NordVPN vs ExpressVPN: which VPN is better?
NordVPN and ExpressVPN are both well-known VPNs in the industry, and there are only a few providers that can compare to these giants’ fame. And in turn, it becomes increasingly more difficult to pick the best one for you.
Which one provides better security features for your personal information? Or which offers the better fit for your needs? Both NordVPN and ExpressVPN are excellent choices, but we did the hard work for you and found the definitive answer of which is the best.
For this review we’ve tested these two providers to compare their differences in terms of security, privacy, speed, price, and streaming. So, this NordVPN and ExpressVPN comparison should give you a better understanding which of the two better suits your needs.
NordVPN vs ExpressVPN
NordVPN is cheaper than ExpressVPN, with prices starting from $3.29/month. It also allows 6 simultaneous connections compared to 5. Aside from that, NordVPN has more servers than ExpressVPN, but the latter does offer more server locations. Lastly, both VPNs are great for streaming and provide you with 24/7 customer support options – but NordVPN ensures a better overall value. This is why, in our review of the best VPNs of 2023, NordVPN got the top rating of 4.9, while ExpressVPN got a significantly lower score of 4.3.
|🥇 Overall rank:||#1 out of #35||#6 out of #35|
|🖥️ Servers:||5500+ servers in 60 countries||3000+ servers in 94 countries|
|📖 No logs policy:||No logs||No logs|
|💵 Pricing:||From $3.29/month||From $6.67/month|
|🔥 Coupons:||NordVPN coupon 63% OFF||ExpressVPN coupon 49% OFF|
|🔒 VPN protocols:||OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPsec, WireGuard (NordLynx)||Lightway, OpenVPN, IKEv2, L2TP/IPsec|
|🍿 Streaming services:||Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and more||Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney+|
|🖥️ Platforms:||Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, Chrome, Firefox||Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS|
|📥 Simultaneous connections:||6||5|
|💁🏻 Support:||Knowledge base, FAQs, email, 24/7 live chat||Knowledge base, FAQs, email, 24/7 live chat|
Netflix and streaming performance
Both of these VPN providers are excellent choices for streaming. They unblock not only Netflix US but other libraries as well. For example, I managed to unblock 21 Netflix libraries with NordVPN and about the same number with ExpressVPN. The same can be said about BBC iPlayer, YouTube, and many more.
However, NordVPN was slightly better at bypassing tough geo-restrictions. Consequently, NordVPN is our top VPN for Netflix. Although, both providers enabled us to access the famously well-secured Japanese Netflix.
|Netflix||✅ Yes (Most popular country libraries: US, UK, Canada, Germany, Japan)||✅ Yes (Most popular country libraries: US, UK, Canada, Germany, Japan)|
|Amazon Prime Video||✅ Yes||✅ Yes|
|Hulu||✅ Yes||✅ Yes|
|HBO Max||✅ Yes||✅ Yes|
|Disney +||✅ Yes||✅ Yes|
|BBC iPlayer||✅ Yes||✅ Yes|
And I also liked that ExpressVPN and NordVPN allow streaming on all servers. So when you decide to watch your favorite show, you don't need to switch servers first. Most importantly, the speeds should be enough for HD or even 4K video quality.
Smart DNS support is another great option that both providers have. This feature allows unblocking streaming platforms on smart TVs, game consoles, and other media devices without the VPN app.
To sum up, because both NordVPN and ExpressVPN are great for streaming, it’s a tie. Although NordVPN can bypass some tougher restrictions, both providers are capable of unblocking the most popular streaming services. They also both include the Smart DNS feature and let you stream content in the best video quality.
Plans and pricing
Both providers have 3 different plans to offer, yet, the pricing, the amount you save, and the maximum contract length differ significantly. However, you can try each of them risk-free with the 30-day money-back guarantees both NordVPN and ExpressVPN offer.
|Check NordVPN Discounts||Check ExpressVPN Discounts|
ExpressVPN is the pricier option. The monthly subscription price is pretty steep starting at $8.32/month. However, the longer plans aren’t that much cheaper. Six-month subscription will cost $9.99/month and the longest one-year-long subscription will be $6.67/month.
In contrast, NordVPN offers some great deals with longer subscriptions. The monthly plan bill would come to $12.99/month, but the year-long plan would be only $4.59/month. The best deal comes with the longest two-year plan which would cost you only $3.29/month.
Additionally, not only is NordVPN way cheaper than ExpressVPN, but you can also claim NordVPN’s 7-day free trial on the app stores. Unfortunately, neither of the providers have a free trial for the desktop apps.
Further, NordVPN subscription covers up to 6 simultaneous device connections, while ExpressVPN allows up to 5. While the difference isn’t that major, it’s still a win for the former.
These providers offer several payment options. NordVPN accepts credit cards, PayPal (in particular regions), AmazonPay, Sofort, prepaid cards, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and cryptocurrencies. ExpressVPN allows payments with a credit card, PayPal, Bitcoin, and other options like UnionPay.
NordVPN vs ExpressVPN: which one is more secure?
|A member of the Five-Eyes Alliance?||No||No|
|DNS leak protection||Yes||Yes|
Both NordVPN and ExpressVPN offer top-notch security and privacy. Neither of them is based in a country that is a part of the Five-Eyes Alliance group. Additionally, both provide AES-256 data encryption and industry-standard tunneling protocols OpenVPN and IKEv2. NordLynx and Lightway, the updated tunneling protocols from each of the platforms should be even more secure than the rest.
While both providers are very secure, NordVPN holds a slight advantage because of its extra features (CyberSec, Double VPN, Onion Over VPN), so it wins this round.
NordVPN is registered in Panama, while ExpressVPN is located in the British Virgin Islands. Neither of these countries has data retention laws, which means the VPNs can have a trustworthy no-logging policy.
Besides, neither of them belongs to the Five Eyes intelligence alliance. So there’s no need to worry that the government is requesting the ISP to collect and provide data about the users’ activity online.
Speed comparison: ExpressVPN vs NordVPN
I compared the speed test results of ExpressVPN and NordVPN using the available high-speed tunneling protocols – NordLynx and Lightway.
The numbers below are average download and upload speeds from different countries – the US, the UK, Canada, Germany, France, and Japan. It’s worth mentioning that the distance to the server location has a major impact on the results.
NordVPN’s WireGuard and ExpressVPN’s Lightway are two different protocols – but it makes sense to compare them side-by-side. They’re both high-speed, next-generation protocols, built for advanced privacy and performance. Developed internally by the providers themselves, they represent the best each provider has to offer, performing significantly better than older OpenVPN and IKEv2 protocols.
- Baseline: 471 Mbps download/ 486 Mbps upload
|NordVPN (NordLynx)||ExpressVPN (Lightway)|
|The US||419 Mbps/ 469 Mbps||306 Mbps/ 372 Mbps|
|The UK||457 Mbps/ 119 Mbps||304 Mbps/ 365 Mbps|
|Canada||367 Mbps/ 246 Mbps||305 Mbps/ 206 Mbps|
|Germany||453 Mbps/ 442 Mbps||314 Mbps/ 311 Mbps|
|France||464 Mbps/ 345 Mbps||313 Mbps/ 358 Mbps|
|Japan||280 Mbps/ 285 Mbps||247 Mbps/ 306 Mbps|
From the download speed results, it is clear that the faster and better performance comes with NordVPN’s NordLynx protocol. On the other hand, there’s a fairer fight when it comes to the upload speeds – here, ExpressVPN does overshadow NordVPN in several server locations. Even so, taking everything into account, NordVPN is the clear winner of the download and upload speed comparison.
However, you shouldn’t expect the exact same results, because your internet connection differs from ours during the testing period, as well these numbers can change daily. So regard this data as the approximate possible results.
Additionally, we’ve tested these two VPN providers' ping results. Here are the results we've got.
|NordVPN (NordLynx)||ExpressVPN (Lightway)|
|The UK||~ 65 ms||~ 73 ms|
|The US||~ 202 ms||~ 213 ms|
|Japan||~ 442 ms||~ 426 ms|
Just like with the download and upload speed results, NordVPN comes out as the better choice than ExpressVPN. With the former, you’ll experience fewer lags, however, ExpressVPN's performance wasn't too bad in comparison. With Japan location, ExpressVPN even provided better results, however, overall, NordVPN took the crown here as well.
Both contestants have quite a few features to offer. However, NordVPN simply has more of them. See the feature comparison below to learn if ExpressVPN lacks something you would definitely need.
Only for a limited time, you can get a bundle of Nord products for all-around protection. It includes a secure VPN, a password manager, and encrypted file storage.Get NordVPN
Split tunneling is a great feature that allows users to choose which apps will use VPN and which ones will connect directly. It's very convenient when you, for example, want to watch Netflix US and at the same time be able to read localized news portals. Both services have it, but ExpressVPN offers more compatibility.
In this case, you can either include or exclude the listed apps from using the VPN. NordVPN works in a similar fashion but supports Windows and Android only. In the meantime, ExpressVPN allows split tunneling on Mac (up to macOS 10.15) as well.
This feature is a godsend to anyone looking to use a VPN for video streaming platforms. First, it unblocks Netflix and other platforms without traffic encryption or sending the connection through a VPN server, which means much better speeds. Second, it works on several devices that don't support VPN connections, such as some smart TVs and game consoles.
ExpressVPN calls it MediaStreamer and we had it up and running on PC. However, it didn't work on our Xbox, so you may want to install it on your router instead.
NordVPN's version is named SmartDNS, and it also supports a bunch of media devices. Also, there’s a SmartPlay technology to ensure better streaming access on all servers.
The key difference from ExpressVPN is that the MediaStreamer is integrated into the VPN, but also works outside it (it's not merely a Smart DNS feature). This means you will have more choice in how you use it.
ExpressVPN was probably the first provider to switch to RAM-only servers back in 2019, naming the feature TrustedServer. That's a big improvement from a security standpoint because all data is wiped out after a reboot. Furthermore, each time the latest software is installed and the owner knows what exactly is running. In contrast, traditional servers rely on updating the old configuration, which is more vulnerable.
In 2020, NordVPN also moved on to RAM-only servers, fully owned and controlled by the company. So, by the time you’re reading this, both ExpressVPN and NordVPN have fully migrated to RAM-only systems, where nothing is stored locally and your information is wiped out automatically, keeping it entirely safe.
Stealth VPN is a great way to maintain connection when your school network blocks you because you're using a VPN. Also, it's the best tool against Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) used by China.
NordVPN calls them Obfuscated servers, and they’re available on all OpenVPN protocol connections. By simply choosing them in the list of Special Servers (available in NordVPN’s settings), it will connect automatically and make your traffic look like regular HTTPS, bypassing the censorship. ExpressVPN also has Stealth VPN, and it works automatically if the app determines that this is necessary.
This whole section is dedicated to NordVPN and the extra features that it offers.
Threat Protection might not be an antivirus, but it’s very close to being one. This feature prevents you from accidentally visiting malicious websites that could infect your computer. And with a built-in ad blocker, a lot of these pages will be blocked automatically. Plus, an automatic tracker blocker is there to keep your private information safe from data collectors. There’s even a download scanner that automatically checks every downloaded file from malware if it’s smaller than 20 MB.
Additionally, you also get a Dark Web Monitor, checking whether any of your personal information is discovered on any databases used by online criminals, letting you act before it’s too late.
Meshnet functionality lets you make a secure connection between several devices, may they belong to you or your friends. This is perfect for virtual LAN parties, accessing remote files, or working together in development sessions. You can link up to 60 devices at once.
Coming back to VPN features, you will also find Double VPN, also known as multi-hop. It’s a feature that adds extra protection to your online activity by connecting through two VPN servers instead of one.
Onion Over VPN (Tor over VPN) can be found under specialty servers. By turning it on, your traffic passes a NordVPN server and then runs through at least three Tor nodes.
SOCKS5 proxy is a feature favored by many torrenters. You can set it up on your favorite P2P client and be sure that your traffic will be protected even if you forget to turn on the VPN client.
Dedicated IP servers are servers with a dedicated IP address that you can buy straight from the official NordVPN site. This way, your IP will be the same at all times when you connect. This is handy for those who are getting a VPN not for the sake of privacy, but for other uses.
For more NordVPN features, take a look at our NordVPN review.
Both of the providers have different strengths. While NordVPN has more servers, around 5500 servers in 60 countries, ExpressVPN overshadows with global coverage – 3000+ servers in an impressive 94 locations.
Overall, picking either of these two providers will provide you with a large number of servers in globally varied location coverage.
China and countries with restricted internet access
You can use NordVPN and ExpressVPN in China. They're among some of the most reliable services for countries where internet access is restricted. However, the method that each uses for handling VPN bans is different.
ExpressVPN doesn't offer an option to turn on Stealth VPN. Instead, this feature engages automatically whenever it sees that you'll have to deal with DPI. Unfortunately, this works only if you set your tunneling protocol to automatic.
On the contrary, NordVPN has specialty Obfuscated servers to select from. While this is more convenient, the chances are that you'll need to set up a special app to make it work, at least in China. You can find the instructions for major platforms on NordVPN's website.
Finally, NordVPN has the edge because of its other handy features. One is a Double VPN that uses two servers instead of one for added protection. The other is Onion Over VPN which adds Tor relays on top of your encrypted VPN connection. Overall, NordVPN is ranked as the top VPN for China on our list.
Torrenting and P2P
Once again, it's hard to declare a winner in this category. Both contestants offer great speeds and a wide range of servers to choose from. While NordVPN has almost twice as many of them, P2P is allowed on specialized servers only.
In the meantime, ExpressVPN allows torrenting on all servers. Furthermore, this VPN is available in 94 countries compared to NordVPN's 60, so you’re likely to find a nearby server no matter where you’re located.
Contrary to NordVPN, ExpressVPN doesn't have a free SOCKS5 proxy. On the other hand, you can get a similar result with split tunneling, which is available on Windows, Mac, and Android. NordVPN also has this feature but doesn't support it on Mac.
Although NordVPN is our number one VPN for torrenting, at this point we have to call it a draw.
Apps, interface, and ease of use
|Supported OS||Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS||Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS|
|Other software and devices||Android TV, Fire devices||Android TV, Fire devices, routers|
|Browser extensions||Chrome, Firefox||Chrome, Firefox|
|Usability level||Easy to set up||Easy to set up|
Both VPNs offer great compatibility. You'll find apps for all major platforms plus browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox. Yet ExpressVPN has one client that NordVPN misses, and that's a router applet.
While you can manually configure the latter to work with the most popular router brands, it's still not as convenient as just downloading and installing the service right away. Finally, the difference in simultaneous connections is negligible, especially when you can remove the limit by installing the VPN on a router.
While NordVPN and ExpressVPN Windows and Mac apps are easy to install and use, they offer a totally different approach. The former has a small mobile-like screen with a huge Connect button, and the latter works best in a maximized window where you can see the map with available server locations. Both styles have their pros and cons, so it'll be up to you to decide with the one you fancy more.
Interestingly, NordVPN has two apps for macOS. The one available on the Apple Store is "the right one" as it supports all tunneling protocols, including NordLynx. The version from the provider's website is more of a sideload that supports OpenVPN only but has more features.
ExpressVPN has an interesting feature named Shortcuts. You can add up to five links to the websites you usually launch after connecting to a VPN. This feature is available on Android as well. Learn more about this great feature in our ExpressVPN review.
Meanwhile, NordVPN offers a similar feature called Presets. It lets you add up to six links or apps, as well as set your preferred tunneling protocol and server. However, this feature is available only on macOS.
When it comes to Linux, neither provider has a GUI. You control everything using command lines instead. NordVPN has .deb and .rpm packages, while ExpressVPN supports Debian, RedHat, and Arch-based distros.
Android and iOS clients look pretty much the same. At the same time, they are also quite similar to their desktop counterparts. However, there are some features not available on Windows and Mac.
NordVPN's Android app doesn't have a kill switch of its own. Therefore, you'll need to use the native Always-on VPN setting. In contrast, you can't turn off the iOS kill switch.
In the case of ExpressVPN, the Android version is superior to the iOS. It has split tunneling and a kill switch, two of the essential features.
Moreover, there's Protection Summary informing when the IP is hidden and the Data Breach Alert that notifies if your email has been found in a leak. It's worth mentioning that both providers are one of the best VPNs for iPhone currently on the market.
|24/7 live chat||✅||✅|
|Guides or articles||✅||✅|
Express VPN and NordVPN offer quality customer support. To start with, both have a 24/7 live chat. The waiting times are short at the worst of times, and support representatives are polite and knowledgeable.
Additionally, both providers have email support. If the issue is more complex, solving it via live chat might be impossible. In any case, I don't recall waiting for more than a few hours before getting an email reply.
Last but not least comes the knowledge base. Here you'll find FAQs, setup guides, and much more. Kudos to ExpressVPN for adding French, Dutch, Italian, German, Spanish, and Portuguese translations.
Video review: NordVPN vs ExpressVPN
NordVPN vs ExpressVPN – which one wins?
|Ease of use||❌||✅|
To sum up, NordVPN is a better option. It’s very fast, provides more security features, has a much wider server selection, and is cheaper than ExpressVPN. What’s more, it’s a better option for using a VPN in China and is great for streaming.
Meanwhile, ExpressVPN offers more compatibility and has a router app. The provider also outperforms many competitors in terms of speed and has top security features. However, ExpressVPN costs more than many rival VPN services.
If you are still thinking which VPN is best for you, both NordVPN and ExpressVPN offer 30-day money-back guarantee that gives you a chance to try them out.
More VPN comparisons
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NordVPN vs Private Internet Access: which VPN is best for you?
Is NordVPN better than ExpressVPN?
Yes, NordVPN is better than ExpressVPN. You can get it from $3.29/month for 6 devices compared to the ExpressVPN price – $6.67/month for 5 devices. Also it offers more servers of 5500 in 60 locations while ExpressVPN’s server fleet consists of 3000 servers in 94 countries.
Is NordVPN or ExpressVPN better for Netflix?
NordVPN is better for Netflix than ExpressVPN because it has more servers, gives more simultaneous connections and is cheaper. You can easily use it to unblock 21 Netflix libraries, including the US, UK, Canada, and others.
NordVPN or ExpressVPN: which is better for gaming?
NordVPN is better for gaming than ExpressVPN because it provides some of the best speeds and has a huge server list. Therefore, you should be able to find one that's close to your location and has a low ping.
What is the difference between NordVPN and ExpressVPN?
The main differences between NordVPN and ExpressVPN are their server fleet, price, and simultaneous connections. NordVPN has more servers and supports more simultaneous connections. Also, its subscription prices are cheaper compared to ExpressVPN. That's why we highly recommend NordVPN to our readers.
Both might be secured, I don't need other VPN...
It work freely on my phone with no issues
Thanks for your comment. I’m sorry to hear about your issues with ExpressVPN, but I can assure you that’s not something that happens occasionally. In any case, if you’ve decided to try NordVPN, you’d have trouble finding a VPN with better performance. And since you already have NordPass, chances are you’re entitled to a better deal.
Neither of these two had any DNS leak issues in the past. Additionally, their no-logs policies have been independently audited, and both are registered in privacy-friendly countries. The only advantage that NordVPN has is its Onion over VPN feature.
Both VPNs are really great for streaming, including Hulu. I suggest trying them both to see which works better. Just don’t forget that you’ll need a US credit card to subscribe to Hulu.
I’d say that in this case, everything depends on your needs. NordVPN is faster, but not by much. ExpressVPN offers servers in more countries, but will you ever use them? Finally, NordVPN has a SOCKS5 proxy, but ExpressVPN’s split tunneling can do the same job. However, I must point out that the former is considerably cheaper.
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