ll file like at home with Opera.

The main difference between Opera and Chrome is the sidebar, and you can use the sidebar to quickly access certain features or to switch between workspaces.

Some users might not like this feature, and if you want to save some space, you can turn the sidebar off from the settings.

Regarding the customization, the browser has an Easy setup pane that you can use to switch to a light or dark theme. You can customize the browser with several available wallpapers, but you can also download more wallpapers or add your own.

Easy setup pane lets you customize your home page, and you can change the size of the titles, show Speed Dial suggestions or enable news feed at your start page.

Firefox: Extensive interface customization

Firefox also has a clean interface, but we have to admit that Opera’s interface looks more streamlined in our opinion. The home page has a web search bar, a list of your most visited websites as well as browsing highlights.

The highlights section includes visited pages, bookmarks, recent downloads, and saved pages, so you can easily access them with a single click.

The Top Sites section can be customized and you can easily add any website to it, minimize the entire section or hide the section completely if you want.

Regarding the highlights, you can choose what type of content will appear there, and you can hide the entire section if you don’t want to use it.

You can even manage how many rows will both the Top Sites and Highlights section have, which is welcome.

Regarding the customization, we have to acknowledge that Firefox offers extensive customization, and you can customize the toolbar any way you want.

You can remove items from the toolbar, rearrange them or add only the most essential icons. You can also make icons smaller and choose between one of four available themes.

Browser features

Opera: Instant messengers, social network integration, and more

In terms of features, Opera works like any other web browser, but it does come with a unique share of features that some users might appreciate.

One of the most useful features that you can find in Opera is the workspaces feature. With this feature, you can easily organize all your open tabs which is perfect for multitasking.

Want to separate your work tabs and personal tabs? Simply move them to that workspace and that’s it. Regarding the workspace switching, you can switch to the desired workspace with a single click on the sidebar.

If you prefer, you can assign keyboard shortcuts and use them to switch to the desired workspace instantly.

You can have multiple workspaces, and each workspace can have a unique name and icon allowing you to easily distinguish between workspaces.

Another great feature that will help you manage your tabs is the Search in Tabs feature. By using itit, you can easily search for any open tab and find it in a matter of moments.

Use the search icon or the keyboard shortcut to open the search window and type the name of the tab and it will instantly appear on the list.

The search can also recognize website content, so you can search for any string and it will find you all the open tabs that have that specific string in their content.

These two features are incredibly useful, especially if you’re multitasking and have dozens of tabs open, and we wish that more browsers would include these features.

Opera also allows you to easily share files and links with your mobile device thanks to the Flow feature. Simply install Opera on your phone, pair it with your PC and that’s it.

You can share links, text, and files from the browser simply by clicking the Flow icon in the toolbar. The feature reminds us of instant messenger, so it feels like you’re sending texts to yourself.

Overall, it’s a quick and simple way to send data and links to your mobile device from your PC and vice versa.

If you want to stay in touch with your friends, we’re pleased to inform you that Opera supports several instant messaging services, including Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Telegram, and VK.

You can open these from the sidebar and chat with your friends while browsing the web. If you’re more of a social media person, you might find built-in support for Instagram and Twitter more interesting.

Thanks to this feature, you can always keep an eye on your feed and make sure that you don’t miss anything.

For all the music fans out there, we’re pleased to inform you that Opera has a built-in music player, so you can play music from multiple streaming services.

The supported services include Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube Music. The player can be minimized at any time and you can control the music playback from the sidebar with ease.

Opera also has a dedicated news reader, but it’s not enabled by default, so you’ll need to manually enable it.

Once you enable this feature, you can choose from the list of sources, or you can add your RSS feeds and keep track of the latest news from the sources you prefer.

One last feature that we need to mention is the Snapshot tool which you can use to take screenshots of web pages that you visit.

After taking a screenshot, you can add pointers, text, blur certain sections or add highlights, so it can come in handy since you won’t have to rely on third-party tools.

Opera packs an abundance of features, and while certain features such as Workspaces and Tab Search are extremely useful, others might seem a bit gimmicky to some.

We tend to use only the essential and productivity features, but for more casual users the addition of a music player, messenger, and social media integration might come in handy.

And even if you don’t plan to use these features, you can disable them so you won’t ever have to use or see them again.

Firefox: Only the bare essentials

In terms of features, Firefox offers fewer features than Opera, so you won’t find any flashy features, such as music players, or social media integration.

Instead, Mozilla decided to keep the minimalistic approach, for the most part, thus trying to improve the browsing experience.

With Firefox you’ll find all the standard browsing features, so we’ll focus on the more unique ones. First off, there’s a Sync feature that will store your browsing data in the cloud and allow you to continue browsing on any device.

With this feature, you can also send tabs to your phone, and while this feature is useful, it doesn’t work as well as Opera’s Flow feature.

With this feature you’re unable to send files or texts, instead, you’re limited just to links. Sharing interface is also pretty basic since it relies on the context menu, so you can’t see the history of shared links.

Firefox comes with Pocket integration allowing you to easily save any website and read it later on any device. All that you have to do is to click the Pocket icon in the address bar and sign up for a Pocket account and that’s it.

Pocket as a service is pretty decent, especially if you tend to read a lot, so it’s perfect if you want to create a collection of articles to read.

Firefox Lockwise is another great feature that works as a password manager of sorts for Firefox. Using this feature, you can see all your saved passwords in Firefox.

There’s even a dedicated mobile app available, so you can have all your Firefox passwords available on your phone.

This feature supports importing, allowing you to import all saved passwords from other browsers easily. Of course, you can create your logins manually, but in most cases, Lockwise will ask you to save your login information for you when signing up to any website.

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The feature will also generate a unique and secure password for any website that you sign up for, thus ensuring that your password is strong and unique.

Although this feature is incredibly useful, it has a couple of issues. For example, if you click the suggested password, it will be automatically saved to Lockwise, however, your username or email won’t be saved.

This can be frustrating since you have to manually update the data. To avoid this, you can use the arrow keys to select the suggested password. After doing that, just enter your username, and the password and username should be memorized.

This is a small glitch, but it can affect your browsing experience and we hope that it will be improved in future versions.

Once your password is saved, it will be suggested to you while trying to log in to that website. For an extra layer of security, there’s an option to set up a master password, so that others can’t see or use your passwords without a master password.

Another feature that deserves a mention is the screenshot tool in Firefox. By using it, you can easily create a screenshot of a specific section, or you can take a screenshot of an entire webpage.

The tool will automatically select sections of a webpage to make the process faster, but you can also manually select the region that you want to capture in the screenshot.

Sadly, there’s no screenshot editing, so you can’t crop or blur parts of your screenshot. This is a pretty basic screenshot feature when compared to Opera’s screenshot tool, but it will get the job done, as long as you don’t need to edit anything.

Another useful feature is the Reading Mode, and by using it, you’ll remove unnecessary clutter from pages thus focusing only on the most important parts.

After you switch to the reading mode, you can adjust the font type, font size, paragraph width, line spacing, and color theme.

There’s also text to speech feature, so you can have your PC read the articles to you aloud. Of course, you can adjust the reading speed and skip certain paragraphs if you want to.

How secure is Opera vs Chrome vs Firefox?

When it comes to security, all three browsers offer similar features and all of them use sandboxing to separate tabs into processes, so if you visit a malicious website, it will be contained in that tab.

The browsers share similar privacy features, but there are some differences between them that you should know about.

Opera: Chromium-based, built-in VPN, and adblocker

Opera has a built-in ad blocker and anti-tracking feature, and even though it isn’t enabled by default, you can enable it with a single click.

By using this feature, you can improve the page loading time, and thanks to the anti-tracking protection, you’ll block websites from tracking your browsing habits.

Sadly, Opera doesn’t use Google Safe Browsing, and instead, it relies on other services. This isn’t a major issue, as long as you don’t visit any sketchy websites and you have a reliable antivirus.

The browser has a built-in VPN that offers unlimited bandwidth, and while this feature will give you an additional layer of privacy from your ISP, you should know that free VPNs have their share of issues.

Free VPNs are known to keep logs of user activity, which can be a concern for some users. In addition, some privacy advocates are having issues with Opera’s privacy policy and data collection.

Since the browser isn’t completely open-source, there’s no way to determine how Opera uses this data.

Overall, Opera offers solid security, and it’s perfectly safe for everyday tasks. However, if you’re extremely concerned about your online privacy, then you might have few issues with Opera.

Chrome: Google’s browsing juggernaut

Google Chrome has been known to be a secure web browser that is updated frequently, so there’s no need to worry about your security when using Google Chrome.

Google did introduce the Do not track feature and its own ad blocker, but these features are hidden deep in its settings, and less informed users probably won’t even find them.

In addition, Google has a history of data collection and tracking for the purpose of showing personalized ads, which is one of the reasons why many privacy advocates are concerned about Google Chrome.

While the browser is perfectly safe, and one of the safest ones on the market, Google’s privacy policy and data collection could be a problem for some.

Firefox: Privacy-oriented and open source

Firefox is owned by a non-profit company, and since the software is open-source, users can verify the code and ensure that their data isn’t sold to third parties.

The software comes with Enhanced Tracking Protection out of the box that will block tracking cookies and certain ads.

Firefox also has phishing and malware protection, and it can also block cryptominers. There’s even a simple password manager available in Firefox that will generate a secure and unique password for every website that you sign up for.

Overall, Firefox offers a lot in terms of security and privacy, and since it’s open-source, it’s one of the best choices for users that are concerned about their privacy and security.

Opera vs Firefox RAM usage

Lastly, we need to talk about performance, and for this segment, we decided to measure the performance of Firefox and Opera on a low-end computer.

Opera: Optimized for performance

When it comes to performance, we were pretty surprised how little memory Opera uses. While being idle on the home page, the browser used no CPU and only 129MB of RAM.

We tried watching full HD video on YouTube while having five tabs open in Opera, and the CPU usage went up to 80% at times, while the memory usage was around 510MB.

This is perfectly normal while pages are loading, and we haven’t noticed any major slowdowns while using the browser.

If you want to improve your performance, we suggest enabling the ad blocker that will block ads and make your pages load even faster.

Opera also has a Tab Snoozing feature that will put inactive tabs to sleep, thus saving your memory. This feature is more than welcome, especially on low-end PCs.

Firefox: A lightweight alternative

While being idle on the start page, the browser used 0% CPU and about 248MB of RAM, which is a bit more than Opera.

We repeated the same test with five open tabs and YouTube HD video loading in the background. During this test, Firefox used almost 700MB of RAM and up to 60% of CPU.

This is less CPU usage from Firefox, however, but the memory usage was slightly higher. As for other performance, we didn’t notice any major slowdowns while using Firefox.

As you can see, Opera uses less RAM at all times, while the CPU is slightly higher than on Firefox. Overall, we were pleased with how both Opera and Firefox performed on our low-end computer.

Opera vs Firefox: Conclusion

Opera: Abundance of features and low memory usage

Opera offers some great and unique features, most notably the Workspaces feature, and the Tab Search feature that will surely come in handy to anybody that works with multiple tabs. There’s so much more to enjoy about it!

Pros
Based on Chromium
Advanced tab management features
Low RAM usage
Built-in adblocker and tracking protection
Built-in VPN
Cons
Some features might be unnecessary

Opera Flow is also a welcome addition since it’s one of the easiest and most user-friendly ways to share files and links from one device to another.

Adblocker and tracking protection are welcome features, that will improve your performance and protect your privacy online.

Speaking of which, the built-in VPN will also come in handy, and provide you with another layer of security and privacy while browsing the web.

Features such as instant messenger and social media integration can be useful if you’re a heavy social media user, but we found them nonessential.

The media player can come in handy, especially if you tend to listen to music online while browsing the web.

Overall, Opera offers some unique features, and thanks to the low memory usage, it’s one of the better browsers for low-end PCs.

The only flaw might be some minor privacy concerns, but that shouldn’t worry you too much.

Opera

Opera

With so many unique features on the table, Opera seems to be the ideal browser choice for you!

Firefox: Open-source and lightweight

The greatest strength of Firefox is its security and focus on user privacy. The software is open-source, so you can rest assured that your personal data isn’t collected.

Pros
Open-source
Developed by non-profit company
Advanced tracking protection
Comes with only the essential features
Built-in password manager
Cons
No built-in adblocker

With the available tracking protection, you’ll prevent websites from following you and ensure that websites can’t collect your browsing data.

Firefox also has a useful password manager that should help you protect all your online accounts with a secure and unique password.

The browser doesn’t offer any flashy features, and you’ll only find the essential features in Firefox. Regarding the memory usage, it’s slightly higher than in Opera, but nothing too concerning.

With the low memory usage, Firefox should be a perfect pick for low-end PCs. If you’re looking for a privacy-oriented browser that has only the essential features, Firefox is the way to go.

⇒ Get Mozilla Firefox

Overall, both Firefox and Opera are great in their terms, and if you’re looking for something with new and exciting features, then Opera would be the right choice.

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