Top 7 WordPress Themes For Good Core Web Vitals (2024 Ranking)

Last updated on Mar 15th, 2024 | 4 min

There are 10,500+ free themes available in the WordPress repository. 

And the number keeps growing by the day.

So how could you pinpoint the best ones? Are you supposed to test every theme you like and compare all the performance metrics, scores, and milliseconds? 

Let’s be honest - it doesn’t sound like a task you want to spend your entire day doing.

Especially when we did it for you!

So instead of wasting time activating, deactivating, testing, writing down results, and comparing, read on to find out the 7 WordPress themes that stood out after our thorough research and testing. 

How We Tested The Best WordPress Theme Candidates for Good Core Web Vitals

Note: The best way to approximate a theme’s performance in the real world without generating traffic was to rely on lab-based Core Web Vitals. Our experience shows that themes that pass LCP, CLS, and TBT in the lab have higher chances of reproducing the same good results in the field.

We began our research by collecting a large pool of themes that our WordPress developers’ worked with in the past, along with themes based on their popularity in the WP repository. 

Then, we started the long speed testing process:

  • Install and activate the theme on a blank WordPress installation.
  • Leave the theme as-is - no added content, menus, pages, posts, or plugins.
  • Run the website with the theme through Google’s PageSpeed Insights.
  • Run the theme through GTmetrix.
  • Run the theme through Pingdom Speed Test.
  • Gather all results and compare them.

We’ve decided to use three testing tools because each has varying standards and metrics. We wanted to ensure one tool wasn’t giving better or worse results than another. 

In each tool, we’ve decided to monitor specific metrics:

PageSpeed Insights

Google’s PageSpeed Insights (PSI) is the go-to tool for testing a theme for speed and Core Web Vitals. Considering that we didn’t have real-world traffic, we focused on the Performance Score, and its metrics on both mobile and desktop.

Google PSI performance score

Here are the metrics we focused on:

  • Performance Score. It’s out of 100 and based on the following metrics - LCP, CLS, Speed Index, TBT, and FCP. Each metric has a different weight. 
  • First Contentful Paint. FCP is the time it takes for the browser to visualize the first piece of DOM content. 
  • Largest Contentful Paint. LCP measures how long it takes for the largest above-the-fold element to load on a page. 
  • Speed Index. It shows how quickly the contents of a page are visibly populated. Lower is better.
  • Total Blocking Time. It shows how unresponsive a page is before it becomes fully interactive.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift. CLS measures how much-unexpected layout shifts affect the user experience on a page.


GTmetrix analyzes the speed and optimization of a website, making it a valuable tool for identifying performance issues and determining whether a theme contains an excessive number of unnecessary files.

GTmetrix Grade

The metrics we zoned in on were:

  • GTmetrix Grade. It’s a weighted grade of both the Performance and Structure scores.
  • Performance Score. It’s the Lighthouse Performance Score, as captured by GTmetrix, with its custom audits, Analysis Options, browser, and hardware specifications.
  • Structure Score. It is a proprietary assessment of Lighthouse and Custom GTmetrix audits. It represents how well a theme/page is built for optimal performance. 
  • Web Vitals. Lab-based Core Web Vitals metrics that measure whether a theme/page offers an excellent overall experience.
  • Load time. How long it takes for a web page to load fully.


Although Pingdom shares similarities with GTmetrix, we prefer to use both tools concurrently as they provide different metrics. Also, Pingdom offers an easy way to test a web page from different locations.

All themes have been tested from North America - USA - Washington D.C.

Pingdom Website Speed Test

Metrics we’ve monitored:

  • Performance Grade This is a cumulative grade out of 100. 
  • Load Time. The amount of time it takes Pingdom to load the entire website with a theme installed.
  • Page Size. The size of the page’s all site files. The theme has a huge impact on this one. 
  • Requests. The number of server requests to deliver the theme and site content to the user.

Quick Summary of the Best Performing WordPress Themes

Before we dive deeper into each theme, its features, pricing, and performance scores, here’s a summary of our tests. 

Note: The following ranking is based on Pingdom results and, more specifically - page size and load time. Later in the article, we review each theme and its CWV results. 

  1. Twenty Twenty-Three – Page Size: 26.3KB; Load Time: 520ms
  2. Hello Elementor – Page Size: 32.7KB; Load Time: 520ms
  3. GeneratePress – Page Size: 37.7KB; Load Time: 538ms
  4. Neve – Page Size: 42.4KB; Load Time: 552ms
  5. Sydney – Page Size: 48.1KB; Load Time: 560ms
  6. Astra – Page Size: 48.5KB; Load Time: 619ms
  7. Kadence – Page Size: 54.8КB; Load Time: 628ms


WordPress Themes Performance Test Results

Best WordPress Themes for Passing Core Web Vitals in 2024

Features, pricing, performance results - let’s get started with a detailed overview of each contender.

1. Twenty Twenty-Three - Best buds with Gutenberg

Twenty Twenty Three WordPress Theme

The default Twenty Twenty-Three theme has been developed to use the latest design tools introduced in WordPress 6.1. 

The theme utilizes a simple and uncluttered foundation and provides ten distinct style variations contributed by the WordPress community. 

Twenty Twenty-Three allows you to easily create a website of any level of complexity, either by utilizing the pre-designed styles or by taking a more hands-on approach and customizing it to your liking.

What is striking about the latest default WordPress theme is its simplicity and lightness. Twenty Twenty-Three is flexible and perfectly suited to Gutenberg’s site editing features, such as template editing, style variations, typography, and block patterns.

Price: Free

Active installations: 800,000+

Best features: Minimalist design, lightweight, pre-designed styles

Suitable for: Testing environment and building a variety of websites

What our tests showed

Twenty Twenty-Three achieved remarkable results on all three tests. More importantly, its lab-based Core Web Vitals were in the green, a prerequisite for an excellent real-world performance.

Twenty Twenty Three WordPress Theme Performance Test Results

In PSI, it scored perfectly on mobile and desktop, achieving 100/100 on both tests. It also scored an A grade in GTmetrix (98% performance score, 100% structure score) with 1.4s in load time.

Our Pingdom tests confirmed the “lightweight” label of Twenty Twenty-Three. With just 26.3KB Page Size, this theme was the clear winner from all we tested.

2. Hello Elementor - The Ecommerce go-to

Hello Elementor WordPress Theme

Elementor is used by 8.0% of all websites, which is no surprise considering how easy it is to build a web page. Well, the same developers responsible for creating one of the most popular page builders have produced a fast and lightweight theme called Hello Elementor

The theme is advertised to be speedy and flexible. As you might expect, it integrates seamlessly with Elementor and numerous other plugins such as WooCommerce, Advanced Custom Fields, Yoast, and others.

Furthermore, it offers 100+ ready-made designs, which allows you to create a perfectly functional website from scratch. 

Price: Free

Active installations: 1+ million

Best features: Lightweight, 100+ ready-made designs, customizable

Suitable for: Building a website from scratch

What our tests showed

Like Twenty Twenty-Three, Hello Elementor got excellent CWV results both on desktop and mobile. 

Hello Elementor Performance Test Results

It scored perfectly on GTmetrix and Pingdom. In fact, our Pingdom tests ranked it the second-lightest theme, with a load time of 520ms, the same as the WordPress default theme.

You should be aware that although it’s marketed as lightweight, Hello Elementor isn’t customizable by itself. You will need to add Elementor as a page-building solution, which might affect your website's performance.

3. GeneratePress - The block-based one

GeneratePress WordPress Theme

GeneratePress is a WordPress theme designed to prioritize speed, usability, and accessibility.

Its utilization of Gutenberg guarantees you freedom when creating your content. If you use page builders, you’d love to hear that GeneratePress is fully compatible with all the major ones, including Beaver Builder and Elementor.

GeneratePress is fully responsive and has been translated into over 25 languages. Furthermore, it includes 60+ color controls, powerful dynamic typography, 5 navigation locations, 5 sidebar layouts, dropdown menus, and 9 widget areas.

Price: Free; $59/yearly, $249/lifetime

Active installations: 500,000+

Best features: Speed-oriented, responsive, compatible with page builders

Suitable for: All kinds of websites

What our tests showed

One thing that caught our attention when searching for themes was GeneratePress’ statement “100% Page Scores”. So we were eager to test that out. 

We can say that GeneratePress talked the talk and walked the walk. It got nearly perfect performance scores on all three tests:

GeneratePress WordPress Theme Performance Test Results

When it comes to page size, we were surprised by the results. Running our website through Pingdom, the page size came at 37.7KB, slightly different from the “7.5KB” they promise on their website.

4. Neve - The versatile

Neve WordPress Theme

Neve is a versatile and speedy theme that can be customized for various purposes. It is ideal for bloggers, small businesses, startups, agencies, firms, and e-commerce shops using the WooCommerce storefront, personal portfolio sites, and various other projects.

It is optimized for AMP and responsiveness, ensuring quick loading times and optimal display on any device. Although it has a minimalist design, Neve can be easily extended and features highly SEO-optimized code that can result in top Google search rankings.

Neve is also compatible with Gutenberg and popular page builders such as Elementor, Brizy, Beaver Builder, Visual Composer, SiteOrigin, and Divi.

Price: Free; $69/year; $149/year; $249/year

Active installations: 300,000+

Best features: Responsive, SEO-optimized, minimalist design

Suitable for: A wide range of purposes and sites

What our tests showed

Regarding Core Web Vitals and performance scores, Neve is as good as the previous options.

Neve WordPress Theme Performance Test Results

The reason it comes fourth on our list is the page size and load time, but that shouldn’t stop you from testing it.

One of the benefits of Neve is that it employs vanilla JS rather than a framework such as JQuery. This contributes to an improvement in performance and results in a more responsive website.

5. Sydney - Freelancers love it

Sydney WordPress Theme

Sydney is a robust theme that allows businesses or freelancers to quickly establish a remarkable online presence.

This theme is fully compatible with Elementor and offers various customization options, including access to all Google Fonts, complete color control, layout control, logo upload, full-screen slider, header image, sticky navigation, and many other features.

Additionally, Sydney provides all the necessary building blocks to promptly create an appealing page.

Price: Free; $69/yearly, $99/year; $199/lifetime

Active installations: 100,000+

Best features: Access to Google Fonts, color control

Suitable for: Business websites

What our tests showed

After completing a fresh install of Sydney, we tested the theme's performance.

The results:

It has all the ingredients to build a website that will satisfy your visitors and search engines.

Sydney WordPress Theme Performance Test Results

In terms of speed and Core Web Vitals, Sydney ranks the same as the other themes. However, the total page size is twice bigger (48.1KB) than Twenty Twenty-Three. 

6. Astra - Known by all, loved by all

Astra WordPress Theme

Astra is the most popular WordPress theme. It is fast, fully customizable, and visually appealing, making it a suitable choice for various purposes, such as blogging, personal portfolios, business websites, and WooCommerce storefronts.

Astra is also designed to be lightweight, with a frontend size of less than 50KB, contributing to its unparalleled speed. The theme is built with SEO in mind, integrating code and Native AMP support to enhance your site's search engine visibility.

Furthermore, Astra offers unique features and templates compatible with popular page builders such as Elementor, Beaver Builder, Visual Composer, SiteOrigin, and Divi, ensuring seamless integration with your preferred page builder.

Price: Free; $47/yearly, $137/year; $187/year; lifetime options available

Active installations: 1+ million

Best features: Pre-built websites, multiple customizable options, fast  

Suitable for: Every website

What our tests showed

Contrary to our expectations, Astra didn’t perform as well as we thought. Yes, the PSI mobile scores were excellent, but it showed sub-par results on desktop.

Astra WordPress Theme Performance Test Results

Also, it was surprising that it got only an 85% performance score on GTmetrix. Nevertheless, all the other metrics were similar to the leaders in our ranking.

7. Kadence - The low-key favorite

Kadence WordPress Theme

Kadence is a WordPress theme that is both lightweight and packed with features, enabling you to create beautiful, fast-loading, and accessible websites with ease.

One of its notable features is an intuitive drag-and-drop header and footer builder that enables you to construct any type of header in a matter of minutes. The theme also boasts a comprehensive library of stunning starter templates that can be easily customized with the help of intelligent global font and color controls.

Moreover, the Kadence Theme is highly compatible with the most popular third-party plugins, allowing you to swiftly develop impressive eCommerce websites, course websites, business websites, and other types of sites.

Price: Free; $129/first year, $199/first year

Active installations: 200,000+

Best features: Intuitive drag-and-drop, starter templates, performance-minded  

Suitable for: All kinds of websites

What our tests showed

Kadence has a default page size of 54.8KB. While it’s the largest of the group, it still managed to excel in both PSI tests and score an A on GTmetrix.

Kadence WordPress Theme Performance Test Results

Considering how much this theme packs in, that could be drastically improved with some optimization and a good site speed optimization plugin.

Which Theme Should I Install?

All of them.

Yes, you’ve read that right.

We narrowed down our list to just 7 themes because we wanted to provide you with a small pool of options that you can test on your own.

It’s much faster and easier to go through seven themes yourself instead of overwhelming you with a massive list of 50+ themes.

We believe the ones that were included in this article offer the best foundation to build on and have a well-performing website.

And we emphasize on foundation.

In our research, we tested the themes without any content or plugins added on top of them.

So we recommend trying all of them, playing with their customization features, adding some content, and installing a couple of plugins.

Then, test and see what provides the best results based on your specific needs and requirements.

How to Further Improve Your Core Web Vitals [Checklist]

Building on a speed-optimized theme will give you a head start in your Core Web Vitals journey and save you from warnings like "Avoid an excessive DOM size."

However, in many cases, relying solely on a fast theme isn’t enough to get your scores over the line.

That’s why we’ve prepared a quick checklist of good practices you can follow to optimize each CWV metric:

1. Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)

  • Use a lightweight theme
  • Don’t bloat your site with unnecessary plugins
  • Compress your images
  • Serve images in next-gen formats
  • Preload your hero images
  • Minify and compress your code files
  • Implement Critical CSS
  • Use a CDN
  • Install a caching plugin

2. Interaction to Next Paint (INP)

  • Delay or remove non-critical third-party scripts
  • Minify and compress your code files
  • Reduce unused CSS
  • Defer unused JavaScript
  • Avoid recurring timers that overwork the main thread
  • Break up long tasks that block the main thread
  • Reduce DOM size

3. Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)

  • Add width and height attributes to images and videos
  • Reserve space for ads, embeds, and iFrames
  • Optimize font delivery

Although it may seem like a lot of work, the benefits of applying all these best practices will eventually lead to excellent real-world business results.

All you have to do is optimize one thing at a time.


Pass your Core Web Vitals on autopilot with NitroPack →

Niko Kaleev
Web Performance Geek

Niko has 5+ years of experience turning those “it’s too technical for me” topics into “I can’t believe I get it” content pieces. He specializes in dissecting nuanced topics like Core Web Vitals, web performance metrics, and site speed optimization techniques. When he’s taking a breather from researching his next content piece, you’ll find him deep into the latest performance news.