OpenLiteSpeed vs Nginx in WordPress – TTFB, Load Time, Stress Test Results

arm wrestling bar betting

LiteSpeed is a new web server in the market which claims to give more performance than Apache and Nginx.

I found this image from their website, openlitespeed.org:

apache vs nginx litespeed
Image from OpenLiteSpeed Website

and one of the members of our Facebook group asked this:

ls fb question

So I decided to give it a try and test it with the popular web server, Nginx

What is a Web Server?

A Web Server is a software installed on your server which is responsible for receiving HTTP requests, process it and send back the response. To process it, a web server may request additional programs like PHP to get the output.

OpenLiteSpeed vs Nginx

Nginx (recently acquired by F5) is a very high-performance web server, released in 2004. Initially made as a load balancer and reverse proxy, but due to its high performance, it became very popular and used by millions of sites. Nginx has an open-source “Nginx” and “Nginx Plus” for enterprise (paid).

LiteSpeed is a similar web server to Nginx released in 2003. LiteSpeed is currently the 4th popular web server. LiteSpeed can be a drop-in replacement for Apache because it can read and load .htaccess files. Recently they released an open-source version called OpenLiteSpeed with limited features of LiteSpeed.

What about Apache? Read the guide from Kinsta – Nginx vs Apache: Web Server Showdown

LiteSpeed and Nginx use an event-driven architecture. Both are really good at serving static files, uses dramatically less memory and can handle more than four times more requests per second when compared to Apache.

Test Configuration

Here is the test configuration that I used to test both:

  • DigitalOcean server with the same resources ($5 droplet)
  • Same server location (San Fransico)
  • Astra theme with a default demo site
  • Nginx via EasyEngine
  • OpenListeSpeed via DigitalOcean marketplace
  • Cache plugin – WP Rocket on Nginx and LiteSpeed cache on OpenLiteSpeed
  • No CDN, Redis or Varnish caching
  • No Cloudflare proxy (DNS alone)

Here is the screenshot of the sample site that I used:

sample site for test

Test Results

Time to First Byte (TTFB)

TTFB is the time taken for the browser to get a response from the server. This metric can also be called as the server response time (server response time + network latency = TTFB).

Since TTFB varies based on the network and test location, I tested it from 14 locations. Here are the results:

Nginx

nginx ttfb
Nginx – TTFB

OpenLiteSpeed

litespeed ttfb
OpenLiteSpeed – TTFB

Winner

OpenLiteSpeed has a better TTFB when compared to Nginx, starting from saving 50ms to 150ms to remote regions. In TTFB, even 50ms matters a lot. Google recommends having a TTFB of <300ms

If you’re server and audience is in the same region/country you might not feel a big difference, but otherwise, OpenLiteSpeed is the winner here.

Fully Loaded Time

Fully loaded time is the time taken to download and process all requests on the web page. The test was done using GTmetrix and here are the results:

Nginx

nginx gtmetrix 1
Nginx – Fully Loaded Time

OpenLiteSpeed

litespeed gtmetrix 1
OpenLiteSpeed – Fully Loaded Time

Winner

Nginx has a slight advantage of 0.1 seconds. It can be mainly due to the fewer requests made by the WP Rocket cache plugin, while OpenLiteSpeed was using its own LiteSpeed cache. Again, it’s a small difference. So it’s hard to pick a winner here.

Load Test / Stress Test

Load test (also known as a stress test) is a type of test were we send huge traffic within a short period of time. This test helps to determine how a web server responds on high traffic or when one of your blog posts goes viral and there is a sudden flood of visitors.

So I did a load test on each by sending up to 10k requests per second over a period of 1 min (starts from 0 req/sec to 10k req/sec).

Here are the results:

Nginx

nginx load test 3
Nginx – Load Test

OpenLiteSpeed

openlitespeed load test 1
OpenLiteSpeed – Load Test

Winner

While sending 10k requests per second, in Nginx almost 50% of the requests were timed out (didn’t get a response in 10 seconds). In the case of OpeliteSpeed, it’s only less than 6%.

The average response time is also much better for OpenLiteSpeed. While Nginx had 5.7 seconds, OpenLiteSpeed is 2.8 seconds!

It clearly shows OpenLiteSpeed is the winner here.

Conclusion

OpenLiteSpeed has a better TTFB and can handle very high concurrent users when compared to Nginx. OpenLiteSpeed also uses fewer server resources when compared to Nginx stack, which results in reduced server costs.

Not just performance, here are few other reasons on why I prefer OpenLiteSpeed over Nginx:

Hosting Providers with OpenLiteSpeed

Since OpenLiteSpeed in fairly new to the market, unfortunately, there aren’t enough hosting companies that support OpenLiteSpeed. The big giants like Kinsta, WP Engine still uses Nginx. They’ve years of experience in optimizing it, and they might not be even switching to OpenLiteSpeed soon.

But here are some hosting providers that give WordPress on OpenLiteSpeed/LiteSpeed

  • Closte.com – Built on top of enterprise LiteSpeed, Google Cloud and Google CDN. It’s little pricy when compared to other hosting providers and it’s a pay-as-you-go model. WP Speed Matters is currently hosted on Closte.com
  • A2 Hosting – Mixed reviews, I haven’t personally tested them yet
  • DigitalOcean – DO provides a one-click installer to install OpenLiteSpeed easily. If you’re ok with managing servers your own, go for it

Comment below if you’ve any queries or feedback. I read and reply back to each of them within 12 hours!

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