Whenever it comes to finding the best VPN, you will see two VPN titans – ExpressVPN and NordVPN – neck to neck, but the crown is only for one… So, here I am with the ExpressVPN vs. NordVPN battle, with a close yet detailed look at both the winning winners.
Being the two biggest and best providers on the market, picking either isn’t a clear-cut thing, especially when various sources undoubtedly claim one or the other to be the best.
Anyways, cutting through all the claims, I am comparing these two giants head-to-head – so that you can be sure which one is worth spending your hard-earned money on.
Not just running down on paper, I will keep sharing my personal experience about each service across a number of important areas. And then, I will let you crown your winner.
So, ready to get into it?
First, have an aerial view…
NordVPN vs ExpressVPN – A one-minute Review
|Pricing||As low as $6.67/month in a 15-month plan||As low as $3.71/month in a 2-year plan|
|Free Plans||Yes, only with the 15-month plan||Yes, 7-day free trial on limited devices|
|Payment Methods||Credit cards, Mint, Paypal, and Bitcoin||Credit cards and cryptocurrencies|
|Money Back Guarantee||30 days||30 days|
|Servers||3000 servers in 94 countries||5400 servers in 59 countries|
|Netflix||Yes, and many others with fast speeds||Yes, and many others with moderate speeds|
|Torrenting||It took only 4 minutes to download a 91MB video||It took 6 minutes to download a 91MB video|
|Work in China||Yes||Yes, inconsistently|
|Local Speed||16% decrease from baseline||29% decrease from baseline|
|Long-distance server speed||34% decrease from baseline||41% decrease from baseline|
|Gaming||23% increase in latency||39% increase in latency|
|Located outside the 5, 9, and 14 Eyes alliances||Yes||Yes|
|Logging||Zero-logs policy. Independently audited||Zero-logs policy. Independently audited|
|Device compatibility||Android, Windows, Linux, macOS, iOS, and more.||Android, Windows, Linux, macOS, iOS, and more.|
DNS and IP leak protection
OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPSec protocols
OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPSec protocols
DNS and IP leak protection
Ad and malware blocker
OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPSec protocols
OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPSec protocols
Onion over VPN
Split Tunneling (windows)
ExpressVPN vs NordVPN – A closer look!
Pricing – who offers the GREATEST value for money?
To give you an overall look of all the plans, I am mentioning both ExpressVPN and NordVPN side by side.
|Yearly||$6.67/month + 3 months free||$4.92/month|
|2 Years Plan||No||$3.30/month|
|3 Years Plan||No||$3.71/month|
Well, no matter whom you go with, longer plans are justified.
So, here NordVPN is a WINNER… as you can see, it offers more options, suiting your anonymous needs, keeping a 30-money back guarantee, and anonymous payment methods, ceteris paribus.
Servers & Geo-restrictions – Which VPN is geographically generous?
- ExpressVPN – 3000 servers across 94 countries
- NordVPN – 5400 servers across 59 countries
Country-wise, ExpressVPN is a WINNER, while in terms of the number of servers, NordVPN is crowing; so, choose what matters the most. Keep in mind that both Nord and ExpressVPN perform well when it comes to accessing popular content from countries like the UK, US, or Canada.
Being a VPN user, for me, the number of servers matters more than the overall network size, but yes, the latter cannot be taken for granted.
What if there’s no server in the requested country like Cambodia, where ExpressVPN has 1 server, NordVPN has none.
And, if your favorite show, such as High Road, is on the plate, then go with NordVPN, as it has more than 25 servers in NZ, while the other offers only 1 server.
So, choose wisely!
Talking about bypassing geo-restrictions and censorship, there is only one rule… the heavier the censorship, the better the performance is needed; the number of servers to bypass restrictions is the least concern here.
For example, ExpressVPN works consistently in China, thanks to its faster servers in Hong Kong and Japan, whereas on the other hand, NordVPN has nearby Japanese servers — but barely worked in China.
The best thing could be… check with customer service before committing to either, as both constantly add new servers – for optimum coverage.
Netflixing, Torrenting – which VPN service is more streaming-friendly?
Thank God, I have tested both during the lockdown, and they both worked quite well, with varying speeds – ExpressVPN was a bit faster!
While torrenting my craze for not-so-local movies, both VPN performed well – ExpressVPN took 4 minutes to download a 91MB video, while the other took 6 minutes to download for the same video.
Other un-blocking potential is as follows:
|Hulu||US, Japan||US, Japan|
|Amazon Prime Video||Yes||Yes|
Let me tell you something important here… choosing a safe VPN for torrenting is tough; thank God, both Nord and ExpressVPN support torrenting and have P2P and torrent-friendly servers, respectively.
Performance – which one, NordVPN vs. ExpressVPN, runs faster?
Connection speed is the lifeblood of any VPN service, and I think many of you make your VPN purchase on this section alone.
I have tested a number of VPNs, but believe me… these two providers offer the best yet fastest connectivity; in my speed tests, ExpressVPN was consistently faster in both local and long-distance connections.
To determine which VPN is faster, I conducted two-speed tests: a long-distance test with my favorite US servers and a local test with servers in Australia.
Note: No speed test is perfect; there are factors including internet connection, location, router, type of device, and a couple of other variables that do vary results. I have opted for the OpenVPN protocol for the tests and let the provider automatically connect me to the fastest server.
In my testing, I was impressed by both of them; using a 1Gbps US line, Express’s Lightway speed was up to 635Mbps with a 16% decrease from baseline. On the same line, Nord’s NordLynx protocols delivered speeds of up to 4870Mbps with a 29% decrease from baseline.
With OpenVPN, the results were similar – around 277mbps.
On a similar line in the UK, NordVPN blasted a 41% decrease from baseline
with incredible speeds of 460-800Mbps. Unfortunately, however, the ExpressVPN shot a fall of 34% from the baseline.
Here, both are the WINNERS; both delivered seriously speedy connections.
Gaming – Which VPN offers the lowest latency for gaming?
Overall, both VPNs unblocked all my favorite games and provided top security; I actually uninterrupted gaming after so long. However, ExpressVPN was slightly faster than NordVPN.
I have played Counter-Strike with both NordVPN and ExpressVPN – to gauge the impact on gaming latency (remember: the lower the latency, the better).
Though both VPNs increased my latency — but as I said, ExpressVPN had a lower latency score than the other, which means more responsiveness and less lagging.
To be honest, with ExpressVPN, I have felt like no VPN is connected. Even with NordVPN, the speed was decent in most parts of the game, except minimal lag.
Yes, I heard your concern… both ExpressVPN and NordVPN are best to unblock geo-restricted games and DLC. I have played PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds Lite while connected to the Thai server on both VPNs.
Worry not! Both VPNs are equally potential enough to protect you from DDoS attacks.
Privacy and Anonymity – Which VPN, NordVPN or ExpressVPN, crowning the title of logless VPN?
The best about this VPN is that both are located in privacy-friendly countries, I mean outside the international surveillance alliances – Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and 14 Eyes. And yes, both of their no-logging policies and TrustedServer technology had undergone independent audits by PwC in 2018 and ‘19, respectively.
Upon digging a bit, you will get to know that ExpressVPN is headquartered in the British Virgin Islands, while NordVPN is in Panama; neither of them is restricted by any data retention laws. It means both VPNs are not legally required to keep records of our data (like the data we download and the websites we visit).
To further their privacy-mindedness, I like the fact that they only ask for an email address at the time of sign-up and their acceptance of cryptocurrencies.
Digging up into the privacy of both the VPN providers, I came to know that ExpressVPN and NordVPN follow strict no-logging policies – it means none of our IP address, browsing history, traffic destination, DNS queries, or file downloads/uploads can be traced back.
The only thing you should know is that both VPNs log some basic information about a user (like email address, name, and the payment method). These are only for the sake of auto-renewing the subscription.
Additionally, ExpressVPN records account ID, amount of data transferred, connection date (not time), and location connected (to and from).
A Tip from the Wise: If you want to stay 100% anonymous, use a fake email address and pay for either service via cryptocurrencies.
Security – Which is the most secure VPN, ExpressVPN or NordVPN
As far as security is concerned, both are winners, with NordVPN being the upper hand; here’s a detailed look at both the VPNs.
|Encryption||AES-256-GCM with SHA-512 HMAC authentication, 4096-bit DH key||AES-256-GCM with SHA-384 HMAC authentication, 4096-bit DH key|
|Protocols||OpenVPN UDP, IPSec/IKEv2, OpenVPN TCP, and IPSec/L2TP||OpenVPN UDP, IPSec/IKEv2, OpenVPN TCP, IPSec/L2TP, and WireGuard.|
|Kill Switch||Windows, Android (versions 7.4 onwards), Linux, macOS, and routers. Not on iOS.||Windows, Android, iOS, Linux, and macOS. Not on routers.|
|Leak protection||DNS, WebRTC, and IPv6||DNS, WebRTC, and IPv6|
|Onion over VPN servers||No||Yes|
|Writes data to hard drive||No, use TrustedServer tech. (servers on RAM)||Yes|
|Cloaking technology||Cipher block chaining||Obfsproxy|
Let me be specific with all the security features mentioned above;
- Encryption – both ExpressVPN and NordVPN use the top-tier, industry-standard AES 256-bit encryption.
- Protocols – protocols like OpenVPN and IKEv2 are known to be the safest, offering the best balance of security and speed; use the former for web surfing, streaming, banking, etc., while the latter for gaming and torrenting.
- Leak Protection – While testing both VPN providers, no DNS, IPv4, WebRTC, or IPv6 leak/s is found; having a built-in kill switch ensures optimum protection even if VPN or internet connection fails.
- Specialty servers – NordVPN offers double VPN and onion over VPN servers, which make the encryption impossible to break.
Device Compatibility – Which VPN is more user-friendly?
If you own any of these devices, you can either of the two VPNs – ExpressVPN and NordVPN;
- Android Smart TV,
- Raspberry Pi,
- Amazon Fire TV,
- Windows Phone,
- Chrome extension,
- Firefox extension,
- Opera Extension,
- Xbox One,
- Nintendo Switch,
- routers, and more.
Note: for gaming consoles and Kodi, apps are not available; to protect these devices, you can configure the VPN to routers.
And yes, keep one thing in mind that both ExpressVPN and NordVPN offer different features on different operating systems. So, do investigate encryption protocols, optimized servers, split-tunneling configurations, and other security features for the selected device before subscribing to any VPN service.
Overall, NordVPN is a WINNER here… offers added protection in terms of specialized servers and an ad/malware blocker.
Customer Support – Which of the two VPN offers faster customer service?
Before giving any details, let me tell you that ExpressVPN and NordVPN have knowledgeable customer service representatives who work 24/7 and respond fast (less than a minute via live chat and a couple of minutes via email).
Other than live chat and email, they both offer other resources too – to solve problems faster, including educational blogs, FAQs, and how-to pages.
Here’s the breakdown…
|Response time for live chat||10 seconds||12 seconds|
|Response Time for email||10 minutes||18 minutes|
Simultaneous Connections – The more, the merrier!
Connecting to ExpressVPN, you can use five devices at the same time, and with NordVPN, you are allowed for six devices (three on the same server, using different protocols).
It’s just a matter of one device, but NordVPN is winning this category by a hair.
As far as devices per subscription are concerned, ExpressVPN is generous; you can connect as many devices. NordVPN, on the other hand, will let you connect six devices in total, which means it is not suitable for larger group sharing.
And the WINNER is…. EXPRESSVPN
Yes, with a small margin, I am crowning ExpressVPN in the ExpressVPN vs. NordVPN battle; overall, ExpressVPN won in 6 categories, whereas NordVPN, being a close second, got 4 victories.
- Performance: ExpressVPN
- Netflix and streaming: ExpressVPN
- Safe and speedy Torrenting: ExpressVPN
- Best VPN for China: ExpressVPN
- Gaming: ExpressVPN
- Payment and refund: ExpressVPN
- Bypassing geo-restrictions: Tie
- Customer service: Tie
- Privacy and anonymity: Tie
- Zero-log policy: Tie
- Pricing: NordVPN
- Security: NordVPN
- Device compatibility: NordVPN
- Simultaneous Connection: NordVPN
Ultimately, both are top-tier services, and what makes the difference is your preferences; like if you are an avid streamer, gamer, or torrenteer, don’t settle for less than ExpressVPN. Or if you want to bypass geo-blocks in heavily censored countries and want security features like ad and malware blocker or Double VPN, NordVPN is the best.
And yes, in my opinion, NordVPN is the most budgeted VPN among the two.
Still not sure?
Be risk-free… you can opt either and try the VPN for a couple of days; if unable to live by your expectations, then simply avail of their 30-day money-back guarantee.
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