The year 2021 has been highly eventful for PHP (and Kinsta). PHP 8.0 is already a year old, and the much-anticipated PHP 8.1 was released on November 25, 2021, bringing many exciting features. You can catch up on all the latest PHP 8.1 features in our in-depth post.

Each year we release our in-depth performance benchmarks for various PHP platforms to see how different PHP versions stack up against each other. This year, we benchmarked 5 different PHP versions across 14 unique PHP platforms/configurations, including WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Laravel, Symfony, and many more. We also tested other popular PHP platforms such as WooCommerce, Easy Digital Downloads, October CMS, and Grav.

At Kinsta, we always encourage using the latest supported PHP versions. Not only are they the most secure, but they also offer many performance improvements. Today, we’ll show you how PHP 8.0 and 8.1 stand tall against almost everything we put them against.

Are you excited? Let’s start!

The State of PHP

PHP (recursive acronym for PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor) is one of the most widely used server-side scripting and programming languages. It is open source and used predominantly for web development. And since PHP powers a bulk of the core WordPress software, it’s a highly essential language for the WordPress community.

PHP Logo
PHP logo.

While some may suggest that PHP is dead, it’s far from the truth. As per W3Techs, PHP is used by 78.1% of all websites whose server-side programming language they know. That’s almost 4 out of 5 websites!

PHP is much alive, faster, and better than ever.

Server-side languages chart showing PHP at the very top.
PHP sits at the very top of server-side programming languages.

If that looks dead to you, we’d like to know what’s considered alive! Even when compared with JavaScript and its new server-side implementations, PHP stands tall and proud beside it.

However, there’s a big problem with the PHP community. Many websites are still using outdated versions and unsupported PHP installations. According to W3Techs, 29.9% of websites are still on PHP 5.6 and lower.

Pie chart showing WordPress PHP versions in use as of 01 February, 2022.
WordPress PHP versions (as of February 01, 2022).

And when it comes to WordPress stats, only 50.6% of the sites are running on supported PHP versions. What’s even worse is that 10.2% of all WordPress sites run on PHP 5.6 or lower. It’s better than the overall PHP community, but many websites have their backdoors wide open.

We think there are many reasons for this conundrum:

  • Lack of education amongst the WordPress community about PHP and its critical role in WordPress.
  • Compatibility issues with plugins and themes running on newer PHP versions (especially PHP 8.0 and above).
  • WordPress hosting providers’ reluctance to push out new PHP versions from a fear of creating issues for their customers.

Kinsta follows the same end-of-life (EOL) schedule as PHP to beat this troubling issue. It helps keep all the WordPress sites hosted with us as fast and secure as possible.

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

Here’s the rundown:

  • 94% of WordPress sites at Kinsta are running PHP 7.4.
  • 5% of WordPress sites at Kinsta are running PHP 8.0.
  • 0.1% of WordPress sites at Kinsta are running PHP 8.1.

We’re proud and excited about these stats. It means the PHP adoption rate among Kinsta customers is much higher than the general WordPress and PHP community. And that makes us mighty happy!

Note: PHP 8.0 brought many breaking changes, so many users haven’t shifted to it yet. However, we expect more sites to shift to it soon.

If you’d like to learn PHP, we’ve compiled a list of some excellent PHP tutorials (both free and paid).

PHP Benchmarks (2022)

Though PHP 7.2, 7.3, and 7.4 aren’t actively supported, many websites are still running on them. Hence, we decided to test five different PHP versions so that you can see just how impressive the newer PHP versions are in terms of performance.

This year’s hot pick is, of course, the newly released PHP 8.1. It’s the latest and the most exciting development in the PHP world, and for a good reason. Not all PHP-based frameworks and CMS fully support it yet, but we’ve tested as many of them as possible.

We used the latest version of each platform for each test and benchmarked one of its URLs with 15 concurrent users for 1,000 requests. We benchmarked multiple times to ensure the results were consistent. Furthermore, we considered the average of only the top 3 results.

You can find details of our test environment below:

  • Machine: Intel Xeon (30-core CPU), 120GB RAM, 1TB HDD. It’s a Compute-Optimized (C2) virtual machine powered by Google Cloud Platform and running in an isolated container. All Kinsta hosting plans have C2 machines available.
  • OS: Ubuntu 20.04.1 LTS (Focal Fossa)
  • Web Server: Nginx 1.21.6 (nginx/1.21.6)
  • Database: MariaDB 10.6.7 (MariaDB-1:10.6.7+maria~focal)
  • PHP Versions: 7.2, 7.3, 7.4, 8.0, 8.1
  • Page Caching: Disabled on all platforms and configurations.
  • OPcache: Enabled OPcache on all platforms and configurations using the recommended php.ini settings, except for the opcache.max_accelerated_files value we raised from 4000 to 50000. The OPcache settings used are:
opcache.memory_consumption=128
opcache.interned_strings_buffer=8
opcache.max_accelerated_files=50000
opcache.revalidate_freq=2
opcache.fast_shutdown=1
opcache.enable_cli=1

As OPcache improves PHP performance by storing the precompiled script bytecode in the server’s shared memory, it eliminates PHP’s need to load and parse scripts for each request.

PHP Platforms and Configurations Tested

Our benchmarks include the following 14 PHP platforms/configurations. Click on any of them below to skip directly to its test results and notes. We measured the data in requests per second. The more requests, the better.

As the demo content across each platform can vary dramatically, we tested their barebone installations’ raw performance. The goal here is to benchmark various PHP versions — the CMSs and frameworks only serve as a tool. You shouldn’t use these benchmark results to weigh one platform against another, but how it competes against itself on different PHP versions.

We’ve also included their size and screenshots to give you a better idea of the pages tested. Some are small, while others are huge.

Without further ado, let’s dig in!

WordPress 5.9-RC2

WordPress was the first platform we tested. After all, it powers this very blog you’re reading and 43.3% of all the websites on the internet. It’s a free and open source software you can use to create beautiful websites, blogs, and apps.

WordPress logo

We started with WordPress 5.9-RC2 (Release Candidate 2), the latest version when benchmarking for this article. It comes with the new Twenty Twenty-Two theme installed. We benchmarked the URL for 1000 requests with 15 concurrent users. The same methodology was used for all the other tests.

WordPress 5.9-RC2 test page for PHP benchmarks.
The tested WordPress page.

URL Tested: /hello-world/

  • Theme: Twenty Twenty-Two
  • Notes: The blog page includes a Header with a text Logo, navigation menu, the article body, one comment, and footer widgets such as Search, Recent Posts, and Recent Comments.
  • Image Source: WordPress.org
PHP Benchmarks Graphs for WordPress 5.9-RC2 version.
WordPress 5.9-RC2 PHP Benchmarks.

Benchmark Results

  • WordPress 5.9-RC2 PHP 7.2 benchmark results: 106.56 req/sec
  • WordPress 5.9-RC2 PHP 7.3 benchmark results: 108.45 req/sec
  • WordPress 5.9-RC2 PHP 7.4 benchmark results: 110.24 req/sec
  • WordPress 5.9-RC2 PHP 8.0 benchmark results: 111.10 req/sec
  • WordPress 5.9-RC2 PHP 8.1 benchmark results: 163.43 req/sec 🏆

PHP 8.1 is the clear winner here, proving 47.10% faster than PHP 8.0. That’s a surprising standout here, considering how close all the other results are. And if you compare it to PHP 7.2, it can handle more than 50% requests (or transactions) per second.

WordPress on PHP 8.1 can handle 47.10% more requests per second than PHP 8.0. Make sure you update today! 🤘🏽🚀Click to Tweet

WordPress 5.9-RC2 + WooCommerce 6.1.1

WooCommerce is an open source ecommerce solution for WordPress. Unlike other popular ecommerce platforms, it’s fully customizable and extensible. WooCommerce is also one of the most popular ecommerce plugins in the WordPress community, powering 14% of all ecommerce sites on the internet.

WooCommerce logo

For our next test, we installed WooCommerce on top of WordPress. We used the free Storefront theme and WooCommerce’s default data to set up the test site. The URL tested is a single product page.

A screenshot of the tested WooCommerce page.
The tested WooCommerce page.
  • URL Tested: /product/hoodie/
  • Theme: Storefront 3.9.1
  • Notes: The single product page includes a Header with Logo, Tagline, Navigation Menu, Search widget, and Cart. The Body has a single product with its Image, Description, Add to Cart button, Reviews, and multiple sidebar widgets. At the bottom is the Related Products widget with three products. It also includes a side pullout widget for showcasing more products.
  • Image Source: WordPress plugin repository
Graphs for WordPress 5.9-RC2 + WooCommerce 6.1.1 PHP Benchmarks.
WordPress 5.9-RC2 + WooCommerce 6.1.1 PHP Benchmarks.

Benchmark Results

  • WordPress 5.9-RC2 + WooCommerce 6.1.1 PHP 7.2 benchmark results: 130.73 req/sec
  • WordPress 5.9-RC2 + WooCommerce 6.1.1 PHP 7.3 benchmark results: 137.52 req/sec
  • WordPress 5.9-RC2 + WooCommerce 6.1.1 PHP 7.4 benchmark results: 141.48 req/sec
  • WordPress 5.9-RC2 + WooCommerce 6.1.1 PHP 8.0 benchmark results: 141.71 req/sec
  • WordPress 5.9-RC2 + WooCommerce 6.1.1 PHP 8.1 benchmark results: 147.67 req/sec 🏆

PHP 8.1 is the clear winner for WooCommerce too. It beat out PHP 8.0 by a small margin.

Your WooCommerce store running on PHP 7.2 is 11.47% slower than your competitor's store on PHP 8.1! Make sure you upgrade ASAP! 🛒🚀Click to Tweet

WordPress 5.9-RC2 + Easy Digital Downloads 2.11.4.1

Easy Digital Downloads is a free ecommerce plugin for WordPress. Created by Pippin’s Plugins (now owned by Awesome Motive), it’s focused entirely on helping you sell digital products (e.g. ebooks, software, videogames).

Easy Digital Downloads Logo

For Easy Digital Downloads, we used its free Themedd theme and its default content to set up the test site. The page tested is a single product page.

The tested page for WordPress 5.9-RC2 + Easy Digital Downloads 2.11.4.1-PHP Benchmarks
The tested Easy Digital Downloads page.
  • URL Tested: /downloads/money-buys-happiness/
  • Theme: Themedd
  • Notes: The single product page of EDD is lightweight, containing an Image, Description, Purchase button, and some category links. The header has a Logo, Tagline, and Cart, while the Footer has basic copyright text.
  • Image Source: Easy Digital Downloads official site
Graphs for WordPress 5.9-RC2 + Easy Digital Downloads 2.11.4.1 PHP Benchmarks.
WordPress 5.9-RC2 + Easy Digital Downloads 2.11.4.1 PHP Benchmarks.

Benchmark Results

  • WordPress 5.9-RC2 + Easy Digital Downloads 2.11.4.1 PHP 7.2 benchmark results: 352.87 req/sec
  • WordPress 5.9-RC2 + Easy Digital Downloads 2.11.4.1 PHP 7.3 benchmark results: 382.17 req/sec
  • WordPress 5.9-RC2 + Easy Digital Downloads 2.11.4.1 PHP 7.4 benchmark results: 392.07 req/sec
  • WordPress 5.9-RC2 + Easy Digital Downloads 2.11.4.1 PHP 8.0 benchmark results: 407.59 req/sec 🏆
  • WordPress 5.9-RC2 + Easy Digital Downloads 2.11.4.1 PHP 8.1 benchmark results: Unsupported 🚫

At the time of benchmarking, the latest EDD version didn’t support PHP 8.1 yet. Like the previous year’s benchmark, PHP 8.0 outshines all the other PHP versions with WordPress and Easy Digital Downloads.

Drupal 9.3.3

Drupal is a free and open source content management software. It’s popular for its flexible and modular features. According to W3Techs, Drupal is used by 1.3% of all websites, including 2.0% of the websites using a content management system.

Drupal logo

We installed Drupal with its Umami installation profile, a demo food magazine website that demonstrates Drupal’s core features.

A screenshot of the tested Drupal page.
The tested Drupal page.
  • URL Tested: /en/articles/dairy-free-and-delicious-milk-chocolate/
  • Theme: Umami Food Magazine
  • Notes: The tested page is an article and includes many features such as Search widget, Language changer widget, Login module, Breadcrumbs, Sidebar with Featured Articles widget, Recipe Collections widget, Sign-up form.
  • Image Source: Drupal.org
The graph for Drupal 9.3.3 PHP Benchmarks.
Drupal 9.3.3 PHP Benchmarks.

Benchmark Results

  • Drupal 9.3.3 PHP 7.2 benchmark results: Unsupported 🚫
  • Drupal 9.3.3 PHP 7.3 benchmark results: 267.62 req/sec
  • Drupal 9.3.3 PHP 7.4 benchmark results: 268.84 req/sec
  • Drupal 9.3.3 PHP 8.0 benchmark results: 289.04 req/sec
  • Drupal 9.3.3 PHP 8.1 benchmark results: 302.27 req/sec 🏆

Drupal 9.x.x has come a long way since we last benchmarked it. Not only is it compatible with newer PHP versions, but it also performs exceptionally well. We’re excited to see how it evolves going forward!

Joomla! 4.0.6

Joomla! is another free and open source content management system. It was first released in 2005 and is the second-most popular open source CMS in use today. According to W3Techs, Joomla! is used by 1.7% of all websites they track.

Joomla! logo

For the Joomla! benchmark, we used the free Cassiopeia template that ships with all Joomla! 4.x distributions.

A screenshot of the tested Joomla page.
The tested Joomla page.
  • URL Tested: / (homepage)
  • Theme: Cassiopeia
  • Notes:  Joomla! is installed with “Default English (GB) Sample Data,” which adds essential content to the site. The homepage contains a few paragraphs of content, a search widget, and other basic widgets on the sidebar such as Login Form, Popular Tags, and Latest Articles.
  • Image Source: Joomla.org
Graphs for the Joomla 4.0.6 PHP Benchmarks.
Joomla! 4.0.6 PHP Benchmarks.

Benchmark Results

  • Joomla! 4.0.6 PHP 7.2 benchmark results: 38.18 req/sec
  • Joomla! 4.0.6 PHP 7.3 benchmark results: 39.41 req/sec
  • Joomla! 4.0.6 PHP 7.4 benchmark results: 39.57 req/sec
  • Joomla! 4.0.6 PHP 8.0 benchmark results: 39.84 req/sec
  • Joomla! 4.0.6 PHP 8.1 benchmark results: 41.97 req/sec 🏆

After some hiccups, Joomla! is back on track. The results follow an expected pattern here — PHP 8.1 is the undisputed champion, closely followed by PHP 8.0, and then the rest.

Grav 1.7.29

Grav is an open source flat-file CMS. It doesn’t require a database to operate, yet it’s rich in features. Grav queries content from text files. That makes it lightweight and easy to install on almost any server.

Grav CMS logo

When performing this test, Grav required PHP 7.3 and above to work. We used the Base Grav Package that provides a default landing page for the test.

A screenshot of the tested Grav page.
The tested Grav page.
  • URL Tested: / (homepage)
  • Theme: Quark
  • Notes: The test page is a simple page with lots of content, including Header, Logo, Navigation Menu, and Footer. Grav Core Caching has been disabled to test PHP’s raw performance.
  • Image Source: Grav official site
Graphs for Grav 1.7.29 PHP Benchmarks.
Grav 1.7.29 PHP Benchmarks.

Benchmark Results

  • Grav 1.7.29 PHP 7.2 benchmark results: Unsupported 🚫
  • Grav 1.7.29 PHP 7.3 benchmark results: 1800.07 req/sec
  • Grav 1.7.29 PHP 7.4 benchmark results: 1848.02 req/sec
  • Grav 1.7.29 PHP 8.0 benchmark results: 1931.72 req/sec
  • Grav 1.7.29 PHP 8.1 benchmark results: 2137.43 req/sec 🏆

PHP 8.1 is the undisputed winner with Grav, closely followed by PHP 8.0 and the rest.

Being a relatively new CMS, it has a smaller market share than WordPress. Hence, it can drop support for older PHP versions quite quickly. That’s one of the most significant advantages of modern CMSs.

OctoberCMS 1.3.1

OctoberCMS is a CMS based on the Laravel PHP framework. Originally free and open source, OctoberCMS is now a paid platform after changing its licensing model in 2021. It’s popular amongst developers to make dynamic websites using the power of Laravel. As per W3Techs, OctoberCMS powers just 0.1% of websites.

October

We used OctoberCMS’s default demo theme for the test site. It’s a responsive theme with a well-defined layout.

A screenshot of the tested OctoberCMS page.
The tested OctoberCMS page.
  • URL Tested: /
  • Theme: Demo theme
  • Notes: The tested page has many elements, including Logo, Navigation Menu, text sections, code embeds, etc. We followed its documentation regarding improving performance to ensure that it’s set to run as efficiently as possible. As of this writing, OctoberCMS requires PHP 7.2+ to run and doesn’t support PHP 8.1 yet.
  • Image Source: OctoberCMS official site
Graphs for OctoberCMS 1.3.1 PHP Benchmarks.
OctoberCMS 1.3.1 PHP Benchmarks.

Benchmark Results

  • OctoberCMS 1.3.1 PHP 7.2 benchmark results: 417.13 req/sec
  • OctoberCMS 1.3.1 PHP 7.3 benchmark results: 458.63 req/sec
  • OctoberCMS 1.3.1 PHP 7.4 benchmark results: 532.65 req/sec
  • OctoberCMS 1.3.1 PHP 8.0 benchmark results: 640.08 req/sec 🏆
  • OctoberCMS 1.3.1 PHP 8.1 benchmark results: Unsupported 🚫

PHP 8.0 is the clear winner here. OctoberCMS handled 20.16% more requests per second on PHP 8.0 than on PHP 7.4. We’re eager to see how its next major update performs on PHP 8.1.

Laravel 8.80.0

Laravel is the most popular PHP framework as of today. Created by Taylor Otwell, it was released in June 2011. You can use Laravel to develop almost any web application, including CMS, ecommerce sites, apps, and much more.

Laravel logo

We used the default Laravel landing page to benchmark Laravel.

As Laravel founder Taylor Otwell has pointed out before, you shouldn’t use these benchmark results to compare Laravel with other PHP frameworks. The goal here is to see how Laravel performs on different PHP versions when everything is constant.

A screenshot of the tested Laravel page.
The tested Laravel page.
  • URL Tested: / (homepage)
  • Theme: Plain HTML
  • Notes: The tested page has many essential HTML elements. While it’s not a full-fledged web application, the goal is to benchmark PHP rather than Laravel.
  • Image Source: Laravel official repository
Graphs for Laravel 8.80.0 PHP Benchmarks.
Laravel 8.80.0 PHP Benchmarks.

Benchmark Results

  • Laravel 8.80.0 PHP 7.2 benchmark results: Unsupported 🚫
  • Laravel 8.80.0 PHP 7.3 benchmark results: 2278.86 req/sec
  • Laravel 8.80.0 PHP 7.4 benchmark results: 2303.23 req/sec
  • Laravel 8.80.0 PHP 8.0 benchmark results: 2376.40 req/sec 🏆
  • Laravel 8.80.0 PHP 8.1 benchmark results: 2002.94 req/sec

It’s nice to see that Laravel supports the latest PHP version. PHP 8.0 is the undisputed champion with Laravel, while PHP 8.1 came in last. There’s some room for improvement here. Perhaps the just released Laravel 9 may throw up interesting results, but that’s for our next benchmarks.

Symfony 5.4.2

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

Symfony

Though Symfony has released its 6.x version, it only supports PHP 8.0 and above. Hence, we decided it’s more apt to use its latest 5.4.2 version to benchmark PHP.

You can install Symfony with a demo application. It’s a reference CMS app that demonstrates how to best use Symfony and its various features. We used the homepage from this demo application to benchmark Symfony.

A screenshot of the tested Symfony page.
The tested Symfony page.
  • URL Tested: / (homepage)
  • Theme: Symfony Demo
  • Notes: The tested page contains a Header with Logo, Homepage link, Search widget, Language changer widget, and blogroll with many posts. There’s a Sidebar, too, with widgets such as a small text box, “Show code,” and “Blog Posts RSS.”
  • Image Source: Symfony official repository
A graph of the Symfony 5.4.2 PHP Benchmarks.
Symfony 5.4.2 PHP Benchmarks.

Benchmark Results

  • Symfony 5.4.2 PHP 7.2 benchmark results: Unsupported 🚫
  • Symfony 5.4.2 PHP 7.3 benchmark results: 416.18 req/sec
  • Symfony 5.4.2 PHP 7.4 benchmark results: 434.95 req/sec
  • Symfony 5.4.2 PHP 8.0 benchmark results: 443.79 req.sec
  • Symfony 5.4.2 PHP 8.1 benchmark results: 524.78 req/sec 🏆

With Symfony, there’s a massive difference between PHP 8.1 and the rest. For instance, Symfony runs 20.65% faster on PHP 8.1 than PHP 7.4.

Tired of a slow host? Kinsta is built with speed and performance in mind. Check out our plans

Symfony on PHP 8.1 can handle 20.65% more requests per second than PHP 7.4 ⏩⚡Click to Tweet

CodeIgniter 4.1.8

CodeIgniter is a PHP framework with a tiny footprint. For instance, its latest version is a 1.2 MB download. It’s created by EllisLab and fostered by the British Columbia Institute of Technology. You can still use CodeIgniter to develop full-featured web apps despite its size.

CodeIgniter logo

For benchmarking CodeIgniter, we set up a demo application using their official tutorial. It uses a basic HTML theme and outputs many “News” items.

A screenshot of the tested CodeIgniter page.
The tested CodeIgniter page.
  • URL Tested: /news/
  • Theme: Plain HTML
  • Notes: The tested page contains a list of News items with title, content, and link to the main content. The database includes 1 table “news” with 1000 rows of news items, with columns -> id, title, slug, body. The page connected to the database and showed all the posts on the table. The CodeIgniter app contains 1 route and 1 controller to display this content.
  • Image Source: CodeIgniter.com official site
Graphs for CodeIgniter 4.1.8 PHP Benchmarks.
CodeIgniter 4.1.8 PHP Benchmarks.

Benchmark Results

  • CodeIgniter 4.0.4 PHP 7.2 benchmark results: Unsupported 🚫
  • CodeIgniter 4.0.4 PHP 7.3 benchmark results: Unsupported 🚫
  • CodeIgniter 4.0.4 PHP 7.4 benchmark results: 1907.33 req/sec
  • CodeIgniter 4.0.4 PHP 8.0 benchmark results: 1770.33 req/sec
  • CodeIgniter 4.0.4 PHP 8.1 benchmark results: 1920.51 req/sec 🏆

PHP 8.1 is the fastest with CodeIgniter, performing 8.48% more requests per second than PHP 8.0. However, it was surprising to find PHP 7.4 performing way better than PHP 8.0 — it’s almost on par with PHP 8.1.

CakePHP 4.3.4

CakePHP is an open source web framework for developing PHP applications. It promises to make building web applications simpler, faster, and less code.

CakePHP logo

To benchmark CakePHP, we used its default landing page. We connected it to a database before benchmarking.

The tested CakePHP page.
The tested CakePHP page.
  • URL Tested: / (homepage)
  • Theme: Plain HTML
  • Notes: The tested page is a simple HTML landing page with some styles. It gives brief information about the current CakePHP installation.
  • Image Source: CakePHP official repository
Graphs for the CakePHP 4.3.4 PHP Benchmarks.
CakePHP 4.3.4 PHP Benchmarks.

Benchmark Results

  • CakePHP 4.2.2 PHP 7.2 benchmark results: 743.46 req/sec
  • CakePHP 4.2.2 PHP 7.3 benchmark results: 874.69.28 req/sec
  • CakePHP 4.2.2 PHP 7.4 benchmark results: 954.30 req/sec
  • CakePHP 4.2.2 PHP 8.0 benchmark results: 973.02 req/sec 🏆
  • CakePHP 4.2.2 PHP 8.1 benchmark results: 918.21 req/sec

Surprisingly, PHP 8.0 takes the cake with CakePHP. However, all the benchmark results are too close to call a definite winner. PHP 8.1 is just 5.6% slower than PHP 8.0. Future updates to CakePHP 4.3.x may solve this discrepancy.

Craft CMS 3.7.30.1

Craft CMS is an open source content management system focused on user-friendliness. Its backend is entirely customizable. With a built-in tool to design custom field layouts for different content types, Craft CMS also makes it super simple to work with custom content types.

If you’re planning to create a custom ecommerce store, check out Craft Commerce. And for a local development environment for Craft CMS, there’s also Craft Nitro.

Craft CMS logo

For the Craft CMS benchmark, we used its default admin login page. It’s a simple login page that includes a login form to access the site’s backend.

Screenshot of the tested Craft CMS page.
The tested Craft CMS page.
  • URL Tested: /admin/login/
  • Theme: Default
  • Notes: The tested page is a simple login page with a form.
  • Image Source: Craft CMS official repository
Graphs for Craft CMS 3.7.30.1 PHP Benchmarks.
Craft CMS 3.7.30.1 PHP Benchmarks.

Benchmark Results

  • Craft CMS 3.5.17.1 PHP 7.2 benchmark results: 75.32 req/sec
  • Craft CMS 3.5.17.1 PHP 7.3 benchmark results: 74.69 req/sec
  • Craft CMS 3.5.17.1 PHP 7.4 benchmark results: 81.68 req/sec
  • Craft CMS 3.5.17.1 PHP 8.0 benchmark results: 417.21 req/sec
  • Craft CMS 3.5.17.1 PHP 8.1 benchmark results: 443.18 req/sec 🏆

PHP 8.1 took the top spot with Craft CMS. Unlike our previous benchmarks, Craft CMS now supports both PHP 8.0 and PHP 8.1 — that’s great!

Kirby 3.6.1.1

Kirby is a flat-file CMS focused on content creation and publishing. While its source code is available publicly, it’s not free to use on a public server. You can customize your editing interface with forms, articles, galleries, spreadsheets, and more with Kirby.

Kirby logo

You can install Kirby with a Starterkit, which sets up a fully functional demo site. We used its About Us page for this benchmark.

Screenshot of the tested Kirby page.
The tested Kirby page.
  • URL Tested: /about/
  • Theme: Starterkit
  • Notes: The tested page is an About Us page with a featured image, text, widgets, a header, navigation menu, social media icons, and a footer.
  • Image Source: Kirby official website
Graphs for the Kirby 3.6.1.1 PHP Benchmarks.
Kirby 3.6.1.1 PHP Benchmarks.

Benchmark Results

  • Kirby 3.6.1.1 PHP 7.2 benchmark results: Unsupported 🚫
  • Kirby 3.6.1.1 PHP 7.3 benchmark results: Unsupported 🚫
  • Kirby 3.6.1.1 PHP 7.4 benchmark results: 3326.72 req/sec
  • Kirby 3.6.1.1 PHP 8.0 benchmark results: 3514.96 req/sec 🏆
  • Kirby 3.6.1.1 PHP 8.1 benchmark results: 3922.77 req/sec 🏆

PHP 8.1 hit it out of the park with Kirby’s benchmarks. It’s also worth mentioning that Kirby handled most requests per second across all the PHP platforms we tested. Even though it’s an apples and oranges comparison, that is still something to live up to. Its main drawback is that it’s not free to use.

Flarum 1.2.0

Flarum is a free and open source forum software for online discussions.

Flarum Logo

You can install Flarum with a demo site. We also added three threads with a few paragraphs of text.

Screenshot of the tested Flarum page.
The tested Flarum page.
  • URL Tested: / (homepage)
  • Theme: Default theme
  • Notes: The tested page is the forum homepage with a header, a logo, search widget, featured text block, navigation menu, notification icons, a side menu, a list of discussion threads, other widgets, and a footer. The latest Flarum version doesn’t support PHP 8.1 yet, so we couldn’t benchmark that.
  • Image Source: Flarum official website
Graph for the Flarum 1.2.0 PHP Benchmarks.
Flarum 1.2.0 PHP Benchmarks.

Benchmark Results

  • Flarum 1.2.0 PHP 7.2 benchmark results: Unsupported 🚫
  • Flarum 1.2.0 PHP 7.3 benchmark results: 120.21 req/sec
  • Flarum 1.2.0 PHP 7.4 benchmark results: 122.06 req/sec 🏆
  • Flarum 1.2.0 PHP 8.0 benchmark results: 119.67 req/sec
  • Flarum 1.2.0 PHP 8.1 benchmark results: Unsupported 🚫

Flarum is a new entrant in our PHP benchmarks. Since it’s a popular PHP forum software, we were excited to test it out and see how it performs. While PHP 7.4 performed the best with Flarum, it’s almost the same on all the other PHP versions we benchmarked.

Update to PHP 8.1 at Kinsta

PHP 8.1 introduced a lot of exciting features. Some of them are radical, breaking changes that aren’t compatible with the previous PHP versions (mainly <PHP 8.0).

There’s no reason you shouldn’t update to PHP 8.1 if all your website’s features work fine on it. If the above results don’t convince you yet, we aren’t sure what else will!

As a friendly reminder, all Kinsta clients can use PHP 7.4, 8.0, and 8.1 with our custom self-healing database configuration.

Kinsta supports PHP 7.4, 8.0, and 8.1, and you can change it easily in MyKinsta.
Kinsta supports PHP 7.4, 8.0, and 8.1.

And if you’re worried about breaking your site due to incompatibilities with a third-party plugin (which can happen), we have staging sites 👍

You can use our staging sites feature to test away endlessly without worrying about breaking your production site. Once you’re sure that everything works perfectly, you can push the changes live with the press of a button.

Takeaway From PHP Benchmark Results

Graphs of the compiled PHP Benchmarks.
The compiled PHP Benchmarks.

From the benchmark results above, you can see that PHP 8.1 leads the pack in most PHP platforms and configurations, closely followed by PHP 8.0.

Here’s our extended takeaway from the 2022 PHP benchmark results:

  • For WordPress, PHP 8.1 was the fastest in all benchmarks (Stock WordPress 5.6 and WooCommerce). Easy Digital Downloads doesn’t support PHP 8.1 yet, but we can expect similar performance improvements.
  • If you’re using WordPress, and all your themes and plugins are compatible with PHP 8.1, there’s no reason you shouldn’t update your PHP version to PHP 8.1. You’ll appreciate the performance benefits it brings.
  • PHP 8.0 was the fastest with Laravel framework, the most popular PHP framework for building web apps. Laravel 9 hadn’t been released yet at the time of benchmarking. We’ll use it in our following benchmarks.
  • If any of the plugins or themes you use aren’t compatible with PHP 8.0 yet, let alone PHP 8.1, we suggest you get in touch with their developers and let them know.
  • With support for PHP 7.4 ending soon in late 2022, you should plan to move your sites to PHP 8.0 and above as soon as possible.
  • PHP 8.0 heralds a new dawn for PHP, much like PHP 7.0 was when PHP 5.6 reigned supreme. PHP 8.1 has carried the torch forward considerably. We expect the later PHP 8.x versions to be optimized further for performance and security.
  • We didn’t test PHP 8.x with JIT enabled. While PHP’s new JIT compiler won’t bring any significant performance benefits to real apps such as WordPress, it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out in actual usage.
  • Rethink your hosting provider if they don’t keep up with the newer PHP versions.
  • As mentioned earlier, please test your site thoroughly before updating your webserver’s environment to PHP 8.0 and PHP 8.1.
  • Besides upgrading to the latest PHP version, WordPress users can further speed up their sites with other web performance enhancement techniques. We’ve compiled them all in our ultimate guide on how to speed up your WordPress site.

It was a blast benchmarking all the various PHP platforms. We’re mighty excited about PHP 8.1. We hope you are too!

If you have any thoughts regarding our benchmarks or experiences with upgrading PHP versions, we’d love to hear them. Drop them below in the comments! 


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