Searching for the fastest WordPress themes to set you up with a quick-loading site?
Based on our hands-on performance tests and decade-plus of WordPress experience, we found that Sydney, Botiga, GeneratePress, Neve, Kadence Theme, Astra, and Blocksy are all excellent options if you’re searching for a performance-friendly multipurpose WordPress theme.
We also found several other themes that perform very well — 12 in total — so that’s by no means the complete list of top options.
Best of all, most of these themes offer viable free versions, so you can totally find a fast and free WordPress theme for any type of website in any niche.
Keep reading to view the real performance data that we collected, along with some details and pricing information for each theme.
Fastest WordPress Themes – Comparison Table
If you’re in a hurry, we’ll start with a comparison table that shows all of our performance data for the 12 themes that we tested.
To learn more about each theme, including its features and pricing, we encourage you to read through the full post.
As you’ll see in the table, there’s very little difference in performance between the first seven themes. As such, these themes are not listed/ranked in any specific order.
The truth is that any one of the first seven themes will help you create a blazing-fast website. So, rather than choosing based on the difference of a few milliseconds or a few KBs, we recommend you choose based on the features and starter sites that the themes offer.
The last five themes are still capable of creating a fast-loading site, but they do make some performance sacrifices versus the first seven themes. The full description for each theme will help you understand the theme’s unique advantages so that you can decide if the trade-off is worth it.
|Theme||Page Size (KB)||HTTP Requests||LCP (seconds)||Fully Loaded (seconds)||Loads under 0.5 seconds|
How I Tested for the Fastest WordPress Themes
To find the fastest WordPress themes, I set up a test site on a cheapo $5 per month DigitalOcean droplet using PHP 7.4.
The test site had no performance optimizations or plugins installed. It only had the default “Hello World!” post.
To test each theme, I installed the theme and tested the default homepage, which is the blog archive page that just lists the single “Hello World!” post.
If a theme recommends additional plugins, I did not install those plugins unless they were specifically required for the theme to function properly (such as Avada and its companion Avada Builder plugin).
I believe this is the fairest way to do things because it puts each theme on equal footing. Of course, in the real world, your theme would have more content and design customizations, so this method is not perfect. But I think it gives the fairest picture of each theme’s out-of-the-box performance.
In situations where a theme offers both a free and paid version, I always used the free version.
To test each theme, I ran it through three separate WebPageTest runs and took the median value of the following metrics:
- Page size in KB
- HTTP requests
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) time in seconds
- Fully loaded time in seconds
Note that the screenshot for each theme is not representative of the actual page that I tested. Remember, I was testing the default theme, not an importable demo site. I used the demo sites for the screenshots because it would be pretty boring otherwise!
12 Fastest WordPress Themes Based on Real Data
Here are more details on each theme that I tested, along with another look at the performance data:
- Page Size: 42 KB
- HTTP Requests: 9
- LCP: 0.385 s
- Fully Loaded Time: 0.420 s
To help you customize your site, Sydney includes an Elementor integration, as well as some of its own custom Elementor widgets and the ability to use even the free version of Elementor to customize your site’s templates.
You can also choose from 25+ importable demo sites to help you get started with a great-looking foundation for your site. Or, you’re free to design everything from scratch using the detailed options in the WordPress Customizer.
The core Sydney theme is free and available at WordPress.org. If you want to access more features and importable starter sites, Sydney Pro starts at $69.
- Page Size: 32 KB
- HTTP Requests: 7
- LCP: 0.364 s
- Fully Loaded Time: 0.395 s
GeneratePress achieved the distinction of having the smallest out-of-the-box page size of any theme that we tested.
While, at the top level, the differences are only a few KBs (and probably not that meaningful in the grand scheme of things), it does show the attention to detail that the developer has put into minimizing every last KB in the theme.
GeneratePress is a flexible multipurpose theme that you can adapt to pretty much any niche. It also pairs well with page builders. Or, if you prefer to stick to the WordPress block editor, the developer also offers a GenerateBlocks plugin that works well with the theme.
With the premium version, you get access to a number of pre-built starter sites. However, there are no starter sites in the free version, which is a disadvantage when compared to many of the other themes on this list such as Sydney, Botiga, Astra, Kadence Theme, and others.
The core GeneratePress theme is available for free at WordPress.org and there’s also a premium add-on that costs $59 for one year or $249 for lifetime support/updates.
- Page Size: 58 KB
- HTTP Requests: 10
- LCP: 0.421 s
- Fully Loaded Time: 0.453 s
While a lot of the other themes on this list are multipurpose, Botiga is a dedicated WooCommerce/eCommerce theme that’s specifically focused on helping you create a fast-loading store, without needing to skimp on style or functionality.
You can get started by importing one of the 9+ eCommerce starter sites. The sites are available in versions for the native WordPress editor (Gutenberg) and Elementor — we recommend using the Gutenberg versions for the best performance.
You’ll also get heaps of eCommerce-focused features such as advanced reviews, a mega menu, sticky add to cart, wishlists, multi-step checkout, sales badges, swatches, and lots more.
All of these features are 100% modular so that you can keep your store lightweight by only enabling the specific features that you want to use.
Botiga has a free version that’s available at WordPress.org. If you want access to more features and importable starter sites, there’s also a Pro version that starts at $69.
- Page Size: 38 KB
- HTTP Requests: 6
- LCP: 0.406 s
- Fully Loaded Time: 0.454 s
Neve is another lightweight multipurpose theme that you can use for everything from blogs to business websites, WooCommerce stores, and more. At under 40 KB out of the box, it’s also one of the fastest WordPress themes that you’ll find.
It includes dozens of pre-built starter sites that you can import as your base. When importing a starter site, you can choose between using the WordPress block editor and the Elementor page builder plugin.
You can then customize everything using the WordPress Customizer and Neve’s detailed options.
If you’re interested in using the new WordPress Site Editor/Full-Site Editing experience, there’s also a separate Neve FSE version that utilizes those features. Neve FSE is the only theme on this list that uses the new Site Editor experience. However, we tested the “classic” version of the theme, which is by far the more popular option.
Neve has a free version that’s available at WordPress.org. If you want access to more features and importable starter sites, there’s also a Pro version that starts at $99 (discounted to $69 for the first year).
- Page Size: 48 KB
- HTTP Requests: 10
- LCP: 0.398 s
- Fully Loaded Time: 0.441 s
Kadence Theme is a multipurpose WordPress theme that’s quickly grown to become one of the most popular options out there.
It’s owned by Liquid Web/StellarWP, which opens up some interesting integrations with some of the other products in StellarWP’s catalog, including LearnDash, GiveWP, The Events Calendar, and Restrict Content Pro.
For example, you’ll find a number of LearnDash-focused starter sites among Kadence Theme’s large starter site library, which is great if you’re looking to build an online course.
To see how Kadence Theme compares to another popular option on this list, you can check out our detailed Astra vs Kadence Theme comparison.
Kadence Theme offers a capable free version at WordPress.org. Of the themes on this list, it has one of the most flexible free versions, especially when it comes to the options that you get in the WordPress Customizer.
If you want access to more features, Kadence Theme Pro starts at $79 (discounted to $59 for the first year). However, to access all of the starter sites, you’ll need at least the Essentials Bundle, which costs $149 ($129 first year).
- Page Size: 46 KB
- HTTP Requests: 6
- LCP: 0.378 s
- Fully Loaded Time: 0.410 s
Astra is one of the most popular WordPress themes in existence and has the impressive distinction of being the first non-default theme to ever pass the one million install mark.
It’s a multipurpose theme that you can use for pretty much any type of website. It also has an absolutely massive collection of importable starter sites, with over 240+ importable designs and support for Elementor, the WordPress block editor (Gutenberg), and Beaver Builder.
Astra has a functional free version at WordPress.org. To access more features, Astra Pro starts at $59 (discounted to $47 for the first year). However, to access all of the premium starter sites, you’ll need at least the Essentials bundle, which costs $169 ($137 first year).
- Page Size: 50 KB
- HTTP Requests: 6
- LCP: 0.365 s
- Fully Loaded Time: 0.441 s
Blocksy is a lightweight multipurpose theme with some of the best-looking starter sites that you’ll find, along with detailed options in the WordPress Customizer to help you customize everything to your liking.
In total, Blocksy offers 28+ importable starter sites, all of which are available in Gutenberg and Elementor versions. A small number of starter sites also have versions built with Brizy, which is nice if you prefer the Brizy page builder.
Blocksy has a free version at WordPress.org, which includes all the starter sites. If you want access to more features, Blocksy Pro starts at just $49 for use on a single site, which makes it one of the cheaper options if you’re only building one website.
- Page Size: 225 KB
- HTTP Requests: 14
- LCP: 0.495 s
- Fully Loaded Time: 0.818 s
Divi is a popular premium WordPress theme that includes a built-in visual, drag-and-drop editor to give you full code-free control over every part of your site.
In the past, Divi had a poor reputation for performance (and deservedly so, to be honest). However, the Divi team has worked hard over the past few years to optimize its performance, and it now performs much better than it did in the past.
No, Divi does not match the out-of-the-box performance of the other themes on this list. But what’s important to understand here is that Divi’s extra weight is there because it includes a built-in visual, drag-and-drop builder.
You can learn more about this builder in our full Divi theme review.
With that in mind, Divi actually does fairly well. For example, if you were to install Elementor on your Astra website to access similar visual design capabilities, you’d find that the performance difference between the Divi theme and “Astra + Elementor” is minimal, if it exists at all.
On the other hand, if you’re fine with using the WordPress block editor, then you will definitely be able to build a faster site with a theme such as Sydney, GeneratePress, or Astra.
Divi is available via the Elegant Themes membership, which gets you access to all of the developer’s themes and plugins for one flat price. You can pay $89 per year or $249 for lifetime access.
- Page Size: 252 KB
- HTTP Requests: 22
- LCP: 0.608 s
- Fully Loaded Time: 0.811 s
OceanWP is another popular multipurpose theme that offers a huge collection of importable starter sites to help you get up and running. You get 17+ free starter sites, plus 210+ starter sites with the Pro version.
While OceanWP isn’t quite as lightweight as other options such as Sydney, GeneratePress, Astra, and Kadence Theme, it does offer an absolutely huge array of options in the Customizer, with especially strong support for WooCommerce.
If you’re willing to sacrifice a little performance for access to more design options, OceanWP could be a good option to consider. And while it is heavier than the themes we named above, it’s still much more lightweight than the average WordPress theme.
OceanWP has a free version at WordPress.org. If you want access to advanced features and most of the importable starter sites, OceanWP Pro starts at $54 for use on up to three sites (discounted to $43 for the first year).
There are also lifetime plans starting at $222.
- Page Size: 125 KB
- HTTP Requests: 10
- LCP: 0.431 s
- Fully Loaded Time: 0.564 s
Zakra is another lightweight multipurpose theme that comes with a bunch of importable demo sites. Like the previous themes, it also makes a great option to pair with a WordPress page builder plugin.
Zakra is actually a little “heavier” in our 2023 theme performance tests, as compared to our original performance tests that we ran back in 2021. But despite that, it’s still very lightweight and more than capable of helping you build a fast-loading website.
The developer also recently released Zakra 3.0, which gives you a bunch of new Customizer options to customize your site’s layout and design, including extra options to control the default design of your site’s blocks.
Zakra has a basic free version at WordPress.org. The premium version starts at $69 for use on a single site. There’s also a lifetime option that starts at $199 for a single site.
- Page Size: 545 KB
- HTTP Requests: 14
- LCP: 0.855 s
- Fully Loaded Time: 0.944 s
By the numbers, Avada is the best-selling theme of all time at ThemeForest, where it’s racked up almost a million sales while maintaining a stellar 4.78-star rating.
What makes Avada unique is that, like the Divi theme, it includes its own visual, drag-and-drop design tool — the Avada Builder.
With this builder, you can design every single part of your site using a visual interface — from the header all the way down to the footer. You also get access to dozens of importable starter sites to help you save time.
The one trade-off, though, is that Avada isn’t quite as lightweight as other themes because it includes the built-in builder. However, if you were going to install a page builder plugin anyway, the performance difference might be smaller than you think.
Avada only comes in a premium version. It costs $69 for use on a single site, which includes lifetime updates and six months of support.
Note – to test Avada in a realistic way, I also installed the companion Avada Core and Avada Builder plugins alongside the base Avada theme. Because these are an integral part of the Avada theme, I didn’t think it would be fair to test the theme without them.
- Page Size: 383 KB
- HTTP Requests: 20
- LCP: 0.759 s
- Fully Loaded Time: 0.971 s
Newspaper is one of the best-selling themes at ThemeForest. The developer proclaims it as the “#1 selling news theme of all time”, and it’s been purchased over 135,000 times.
To help you fully customize your site, Newspaper comes with its own built-in drag-and-drop builder tool, the tagDiv Composer plugin.
It’s also packed with features that are helpful to news sites, such as built-in tools for paywalls and memberships.
Overall, Newspaper is not the fastest theme on this list. But if you think your organization will use the extra features that it adds, it can eliminate the need to install separate plugins for various features and still help you build a quick-loading site.
Newspaper only comes in a premium version. It costs $59 for use on a single site, which includes lifetime updates and six months of support.
Note – to test Newspaper in a realistic way, I also installed the companion tagDiv Composer plugin, which is an essential part of the Newspaper theme.
Which Is the Fastest WordPress Theme for Your Site?
Used well, all of the WordPress themes on this list can help you create a fast-loading site.
So — how do you pick the right theme for your situation?
Here are a few thoughts:
First off, while we have to admit we’re not an unbiased source in this respect, we think that Sydney and Botiga are both great places to start — Sydney if you’re building a business website or blog and Botiga if you’re building an eCommerce store.
We’ve created both themes with performance in mind. Plus, we wouldn’t put our name on them if we didn’t think they offered excellent functionality and design options (in addition to the performance).
That’s not to say the other themes aren’t quality options as well.
If you’re looking for flexibility in starter sites, it’s tough to beat the Astra theme and its massive collection of 240+ importable starter sites, though the 200+ starter sites in the OceanWP theme come close.
And in terms of design flexibility in the Customizer, Kadence Theme is tough to beat. It’s also very generous in terms of the customization options that it has in the free version, which can make it a good place to start if you’re on a budget.
Honestly, the difference between 42 KB and 32 KB is probably meaningless in the real world, though, so don’t put too much weight on such small differences.
Pick the Perfect Theme Today
That wraps up our data-backed guide to the fastest WordPress themes.
We hope you found this post useful and that you were able to find a great theme for your site.
If you still have any questions about these themes, or if you think there’s a theme that deserves to be on the list, please let us know in the comments section below.