ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: which VPN should you choose?
In this article, we have compared ExpressVPN vs NordVPN – the largest premium VPN services. Each of them can be called the best in certain areas, but which one has the edge overall? We’ve found a lot of differences between ExpressVPN and NordVPN and invite you to consider them before making the final decision.
NordVPN vs ExpressVPN: head-to-head
The table below is an overview of key features that each VPN must possess. This includes security, privacy, speed, and streaming, among others. While NordVPN is the overall winner, we encourage you to read on and learn more about what ExpressVPN has to offer.
Comparison by category
Both ExpressVPN and NordVPN are excellent VPN services. They have a strong technical base and millions of satisfied customers. Usually, that means that each provider attracts users with certain preferences, such as security, speed, or removing geo-restrictions.
I will compare NordVPN and ExpressVPN in seven categories – the same that we use for regular VPN reviews. Performing well in each of them is crucial for the top-notch services these VPNs aim to be. Therefore, I will determine the winner of each category and the one with the most points will win the whole comparison.
|Servers and speed
|Apps and devices
|Security and privacy
|6 out of 7
|4 out of 7
Servers and speed
All VPNs slow down your connection due to encryption. However, the impact can range from barely noticeable to debilitating. Luckily, you won't have performance issues either with NordVPN or with ExpressVPN, but there are some noticeable speed differences, as seen from the tables below.
While ExpressVPN showed better results in upload, NordVPN was faster at downloading. However, this should be noticeable only when downloading large files with a quality internet connection. Both providers use in-house tunneling protocols and seem to have made a good investment.
ExpressVPN and NordVPN have truly global server fleets and are equally matched. On one hand, NordVPN has nearly twice the number of servers (5600+ vs 3000+). On the other, ExpressVPN's country list is 37% longer (59 vs 94).
However, both VPNs have solid presence in most popular destinations, such as United States, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Japan, or Australia.
What countries does ExpressVPN offer that NordVPN does not?
- Brunei Darussalam
- Isle of Man
- Sri Lanka
Also, NordVPN doesn't offer any exclusive countries on its server list.
What's more, some of ExpressVPN's servers are virtual, meaning they aren't physically located in that particular country. NordVPN uses only bare-metal options and also owns some of them. Both providers actively implement RAM-only technology which means no data is stored permanently.
NordVPN is much more convenient in choosing a specific server. You can choose a VPN server on the locations menu. Each server has its number. Therefore, if you choose not just a location but a specific server, next time you will be connected to it.
Besides, it is not necessary to choose a server. You can choose just a country or city.
Moreover, NordVPN offers Dedicated IP servers. This means that you will always have the same IP, which is convenient when trying to unblock streaming or avoid blacklisting.
Overall, I'd say that NordVPN fares better in the server department. While it offers fewer countries, their lack should be a problem only to a small percentage of users. Other than that, you get way more servers and none of them are virtual.
Netflix and other streaming services
This category was the hardest to determine the winner in. The thing is, both ExpressVPN and NordVPN are, based on my test results, great for streaming, but only the former is among the top services for unblocking Netflix. They both consistently support almost all Netflix regions and errors are extremely rare. You'll also be able to watch Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, Disney+, and other content platforms.
|Amazon Prime Video
The speeds should be more than enough for 4K (UHD) video quality. There's low risk of experiencing buffering, unless you have poor internet conenction.
What's more, both providers include the Smart DNS feature for unblocking your favorite movies and shows on devices without VPN apps. These include smart TVs, Roku, and game consoles. The difference is that ExpressVPN's MediaStreamer offers only unblocking and NordVPN's SmartPlay adds encryption for traffic protection.
Torrenting: NordVPN vs ExpressVPN
Both providers allow torrenting, are fast, and have a similarly high level of hiding this activity from the ISP. However, there are some important differences to discuss.
To start with, ExpressVPN allows P2P on all servers. In the meantime, NordVPN has torrenting-optimized hardware in over 40 countries. However, thanks to the NordLynx tunneling protocol, download speeds should dwindle if you connect to the nearest available location.
When talking about features, ExpressVPN lacks a SOCKS5 proxy. On the other hand, it allows split tunneling on all devices while NordVPN supports Windows and Android only. In the end, it's up to you to decide which of these pros and cons are more important to you.
Plans and pricing
NordVPN is much cheaper than ExpressVPN. Besides, it offers a 2-year plan, which is a good option knowing that VPN prices tend to rise every year. Of course, a lot depends on the NordVPN plan that you choose.
Actually, NordVPN has two more plans – Plus and Complete. The former adds a NordPass password manager ($3.99/month) and the latter tops everything up with 1 TB of NordLocker secure cloud storage ($5.29/month). Even if you take the shorter yearly Plus or Complete subscription, NordVPN will cost you less than ExpressVPN while adding two essential tools for online protection.
While none of the providers offer a free version, there's a 7-day NordVPN free trial. It requires an Android but once activated, it works on all devices. However, you'll need to enter payment details.
Last but not least comes the money-back guarantee. ExpressVPN and NordVPN offer 30 days risk-free, which is an industry standard.
Apps and devices
NordVPN and ExpressVPN are available on a wide range of platforms. Even if a particulate device doesn't support VPNs, you can still protect it with the help of a router connection.
|Apps for popular platforms
|Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux
|Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux
|Apps for other platforms
|Android TV, Fire TV Stick
|Android TV, Fire TV Stick, Routers
|Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Brave
|Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Brave
|Chromecast, Roku, nVidia Shield
As the table shows, the options are pretty similar. While NordVPN allows more simultaneous connections, the difference is marginal. Besides, you can always connect unlimited devices if you use a router.
In fact, ExpressVPN has a dedicated router app, which makes everything much simpler. NordVPN offer manual setup and how-to guides, but this can still prove daunting to less experienced users.
Both VPNs have nicely designed and easy to use apps, but some might like the NordVPN's approach with a clickable world map better. There's also an alphabetical list of countries you can connect to.
Security and privacy
Once again, the contestants are matched pretty evenly. Both NordVPN and ExpressVPN offer solid protection based on military-grade encryption. However, there are some concerns with the latter that I'll discuss later in this section.
|NordLynx, OpenVPN, IKEv2
|Lightway, OpenVPN, IKEv2, L2TP, PPTP
|Connection level & app-level
|Unavailable on iOS
|Court-proven and independently audited
|British Virgin Islands
|Double VPN, Onion over VPN, Threat Protection, Obfuscated servers, split tunneling, SOCKS5 proxy, Dark Web Monitor, Meshnet
|Threat Manager, Obfuscated servers, split tunneling, port forwarding
First of all, ExpressVPN for iOS doesn't have a kill switch. This is a pretty common problem among VPNs but nevertheless, it poses an increased risk. If your VPN connection suddenly drops and you don't have a kill switch or it's turned off, your real IP address will be exposed.
Secondly, ExpressVPN offers fewer features. It lacks NordVPN's Double VPN (multi-hop), SOCKS5 proxy, and Dark Web Monitor (breach scanner). However, its split tunneling is available on all platforms and port forwarding can be a godsend for torrenters if you're behind a firewall.
Privacy-wise, ExpressVPN would seem to be a winner with its court-proven and audited no-logs policy. Yet its reputation has suffered after Kape Technologies acquired ExpressVPN in 2021. The new owner has been known for previously injecting devices with malware hidden in software installs.
Moreover, Daniel Gerricke, now CIO of ExpressVPN, illegally worked in UAE as a hacker, creating cyber-espionage software. He also has a Deferred Prosecution Agreement which requires him to cooperate with the US authorities. And while all these facts didn't seem to have an impact on the quality ExpressVPN's services, those working with sensitive information should think twice before choosing this VPN.
Customer support of NordVPN and ExpressVPN
In short, both NordVPN and ExpressVPN offer exceptional customer support. This applies to every type of available help options.
|24/7 live chat
Users should expect responsive and friendly 24/7 live chat. I never had to wait longer than a couple of minutes before the agent contacted me. The email communication was also swift – I always got answers the same day.
Even though neither NordVPN nor ExpressVPN have a phone line, this isn't a common option in VPN industry. Only a couple of premium providers offer it and just one of them has a 24/7 line.
Then there are substantial knowledgebases to dig into. Those include FAQs and how-to guides, among other things. And if English is not you first language, you will find most of the articles translated to more than 10 languages.
ExpressVPN vs NordVPN comparison video
Learn all the key differences between NordVPN and Express VPN in our dedicated video comparison.
ExpressVPN vs NordVPN on Reddit
While I'm not giving score to VPNs that have better reputation on Reddit, it's still worth check it out what users have to say about ExpressVPN and NordVPN. After all, Reddit has a strong community where useful comments get upvoted fast and spammy slurs are quickly buried.
For this article, I’ve analyzed the opinions of the Reddit community members who are experienced with using both VPN providers. As I expected, opinions were divided.
ExpressVPN is mostly praised for speed, and NordVPN for price and usability:
There is a lot of feedback about the low price of NordVPN:
There are also reviews on NordVPN's technical superiority:
I have presented only a small part of the reviews I found. Users’ opinions depend on the scope of a VPN, the users’ location, their experience, and the type of device used.
Therefore, it is impossible to determine a true leader by reviews. This
is not surprising – two of the best VPN services are compared.
One thing is for sure – both services are popular among Reddit users.
Conclusion: which VPN is the better?
Well, I have compared two awesome VPN services. At the same time, I have tried to fully cover their non-obvious details, analyze the technical part, delve into the reviews of the users who are experienced in both services, and took into account my personal many years’ experience.
I was so scrupulous about comparing ExpressVPN and NordVPN because I was choosing a VPN service for personal use.
Today, NordVPN is a faster and more technologically advanced provider. It also has a better price-to-value ratio, which puts it above ExpressVPN in 2022.
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Is NordVPN better than ExpressVPN?
Yes, it's better. It's faster, much cheaper, and offers virtually the same package of features.
Is NordVPN worth buying?
Yes. NordVPN's price is small when compared to the benefits you get. It provides excellent speeds, unblocks most streaming platforms, and enhances your online security.
Is ExpressVPN or NordVPN better for Netflix?
NordVPN is better for Netflix than ExpressVPN. Both VPNs easily unblock multiple Netflix libraries, but NordVPN is faster, cheaper, and offers dedicated IPs for guaranteed streaming.