Bitdefender has fallen from its perch as the antivirus king, at least on Windows 7.
German lab AV-TEST's latest evaluations of antivirus software, released today (March 24), awarded Kaspersky Internet Security and Trend Micro Internet Security top honors, with perfect 18 out of 18 combined scores on malware protection, system performance and usability.
Close behind were Avira Free Antivirus and (Symantec) Norton Security, which were each docked half a point on system performance impact. AV-TEST recently instituted tougher performance tests that likely cost Bitdefender Internet Security (the only perfect scorer on Windows 7 last time) its crown. AVG Internet Security tied with Bitdefender for third place.
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All six of the above products, along with five tied for fourth place, scored a perfect 6 out of 6 on the malware-protection category. Bitdefender, Norton and Trend Micro each stopped 100 percent of both zero-day (previously unseen) malware and widespread (previously seen) malware in both January and February 2016.
F-Secure Safe and Qihoo 360 Anti Virus, both of which license other companies' anti-malware engines, got no malware-detection score lower than 99.9 percent.
Bringing up the rear of all 22 products tested were Comodo Internet Security Premium, which scored only 12.5 out of 18, and Quick Heal Total Security and ThreatTrack VIPRE Internet Security, each of which scored 13. Microsoft Security Essentials, a free program that Windows 7 users can download, scored 14, with a perfect 6 out of 6 on usability.
AV-TEST's more rigorous performance tests now involve five tasks: visiting websites, downloading files, running applications, installing applications and copying files. These are performed on two computers: a "standard" PC with an Intel Xeon X3360 CPU running at 2.83GHz, 4GB of RAM and 500GB hard drive, and a "high-end" machine with an Intel i7 3770 CPU clocking at 3.40GHz, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB solid-state drive.
Bitdefender didn't do so well on visiting websites and running applications, slowing down both the standard and high-end machines about 20 percent on the former task, and between 34 and 43 percent on the latter. Kaspersky and Trend Micro slowed machines much less.
Avira, Bitdefender and Kaspersky regularly top AV-TEST's evaluations. All three scored perfectly in the lab's most recent Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 rounds. Trend Micro has often been near the front of the pack, but this is the first time we can remember it getting a perfect score.
At Tom's Guide, we use AV-TEST's malware-protection results, along with those of other labs, in our own reviews. But we run our own performance tests, and judge usability not by how many false positives (benign files erroneously tagged as malware) a product generates, but by how easy the product is to manage and how many useful extra features it offers.