ExpressVPN vs NordVPN

Rebecca Duff
By Rebecca DuffUpdated
ExpressVPN logo next to NordVPN logo

ExpressVPN and NordVPN are our top two recommended VPN services, but a common question is: which VPN service is really better, ExpressVPN or NordVPN?

We looked at the key features of both VPN services, such as performance, security, ease of use and streaming, to see whether ExpressVPN or NordVPN offers the best all-round VPN experience.

Speed & Reliability

Provider Download Upload Latency Average % drop
ExpressVPN 62Mbps 45Mbps 8ms 33%
NordVPN 77Mbps 64Mbps 8ms 20%

ExpressVPN and NordVPN’s downloads, uploads and ping on a local connection

While ExpressVPN delivers more consistent speeds across its global server network, NordVPN is the better option if you’re looking for super-fast local speeds.

NordVPN is one of the fastest VPN services we’ve seen by far, and only seems to be getting quicker – particularly in and around Europe and the US.

The one area NordVPN falls down in is latency, with a ping time over double that of ExpressVPN. This means that if serious gamers and torrenters are prepared to sacrifice the blazing fast peak speeds of NordVPN, they may be better off opting for our #1 overall VPN for a more reliable experience.

Server Locations

Provider Total countries Countries with city-level choice Total servers
ExpressVPN 94 10 3,000+
NordVPN 60 6 5,142

ExpressVPN and NordVPN’s worldwide server locations

ExpressVPN may be present in a higher number of countries overall, but NordVPN takes the crown for the biggest VPN server network with over 5,000 individual servers.

If you need to connect to a specific city, though, ExpressVPN is the better option, with city-level choice in 10 different countries (compared to just six for NordVPN). For the US specifically, both VPN services offer exactly the same amount of choice – 20 different cities.

Streaming & Torrenting

Provider Netflix BBC iPlayer Amazon Prime Video Hulu Streaming servers Torrenting
ExpressVPN Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes
NordVPN Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes

ExpressVPN and NordVPN’s access to major streaming sites

ExpressVPN and NordVPN are pretty much level when it comes to accessing streaming sites like Netflix, BBC iPlayer and Amazon Prime Video (amongst others). Neither of them has dedicated streaming servers but the majority of US and UK locations will work just fine.

NordVPN has a slight edge when it comes to torrenting due to its faster speeds and servers optimized for P2P activity. That isn’t to say ExpressVPN won’t do the job – it’s still a great choice thanks to zero torrenting restrictions and a privacy-friendly logging policy.

Bypassing Censorship

Provider Works in China Obfuscation tools
ExpressVPN Yes Yes
NordVPN Yes Yes

ExpressVPN and NordVPN’s ability to bypass censorship

Our #1 and #3 VPN services for China, ExpressVPN and NordVPN are both pretty reliable options for users in the country. ExpressVPN just edges into first place as even following the China VPN ban it still provides consistent access to blocked websites and is one of very few providers to do so.

NordVPN does a pretty good job too, and even comes with dedicated obfuscated servers to overcome The Great Firewall, but these aren’t always 100% effective. They also aren’t available on iOS, so anyone using that device is out of luck.

Encryption & Security

Provider VPN protocols Encryption Kill switch Leak protection First-party DNS
ExpressVPN IKEv2/IPSec, L2TP, OpenVPN, PPTP, SSTP AES-256 Yes DNS, IPv6, WebRTC Yes
NordVPN IKEv2/IPSec, OpenVPN AES-256 Yes DNS, IPv6, WebRTC Yes

ExpressVPN and NordVPN’s encryption and privacy features

The only main difference between ExpressVPN and NordVPN is NordVPN’s lack of protocol flexibility. Other than that, they both have all the essential features a VPN needs to keep you safe online – solid encryption, a kill switch, and protection against DNS, WebRTC and IPv6 leaks.

Although ExpressVPN does offer split tunneling, allowing you to route certain apps and websites outside of the VPN tunnel, NordVPN takes the lead for advanced features.

Not only does NordVPN offer optimized servers for using TOR through the VPN, it also allows you to route your traffic through two different VPN servers to provide an extra layer of encryption (Double VPN).

Logging Policy & Jurisdiction

Provider Connection logs Activity logs Jurisdiction
ExpressVPN Yes No British Virgin Islands
NordVPN No No Panama

ExpressVPN and NordVPN’s logging policies and jurisdictions

NordVPN is completely zero-logs while ExpressVPN collects some basic connection metadata in order to provide as reliable a service as possible. This isn’t to say that ExpressVPN doesn’t value user privacy, as it certainly does – none of the information it collects can be used to personally identify you. We prefer NordVPN’s zero logs approach, though.

ExpressVPN and NordVPN are both located in privacy-friendly jurisdictions that don’t require them to store any sort of user information. This means that if law enforcement agencies were to request any of your details, neither ExpressVPN nor NordVPN would have anything to give them.

Compatibility & Ease of Use

Provider Desktop apps Mobile apps Other apps Router support Pre-configured routers Browser extensions
ExpressVPN Windows, Mac, Linux iOS, Android Amazon Firestick Yes Yes Chrome, Firefox, Safari
NordVPN Windows, Mac, Linux iOS, Android Android TV, Amazon Firestick Yes Yes Chrome (proxy), Firefox (proxy)

ExpressVPN and NordVPN’s device compatibility

When it comes to compatibility with all your devices, ExpressVPN is the best VPN out there. It offers custom apps for an incredibly long list of devices, including the Amazon Fire TV Stick, and those that it doesn’t support directly can be protected by installing ExpressVPN at router level.

What really makes ExpressVPN stand out in this area is its full-featured browser extensions for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Safari. Unlike NordVPN’s proxies for Chrome and Firefox, ExpressVPN’s extensions encrypt all of your traffic and offer the same level of protection as the desktop app.

In terms of usability, it’s a dead heat between ExpressVPN and NordVPN. The desktop and mobile apps offered by both providers are slick and user-friendly without lacking advanced features.

ExpressVPN is a little easier to navigate, although NordVPN does offer slightly more flexibility if you want to select a specific server.

Customer Support

Provider Live chat Email support Phone support Online knowledge base Setup guides Video material
ExpressVPN 24/7 Yes No Yes Yes Yes
NordVPN 24/7 Yes No Yes Yes Yes

ExpressVPN and NordVPN’s customer support options

Both ExpressVPN and NordVPN do a very good job when it comes to customer support, with 24/7 live chat and a ton of helpful online resources. We have to admit that ExpressVPN’s live chat is a little better, though, with much quicker response times and no need to enter your email address before you begin chatting.

The video material, troubleshooting and setup guides offered by both providers are some of the best we’ve seen, and will address almost any problem you could experience while using a VPN.

Pricing

Provider Single month Six months 12 months Two years
ExpressVPN $12.95 $9.99 $6.67 N/A
NordVPN $11.95 N/A $6.99 $3/99

ExpressVPN and NordVPN’s monthly and yearly pricing options

Unless you’re willing to sign up to a two-year VPN subscription, there’s not a lot in it between ExpressVPN and NordVPN’s pricing. ExpressVPN does currently have a deal on which gives you three months for free on a 12-month subscription, though, which is great value.

For those looking for a longer commitment, NordVPN is the clear winner. ExpressVPN doesn’t offer any plans longer than 12 months, but with NordVPN’s three-year plan you can make huge savings – over 70%. The low monthly price of just $2.99 makes it our number one cheap VPN, too.

Conclusion: Which is Best?

ExpressVPN is rated our best VPN for a reason, and it’s clear that it just offers a slightly better overall experience in comparison to NordVPN.

That isn’t to say that NordVPN isn’t a good choice though, as it most certainly is – and the bargain price on longer plans is perfect for committed VPN users that don’t mind losing out on a couple of premium features offered by ExpressVPN.

You can read our full, independent reviews of both ExpressVPN and NordVPN if you’d like some more in-depth information on each VPN service.