When looking for a good VPN, you might feel spoilt for choice. Both NordVPN and Surfshark are excellent services. As a matter of fact, both of these tools are sitting comfortably at the top of our best VPN list.
But how do they stack up head-to-head? Which offers more security and which is better for streaming?
In this NordVPN vs Surfshark comparison, I'll contrast their speed test scores, features, security strength, apps, and quality of their customer support. After this short read, you'll have a much better idea which service is ultimately a better VPN.
NordVPN vs Surfshark
|🥇 Overall rank:||#1 out of #32||#2 out of #32|
|🖥️ Servers:||5500+ servers in 59 countries||3200+ servers in 95 countries|
|📖 No logs policy:||No logs||No logs|
|💵 Pricing:||From $3.09/month||From $2.21/month|
|🔥 Coupons:||NordVPN coupon 68% OFF + 3 months FREE||Surfshark VPN coupon 83% OFF|
|🔒 VPN protocols:||OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPsec, WireGuard (NordLynx)||WireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2|
|🍿 Streaming services:||Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and more||Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, and more|
|🖥️ Platforms:||Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, Chrome, Firefox||Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, Chrome, Firefox|
|📥 Simultaneous connections:||6||Unlimited|
|💁🏻 Support:||Knowledge base, FAQs, email, 24/7 live chat||Knowledge base, 24/7 live chat, email support|
Speed comparison: which is faster, NordVPN or Surfshark?
For this NordVPN vs Surfshark comparison, I measured the speed of every protocol across 3 different locations (US, UK, and Canada) to see which one showed a better speed average. The next step is comparing the providers themselves.
Both NordVPN and Surfshark use WireGuard, although in NordVPN's case, it’s a slightly fancier version called NordLynx. This is one of the most popular and commonly used protocols, so the speed results are a big indicator of which VPN provider is better.
|Download||559 Mbit/s||521 Mbit/s|
|Upload||459 Mbit/s||445 Mbit/s|
|Download||487 Mbit/s||462 Mbit/s|
|Upload||446 Mbit/s||426 Mbit/s|
|Download||1520 Mbit/s||1308 Mbit/s|
|Upload||966 Mbit/s||913 Mbit/s|
The largest difference is in the US, where NordVPN notably surges in front of Surfshark. Meanwhile, other locations show the same or close speed results for both VPN providers.
So, while from the first sight, it seems that NordVPN and Surfshark’s speeds are pretty similar to each other, NordVPN is slightly faster when it comes to both download and upload speeds.
But that’s not all. We also compared their performance with other protocols, including OpenVPN (UDP and TCP variants) and IKEv2.
- Baseline: 300 Mbps download/300 Mbps upload
While comparing the mobile users’ fan favorite IKEv2 protocol, the results were pretty close. NordVPN's average download speed drop was 28%, while Surfshark’s – 27%. So, in terms of download speeds, both providers are almost identical. However, NordVPN is a bit more efficient with upload speeds.
|Download average||215 Mbps||219.8 Mbps|
|Upload average||50.6 Mbps||38.5 Mbps|
While OpenVPN UDP is a faster variant of this protocol, the speed drop percentages vary. It seems that NordVPN peaked in some locations, while Surfshark was overall more consistent.
|Download average||197.2 Mbps||120.2 Mbps|
|Upload average||68.4 Mbps||140.3 Mbps|
Moving on, with the OpenVPN TCP variant, severe reductions are a common sight. This is a protocol that focuses on security rather than speeds. Unsurprisingly, in this case, both services offer an almost identical performance.
|Download average||32.5 Mbps||25.8 Mbps|
|Upload average||27.5 Mbps||28 Mbps|
In terms of features, both NordVPN and Surfshark add a lot of additional subscription benefits.
Although NordVPN has more specialty server options, Surfshark proves to be just as capable. It's like a mirror image with matching features every step of the way.
Most devices that are your go-to media streaming gadgets don't always have native VPN support. So, NordVPN and Surfshark came up with ways to have VPN-like functionalities without the need for an app.
In case of NordVPN, you get SmartPlay. It automatically kicks in when you're using a VPN to unblock streaming websites. Although, you can also set it up as a regular SmartDNS feature which will replace your device's DNS settings, it will also trigger through the app each time when you're accessing websites with geo-restricted media. As such, it's a bit more than just SmartDNS.
Surfshark's spin on the same formula is just called SmartDNS. It works exactly like NordVPN's version. Even the success rate is similar.
Both NordVPN and Surfshark have specialized servers. They provide additional benefits to your connection and have unique use cases. For example, Surfshark has multi-hop, P2P, and static IP servers.
Multi-hop – with these servers, your connections get passed through 2 VPN servers instead of 1. Thus, it eliminates any trace of your real IP address.
P2P – although you can torrent on any of their servers, a dedicated P2P option will have the best speeds.
Static IP – contrary to other static IP options, anyone can use Surfshark's static IP servers. The IP address will not belong to you alone, but you'll get assigned the same IP address each time you connect to them.
Although otherwise these would be very impressive offerings, NordVPN is just as versatile. It matches their Multi-hop with their Double VPN servers. The same goes for P2P server, but the overall number of types is higher.
Onion over VPN – combines your VPN connection with the Tor network.
Obfuscated servers – specialized servers that scramble your traffic by making it appear as non-VPN (although, Surfshark also has a special toggle in the settings).
Finally, NordVPN's dedicated IPs/IP addresses are reserved only for those who pay extra. Still, you're the only one who has access to that particular IP address.
Split tunneling is one of the most useful features that a VPN service can have. It gives you a much more precise way to route your internet traffic.
NordVPN and Surfshark have very similar implementations. You can route only particular apps via VPN or add exclusions from your VPN connection. In both instances, this eliminates the need to disconnect from the VPN when you need to connect directly.
Sadly, both providers have only implemented it on Windows and Android. So, if you're a Mac and iPhone user, this feature won't be available.
Whichever contestant you pick, you'll get web filters to protect you when you're browsing. Surfshark's version of this feature is called CleanWeb. It stops intrusive trackers and ads right in their tracks. This is achieved by blocking known IPs associated with adware hosts, malware, or trackers.
NordVPN's spin on this formula is called CyberSec. It does exactly the same as CleanWeb – blocks blacklisted IPs. When you try to enter a website with an associated IP, you'll be warned that this page is unsafe and off-limits.
Overall, NordVPN has a counterpunch ready for almost every feature that Surfshark has rolled out. For example, while NordVPN has Dark web monitoring, Surfshark has Alerts, and they both check if your data has ended up in data breaches.
Surfshark vs NordVPN: which is more secure?
|Encryption||AES-256-CBC||AES-256-GCM and Chacha20Poly1305|
|Based in||Panama||The Netherlands|
Both NordVPN and Surfshark take security very seriously and have implemented all the necessary measures, and more. Besides, both providers have undergone independent security audits, rendering them as secure and trustworthy as possible. Let’s take a closer look and compare the security of NordVPN and Surfshark.
To keep your connection private, NordVPN uses the AES-256-CBC cipher, while Surfshark relies on AES-256-GCM and Chacha20-Poly1305. Although the AES GCM version is a bit more recent and theoretically safer, all of these options are uncrackable.
For authentication, both services are using the SHA-512 hash function, scrambling your credentials into fixed-size chunks. So, your password never gets uploaded anywhere in plain text.
The encryption is identical, and both services use RAM-only servers. Both are even located in privacy-friendly jurisdictions, but transparency is another matter.
When it comes to public security audits, both services have something to show for themselves. NordVPN has undergone two public audits for their no-logs policy by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC). Also, in 2019, VerSprite performed a security audit on NordVPN’s applications.
Meanwhile, Surfshark has been audited twice. These tests were performed by Cure53, who tested Surfshark’s browser extensions and, subsequently, server infrastructure and general security of the tool.
RAM-only VPN servers were something that only a handful of providers had only recently. Nowadays, you can find more services that run without hard drives. Both NordVPN and Surfshark have upgraded the majority of their servers to run on RAM-only. This means that there is no hard drive in which the usage logs could be written.
This also limits the possibility for servers to become breached. The servers with hard drives could allow backdoors to be installed for monitoring. However, RAM-only servers wipe themselves during each restart.
It makes the servers by design a lot harder to crack because they don't follow the conventional design.
Surfshark is based in the Netherlands. The country is, unfortunately, a part of the 9-eyes intelligence alliance, meaning that it shares relevant information with other member countries if the need arises. This may raise some concerns about Surfshark’s logging policy, but rest assured – the VPN provider is not required to log any user-identifying information, so they don’t. In turn, there is no data to share.
NordVPN follows an almost identical pattern, but they place their service in Panama. It's another privacy-friendly location that is out of reach of surveillance alliances. So, your data isn't threatened by intrusive legislation, whichever service you decide to pick.
As is commonplace for VPN service providers, both Surfshark and NordVPN promise that your data will not be logged. This gives extra credibility to their RAM-only server claims. However, NordVPN has a leading horse in this race.
Meanwhile, Surfshark was audited by Cure53 penetration testers twice. They checked the browser extensions, server infrastructure, and general security of the tool. Surfshark showed outstanding security results during both audits.
Overall, NordVPN has a slight advantage in this area because of the bug bounty program.
Netflix and streaming performance
|Netflix||✅ Yes||✅ Yes|
|Amazon Prime Video||✅ Yes||✅ Yes|
|Hulu||✅ Yes||✅ Yes|
|HBO Max||✅ Yes||✅ Yes|
|Disney +||✅ Yes||✅ Yes|
|BBC iPlayer||✅ Yes||✅ Yes|
|DAZN||✅ Yes||✅ Yes|
Both Surfshark and NordVPN mention capabilities to unblock geo-restricted streaming websites in their features section. Netflix, as one of the most popular streaming platforms, also gets a mention.
As you would expect, neither NordVPN nor Surfshark struggled when unblocking foreign Netflix libraries. I was able to unblock the US exclusives and managed to connect to Japan with both services. So, if you're looking for a VPN for Netflix, both options will do nicely. Both of them support split tunneling, so you can also set up Netflix to work exclusively with a VPN.
This goes beyond Netflix as well – I was able to unblock BBC iPlayer and YouTube. So, other media services aren't out of the question. Both providers triggered no errors that would ruin the experience.
The only difference comes with DAZN. Many VPNs struggle when unblocking this sports streaming service, and Surfshark did struggle with it but managed to unblock it in the end. Meanwhile, NordVPN had no issues with it, and it might have something to do with its secret weapon – SmartPlay technology.
Both competing VPNs have dedicated P2P servers, which are better optimized for faster downloads. On Surfshark, you can torrent on any of their servers, but the speeds will be a bit lower. While NordVPN is a bit more restrictive, you can also choose whichever server. Still, when P2P traffic is detected, you'll be automatically reconnected to a P2P server.
Plans and pricing
With VPNs, the pricing schemes are usually pretty simple to digest. The longer your subscription is, the better are your savings. That much is true for both providers in this comparison as well.
One of the main differences between the two services is that with NordVPN, you're getting 6 simultaneous connections per account, while Surfshark has no cap on this number. You can use it with as many devices as you want. Think of it as a supercharged family plan at a fraction of the price.
|Check Latest Discounts||Check Latest Discounts|
The monthly subscription is the shortest option, and it will be the priciest. NordVPN costs $11.99, while Surfshark will be a bit more expensive – $12.95. Neither of the monthly options is friendly to your wallet, so it makes sense to look at the longer options to strike a healthier value balance.
Their second tier is for the yearly subscription. NordVPN has a yearly plan that charges $59.00, whereas Surfshark asks for $47.88 for 1 year. So, the full year with Surfshark is cheaper than with NordVPN.
The longest two-year plan gets you the best savings. NordVPN costs $99 for the first two years, while Surfshark charges $59.76. There, Surfshark wins by a huge margin. Overall you save almost ~$30. Each month, the service would cost you $2.21, so it's a superb deal.
NordVPN is a bit more inclusive regarding payment options. You can use credit cards, PayPal (in particular regions), AmazonPay, Sofort, prepaid cards, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and cryptocurrencies. With any luck, you can buy it on retail shelves, as well.
Surfshark accepts credit cards, PayPal, Google Pay, and cryptocurrencies. So, the list is a bit shorter, but you're not restricted here either.
In any case, both services support a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you'll be able to try them out before you fully commit.
China and countries with restricted internet access
VPN usage in China is restricted and illegal, and not every VPN works there. However, NordVPN and Surfshark will be able to bypass The Great Firewall.
Both VPN providers have obfuscated servers, also known as Stealth Mode, designed specifically to evade firewalls and Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) that restrictive governments might employ against VPN usage. These servers are most likely to work in China and anywhere else in the world.
However, chances are you will need special configurations in order to use both VPNs in China and other countries with restrictions.
|Middle East & Africa||4||4|
Both providers have different strengths. NordVPN has 5500 servers across 59 countries, while Surfshark has 3200 servers in 95 countries. So, with the one, you're getting more servers. With the other, you're getting slightly more countries to choose from.
It's worth considering that NordVPN in Europe and the US has as many servers as Surfshark's entire network. I expect the bigger fleet to provide more consistent performance across different user locations.
Platforms, interface, and ease of use
|Supported OS||Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS||Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS|
|Other software and devices||Kodi, Android TVs, Fire devices||Android TVs, Fire devices|
|Browser extensions||Chrome, Firefox||Chrome, Firefox|
NordVPN and Surfshark support a wide variety of operating systems. Their apps also come in many shapes and forms, so setting up either will not be a pain.
Overall, both providers don't restrict your usage cases with wide device support and convenient UI.
As usual, Linux users don't get the prettiest option and don't have a visual interface for the Linux app to use. However, here, that's the case only with NordVPN. Meaning, with it you'll be using the terminal by typing in your intended servers. Even though the NordVPN app worked fine, Surfshark is a game-changer as it has recently released a dedicated app for Linux with a nice visual interface and a feature-rich suite of features.
Windows users get the best treatment. Not only do they get an aesthetically pleasing user interface, but they are also given quite a bunch of features that are unavailable on macOS, like Split Tunneling/Whitelister.
It's worth noting that the macOS versions for NordVPN and Surfshark come in two forms: App Store versions and the website download versions. NordVPN's sideload will have more recent updates, but only the OpenVPN tunneling protocol. Meanwhile, Surfshark's sideload has only the IKEv2 protocol (not available on Windows app) with an option for beta updates. So, if you need more tunneling protocols, download the client from the App store.
The rule of Android VPN apps being superior to their iOS counterparts is not contested there. Both NordVPN and Surfshark have a superb Android version, while iOS is a bit behind.
Surfshark's Android version has Whitelister and GPS spoofing – a feature that no other competing VPN has implemented yet. You can read more about this features in our Surfshark VPN review. While NordVPN's Android has a configurable kill switch, split tunneling, pausing, and auto-connect.
Although NordVPN's iOS app has a built-in kill switch, favorites tab, and dark web monitoring, it also has its uses. Surfshark's iOS version also includes a kill switch, but other additions are only CleanWeb and auto-connect.
|24/7 live chat||✅||✅|
|Guides or articles||✅||✅|
If you run into any issues, you'll get many customer support options, whichever provider you choose. Both have up-to-date customer support web pages with guides and FAQs available.
None of the providers offer phone service, but if you prefer a more direct approach or need to get in touch with a human, NordVPN and Surfshark have a 24/7 live chat. So, you'll be able to find help even in the middle of the night.
My experience with both providers was pleasant. I didn't have to wait in long queues, and when I got assigned an agent, they proved to be knowledgeable and quickly answered all my questions.
Even when your query proves to be more challenging, your problem is turned into a ticket, and you can expect an email with a solution in a short while. So, whichever service you decide to pick, customer support will be just as good.
Video review: NordVPN vs Surfshark
Which is better NordVPN vs Surfshark?
|Ease of use||✅||✅|
NordVPN wins by a narrow margin. The only area in which the gap between NordVPN and Surfshark was transparency. NordVPN just went through more public audits, so it has very tangible proof about ultimately being the safer option. Whether it’s streaming or torrenting, you’ll get the right tools for the job with both providers. Yet, NordVPN gives you a more fleshed-out suite, which you should be looking for when shopping for a VPN.
However, both Surfshark and NordVPN provide comparable protection and versatility. Surfshark can almost match (and sometimes bypass) NordVPN in speeds, features, protection, torrenting, price, and clients. So, it should be no surprise that both these services end up in most "best VPN" lists.
More VPN comparisons
Which is better: Surfshark VPN or NordVPN?
Out of the two, NordVPN is the better option, simply because of it’s slightly more credible security measures, such as independent audits and privacy friendly location. Other than that, both VPNs are equally good, as they’re both at the very top of our best VPNs of 2022 list.
Is Surfshark a good VPN for gaming?
Surfshark is a good VPN for gaming, offering fast download and upload speed, as well as very low latency. Overall, it’s a solid option if you need gaming VPN.
Does Surfshark prevent DDoS?
Yes, Surfshark is great at preventing DDoS, especially while gaming. It encrypts your IP address with military-grade encryption protocols, so no hackers will be able to execute DDoS on your device.