When Opera Software unveiled a new look and feel for its browser earlier this year, the company made a big deal of the impending changes. For E3 this year, Opera is releasing what it’s calling the “world’s first gaming browser,” a version of Opera that’s been customized to appeal to gamers. It’s a silly conceit, but there are actually some smart changes in here that could win over anyone who’s serious about customizing every element of their PC.
The real highlight of the new browser, named Opera GX, is a panel that lets you set limits on CPU and RAM usage. Browsers are often maligned for being overly resource-intensive — Chrome, in particular — so letting users set hard limits on how much power Opera GX receives is a smart addition, albeit one that’ll be most useful for people who understand exactly what those limits mean for performance. The control panel will also show how much each of those resources is being used at any given moment.
Opera Reborn 3—or Opera 60 if you want to stick with version numbers—transitions a slew of features that recently debuted in Opera’s mobile browsers to the desktop. The big three in this release are, support for blockchain-secured transactions, a crypto wallet to go with the mobile version, and a new overall look with light and dark themes available. So if you haven’t checked out Opera lately, it’s worth revisiting, especially for those older Opera fans still smarting about the switch from Opera’s Presto rendering engine to Google’s Blink rendering engine.
Opera has also built in some more gaming-focused additions. The new tab screen will display deals on games as well as an assortment of gaming, tech, and entertainment news stories. Like the standard version of Opera, the browser also has a permanent bar on the left-hand side of the screen for quick access to various settings and services. For Opera GX, that includes a new panel with quick access to your Twitch subscriptions, and it can also send you a notification when a streamer goes live.
Of course, since this is a “gaming” product, there’s also customizable lighting. By default, the browser is black with a red accent to highlight tabs and icons. That accent color is totally customizable, though. The browser also comes with sound effects that were made in part by the band that worked on the soundtrack for Gris.
Opera GX includes the flashier features built into the regular Opera, too, including a free VPN service, an ad blocker, and pop-out panels with access to chat services like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. Opera has made a habit of releasing multiple versions of its browser to experiment with new features, stir up buzz, and potentially gain more users. Most of those don’t go far, but they do help Opera improve its core browser.
Chrome still vastly dominates the market, but releases like this get Opera’s name back in the news and can help to drum up interest.
We’ve also been a long fan of Opera Mini, which is a perfect mobile browser for bandwidth constrained situations. Opera Mini pipes all traffic through Opera’s servers to first compress pages, after which they are sent on to your phone in a much smaller form. This saves considerable bandwidth. I wouldn’t use it for mobile banking, but it’s great for casual Web surfing on sketchy 2G/3G connections.
Admittedly, Opera’s desktop offering with Reborn 3 is considerably less innovative in comparison to those two. But this newest release still offers plenty of features you won’t find in Chrome or Firefox, including the new blockchain support and crypto wallet. What will be most obvious to Opera users in this update, though, is the new look.