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We compared three different WordPress images from Amazon AWS and tested them against each other for performance. I always wondered how the different WordPress AWS Marketplace images would stack up against each other in terms of page load time, Time to first Byte( TTFB ) and other page speed benchmark results. If you are not very sure, checkout why PageSpeed optimization matters here. If you would like to jump to results, click here. Or if you are as excited as I am, let us get to it then!

Test WordPress Installs

We used two different themes on a vanilla WordPress installed so we were sure that whatever performance differences we see are exclusively related to the AWS image used.

Default WordPress Install ( Twenty Sixteen Theme )

A blank default WordPress install, with the Twenty Sixteen (Referred as TS) theme installed. Hello Dolly and Askimet plugins come pre-installed with the vanilla WordPress Install. No performance optimization or other plugins were used. No tweaks were made to the installs. All installs were used as-is and no tweaks were made prior to benchmarks.

With GeneratePress Theme

The theme of the default WordPress install was switched to GeneratePress (Referred as GP ) Free Version. It was chosen as it is the best theme if your priority is performance. It is clean, flexible, bloat-free and super fast. No performance optimization or other plugins were used. All installs were used as-is and no tweaks were made prior to benchmarks.


AWS WordPress Images Used

Now that you are clear on the WordPress installs used, let us look at the AWS images we used to setup our Test WordPress Websites. All of the following AWS images were installed on a micro.t2 instance. Again, this was done to ensure that the server infrastructure was same across all tests and we could measure the performance impacts of the WordPress images themselves. Furthermore, multiple tests were done and an average was picked to maintain data consistency.

WordPress Certified By WordPress and Automattic

WordPress Certified By WordPress and Automattic ( referred as “Bitnami” in this post) is the most popular WordPress image on Amazon AWS Marketplace. Here’s a screenshot of the description from AWS:

WordPress with NGINX and SSL Certified by Bitnami and Automattic

WordPress with NGINX and SSL Certified by Bitnami and Automattic ( referred as “Bitnami+NGINX” in this post) is another WordPress image variant that uses NGINX and has SSL included. Here’s the official description from AWS:

WordPress with LiteSpeed Cache (Powered OpenLiteSpeed)

The third WordPress AWS image, WordPress with LiteSpeed Cache (Powered OpenLiteSpeed) ( referred to as Litespeed in this post) was chosen because LiteSpeed Cache has been praised in the WordPress community for its Caching and Impact on overall website performance. Here’s the official description from AWS:

Performance Benchmarks

To test the performance of each of the WordPress install combination, We used Google Page Speed Insights to gauge different performance parameters.

Google Page Speed Index (PSI)

Google Page Speed Insights is a performance benchmark tool by Google. It uses Lighthouse, an open source tool that helps find the cause of a slow loading page and recommends actions that can be taken. It gives you an overall score from 0-100 for mobile and desktop respectively. PSI is free to use!

Make your web pages fast on all devices

Google Pagespeed Insights
Google Pagespeed Insights Homepage

Now that we have established all the variables for our benchmarks, now comes the good part. Are you excited? I sure am!

WordPress Bitnami vs Bitnami+NGINX vs LiteSpeed using Google Pagespeed Insights

Let us compare all three WordPress images using Google Pagespeed Insights. We have 3 comparisons to do.

First, we compare the default blank WordPress install using 3 different WordPress installations (Bitnami, Bitnami+NGINX and LiteSpeed).

Secondly, We compare default blank WordPress install after switching the theme to GeneratePress and running tests on the three different WordPress installs.

Lastly, since we have all the data, let’s do a performance comparison for each of the combinations, i.e. Bitnami (TS), Bitnami (GP), Bitnami+NGINX (TS), Bitnami+NGINX (GP), LiteSpeed (TS) and LiteSpeed (GP) .

Google Pagespeed Insights Performance Metrics

Following are the Google PageSpeed Insights Performance Metrics that were recorded and used to compare the different AWS WordPress images:

MetricDescription
FCP MobileFirst Contentful Paint for Mobile
FCP Desktop First Contentful Paint for Desktop
TTI DesktopTime To Interactive for Desktop
TTI Mobile Time To Interactive for Mobile
Speed Index Mobile Speed Index Mobile
Speed Index Desktop Speed Index Desktop
TTFB MobileTime To First Byte for Mobile
TTFB Desktop Time To First Byte for Desktop
Total AveragedAverage of all above Metrics to gauge an overall winner

Testing Different AWS WordPress images with Twenty Sixteen Theme (TS) using Google PageSpeed Insights

The graph below shows the three AWS flavors of WordPress with Twenty Sixteen installed. On the Y-Axis is time in seconds and on the X-Axis are the different performance metrics we summarized earlier that can be represented in seconds. All metrics from Google PageSpeed Insights.

Click on the colored boxes above the graph to show/hide graph plots to compare one against another.

Looking at the above Graph (Lower is Better), we can conclude that:

  1. Bitnami has the fastest FCP ( 1.5s ) on mobile compared to Bitnami+NGINX (1.6s) and LiteSpeed ( 1.6s). The difference is certainly marginal.
  2. Bitnami+NGINX has the fastest FCP(1.5s) on Desktop compared to Bitnami (1.5s, slowest) and LiteSpeed (0.5s). While the Performance difference is huge between Bitnami+NGINX vs Bitnami and marginal between Bitnami+NGINX vs LiteSpeed.
  3. Bitnami+NGINX has the fastest TTI (1.5s) on Desktop compared to Bitnami (1.5s, slowest) and LiteSpeed (0.5s). Moreover, the performance difference is huge between Bitnami+NGINX vs Bitnami and marginal between Bitnami+NGINX vs LiteSpeed.
  4. Bitnami has the fastest TTI ( 1.5s ) on mobile compared to Bitnami+NGINX (1.6s) and LiteSpeed ( 1.6s). The difference is certainly marginal.
  5. LiteSpeed has the lowest Speed Index (1.9s) on mobile compared to Bitnami+NGINX(2.4s) and Bitnami (2.6s, Slowest)
  6. LiteSpeed and Bitnami+NGINX have the best Speed Index (0.9s) on Desktop compared to Bitnami (2.6s, Slowest)
  7. LiteSpeed has the lowest TTFB (0.19s) on mobile compared to Bitnami+NGINX(0.39s) and Bitnami (0.39s)

In conclusion, Taking all the Google PageSpeed metrics into account, the fastest loading AWS image is LiteSpeed using Twenty Sixteen! Also, average time in seconds was the lowest for LiteSpeed (0.946s) compared to Bitnami (1.498, Slowest) and Bitnami+NGINX (1.011s). Don’t you just love when the data talks? Me Too! Onward to our next experiment!

Testing Different AWS WordPress images with GeneratePress (GP) using Google PageSpeed Insights

The graph below shows the three AWS flavors of WordPress with GeneratePress installed. On the Y-Axis is time in seconds and on the X-Axis are the different performance metrics we summarized earlier that can be represented in seconds.

Click on the colored boxes above the graph to show/hide graph plots to compare one against another.

Looking at the Graph (Lower is Better), we can conclude that:

  1. Bitnami and Bitnami+NGINX have the fastest FCP ( 1.4s ) on mobile compared to LiteSpeed ( 1.5s). The difference is marginal.
  2. Bitnami+NGINX and LiteSpeed have the fastest FCP(0.5s) on Desktop compared to Bitnami (1.4s, slowest). This is a huge 0.9s loss for Bitnami!
  3. Bitnami+NGINX and LiteSpeed have the fastest TTI (0.5s) on Desktop compared to Bitnami (1.4s, slowest). The Performance difference is huge (0.9s)!
  4. Bitnami and Bitnami+NGINX have the fastest TTI ( 1.4s ) on mobile compared to LiteSpeed ( 1.5s). The difference is marginal.
  5. LiteSpeed has the lowest Speed Index (1.9s) on mobile compared to Bitnami+NGINX(2.4s) and Bitnami (2.6s, Slowest)
  6. LiteSpeed and Bitnami+NGINX have the best Speed Index (0.9s) on Desktop compared to Bitnami (2.6s, Slowest)
  7. LiteSpeed has the lowest TTFB (0.19s) on mobile compared to Bitnami+NGINX(0.39s) and Bitnami (0.39s)

Finally, Taking all the Google PageSpeed metrics into account, the fastest loading AWS image is Bitnami+NGINX using GeneratePress! Also, average time in seconds for all PSI metrics was the lowest for Bitnami+NGINX (0.9637 s) compared to Bitnami (1.347, Slowest) and LiteSpeed (0.982s) . Now Let us see how all the combinations of theme and AWS images stack against one another!

Testing Different AWS WordPress images with GeneratePress and Twenty Sixteen , Comparison using Google PageSpeed Insights

The graph below shows the three AWS flavors of WordPress with GeneratePress or Twenty Sixteen installed. On the Y-Axis is time in seconds and on the X-Axis are the different performance metrics we summarized earlier that can be represented in seconds. Furthermore, this graph helps identify which AWS image-theme combination loads the fastest. Note that all metrics are from Google PageSpeed Insights.

Click on the colored boxes above the graph to show/hide graph plots to compare one against another.

  1. Bitnami (GP) and Bitnami+NGINX (GP) have the fastest FCP ( 1.4s ) on mobile. However, slowest FCP was recorded by Bitnami+NGINX(TS – 1.6s) LiteSpeed (TS – 1.6s). Seems like the difference is marginal.
  2. Bitnami+NGINX (TS) has the fastest FCP(0.4s) on Desktop compared to Bitnami (TS) (1.5s, slowest). Most noteworthy is that is a 1.1 second difference between the fastest and slowest!
  3. Bitnami+NGINX (TS) has the fastest TTI (0.4s) on Desktop in contrast to Bitnami (TS) (1.5s, slowest). Note that the Performance difference is huge (1.1s)!
  4. Bitnami (GP) and Bitnami+NGINX (GP) have the fastest TTI ( 1.4s ) on mobile in contrast to Bitnami+NGINX (TS) and LiteSpeed (TS) that clocked in at 1.6s.
  5. LiteSpeed (TS) has the lowest Speed Index (1.9s) on mobile compared to Bitnami(TS – 2.6s, Slowest)
  6. LiteSpeed (GP) and Bitnami+NGINX (GP) have the best Speed Index (0.8s) on Desktop compared to Bitnami (TS, 2.6s, Slowest)
  7. LiteSpeed (TS) has the lowest TTFB (0.19s) on mobile compared to Bitnami+NGINX (GP, 0.41s, Slowest)

Finally, taking all the Google PageSpeed metrics into account, the fastest loading combination is LiteSpeed using Twenty Sixteen Theme! Moreover, average time in seconds for all PSI metrics was the lowest for LiteSpeed (TS – 0.946 s) followed by Bitnami+NGINX (GP 0.963) and LiteSpeed (GP – 0.982s) .

Best Performing WordPress Theme and AWS Image Combinations

Also , let us summarize our findings in and rank all our WordPress AWS Images and see our WordPress Performance Winners! We have 3 different winner lists, the tables are sorted by highest performer (1) to the lowest performer.

Using Twenty Sixteen Theme

In conclusion, LiteSpeed AWS Image (0.946s) topped the charts compared to Bitnami (1.498, Slowest) and Bitnami+NGINX (1.011s) when using Twenty Sixteen Theme.

S.No.AWS ImageThemeToolAverage Time in Seconds
1 LiteSpeedTwenty SixteenGoogle PageSpeed Insights0.946
2Bitnami+NGINXTwenty Sixteen Google PageSpeed Insights1.011
3BitnamiTwenty Sixteen Google PageSpeed Insights1.498

Using GeneratePress Theme

In conclusion, Bitnami+NGINX AWS Image (0.9637 s) was the winner when using GeneratePress Theme. Furthermore, Litespeed clocked in at 0.9820s and Bitnami at 1.347s averaging all PSI metrics.

S.No.AWS ImageThemeToolAverage Time
1 Bitnami+NGINXGeneratepress Google PageSpeed Insights0.9637
2LiteSpeedGeneratepress Google PageSpeed Insights0.9820
3BitnamiGeneratepress Google PageSpeed Insights1.3470

Winner Across Both Themes and AWS Images using Google PSI

In conclusion, The fastest loading combination is LiteSpeed using Twenty Sixteen Theme averaging at 0.946 Seconds for all PSI Metrics!

S.No.AWS ImageThemeToolAverage Time
1LiteSpeedTwenty SixteenGoogle PageSpeed Insights0.946
2Bitnami+NGINXGeneratepress Google PageSpeed Insights0.963
3LiteSpeed Generatepress Google PageSpeed Insights0.982

WordPress AWS Performance Conclusion

So, if you were considering choosing a WordPress Image from AWS marketplace, I would recommend either Bitnami+NGINX image with GeneratePress theme or LiteSpeed with GeneratePress theme. The reason I recommend GeneratePress over Twenty Sixteen is the theme’s flexibility and optimization potential. Its simple, beautiful, wonderfully coded and has a lot of hooks! Furthermore, the GeneratePress theme is actively developed and the developers are very responsive towards user feedback.

If you are considering options for your next WordPress website, drop me a line at [email protected] or fill up a form here! If you already have a website and would like to speed it up, check out our WordPress Speed Optimization Services.

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