Inserting and item into an existing array

Inserting an item into an existing array is a daily common task. You can add elements to the end of an array using push, to the beginning using unshift, or to the middle using splice.

Those are known methods, but it doesn’t mean there isn’t a more performant way. Here we go:

Adding an element at the end

Adding an element at the end of the array is easy with push(), but it can be done in different ways.


var arr = [1,2,3,4,5];
var arr2 = [];

arr.push(6);
arr[arr.length] = 6;
arr2 = arr.concat([6]);

Both first methods modify the original array. Don’t believe me? Check the jsperf

Performance on mobile :

Android (v4.2.2)

  1. arr.push(6); and arr[arr.length] = 6; have the same performance // 3 319 694 ops/sec
  2. arr2 = arr.concat([6]); 50.61 % slower than the other two methods

Chrome Mobile (v33.0.0)

  1. arr[arr.length] = 6; // 6 125 975 ops/sec
  2. arr.push(6); 66.74 % slower
  3. arr2 = arr.concat([6]); 87.63 % slower

Safari Mobile (v9)

  1. arr[arr.length] = 6; // 7 452 898 ops/sec
  2. arr.push(6); 40.19 % slower
  3. arr2 = arr.concat([6]); 49.78 % slower
Final victor

1. arr[arr.length] = 6; // with an average of 5 632 856 ops/sec
2. arr.push(6); // 35.64 % slower
3. arr2 = arr.concat([6]); // 62.67 % slower

Performance on desktop

Chrome (v48.0.2564)

  1. arr[arr.length] = 6; // 21 602 722 ops/sec
  2. arr.push(6); 61.94 % slower
  3. arr2 = arr.concat([6]); 87.45 % slower

Firefox (v44)

  1. arr.push(6); // 56 032 805 ops/sec
  2. arr[arr.length] = 6; 0.52 % slower
  3. arr2 = arr.concat([6]); 87.36 % slower

IE (v11)

  1. arr[arr.length] = 6; // 67 197 046 ops/sec
  2. arr.push(6); 39.61 % slower
  3. arr2 = arr.concat([6]); 93.41 % slower

Opera (v35.0.2066.68)

  1. arr[arr.length] = 6; // 30 775 071 ops/sec
  2. arr.push(6); 71.60 % slower
  3. arr2 = arr.concat([6]); 83.70 % slower

Safari (v9.0.3)

  1. arr.push(6); // 42 670 978 ops/sec
  2. arr[arr.length] = 6; 0.80 % slower
  3. arr2 = arr.concat([6]); 76.07 % slower
Final victor

1. arr[arr.length] = 6; // with an average of 42 345 449 ops/sec
2. arr.push(6); // 34.66 % slower
3. arr2 = arr.concat([6]); // 85.79 % slower

Add an element at the beginning

Now if we are trying to add an item to the beginning of the array:

var arr = [1,2,3,4,5];

arr.unshift(0);
[0].concat(arr);

Here is a little more detail: unshift edits the original array; concat returns a new array. jsperf

Performance on mobile :

Android (v4.2.2)

  1. [0].concat(arr); // 1 808 717 ops/sec
  2. arr.unshift(0); 97.85 % slower

Chrome Mobile (v33.0.0)

  1. [0].concat(arr); // 1 269 498 ops/sec
  2. arr.unshift(0); 99.86 % slower

Safari Mobile (v9)

  1. arr.unshift(0); // 3 250 184 ops/sec
  2. [0].concat(arr); 33.67 % slower
Final victor

1. [0].concat(arr); // with an average of 4 972 622 ops/sec
2. arr.unshift(0); // 64.70 % slower

Performance on desktop

Chrome (v48.0.2564)

  1. [0].concat(arr); // 2 656 685 ops/sec
  2. arr.unshift(0); 96.77 % slower

Firefox (v44)

  1. [0].concat(arr); // 8 039 759 ops/sec
  2. arr.unshift(0); 99.72 % slower

IE (v11)

  1. [0].concat(arr); // 3 604 226 ops/sec
  2. arr.unshift(0); 98.31 % slower

Opera (v35.0.2066.68)

  1. [0].concat(arr); // 4 102 128 ops/sec
  2. arr.unshift(0); 97.44 % slower

Safari (v9.0.3)

  1. arr.unshift(0); // 12 356 477 ops/sec
  2. [0].concat(arr); 15.17 % slower
Final victor

1. [0].concat(arr); // with an average of 6 032 573 ops/sec
2. arr.unshift(0); // 78.65 % slower

Add an element in the middle

Adding items in the middle of an array is easy with splice, and it’s the most performant way to do it.

var items = ['one', 'two', 'three', 'four'];
items.splice(items.length / 2, 0, 'hello');

I tried to run these tests in various Browsers and OS and the results were similar. I hope these tips will be useful for you and encourage to perform your own tests!