NordVPN vs ExpressVPN: Speed
NordVPN is the faster VPN on nearby servers, but ExpressVPN is faster on far-away servers. The best option for you depends on why you need a VPN. For torrenting or encrypting general web activity, NordVPN will be quicker. For streaming geo-blocked content, then ExpressVPN’s speeds will be better.
Here’s a quick summary of how we calculated NordVPN’s and ExpressVPN’s speed performance:
- Speed categories tested: Download, upload, ping, reliability
- Frequency of speed tests: 28 per VPN service per week
- Number of VPN servers tested: 11 locations in 4 continents per VPN service
- Tested protocol: Default (NordLynx & Lightway)
- Platforms used: Windows, iOS, Xbox
The table below shows a comparison of NordVPN and ExpressVPN’s speed performance.
NordVPN is faster than ExpressVPN on nearby servers
To test NordVPN and ExpressVPN local speeds, we used the app’s automatic server selection feature. In NordVPN, this is called ‘Quick Connect’. In ExpressVPN, it’s named ‘Smart Location’.
We found that NordVPN’s speeds are noticeably faster on local connections. When using it, our download speeds dropped by just 2% to 98Mbps. By contrast, ExpressVPN caused our speeds to slow to 92Mbps, an 8% drop.
Both VPNs will be more than fast enough for almost every web activity. However, if you want the fastest raw download speed, NordVPN will perform better on nearby servers.
Our automated VPN speed test tool found similar results, which you can see in the graph below:
Upload speeds are important for nearby connections. You’re more likely to be connecting locally when using the VPN for activities like torrenting and secure video conferencing.
NordVPN’s upload speeds are also faster than ExpressVPN’s. In our tests, we recorded an upload speed reduction of 5% with NordVPN, compared to 8% with ExpressVPN.
It’s also been faster than ExpressVPN over the entire previous eight weeks, as the graph below shows.
ExpressVPN is faster for long-distance connections
To stream geo-blocked video content in HD and 4K, a VPN needs to have fast download speeds on international connections.
We recorded ExpressVPN and NordVPN’s download speeds while connected to servers in four different continents from our test location in the UK. Here’s a table showing our results:
As you can see, ExpressVPN is faster than NordVPN on every international server. Though the difference is not that stark, our content still loaded quicker and we didn’t experience any buffering.
Identical ping speed for gaming
ExpressVPN and NordVPN are two of the best gaming VPNs we’ve tested. Both services increased our ping time to just 8ms, which was unnoticeable in use.
We played a variety of fast-paced PC games, including CS:GO and PUBG. In every case, the added latency wasn’t noticeable. We didn’t experience any input lag and all games loaded quickly.
Xbox and PS5 don’t support VPN apps, so we had to install the VPNs on our router to use them there. ExpressVPN was much easier to configure, as it’s one of the only VPNs to have a router app.
This meant we could use an online interface to easily change between server locations, like Egypt, to get easier gaming lobbies. With NordVPN, we had to manually download and configure OpenVPN files, which was more difficult and time-consuming.