Fastest WordPress Themes Test 2021

Astra / GeneratePress / Genesis / Kadence / OceanWP / Page Builder Framework / Twenty Twenty

Most sites can blame up to 50% of their slow speed on the theme alone. Slow themes load way too much junk, offering every fancy effect for every user, trying to be the swiss army knife of themes. Imagine carrying the Home Depot tool aisle with you on every job you do as a renovator, versus loading only the tools you use in your bag. In theme terms, we call that a ‘Bloated Theme’.

Ideally, you’d have a theme that focuses on the design and nothing else. It loads CSS styles ASAP so content can quickly be visible in the browser. No extra junk assets loaded on every page of your website for non-essential features that you’ll never use anyway.

And you really don’t want a theme handling heavy functions better left to plugins. Sure, these themes with endless “extra features” seem like a convenient 1-stop shop…until you realize they don’t do as good a job as specialized plugins AND cause conflicts with other plugins while slowing your site down.

 The majority of WordPress theme developers are not actually developing the theme, putting it on a popular website, and then optimizing it for the highest load time.

I’m cutting through the crap and testing the current top 6 themes/frameworks available that have development teams behind them that are singularly devoted to making their WordPress themes bloat-free and load as fast as possible from the moment you install their theme. Same as I did with my Fastest WordPress Hosting Comparison Test, I’m putting these themes head to head to determine the Fastest WordPress Theme for building your blog upon.

Fastest WordPress Theme: Data Results

If you just want the absolute fastest WordPress themes based on our testing, here are our top three recommendations based on their speed, price, and features (full data and more info below):

Theme

Price

Speed Rank

Free / Pro $59

[   1st   ]

Free / Pro $59

2nd

Free / Pro $69

3rd

To find the fastest WordPress theme for bloggers, we set up an identical test site with each one of the themes tested on the Fastest WordPress Host test winner, NameHero. Then, we ran our test sites through WebPageTest, 3 times each taking the average metrics from the Dallas region (it’s centrally located). To keep things fair and to be able to isolate how the theme itself is impacting the page speed, we eliminated everything from the install that could have an impact on performance.

WebPageTest by Catchpoint Logo

Theme

Price

Requests

Total Page Size

TTFB

Free/$59

10

48 KB

 0.628 s  ]

Free/$59

10

 37 KB  ]

0.664 s

$59 - $129

10

134 KB

0.670 s

Free/$69

12

49 KB

0.680 s

OceanWP

Free/$39

20

251 KB

0.682 s

Page Builder Framework

Free/$58

11

75 KB

0.767 s

Twenty Twenty

Free

10

62 KB

0.715 s

[[ ]] = performed best in that category

Performance Metrics Explained

With just the following 4 page-speed metrics alone, you can evaluate the coding quality of a theme and whether they should be apart of your blog’s foundation. (Assuming you’re already using a quality Host)

PageSpeed Score: The score is a percentage out of 100%, as a cumulative from dozens of tests for things like minifying JavaScript, CSS, redirects, image optimization, and more. Tells us how ‘Optimized’ the base theme is versus another in Google’s eyes.

TTFB (Time to First Byte): – this is how long it takes for the first bit of information to arrive from your server to the viewer on your website. Hosting plays a large role in delivering the first byte, so choosing the fastest WordPress hosting solution is important, but a clunky theme causes problems too.

Total Page Size: The file size of the entire site with the installed theme. Larger theme files usually slow down your website.

Requests: The number of requests sent to the server to deliver the theme site files. Lower the better.

How Our Test Sites Were Set Up

To create a consistent test case, we hosted all theme sites on NameHero, the winner of our Fastest WordPress Host test.

So, our “full” test site includes:

  • WordPress theme being tested
  • NO media, menus, pages, or posts added. No demo content and no assigned homepage – this ensures we’re comparing apples to apples in the testing and getting speed results for just the theme.
  • NO plugins to add to page load time – we’re comparing just the themes.
  • NO Cache plugin was used – to avoid the fluctuations of Caching

Fastest WordPress Theme Details

  • Requests: 10
  • Total Page Size: 48 KB
  • Time to First Byte: 0.628 s
  • PageSpeed Score: 99 %
  • Price: Free / $59 PRO

Astra has a free theme and the premium Astra Pro is listed at $59.

Astra is a high-performer. There’s not a layout you can’t accomplish with Astra and their own Gutenberg Blocks add-on plugin. It’s ridiculously easy to customize Astra, and fast! Does have a small Google Core Web Vitals CLS issue with the Mobile Menu that they’re working on fixing.

Features:

  • Prebuilt sites in many niches, just 1-click upload
  • Full integration with Gutenberg!
  • Adjust your headers, add sidebars, and adjust single page layouts.
  • Pro version includes special settings for WooCommerce


  • Requests: 10
  • Total Page Size: 37 KB
  • Time to First Byte: 0.664 s
  • PageSpeed Score: 99 %
  • Price: Free / $59 PRO

GeneratePress PRO is a lean mean fighting machine of a theme. The theme has close to perfect PageSpeed scores. BlogJolt runs on GeneratePress, I’ve achieved perfect 100’s on PageSpeed Insights with this theme, solving a small Core Web Vitals issue with Astra.

Features:

  • Blog settings are more advanced than others
  • Import and export all theme options
  • Prebuilt sites available, just 1-click upload
  • Full integration with Gutenberg!
  • Woocommerce compatible

  • Requests: 10
  • Total Page Size: 134 KB
  • Time to First Byte: 0.670 s
  • PageSpeed Score: 99 %
  • Price: $59.95 – $129.95

The base Genesis Framework theme is fast, but unfortunately, the Child themes – the ones that are actually styled, are not. There’s no code-quality regulation. Genesis is best wielded by those that can code PHP and WordPress Hooks, otherwise, it’s very limiting for non-developers. Popular plugins mostly support Genesis, but some flat-out won’t. Make sure those you’ll be using support it first before committing to the Genesis ecosystem. Once in, it’s very hard to then transition away – very time-consuming.


  • Requests: 12
  • Total Page Size: 49 KB
  • Time to First Byte: 0.680 s
  • PageSpeed Score: 98 %
  • Price: Free / $69 PRO

Kadence is similar to Astra, you can accomplish any layout with this theme plus a Page Builder/Gutenberg Blocks set. It’s slightly slower and larger in resource files than both Astra and GeneratePress. Users rave about the simplicity and theme support.

Features:

  • Prebuilt sites available, just 1-click upload
  • Full integration with Gutenberg!
  • Woocommerce compatible

  • Requests: 20
  • Total Page Size: 251 KB
  • Time to First Byte: 0.682 s
  • PageSpeed Score: 98 % Desktop / 86 % Mobile
  • Price: Free / $39 PRO

OceanWP is similar to Astra, you can accomplish any layout with this theme plus a Page Builder/Gutenberg Blocks set. Starting out, it appears that OceanWP is a tad slower than some of the others. The main area to be concerned about is the mobile speed.


  • Requests: 11
  • Total Page Size: 75 KB
  • Time to First Byte: 0.767 s
  • PageSpeed Score: 98 %
  • Price: Free / $58

Features:

  • GDPR compliant theme for improved performance with Google Fonts
  • Pro addon is affordable and offers advanced solutions for sticky navigation, advanced typography, hover effects, white labeling, advanced WooCommerce tools, and much more.
  • Full integration with Gutenberg!
  • Woocommerce compatible.

  • Requests: 10
  • Total Page Size: 62 KB
  • Time to First Byte: 0.715 s
  • PageSpeed Score: 98 %
  • Price: Free

Twenty Twenty is known for its flexibility with page builders and the endless number of layouts, especially for blogging. Is Twenty Twenty the fastest theme in the world? No, but it’s close. It’s nice to see that the default WordPress theme isn’t just for show.