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|
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.
|Provider||Total countries||Countries with city-level choice||Total servers|
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 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.
|Provider||Works in China||Obfuscation tools|
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|
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 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)|
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.
|Provider||Live chat||Email support||Phone support||Online knowledge base||Setup guides||Video material|
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.
|Provider||Single month||Six months||12 months||Two years|
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.