ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: VPN Titans Tested and Compared
Virtual private networks are essential if you need completely unrestricted access to the internet and want total protection. Most VPNs can accomplish as much, but it takes some effort to find a VPN that best suits your unique browsing habits, and offers a wide array of benefits at the same time. It often helps to narrow your list to the top entries and compare them, judging each on a feature-by-feature basis.
Our overall winner is ExpressVPN. Read on to see the breakdown of how each provider measures up.
|Security & Privacy||Winner||Loser |
|Customer Support||Tie||Tie |
NordVPN has the advantage ahead of ExpressVPN just because it keeps absolutely no connection logs, while ExpressVPN keeps your connection dates (but not time) as well as the server you connect to.
This is something that might tip the scales for the most privacy-minded. In saying that, most users won’t be affected by this in what is a very equal race. Whichever VPN you choose, it will be incredibly hard to track your online movements.
How would you like to compare ExpressVPN and NordVPN?
Performance is a key indicator of the quality of any VPN. To review a VPN’s performance means rating how well a VPN provider allows a user to access any content on the internet. This access needs to come with a connection speed that behaves as it would without the added layer of a VPN in place.
For browsing the web, watching videos, and more, a VPN provider’s performance is heavily reliant on how many servers there are in the world and the strength of the connection between them. Quite simply, the more servers a VPN provider has, the better. Plus the more locations that those servers are in, the better.
|Number of Countries||94||62 |
|Number of Servers||+2000||5244 |
ExpressVPN has over +2000 servers for customers to connect to in over 94 countries. NordVPN has more servers at around 5244
but these are within a smaller number of jurisdictions—only 62 countries. Both companies therefore have a large server network and importantly, neither ExpressVPN nor NordVPN throttles or limits user connection speed. Additionally, users with mobile devices can also enjoy both ExpressVPN and NordVPN. However, while ExpressVPN allows 3 simultaneous connections, NordVPN generously offers 6.
However, in terms of bandwidth speed on the two large private networks, ExpressVPN emerged as the winner by a slight margin.
Available Streaming Services
One of the main reasons that anyone uses a VPN is to access TV shows, movies, and music offered by streaming services that restrict customers based on their location. The best streaming platforms are often inaccessible to subscribers who are abroad, and the full selection of content is limited by geography. Accordingly, people look to quality VPN services like ExpressVPN and NordVPN to unblock geo-restricted access. ExpressVPN is the better at doing so with confirmed access to the following streaming services Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, HBO Go, BBC’s iPlayer and more.
NordVPN also skirts the restrictions that these services have installed but suffered from a few minor hiccups during our extensive trials. For watching single episodes of TV shows, occasional server interruptions are not too frustrating. However, in the day and age where users binge-watch box sets or view an entire film, buffering and freezing is the ultimate annoyance.
VPNs are great for gamers because they provide secure protection. But it can be a difficult decision when it comes to choosing NordVPN or ExpressVPN. Both are firm favorites with gamers thanks to their fast internet speeds that reduce the amount of buffering to provide an enjoyable multiplayer experience. This is particularly true for eSports games such as League of Legends, which rely on multiplayer setups and can involve players from all over the world. Plus, these VPNs allow gamers to access different content, since gaming services tend to show content based on the location of an IP address.
NordVPN has upwards of 5,400 servers that have been specifically designed to protect gaming data while also providing fast connection speeds. ExpressVPN prides itself on being one of the best VPNs for gamers. It reduces ping time during play and allows users to unblock restricted maps and skins. Both VPNs protect and defend against DDoS attacks so players can game with freedom and security. They also work on computers, smartphones, tablets, and game consoles so you can choose your favorite device to play from.
Overall Winner: Tie
It can be frustrating browsing the internet from a country where there are tight restrictions and censorship programs in place. While VPNs shouldn’t be used to access anything you’re not supposed to, they can help you enjoy your favorite shows and games from other parts of the world that you otherwise might not be able to access.
NordVPN vs ExpressVPN in this respect is a fairly close call. NordVPN boasts servers in more than 60 countries around the world, including some of the most restricted. It works in China, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and South Korea, as well as the UAE (although you will need a DU subscription to connect). ExpressVPN has over 3,000 servers in 94 countries worldwide, including South Korea. However, it doesn’t work in China or any of the most restricted Middle Eastern countries.
If you’re wondering “should I get NordVPN or ExpressVPN for my online banking?”, well, using either VPN for handling financial transactions is a smart choice, especially if you regularly use public WiFi or a mobile app to manage your bank accounts. NordVPN is a safe bet for transferring money since it doesn’t log any of your online activity. It has an in-built CyberSec feature that blocks unwanted ads and protects users from nasty malware to provide a better online experience. ExpressVPN uses a top-tier 256-bit encryption to protect your private data when using banking apps and finance sites, making it an equally safe choice for handling money transfers. Both VPNs have strict policies around online banking and this extends to cryptocurrency transactions too, which provides a safety net for users who want to deal in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
Overall Winner: Tie
Both VPN providers are highly capable and offer a broad range of features. However, when a deep investigation into the advanced features of both providers is considered, ExpressVPN comes out on top. Here’s why:
|Available Streaming Services||ExpressVPN|
It’s important to be protected by your VPN no matter where you are, or which device you’re using. Roaming around and using notoriously unsecure public Wi-Fi networks gives you even greater exposure to risk, so this becomes even more crucial. Both ExpressVPN and NordVPN provide mobile VPN applications for customers whose phones are central to their browsing experience, no matter if they’re iOS or Android. ExpressVPN’s is slightly easier and quicker to use, however, regardless of which software you employ it on.
The best VPNs allow advanced users who want more control to customize and choose how they use their VPN software. This means using a variety of different access and protection protocols that can alter one’s level of encryption or optimize an internet connection.
ExpressVPN customers can use the OpenVPN, IPSec/L2TP, and PPTP protocols, while NordVPN adds IPSec/IKEv2 functionality on top of the others. Base level users need not fret over the negligible differences between the two as it’s only the most tech-savvy that will make use of this distinction. However, expert users tend to choose OpenVPN protocols over all others, making ExpressVPN the winner in this case
Being able to use your VPN with multiple devices is a must-have with any modern service, because almost everyone has more than one place that they do their browsing. But what about managing multiple connections on a single device? While browsing on your laptop at home, you might want to maintain an uninterrupted local network connection while also browsing other content from safety. This is widely known as split tunneling.
ExpressVPN grants their subscribers the ability to “split tunnel” their traffic, effectively separating which portions of their traffic they want routed and which they don’t. Unfortunately, however, NordVPN does not offer such capabilities.
If for any reason VPN coverage should momentarily waver, a kill switch feature is useful for ensuring that the applications you’re using don’t reveal your IP or other sensitive information.
While both ExpressVPN and NordVPN have kill switches, ExpressVPN’s is slightly more convenient and protective. It blocks internet traffic entirely if the VPN goes down while NordVPN does not block traffic but instead closes applications that were using previously using the VPN. The distinction is small but can make a difference.
Effective as both methods are, in the case of consecutive outages, it might be frustrating for your applications to close multiple times instead of the internet simply going down.
For users that want an extra layer of privacy or have specific geolocation preferences, the ability to multi-hop, or route traffic through a chain of two (or more) servers, is quite useful. It might not be a deal breaker for most, but it can come in handy for specialized customers. ExpressVPN doesn’t offer this feature but NordVPN does.
Both NordVPN and ExpressVPN come with a long list of features and extra capabilities. ExpressVPN boasts more than 160 VPN locations, has a Network Lock kill switch, best-in-class encryption, and split tunneling. It also uses TrustedServer technology to provide an even safer experience, and has the added benefit of a private DNS on every server. Like most VPNs, it doesn’t log any of your connection or activity logs while using the internet.
NordVPN has an equal amount of additional features, the most popular being its CyberSec ad-blocking feature. This works on both HTTP and HTTPS websites, and it also comes equipped with 31 double-hop VPN servers, tor-over-VPN servers, and obfuscated servers that conceal traffic as regular HTTPS encryption. Users browsing from a geo-restricted location find this feature particularly helpful. On top of this, NordVPN is looking to release its own dedicated hardware that comes with more bandwidth in the next few months. A large number of its servers are already running on 10 Gbps bandwidth channels, and they’re looking to increase this number very soon.
One major reason people turn to VPNs is to increase their security and privacy while online. Thus, a high degree of protection while browsing is required from the best VPN services.
To protect against unwarranted exposure of your personal browsing data, and to get uninterrupted access to content, ExpressVPN and NordVPN both encompass some of the most important security features. For instance, both include kill switches and AES 256-bit encryption while maintaining no logs of user activity. We like to see all of these security features offered as standard, yet not all VPN providers do.
In terms of NordVPN versus ExpressVPN, NordVPN initially seems more secure. However, due to the presence of multi-hop functionality and VPN over TOR, its kill switch is not quite as efficient as ExpressVPN’s. This is because, by shutting down active applications instead of blocking internet traffic when you lose VPN service, it leaves room for error. This method is ultimately somewhat inconvenient, as a user must reopen all their lost windows.
A quality VPN’s customer service representatives should be available, knowledgeable, and friendly. As to be expected from two of the best VPN providers on the market, those working in customer service at ExpressVPN and NordVPN are all of these things.
If you need assistance learning a new feature or are having trouble setting up your VPN just right, ExpressVPN and NordVPN representatives are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We appreciate that one can start a conversation immediately via live chat with either service although email is always an option as well. Moreover, those with basic questions can simply refer to the knowledge base or FAQ sections on both websites.
Overall Winner: Tie
When it comes to accessing all your favorite streaming platforms, the question on everyone’s lips when it comes to ExpressVPN VS NordVPN is who does it better? The answer is that they’re pretty much on the same page, with ExpressVPN just taking the win due to it having more options in terms of Netflix. Let’s take a closer look.
ExpressVPN has access to the following:
- Netflix: US, Canada, UK, Australia, India, France, Germany, Hong Kong and more
- Hulu: the US and Japan
- Sky Go
- Amazon Prime Video
- BBC iPlayer
- Channel 4
NordVPN has access to the following:
- Netflix: US, Canada, UK, Australia, the Netherlands, and Japan
- Hulu: the US and Japan
- Sky Go
- Amazon Prime Video
- BBC iPlayer
- Channel 4
As you can see they’re very close in terms of who has better access, but those who wish to access a wider variety of international Netflix libraries will want to choose ExpressVPN.
When it comes to setting up your VPN, both of these options will be very simple in terms of getting the ball rolling. Just by heading over to the ExpressVPN or NordVPN website, you will find the various plans available and from there you can fill out your billing information and download the software.
When it comes to the interface the two couldn’t be more different, with ExpressVPN going for a more minimalist design while NordVPN has a cool control-style feel to it with a map of the world taking up a majority of the interface. It’s hard to pick a winner in this section of the ExpressVPN VS NordVPN battle as it all depends on user preference.
If you are a beginner or not too familiar with VPN services in general, ExpressVPN will probably be the better option for you. On the other hand, if you fancy yourself somewhat of a technical expert you will enjoy all the bells and whistles that come with NordVPN. They’re there with ExpressVPN too, but just not in your face as much.
In terms of configuration both NordVPN and ExpressVPN have military grade OpenVPN encryption, but when it comes to cloaking technology ExpressVPN utilizes cipher block chaining whilst NordVPN uses Obsfproxy.
Encryption is slightly better from ExpressVPN because it uses a longer key. Both of these services have the same security features found within their respective apps which will keep your IP address from being discoverable and both also have a kill switch which will stop your internet connection as soon as your VPN connection fails.
In saying that, NordVPN offers users an overall kill switch as well as a selective kill switch which works on a per-app basis. Whilst ExpressVPN doesn’t have this, it does offer split tunneling which lets you choose which apps will use VPN protection and which can bypass it altogether.
Those in need of a private or static IP address for a website, cloud storage system or gaming server will be able to purchase one for an added fee from NordVPN, but ExpressVPN doesn’t offer one at all. These IP addresses are located in various countries around the world including the Netherlands, UK, USA or Germany.
If you believe you need extra DDoS protection you can get that from NordVPN, but once again ExpressVPN will not be able to provide that for its users. When it comes to ExpressVPN VS NordVPN for configuration, NordVPN slightly takes the lead.
If we’re talking speed it should be noted that both of these options are considered fast and speed tests will vary on your internet connection, router, computer as well as your location. On the ExpressVPN website, you can find out everything you need to know about speed tests and how to launch them. It also explains there that the higher your speed index as well as your download speed and the lower your latency, the better. There are ways to improve your VPN connection speed which are discussed on both websites, but when it comes to speed in general, ExpressVPN takes the cake.
While it’s possible to find free VPN services on the internet, these are often the most bare-bones services. Ultimately, they’re not worth using as they often put users at risk by leaving out important features.
At first glance, the price between ExpressVPN and NordVPN leave no doubts about which is more economical.
ExpressVPN is pricier at $12.95 for a single month of service, $9.99 per month for 6 months of service (total $59.95), or their current most popular offer saves you 49% off their regular monthly price at $6.67/mo for 12 months + 3 months FREE of charge.
By contrast, NordVPN comes with a price tag of $11.95 for a single month , $4.92 per month for a 1-year plan (total $59), and $3.71 for a 2-year plan (total $89), their lost cost option with 68% off which is a real bargain.
- ExpressVPN: As low as $6.67
- NordVPN: As low as $2.99
Both services offer a 30-day money-back guarantee and the ability to pay in bitcoin, so one can effectively try out the full array of features and still receive a rebate if they aren’t satisfied.
The Winner: ExpressVPN
It’s possible to argue for either service in the battle of NordVPN vs ExpressVPN, as they both have a strong selection of features with pros and cons in different areas. Despite the tough choice, ExpressVPN emerges ahead due to the greater value it delivers per dollar. For a little more money, customers will enjoy a lightning fast connection and fewer interruptions. Plus its technology in key areas is better. Its kill switch is a prime example as it blocks an internet connection instead of applications and multi-hop functionality.
All that being said, NordVPN has its strengths as well and it may well suit some people better. For example, there is no denying it is still extremely strong in the security department thanks to its many features that offer protection and convenience. Plus, it is ultimately that little bit cheaper, which may appeal to the savings-oriented web browser.