NordVPN vs Surfshark: which one wins in 2023
Both NordVPN and Surfshark are the leading providers on the VPN market and not every service can compare to the these industry wolves. Surprisingly enough, they share the same parent company but are two very diverse products. Both are excellent picks: they have top-class security and highly excel in their features.
In this NordVPN vs Surfshark comparison, we'll contrast their differences and similarities, strengths and weaknesses, as we’ve tested both products regarding speeds, features, security, apps, and quality of their customer support. After this short read, you'll have a much better idea of which service is ultimately a better VPN for your needs.
NordVPN vs Surfshark: overview
NordVPN and Surfshark both offer a quality product and the differences between the two are very few. While Surfshark overall is cheaper with prices starting at $2.30/month, NordVPN offers more servers and protocol options. Additionally, NordVPN caps their connections at 6 devices simultaneously, while Surfshark has no limits here. However, NordVPN wins because of the much better overall value.
In result, one of the best VPNs of 2023, NordVPN, got the top rating of 4.9, while Surfshark scored 4.7.
|🥇 Overall rank:||#1 out of #35||#2 out of #35|
|🖥️ Servers:||5500+ servers in 60 countries||3200+ servers in 100 countries|
|📖 No logs policy:||No logs||No logs|
|💵 Pricing:||From $3.29/month||From $2.30/month|
|🔥 Coupons:||NordVPN coupon 63% OFF||Surfshark VPN coupon 82% 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|
Why should you get NordVPN?
After doing our own research and surfing the market, NordVPN seems to have everyone’s attention for a reason.
NordVPN is one of the most secure providers on the market. First off, its jurisdiction is in Panama, which is a privacy-friendly country. Moreover, in terms of privacy, NordVPN’s external independent privacy audit is detailed and open to public.
Not to mention, NordVPN provides excellent performance when it comes down to downloading speeds. It seems that NordVPN takes the win, although one isn’t extremely better than the other. The in-depth review below will help you base your decision more.
Why should you get Surfshark?
Surfshark is a great pick for you if you want to save a buck without having to risk security or speeds. Besides, Surfshark provides unlimited simultaneous connections, so you can use it on as many devices as you want.
What’s also a plus for Surfshark – it offers pretty decent antivirus protection and breach alerts. You can get it with Surfshark One – all features in one package.
Netflix and streaming performance
Both providers are really capable of unblocking geo-restricted streaming sites, including one of the most popular streaming giants – Netflix. Both NordVPN and Surfshark are considered to be the best VPNs for streaming.
As expected, neither NordVPN nor Surfshark struggled when unblocking foreign Netflix libraries and other platforms with notorious geo-blocks.
|Netflix||✅ Yes||✅ Yes|
|Amazon Prime Video||✅ Yes||✅ Yes|
|Hulu||✅ Yes||✅ Yes|
|HBO Max||✅ Yes||✅ Yes|
|Disney +||✅ Yes||✅ Yes|
|BBC iPlayer||✅ Yes||✅ Yes|
|YouTube TV||✅ Yes||✅ Yes|
|Apple TV||✅ Yes||✅ Yes|
During our tests, we were able to unblock the US exclusives and managed to connect to Japan and plenty of other foreign locations with both services. So, if you're looking for a VPN for Netflix, both options will do nicely.
In addition, both of these VPNs support split tunneling, so you can also set up Netflix to work exclusively with a VPN. Also, you can use the SmartDNS feature that both offer to stream foreign content libraries on devices that don’t support VPN apps, like your smart TV.
This goes beyond Netflix as well – both Surfshark and NordVPN work with plenty of other popular streaming sites, including BBC iPlayer, Hulu, HBO Max, and many others. Neither of the providers triggered any errors that would ruin the experience.
Plans and pricing
With VPNs, the pricing schemes are usually pretty simple to digest. The longer your subscription is, the better your savings are. That much is true for both providers in this comparison as well.
|Check Latest Discounts||Check Latest Discounts|
The monthly subscription is the shortest option, and it will be the priciest. NordVPN costs $12.99, 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.
The longest two-year plan gets you the best savings. NordVPN costs $3.29/month, while Surfshark charges $2.30/month, which is a superb deal.
When it comes to NordVPN payment options – you can use credit cards, PayPal (in particular regions), AmazonPay, ACH Transfer, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and cryptocurrencies. Surfshark accepts credit cards, PayPal, Google Pay, Amazon Pay, Apple Pay, and cryptocurrencies.
In any case, NordVPN offers a 7-day free trial and supports a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try the service out before fully committing. Identically, Surfshark also provides a 7-day free trial for mobile devices (and unlimited simultaneous connections) and a flexible 30-day money-back guarantee.
If the pricing seems too much, there might be a discount waiting for you: check out our pages for NordVPN coupons and Surfshark coupons.
Surfshark vs NordVPN: which is more secure?
Both NordVPN and Surfshark take security very seriously and have implemented all the necessary measures, including the following:
|Encryption||AES-256-GCM and ChaCha20||AES-256-GCM and Chacha20Poly1305|
|A member of the 5-Eyes, 9-Eyes Alliance?||No||Yes|
|DNS leak protection||Yes||Yes|
Each of them encrypts your data with AES-256-GCM encryption, works on RAM-only servers, and provides additional security features like a reliable kill switch or DNS leak protection.
However, a point of concern with Surfshark is that this VPN is based in the Netherlands, which is a part of the 9-Eyes Intelligence Alliance. This raises several questions about data privacy.
When it comes to public security audits, both services have something to show for themselves. NordVPN has undergone two public audits for its no-logs policy by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC). Also, in 2019, VerSprite performed a security audit on NordVPN’s applications.
Meanwhile, Surfshark has been audited three times. The first two tests were performed by Cure53, who tested Surfshark’s browser extensions and, subsequently, server infrastructure and the general security of the tool. The newest audit was performed in 2023 by Deloitte. This time, it was Surfshark’s no-logs policy that was audited.
Both NordVPN and Surfshark have upgraded the majority of their servers to run on RAM-only. This means that there is no hard drive on which the user logs could be written.
This also limits the possibility of servers becoming 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.
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.
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.
|362 Mbit/s||348 Mbit/s|
|470 Mbit/s||463 Mbit/s|
|630 Mbit/s||612 Mbit/s|
|328 Mbit/s||319 Mbit/s|
|443 Mbit/s||436 Mbit/s|
|533 Mbit/s||535 Mbit/s|
Throughout all the results, it’s clear that NordVPN has the slightest edge over Surfshark. While both providers offer blazing-fast speeds and clearly are two of the fastest VPNs on the market right now, NordVPN is just slightly speedier.
But that’s not all. We also compared their performance with other protocols, including OpenVPN (UDP and TCP variants) and IKEv2.
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 was 27%. So, in terms of download speeds, both providers are almost identical. However, NordVPN is a bit more efficient with upload speeds.
In terms of features, both NordVPN and Surfshark add a lot of additional subscription benefits.
Although NordVPN has more specialty server options, Surfshark proves its suite with a wider variety of security features included.
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 the 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 that 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 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 servers, 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. It works on your selected browser extension: Chrome, Firefox, or Edge.
NordVPN's spin on this formula is called Threat Protection. It makes your browsing safer by blocking ads and trackers, identifying malware, and preventing you from malicious websites.
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.
However, Surfshark takes the lead with features like GPS spoofer, which allows you easily spoof your location on Android devices. So, you can trick the websites and apps that detect your geographical location.
Another win to Surfshark is the Surfshark antivirus, which expands the protection from only your data online to securing your device from any malware threats as well.
In terms of where the VPNs have their servers, both providers have a solid number of servers and versatile locations, so you’re able to connect to almost any location around the globe.
Both providers have different strengths. NordVPN has 5500+ servers across 60 countries, while Surfshark has 3200+ servers in 100 countries. So, with the first one, you're getting more servers. With the other, you're getting slightly more countries to choose from.
Additionally, Surfshark uses virtual locations, whereas NordVPN doesn’t implement this. Both of the providers have specialty servers.
It's worth considering that NordVPN in Europe and the US has as many servers as Surfshark's entire network. You can expect the bigger fleet to provide more consistent performance across different user locations.
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.
Both competing VPNs have dedicated P2P servers, which are better optimized for faster downloads.
Surfshark allows you to torrent on all of their servers, however, 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 for safer file sharing and better speed results.
In addition, NordVPN includes a SOCKS5 proxy, which is useful for P2P connections since it will provide faster download speeds.
Platforms, interface, and ease of use
NordVPN and Surfshark excel in their usability and user-friendliness. They have very diverse selection of apps, which are super easy to use.
|Supported OS||Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, Chrome, Firefox||Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, Chrome, Firefox|
|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. Additionally, they have a couple of browser extensions and work with other software, like smart TVs. The apps are very easy to use, intuitive, and developed nicely. So, no matter the device you use, setting up will be really easy.
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.
Surfshark’s 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 version for Surfshark comes in two forms – the Apple Store version and the website version. The App store version comes with all of the tunneling protocols, while the site one only had the IKEv2.
Now NordVPN’s Windows and iOS versions are very similar, have the map interface, and are easy to navigate and use.
Just like with Surfsahrk, NordVPN’s macOS app also has two versions – the website one and the App Store. The website version will have more recent updates, but only the OpenVPN tunneling protocol.
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 Bypasser and GPS spoofing – a feature that no other competing VPN has implemented yet. The iOS version also includes a kill switch, but other additions are only CleanWeb and auto-connect. You can read more about these features in our Surfshark VPN review.
NordVPN’s Android app is feature-rich and very easy to use. You can select your servers from a map interface or a list of servers. Additionally, it has all the useful features, like a kill switch, split tunneling, pausing, and auto-connect feature.
NordVPN's iOS app has a built-in kill switch, favorites tab, and dark web monitoring. There’s also a map interface, but you can also use the list of countries to pick your server.
When it comes to reaching out for technical help, both providers have excellent customer support services in terms of options of support and its speediness.
|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.
Our experience with both providers was pleasant. We didn't have to wait in long queues, and when we got assigned an agent, they proved to be knowledgeable and quickly answered all our 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.
NordVPN and Surfshark comparison with other VPN providers
|Review||NordVPN review||Surfshark review||IPVanish review||PrivateVPN review||ExpressVPN review||CyberGhost review|
|Price||From $3.29/month||From $2.30/month||From $3.33/month||From $2.00/month||From $6.67/month||From $2.19/month|
|Servers||5500+ servers in 60 countries||3200+ servers in 100 countries||2000+ servers in 50 countries||200+ servers in 63 countries||3000+ servers in 94 countries||9700+ servers in 91 countries|
|Based in||Panama||The Netherlands||United States||Sweden||British Virgin Islands||Romania|
|Logging||No logs, independently audited twice by PwC||No logs, independently audited by Deloitte||No logs, independently audited by Leviathan||No logs, not audited||No logs, independently audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers||No logs, independently audited by Deloitte|
|Streaming||Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and more||Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, and more||Netflix, BBC iPlayer, YouTube||Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Video, and more||Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney+||Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney+|
What do Redditors think about NordVPN and Surfshark?
Reddit is a fantastic resource for finding frank reviews of many products, including VPNs. You can choose the best provider by consulting the countless subreddits devoted to discussing VPNs for certain uses, problem-solving, and more. So, let’s look at Surfshark vs NordVPN Reddit edition.
Redditors have positive opinions on both NordVPN and Surfshark providers, giving credit to their privacy features and ease of use. Ultimately, the effectiveness of these VPNs may vary based on individual preferences and usage patterns.
Some Redditors discuss its differences in apps and interfaces, while others care more about streaming, privacy, and whether the providers can assure data safety. If you’d like to learn more about what Redditors take into consideration before choosing a VPN, take a look at our review of best VPNs according to Reddit.
Video review: NordVPN vs Surfshark
Which is better – NordVPN or Surfshark?
So, who’s the ultimate winner? Even though both NordVPN and Surfshark goes hand in hand in many aspects, one is slightly better than the other. Let’s look at the final rundown.
|Ease of use||✅||✅|
NordVPN wins by a narrow margin and is the better VPN than Surfshark. The only area in which the gap between NordVPN and Surfshark was the most obvious was security points. 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 VPNs lists.
More VPN comparisons:
Surfshark vs ExpressVPN: which one is better?
IPVanish vs NordVPN: which service to choose?
ExpressVPN vs IPVanish: which VPN is worth your money?
Surfshark vs IPVanish: which is better in 2023?
ExpressVPN v NordVPN: which VPN should you get?
Which is better: Surfshark VPN or NordVPN?
Out of the two, NordVPN is the better option, simply because of its 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 2023 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 a 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.
Which is better: NordVPN or ExpressVPN or Surfshark?
NordVPN is the best VPN provider out of the three. However, Surfshark is a close second contender. Both NordVPN and Surfshark overshadow ExpressVPN with their blazing-fast seeds, strong security features, and a variety of features that lead to a secure and enjoyable browsing experience.
Plus, you’re getting the SmartDNS feature with each of them. However, Surfshark ticks all the boxes and is the cheapest, so it may be your answer right there.
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