Finding the fastest WordPress theme feels like a fool’s errand. Are you to test every theme you’re interested in and compare the differences in millisecond load times? How do you account for changes in hosting speeds from the developers and their online demos? What if the testing tools produce conflicting results?

It’s unrealistic to think the average WordPress user will consistently test desired themes for performance. It’s tough to remove outside factors, and there are too many WordPress themes to consider.

That’s why we did the work for you.

Using four speed tests, a new installation for each theme, and the same server for each theme’s speed testing, we were able to narrow down the fastest WordPress themes to a shortlist.

In addition, we compared the best of the best to show which of them perform well in different situations and which of them have the highest performance scores and fastest speeds.

Make sure to check out our guide on how to run speed tests if you’d like to run some tests on your own as well.

Let’s get cracking!

How We Tested the Fastest WordPress Theme Candidates

Our search began with themes we’ve encountered in the past, along with popular and trending WordPress themes that have many downloads and quality reviews.

We added to our list of candidates by going through the WordPress Repository to identify hidden gems, newer themes, and highly-rated options that we may have missed from the previous collection.

The speed testing process went like this:

  1. Install and activate the theme on a blank WordPress sandbox installation. This allows for standardization in hosting and no complications with other plugins or site files.
  2. Leave the theme as-is, with no media, menus, pages, or posts added. We also want to leave out any demo content and not assign a homepage for a level starting point.
  3. Run the website with the theme through the GTMetrix Speed Test.
  4. Run the theme through the Pingdom Speed Test.
  5. Run the theme through the PageSpeed Insights Test to evaluate mobile speed.
  6. Run the theme through the Byte Check TTFB (time to first byte) Test.

Each testing tool has its own benefits. To better understand the evaluation, we’ve outlined what our metrics mean and why they’re important.

As for why we used four tools, each of them has varying standards and results, so we want to ensure one tool isn’t giving better or worse results than another. In addition, a few of the tools focus on specifics like mobile speed, page size, or the speed in which the first website element appears.

Here’s a short summary of the testing tools we used.

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GTMetrix

GTMetrix takes a website and breaks down its speed and optimization. It’s a nice tool for checking on performance issues and if a theme is way too cluttered with unnecessary files.

GTMetrix presents hundreds of metrics, but these are the ones we’re using for our test:

GTMetrix

GTMetrix

Pingdom

Pingdom is rather similar to GTMetrix, but we like to run both side-by-side since they offer slightly different metrics and can serve as a “check-and-balances” situation if any major discrepancies happen between the two.

pingdom

Pingdom

PageSpeed Insights (Mobile-only)

Google’s PageSpeed Insights excels with displaying how user-experience is the most important part of having a fast WordPress theme. It focuses on how quickly content is shown to the user, while also revealing the parts of the theme that make for slow delivery times.

For our testing purposes, we only use the mobile analysis, since the desktop speeds are mainly covered with the GTMetrix and Pingdom tests.

Here are the primary data points to know about:

PageSpeed insights

PageSpeed insights

Byte Check

A TTFB test, or time to first byte test, measures how long the browser takes to complete an HTTP request and end up with one byte of data being sent to the user from the server.

Essentially, it’s saying how long it takes for the tiniest bit of information to be delivered. Hosting plays a large role in delivering the first byte, but a clunky theme causes problems too.

Here’s what we look at during our testing using bytecheck.com:

byte check - fastest wordpress theme

Byte check

11 Fast WordPress Themes Put to Test

Now that metrics and tools have been presented, it’s time to have a look at our results and find the fastest WordPress theme (backed by data).

Hello Elementor

If you’re familiar with the Elementor Page Builder, you know how fast and easy it can be to build a WordPress site without using any code. Elementor is a top pick in the world of drag and drop builders, so its no surprise that the same developers have produced a theme that’s fast and versatile, called Hello Elementor.

Hello Elementor - fastest WordPress theme

Hello Elementor

The theme is marketed as plain-white and lightweight. As you may assume, it combines nicely with Elementor, along with many other plugins like WooCommerce, Advanced Custom Fields, Yoast, and more.

The mobile design performs well in testing as well and it provides a smooth interface so your visitors aren’t confused with a glitchy menu or text. The theme starts you off with a fairly blank slate, but the power of Elementor comes into play for designing what you need for any industry.

Pricing

The Hello Elementor theme is available as a free download.

The Elementor Page Builder is free as well, with paid plans (starting at $49 per year) for additional templates, widgets, and element builders.

Notable Features

Fastest WordPress Theme Analysis

Hello Elementor is the best of the best when it comes to page speeds and lightweight files. The scores definitely reflect that.

GTMetrix Speed Test

Pingdom

PageSpeed Insights Test (Mobile-only)

Byte Check TTFB Test

Test Conclusions

Elementor has a way of making everyone smile, from the free drag-and-drop page builder to its theme that crushes the speed tests over and over. Pair this with the page builder and you’ll be building content and serving up your website in record time.

The Pagespeed and YSlow scores are phenomenal, along with the Pingdom score. It’s the first theme on this list to register a score of 100 from Google’s PageSpeed Insights, and the lightning-fast loading times are to thank for that. It even looks like the TTFB test shaves off a few milliseconds compared to other competitors.

Finally, we’re only seeing 8 requests from Pingdom and GTMetrix. Although that’ll change when you add content to a site, it’s a great place to start. We love seeing less communication between the server and the user.

Neve

The ThemeIsle company is known for its creation of speedy and flexible themes and plugins, many of which are free with premium upgrades. During our tests, the Neve theme stood out as the fastest from ThemeIsle, with its multipurpose design and easily customizable layout.

We also like Neve since it’s made to work well with WooCommerce, the most popular online store plugin for WordPress. It’s reassuring to see a few ecommerce-focused themes with lightweight files and top-notch performance scores.

Neve theme

Neve WordPress theme

Neve works with Elementor and many other top page builders. It’s a mobile-first theme with fast and lightweight elements. The reliable updates and support are mainstays from the ThemeIsle brand.

You’ll also find reliable coding and a flexible structure to ensure that you can build any site you want. It’s also nice to see that ThemeIsle lists sites that are currently running the Neve theme, allowing you to understand the possibilities of the theme and get inspiration for your own website.

Pricing

The Neve theme is available as a free download, with premium versions starting at $49.

The paid theme provides extra features like a header and blog boost, custom layouts, and unlimited support and updates for the sites with the theme.

Notable Features

Fastest WordPress Theme Analysis

Neve is another golden theme to keep your eye on if you’re trying to improve your mobile speeds. The requests are low and its file sizes look desirable as well.

GTMetrix Speed Test

Pingdom

PageSpeed Insights (Mobile-only)

Byte Check TTFB Test

Test Conclusions

Neve is another reputable WordPress theme that delivers a 100 score in the PageSpeed Insights test. It also produces high-90s results for all other evaluations. The requests are low, the page sizes look good, and the loading time gets to a point where it’s faster than even the fastest themes we’ve looked at.

Neve is not only popular and well-designed, but it’s a versatile theme that has the huge bonus of running at blazing fast speeds.

Astra

The Astra theme is not only growing in popularity at a rapid rate, but the theme moves quickly when activated and run during our tests. The whole point of Astra is to have a premade site all ready to go once you install it on WordPress.

That’s done with demos for multiple industries and you can customize most elements of the theme without having to touch the code.

Astra WP - fastest WordPress theme

Astra

Page builders integrate with the theme and you can link the theme with third-party plugins like WooCommerce, LearnDash, and Yoast. Along with hooks and filters, translation settings, and demos, the Astra theme is a must-try if you’re interested in a speedy setup.

Pricing

There’s a free theme and a premium version. Astra Pro is listed at $59. The Agency Bundle is $523 per year, but we often see discounts from the company.

Notable Features

Fastest WordPress Theme Analysis

Can a multipurpose theme with many demos provide top-notch speeds? You bet it can.

GTMetrix Speed Test

Pingdom

PageSpeed Insights (Mobile-only)

Byte Check TTFB Test

Test Conclusions

In terms of scores from all four tests, Astra is a high-performer. The scores are 99, 95, 96, and 99, close to perfect in every area!

The requests are at 10 and the page size is rather low, meaning there’s no junk weighing the theme down right out of the box. Overall, Astra performs well even when you begin implementing the larger demo items, which is great since it all looks beautiful.

GeneratePress

From all four tests, GeneratePress ended up as one of the fastest WordPress theme options. It’s a versatile theme in a sleek little package, boasting integrations with multiple page builders, WooCommerce support, and various sidebar and widget locations.

GeneratePress

GeneratePress

The ratings and reviews show that GeneratePress has an incredible following. You can download a free version or opt to upgrade your features in the premium version.

The premium theme comes with extra modules for typography, demos, colors, and more. We particularly like how small the original theme file size is, along with the demo files. This indicates that it’s not going to weigh down your site or cause problems on a server.

Pricing

There’s a free version to download. The premium theme sells for $49.95. Upgrades are yearly if you want continued support and updates.

Notable Features

Fastest WordPress Theme Analysis

During testing, GeneratePress performed well across the board. It’s particularly impressive how fast the pages load.

GTMetrix Speed Test

Pingdom

PageSpeed Insights (Mobile-only)

Byte Check TTFB Test

Test Conclusions

The remarkably small file size shows its strength in the testing for GeneratePress. The theme has close to perfect GTMetrix and Pingdom scores, with total page sizing at a bare minimum. The requests are pretty low as well.

This success in the world of speed carries over to the PageSpeed Insights test, as we can see another almost perfect score and rapid loading times. Although it’s still fast, the TTFB test is the only area that doesn’t perform quite as well as the competition.

Page Builder Framework

When looking for customization-prowess and speedy frontend delivery, the Page Builder Framework provides a healthy combination of both. The theme’s page speed is cause for praise and the page builder integrations come in handy for developing a multitude of website designs without needing to mess with coding.

We also like that the theme is SEO-friendly, has WooCommerce elements, and offers a nice interface on mobile devices.

Page Builder - fastest WordPress theme

Page Builder Framework

Along with building modules from page builders, the Page Builder Framework offers unique design tools to expand your possibilities. The developers even have a list of links to see other websites that have been made with the Page Builder Framework.

A premium addon is available as well, with settings for transparent headers, different menus, and sticky navigation.

Pricing

You can download the core theme for free.

The premium version is actually an addon with over a dozen new features. It sells for $68. The Agency Bundle includes a few other extensions and features and allows for use on unlimited sites. That sells for $224.

We’ve noticed that the developers often offer discounts for both plans.

Notable Features

Fastest WordPress Theme Analysis

It’s interesting to see how fast some of these themes are, even though they’re given away for free. And the Page Builder Framework is no exception.

GTMetrix Speed Test

Pingdom

PageSpeed Insights (Mobile-only)

Byte Check TTFB Test

Test Conclusions

We enjoy the Page Builder Framework for its usefulness in many industries and that comes into play when small businesses are trying to boost SEO rankings. Luckily, the PageSpeed, Pingdom, and YSlow scores show that those small business owners don’t have to worry about the theme causing any speed or SEO problems.

The requests are consistently low and the loading time nears the 1-second mark. The TTFB test rendered slightly slower results, but it’s still respectable. The other reports show us that the user won’t wait long to see this theme load.

OceanWP

The OceanWP theme has a professional look for small businesses and agencies by default. It also includes creative demos for companies and industries like fitness clubs, shoe stores, and chocolate companies. You can browse through the dozens of themes on the website to see which ones are best for you before opting for this theme.

OceanWP

OceanWP

OceanWP holds up well in our speed tests, as we’ll outline below. Not only that, but the performance of the theme remains solid when you implement the demos.

Quite a few extensions are available for OceanWP, adding to its extendability. For instance, you can add a sticky header and an Instagram feed. The Woo Popup is a nice touch and the white labeling is offered as a premium extension as well.

Pricing

OceanWP has a free version for everyone to download.

The premium version is mainly a bundle of extensions, with support for additional sites and ongoing support. That starts at $39 per year and goes up to $129 per year for agencies.

Notable Features

Fastest WordPress Theme Analysis

Starting out, it appears that OceanWP is a tad slower than some of the others, but that still doesn’t mean you should overlook it. The main area to be concerned about is the mobile speed. But again, the speeds are actually really good, but when compared to the best, it looks a little slower.

GTMetrix Speed Test

Pingdom

PageSpeed Insights (Mobile-only)

Byte Check TTFB Test

Test Conclusions

OceanWP came out with a wonderful PageSpeed score, but the YSlow and Pingdom scores are a little lower than the competition in this article. However, scores of 92 and 91 are still better than the vast majority of themes on the market, making it one of the fastest WordPress theme options.

The TTFB test is respectable, but we’ll see further down that other themes are cutting this time in half. The score holding back OceanWP from being a top contender is the PageSpeed Insights Test.

So, you may see slightly slower loading times on a mobile device. Hopefully, that improves in the future to make it a top-notch theme for speed on all devices.

Zakra

The Zakra theme is from the folks at ThemeGrill and provides a multipurpose solution with endless possibilities and a speedy interface. The theme is known as a fast and secure option with over 40 demos to create a unique look for your website.

Our tests confirmed that the speed claim is in fact true, as it produced speeds in-line with the top performers in the business.

Zakra

Zakra

Zakra comes as a free theme with strong features, but the true customization prowess is available in the premium version, with advanced headers, WooCommerce tools, and blogging options.

One of the things we like the most about Zakra is how well-documented and supported the theme is compared to many free themes online. There are tutorials to answer key questions and a customer support rep is available if you can’t find something.

Pricing

The free version is, of course, free.

The premium theme sells for $49 per year, with higher pricing to support installation on more sites. You can also opt for a monthly plan.

Notable Features

Fastest WordPress Theme Analysis

We like the design and speed coming from Zakra. Especially when it comes to the mobile speeds and the lowers request counts.

GTMetrix Speed Test

Pingdom

PageSpeed Insights (Mobile-only)

Byte Check TTFB Test

Test Conclusions

The Zakra testing revealed solid scores across the board, with the PageSpeed Insights test being a notable success. That means it takes less than 2 seconds for the first theme item to show up to the user and become interactive. The score of 98 is suitable for these speeds.

Customify

The Customify theme is another of the fastest WordPress theme options to consider, mainly because our speed tests rendered excellent results, but also since the theme has settings for changing every part of your website.

The fast performance is credited to the optimization and lightweight nature of the theme files, while the customization aspects are completed with header and footer builders, demo imports, and the integrations with page builders.

Customify

Customify

The PressMaximum developers provide a website for a free theme download, complemented by a collection of website demos for importing. The categories include options for portfolios, ecommerce, small business, and nonprofit sites.

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You’ll also find demos made primarily for Beaver Builder and Elementor, two of the most popular page builders on the market. Customer support and documentation are of high-quality on the PressMaximum website and you’re able to upgrade to the theme’s Pro Version to gain access to a myriad of advanced features.

Some of the Pro features include transparent headers, different blogging layouts, and custom fonts.

Pricing

The core version is available for free.

The Pro Upgrade starts at $59 per year for a full year of updates and support. The Business Bundle is for three sites at $89 per year, and the Agency Bundle supports unlimited sites for $129 per year.

What’s more, is that renewal discounts are typically provided every year.

Notable Features

Fastest WordPress Theme Analysis

Customify is tough to beat as well. You’ll see that the sub-2-second loading times are rather consistent for this theme.

GTMetrix Speed Test

Pingdom

PageSpeed Insights Test (Mobile-only)

Byte Check TTFB Test

Test Conclusions

Here’s another powerhouse theme with high-90s scores. It’s nice to see the requests in line with the other fast WordPress theme options and the page sizing isn’t that much of a worry.

Twenty Twenty

Twenty Twenty is the default WordPress theme that comes installed with every WordPress build. This theme gets a new release every year, technically making them different since you can still install Twenty Nineteen and other past versions of the theme.

The most current WordPress default is made from an existing theme from the WordPress community and it focuses on integrating well with the Gutenberg builder. The default WordPress theme (regardless of the year) is consistently one of the fastest WordPress theme options, because of its slim file structure, solid code, and the fact that it’s expected to be the best of the best.

Twenty Twnety - fastest WordPress theme

Twenty Twenty

As was expected, the Twenty Twenty WordPress theme came out strong in the speed testing. The theme is known for its flexibility with page builders and the endless number of layouts, especially for blogging.

It’s a popular option for those trying to build personal or professional blogs, with increasingly more advanced typography options, formatting settings, and background colors. Pair that with a page builder like Gutenberg or Elementor to expand on its customization and know for a fact that your theme isn’t causing any problems when it comes to speed.

Pricing

All past, current, and future default WordPress themes, including Twenty Twenty, are completely free to use.

Notable Features

Fastest WordPress Theme Analysis

Is Twenty Twenty the fastest theme in the world? No, but it’s close. It’s nice to see that the default WordPress theme isn’t just for show.

GTMetrix Speed Test

Pingdom

PageSpeed Insights Test (Mobile-only)

Byte Check TTFB Test

Test Conclusions

Although the Twenty Twenty theme isn’t the first choice for many developers, because of its reputation as the “stock WordPress theme,” we still like to see that the Automattic developers are keeping around — and improving upon — this gem for the users who want free themes.

98, 95, 96, and 99 looks like a winning combination of scores, and the loading time is even more impressive. It’s also somewhat of a no-brainer that the page size is small for the Twenty Twenty theme.

The TTFB test appears a bit higher than what we expected, but it’s nothing to stress about.

Responsive

The Responsive theme clocks in with blazing fast speeds. It’s also a worthy theme for building a website for any industry. The blogging functionality stands out and the over 40 demo site files are there for you to install full website features for travel sites, small business showcases, and portfolios.

Responsive theme

Responsive

The demos are made for Gutenberg and Elementor, all of which run well on mobile devices and feature clean code and low-profile files that don’t conflict with plugins.

Pricing

The core Responsive theme is entirely free of charge, even for most of the demos.

There is, however, a Pro Version. They sell the Pro theme for $47 per year to use on one website. The Business Plan is listed at $67 per year, and the Pro version is $97 per year. A few of the extra features include auto-updates, interactive carousels, video tutorials, pricing tables, and portfolio widgets.

Notable Features

Fastest WordPress Theme Analysis

Responsive has surprisingly fast page load times. The mobile results are interesting, considering the name of the theme.

GTMetrix Speed Test

Pingdom

PageSpeed Insights Test (Mobile-only)

Byte Check TTFB Test

Test Conclusions

It’s good to see that a theme called Responsive performs well in the PageSpeed Insights Mobile test. The loading times aren’t bad for the theme on a mobile device and they improve when the theme is brought up on a desktop.

There’s nothing to cringe about for any of these scores, seeing as how the requests are low, the loading time is low, and the page size isn’t bad at all.

Sydney

The Sydney theme, from aThemes, is meant for small businesses and freelancers who need fast and minimalistic designs. The theme is compatible with Elementor, offers complete layout control, and performed fairly well in our speed tests.

Sydney is a true blessing for small business owners who need to keep website costs low but fear ending up with a junky product. Sydney saves those business owners by offering a simplistic site building process and a wide range of settings to extend upon its already powerful layouts.

sydney - fastest WordPress theme

Sydney

Sydney is a responsive theme that actually looks good on smaller devices. It also allows for blog and front page customizations with quick setting changes in the Theme Customizer.

We like the Google Font access, along with the custom Elementor blocks. The list goes on: parallax backgrounds, slider image headers, and social buttons. Sydney is clearly more of a premium theme given away for free. It’s great since you pretty much receive premium features for free, but there’s even more to look forward to in the Pro Version.

Pricing

Offered as a free theme download, Sydney also provides a Pro Version for $59.

The Pro theme includes extra page templates, your choice of a header, and many other features to expand upon your site-building process. It’s also worth mentioning that the Pro version gets you continued support and theme updates.

Notable Features

Fastest WordPress Theme Analysis

Sydney isn’t the top performer on this list, but it still deserves to be mentioned for its high grades, lower request counts, and tiny file sizes.

GTMetrix Speed Test

Pingdom

PageSpeed Insights Test (Mobile-only)

Byte Check TTFB Test

Test Conclusions

Sydney has some of the worst speed scores from this analysis, but that still puts it on the leaderboard as one of the fastest WordPress theme options. The PageSpeed score is up there with the top performers, and the YSlow and Pingdom scores are nothing to scoff about.

The total page size is higher when compared to other highspeed themes and the requests aren’t at a rock-bottom number. But again, that’s not saying much when we’re putting the Sydney theme up against the best of the best.

It’s still a solid theme with many uses. It’s simply a bonus that you receive a neatly organized file system inside the theme for fast speeds.

The Fastest WordPress Themes Ranked

You may have noticed that the themes above are listed in no particular order. However, it’s important to see how each of them compare next to each other for the speed and performance tests.

Although it’s impossible to get an absolutely clear cut view of which theme is fastest (a theme may be #1 in one test but #5 in another test) we can try to rank them based on the information collected.

fastest WordPress theme

Fastest WordPress Themes (Compared)

It may help to get a visualization of the speed results. This first chart highlights all of the fastest themes on the X-Axis with comparisons of the final scores from four of the testing tools. Each one runs on a scale of 100.

Fastest WordPress themes compared

Fastest WordPress themes compared

Takeaways

In this next chart, we compare the load times and speed-based results, all of which produced data in seconds or milliseconds. Remember, lower is better.

Load time test chart for fastest WordPress theme

Load time test chart for fastest WordPress theme

Takeaways

Now it’s your turn: when it comes to speed, what’s your preferred theme? We’d like to see other recommendations! More: have you ever tested one (or more) themes from our lists? If so, we’d also love to hear more about your experience!


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