Fastest WordPress Slider Plugin

Love ’em or hate ’em, image sliders are a popular feature on many a WordPress site. And if you want to create a slider on WordPress, you need a WordPress image slider plugin.

But more than just wanting a slider that looks good, you also want an image slider that won’t slow down your WordPress website.

To help you find that unicorn, we’ve come up with this performance-focused comparison to find the fastest WordPress image slider plugin. In it, I’ll test seven of the most popular free and premium slider plugins at WordPress.org and CodeCanyon to help you find the one that’s right for you.

I’ll start by sharing the comparison table, but I recommend you keep reading for the full details.

Fastest Image Slider Plugin: The Summary

If you just want the “in a nutshell” version of this post, here’s a table comparing the results for all of the plugins that I tested. I encourage you to keep reading for more information about each plugin, as well as the testing environment that I used to run these tests.


Page Load TimePage SizeHTTP Requests
Control (No Slider)0.9 s51512
Nivo Slider0.8 s55415
MetaSlider0.9 s56217
Soliloquy1.1 s56723
Smart Slider 31.0 s61618
Layer Slider1.0 s65720
Slider by 10Web1.5 s67020
Slider Revolution0.9 s69920

*I also attempted to test Master Slider and Slide Anything, but neither would load the slider on the front-end of my site, unfortunately.

The Testing Environment

To test these plugins, I used a fresh WordPress install hosted on a $5 per month DigitalOcean droplet. It’s running the Astra theme, which is one of the fastest free WordPress themes.

I didn’t make any performance optimizations, as I wanted to see each plugin’s performance in its default state. Obviously, implementing some good performance optimization could reduce some of the effects of each plugin. For example, WP Rocket can help you minify and concatenate the scripts and styles used by these plugins, and Imagify can help shrink the file size of the images.

As for configuring the plugins, I used three unoptimized test images from Pexels for the sliders. The image sizes are as follows:

For each plugin, I left the settings as the defaults as much as possible. That is, I didn’t configure anything about how the slider looks and functions. If I was forced to make a choice, I tried to choose the “simplest” option. E.g. opting for a simple slider rather than something with special animations.

Finally, I also used the full-size images – no resizing or cropping – and set the slide size to the same as the image dimensions – 1280 x 853.

While this might mean there are small differences between each plugin, I think it’s the fairest way to compare different plugins and most approximates how an end-user might use each tool.

Finally, for the actual test results, I ran each configuration through GTmetrix’s Vancouver, Canada test server.

And before testing any plugins, I created a basic page with the three images added to the WordPress editor as a baseline. You can assume that anything added on top of this baseline is as a result of the plugin.

With all those caveats out of the way, let’s dig into the plugins!

Fastest Image Slider Plugin: A Deeper Look at Each Plugin

Before I dig into each WordPress image slider plugin that I tested, here’s a quick reminder of the test details for the control page. Again, this is a basic page with all three test images added as regular image blocks:

1. Nivo Slider (Free+)

Nivo Slider Fastest Slider Plugin

For my testing, I was using the free version at WordPress.org with no premium add-ons:

Nivo Slider, at least in the free version, is super simple. But if you just want a simple image slider, that might actually be a positive, as I found it to have the fastest setup process.

It’s not claiming to be the most feature-rich slider (the developer actually makes a point of this on the WordPress.org description), but it was the most lightweight option in my testing.

2. MetaSlider (Free+)

Metaslider Fastest WordPress Plugin

For my testing, I used MetaSlider’s default FlexSlider approach in the free version at WordPress.org:

By the numbers, MetaSlider is the most popular free WordPress slider plugin at WordPress.org. It comes in both a free and premium version, with the free version supporting four different slide show types.

It’s not as complex as some other plugins. For example, there’s no drag-and-drop page builder-style slide builder like some of the other tools give you. However, if you just want some basic image or video sliders, I think that’s actually a plus as it gives you a much more lightweight, easy-to-use interface. The premium version also adds more functionality, like a slider from your latest posts.

The data backs this lightweight approach, with MetaSlider being right up there with Nivo Slider in terms of performance-friendliness.

3. Soliloquy (Free+)

Soliloquy Fastest Slider Plugin

For my testing, I was using the free version at WordPress.org with no premium add-ons:

Soliloquy is a popular freemium WordPress slider plugin that was previously part of the WP Beginner empire, before being sold in 2017.

Like MetaSlider, I also think it has a very simple interface that makes it easy to get up and running. Also like MetaSlider, Soliloquy does not give you a drag-and-drop builder to design individual slides. However, with the premium add-ons, it can give you a little more flexibility.

The page size with my Soliloquy slider was almost as small as MetaSlider at 567 KB, but it did have the highest number of HTTP requests at 23.

4. Smart Slider 3 (Free+)

Smart Slider Fastest WordPress Plugin

For my testing, I was using the free version at WordPress.org with no premium add-ons:

In terms of performance, Smart Slider 3 had almost as few HTTP requests as MetaSlider, though it did have a larger page size.

However, I think you can forgive those increases because Smart Slider is the first slider plugin to give you a drag-and-drop builder for individual slides.

So if you want that drag-and-drop approach where you can design each slide with layers (kind of like a page builder), Smart Slider 3 seems to be the fastest WordPress slider plugin in that category, though maybe not the fastest WordPress slider plugin overall.

It also has a generous free version which can go toe-to-toe with some of the premium slider plugins that you’ll find at CodeCanyon (and on this list).

5. LayerSlider ($25)

LayerSlide Fastest WordPress Plugin

LayerSlider is one of the most popular premium WordPress slider plugins at CodeCanyon.

Like Smart Slider 3, it gives you a drag-and-drop builder that lets you design each slide using different layers (hence the name).

It gives you more flexibility for designing individual slides than something like MetaSlider or Soliloquy, but at the expense of some performance, as it added 142 KB over the control page and an additional 8 requests.

6. Slider by 10Web (Free+)

Slider 10Web Fastest WordPress Plugin

For my testing, I was using the free version at WordPress.org with no premium add-ons:

In performance terms, Slider by 10Web was a little bit of a disappointment. While it does have a nice, convenient interface, it doesn’t have the level of functionality offered by something like Smart Slider 3 or Slider Revolution.

However, despite offering a leaner approach more in the vein of MetaSlider or Soliloquy, it still performed near the bottom of the plugins that I tested.

So – a nice interface and it creates some good-looking sliders, but you can find a faster plugin that lets you accomplish the same things.

7. Slider Revolution ($26)

Slider Evolution Fastest WordPress Slider Plugin

Slider Revolution is the most popular premium WordPress slider plugin at CodeCanyon…but it almost led to the fattest page size in my tests.

However, I think there’s a tradeoff here because Slider Revolution also gives you the most flexibility. It has an almost overwhelming number of settings, including a drag-and-drop slide builder.

So if you value flexibility and being able to build some truly unique sliders, then yes, there’s a reason why Slider Revolution has over 333,000 sales and a 4.78-star rating at CodeCanyon. However, if performance is of utmost importance to you and you don’t need all those features, you can find a faster WordPress slider plugin on this list.

Which is the Best WordPress Image Slider Plugin for You?

As is always the case, there’s no single best WordPress image slider plugin for every website. Instead, it’s more about finding the plugin that best manages to balance your specific needs when it comes to functionality and performance.

If you just want to create some simple image sliders and don’t need a drag-and-drop builder, you’re probably best off with Nivo Slider for the overall most lightweight option in my testing, or MetaSlider for an almost-equally lightweight option with a little more functionality.

If you want something more powerful that does have a drag-and-drop slide builder and more functionality, a good place to start seems to be Smart Slider 3 as a more lightweight alternative to LayerSlider or Slider Revolution. While it adds more size than Nivo Slider or MetaSlider, it also gives you a much more detailed builder along with a generous free version.

And no matter which slider plugin you use, you can make things even faster by using WP Rocket for caching and file optimization, along with Imagify to resize and compress the images that you use in your sliders.

Do you have any questions about these slider plugins or how we tested them? Ask away in the comments!

Author's avatar

Colin Newcomer is a freelance writer who spends his days inside the WordPress dashboard. He lives a life of danger, riding a scooter through the chaos of Hanoi.

1 comment

Hi,
Loved this post.
Does the use of the slider plugin can increase the web page size and can increase the loading speed?
Which plugin is best suitable with your WP Rocket plugin?

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