Each year we release our in-depth performance benchmarks across various platforms to see how different versions of PHP stack up against each other. This time we again went all out and benchmarked six different PHP versions across 22 different platforms/configurations; including WordPress, Drupal, Joomla!, Laravel, Symfony, and many more. We also tested popular ecommerce solutions such as WooCommerce, Easy Digital Downloads, Magento, Grav CMS, and October CMS.

We are always encouraging WordPress users to take advantage of the latest supported versions of PHP. Not only are they more secure, but they offer additional performance improvements. We aren’t talking just about WordPress either, this true for the most part across all platforms. We’ll show you today how PHP 7.4 knocks the socks off of everything we put it against! 🤘

We tested the performance of 22 platforms/configurations on 6 different PHP versions and #PHP 7.4 took the gold in 17/17 (5 N/A). 🏆🚀Click to Tweet

The State of PHP in the Community and at Kinsta

PHP is an open-source, server-side scripting and programming language that’s primarily used for web development. The bulk of the core WordPress software is written in PHP, which makes PHP a very important language for the WordPress community. There are excellent PHP tutorials out there is you would like to learn this programming language.

Some may argue that PHP is dead. But even though developers like to state this, PHP is alive, faster, and better than ever. According to W3Techs, PHP is used by over 78.8% of all the websites that use a server-side programming language. That’s a lot of websites relying on PHP.

However, a big problem in the community is that many are still using old and unsupported versions of PHP. According to WordPress stats, only 38.3% are running on supported PHP versions (7.2 or higher). This introduces both performance and security issues.

Why is this happening? Here are a few common reasons we typically see:

To try and help move the community forward, Kinsta has adopted the same end-of-life (EOL) schedule as PHP. This helps to ensure sure your WordPress sites are as fast and secure as possible.

How do Kinsta clients stack up against the general WordPress community? We were curious ourselves, so we took a look at the numbers.

PHP version of sites hosted at Kinsta

PHP version of sites hosted at Kinsta

Here is the rundown:

We were proud and excited to uncover these numbers. It means the PHP adoption rate among Kinsta clients is very high! Much higher than the general WordPress population.

A whopping 73.3% of all WordPress sites hosted at Kinsta are running PHP 7.3 or higher! 💥Click to Tweet

PHP Benchmarks (2020)

Even though PHP 5.6, 7.0, and 7.1 are no longer officially supported, there are still a lot of WordPress sites running on them. So we decided to test all six different PHP versions so that you could see just how much the newer versions can benefit you in terms of performance. As soon as PHP 8 is available for testing we will update our benchmark and include it to the test.

For each test, we used the latest version of each platform and benchmarked the home page for a minute with 15 concurrent users. Below are the details of our test environment.

opcache.memory_consumption=128
opcache.interned_strings_buffer=8
opcache.max_accelerated_files=50000
opcache.revalidate_freq=60
opcache.fast_shutdown=1
opcache.enable_cli=1

OPcache improves PHP performance by storing precompiled script bytecode in shared memory, thereby removing the need for PHP to load and parse scripts on each request.

The tests were performed by Thoriq Firdaus a WordPress contributor and web developer here at Kinsta.

Platforms and Configurations Tested

Our tests include the following 22 platforms/configurations. On some, we had to test multiple versions due to the lack of support for a specific PHP version. Click on one below to skip directly to its test notes and results. The data is measured in requests per second. The more requests the better.

Due to the fact that demo content across each platform can vary dramatically, we made the decision to test the raw performance of fresh barebone installations.

WordPress 5.3

The first platform we tested was, of course, one of our favorites: WordPress (we might be a little biased being that we live and breath this CMS on a daily basis 😉). At its core, WordPress is open-source software you can use to create a beautiful website, blog, or app. In fact, WordPress powers over 37.6% of all the websites on the internet. Yes – more than one in three websites that you visit are likely powered by WordPress.

WordPress CMS

We started with WordPress 5.3, which was the latest version at the time of writing this. We used the new Twenty Twenty theme, and benchmarked the site for a minute with 15 concurrent users.

WordPress 5.3 PHP benchmarks

WordPress 5.3 PHP benchmarks

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Benchmark Results

PHP 7.4 was the winner, proving to be marginally faster than PHP 7.3. And if you compare PHP 7.4 to PHP 5.6, it can handle well over 3x as many requests (transactions) per second!

Update your PHP with one-click for greater site performance, speed, and security. Try Kinsta for Free.

WordPress 5.3 + WooCommerce 3.5.2

WooCommerce is a fully customizable, open-source ecommerce platform built for WordPress. It’s also by far, one of the most popular ecommerce solutions in the WordPress community, and currently powers over 14% of all ecommerce sites on the internet.

WooCommerce

For this next test, we took WordPress along with WooCommerce installed. We utilized the free Storefront eCommerce theme (2.5.3).

WordPress 5.3 + WooCommerce PHP Benchmarks

WordPress 5.3 + WooCommerce PHP Benchmarks

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Benchmark Results

When running WooCommerce, PHP 7.4 beat out PHP 7.3 by a small margin.

WordPress 5.3 + Easy Digital Downloads 2.9.20

Easy Digital Downloads (EDD), created by Pippin Williamson, is a free WordPress eCommerce plugin that focuses purely on helping creators and developers sell digital products.

Easy Digital Downloads

After seeing how WooCommerce performed, we then took WordPress along with Easy Digital Downloads installed. We utilized the free Themedd theme (1.0.7).

WordPress 5.3 + Easy Digital Downloads PHP benchmarks

WordPress 5.3 + Easy Digital Downloads PHP benchmarks

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Benchmark Results

PHP 7.4 was also the fastest with WordPress and Easy Digital Downloads.

When it comes to WordPress, WooCommerce, and Easy Digital Downloads, PHP 7.4 has proven to be marginally faster across the board!

Info

All benchmark data is measured in requests per second. The more requests the better.

Drupal 8.8.0

Drupal is an open-source CMS popular for its modular system and strong developer community. It was originally launched in 2000 and according to W3Techs, powers 1.5% of all websites with a 2.5% share of the content management system market.

For the Drupal benchmark, we utilized the free Umami default theme (8.8.0).

Drupal PHP benchmarks

Drupal PHP benchmarks

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Benchmark Results

When running Drupal, PHP 7.3 showed great improvement in performance. It was a much bigger leap than the previous PHP versions.

Joomla! 3.9.13

Joomla! is a free and open-source CMS for publishing web content, originally released on August 17, 2005.  It’s built on a model–view–controller web application framework and according to W3Techs is used by 2.2% of all websites on the internet.

Joomla!

For the Joomla! benchmark, we utilized the free Protostar (1.0) template which is included in the Joomla! 3.x distribution package.

Joomla! PHP benchmarks

Joomla! PHP benchmarks

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Benchmark Results

On Joomla! we can see that performance was a little all over the board. There was a huge performance increase from PHP 5.6 to 7.0+. And fast-forwarding to PHP 7.4, it was without a doubt a winner for Joomla!

Magento 2 (CE) 2.2.10 + 2.3.3

Magento is a popular open-source ecommerce platform written in PHP and was released on March 31, 2008. As of 2018, Magento is now an Adobe company. According to W3Techs, it powers 0.8% of all websites on the internet.

Magento

For the Magento 2 benchmark, we utilized the free Luma theme. We used two versions due to the fact that 2.2.10 only supported up to PHP 7.2. For the additional tests, we used 2.3.3.

Magento 2 PHP benchmarks

Magento 2 PHP benchmarks

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Benchmark Results

Magento 2 PHP benchmarks don’t vary too much. But great news is that the latest version of Magento along with the latest supported PHP version (7.3) is the fastest.

Grav CMS 1.6.19

Grav is an easy to use, yet powerful, open-source CMS that requires no database. This is also sometimes referred to as a flat-file CMS.

Grav CMS

For the Grav CMS benchmark, we utilized the free Clean Blog skeleton package.

Grav CMS PHP benchmarks

Grav CMS PHP benchmarks

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Benchmark Results

We can see with Grav CMS that the latest version of PHP 7.4 is the winner.

It’s also nice to see these smaller content management systems dropping support for older versions of PHP. Although that is one advantage of not being quite as big either. Unfortunately, when it comes to WordPress and other platforms with a large portion of the market share, things progress more slowly due to compatibility issues.

October CMS 1.0.458

October CMS is a free, open-source, self-hosted and modular CMS platform based on the Laravel PHP Framework. It was originally released on May 15, 2014.

October CMS

For the October CMS benchmark, we utilized the free Clean Blog theme.

October CMS PHP benchmarks

October CMS PHP benchmarks

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Benchmark Results

PHP 7.3 is the winner, if only by a slight margin. PHP 7.4 once it’s supported will most likely show improvements as well.

Laravel 5.8.35 + 6.7.0

Laravel is a very popular open-source PHP framework used to develop web applications. It was created by Taylor Otwell and was released in June 2011.

Laravel logo

For the Laravel benchmark, we used a plain HTML theme.

Laravel PHP benchmarks

Laravel PHP benchmarks

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Benchmark Results

PHP 7.4 is the clear winner here on both versions. However, what’s interesting is that Laravel 5.8.35 with PHP 7.4 appears to be faster than Laravel 6.7.0.

Symfony 4.4.2 + 5.0.1

Symfony is a set of reusable PHP components and a PHP framework to build web applications, APIs, microservices and web services. It was released on October 22, 2005.

Symfony

For the Symfony benchmark, we used the Symfony Demo with MySQL (they default to SQLite).

Symfony PHP benchmarks

Symfony PHP benchmarks

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Benchmark Results

We can see with Symfony, version 4.4.2 and PHP 7.4 was the fastest.

Update your PHP with one-click for greater site performance, speed, and security. Try Kinsta for Free.

CodeIgniter 3.1.11 + 4.0-rc.3

CodeIgniter is a powerful PHP framework with a very small footprint, built for developers who need a simple and elegant toolkit to create full-featured web applications.

CodeIgniter logo

CodeIgniter PHP benchmarks

CodeIgniter PHP benchmarks

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Benchmark Results

As with Laravel and Symfony, PHP 7.4 was the fastest when running CodeIgniter. What was interesting is that CodeIgniter 3.1.11 was significantly faster than 4.0-rc.3. However, bear in mind that it is a release candidate.

CakePHP 3.8.7 + 4.0.0

CakePHP is an open-source web, rapid development framework that makes building web applications simpler, faster and require less code. It was released in April 2005.

CakePHP logo

CakePHP benchmarks

CakePHP benchmarks

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Benchmark Results

With CakePHP, version 3.8.7 running PHP 7.4 was the winner.

PyroCMS 3.7

PyroCMS is an open source and essentially an extension of Laravel which allows you to build websites and applications on the framework faster.

PyroCMS

For the PyroCMS benchmark, we used the free starter theme.

PyroCMS PHP benchmarks

PyroCMS PHP benchmarks

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Benchmark Results

Due to the fact that PHP 7.4 isn’t working yet with PyroCMS, PHP 7.3 won the tests here by a small margin.

Pagekit 1.0.17

Pagekit is an open-source modular and lightweight CMS founded by YOOtheme. It gives you the tools to create beautiful websites. It was released in the Spring of 2016.

pagekit

For the Pagekit benchmark, we used the free One theme (default Pagekit theme).

Pagekit PHP benchmarks

Pagekit PHP benchmarks

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Benchmark Results

PHP 7.4 took the gold when testing it with Pagekit.

Bolt CMS 3.7.0

Bolt CMS, or Bolt, is an open-source content management tool, which strives to be as simple and straightforward as possible. It is based on Silex and Symfony components, uses Twig and either SQLite, MySQL or PostgreSQL.

Bolt CMS

For the Bolt CMS benchmark, we used the free Bolt Base 2018 theme.

Bolt CMS PHP benchmarks

Bolt CMS PHP benchmarks

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Benchmark Results

PHP 7.4 took the gold when testing it with Bolt CMS. It’s also amazing to see the performance improvements its had since PHP 5.6.

Craft CMS 3.4.0-beta.4

Craft CMS is a focused content management system for developers, designers, and web professionals that blends flexibility, power, and ease of use for clients.

Craft CMS

Craft CMS PHP benchmarks

Craft CMS PHP benchmarks

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Benchmark Results

PHP 7.4 took the gold when testing it with Craft CMS.

ExpressionEngine 5.3.0

ExpressionEngine is a flexible, feature-rich content management platform that empowers hundreds of thousands of individuals and organizations around the world to easily manage their web site.

ExpressionEngine

For the ExpressionEngine benchmark, we used the default theme.

ExpressionEngine PHP benchmarks

ExpressionEngine PHP benchmarks

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Benchmark Results

PHP 7.4 took the gold when testing it with ExpressionEngine.

Update to PHP 7.4 at Kinsta

If the results above don’t convince you, we aren’t sure what will! Just a friendly reminder. If you’re a Kinsta client, PHP 7.2, 7.3, and 7.4 with our custom self-healing configuration are available for you to use.

If you’re wanting to see performance improvements, you can easily change to a newer version with a single click in your MyKinsta dashboard.

Change to PHP 7.4

Change to PHP 7.4

If you are worried about it being incompatible with a third-party plugin (which can happen), this is exactly why we have staging sites. 👍 You can test away without worrying about breaking your production site.

Takeaway From Benchmark Results

As you can clearly see from the tests above, PHP 7.4 is leading the pack when it comes to performance across all platforms.

We tested performance of 22 platforms/configurations on 6 different PHP versions and #PHP 7.4 took the gold in 17/17 (5 N/A)! 🏆Click to Tweet

We are super excited about PHP 7.4, and hope you are too! We would love to hear your thoughts regarding our benchmarks or even experiences you’ve had once upgrading. Drop them below in the comments.


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