NordVPN VS ExpressVPN

Table of Contents

VPN are no longer just for smartphones or hackers, but are becoming more and more prevalent around the world.

This increasing usage is not only due to the growing awareness of the importance of cybersecurity, but also due to the increasing choice of quality VPN providers. So in this head-to-head race, we have two great matchups in the eternal battle of VPNs: ExpressVPN vs NordVPN.

You’ve probably heard of ExpressVPN, and for good reason – with great support and a large number of servers, ExpressVPN is a quality service through and through. NordVPN, however, is a very popular competitor and almost a household name by now, offering everything you would expect and some interesting in-depth features.

The best VPN offer the full package – including impeccable security features, easy-to-use apps, and the ability to access geo-blocked sites like Netflix.

What is NordVPN?

NordVPN is a world-renowned and arguably the most respected VPN service in the world. It was originally founded in 2012 and has since grown into a tech giant serving millions of users worldwide.

NordVPN offers apps for all major operating systems and devices, including PC, macOS, Android, iOS, and Linux, is compatible with Flash routers, and has proxy add-ons for Chrome and Firefox web browsers.

It offers a very wide range of privacy features, including basics like a kill switch for internet blocking and a private DNS resolver, as well as more advanced options like Tor over VPN and multi-hop connections.

What is ExpressVPN?

ExpressVPN is a very popular virtual private network provider with a large global user base.

It has apps for all major operating systems and devices (Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux) and works with a variety of VPN-enabled platforms, including smart TVs and gaming consoles.

Like NordVPN, it also has extensions for Chrome and Firefox browsers.

For example, the BVI-based service is known for providing exceptionally reliable connections that rarely fail under normal circumstances.

Speed Test

According to all the speed tests we ran for this comparison, NordVPN is faster than ExpressVPN – by a wide margin.

Test Variables – To compare NordVPN and ExpressVPN speeds, I ran all tests on the same test machine with a 500Mbps connection. For each service, I used the official VPN app and the best speed and security protocols.

  • Lightway protocol from ExpressVPN – This is a new protocol released by ExpressVPN that promises to be faster and more secure than OpenVPN. Unfortunately, unlike WireGuard, the Lightway protocol is closed source.
  • NordVPN’s WireGuard protocol – The WireGuard VPN protocol is faster and more secure than the old protocol, making it increasingly popular with global VPN services. And unlike Lightway, WireGuard is open source. NordVPN’s implementation of the WireGuard VPN protocol is called NordLynx.

We started with a speed test on servers in the US. Let’s now take a look at the test results.

Speeds of the US servers

ExpressVPN server in Seattle: 136 Mbps(On average)

This is not a very good test result, especially considering my base speed of 500 Mbps and the short distance (23 ms ping). And keep in mind that this is using ExpressVPN’s Lightway protocol. ExpressVPN was also found to be significantly slower than OpenVPN. Can NordVPN do better

NordVPN server in Seattle: 445 Mbps(On average).

This is the fastest VPN speed test we measured, at nearly 450 Mbps. You can see that NordVPN is significantly faster than ExpressVPN, at around 309 Mbps. It’s already clear that the WireGuard VPN protocol gives NordVPN a big advantage.

I then tested the servers in Los Angeles.

ExpressVPN server in Los Angeles: 209 Mbps(On average).

NordVPN server in Los Angeles: 304 Mbps(On average).

At this server location, nordVPN was again significantly faster than ExpressVPN. nordVPN was about 95 Mbps faster than ExpressVPN.

I then tested it on the New York server and the results were similar.

ExpressVPN server in New York: 214 Mbps(On average).

Again, we see that ExpressVPN’s Lightway protocol simply can’t match the speed of NordVPN’s WireGuard (NordLynx) protocol.

NordVPN server in New York: 280 Mbps(On average).

In fact, this is the slowest VPN speed test I’ve done with NordVPN – it’s still much faster than ExpressVPN at around 66 Mbps.

Long-range speed tests in the UK
I also did some long-haul speed tests with servers in the UK. The results were pretty much the same as before, with NordVPN performing the best.

ExpressVPN server in the UK: 235 Mbps(On average).

In fact, this is the fastest VPN speed test I was able to run with ExpressVPN. But as you’ll see below, NordVPN is still much faster.

NordVPN server in the UK: 295 Mbps(On average).

Again, we can see that NordVPN is about 60 Mbps faster than ExpressVPN at the UK server location. Even over long distances, I was able to achieve speeds of almost 300 Mbps with NordVPN.

As you can see, NordVPN offers some serious performance advantages. That’s one of the main reasons we rated it as the best VPN for gaming, where ping and speed are important.

ExpressVPN OpenVPN is slow

While we did all the ExpressVPN speed tests above using the Lightway protocol, we also need to talk about OpenVPN speeds.

Over the past few years, I’ve typically been able to achieve speeds of around 150Mbps and above with both ExpressVPN and OpenVPN protocols. Unfortunately, ExpressVPN has been significantly slower than NordVPN in all of my recent OpenVPN speed tests.

ExpressVPN vs OpenVPN Speed: 35-60 Mbps(On average).

This is quite slow compared to NordVPN’s speeds with OpenVPN.

NordVPN speeds with OpenVPN: Between 190 and 270 Mbps.

NordVPN also has a big performance advantage over ExpressVPN in this area for those who stick with the OpenVPN protocol. Even with a dual-VPN server, where traffic is encrypted at two separate jump points, NordVPN is still faster than ExpressVPN OpenVPN. This is NordVPN’s dual VPN server configuration (US-Canada) at 214Mbps(On average).

Even with two VPN servers, NordVPN is faster than ExpressVPN with OpenVPN.

Note: ExpressVPN does not offer a dual VPN server configuration or a dedicated server like NordVPN.

Winner for Speed: NordVPN

Customer Service

Support System NordVPN ExpressVPN

Live Chat

Yes
Yes

Email and Ticket Support

Yes
Yes

Average Email Support Response Time

49 Minutes
3 Hours, 45 Minutes

Phone Support

No
No

Searchable Knowledge Base

Yes
Yes

Video Guides

Yes
Yes

Both ExpressVPN and NordVPN are leaders in customer support, with live chat facilities and knowledgeable experts on their websites. Visiting both chat systems regularly, we found ExpressVPN to have faster connections.

We also tested both providers’ email responses. Both ExpressVPN and NordVPN responded quickly and thoroughly to a simple question about streaming. ExpressVPN stalled a bit on a seemingly simple question about DNS leaks, as they provided a lot of information about the problem but didn’t really answer our question. However, after a follow-up question, the question was answered immediately. ExpressVPN had the best average response time (1 hour and 40 minutes compared to NordVPN’s 3 hours and 24 minutes). Here are the results of the three questions for each team.

Winner for Customer Service: NordVPN

Special Features

Both providers offer a kill switch, which is one of the VPN’s special features. Both companies offer split tunneling, which allows you to route some of your traffic through the VPN and the rest through a local connection without VPN interference. ExpressVPN says it runs private DNS, but both VPN providers require domain name resolution. So while other providers don’t list “private DNS” as a feature, their role in packet forwarding means they must run all DNS.

NordVPN advertises P2P support, which allows you to torrent your favorite Linux distribution (and possibly other digital sharing activities of dubious legality that we strongly advise against). There is no mention of P2P on ExpressVPN.

NordVPN has some interesting features that ExpressVPN does not; NordVPN also offers Onion Over VPN, which allows you to use the Onion anonymizer with Nord VPN. NordVPN also allows you to purchase dedicated IP addresses, which can help you when dealing with anonymous servers or gaming connections. NordVPN also offers a business plan.

ExpressVPN has an interesting blog post about how it protects its apps from malware, but it doesn’t offer malware protection for traffic passing through its VPN network. NordVPN offers malware and adware filtering.

Winner for Special Features: NordVPN

Game Testing

For gamers looking for a private but fast gaming experience? We compared NordVPN and ExpressVPN in our League of Legends game. We used Haste to monitor speeds, which when used with the VPN can actually reduce ping compared to the original. in short, let’s see how they perform. Let’s start with NordVPN.

During a 20-minute game, the average ping was 31.8 ms. Jitter was only 1.2 ms, which means our highest ping in the game was 33 ms. Packet loss basically means that 0.2% of frames didn’t arrive, but that’s really nothing. You won’t notice it.

ExpressVPN had an average ping of 41 ms, a jitter of 2.0 ms, and a packet loss rate of only 0.6%. We were in Estonia and their smart site was further away from us than Nord’s smart site, which has an Estonian server.

We tested both with the smart site and both did very well, unfortunately NordVPN was slightly better, which is probably mostly due to the location of the smart server, but they still won the test.

Compatibility

Both providers offer compatibility with all major platforms (Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS) and include support for routers. If you’re looking for a VPN to use when streaming services like Netflix, ExpressVPN offers clear instructions on its website for accessing streams, and NordVPN’s help page includes a list of Netflix services and instructions on which server to use to watch content in your country.

Winner for Compatibility: Tie

Security and Privacy

Vendor NordVPN ExpressVPN

VPN Protocols

OpenVPN, IPSec/IKEv2, WireGuard’s NordLynx
OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec, PPTP, IKEv2

Encryption

AES-256
AES-256

Key Size

4096-bit
4096-bit

Logs

No Logs
No Logs

Locations

Panama
British Virgin Islands

Other Features

Kill switch, DoubleVPN, Onion over VPN
Kill Switch

Both use 256-bit AES encryption. In mathematical terms, if someone got their hands on your data while you were connected to a VPN (which is unlikely in itself), it would take them millions of years to decrypt it and figure out what’s inside! If your data is cracked. As for privacy, none of them keep logs, which means that even to them you are anonymous, and in short, they can’t track your activities.

Both VPNs have a “kill switch” feature that basically shuts down all internet activity. In this regard, nordVPN has a better implementation. Nord has two versions of the kill switch: system-level and application-only.

The system kill switch works like a regular kill switch – it shuts down all Internet traffic. The application-only switch terminates Internet connections for selected applications only. For example, you can add torrent apps to the list and exclude YouTube so that if your VPN connection is interrupted, YouTube will not be interrupted and you will not be tracked for your torrent activity.

In addition, NordVPN haDual VPN and Cybersec, which ExpressVPN simply does not have.

Winner for Security: NordVPN

VPN Work in China

ExpressVPN is one of the few services that can bypass Chinese online censorship. My team and I have tested over 10 VPNs in China and ExpressVPN is one of the few services that consistently allows access to restricted content like Facebook, Netflix US, and YouTube.

I also found ExpressVPN to work reliably in China, regardless of device type or operating system.

NordVPN did not work consistently in China. I tried to use it to unlock Instagram and Wikipedia, but received an error message. On the few occasions when NordVPN was able to connect, I first had to contact support for instructions on how to manually reconfigure it – but this was time-consuming and tedious (especially on my iOS device).

ExpressVPN seamless streaming in China is also fast. This is important to me because I can’t stream from my favorite platform just because I’m traveling in China, which doesn’t seem fair. Thanks to ExpressVPN fast servers in Japan, I was able to watch YouTube videos with a buffer time of only 3-4 seconds. When I connected to ExpressVPN US servers, I was also able to stream “Kim’s Convenience” in HD on Netflix with minimal latency.

Don’t make the same mistake I did – install ExpressVPN before you travel to China. Censorship there will prevent you from accessing websites and downloading apps. ExpressVPN also has a helpful troubleshooting page if you have other issues in China.

Winner for China: ExpressVPN

Pricing Plans

Time Period NordVPN ExpressVPN

1 Month

$11.95
$12.95

6 Months

-
$9.99/Month

1 Year

$6.99/Month
$8.32/Month

2 Years

$3.99/Month
-

3 Years

$2.99/Month
-

Price-wise, however, NordVPN is cheaper than ExpressVPN, especially if you sign up for a two- or three-year subscription and pay only $2.99 or $3.99 per month. ExpressVPN only offers 1-, 6, or 12-month options that range from $8.32 to $12.95 per month. So if budget is a big concern, you should go with NordVPN. They are cheaper than the industry average, typically between $10 and $13 per month.1 To learn more about their subscription and payment options on ExpressVPN and NordVPN costs.

Winner for Price: NordVPN

Simultaneous Connections

Most VPN services limit the number of simultaneous connections a user can make for several reasons. These can range from preventing server overload to making it difficult to share accounts.

If you have many devices in your home that you want to protect, it’s important to make sure you can cover them all, preferably with a VPN subscription. NordVPN and ExpressVPN are close, but NordVPN has the advantage.

NordVPN allows users to connect to up to 6 devices at a time, while ExpressVPN only allows 5 devices at a time, so NordVPN is the clear winner. If you have a lot of devices you want to protect and don’t want the hassle of multiple accounts.

Winner for Simultaneous Connections: NordVPN

Multiplatform Support

Full VPN access is available on all platforms supported by the service, allowing users to securely access the internet from smartphones, tablets, and laptops simultaneously across Mac, PC, iOS, Android, and more.

Winner for Multiplatform Support: Tie

Netflix and Online Streaming

Both VPN performed well when accessing Netflix and geo-blocked sites, and there was nothing that either VPN provider couldn’t access.

When we tested these VPN to unblock some geo-blocked streaming sites, they performed very well and here I will list the sites that we were able to unblock and access with these two VPN providers.

ExpressVPN has a slight advantage as it can unblock more geo-blocked Netflix directories than NordVPN. Also, ExpressVPN streaming speed is faster than NordVPN’s and we can easily watch Amazon and Netflix webisodes without buffering.

However, NordVPN will automatically redirect you to Netflix’s US directory if your chosen Netflix site’s directory cannot be unlocked.

Winner for Netflix and Online Streaming: ExpressVPN

Torrents and P2P

It’s hard to pick a winner in this category as well. Both competitors offer high speeds and a large number of servers to choose from. While NordVPN has almost double the number of serversP2P is only allowed on dedicated servers.

ExpressVPN, on the other hand, allows torrenting on all servers. Also, this VPN is available in 94 countries, compared to NordVPN’s 59, so you’re likely to find a server in or near your location.

Unlike NordVPN, does not have a free SOCKS5 proxy. On the other hand, you can get similar results with shared tunnel routing, which is available on Windows, Mac, and Android. NordVPN has this feature as well, but it’s not supported on Mac.

Winner for Torrents and P2P: Draw

Encryption

One of the most important considerations when choosing a VPN service is the security features it offers. Both NordVPN and ExpressVPN use military-grade AES 256-bit encryption that is virtually impossible to crack.

These two VPNs combine encryption with other security features for added protection. Perfect Forwarding Encryption, for example, changes the encryption and assigns a new one each time a session is started.

Protocols

A VPN protocol is a set of instructions that forms an encrypted tunnel for forwarding traffic. There are several protocols, each of which provides a solution for secure, private, and anonymous connections.

NordVPN and ExpressVPN use OpenVPN and IKEv2, the two most secure protocols, by default. You can use OpenVPN for lightweight activities like normal browsing, online banking, etc. On the other hand, IKEv2 is ideal for intensive tasks like torrenting and gaming, as it is faster.

NordVPN is slightly ahead of ExpressVPN as it offers NordLynx technology, which is based on the WireGuard protocol. Since it uses fewer lines of code, you can benefit from faster speeds while maintaining data security. It is available on Linux, Windows, iOS, Android, and macOS.

Ad Blocker

VPNs that offer ad blockers are always highly rated. Viruses and malware can take many forms, even on secure websites and HTTPS URLs. NordVPN beats ExpressVPN here by offering an effective ad blocker in the CyberSec suite. Apart from eliminating ads, it also blocks malware and trackers to keep you safe.

Unfortunately, ExpressVPN does not offer an ad blocker. However, this should not be a big deal as it is compatible with some third-party ad blockers.

Leakage protection

VPNs transmit traffic through encrypted tunnels, but software vulnerabilities can cause your IP address to be accidentally leaked. This could lead to your activities being seen by third parties, such as government agencies or ISPs. It also makes you vulnerable to spies and trackers that can trace your true where about.

The kill switch offered by ExpressVPN and NordVPN automatically terminates traffic when a VPN connection is dropped. This means that your real IP address, browsing history and identity remain hidden even if the VPN service is temporarily stopped.

Server Security

ExpressVPN uses Trusted Server technology, where all servers run on a random access memory (RAM). Since RAM can’t store data, your information is completely erased after each session. This makes you less vulnerable to attacks, as there is no data to grab in the first place.

Double VPN

This is an additional security feature that NordVPN offers. It is a great banking and payment feature as it transmits traffic through two servers instead of one.

This configuration ensures that your sensitive financial data is completely confidential, even though it can be a bit slower. ExpressVPN does not offer this feature.

Shared tunneling

Shared tunneling is a great feature that lets you choose which traffic to encrypt and which to leave untouched. If you want all traffic except Chrome to be encrypted, you can set it so that only Chrome does not go through the tunnel. ExpressVPN offers this feature on macOS and Windows devices.

While NordVPN does not offer this feature on desktops, you can use a browser extension to achieve the same goal. If you use the Chrome or Firefox extension, only browser traffic will be encrypted. Applications outside the browser use normal traffic, just like split tunnels work.

Security controls

Many VPN services are not independently audited due to the high level of auditing required. Both NordVPN and ExpressVPN have undergone several network security audits as part of their commitment to honesty and transparency.

ExpressVPNCure3 has been independently audited by a reputable cybersecurity firm and PwC.

NordVPNNordVPN suffered a minor security breach in 2019, but it was successfully fixed. It has been audited by VerSprite and PwC.

Server Locations

VPN Providers Total Countries Countries with City-Level Choice Total Servers

NordVPN

59
5
5500+

ExpressVPN

94
10
3000+

NordVPN and ExpressVPN Global Server Locations.

Both NordVPN and ExpressVPN have a significant number of VPN servers in many countries. ExpressVPN, on the other hand, offers servers in multiple countries. It also offers more specific city-level locations – twice as many as NordVPN.

The difference in the number of servers may seem significant, but as a user, you probably won’t notice any difference, as 3,000 is still a pretty impressive number.

As for the exact location of the server, this depends entirely on your needs. If you need access to specific websites, we recommend checking the ExpressVPN and NordVPN server lists before signing up.

Winner for Servers: ExpressVPN

Configuration

VPN use different methods to hide the identity of IP addresses. Both NordVPN and ExpressVPN use the split address method. In this method, all outgoing traffic is tagged with the IP address of the VPN server. Anyone monitoring your online activity from the target site will end up on the VPN server without being able to tell which VPN client made the request.

Both VPN providers offer you NAT firewall protection. Even though you may have read something about NAT firewalls on some VPNs, it is actually PAT (Port Address Mapping). This address translation system makes it almost impossible to identify the IP address behind the gateway, which automatically creates a firewall.

In some cases, a private address may be required. It is especially important to have a private, unique IP address when receiving incoming connections. In these cases, the NAT firewall will not map your address. If you are setting up your own server, you will need a static or private IP address. This could be a gaming server, your own website, or your own cloud system.

While ExpressVPN cannot set up a static IP address for you, NordVPN can provide this service for an additional fee. You can freely choose a US, UK, German or Dutch IP address. It does not matter where you actually live.

All VPNs offer some level of DDoS protection, as criminals need your IP address to launch DDoS attacks against you. With premium VPN services like ExpressVPN and NordVPN, anyone who tries to launch a DDoS attack against you is actually attacking your server. VPN servers can easily intercept these attacks as they are much more powerful than your computer.

Winner for Configuration: NordVPN

Unblocking Strength

Services NordVPN ExpressVPN

Netflix

US, UK, Australia, Canada, Japan, Netherlands
US, UK, Canada, Germany, France, Japan, and more

Hulu

US, Japan
US, Japan

Sky Go

Yes
Yes

Prime Video

US, UK
Yes

BBC iPlayer

Yes
Yes

For any VPN, it is a difficult task to unblock streaming platforms these days. This is because services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and others use strict blocking techniques.

The good news is that both ExpressVPN and NordVPN can effectively unblock multiple popular platforms.

While NordVPN works well for the US directory and other regions, as shown in the table, it does not work for many other regions, while ExpressVPN simply works well.

Winner for Unblocking Strength: ExpressVPN

Mobile Apps

It’s important that your VPN offers protection no matter where you are or what device you’re using. Roaming and using notoriously unsecured public Wi-Fi networks puts you at greater risk, so this becomes even more important. Both ExpressVPN and NordVPN offer mobile VPN apps for customers, whether on iOS or Android, so customers can use their phones as the centerpiece of their browsing experience. However, ExpressVPN is a bit easier and faster to use, regardless of which software you use it with.

14-Day Speed Average

Providers Server Locations Download Speed Upload Speed

ExpressVPN

USA

Uk

Germany

162 Mbps

106 Mbps

170 Mbps

282 Mbps

214 Mbps

312 Mbps

NordVPN

USA

UK

Germany

1,175 Mbps

1,364 Mbps

1,455 Mbps

1,096 Mbps

1,303 Mbps

1,276 Mbps

Winner for 14-Day average speed: NordVPN

Pros and Cons for ExpressVPN

Pros
  1. Works in China
  2. Allows P2P
  3. Servers in 94 Countries
Cons
  1. Expensive
  2. 3 Device limit

Pros and Cons for NordVPN

Pros
  1. Lots of security features
  2. High server count
  3. Anonymous Subscription
Cons
  1. Expensive

Bottom Line

In the end, we chose NordVPN as the better VPN. However, that doesn’t make ExpressVPN the loser in any way. In fact, ExpressVPN is great for unblocking geo-restricted content, including Netflix, Amazon Prime, and more. It also gets around censorship restrictions, including the Great Firewall of China, a bit better.

However, NordVPN is a great service with a large network of servers, lots of additional security features, and it’s cheaper than ExpressVPN. It has more servers and faster performance. It also offers more control over security settings and has a dedicated IP option with great unblocking features.

It’s worth noting that while both VPN have solid privacy policies, NordVPN preserves your complete privacy by not logging anything. The best part is that both come with a 30-day money back guarantee. So feel free to try both and see which one suits your needs. You can’t go wrong no matter which VPN provider you choose.

SAFE VPN

9.5/10

4.5/5
FAST VPN

9.6/10

4.5/5
USER FRIENDLY

9.5/10

4.5/5

USER FRIENDLY

SAVE 63%

5/5

USER FRIENDLY

SAVE 49%

5/5

USER FRIENDLY

SAVE 82%

5/5