Perplexity AI vs. Bing Chat: Which AI Search Engine Is Better? – MUO – MakeUseOf

Perplexity AI and Bing Chat are both popular generative AI chatbots online. But which of the search engines offers a better experience?
As soon as Microsoft added ChatGPT's capabilities to Bing, it immediately expanded the search engine's functionality. Bing is more than just an alternative to Google Search now. Bing Chat has an interface similar to ChatGPT, and lets you use GPT-4 for free alongside unlimited access to the internet.
However, Bing Chat is not without its competitors. Perplexity AI is the only AI-enabled search engine that can compete with Microsoft's offering. It's fast, accurate, and features a sleek-looking user interface. Here, we will compare the two head-to-head and see which AI search engine is better.
By default, the LLM (large language model) that Perplexity is based on is GPT-3. However, it also has a GPT-4-powered Copilot mode. It's sort of a guided search experience that prompts you for more information to craft detailed and personalized answers.
So, if you ask Perplexity for laptops under $1,000, it will try to explore your use case, the screen size you prefer, and the battery life that you're expecting. Then, it will come up with a list of personalized recommendations, tailored to your needs.
You can only use the Copilot mode once you've signed in and for five queries only before it reloads (every four hours). You can get access to more uses if you subscribe to Perplexity Pro for $20/mo, which will also give you unrestricted access to GPT-4.
Bing Chat, on the other hand, only uses the GPT-4 model. It also has a 20-question limit, but that's per session, and you can have 10 sessions daily. GPT-4 is far superior to its predecessors because of the improved language processing and recognition of complex patterns.
When it comes to usefulness, Perplexity takes the lead. However, the win here goes to Bing Chat, because it offers more uses for GPT-4 technology.
Both Bing Chat and Perplexity AI are available as browser apps that you can access online. While Perplexity doesn't restrict what browser you use, Bing does, forcing you to use Microsoft Edge if you want more than five responses in total.
When it comes to mobile apps, Perplexity AI does not require any signup or login for its GPT-3 model (the free Quick mode version), but does so for the Copilot mode. On the other hand, Bing Chat requires you to log in with your Microsoft account before using the chatbot on iOS, though no login or signup is required on desktop or Android.
When comparing Bing Chat with Perplexity AI, it is important to remember that Bing Chat is a chatbot built on top of the traditional search engine. As such, you'll have to open the chatbot separately whenever you want to use it. This is true for both the desktop and mobile versions.
Perplexity, in contrast, takes you right into the chatbot interface (which comes with a sleek dark mode, too) as you open the website or launch the app.
When it comes to speed, Perplexity AI wins by a landslide. If you're using the GPT-3 model, Perplexity will always be quicker than Bing Chat, ChatGPT, Bard, and other popular chatbots. It's quick, but also accurate since it gives you sources for all of its responses. Copilot mode is noticeably slower, but still faster than Bing Chat.
Microsoft's AI search engine tends to be more careful with its responses. It takes a couple of seconds just to search for relevant sources that can help it respond to the prompt. While this means it is highly accurate most of the time, it tends to be very slow.
If you need to search for something quickly and need a brief response, Perplexity should be your go-to. While you might prefer Bing Chat for less restricted access to GPT-4, it's hard to deny that it's slow.
A good way to compare the various modes of these two AI search engines is to send in the same prompt. When asked about the best gaming laptops for $700, Perplexity AI did a decent job with GPT-3 in Quick mode. It immediately listed six great laptops, along with relevant links to reviews and stores to buy them from.
However, Perplexity's Copilot mode really nailed the job. It listed the best laptops under $700, along with a little review, highlighting the laptop's key features.
Bing Chat's Balanced mode was supposed to give a detailed answer, but it didn't. It simply listed a few laptops, without even mentioning their key specs.
Switching to the Precise mode improved things slightly. Bing Chat read the articles from across the web, and talked about a few laptops that different sites recommended. However, it did ask what kind of laptops we're looking for, encouraging a longer conversation on the topic, like Perplexity's Copilot mode.
While both chatbots were mostly accurate with their recommendations, Perplexity AI was definitely more helpful. It provided detailed responses, and even presented reviews for each laptop.
When it comes to stability, Perplexity AI has no issues at all and is available almost all the time. At worst, it will sometimes suffer from AI Hallucinations, a term that describes unexpected outputs or false information generated by AI chatbots. However, it won't suddenly end the conversation or stop responding.
Bing Chat is also available most of the time, but its responses are not as predictable. Whenever the chatbot gets confused or thinks something controversial is asked, it will abruptly end the conversation. You will have to start a new session every time this happens—which is more often than you think—making it a major hindrance to the usability of the chatbot.
Even though Perplexity AI also offers a GPT-4 mode, it's Bing Chat that truly benefits from it. The GPT-4 model is far better than GPT-3 when it comes to holding human-like conversations and remembering previous responses.
Bing Chat utilizes this advantage to its fullest, bringing the most out of its conversational capabilities. You can hold a very human-like conversation with it, and the chatbot will even use emojis occasionally.
Perplexity can't really hold a candle to Bing’s conversational capabilities. While it's serviceable as a research tool and is highly accurate, Bing Chat sounds more unnatural and is better at holding conversations.
Ultimately, it comes down to your preference and the platform you mostly use. Both Perplexity AI and Bing Chat have their highs and lows, and you should go with the one that suits your use case better.
For instance, Bing Chat should be your choice if you're looking for a super-conversational chatbot, and you're a Microsoft Edge user by default. However, you should consider Perplexity AI if you prefer on-the-fly responses without switching browsers. But how does Perplexity stack up to other competitors?
Hashir is an established tech journalist who covers Mac and iOS at MakeUseOf. He started his writing journey in 2020, and has since then been contributing to top-tier technology publications like MakeTechEasier, PCGuide101, and MacBook Journal. In his free time, Hashir polishes his jabs at the local boxing club, preparing for the robot apocalypse.