For better online security and privacy, people use VPN services. There are lots of VPN providers offering a similar set of features. Most of them are also in the same pricing range and almost equally regarded as being “the best”. And of course, people get confused about the variety of VPN services and what really sets them apart.
ExpressVPN and NordVPN are considered being “the best” VPN services around the web and also by Private Proxy Guide, but which one of them is a better solution for the ordinary Internet user? We wrote a general review of both some time ago (read our ExpressVPN review and NordVPN review here).
Now, we are going to compare them to each other by the same criteria used in the reviews.
Overview: NordVPN vs ExpressVPN
Both VPN providers offer a variety of servers, attractive apps for most platforms, unlimited speeds and bandwidth, a variety of security protocol options, no logs, and simultaneous connection to multiple devices. They offer a fast connection speed and provide great and reliable encryption. The servers are located in many places around the globe. Generally, NordVPN and ExpressVPN do not differ much.
ExpressVPN is under the jurisdiction of the British Virgin Islands. Being a part of the United Kingdom, this is an independent country with its own legal system and law control. The country is very well known for its financial privacy. The British Virgin Islands can even be compared to Switzerland. So, your data is absolutely protected and secure.
Pricing and payment: NordVPN vs ExpressVPN
|Pricing||$8.32/mo — 12 months plan|
$9.99/mo — 6 months plan
$12.95/mo — 1-month plan
|$2.99/mo — 3-year plan|
$3.99/mo — 2-year plan
$6.99/mo — 1-year plan
$11.95/mo — 1-month plan
|Supported Payment Methods||bank cards, PayPal, Bitcoin, and a lot of local payments systems||bank cards, PayPal, cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Ripple), the most popular local payment systems|
Comparing these two VPN providers, ExpressVPN is much more expensive. Even its cheapest plan does not differ much from the most expensive NordVPN plan. With ExpressVPN, you can save some money buying an annual subscription. In that case, it will cost you $8.32 per month. With NordVPN, the 3-year plan offers one of the lowest prices in the market — only $2.99 per month. Other plans are a bit more expensive, but they are more affordable and attractive than the competitor’s plans.
For both providers, the procedure of registration is very easy: all you need to start is your email address. If you completely want to keep your privacy, you can buy a subscription using cryptocurrencies. ExpressVPN supports only Bitcoin, and NordVPN —Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Ripple.
Both services support a huge variety of payment methods. You can choose among credit cards — Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover, as well as others; PayPal, cryptocurrencies, and a lot of local systems like Alipay, WebMoney, Yandex Money, Giropay, etc. So, you will be able to get a subscription no matter where you live.
Winner: NordVPN. Its pricing plans are much more attractive. In addition, it supports more cryptocurrencies.
Apps: NordVPN vs ExpressVPN
Both ExpressVPN and NordVPN support almost all existing devices and systems. For the most popular platforms such as Windows, Android, macOS, iOS, and Linux, they provide attractive and easy to use apps. They all have a great interface which is very intuitive even for a complete novice. For all other systems and devices, they have detailed instructions on how to configure everything manually. They include Blackberry, Wi-Fi routers, browser extensions, Xbox and PlayStation consoles, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Raspberry Pi, Synology NAS, etc.
The only difference is that with ExpressVPN you can select any specific country and city, but with NordVPN you will only be able to select countries. Within countries, the servers only have numbers. In the apps of both providers, there is an option to select the most suitable server for your needs automatically.
Features: NordVPN vs ExpressVPN
Both providers offer features which are de facto the standard for every respective VPN-company. For example, you can use the Kill Switch feature so the app blocks the connection if you disconnected from the VPN server for any reason. However, there are some features specific to each of them.
This is useful when you want to connect only specific devices or apps to the VPN. The feature lets you choose which devices or apps connect to ExpressVPN and which ones access the internet without VPN encryption.
ExpressVPN runs its own DNS on every server. Because it never leaves the VPN tunnel, ExpressVPN’s DNS is fast, leaves no identifiable information, and best of all, your DNS queries are signed and encrypted to be protected from anyone seeing them, stopping them or modifying them.
This is a feature that protects the system by blocking any malicious resources and even ads. Due to this, your device will remain uninfected. It provides better browser performance and improved security and privacy.
On some servers, you can choose the Double VPN feature. First, you connect to one server, then connect to the second one, and finally, you get connected to the website. It highly improves the security and helps to bypass local restrictions.
Onion over VPN
NordVPN offers to connect to the special Onion over VPN server and be absolutely protected. First, the traffic will be sent to the NordVPN server, and then redirected to the Onion Router. The combination of two technologies will hide your IP, DNS, and location, and highly encrypt your connection. You don’t even need to download the Tor browser.
When you are in a country or territory with strong internet censorship such as China, then connect to the special obfuscated server. It will bypass all the limitations and open the window to the world of freedom. You can find what servers support the feature on the official NordVPN website.
Servers: NordVPN vs ExpressVPN
Both providers have a huge network of servers. They have thousands of servers around the globe.
ExpressVPN offers 148 VPN locations around the globe to connect to. They are grouped by continents: Europe, the Americas, Asia Pacific, and Africa, Middle East & India. You can choose the location from the list, or even type a country or city. The company does not specify the total amount of servers, but we know that there are more than 2000 of them.
As for NordVPN, their network currently has 5249 servers in 62 countries. They are located in both popular countries and quite exotic ones. There are also general servers and special ones with a specific purpose. Unlike ExpressVPN, here, you are not able to select the specific location. You can change only countries. All the servers are numbered.
On the official website, you can find detailed information about all the servers. You will find the full list of them, and what security protocols they support.
Winner: tie. NordVPN is the winner in the total amount of servers. However, ExpressVPN allows selecting the specific location.
Speed test: NordVPN vs ExpressVPN
Connection speed is a vital component of any VPN service. Of course, the secure connection will be slower than the direct connection, but it’s important not to be slowed down significantly. While comparing, we were physically located in Ukraine and had the following connection speed:
Then we used several popular locations. Here are the results:
|UK||24.64/45.24 Mbps||UK||16.57/48.85 Mbps|
|Germany||24.43/52.91 Mbps||Switzerland||20.95/58.81 Mbps|
|USA||9.10/33.34 Mbps||USA||6.33/35.20 Mbps|
|Canada||6.75/15.10 Mbps||Brazil||5.61/13.84 Mbps|
|Australia||10.39/3.55 Mbps||Singapore||12.31/13.75 Mbps|
Obviously, the connection speed was significantly lower due to the physical distance. However, the results are pretty good. If you just browse the pages, you will not probably even notice any speed drop. In any case, you will be able to use any online service without the restrictions.
Winner: ExpressVPN. The average connection speed is higher in most locations.
Security: NordVPN vs ExpressVPN
Both providers support all the popular security and encryption protocols and allow using them without any restrictions. The list of supported protocols includes:
- UDP — OpenVPN — best combination of speed and security, but unavailable on some networks.
- TCP — OpenVPN — supports probably all the networks but may be slower than UDP.
- L2TP — IPSec — L2TP over IPSec with a pre-shared key. Only a subset of VPN locations may be available.
- PPTP — the least secure protocol, should be used only for specific reasons. Only a subset of VPN locations may be available.
- SSTP — runs over TCP port 443 and work on any network. Only a subset of VPN locations may be available.
- IKEv2 — combines high reliability and speed. Supports connection to another network without dropping the VPN connection.
In addition, ExpressVPN uses AES-256 cipher with the RSA-4096 handshake and SHA-512 HMAC hash authentication, while NordVPN uses AES-256 for L2TP/IPSec, 256-bit SSL encryption for OpenVPN, and MPPE-128 encryption for PPTP.
Winner: Tie. Both companies provide a great set of security and encryption protocols.
Streaming & P2P: NordVPN vs ExpressVPN
Both ExpressVPN and NordVPN allow downloading torrent files without any restrictions. They also provide servers specifically configured to use the P2P protocol. We could download the Linux Mint install file without any problems in both cases.
As for geo-blocked services; we could easily access BBC iPlayer, Canadian CBC, Australian ABC iView, and the American version of Netflix. It’s a fantastic result. Moreover, NordVPN provides the SmartPlay feature which helps to access more than 400 streaming services around the globe. When you try to access it, the application automatically turns on this mode and connects to the best server to watch it without any problems.
Winner: Tie. You will be able to watch all the streaming services and access restricted websites using both providers.
Access: NordVPN vs ExpressVPN
Express VPN is the only service that guarantees to work and be available in censored areas and countries like China. You will be able to use the applications on your devices as usual. Moreover, if you live or come to a country which blocks access to the websites of VPN services, the company is the only one which offers a darknet mirror of the website. Use the Tor browser to access it on http://expressobutiolem.onion/.
On the other hand, NordVPN does not guarantee its availability in countries like China. Most probably, the apps will not work. However, try the manual configurations. It highly increases the chance to access the blocked resource.
Winner: ExpressVPN. It is the only provider that guarantees to work in China and provides a Tor version of their website.
Support: NordVPN vs ExpressVPN
Both companies provide technical support via online chat, as well as by email and via a web form. They reply fast, in most cases, in less than a minute, and provides informative instructions. They are ready to answer any question.
NordVPN vs ExpressVPN Verdict
We found out that despite ExpressVPN and NordVPN are very similar companies with a great set of features and options, ExpressVPN is the winner. It won due to its higher connection speed and better availability in censored areas. Its features are mostly related to the user’s security and privacy. It also works perfectly with all geo-blocked resources.
We are not saying that NordVPN is bad, in fact, we also highly recommend them. NordVPN provides many more servers. However, you are not able to choose their specific location, and they are slightly slower. At the same time, you can save a significant amount of money with NordVPN as its prices are much more attractive.