While both NordVPN and ExpressVPN are large, well-regarded names in the VPN industry, extensive testing for this ExpressVPN vs NordVPN comparison revealed a clear winner in terms of speed, reliability, security, and value.
Here is a brief overview when comparing NordVPN and ExpressVPN that highlights the main findings:
NordVPN is cheaper than ExpressVPN, and it comes with some interesting features, but there is a big difference with performance. ExpressVPN outperformed NordVPN with nearly every server location tested – both with raw speed and also reliability. In terms of security, ExpressVPN also has a better kill switch and leak protection features than NordVPN, thereby keeping your data secure.
We will dive into the testing results below. But before we do that, it’s important to note that both NordVPN and ExpressVPN are currently offering some great discounts:
Discounts for both ExpressVPN and NordVPN
Regardless of which VPN service you end up choosing, the good news is that you can pick up huge discounts right now on both VPNs.
ExpressVPN 49% discount – Without the discount below, the standard ExpressVPN price is $8.32 per month with the annual rate. When you use the coupon link, it drops the price down to $6.67, which includes get 3 months free.
NordVPN 77% discount – The standard price for NordVPN is $5.75 per month with the annual plan. When you use the discount link below it drops the price all the way down to $2.75 per month with the three-year plan (total cost $99).
As you can see, in terms of percent savings, NordVPN currently offers the biggest discount. However, the key question is value. After demonstrating the features and benefits of each service, we will show you which one offers the best value for your money.
Here is an overview from the latest update to the ExpressVPN review:
British Virgin Islands
Passed all tests
24/7 live chat
- User-friendly and reliable apps
- Exceptional speeds throughout the server network (#1 in performance)
- 30 day money-back guarantee
- No logs
- Split tunneling feature (for Mac OS, Windows, and routers)
- Works with Netflix and other streaming services
- 24/7 live chat support
- Slightly more expensive (but currently offering a 49% discount)
Here is an overview from the latest update to the NordVPN review:
Passed all tests
- User-friendly apps
- 30 day money-back guarantee
- Double-hop VPN servers
- 24/7 live chat support
- No logs
- Works with Netflix
- Variable speeds with some servers
Speed Test: NordVPN vs ExpressVPN
There is one clear winner in the performance category, and that is ExpressVPN.
The latest tests also line up with my own observations, since I have been personally using both services since mid-2015. ExpressVPN has always been a higher priced VPN service that prides itself on speed and performance. While NordVPN has improved it’s speed recently, ExpressVPN still outperforms in nearly every location.
When running all tests, my baseline (non-VPN) connection speed was about 100 Mbps (location was Germany).
ExpressVPN speed tests
Here is one nearby server in Italy with a download speed of 94 Mbps. As you can see, ExpressVPN essentially maxed out my baseline connection speed.
Here is another test test with a server in Switzerland – again, similar results.
Download speed: 92 Mbps
As you can verify in the newly updated ExpressVPN review, all of my speed tests with nearby servers in Europe were 90 to 95 Mbps – nearly maxing out my baseline internet speed.
I also tested ExpressVPN servers in North America. The results were excellent, even considering the distance between me and the server locations.
Here is a test with a server in Washington, DC, where I was able to get over 78 Mbps:
Testing other servers in the US and Canada, I was able to consistently get between 70 and 80 Mbps.
To sum all these tests up, ExpressVPN is consistently fast with all servers I tested.
Now moving on to NordVPN.
NordVPN speed tests
While NordVPN has improved performance recently by adding more servers, some servers are still a bit slow. For some people, this may require hopping around to different servers until you find one that gives you the speeds you need.
Some of NordVPN’s servers are fast, but others are rather slow. In other words, it is not consistently fast like found ExpressVPN to be.
Here is one of the better speed tests I had with NordVPN using a nearby server in Denmark at 94 Mbps:
Servers in North America were rather slow with my testing.
Running a few tests in the United States and Canada found speeds to be quite variable.
In some tests I was able to get around 60 Mbps, but then in others it would suddenly drop to under 4 Mbps:
Servers in Canada were also hit or miss with the latest round of tests.
Here I am testing a NordVPN server in Canada and getting about 14 Mbps – not very good:
Recall that every serve
Please keep in mind that there are many different variables that affect speed. While ExpressVPN is consistently fast, NordVPN seems to offer good performance on some occasions and mediocre performance on others – it really depends.
However, with the latest test results, ExpressVPN remains the clear winner in the performance category.
Winner for speed – ExpressVPN
Reliability: NordVPN vs ExpressVPN
There is another clear winner when it comes to reliability, and that is again ExpressVPN.
On some occasions when testing out NordVPN I have experience connection problems and errors. While this was not a common issue, it did happen with some servers and regions.
Here is an example of this with the NordVPN Ireland server. Notice the error message that I kept getting with some servers: “An error has occurred. Please try again.”
I do not have an explanation for the connection problems with NordVPN. These issues may have been due to problems with the server network, or bugs with their VPN applications.
ExpressVPN also does better in the reliability category.
I have always found their server network and apps to work very well – without any connection errors, bugs, or failures. In short, everything just works.
Extensive testing with ExpressVPN’s Windows, Mac OS, and Android apps did not identify any problems.
Overall in the performance category – with both speed and reliability – ExpressVPN was the winner.
Reliability Winner: ExpressVPN
Features: NordVPN vs ExpressVPN
When compared to NordVPN, ExpressVPN has fewer features, but everything works well.
One unique feature with ExpressVPN is that it offers a split-tunneling option, which lets you route certain apps through the VPN, while routing other apps over your regular (unencrypted) internet connection.
Furthermore, ExpressVPN also offers some other basic features:
- Secure, self-hosted DNS (protects you against DNS leaks)
- Obfuscation features (gets around network restrictions and VPN blocking)
While it is not necessarily a feature, ExpressVPN also works very well with different streaming services, such as Netflix and BBC iPlayer. This is further explained in the ExpressVPN Netflix guide. Due to ExpressVPNs excellent performance and high-quality apps for all devices, it currently holds the title as the best VPN for Kodi and also the best VPN for unblocking Netflix.
NordVPN offers more features than ExpressVPN, but some of these features did not work too well in testing.
As an example, I found the “Onion over VPN” feature to be unusably slow. However, I did find the double-VPN servers to perform reasonably well, but speeds weren’t great.
Some of the other features offered by NordVPN include:
- Double-hop VPN configurations
- VPN + Tor configurations (but I found this to be too slow to work well – under 1 Mbps)
- Ad-blocking (CyberSec feature)
While ad blocking is potentially a great feature, in my VPN ad blocker comparison report I found many advertising and malware domains were not getting blocked by NordVPN. If you are looking for a good VPN ad blocker, there are better options available.
Like ExpressVPN, NordVN also continues to work with Netflix and other streaming services.
NordVPN takes the win for the features category, even though some of the features did not work adequately.
Features winner: NordVPN
Security: ExpressVPN vs NordVPN
Both ExpressVPN and NordVPN are good options when it comes to securing your data and I did not find any leaks with either of these services.
However there is one key difference between the two: the kill switch.
With NordVPN, they offer an app kill switch and a firewall kill switch with the OpenVPN Windows app and the IKEv2 Mac OS app:
Above is the Windows app (tested on Windows 10).
The problem, however, is that with NordVPN’s OpenVPN app for Mac OS, they only have an “App Kill Switch”. This means that your traffic is not getting blocked via the firewall if the connection drops, which could expose your IP address to third parties.
ExpressVPN offers a fully-functional kill switch on all their major apps: Windows, Mac OS, Linux, and even routers. The kill switch is also easy to setup on mobile devices.
ExpressVPN Network Lock is one of the most effective kill switches I have tested. It even protects users from DNS leaks when switching network interfaces, such as going from ethernet (cable) to WiFi while the VPN is running.
Security winner: ExpressVPN
Value: ExpressVPN vs NordVPN
There’s not a clear winner in the value category – both ExpressVPN and NordVPN offer a decent value.
ExpressVPN is more expensive, but it does very well in the performance category. Furthermore, ExpressVPN has lowered their prices for Restore Privacy readers, dropping the monthly rate down to $6.67 here: ExpressVPN 49% discount link >>
ExpressVPN price (with discount):
ExpressVPN refund policy – ExpressVPN also offers a 30 day refund policy, which is the best you will find.
You can get all the details on the ExpressVPN website here.
NordVPN is also offering a nice discount on a “three year deal” which brings the monthly rate down to $2.75. There is obviously some risks you take with a longer-term subscription, but the price is certainly cheaper than ExpressVPN.
NordVPN refund policy – Just like with ExpressVPN, NordVPN gives you a 30 day money-back guarantee. However, I have gotten some feedback that NordVPN requires users to first go through “troubleshooting” before granting a refund. ExpressVPN’s refund is “no questions asked” with immediate payment return.
Value consideration – The key consideration is always what you get for the money you pay. After all, there’s nothing more frustrating than a VPN that doesn’t work right.
While NordVPN is definitely cheap and offers some interesting features, the performance issues are somewhat of a drawback (variable speeds).
With ExpressVPN, the monthly price is more expensive, but everything works well and the performance is excellent. The applications also work flawlessly without any bugs or issues.
Therefore, considering everything, I would say ExpressVPN still offers a better value, even though it is more expensive.
Value winner: ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN vs NordVPN conclusion
To summarize our findings, here are the winners for each category:
- Speed: ExpressVPN
- Reliability: ExpressVPN
- Features: NordVPN
- Security: ExpressVPN
- Value: ExpressVPN
Overall winner: ExpressVPN
While the winner of the NordVPN vs ExpressVPN comparison is ExpressVPN, NordVPN is still a strong contender and a great service.
At the end of the day, either of these two options may be the best VPN for you. It all depends on your needs and uses for the VPN service. Whichever service you decide to go for, be sure to get the best price via the discount coupons below:
And if you are really still on the fence, keep in mind that both ExpressVPN and NordVPN both offer 30 day money-back guarantees. Therefore you could always purchase both VPNs, test each service for a few weeks, and then cancel the one you don’t want for a full refund.
Now, the choice is yours: