5+ best browsers to use on old and slow PCs [2021 Guide]
- Owning an old PC shouldn’t imply not being able to explore the web at good speeds, so a good browser will be essential.
- To classify software as a good browser for old PCs, it will need to be small in size and offer a great set of features with low resource requirements.
- Having a set of good security features without taking much of the processing power away is another important element to consider.
- Choosing the best browser for your old PC will come down to your needs, but we covered all possible options.
Google, Opera Software, and Mozilla have dropped Windows XP and Vista support for Chrome, Opera, and Firefox in their latest releases. When it comes to Windows 7, the list of possible browsers is a bit more extensive, including the ability to run Opera and Firefox.
Even if Chrome would still be compatible with Windows XP, the browser‘s heavy RAM usage would stretch the resources of outdated PCs to the limit.
This happens because Chrome creates a new process for each of the tabs you have opened, and the resources required to do that far outweigh the benefits when using an older PC.
Considering RAM usage, we recommend installing a monitoring tool to manage your computer resources more efficiently.
Fortunately, there are several more lightweight alternatives to Chrome that will not hog system resources. They are streamlined browsers that are more system resource-efficient.
Most of these options also remain compatible with older operating systems and thus fit perfectly for usage on older and slower PCs. They don’t require a huge amount of computer resources to run properly.
How do browsers compare when it comes to resource consumption?
As we mentioned above, not all browsers are built the same, and thus, the differences when it comes to how they impact your system vary considerably.
Of course, another important factor when it comes to the impact a browser will have on your system is the power of your PC.
As you can see from the tests we performed, the browser which stands out with the least impact on system resources is Opera, followed by the other options, and ending with Chrome, which doesn’t do so well in this department.
Another important factor to consider is your PC optimization, which can also increase the usability of all apps, including the browser.
UR Browser is a highly versatile browser that’s perfect for old computers. It packs a plethora of modern features that will help you to quickly and safely surf the Internet.
This browser loads webpages faster than any other browser you used on your good old PC.
To deal with any online threats, it is recommended that you get a good antimalware tool that will work excellently with the UR browser. This can be done easily by choosing one option from the plethora of elements found on the UR Browser application store.
UR Browser doesn’t load any trackers or ads. As you all know, ads and cookies often slow down your browser. This issue is even more prevalent on old computers.
Protecting your online data is paramount for UR Browser. The tool offers you a series of options that allow you to filter who has access to your online data.
You can choose from 3 privacy levels, which automatically optimizes the browser. These options have differing degrees of security, with low, medium, and high options to choose from.
Here are the features of each:
➡ Low Privacy
This level is recommended for websites that you trust, as this would allow advertising, or in case the other levels don’t display a website correctly.
➡ Medium Privacy
This option allows you the most freedom by balancing the user experience and privacy. Recommended for everyday use.
➡ High Privacy
You can use this level when you want to be as anonymous as possible, usually on websites that you don’t trust.
UR-Browser also makes sure to block dangerous websites that may install malware on your PC. Automatic HTTPS redirects and the built-in virus scanner will block virtually any cyber threat that may target your PC.
Other useful features:
- Your personal data is not shared with Google
- The browser relies on privacy-friendly search engine Qwant
- Built-in ad blocker
- You appear as a different user on the Internet
- The built-in VPN fully encrypts your connection
If you still use an old computer, the UR Browser is an ideal choice. Third parties won’t be able to profile you.
K-Meleon has been available for more than a decade. This is a Mozilla-based browser that incorporates Firefox’s Gecko engine.
The browser’s UI design is comparable to Firefox, and the software has extensive customization options for its toolbars, menus, and hotkeys. This makes it a great option to use on your outdated PC, and do so in style.
Although you can’t add Firefox extensions to K-Meleon, this software still has plenty of handy plug-ins. These include ad-blockers, pop-up blockers, themes, customization options, etc.
It would be recommended that you try to keep your browser as clean as possible, meaning that you would only install the extensions that you need. This will reduce the impact that the browser will have on your CPU, and thus giving you a more streamlined experience.
K-Meleon is also a super quick browser that runs on Windows 95, XP, Vista, and other platforms that predate Windows 7. The software has a recommended 256 RAM system requirement.
As such, it can run on plenty of antiquated desktops or laptops. Keep though in mind that K-Meleon doesn’t get updated that often.
Another important aspect of this browser, even though it is light, is that you can customize a variety of elements, thus making it your own.
You can easily change the skin, buttons, toolbar, and even the menus from this software, not only making visual changes, but also an improvement in utilizability.
Other useful features:
- Highly extensible
- Very low RAM impact
- No malware and adware
Pale Moon is a browser forked from Firefox’s source code. This is a stripped-down version of Firefox that runs on Windows XP and Vista.
This lightweight browser has its own add-on ecosystem, and even though the classic Firefox addons can work, there might be compatibility issues here and there.
The browser is built on technologies such as XUL and XPCOM, which makes it capable of good speeds while not hogging much of your PC’s resources.
Pale Moon requires just 256 MB of free RAM and it’s optimized for modern CPUs.
So this browser is even more system resource-efficient than Firefox, and it will run fairly quickly on low spec laptops and desktops.
When it comes to the design, Pale Moon has a very similar UI structure compared to the older Firefox 3 versions, while having stripped out any design elements that are not useful.
The browser also shares many of Firefox’s customization options for tabs, page content, etc.
Even though this is a good browser option, it is worth mentioning that it doesn’t have any sandboxing capabilities and the Gecko-fork used is an older version. This could influence the way newer web features are displayed (if at all).
The lack of this feature can stop people that need a sandbox environment to create apps, and also diminishes the security associated with this type of closed-end environment.
If you find that this is not a priority for you, then you won’t regret giving Pale Moon a try.
Other useful features:
- Independent from Mozilla and Google
- Supports all web standards in existence
- Open source
- Supports complete themes
Opera is perhaps the best browser to use on your old Windows computer if you want good page-loading speeds and a variety of useful features.
As older PCs are not as well-equipped to deal with demanding tasks as the newer versions, the way Opera is built brings great advantages, as it is optimized to consume as few computing resources as possible.
One important aspect that enables Opera to offer such great speeds is the fact that no ads are allowed, so the loading page times are reduced considerably.
Blocking ads means preventing unnecessary scripts from slowing you down, but you may also click Manage exceptions to whitelist those websites that shouldn’t be subject to ad-blocking.
We all know that computers running old operating systems are favorite targets for hackers. Even so, Opera has got your back putting your data security and privacy first.
With a built-in VPN, you can ensure that your IP will not be tracked across the web, and at the same time will allow you to act region-restricted content without issues.
Other useful features:
- Adblocker that loads webpages up to 90% faster
- Free VPN included
- Keyboard shortcuts instead of pointing and mouse clicking
- Tracker blocker that prevents data collection
- Intuitive and distraction-free browser experience
Important note: Keep in mind that Opera officially ended support for older Windows operating systems, including XP and Vista.
The browser only supports Windows 7 and Windows 10 and you can install it on your 5-year-old computer or more without any problems.
Opera is optimized for old PCs. Try it out and you’ll enjoy a built-in ad-blocking feature and increased security.
The latest Firefox versions are not be supported on older versions of operating systems anymore. However, this is still the best browser for slightly outdated Windows 7 desktops or laptops.
Stability is key for this browser, while the customization features ensure that you can make this software feel like your own with just a few clicks of the mouse. No matter if you want a theme that reflects your calm mind, or something that makes you think about the universe, you are covered.
Mozilla claims that Google Chrome hogs 1.77x more RAM than Firefox, and if you used Chrome for more than a few days your system has felt its effects.
Firefox is more resource-efficient than Safari, Chrome, and Edge, which ensures you can run more software alongside it. Every tab you open in Firefox is not seen as a separate process, thus the resource allocation is done more efficiently.
Those add-ons include tab managers, ad blockers, and other extensions that you can strip down website page content with, which will further reduce each tab’s RAM usage and boost browsing speed.
When it comes to add-ons, Firefox offers thousands of options that include a variety of elements, from functionality-related enhancements to operational improvements.
Having access to so many customization options can prove efficient if you know what you’re doing, but as you’re interested in having your old PC run as optimally as possible, then it is recommended to only choose add-ons that deal with functionality, like an ad-blocker and pop-up blocker.
Other useful features:
- Strong privacy settings
- Very good processing speeds
- Cloud backup services
- Included screen-capture tool
- Great mobile features
Midori, which means green in Japanese, is a lightweight browser that is not known very well across the web but offers a low impact on system resources and very good speeds as well.
Midori’s developers have designed this software to be a streamlined alternative to more bloated browsers. While this browser packs less in than alternative browsers, it has only 37 megabytes.
In comparison, Firefox requires 200 MB of hard drive storage. Thus, this is a decent browser for outmoded PCs.
Midori does still incorporate the latest web technologies. The browser supports HTML 5 media codecs and CSS 3, which is optimal and gets the job done if your PC doesn’t work with other web browsers at efficient speeds.
This lightweight browser was also developed with a Webkit rendering engine that ensures it’s in the same league as Chrome when it comes to browsing speed.
The browser doesn’t have a huge repository of extensions but does include several add-ons that further enhance the software.
Other useful features:
- RSS support
- Spell checker included
- Remembers tabs open in previous session
- Font and display customization
Maxthon is a highly rated browser that is growing in stature. Maxthon’s homepage boasts that the browser has a 670 million user base.
Maxthon’s system requirements amount to a 1 GHz CPU, 512 MB RAM, and 64 megabytes of hard drive space.
The browser is also compatible with Windows 2000, XP, and Vista as well as the latest platforms; so it will run smoothly on most desktops and laptops.
Maxthon includes some tools and options you won’t find in the big four browsers (Chrome, Internet Explorer 11, Edge 14, and Firefox).
It includes a built-in ad blocker that you can remove ads with, which also reduces page tab RAM allocation.
Maxthon has extensive cloud synchronization and backup options so that users can seamlessly sync data across devices.
In addition, the browser incorporates software shortcuts; and Maxthon users can also capture snapshots with its built-in screenshot tool.
Other features that are worth mentioning are the tabbed interface that enables you to easily navigate from one website to the other and the fact that you can customize the toolbars.
This comes in extremely handy if you’re a user that wants optimization to the highest degree.
Some other useful features:
- Ability to import bookmarks with ease
- Great customization options
- AD Hunter stops ads from running
- Mute button in lower part of screen
How can I improve my computer’s performance?
The exact answer to this question will depend on what operating system you have installed at the moment, but we will try to answer it in a more general manner.
➡ Clean up any software you don’t use
Having your PC’s memory filled with software you don’t use at all is not a good idea, especially if you’re dealing with a low-end PC.
Uninstalling them will allow your processor and hard drive to work easier, and thus might improve the overall efficiency and speed.
You can perform this action either by using specialized uninstaller software or by following the steps mentioned below to do it manually.
It is worth noting that these steps are for Windows 10, but they apply to most OSs.
- Click Start and open the Control Panel by searching for it.
- Choose Programs and Features from the list of options.
- Scroll through the programs list and identify the ones that you don’t need.
- Click on each of them and choose Uninstall.
- Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the process.
➡ Optimize your HDD
Optimizing your HDD will most certainly improve your PC’s speed, but don’t expect wonders to happen if the hardware capabilities are very limited.
By performing this step, an improvement of 3-4% is possible, with the rate increasing exponentially if your hardware is more capable.
➡ Upgrade your PC’s hardware
Even though this might seem like an obvious step, upgrading your PC with new components will play the biggest role when trying to optimize your PC’s speed.
A few elements you need to consider here include the following:
- Your PC’s motherboard capabilities
In case your PC is very outdated, then it will imply that the motherboard installed on your PC will not be capable of handling any new hardware, or, that it will only allow for a slight improvement.
Because the motherboard is the base on which your PC components interact and work, having a capable one makes a huge difference, both in terms of short-term utilizability, and also long-term.
If you find that your PC’s motherboard is not updated enough to help you build your PC for greater speeds, then the safest bet is to invest in a motherboard that allows for greater improvements.
In case your motherboard is capable enough, then following the next steps will prove helpful.
If now you have a newer version motherboard or if you found that it allows worthy improvements, then the next thing to consider is the new hardware compatibility with your PC’s base.
In the same way, not all motherboards are built the same, other computer hardware is the same. Some GPU might work with your motherboard, and some won’t.
For this reason, it is recommended that before investing in a good CPU, you make sure that your motherboard can use it.
The same principles apply if you decide to invest in a GPU, Rapid Access Memory (RAM), or even HDD.
When planning to upgrade your PC, and moved on from the first two elements mentioned above, you will need to consider what the overall cost of this improvement will be, and if it’s worth it compared to the improvements it will bring to the table.
In case your budget would be too abruptly affected, and the improvements would not be considerable, then it might be a good idea to try and put money to the side and invest in a new PC altogether.
If you’re not sure what the raport between cost and efficiency is, in most cases, it is better to buy a new system and gradually build upon it, than to try and rebuild an outdated PC from scratch.
These are of the best browsers for laptops or desktops with less than 4 GB RAM and CPUs with lower clock speed specifications.
As you can see, there are a few browser options that can increase the usability of your PC, no matter how old it is. The best part is that some of them even have great design and security features, so you won’t go missing in these departments.
The best bet on all fronts is UR browser, closely followed by K-Meleon, and then Pale Moon.
The rest of the options we presented are more resource-heavy options and could cause problems on an old system, but the extra features could prove useful if they work on your system.
These browsers are compatible with a wider range of Windows platforms than most software, and they won’t hog a huge percentage of system resources even on outdated desktops and laptops.
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This post was written by Matthew Adams and was first posted to windowsreport.com