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Opera GX, the gaming browser, tries to make a name for itself by offering multiple gaming-specific features. But is Opera GX suitable for non-gamers as a daily driver? And should gamers use it instead of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or the regular Opera browser? Let’s find out together in our Opera GX review. Now, before we start, let’s explain what Opera GX really is.
Opera GX – what’s the catch?
Opera GX is, more or less, a gaming version of the Opera browser. Like the original Opera, Opera GX is based on Chromium. It includes a unique design as well as a slew of unique features that should matter to gamers, at least in theory. Opera GX targets gamers but, after using it for some time, we can say that, if you don’t mind the visual design, Opera GX could be a pretty solid choice as your daily driver. Let’s see why’s that in our Opera GX review. We’re starting with the visual design and user experience.
Visually, Opera GX simply screams “gamers, look at me!” with its right corners, sharp edges, and saturated colors. This look won’t please everyone. Personally, we don’t like the design language but, when it comes to practicality, Opera GX is pretty good. Yes, it looks like it comes from a mind of a person that imagines gamers as a bunch of characters from an 80’s SF movie, augmented, of course, with all kinds of RGB body mods. But at least the UX is on par with other major players in the world of web browsers.
Most options are accessible with just one or two mouse clicks, different elements are where you’d expect them to be, and you’ll need just a couple of minutes to get used to the browser. Even the unique elements, such as the sidebar, don’t look out of place even when you launch Opera GX for the first time. Opera designers have created a highly intuitive browser to use.
The good stuff continues with a ton of themes to pick from. They won’t change the design of different elements since they only come with various color palettes. Still, being able to choose a theme based on black and different shades of grey is great to have for us who don’t like the whole gamery design philosophy. Best of all, you can fully tweak colors and create a custom theme. Overall, with the right theme, Opera GX doesn’t look that bad. Sure, we like Chrome, the regular Opera, or Firefox better visually. However, all those browsers have an excellent user experience.
Opera GX comes with a ton of built-in features. Much more than Chrome or Firefox. You have the aforementioned sidebar that hosts a ton of potentially useful shortcuts such as bookmarks or browser settings. Its location makes it invisible until you need it, and we can also say this about many different features found in Opera GX. For instance, you have the super handy screenshot tool that chills back at the end of the address bar until you click on it.
Next, you can open a new tab by clicking at any point of the tabs bar. A slight improvement over Chrome for instance, but a much welcome one that’s invisible while still doing its job. Then there are different tools that should optimize the browser’s performance when playing games. While their function is questionable (more on that later), they’re easily accessible, chilling in the sidebar.
There’s also the built-in ad blocker that’s pretty good at its job. It blocked almost every ad websites tried throwing at us. Well, every ad except the YouTube home page ad (placed instead of the video on the upper left side of your video feed). While not blocking that one ad is perplexing, we don’t mind it considering this was the only negative thing to say about the built-in adblocker.
Back to the sidebar. It supports adding different messaging apps or stuff such as Spotify or other streaming services. It’s nice to have different chat apps integrated into your browser of choice, as long as you don’t mind the privacy issues that come with this move. And while having a separate Spotify tab integrated into your browser might sound great in theory, in practice, we realized that it’s easier to have Spotify playing in a separate window.
Opera GX also has hidden and optional features that won’t transform your browsing experience but are nice to have nonetheless. For instance, you can turn on the weather on the home page or force dark pages on every website you visit. While the latter feature doesn’t work perfectly – it turns some elements on certain websites almost unreadable – everyone who screams in agony as soon as they’re greeted with plain white website backgrounds will welcome it.
The options menu hides other potentially handy features such as the option to turn on browser sounds even background ambient music. Great to have on at 3 am, losing your mind while trying to figure out where those weird, muffled sounds are coming from.
We like that you can access almost every option with only one or two mouse clicks. You can arrange the sidebar to your liking by just clicking on the bottom of it. You can access most of the settings with just one click on the easy setup menu. The whole options menu is also just one click away if using the sidebar. Another thing we like about Opera GX is that most of the features are optional.
You can use them, but no one is forcing you to do it. Have a sidebar, or not. Use the extra features, or simply disable them all. Now, while most optional features are handy, one simply doesn’t make any sense. It’s the built-in Opera VPN. Yes, it’s free, but it isn’t a proper VPN, and it comes with a slew of privacy issues. The bottom line is that you shouldn’t use Opera GX VPN. If you want to find out more, check our detailed take on the subject.
When it comes to extensions, you get access to some of the most popular ones, such as uBlock Origin or Return YouTube Dislike. But, out-of-the-box, Opera GX lacks access to many extensions available for Chrome. It might sound grim but fear not because Opera themselves offer an extension for enabling Chrome extensions. Just install it, and you should be able to use most of the extensions made for Google Chrome. We’ve tried it and found out that all three extensions we’re using on a daily basis in Chrome – Bitwarden, Checker Plus for Gmail, and Zoom to Fill Ultrawide Video – are working great in Opera GX.
Now, note that not all Chrome extensions will work in Opera GX. For instance, forget about themes. Next, extensions that change stuff like the layout or the design of the home page also won’t work. We’ve used Earth View from Google Earth for a decade now in Chrome but, while you can install it in Opera GX, the extension won’t work since it replaces the default home screen layout. Overall, once you install the Install Chrome Extensions extension, you’ll gain access to a great majority of Chrome extensions, massively improving the usability of Opera GX.
Opera GX is a snappy browser that opens new tabs very fast. It’s more or less as speedy as other popular browsers such as Chrome or Firefox. The browser uses just a bit more memory than Chrome when you have a ton of tabs opened, but these differences shouldn’t affect the overall performance. The only thing we don’t like is that you have to go through a half-a-second white screen during cold boot, something we haven’t seen in other browsers. This isn’t a big negative, but it’s there, and some users might get pretty annoyed with it.
Overall, the performance is excellent. There aren’t slowdowns when we open like 50 tabs; YouTube videos play without issues in 4K even with 50 tabs opened. The browser won’t slow down your system no matter how many tabs you keep in the background or how many instances of Opera GX you have running simultaneously. With that said, Opera GX won’t magically increase in-game performance, and the browser isn’t magically optimized to use it while playing games. More on that below.
The whole Opera GX shtick is that it’s made for gamers and should be used by gamers. Well, we can say that these claims are marketing fluff and nothing more. Sure, the GX Corner can be handy. Clicking it (you can find it in the sidebar) takes you to a custom page filled with gaming-related stuff. You have the video game release calendar, which is actually nice to have. It even shows lesser-known titles, as well as platforms games, are releasing on. But this is hardly a must-have feature for gamers.
Next, the GX Corner includes stuff like new video game trailers and the latest gaming news feed. Again, nice to have but a far cry from being called must-have features. We can say the same about the free games tab. Other elements found in GX Corner are of dubious value. For instance, the deals aggregator is an obvious pay-to-be-featured stunt that promotes two shady deals sites – the infamous G2A and Eneba.
Why not include deals on Steam, GOG, Epic Games Store, or proper key reseller sites such as Fanatical or GreenManGaming? Finally, there’s the stores tab that includes Steam, EGS, GOG, Humble Store, and, you’ve guessed it, G2A and Eneba. Yeah, these aren’t of any value. Just visit IsThereAnyDeal (PC) or DekuDeals (gaming consoles) if you want to find great deals.
Then we have the GX Control, another gaming-related feature that includes a set of tools that should help you optimize Opera GX performance and decrease its use of system resources. A couple of these tools are genuinely helpful. For instance, the Hot Tabs Killer could help you find and close websites that went haywire and are now causing rampage on your PC. Next, the network limiter might be handy, but if you’re watching YouTube or Twitch while gaming, it’ll hardly help you since you need that bandwidth for streaming videos. You also have access to the GX Cleaner. This is a glorified cache and cookies cleaner. Handy but not a “GX gaming feature for gamers.”
Next, there’s the RAM limiter that could help gamers who like to use their browser while gaming and who happen to be short in RAM. You can limit the browser to using a maximum of 1GB of memory or less, which could be handy if you’re rocking 8GB of memory and want to play something while the browser runs in the background. Finally, the CPU limiter is completely useless. If you notice that some tab is kicking your CPU’s ass, you’ll probably force close it. Regular websites aren’t heavy on the CPU unless they do something that is CPU-heavy. Such as playing videos while you have Hardware Acceleration option turned off.
At the end of the day, these gaming-specific features are hardly gaming-specific. Some of them, like the hot tabs killer, would definitely help non-gamers. Others, such as the CPU limiter, are more or less useless. What we can say is that you shouldn’t consider getting Opera GX based on its gaming branding and “gaming benefits and features.” Yes, it looks different, but it works just like other browsers. These “gaming” features definitely aren’t a must-have for gamers.
Security-wise, Opera GX is an excellent browser. It’s based on Chromium meaning it comes with a slew of internet security features that make the browser highly secure and safe to use. On the flip side, the browser is far from great regarding internet privacy. Opera GX has multiple privacy issues, and it isn’t the best browser to use if you care about your internet privacy. You can find out more in our piece where we analyze Opera GX’s security and privacy options and issues.
So, is Opera GX a good browser? Well, first of all, this isn’t some must-have gaming browser that will transform your gaming experience. Most of its gaming-specific features are just fluff, and they won’t help you improve performance or get more stable framerates in your favorite games. The GX Corner has some cool stuff (that game release calendar is excellent), but, again, it is far from being a must-have for gamers.
If we put the nonsensical gaming stuff aside, Opera GX is a pretty good browser. You have the original looks that won’t suit everyone but that at least present a unique choice in a market dominated by pastel colors and rounded corners. Next, you have a ton of features included with the browser, as well as a vast number of options to tweak. The ad blocker is terrific to have from the get-go, and we also like small stuff like the built-in snapshot tool. Then there’s the sidebar that provides a shortcut to your browsing history or Opera GX options. It can also host your messaging apps.
Opera GX is snappy, and it doesn’t use more resources than other browsers. It supports most Chrome extensions and comes with a wide assortment of themes, among which you’ll most likely find one that suits your taste. Sure, it has privacy issues, but these issues aren’t limited to Opera GX. Chrome, the most popular browser in the world, has many privacy issues. Next, we don’t like the built-in VPN. It doesn’t offer anything of value while potentially being used for data collection.
At the end of the day, Opera GX is a fine choice for a daily driver. If you dig its looks and don’t mind its privacy issues, Opera GX is as good as Chrome or Firefox. We recommend it, just not as the must-have browser for gamers.