Of the many VPN providers on the market, two of the best are ExpressVPN and NordVPN. Both have a lot to offer in terms of server networks, features, streaming capabilities, and a whole lot more. But which one is the better choice? In this ExpressVPN vs NordVPN head-to-head, we’ll look at what each has to offer to decide which is the best.
|3rd party audit
|Yes, by PwC
|Yes, by PwC
|Yes, all servers
Onion over VPN
|5400 servers in
|3000 servers in
|Streaming and P2P
in the mobile app
in the mobile app
|4.8 / 5.0
|4.5 / 5.0
The Verdict: NordVPN vs ExpressVPN
The truth is, there is no clear winner. Both ExpressVPN and NordVPN rank above most VPN providers in terms of capabilities, value, and transparency. That said, in our opinion, NordVPN edges out a narrow victory, and here’s why.
NordVPN is a fantastic low-cost option. It has an extensive network of servers that deliver fast speeds that are excellent for streaming and torrenting. On top of that, it has a no-logging policy you can rely on and many top-of-the-line security features.
That said, ExpressVPN costs a bit more but has an equally-impressive server network and offers more support for inexperienced users. It also has an easy-to-use interface, making it a more user-friendly choice over NordVPN.
It really comes down to small needs and personal preferences. For instance, when it comes to overall features, here’s how ExpressVPN vs NordVPN breaks down:
- Has the some of the fastest speeds of any VPN worldwide
- Based out of Panama
- Unblocks geo-restricted content on numerous streaming services
- It can be used on up to six simultaneous connections/devices
- Features apps for macOS, iOS, Windows, Android, and Linux
- It comes with great features, including automatic wifi protection, ad-blocking, and malware-scanning
- Has reliable speeds to provide seamless streaming
- Based out of the British Virgin Islands
- Unblocks a large range of geo-restricted content for lots of streaming services
- It can be used on up to five simultaneous connections/devices
- Features apps for macOS, iOS, Windows, Android, Amazon Fire, and Linux
- It comes with great features, including split tunneling and custom router firmware
As you can see, both services have a lot to offer. The best VPN provider for your needs may come down to small things like whether or not you’d like to run a VPN on an Amazon Fire (ExpressVPN) or the specific streaming services you’d like to unblock (which we’ll get to in a minute).
All in all, NordVPN is better for privacy because it keeps zero-logging information, while ExpressVPN records are minimal. For streaming, ExpressVPN unblocks more Netflix libraries than NordVPN, although NordVPN still enables access to Netflix US and UK. And for torrenting, ExpressVPN allows P2P activity on all of its servers, while NordVPN has dedicated servers for torrenting.
The bottom line is, NordVPN is a slightly better value, while ExpressVPN is a bit better for newbies. For our money, we choose NordVPN because of its features and capabilities, but you can’t go wrong with ExpressVPN either.
When it comes to features, both VPN providers offer everything you need for increased internet security and VPN protection, along with effective streaming and torrenting. Some of the basic features that both ExpressVPN and NordVPN have include:
- A strict no-logging policy
- Torrenting and other P2P capabilities
- Multiple enabled protocols, including OpenVPN, IKEv2, IPSec, and PPTP
- Airtight VPN encryption (256-bit AES)
- DNS leak protection
- A built-in and reliable kill switch
- Obfuscated servers (enabling you to connect to VPN servers from countries where restrictions are in place)
- Apps for all popular platforms, including Mac, Windows, Android, and iOS (both also have router support and TOR compatibility)
- Browser extensions to provide extra privacy protection
From this list, it’s easy to see why both ExpressVPN and NordVPN are considered top-notch VPN providers. There are some VPNs on the market that struggle to provide even these basic features. Nevertheless, there are features that ExpressVPN has that NordVPN doesn’t have and vice versa.
For starters, ExpressVPN has a few features that NordVPN does not, the most significant, perhaps, being split tunneling. Split tunneling is an excellent feature that enables you to choose to route certain internet traffic through the encrypted VPN while other traffic travels through your normal ISP connection. This feature provides protection for the traffic you choose without hindering your connection to your local network.
Another thing that ExpressVPN offers that NordVPN does not is access to a larger range of servers in countries around the world. ExpressVPN has servers in 94 countries, while NordVPN only has servers in 61 countries. Finally, ExpressVPN also offers PayPal as a payment method, which NordVPN does not allow, and has RAM-only servers, thereby guaranteeing your data will be erased every time their servers are rebooted.
On the other hand, NordVPN has a couple of security features that ExpressVPN does not. These features include CyberSec, which is designed for identifying and blocking malware and ads, and Double VPN Encryption, which routes internet traffic through more than one VPN server for an impossible-to-track connection.
NordVPN also offers six simultaneous connections versus ExpressVPN’s five. Plus, despite less worldwide coverage, it has more servers, with 5200+ servers in 61 countries, which is still quite impressive.
Finally, NordVPN has the option of opting for a dedicated IP address to provide an extra layer of privacy protection and connection speeds you can rely on. At the end of the day, you’ll have to decide the features that are important to you when it comes to choosing between NordVPN vs ExpressVPN.
Next, let’s look at some of the other factors that make comparing ExpressVPN with NordVPN so interesting.
ExpressVPN has its headquarters in Panama, while NordVPN is based out of the British Virgin Islands. Neither country is under any direct pressure to disclose user data or cooperate with court orders from counties like the United Stakes and the United Kingdom.
As such, ExpressVPN is free to conduct its VPN business as it chooses. The British Virgin Islands do not have laws pertaining to internet data and privacy. However, the country’s ties to the UK are somewhat troubling as the UK does have data retention laws that could be forced on companies in the BVI.
On the other hand, NordVPN avoids Panama’s copyright laws by not hosting servers in its home country. This allows the VPN provider to bypass any pressure it might normally have.
In both cases, ExpressVPN and NordVPN are open and transparent about policies and company restrictions. They’ve also both had independent audits performed (PricewaterhouseCooper) to ensure that they do, truthfully, have no-logging policies.
Regarding data logging, NordVPN maintains absolute user privacy by recording and maintaining nothing. ExpressVPN, on the other hand, logs server choices and connection dates, but nothing else. Neither VPN provider puts users at risk, and no data is archived.
Overall, we commend both NordVPN and ExpressVPN for being open and honest with logging policies. Information about each company is readily available, and all logging policies are easy to understand and clear.
VPN browser extensions help spoof your HTML5 geolocation and ensures you’re using encrypted HTTPS website versions whenever possible. It also enables you to control your VPN directly from the browser.
ExpressVPN has browser extensions for Firefox, Chrome, Brave, Edge, and Vivaldi. NordVPN, on the other hand, only has them for Firefox and Chrome. Either way, a VPN browser extension is an excellent way to ensure your internet traffic is secure.
NordVPN and ExpressVPN approach server networks a bit differently but with similar results. NordVPN has more total servers but in fewer countries, while ExpressVPN has fewer servers in more countries.
NordVPN has over 5,500 servers. These servers are located in 59 different countries, which is excellent for most VPNs. However, ExpressVPN has servers in 94 countries, but only 3000+ servers.
The truth is, both VPN providers have impressive server networks. Plus, given that most users will only be using a few of those servers, both NordVPN and ExpressVPN are ideal for users in all parts of the world.
Apps and Ease of Use
ExpressVPN’s app is simple and gets the job done, whether it’s for Mac or PC. It’s organized, with easy-to-use settings and servers, each with its own screen. There’s also a list of recently used servers on the main page, making it easy to find the last server you used and were happy with it.
NordVPN’s app is a little more visual, featuring a world map with a marker in each company where there is an operational server. You can also use the list view to make it easier to scroll through the servers. With NordVPN, general use servers are separated from P2P ones, which is nice to see clearly labeled.
As far as simultaneous connections are concerned, NordVPN is the clear winner as it offers connections on six devices with one account versus ExpressVPN’s five device limit. There’s little difference here for the average user, so it’s up to you to decide if being able to connect on one extra device is what puts NordVPN over the edge as the winner in this NordVPN vs ExpressVPN debate.
The casual VPN shopper will find that almost every VPN provider claims to have a no-logging policy. However, when you delve deeper, you begin to see that every company has a little different idea of what “no-logging” really means. Some companies mean that they don’t keep an activity log of every action performed by users but still keep connection logs that can be traced back to you.
The good news is that neither ExpressVPN nor NordVPN keeps any kind of information that can be traced back to you. ExpressVPN does log minimal information, such as your account ID, the time of connections, connection locations, and data transfer totals. However, your actual IP address is never recording, making it impossible to track your activity.
NordVPN is even better. It doesn’t keep any logs at all. With NordVPN, there is absolutely no way for anyone to trace your internet activity.
That said, if you want complete anonymity online, you’ll need a way to sign up without using an identifying credit card or email address. Luckily, both VPN providers take cryptocurrencies, so there’s no way to trace you through your bank. Plus, if you use a burner email address when you set up your account, there will be no way to link your online activities to your real identity.
All in all, ExpressVPN and NordVPN offer top-notch privacy. For this reason, it’s easy to see why they are some of the best VPNs on the market.
One of the primary reasons many people get VPNs is to unblock streaming content that is geographically restricted. For instance, many want the ability to stream Netflix even if they live in a place where it is either blocked or unavailable.
Fortunately, NordVPN and ExpressVPN both unblock Netflix and many other streaming services. In fact, most VPN users will be happy with either service, although some streaming platforms perform better or worse depending on the VPN you choose.
For example, BBC iPlayer is notoriously challenging to unblock as the service actively blocks VPNs. For this reason, NordVPN enables access to BBC iPlayer, but ExpressVPN does not, although by using the browser extension in tandem with the desktop client, it does appear to play. So, NordVPN makes the process a little easier, but ExpressVPN gets the job done too.
Interestingly, ExpressVPN explicitly lists the streaming services it unblocks, which is bold because these things are continually changing. NordVPN does not state the services in unblocks but works equally well for unblocking most platforms, including Netflix and YouTube.
ExpressVPN also unblocks more Netflix libraries, while NordVPN only unblocks Netflix US and UK. However, not all of ExpressVPN’s servers unblock Netflix, so you may have to hunt for one that does or contact customer support to let you know which ones do, while all of NordVPN’s servers work for Netflix.
- Netflix US and UK
- Hult US and Japan
- Sky Go
- Amazon Prime
- BBC iPlayer
- Channel 4
- Netflix US, UK, Canada, Australia, and more
- Hult US and Japan
- Sky Go
- Amazon Prime
- Channel 4
Torrenting exposes your IP address to everyone you share files with. Your IP address can then be tracked to you and your location. Using a VPN is the easiest and safest way to avoid this happening.
That said, many VPNs block torrenting or don’t allow any P2P activity on their servers. Thankfully, neither ExpressVPN nor NordVPN are that kind of VPN provider. In fact, both support torrenting and provide excellent P2P functionality.
ExpressVPN supports torrenting on all of its servers. Plus, it does not have bandwidth restrictions or data caps. ExpressVPN makes torrenting easy, and the service has a solid kill switch in case the connection drops to prevent your real IP address from being exposed.
NordVPN does not allow torrenting on all of its servers but instead has those dedicated to P2P activity. This VPN provider can also detect torrenting and automatically switch you to a server that supports it. Of course, you can choose a P2P server before you begin torrenting and may be able to find faster speeds this way.
All in all, it appears that NordVPN is slightly faster than ExpressVPN when it comes to downloading speeds. However, speeds vary by location and server, so you should be able to torrent with either service effectively.
For gamers who prefer to maintain privacy online, an effective VPN is an excellent choice. However, if your VPN is not up to the task, it can really slow down your gaming experience. Luckily, NordVPN and ExpressVPN both perform well when it comes to gaming.
Overall, NordVPN is slightly better, with more reliable servers and faster speeds. Still, ExpressVPN performs almost as well. Plus, both VPN providers have excellent usability and will deliver for any gamer in need of a private connection.
As far as console gaming is concerned, neither VPN provider offers an app to support these systems, whether PlayStation, Xbox, or Nintendo Switch. However, you can install the VPN directly on your router, effectively providing the privacy you need. For this, ExpressVPN is a little easier to use as it provides custom firmware for this precise purpose.
It’s also worth noting that you can unblock geo-restricted apps by using either VPN’s Smart DNS feature. This feature may enable you to access gaming content you wouldn’t otherwise be able to.
In countries where internet content is restricted, such as China, having an effective VPN can be crucial. However, the governments of these countries often actively block VPNs to prevent users from bypassing censorship laws.
That said, both ExpressVPN and NordVPN work to keep their services functioning in these types of countries. In China, the ExpressVPN website is blocked, but it provides an alternate URL for Chinese users.
NordVPN also works in China. Although there can sometimes be service outages, both companies actively pursue various methods for circumventing blocks from the Chinese government.
NordVPN is a bit cheaper overall than ExpressVPN, but that’s for a general month-to-month rate. NordVPN offers one-year plans and tends to run frequent promotions. ExpressVPN, on the other hand, is more expensive upfront but gets cheaper if you commit to a long-term contract, although so does NordVPN with a two-year plan.
Both services offer a 30-day money-back guarantee. ExpressVPN offers an extra three months free with a contract, but NordVPN is the best price as long as you can commit to two years. So, given its excellent features and lower price, NordVPN edges out ExpressVPN overall when it comes to ExpressVPN vs NordVPN.
At the end of the day, we chose NordVPN as the better VPN. However, that does not make ExpressVPN a loser by any means. In fact, ExpressVPN is excellent for unblocking geo-restricted content, including Netflix, Amazon Prime, and many others. Plus, it gets around censorship restrictions a little better, too, including the Great Firewall of China.
Nonetheless, NordVPN is an excellent service with a top-notch server network, lots of extra security features, and is cheaper than ExpressVPN. It has more servers and performs faster. What’s more, it offers increased control over your security setup, and it has a dedicated IP option for strong unblocking capabilities.
Also worth mentioning is that while both VPNs have solid privacy policies, NordVPN maintains your complete privacy by recording nothing. That said, both have 30-day money-back guarantees, so you’re free to try them both and see which one suits your needs. You really can’t go wrong with either VPN provider.