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NordVPN vs ExpressVPN

Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN

Simon Migliano is a recognized world expert in VPNs. He's tested hundreds of VPN services and his research has featured on the BBC, The New York Times and more. Read full bio

Our Verdict

Overall, ExpressVPN is better than NordVPN. Both VPNs are excellent, but ExpressVPN is more secure, and better for streaming and torrenting. However, NordVPN is faster and cheaper. ExpressVPN is our winner, but NordVPN comes a very close second.

A NordVPN climber competing against an ExpressVPN climber

NordVPN and ExpressVPN are our most highly-rated VPN services. Each VPN provides industry-leading security, privacy, unrestricted internet access, and fast connection speeds.

It’s a close call to pick the better VPN, and many of our readers ask us: which is better in 2022, ExpressVPN or NordVPN?

In this guide, we compare how ExpressVPN and NordVPN performed in ten key test areas, based on our extensive VPN testing process.

NordVPN vs ExpressVPN: Key Data Compared

The table below compares key information about ExpressVPN and NordVPN, including price, number of servers and speed.

Attribute
NordVPN
ExpressVPN
Overall Rating
9.5
9.7
Best Monthly Price
$3.29
$6.67
Top Speed
93Mbps
88Mbps
US Netflix
Yes
Yes
Server Count
5,372
3,000
Countries
60
94

NordVPN vs ExpressVPN: Tests Summary

Before we dive into the detailed comparison, here is an overview of how ExpressVPN and NordVPN compare in each test category:

Category Winner
Speed & Reliability NordVPN
Streaming ExpressVPN
Torrenting ExpressVPN
Security & Encryption ExpressVPN
Bypassing Censorship ExpressVPN
Logging Policy & Jurisdiction ExpressVPN
Server Network ExpressVPN
Apps & Ease Of Use ExpressVPN
Customer Support ExpressVPN
Price & Value NordVPN

As you can see from the table above, ExpressVPN beats NordVPN in eight out of the 10 key categories we test for.

ExpressVPN comes out on top in areas such as security, streaming and torrenting. NordVPN only beats ExpressVPN in terms of logging policy, speed and price.

Which VPN Is Right for You?

Just because ExpressVPN is our overall winner doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the better VPN for you.

NordVPN is still one of the best VPN services we’ve tested. It’s also considerably cheaper than ExpressVPN, and comes very close in every area we tested.

For deeper analysis of each VPN service, read our ExpressVPN review and our NordVPN review.

NordVPN vs ExpressVPN: Speed Comparison

NordVPN and ExpressVPN Speed & Reliability Ratings:

NordVPN Speed Rating: 9.5

ExpressVPN Speed Rating: 9.2

The table below compares the average download speed, upload speed, ping times of NordVPN and ExpressVPN:

ExpressVPN NordVPN
Download speed 88Mbps 93Mbps
Upload speed 91Mbps 94Mbps
Latency/Ping 8ms 8ms
Average speed loss 8% 1%

ExpressVPN and NordVPN’s speed results on a local (UK-to-UK) connection

NordVPN and ExpressVPN are two of the fastest and most reliable VPNs on the market.

Both services deliver great speeds for streaming, torrenting, and online gaming.

In terms of download speeds, NordVPN is often faster than ExpressVPN on same-country connections.

When testing a UK-to-UK NordVPN connection, we recorded an average speed loss of just 1%, compared to ExpressVPN’s 8%.

NordVPN's speeds were fast and reliable in our tests

NordVPN is extremely fast on short-distance connections.

NordVPN has also surpassed ExpressVPN on long-distance connections. Our automated VPN speed test tool shows how NordVPN is now faster than ExpressVPN on UK-to-US connections.

Provider speed comparison chart

Speed & Reliability Winner: NordVPN

Both VPNs deliver excellent speeds, but NordVPN is marginally faster than ExpressVPN connecting to nearby servers.

NordVPN vs ExpressVPN: Streaming

NordVPN and ExpressVPN Streaming Ratings:

NordVPN Streaming Rating: 9.8

ExpressVPN Streaming Rating: 9.8

The comparison table below shows how well ExpressVPN and NordVPN unblock popular streaming platforms:

ExpressVPN NordVPN
US Netflix Yes Yes
BBC iPlayer Yes Yes
Amazon Prime Video Yes Yes
Hulu Yes Yes
DAZN Yes Yes
HBO Max Yes Yes

NordVPN and ExpressVPN’s access to streaming sites

NordVPN and ExpressVPN work extremely well with streaming platforms like Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, HBO Max and Amazon Prime Video.

Most of their VPN servers easily unblock content platforms around the world.

If you have trouble with a server, their customer service is very helpful in suggesting working servers.

ExpressVPN is the best VPN for US Netflix

NordVPN unblocks US Netflix, and several other regions, however ExpressVPN is more reliable with Netflix across more devices.

For this reason, ExpressVPN is our choice of VPN to unblock US Netflix. In the video below, we easily unblock US Netflix from overseas:

NordVPN isn’t as reliable on Firestick and Apple TV

Moreover, NordVPN’s Fire TV Stick app and Smart DNS tool aren’t as effective as its computer and mobile software.

On the other hand, ExpressVPN’s Fire TV and Smart DNS solutions seamlessly unblock many streaming platforms, especially American ones.

Streaming Winner: ExpressVPN

Both VPN services are very good at streaming region-restricted content, but ExpressVPN is the better option to stream on all devices, especially US Netflix.

NordVPN vs ExpressVPN: Torrenting

NordVPN and ExpressVPN Torrenting Ratings:

NordVPN Torrenting Rating: 8.1

ExpressVPN Torrenting Rating: 9.5

ExpressVPN and NordVPN are both excellent VPNs to download torrent files anonymously and securely.

However, ExpressVPN allows anonymous torrents on all servers, while NordVPN only allows it on specific ones.

More importantly, ExpressVPN recorded faster torrenting speeds than NordVPN in our tests: 9.4MiB/s download bitrates versus NordVPN’s 6.5MiB/s.

Using ExpressVPN with the qBittorrent torrent client

Using ExpressVPN with the qBittorrent torrent client.

As for seeding torrent files, ExpressVPN only has a port forwarding feature on its router app. NordVPN doesn’t support port forwarding at all. If you need to seed torrents specifically, then PIA is a better choice than ExpressVPN.

Torrenting Winner: ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is superior to NordVPN when it comes to torrenting capabilities. It’s faster at downloading files and it supports P2P traffic on its entire server network.

NordVPN vs ExpressVPN: Security

NordVPN and ExpressVPN Security Ratings:

NordVPN Security Rating: 9.6

ExpressVPN Security Rating: 9.7

The table below compares ExpressVPN and NordVPN’s encryption and security features side by side to illustrate how close the VPN services are:

ExpressVPN NordVPN
VPN protocols IKEv2/IPSec, L2TP, OpenVPN, PPTP, Lightway IKEv2/IPSec, OpenVPN, NordLynx
Encryption cipher AES-256 AES-256
Kill switch Yes Yes (not on Android or Fire TV)
Leak protection DNS, IPv6, WebRTC DNS, IPv6, WebRTC
First-party DNS Yes Yes
Diskless servers Yes Yes
IPv6 Blocked Blocked

ExpressVPN and NordVPN’s encryption and security features

To protect their user’s security, VPN services must use the strongest and most up-to-date encryption software. Thankfully, NordVPN and ExpressVPN both excel in this department.

Both services use the industry’s safest VPN protocol, OpenVPN, along with the AES-256 encryption cipher.

However, both only allow basic configurability. If you want to customize the VPN encryption and tinker with advanced settings, PIA is a good alternative to NordVPN and ExpressVPN.

NordVPN was the first of the two VPNs to incorporate the highly-regarded WireGuard protocol, however ExpressVPN is the stronger option when it comes to protocols due to the wider protocol choice and excellent automatic protocol selection tool.

The protocol settings menu on ExpressVPN's desktop app

The protocol settings menu on ExpressVPN’s desktop app.

Both VPNs include a number of important security features such as perfect forward secrecy, IP and DNS leak protection, and first-party DNS.

Moreover, both services use diskless (RAM-based) servers, which never write data to the servers, not even temporarily.

Both VPNs also offer a VPN kill switch, each with its own unique drawback. For ExpressVPN, the kill switch doesn’t work on iOS. For NordVPN, it doesn’t work on Android or Amazon Fire TV Stick.

How to Change Settings with NordVPN on Mobile

The NordVPN settings of its iOS application.

Furthermore, we’ve never experienced an IP or DNS leak while testing either VPN service.

Uniquely, NordVPN has a ‘Double VPN’ (multi-hop) feature that lets users route their traffic through two different VPN servers to add an extra layer of privacy.

However, when it comes to security, we must take NordVPN’s 2018 security breach into consideration.

The breach was minor and NordVPN’s initiatives since the incident have been highly commendable. But, ExpressVPN has never suffered a breach to this date.

Security & Encryption Winner: ExpressVPN

Both VPNs use the most secure VPN protocols, encryption ciphers, and advanced security features. ExpressVPN is marginally better because of its automatic protocol selection tool and because it has never suffered a security breach.

NordVPN vs ExpressVPN: Bypassing Censorship

NordVPN and ExpressVPN Bypassing Censorship Ratings:

NordVPN Bypassing Censorship Rating: 8.8

ExpressVPN Bypassing Censorship Rating: 9.0

ExpressVPN NordVPN
Works in China Yes Sometimes
Works in Russia Yes Yes
Works in UAE Yes Yes
Works in Iran Yes Yes
Works in Turkey Yes Yes
Obfuscation tools Yes Yes

ExpressVPN and NordVPN’s ability to bypass censorship

On the whole, both NordVPN and ExpressVPN successfully bypass aggressive internet filters in countries like China, Turkey and Russia.

Both VPNs use built-in obfuscation technologies, which disguise VPN traffic among regular HTTPS traffic to successfully circumvent national firewalls.

Beating China’s Great Firewall is the ultimate test when it comes to bypassing censorship. Here, ExpressVPN outperforms NordVPN by some measure.

In fact, ExpressVPN is one of the most reliable VPNs to work in China. ExpressVPN worked 74% of the time testing VPN access from Shanghai.

NordVPN sometimes works in China, too, but it has been more inconsistent over the last three months. In our tests, NordVPN worked 52% of the time.

Also, NordVPN’s obfuscation tools are not available on iOS, so iPhone users will struggle to bypass censorship in China.

Bypassing Censorship Winner: ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is better than NordVPN at bypassing strict web filters. While NordVPN is generally good at bypassing internet censors, ExpressVPN is more consistent and reliable.

NordVPN vs ExpressVPN: Logging Policy & Jurisdiction

NordVPN and ExpressVPN Logging Policy & Jurisdiction Ratings:

NordVPN Logging Policy & Jurisdiction Rating: 9.5

ExpressVPN Logging Policy & Jurisdiction Rating: 9.6

The table below compares ExpressVPN and NordVPN’s logging policies and their jurisdictions:

ExpressVPN NordVPN
Connection logs Yes Yes
Activity logs No No
Jurisdiction British Virgin Islands Panama
Externally audited July 2019 May 2020

ExpressVPN and NordVPN’s logging policies and jurisdictions

Both VPNs have been subject to external audits to confirm their logging policies, NordVPN by PwC in November 2018 and May 2020 and ExpressVPN also by PwC in July 2019.

These audits set an encouraging standard for the industry, but their purpose is only to confirm the VPN service is doing what it says it is in the logging policy. Audits do not assess the strength of a VPN provider’s logging policy.

NordVPN’s logging policy includes the following:

NordVPN's logging policy

And ExpressVPN claims the following:

ExpressVPN's logging policy

Neither of these statements covers the full picture. Both VPNs keep some data, but the nature and scope of that data is not the same.

To limit the number of connections from an individual user, NordVPN stores the username and timestamp of each connection for the duration of the session. This data is then wiped within 15 minutes of disconnecting.

ExpressVPN stores slightly more information: dates of connection, choice of server location and total amount of data. It’s also not clear how long this data is kept.

Because of this, we currently classify NordVPN as a no-logs VPN, and ExpressVPN as collecting anonymous server usage data.

Ultimately, neither service collects personally-identifiable activity data. Moreover, both VPN companies are located in privacy-friendly jurisdictions: the British Virgin Islands (BVI) for ExpressVPN and Panama for NordVPN.

Anotated map of NordVPN and ExpressVPN jurisdictions

Panama and the British Virgin Islands are located outside of international intelligence-sharing alliances (e.g. Five Eyes), where companies are not compelled by law to store any sort of user information.

However, NordVPN recently admitted that, if ordered by a court of law, it could start keeping activity logs of specific users under criminal investigation. It’s unclear if and how this type of logging would be enforced.

Privacy & Logging Policy Winner: ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is slightly better than NordVPN for privacy, mainly due to its BVI jurisdiction, and its firm refusal to abide by any court order.

NordVPN vs ExpressVPN: Server Locations

NordVPN and ExpressVPN Server Locations Ratings:

NordVPN Server Locations Rating: 9.6

ExpressVPN Server Locations Rating: 9.8

The table below summarizes the size and range of ExpressVPN and NordVPN’s server networks:

ExpressVPN NordVPN
Total countries 94 60
Countries with city-level choice 15 5
Total servers 3,000 5,372

NordVPN and ExpressVPN’s worldwide server locations

Both NordVPN and ExpressVPN have an impressive number of VPN servers across a wide range of countries.

ExpressVPN has servers in more countries, though. It also provides more specific city-level locations – triple the number NordVPN offers.

The ExpressVPN server list in the Mac application

The ExpressVPN server list in the Mac application.

NordVPN, on the other hand, has a much larger server network, with over 5,372 servers compared to ExpressVPN’s 3,000.

The difference in server count may seem large, but you’ll unlikely notice any difference given that 3,000 servers is still impressive.

As for specific server locations, we recommend looking at ExpressVPN’s server lists and NordVPN’s.

Overall, ExpressVPN covers more countries, with a greater range of dedicated city-level server locations in the US and the UK.

Server Network Winner: ExpressVPN

NordVPN has more servers, but ExpressVPN wins because it provides servers in more locations. ExpressVPN runs servers in considerably more countries than NordVPN.

NordVPN vs ExpressVPN: Ease of Use

NordVPN and ExpressVPN Ease of Use Ratings:

NordVPN Ease of Use Rating: 9.5

ExpressVPN Ease of Use Rating: 9.8

The table below shows how both ExpressVPN and NordVPN are highly compatible with platforms and devices:

ExpressVPN NordVPN
Desktop apps Windows, Mac, Linux Windows, Mac, Linux
Mobile apps iOS, Android iOS, Android
Other apps Android TV, Fire TV Stick Android TV, Fire TV Stick
Router support Yes Yes
Pre-configured routers Yes Yes
Browser extensions Chrome, Firefox, Edge Chrome, Firefox
Smart DNS Yes Yes

ExpressVPN and NordVPN’s device compatibility

NordVPN and ExpressVPN lead the market in wide-spread device compatibility.

Both services have apps for all major operating systems. They each have router support, too.

Main Applications

NordVPN’s main application is easy to use, with an interactive map visualization of its servers. This doesn’t necessarily add much, compared to ExpressVPN’s more minimalist approach.

NordVPN's user interface on Windows

NordVPN’s Windows PC application.

As for advanced settings, the two VPN services take different approaches. ExpressVPN puts its settings in a separate options window, whereas NordVPN uses a tab and toggle design.

The ExpressVPN app for PC

ExpressVPN’s Windows PC client and the settings menu

ExpressVPN’s apps all feature a big on/off button, and little else in their main window. The basic interface is pretty much identical across devices, whereas NordVPN varies more noticeably.

This means, for instance, that the NordVPN tabs feel fiddly on our test iPhone, but not our Android phone.

The Android and iPhone NordVPN apps side by side

NordVPN Android (left) and iOS (right) apps side by side

Browser Extensions

ExpressVPN and NordVPN also have VPN browser extensions, but they’ve taken very different approaches to these add-ons.

ExpressVPN’s extension is really a controller for the desktop app, which needs to be running for the extension to work.

We love that you can control the ExpressVPN app from the browser window, even if it’s not a conventional VPN extension.

ExpressVPN's extension for Google Chrome

ExpressVPN’s Chrome extension looks just like the desktop app.

NordVPN’s extension works as a standalone, however it won’t work when the main software application is also running.

Overall, both ExpressVPN’s and NordVPN’s apps and extensions are highly intuitive across all devices – even if they do take different approaches.

Apps & Ease Of Use Winner: ExpressVPN

Both VPNs have easy-to-use apps for all major platforms and devices. ExpressVPN’s apps are simpler to use, and identical across all platforms. ExpressVPN’s browser extension is also more private and secure than NordVPN’s.

NordVPN vs ExpressVPN: Customer Support

NordVPN and ExpressVPN Customer Support Ratings:

NordVPN Customer Support Rating: 9.5

ExpressVPN Customer Support Rating: 9.9

We’ve summarized NordVPN and ExpressVPN’s excellent customer support offering:

ExpressVPN NordVPN
Live chat 24/7 24/7
Email support Yes Yes
Phone support No No
Online resources Yes Yes
Setup guides Yes Yes
Video tutorials Yes Yes

ExpressVPN and NordVPN’s customer support options

ExpressVPN and NordVPN both have email and 24/7 live chat support, with fast response times.

Screenshot of ExpressVPN live chat conversation

ExpressVPN live chat support.

Both services also offer comprehensive online guides, particularly for VPN installation on less popular devices.

The VPNs are neck-and-neck in terms of the customer service materials they produce. For one topic, it may be that NordVPN has a more helpful guide, but for another, ExpressVPN’s material is better.

Neither service has phone support, but this is very common in the VPN industry.

Customer Support Winner: ExpressVPN

Both VPN services excel at customer service, but ExpressVPN claims victory because we consistently find its 24/7 live chat support to be faster and more well-informed.

NordVPN vs ExpressVPN: Price & Value

NordVPN and ExpressVPN Price & Value Ratings:

NordVPN Price & Value Rating: 8.0

ExpressVPN Price & Value Rating: 7.0

The table below lists NordVPN and ExpressVPN’s pricing plans:

ExpressVPN NordVPN
One month $12.95 $11.95
Six months $9.99 N/A
12 months $6.67 (first year only) $4.92
Two years N/A $3.29

NordVPN and ExpressVPN’s monthly cost over different length pricing plans

NordVPN’s cheapest monthly price is $3.29, compared to ExpressVPN’s cheapest price of $6.67 per month. NordVPN is therefore significantly cheaper than ExpressVPN on a multi-year plan.

NordVPN is one of the best value VPN services you can buy if you’re willing to commit to a two-year plan and pay the full amount ($89.00) upfront.

If you’re not ready to sign up for a multi-year VPN subscription, then there’s less of a price difference between ExpressVPN and NordVPN.

Also, both NordVPN and ExpressVPN offer a 30-day money-back guarantee. It’s a no-questions-asked policy, which turns it into a virtual VPN free trial.

In other words, you can make the most of this refund policy to effectively use ExpressVPN for free and get NordVPN for free.

Price & Value Winner: NordVPN

NordVPN is cheaper than ExpressVPN. A NordVPN subscription costs as little as $3.29 a month, but only if you sign up for two years and pay $89.00 upfront.

About the Author


  • Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN

    Simon Migliano

    Simon Migliano is a recognized world expert in VPNs. He's tested hundreds of VPN services and his research has featured on the BBC, The New York Times and more. Read full bio