The Speed Study Goal

My goal with conducting these Speed Studies is to find out which strategies are the best at improving our site speed.

I’ll implement each strategy using the following approach:

  1. Setup the strategy on all 8 of our live test sites
  2. Then for the following 3 weeks, gather the load times from our Desktop Speed Test using GTmetrix. Each week we will test from a different location, starting in Dallas, then London and finishing off in Sydney.
  3. Next measure the impact of each strategy by comparing the average speed before and after
  4. Ultimately decide whether the strategy works?

WP Rocket Speed Study

With W3 Total Cache absolutely smashing WP Super Cache (see W3 Total Cache Speed Study for details), we are now turning our attention to WP Rocket to see which Caching plugin can be crowned the king.

To kick off this WP Rocket Speed Study, the first step is to install the plugin. I followed our step by step tutorial on How to Setup WP Rocket for each of our test sites.

All Setup

I have now followed this process on all 8 of our Live Test Sites.

Next up is 3 weeks of testing – I am curious to see whether WP Rocket can justify its premium price and outperform W3 Total Cache?

The Results – 25th Jun 2017

After 3 weeks of testing, lets take a look at how much of an impact installing WP Rocket has had on our 8 hosts.

Speed Study 15 - WP Rocket Results Table


So how did WP Rocket perform? The average load time across 3 different testing locations was 1.74s, which is 5% slower than W3 Total Cache.

When we dig into the 3 locations we test from, Dallas was unchanged, while London & Sydney were slower with WP Rocket. There was also a slight drop in Page Size & Yahoo YSlow Scores, while the Google PageSpeed Score was slightly higher.

So when it comes to making a call on whether WP Rocket is helpful, the answer is Yes when you consider the loading times prior to Caching being applied. However, when it comes to choosing the best caching solution, W3 Total Cache comes out on top, and a nice bonus is it’s a FREE solution!!

Individual Host Performance

Let’s now take a look at how our individual hosts performed:

Speed Study 15 - WP Rocket - Individual Host Performance

Major Observations

  • The results are mostly negative when it comes to our individual hosts:
    1. Only 2 hosts experienced minor improvements with WP Rocket, with GoDaddy & Lightning Base at 1% and 4% respectively.
    2. 5 hosts were slightly slower, with SiteGround, InMotion Hosting, Web Hosting Hub, HostGator & Namecheap experiencing 1% to 6% drops.
    3. But the big news story is that Bluehost really struggled with WP Rocket, recording a load time that was 17% slower than W3 Total Cache!!
  • The overall observation from where I sit is that W3 Total Cache has slightly outperformed WP Rocket. And when you consider that WP Rocket is a premium solution at $39/year, while W3 Total Cache is free, the decision is really quite easy. W3 Total Cache is the recommended Caching plugin for 2017, slightly outperforming WP Rocket and smashing WP Super Cache.
  • Check out the results for all 3 Caching plugins side by side.

What’s Next?

With our 3 caching plugins put to the test, lets now turn our attention to Cloudflare.

So Speed Study #16 will focus on what speed improvement is possible when we add Cloudflare to WP Rocket?

Speed Study #16: Cloudflare + WP Rocket