Which AI chatbot is best at search — I compared ChatGPT, Gemini and Perplexity

ChatGPT, Gemini, Perplexity
(Image credit: ChatGPT, Gemini, Perplexity)

Call me old-fashioned but so far I’m still relying on Google and of course, Tom's Guide whenever I’m looking for deals for my electronics , getting my news, or basically anything else I need to search for online.

Nevertheless, as AI chatbots continued to evolve and actually started giving us meaningful replies to our prompts, it has gotten people thinking about what will happen to the future of search. Companies have long been relying on SEO experts to try to cling on to that coveted first page on Google search results.

I decided to drop in on ChatGPT, Google Gemini, and Perplexity which all offer live web access to see just how far we’ve come in terms of search capabilities among AI chatbots.

The test is simple: 3 prompts covering different topics that require the chatbots to pull information from different sources and analyze it depending on the given context. Could they handle the challenge?

1. What to do this weekend

ChatGPT

(Image credit: ChatGPT)

As soon as Friday comes around I’m wondering how I’m going to relax and unwind before the start of another busy week. Can the AI chatbots come up with an itinerary for me to help me make the most of my weekend?

I told ChatGPT that I’m in Miami this weekend and it promptly came up with a packed agenda Friday through Sunday. I also got links to pages from where I could see more information about the event. That being said the links were mainly to the same kind of ‘what’s on’ websites, so I would have appreciated a bit more diversity and perhaps links to the official event pages themselves.

Google Gemini tried to play it sneaky and gave me a number of options which were not date-specific. However, it did recommend going to Miami Fashion week. The only problem was that I was interested in visiting Miami in June – the next edition is set to take place in November.

Perplexity gave mixed results. It opened by introducing its itinerary “based on the events happening in June 2024” which immediately got me skeptical about how current the information would be. I was partially right but in its defense it did provide actual concerts happening in my target weekend with helpful links to ticket sites.

2. Buying a laptop

Google Gemini

(Image credit: Google Gemini)

ChatGPT

(Image credit: ChatGPT)

Researching which laptop you should buy can be a daunting task – although Tom’s Guide helps make it easier. Can the chatbots sift through the sea of devices to find one that doesn’t cost more than $400 and is ideal for portability?

ChatGPT settled on the Acer Aspire 5 Slim which is just under 3.97 pounds and 4GB of RAM. In second place came Lenovo IdeaPad 1 followed by an HP Chromebook.

Gemini also recommended an Acer or a Lenono laptop but added some helpful commentary on the different specs.

For its response, Perplexity seemed overly reliant on Reddit threads with responses which had a grand total of 1 upvote. It recommended the Acer Aspire 3 but did not provide the reliable reviews I’m normally looking for when I’m spending my hard-earned cash.

3. Science news

Perplexity

(Image credit: Perplexity)

This June, doctors at Northwestern Medicine performed the first kidney transplant procedure where the patient was awake during the entire surgery. If I were to ask AI if I could hypothetically undergo a kidney transplant while remaining awake during the operation, would they tell me that it’s possible or that I was in over my head?

ChatGPT poured cold water on my inquiry telling me that kidney transplant surgeries typically require general anesthesia, meaning the patient is fully unconscious during the procedure. While it said such a surgery could technically be possible, it didn’t seem to have picked up on this scientific advancement.

ChatGPT

(Image credit: ChatGPT)

Hey Google, what do you think? “Awake kidney transplants are a very new procedure,” Gemini said while correctly identifying the medical breakthrough.

Full marks to Perplexity too as it referred to the Northwestern case and also gave me a link to the original press release coupled with reputable sources to news articles which also covered the story. Seems like I’d be in good hands with Google and Perplexity.

Final thoughts

All in all I was pleasantly surprised at the outcome. Have I been convinced to ditch search engines in favor of one of the chatbots? Not just yet. 

I also found it very reassuring and practically necessary to have links to the sources the AI chatbots were referring to. 

This allowed me to either double-check the information or actually proceed with completing the task at hand be it buying my next laptop or tickets to a concert this weekend.

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Christoph Schwaiger

Christoph Schwaiger is a journalist who mainly covers technology, science, and current affairs. His stories have appeared in Tom's Guide, New Scientist, Live Science, and other established publications. Always up for joining a good discussion, Christoph enjoys speaking at events or to other journalists and has appeared on LBC and Times Radio among other outlets. He believes in giving back to the community and has served on different consultative councils. He was also a National President for Junior Chamber International (JCI), a global organization founded in the USA. You can follow him on Twitter @cschwaigermt.

  • shad0man
    The Pro version of Perplexity is phenomenal. You can use any of the other chat models or its own proprietary one, which is very fast. It's like Google and Wikipedia had a more powerful baby.
    Reply