Managed WordPress Showdown - May 2019 - Flywheel vs. Kinsta vs. WP Engine

Josh Sherman
7 min read
Hosting / Domains WordPress

Due to my ongoing efforts on my VPS Showdown series, I’m regularly being asked if I have any recommendations on hosting for WordPress.

As it turns out, I don’t.

Sure, you could leverage my existing reviews to pick a host to slap WordPress on, but what if you want to eliminate the maintenance overhead entirely?

So I decided to try something new out here. Instead of adding WordPress benchmarks into my existing VPS Showdown posts, I’m going to try my hand at reviewing managed WordPress hosting providers.

That’s not to say that I won’t be including WordPress in my VPS comparisons in the future (another request I receive as well). I’m just not at that point quite yet. Maybe in a few months after I get Redis and MongoDB benchmarks into the mix.

So for this inaugural post, I’m comparing WP Engine, which I’ve used in the past, to Kinsta and Flywheel, both of which came by way of recommendations from friends.

Like most things I do, this will be a work in progress. If anything seems off or if you have any suggestions on how to improve things, let me know.

Also, full disclosure, I used a handful of benchmarking plug-ins to piece meal these metrics together. I wasn’t terribly impressed with any single one, so the plan is to eventually roll my own plug-in similar to how I rolled my own script for my VPS posts.


For each provider, I signed up for their least expensive plan. While not apples to apples in regard to specifications, I figure it’s a good starting point since price plays a huge part in people’s decision making process.

Each WordPress instance is configured nearly identically with the only real deviation being whatever under the hood magic the hosting provider does.

Each install is pretty “clean” in regard to not having many plug-ins installed. I’ve installed some plug-ins for benchmarking and that’s about it. Again, that’s outside of what the provider may have installed by default.

Down the road, I may get WooCommerce and some other popular plug-ins installed to see how they impact the performance.

  Flywheel Kinsta WP Engine
Sites 1 1 1
Visits 25,000 25,000 20,000
Storage 5 GB 5 GB 10 GB
Bandwidth 50 GB 50 GB 50 GB
Backups Yes Yes Yes
Staging Yes Yes Yes
SSL Yes Yes Yes
CDN Yes Yes Yes
Location US - San Francisco Oregon (US West) North America
Price $25/month $30/month $35/month

Worth noting, that while already the most expensive on the list, WP Engine also charged me tax (I’m in Texas).

Also worth noting, each instance is running WordPress 5.2.1, with WP Engine being the only provider that didn’t start with the latest version, which I had to upgrade to myself.


While not necessarily having direct access to the server (note: Kinsta was the only provider that allowed SSH access) it’s easy enough to pull system information from a WordPress install since it’s just PHP underneath.

  Flywheel Kinsta WP Engine
Operating System Ubuntu 16.04 LTS Ubuntu 16.04 LTS Ubuntu 18.04 LTS
PHP Version 7.2.18 7.3.4 7.3.4
PHP Memory Limit 128 MB 256 MB 512 MB
PHP Max POST Size 300 MB 128 MB 100 MB
PHP Max Upload Size 300 MB 128 MB 50 MB
PHP Max Execution Time 1 minute 5 minutes 60 minutes
Database Server MySQL MariaDB MySQL
Database Version 5.7.12 10.3.14 5.7.25


For these particular tests, I did run them 3 times each per provider and averaged the results. That said, each provider’s metrics were all terribly consistent with each run of the benchmark queries.

  Flywheel Kinsta WP Engine
SELECT BENCHMARK(500000000, EXTRACT(YEAR FROM NOW())); 4.4267 sec 12.4700 sec 4.4533 sec
SELECT BENCHMARK(10000000,ENCODE('hello','goodbye')); 3.3100 sec 1.6000 sec 3.3533 sec
SELECT BENCHMARK(25000000,1+1*2); 0.6667 sec 0.9200 sec 0.6033 sec

Uptime and Response Time

Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough foresight to get monitoring in place earlier. With that, these metrics will continue to improve every month as I’ll have more and more historical data to report on.

The same monitoring I’m doing for uptime is also tracking response time for each of the providers.

  Flywheel Kinsta WP Engine
Uptime 100% 100% 100%
Minimum Response Time 109 ms 156 ms 110 ms
Maximum Response Time 3550 ms 287 ms 266 ms
Average Response Time 440.79 ms 220.05 ms 176.07 ms
Time Period 6 hr 46 min 6 hr 45 min 6 hrs 49 min

Network Speed

There’s always one metric that ends up feeling way more subjective than the rest. It also tends to be related to network speed, which has so many factors in the mix that it’s hard to really know for sure.

That said, I also like to include some sort of network speed metric. This one is based on downloading data from the nearest Google CDN edge server:

  Flywheel Kinsta WP Engine
Test 1 52.20 MB/s 101.60 MB/s 113.51 MB/s
Test 2 53.21 MB/s 110.89 MB/s 107.58 MB/s
Test 3 41.22 MB/s 112.34 MB/s 100.01 MB/s


Even while clocking in a bit more expensive, with less visits than the rest, I felt that WP Engine’s system specs, performance and network speeds made it the best all around provider in this comparison.

This was been a fun little endeavor for me, and I can’t wait to dive deeper into these comparisons in the future, by way of my own custom benchmarking plug-ins.

As always, YMMV so you need to take your personal hosting requirements into consideration when picking your hosting provider.

If you found this comparison helpful and are planning to sign up for one of these providers, please use one of my referral links (sorry, no promo codes):

And don’t you worry, I’ll be back with a VPS Showdown for June, next week :)

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About Josh

Husband. Father. Pug dad. Musician. Founder of Holiday API, Head of Engineering and Emoji Specialist at Mailshake, and author of the best damn Lorem Ipsum Library for PHP.

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