NordVPN and McAfee are two well-known names in the cybersecurity industry, however, they occupy quite different shelves at the digital store for online security products.
McAfee is an antivirus provider, but it also offers a standalone Safe Connect VPN service. And the VPN industry is where NordVPN has been at the forefront for a couple of years now. Why don’t we take a look at how they stack up against each other?
So, in this NordVPN vs. McAfee VPN comparison, I will compare these two VPNs in such categories as speed, streaming, features, security and privacy, and much more.
NordVPN vs. McAfee VPN
|🥇 Overall rank:||#1 out of #33||#18 out of #33|
|🖥️ Servers:||5500+ servers in 59 countries||2000+ servers in 48 countries|
|📖 No logs policy:||No logs||Keeps logs|
|💵 Pricing:||From $2.99/month||From $2.92/month|
|🔥 Coupons:||NordVPN coupon 68% OFF||-|
|🔒 VPN protocols:||OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPsec, WireGuard (NordLynx)||Catapult Hydra|
|🍿 Streaming services:||Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and more||Netflix, HBO Max, Disney +, BBC iPlayer|
|🖥️ Platforms:||Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, Chrome, Firefox||Windows, Android, iOS, ChromeOS|
|📥 Simultaneous connections:||6||5|
|💁🏻 Support:||Knowledge base, FAQs, email, 24/7 live chat||Knowledge base, FAQs, email, 24/7 live chat|
Speed performance: NordVPN vs McAfee VPN
For this NordVPN vs McAfee VPN speed comparison, I tested the speeds with different protocols in three different locations – the UK, the US, and Lithuania.
In the table below, only average speeds are displayed.
Right off the bat, I can say that NordVPN was significantly faster than McAfee VPN in all our chosen locations, with all available protocols.
- Baseline: 460 Mbps download/470 Mbps upload
|NordVPN||McAfee Safe Connect VPN|
|Avg. download speed||260 Mbps||160 Mbps|
|Avg. upload speed||235 Mbps||166 Mbps|
As we can see, NordVPN is faster than McAfee Safe Connect VPN regarding both download and upload speed.
The Safe Connect VPN’s average download speed is around 30% slower than NordVPN’s average download speed. When compared to the baseline, McAfee VPN’s speed drop is more than 65%, while NordVPN’s is around 45%.
When it comes to the upload speed, NordVPN is a little bit slower but still faster than McAfee VPN, which actually picks up speed a little bit. The difference is still quite significant.
With McAfee Safe Connect VPN, there is no option to choose the tunneling protocol. It appears, though, that it uses the Catapult Hydra protocol.
The testing on NordVPN was done with NordLynx, as it is the fastest available protocol on all NordVPN apps.
|Platform||NordVPN||McAfee Safe Connect VPN|
|Netflix||✅ Yes||✅ Yes|
|HBO Max||✅ Yes||✅ Yes|
|Disney +||✅ Yes||✅ Yes|
|BBC iPlayer||✅ Yes||✅ Yes|
|DAZN||✅ Yes||❌ No|
As evident from the table above, NordVPN excels at unblocking virtually every streaming service you can think of. There were no problems with accessing Netflix libraries in the US and elsewhere. Watching HBO Max and even streaming on DAZN was also a piece of cake – no errors, lag, or bad quality.
McAfee Safe Connect VPN was also pretty good at unblocking streaming platforms. However, it didn’t manage to provide access to DAZN. Otherwise, the video streaming quality was relatively good, and no buffering occurred.
Torrenting with NordVPN couldn’t be more different from torrenting with McAfee VPNs.
One of the first and most visible differences is that NordVPN has dedicated P2P servers, and McAfee VPNs don’t. The second difference is that NordVPN takes actions in place to protect your torrenting traffic from getting detected. For example, if you torrent on a regular server and get compromised, NordVPN automatically changes your connection to one of their P2P servers. McAfee VPN has nothing at least remotely similar.
As for the torrenting experience itself, NordVPN worked perfectly during all of my tests. The speeds were good, and the connection didn’t get blocked once.
The McAfee Safe Connect VPN allowed torrenting on three out of five server locations I tested. The other two, namely Czechia and the UK, didn’t work.
The features of McAfee VPN and NordVPN are pretty standard to the VPN world. They both have such staple features as a kill switch or auto-connect.
However, that’s where the features end on the McAfee VPN part. NordVPN, on the other hand, has a lot more to offer, ranging from specialized servers to security measures against malware and online threats. And if you want a VPN and threat protection from McAfee, you can get that only with a full antivirus suite.
But let’s take a closer look at the NordVPN and McAfee VPN feature comparison:
NordVPN has a number of specialized servers, for a number of special cases:
- P2P servers for torrenting.
- Double VPN servers, also known as multi-hop servers. When connected, your data will be transferred not through one but two of NordVPN’s servers, which grants more security.
- Obfuscated servers, which will make your VPN traffic appear as regular HTTPS traffic, and thus make it possible to bypass even the strictest of VPN blocks.
- Onion over VPN servers will route your traffic through a VPN server, and then through at least three Tor network nodes. This makes it very difficult to trace any online activity back to you.
- Dedicated IP servers can be purchased for an additional price. You will get an IP that will always remain the same, and belong only to you.
McAfee VPN, on the other hand, has nothing of the sort. It doesn’t offer any type of obfuscation method, nor double VPN servers for maximized security, and no servers for dedicated IPs to speak of.
Both NordVPN and McAfee VPN (both versions) have a kill switch. It helps in case the VPN connection drops – to not expose your IP address and location, a kill switch will shut off all device access to the internet, and keep your details safe.
NordVPN’s kill switch works fine, just as you would expect from a quality kill switch. You can also customize it to work with specific apps or specific networks.
By contrast, the Safe Connect VPN kill switch called Safe Reconnect didn’t really do what it was supposed to. With the kill switch turned on, I couldn’t connect to any servers. An error message would pop up every time, saying that something went wrong and that I should try again later. This means that I couldn’t really test if the kill switch was working at all.
Besides specialized servers and a kills switch, both VPNs have more features to show. I must note, though, that NordVPN has significantly more than McAfee VPN.
Other NordVPN features include:
Threat protection, which blocks ads, trackers, and malicious websites, scans all the files you download onto your device, and otherwise protects you from malware and bad actors.
There is also a dark web monitor, which warns you about vulnerabilities of your personal data. It scours the dark web for information associated with your email address and notifies you right away if there is anything found.
Presets of NordVPN allows for greater VPN customization, and the Meshnet feature allows using a VPN to securely connect your device to your friends’ and colleagues’ devices.
Other McAfee features include:
Trusted Networks is a whitelisting feature, which allows you to select which networks are safe to use without a VPN. They can include your school, workplace, or home networks, but I would recommend leaving cafe and airport wifi out of this list.
Another feature of McAfee Safe Connect VPN is a TCP Override. When turned on, it should provide you with a more stable connection – given that your connection is unstable in the first place – but during testing, I haven’t noticed any significant connection stability changes.
NordVPN vs McAfee VPN: which is more secure?
Security is the prime purpose of any VPN service, and it’s good to know that both NordVPN and McAfee VPN also take it seriously.
To encrypt your traffic, McAfee VPN uses the industry-standard AES-256 encryption, while NordVPN employs the ChaCha20 cipher. Here, both VPNs are neck to neck.
When it comes to infrastructure and logging policies, however, some differences start to show. First of all, McAfee VPN logs a lot of information about their users – more about that below. Secondly, it is also based in the US, which is not the most privacy-friendly jurisdiction. McAfee VPN has not been independently audited either.
NordVPN, on the other hand, has a very strict, independently audited no-logs policy. They don’t log any data about you at all – except for diagnostics, and you can opt-out even of that. This VPN is also based in a privacy-friendly Panama.
NordVPN also has enhanced security on the server levels – all of their servers are RAM-only, which means that any data stored on them gets wiped after each server reboot, and nothing is kept permanently.
NordVPN’s servers are obviously encrypted, which is a standard security measure in the VPN world. But there is more.
The large majority of NordVPN’s servers are RAM-only, which means that they don’t use hard drives to store data such as usage logs. Memory-only data storage also inevitably results in a complete wipe-out of information if the servers reboot. For the user, this ensures complete anonymity and personal data security, as in case of a breach, a remote reboot can be initiated.
As for McAfee VPN, there is very little information about what kind of servers it uses and what security measures are employed.
NordVPN is based in Panama, which is a country with a pretty laid-back approach to data collection and retention. NordVPN is not required to collect any information about its users. Moreover, Panama is not a member of any surveillance alliances, such as the 14-eyes or others. So even if they did log some non-sensitive data such as your registration email, they wouldn’t have any legal obligations to share it with anyone.
On the other hand, McAfee VPN is based in the United States. This is a country known for its high-key unfriendly views on privacy protection, extensive laws about data retention and turnovers, as well as vigorous participation in the 14-eyes surveillance alliance. The US is not a good place for any VPN to be based in. If it is, you can be sure that some type of data about you will be logged.
NordVPN has a strict no-logs policy. It doesn’t track what you do with the app, what servers you connect to, and what websites you visit. The policy has been audited two times, in 2018 and 2020, by an independent auditor PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers), which is one of the Big Four accounting firms. The audit report concluded that NordVPN complies with security and privacy standards of the highest grade.
McAfee VPN does not have a no-logs policy. In fact, they are quite open about keeping tabs on their users. Here are the types of logs that McAfee VPN keeps:
- Your IP address,
- Information about your devices, such as hardware type, battery levels, operating system, etc.
- Your Internet Service Provider (ISP).
- Browser type, language preferences, and geo-location data.
- URLs or domain names of the websites you visit.
McAfee VPN is also open about sharing your data with third-party advertisers and other companies that provide services to McAfee. They will also comply with requests from any legal, government, and/or judicial authorities and provide them with any data they have on you.
And as a cherry on top, they can keep your biometric data (if they have it) for up to three years after you’ve deleted your accounts and stopped using the apps.
Plans & pricing
In the table below, I compared the prices of NordVPN’s 1-month, 1-year, and 2-year subscriptions to the Standard plan and the McAfee Safe Connect VPN 1-year subscription:
|NordVPN||McAfee Safe Connect VPN|
|Check pricing||Check pricing|
NordVPN has three different pricing tiers, each of which you can subscribe to for a month, 1 year, and 2 years. The 1-year subscription to the NordVPN Standard plan for $4.49/month includes a VPN with 6 simultaneous connections and all of the features that come with it. Threat protection with malware protection and threat and ad blocker is also included. The same tier costs $2.99/month for a 2-year plan, and you can also get it for 1 month for $11.99. The longer the subscription duration is, the lower the price.
Other NordVPN pricing tiers are the Plus and the Complete. They are a little more expensive than the Standard but also include more – such as a password manager, encrypted storage, and a data breach scanner. The Plus tier costs $12.99 for 1 month, $5.49/month for 1 year, and $3.99/month for 2 years. The Complete tier is priced at $14.29 for 1 month, $6.79/month for 1 year, and $5.29/month for 2 years.
You can learn more about NordVPN’s pricing plans in our NordVPN review.
The McAfee Safe Connect VPN 1-year subscription will give you a VPN with 5 licenses (or simultaneous connections), and all the features that come with it, namely the Safe Reconnect (kill switch), TCP override, and Trusted Networks. You can get the subscription for $4.00/month.
Unlike NordVPN, McAfee Safe Connect VPN doesn’t offer 1-month or 2-year plans. However, there are different pricing options as well, such as the Plus, the Premium, and the Ultimate. The subscription is for 1-year or for 2 years for all fo them. However, one important distinction is that these are pricing plans for the Total Protection antivirus suite, which includes a VPN together with other AV features. The Plus tier for 1 year is priced at $4.17/month, the Premium for 1 year costs $4.58/month, and you can get the Ultimate for 1 year for $6.25/month.
You can find out more about what the McAfee antivirus offers in our McAfee antivirus review.
Servers and locations
|NordVPN||McAfee Safe Connect VPN|
|Countries in total||59||48|
|Middle East & Africa||4||5|
NordVPN offers over 5500 servers, spread out across the whole world – you can connect to any server in as many as 59 locations. The highest number of server locations is in Europe, but other corners of the world are also pretty well covered.
By contrast, McAfee VPN doesn’t even announce the number of servers available, and the number of countries is just a little lower than NordVPN’s. However, it also has a pretty good server location distribution.
Platforms, interface, and ease of use
Both NordVPN and McAfee VPN have apps for Windows, Android, and iOS. McAfee VPN doesn’t have apps for macOS and Linux. NordVPN, by contrast, does.
However, the McAfee VPN also have something that NordVPN doesn’t – native Chromebook support with their app for ChromeOS. In NordVPN’s defense, though, for a VPN to be compatible with Chromebooks, you only really need an app for Android.
|NordVPN||Safe Connect VPN|
|Supported OS||Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS||Windows, Android, iOS, ChromeOS|
|Browser extensions||Chrome, Firefox, Edge||–|
|Other devices||Kodi, Android TVs, Fire devices||–|
NordVPN also has extensions for three browsers – Chrome, Firefox, and MS Edge, while McAfee VPN doesn’t have any. The same goes for other supported devices. You can use NordVPN on Kodi, various Android TVs, and Fire devices. McAfee VPN is limited to your good old computer and/or mobile device.
NordVPN supports 6 simultaneous connections, while McAfee VPN supports only 5.
The desktop apps on Windows and macOS of NordVPN are very similar. They have a nice blue and grey interface, adorned with an interactive world map. The map indicates server locations that you can connect to by simply clicking on the little blue dot.
There is also a country list to the left of the map, including specialty servers, as well as a vertical toolbar for accessing additional settings and features. It is quite easy to navigate and find everything you might need and want from your VPN.
McAfee VPN interface is a little more simplistic than NordVPN’s, but it still is functional and easy to use.
The main page of the McAfee Safe Connect VPN features a big button that prompts you to "start protection". Once you click on the button you get connected to a VPN server. You can also select your preferred location, or just let the VPN pick the fastest one. On the left side, there is a toolbar through which you can access other VPN settings, such as the kill switch.
NordVPN mobile apps are almost a direct replica of the desktop ones. Both Android and iOS apps have an interactive map, a big button for making quick connections, and a country and specialty server list. The toolbar at the bottom of the page will take you to Meshnet, notifications, and profile. Through the profile, you can also access app settings and features.
The McAfee mobile apps on iOS and Android also mimic their desktop counterparts. The big protection button is there, as well as some options for choosing your preferred location. You can access the additional settings and features by tapping on the burger menu in the upper right corner.
Responsive and helpful customer support is a staple of any paid VPN service, and both NordVPN and McAfee VPN excel at it.
|24/7 live chat||✅||✅|
|Guides or articles||✅||✅|
NordVPN has a 24/7 live chat for urgent issues, and you can submit a support ticket by email as well. If you’re more inclined to figure things out by yourself, there are a lot of articles and guides focused on set-ups, configurations, features, and more. There is also an FAQ page with extensive answers to the most common questions.
McAfee VPN support is tied to their antivirus solutions, so it is a little different regarding the kind of content you can find. However, there is also a 24/7 live chat option, as well as helpful guides, explanatory articles, and an FAQ page.
NordVPN vs McAfee VPN – which one wins?
|Security and privacy||✔️||❌|
|Ease of use||✔️||❌|
The final comparison makes it clear that NordVPN performs better than McAfee VPN in most aspects. The most notable advantages are the features, platform compatibility, and security and privacy measures. It has numerous features for online security, as well as a strict no-logs policy. It is also compatible with all the major operating systems, as well as a variety of devices and browsers. Additionally, NordVPN also has specialized servers for streaming and torrenting.
McAfee VPN only has the most basic features, and some of them don’t even function properly. The streaming and torrenting experiences were not the best, and the speeds left a lot to be desired. I also must once again mention that McAfee VPN collects and shares user data with third parties – that goes almost completely against what a VPN is for.
So, to conclude this NordVPN vs McAfee VPN comparison, I declare NordVPN as the obvious winner and the better VPN.
Best VPN deals this week:
Is NordVPN better than McAfee VPN?
Yes, NordVPN is a better choice than McAfee VPN. It is faster, more secure, doesn’t log any user data (unlike McAfee VPN), and has tons of useful features. They range from specialized servers for P2P connections and streaming to obfuscation, meshnet, and Threat Protection, a feature that acts as a simplified version of an antivirus. NordVPN will block malicious ads, websites, and scams, and also scan all of the files you download for potential malware.
Is McAfee VPN effective?
Yes, McAfee is effective as a simple VPN for some light browsing. It has average speeds, is capable of unblocking some geo-blocked websites, and has security features such as a kill switch and whitelister. However, if you want to use McAfee VPN for streaming, torrenting, or bypassing strict content restrictions and VPN blocks, other VPNs, such as NordVPN, would be a better choice.
Does McAfee VPN hide my IP address?
Yes, McAfee VPN uses AES-256 encryption to encrypt your connection and hide (and change) your IP address. However, it also logs your real IP address. This means that if anyone from the government or any other institution asked, McAfee will comply with the request and share the IP address and any other information they have about you.