"Careful, these experiments may bite!WARNING These experimental features may change, break, or disappear at any time. We make absolutely no guarantees about what may happen if you turn one of these experiments on, and your browser may even spontaneously combust. Jokes aside, your browser may delete all your data, or your security and privacy could be compromised in unexpected ways. Any experiments you enable will be enabled for all users of this browser. Please proceed with caution."
Though the stuff we'll discuss doing in this article is more likely to cause simple rendering errors or to adversely affect performance than to wreak any major havoc, caution is appropriate.
Google Chrome's flags menu presents a long list of experimental options, only a few of which focus on performance. They include the following seven options.
Override software rendering list Mac, Windows, Linux, Chrome OS: This option overrides Chrome's built-in software rendering list and permits GPU acceleration on unsupported system configurations. If you're running experimental GPU drivers, switching this flag on will probably shorten loading times for games and videos.
GPU compositing on all pages Mac, Windows, Linux: This option will force GPU-accelerated compositing on all webpages, not just those with GPU-accelerated layers. Enabling this option will probably give you a minor speed boost across the board.
Threaded compositing Mac, Windows, Linux, Chrome OS: Threaded compositing will launch a secondary thread on multicore systems dedicated to webpage compositing. Enabling this option may result in smoother scrolling, even if the main thread is busy with other processing duties.
Disable accelerated 2D canvas Mac, Windows, Linux, Chrome OS: Disabling this option prevents the GPU from performing 2D canvas rendering and causes it instead to use the hot CPU for software rendering.
Disable accelerated CSS animations Mac, Windows, Linux, Chrome OS: When threaded compositing is active, accelerated CSS animations run on the compositing thread. However, running accelerated CSS animations, even without the compositor thread, may yield performance gains.
GPU Accelerated SVG Filters Mac, Windows, Linux, Chrome OS: This option taps your GPU to accelerate the rendering of scalable vector graphics filters, which could speed up the loading process on websites that use a lot of heavy drop shadows or other visual filter effects.
Disable GPU VSync Mac, Windows, Linux, and Chrome OS: If you're a gamer, you've probably heard of vertical sync, aka Vsync. Shutting off Vsync disables synchronization with your monitor's vertical refresh rate. If your monitor has a refresh rate of 60Hz, for example, disabling Vsync allows the GPU to output at a rate faster than 60Hz--or 60 frames per second--when possible.
Depending on your system's configuration and on your version of Chrome, some of these options may or may not be enabled by default. And depending on the graphics drivers and OS updates you've installed, some of them may not have any effect on performance at all. Nevertheless, it's worth experimenting with them and visiting your favorite websites to see if they produce any benefits. In our experience, the Accelerated 2D canvas and GPU compositing options offer the most extensive advantages. On the other hand, disabling Vsync seemed to cause rendering issues on our Windows 8 Pro-based test systems on websites that use HTML5 animations.
Establishing the benefits (or drawbacks) of many of the experimental settings mentioned above proved to be rather difficult. We did, however, observe some performance differences when we ran quick tests using Rightware's BrowserMark and some of the browser benchmarks available on the IE 10 Test Drive site.