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NordVPN vs. ExpressVPN: Which is Better for You?

Top10.com StaffByTop10.com StaffAug. 13, 2019

ExpressVPN

One of the fastest VPNs around
This VPN offers top notch security, no logging, and super-fast speeds
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NordVPN

Great value for a wealth of features
A feature-packed VPN service that is designed for the ultimate online experience
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NordVPN and ExpressVPN are 2 of the leaders in the VPN industry. Deciding on which one is best for you can be tricky. This guide will help you to make an excellent choice for your needs.

30 days
30 days
5 devices
6 devices
Kill Switch, Split Tunneling, Smart DNS, .onion Tor Web Address, Stealth Technology
Kill Switch, Split Tunneling, Obfuscation tech, Unlimited bandwidth, CyberSec, Double VPN, DNS Leak Protection, Onion over VPN, SmartPlay
256-bit AES encryption
256-bit AES encryption
OpenVPN, IKEv2, PPTP, IPSec, L2TP/IPSec
OpenVPN, IKEv2, PPTP, IPSec, L2TP/IPSec
No-logs policy
No-logs policy
The British Virgin Islands
Panama
3,000+
5,200+
94+ countries
59+ countries
Unlimited
Unlimited
Netflix, BBCCiPlayer, Hulu, HBO, Sky Go
Netflix, BBCCiPlayer, Hulu, HBO, Sky Go
Yes
Yes
1 Month Plan for $12.95 per month 6 Month Plan for $9.99 per month 15 Month Plan for $6.67 per month
1 Month Plan for $11.95 per month 1 Year plan for $6.99 per month 2 Year plan for $4.99 per month 3 Year plan for $3.49 per month
24/7
24/7

Best for Streaming

Both NordVPN and ExpressVPN are some of the most preferred VPNs for streaming HD content seamlessly. The 2 work well with the most popular streaming platforms, including Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, and more. 

Besides offering its original content, Netflix has a feature where it provides other exciting libraries of content in specific regions that you’d otherwise find censored in other locations around the world. As you’d expect, I’ve done in-depth Netflix tests and can confirm that the 2 VPNs can unlock the various libraries in regions most favored by the giant streaming service. 

For instance, NordVPN and ExpressVPN can access content in countries like Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, South Korea, Germany, and Japan. However, I’ve discovered that NordVPN can also unlock Netflix Brazil effortlessly—unlike ExpressVPN. This is thanks to the SmartPlay DNS feature by NordVPN, which allows you to connect to the best streaming server whenever you want to catch up on your favorite shows. 

Furthermore, NordVPN runs the largest network infrastructure of over 5,200 servers in 59+ countries around the world. This is compared to ExpressVPN that runs 3,000+ servers.

However, ExpressVPN has some tricks too. For instance, apart from providing the fastest speeds in the VPN industry, ExpressVPN also offers servers in 160 locations across 94+ countries around the world. This means that if you compare the 59+ countries for NordVPN, ExpressVPN emerges the winner—considering they’ll offer wider coverage as well as more streaming opportunities.

Furthermore, ExpressVPN is also one of the few VPNs that can unlock DAZN—one of Europe’s giant sports streaming platforms. Sadly, the same cannot be said about NordVPN, since it can’t seem to overcome the heavy geo-restrictions imposed by DAZN. 

ExpressVPN edges out NordVPN with its media streaming feature that provides specialized DNS servers—something you can use on devices lacking native VPN support. Moreover, NordVPN still lacks such a dedicated feature, albeit its Smart DNS is similar.

Winner: ExpressVPN

Although NordVPN offers a record highest number of servers (5,200+), and fast speeds, ExpressVPN holds the lead for streaming. If you fancy streaming access to more countries, and also use devices like Apple TV and gaming consoles—you can pick ExpressVPN. However, if you’re mainly interested in Netflix, NordVPN is an excellent and affordable choice.

Best for Torrenting

For torrent lovers, it’s quite tricky to settle on either NordVPN or ExpressVPN. Fortunately, after weeks of testing, I’ve narrowed it down to the details that can help you decide.

Both VPNs support secure P2P file sharing, and they (NordVPN and ExpressVPN) are transparent about it—something that you should check if you want a long-term VPN for torrenting.

Nonetheless, NordVPN proved to offer an unbeatable experience for torrenting, and the apps worked excellently. This is mainly thanks to its extensive server count that allows millions of users to access different servers at the same time. Moreover, NordVPN also provides specialized P2P servers around the world, and you can easily connect to any of them with a single click.

Additionally, NordVPN gives you an extra exciting feature that ExpressVPN lacks—SOCKS5 proxies. Notably, the proxies are not part of the VPN apps and you’ll have to manually configure them within your torrent client. Noteworthy, most SOCKS5 proxies often give enhanced streaming speeds with tolerable levels of security—and this doesn’t include encryption. However, there’s a catch—the configurations are quite advanced, something that normal users will find hectic. Thankfully, you can contact the ever available NordVPN 24/7 live chat service for assistance.

Winner: NordVPN

Although both VPNs work well with torrenting and secure P2P file sharing, NordVPN comes up clutch. NordVPN—through its specialized P2P servers and the extra SOCKS5 proxies—is able to guarantee a hassle-free torrenting experience.

Best Value

Throughout the testing, ExpressVPN has been a close competitor against NordVPN. Nonetheless, in terms of pricing, we surely have a clear winner of the 2.

If you’re a user who’s keen on watching your budget, then you should consider opting for a top VPN that also gives the most affordable long-term plans. This is because the 1-month, short-term packages for most VPNs are regrettably expensive. 

NordVPN is clearly an excellent choice if you fancy great long-term deals. For instance, you can save up to 70% on its 3-year plan and end up paying a mere total of $125.64 every 3 years. Even better, NordVPN also gives you a generous no-questions-asked 30-day money-back guarantee. This is sufficient time to test their service, and you can cancel anytime—within the 30-day window that is.

ExpressVPN’s plans are less affordable. Like Nord, Express offers a hassle-free 30-day money-back guarantee. However, I did a price rates comparison and found that ExpressVPN’s 1-year plan is around 19% more expensive than NordVPN’s parallel plan.

You can enjoy up to 49% savings, plus 3 months free for Express’s  15-month package. But even their best deal doesn’t beat NordVPN’s 1-year plan. Here’s how they compare.

NordVPN’s pricing:

  • 3-year plan: $3.49/month (you’ll pay $125.64 every 3 years – 70% savings)
  • 2-year plan: $4.99/month (you’ll pay $119.76 every 2 years – 58% savings)
  • 1-year plan: $6.99/month (you’ll pay $83.88 every year – 41% savings)
  • 1-month plan: $11.95/month (paid monthly – zero discount)

ExpressVPN’s pricing:

  • 15-month plan, $6.67/month (includes up to three months free; and you’ll pay $99.95 first 15 months then every year – 49% savings)
  • 6-month plan, $9.99/month (you’ll pay $59.95 every 6 months – 23% savings)
  • 1-month plan, $12.95/month (paid monthly – zero discount)

Winner: NordVPN

NordVPN is unbeatable in this category, and this is thanks to its favorable plans that are also very affordable. While ExpressVPN’s pricey rates can be justified by its service—it can’t beat the great value for money that NordVPN provides.

Best for Ease of Use

Both NordVPN and ExpressVPN are constantly improving the ease of use of their service and apps as well. Which one is more user-friendly than the other?

In terms of website design, both VPNs sport futuristic websites that are minimalistic, and very informative. 

Both VPNs also provide dedicated clients that are quite intuitive and user-friendly. I rated them by one-click connections, and easy access workarounds with settings. 

ExpressVPN lets you easily choose servers, and enjoy the extra Smart Location feature. You can also easily navigate to the settings page. And while the desktop offers a long list of features you can play with, the mobile version doesn’t—giving you limited features.

Winner: ExpressVPN

Best for Speed

While a VPN’s encryption secures your online traffic, the security also weighs down on your internet speeds. However, NordVPN and ExpressVPN are 2 of the few VPNs that succeed in reducing the impact of encryption levels on internet connection speeds.

Admittedly, speed is the major selling point for ExpressVPN. The BVI-based VPN has the fastest speeds—with improvements each day.

On the other hand, NordVPN was historically considered a somewhat sluggish service. However, with a series of makeovers, the Panama-based VPN is now as swift and fast as its competitors. 

However, I had to be certain. Therefore, I’ve used a speed test tool to test the connection speeds of both VPNs. Notably, I was aiming to uncover how fast each of the VPNs is by connecting to the various servers around the world. Looking at the table of the summary below, you can see how NordVPN and ExpressVPN performed when I connected up to 10 different servers globally.

Since I had to obtain a baseline result for my speed tests, here is the screenshot data without a VPN connection:

Here are the results I obtained after I connected to a number of server locations around the world:

Servers
Download Speed (MB/s)
Download Speed (MB/s) 
Upload Speed (MB/s)
Upload Speed (MB/s) 

ExpressVPN 
NordVPN
ExpressVPN 
NordVPN
Auto (nearest)
73.84
68.73
11.90
10.88
Australia (Perth)
63.90
65.68
11.78
11.92
New Zealan
65.79
63.16
10.79
9.78
Japan
62.88
66.67
5.96
7.66
South Korea
62.18
56.93
7.53
8.07
South Africa
43.66
44.92
8.80
7.77
United Kingdom (Glasgow)
39.99
35.56
6.15
5.67
Israel
59.14
34.25
5.48
4.99
United States (New York)
23.59
32.88
3.95
4.87
Brazil
51.95
22.18
3.66
2.65

Undoubtedly, ExpressVPN takes a significant lead against NordVPN following the speed test results I’ve recorded on the table. But we have a few server locations where NordVPN out-performed ExpressVPN, including Japan, South Korea, and in the US.

Winner: ExpressVPN

Even though NordVPN owns and runs a record 5,200+ servers around the world, ExpressVPN still takes the lead in terms of speeds. However, with that said, I can also say that NordVPN is the second best VPN if you’re looking for ultra-fast speeds for streaming, torrenting and more.

Best for Servers and Network

When compared to other top VPNs in the industry, these 2 are currently the leaders in server count, as well as worldwide server locations. 

NordVPN allows you to choose from over 5,200 servers in 59+ countries around the world. This is an impressive count, anyway you slice it. Furthermore, this server count outruns ExpressVPN’s 3,000+ servers.

However, in terms of server coverage, ExpressVPN is superior to NordVPN with its 160+ locations across 94 countries around the world. This means that ExpressVPN has servers in the somewhat rare-to-get regions like the Middle-East and Africa as well—regions in which NordVPN lacks a strong presence.

Luckily, NordVPN gives you multiple server options, and you’ll notice up to 10 servers operating at full capacity for popular NordVPN regions like the US, the UK, and Canada as well.

Winner: Tie

Best for Privacy and Security

Being a top VPN in the industry comes with top-notch privacy and security standards. Both NordVPN and ExpressVPN are excellent choices if you want to stay private and secure on the internet. Furthermore, these 2 don’t only cover the basic privacy and security standards, but they’ve also invested in advanced military-grade encryption techniques. What’s more, NordVPN and ExpressVPN also promise to keep zero logs—and they’re quite transparent with their operations.

However, there’s more you need to know about their levels of privacy and security standards.

Privacy policy

ExpressVPN is registered in the British Virgin Islands, while NordVPN operates out of Panama. Notably, these 2 remote regions are considered safe zones, thanks to their strict privacy laws, and are in no way affected by data retention laws from the 5-, 9-, or 14-eye surveillance countries.

Thanks to this, both NordVPN and ExpressVPN can successfully promise to keep strict no-logs policies. This means that neither of the 2 VPNs can store users’ data, nor log their browsing activity. And, as of year-end-2019, the 2 VPNs now run bug-bounty programs, as well as regular independent audits to ensure endless privacy.

Encryption and connection protocols

Both VPNs use best-in-class AES-256 bit encryption alongside Perfect Forward Secrecy. Bear in mind that this level of encryption is considered the best in the industry, and is virtually impossible to breach.

The VPNs also offer an impressive list of protocols, including OpenVPN, IKEv2, L2TP/IPSec, and PPTP as well. In both cases, OpenVPN gives you the best combination of security and performance—especially if you’re located in countries with heavy surveillance. On the other hand,  protocols like IKEv2 can be utilized for streaming, since the protocol offers maximum speeds, but is light on security levels.

I noticed that ExpressVPN provides OpenVPN in its iOS app. However, this doesn’t apply to NordVPN, which only offers IKEv2/IPSec—best for streaming—on all iOS devices. This makes ExpressVPN one of the few VPNs to offer the native OpenVPN protocol for iOS. 

Security features

Despite the recent security breach on its Finland-based server—now dismantled—NordVPN still remains a top VPN in terms of security features in the industry. For instance, between the trademarked CyberSec utility (Ad-blocking and Malware protection), specialized servers—double VPNs, P2P Servers, obfuscated servers, VPN over Tor, and more—as well as the 2 different kill switch features, you can enjoy a long list of advanced security features.

Furthermore, NordVPN also uses stealth technology on its obfuscated servers. Most of these specialized servers are designed for special abilities, like bypassing the Great Firewall of China. These servers can also overcome the heavy censors placed on various content and websites in countries like Iran, Russia, UAE, and more.

ExpressVPN is also an excellent pick if you want a VPN that works well in China. Equally, ExpressVPN also offers a decent list of security features. Like NordVPN, it ships with a kill switch and DNS leak protection. 

ExpressVPN has an advantage over its competitor in terms of diskless servers. However, following the recent security incident, NordVPN is now also upgrading to RAM servers (diskless)—meaning it may eventually erase the advantage ExpressVPN has. Note that diskless servers don’t use any operating system, or store any data—therefore if somehow an attacker were to access them, then they would find nothing on these servers.

Winner: ExpressVPN

Editor’s Pick

NordVPN and ExpressVPN are 2 of the industry’s best VPNs, and the fierce battle between them has been going on for a while. Methodically comparing how they stack up in each category is the only way to make the best decision for you.

This is the summary of the winner for each category I’ve reviewed:

  • Streaming: ExpressVPN
  • Torrenting: NordVPN
  • Price: NordVPN
  • Ease of Use: ExpressVPN
  • Speed: ExpressVPN
  • Servers and Network: Tie
  • Privacy and Security: ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN was the winner in 4 out of 7 categories, but the margin between these 2 great products is pretty small. NordVPN also provides a number of impressive features and performance.

So, you have a  decision to make. But if you’d rather get a faster, and feature-packed VPN, I recommend ExpressVPN. The VPN is constantly updating its service, and you can be sure to get affordable plans at any time of the year.

Overall Winner: ExpressVPN

And the winner is...

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Top10.com StaffByTop10.com StaffJun. 18, 2019
Our editorial staff is comprised of writers who are passionate about the world of online consumer services. We specialize in simplifying the process of choosing the right VPN for your needs.