NordVPN vs ExpressVPN: Which is Better?

NordVPN and ExpressVPN are arguably two of the most well-known VPNs in the industry. Broad marketing campaigns have turned both into household names. The two services also have a lot of wonderful reviews. As such, picking between NordVPN or ExpressVPN can be quite a challenge.

In this guide, we’ll dig deep and find out what’s the better VPN. You’re going to know which is the best after reading this. So without further ado, let’s get right into it.

Overall Winner: ExpressVPN

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Comparison

To start things off, let’s compare NordVPN and ExpressVPN based on features. Below is a simple table that shows what each of the services has and doesn’t.

  logo nordvpn
NordVPN
logo expressvpn
ExpressVPN
Logging Policy No Logging No Logging
Jurisdiction Panama The British Virgin Islands
Encryption AES-256
SHA-256 Hash Authentication
4096-bit RSA Key Exchange
RSA-2048
AES-256
SHA-212 Hash Authentication
4096-bit RSA Key Exchange
Protocols OpenVPN UDP
OpenVPN TCP
IPSec/IKEv2
IPSec/L2TP
WireGuard
OpenVPN UDP
OpenVPN TCP
IPSec/IKEv2
IPSec/L2TP
Lightway Protocol (Beta)
Ad and malware blockers Yes No
Kill switch Yes Yes (Except iOS)
Leak Tests No Leaks Found No Leaks Found
Speed Tests Fast Fast
Torrenting & P2P Yes (Optimized P2P Servers) Yes (On All Servers)
Streaming Netflix
Amazon Prime
Hulu
BBC iPlayer
Firestick
Roku (Via Router)
Kodi
Apple TV (Via Router)
Android TV
Netflix
Amazon Prime
Hulu
BBC iPlayer
Firestick
Roku (Via Router)
Kodi
Apple TV (Via DNS or Router)
Android TV
Gaming Windows
Android
iOS
Xbox One (Via DNS or Router)
PS4 (Via DNS or Router)
Nintendo Switch (Via DNS or Router)
Windows
Android
iOS
Xbox One (Via DNS or Router)
PS4 (Via DNS or Router)
Nintendo Switch (Via DNS or Router)
Compatibility Windows
macOS
Android
iOS
Linux
Chromebook
Chrome
Firefox
Tor
Selected Routers
Windows
macOS
Android
iOS
Linux
Chromebook
Chrome
Firefox
Tor
Selected Routers
Simultaneous Connections 6 5
Servers 5161 3000+
China Yes Yes
Split Tunneling Yes (For Android and Browser Extensions) Yes
Additional Features Double VPN
Onion over VPN
No Additional Features
Prices

$11.95/Month
$4.92/Month (1-Year)
$3.71/Month (2-Years)

Special Offer: 68% off for a 2-year plan; 58% off for a 1-year plan

$12.95/Month
$9.99/Month (6 Months)
$8.32/Month (1-Year)

Special Offer: 50% off for a 1-year subscription

Our Rating 4.7 4.8
Website www.nordvpn.com www.expressvpn.com

We can see above that there are many similarities between NordVPN and ExpressVPN. The two offer almost the same amount of features. Still, there are a few key differences regarding each service.

All users have different needs that need to get catered to. Because of that, we’re now going to take a closer look at the specifics.

Overall Winner: ExpressVPN

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Privacy & Security

All VPNs have to provide the utmost level of privacy and security to their users. If anything, a service’s ability to keep you safeguarded is the most important thing to consider. Hence, we’re going to start by looking at the privacy and security capabilities of the two VPNs.

Encryption Comparison

NordVPN and ExpressVPN adhere to strong encryption standards. They provide the same levels of encryption to their users.

One difference is that NordVPN offers SHA-256 hash authentication while ExpressVPN offers SHA-512. The difference is really nothing that you should ponder on. The two deliver high levels of security that many consider being infrangible.

VPN Protocols

When it comes to protocols, the two services also stand head to head. Both support every mainstream VPN protocol used today. However, it’s important to note that NordVPN now supports WireGuard on all its apps. In that sense, it’s a step ahead over ExpressVPN.

Leak Protection

The track record of NordVPN and ExpressVPN when it comes to leak protection has been outstanding. Each service offers its users:

  • DNS leak protection
  • An automatic kill switch
  • IP address leak protection (IPv4 and IPv6)

Despite looking great on paper, I wanted to see for myself if each VPN could truly protect me from leaks. Here are the results of my tests using IPLeak.net with NordVPN.

To kick things off, here’s a screenshot of my test without the service running. As seen below, my real address is shown:

ip leak test no vpn
IP Leak Test – No VPN

Once I linked up to NordVPN’s Hong Kong server, I ran the test again. The results were successful as I expected.

ip leak test nordvpn hong kong
IP Leak Test – NordVPN Hong Kong

Lastly, I repeated the process but this time using the US server. Like the first time, the VPN did not disappoint me.

ip leak test nordvpn us
IP Leak Test – NordVPN US

I’ve got to say that I’m not surprised by NordVPN passing my tests. The VPN should deliver nothing but great results, given its reputation.

To see if ExpressVPN could compete, I redid my tests while connected to it. It met my expectations as its Singapore server was indeed able to hide my IP address.

ip leak test expressvpn singapore
IP Leak Test – ExpressVPN Singapore

I wanted to see if the VPN was bulletproof, so I connected to the UK server. Exactly to my prediction, it was able to mask my real IP address.

ip leak test expressvpn uk
IP Leak Test – ExpressVPN UK

The NordVPN vs ExpressVPN battle is a tie when it comes to leak protection. According to my tests, I have nothing to worry about. With either of these VPNs, you can rest assured that others won’t be able to find your IP address.

Server Security

One last thing to look at is the level of server security each VPN provides. Regarding this, my vote has to go to ExpressVPN. The reason why is because it runs all the servers in its network in RAM-disk mode. This means that a higher level of security and privacy is provided, as no servers can store data.

It should be noted that NordVPN has announced that they’re going to switch to RAM-disk servers in the future. Sadly, a full transition will take time, which isn’t great for users.

In Conclusion

Deciding which is the better VPN when it comes to security has been difficult for me. Even if the two services are almost the same, there are key features to consider. NordVPN uses WireGuard, whereas ExpressVPN has got a RAM-disk server network.

To even out the score, let us take a look at the history of the two VPNs. ExpressVPN has got nothing but an excellent track record. The service has not encountered a single ounce of controversy when it comes to security.

The same cannot be said for NordVPN. It confirmed on Twitter in October 2019 that it got hit with a security breach. A single rented server in Finland was said to have been affected. It said that the hacker responsible was not able to obtain any critical information.

With NordVPNs lack of RAM-disk servers and security breach, I’d have to say that ExpressVPN is the winner when it comes to privacy and security. The service is ahead of its main competitor in so many ways. All that’s needed for it is to start supporting WireGuard.

Winner: ExpressVPN

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Speed Test

Speed is an essential thing to look at when selecting what VPN to use. Here, the NordVPN vs ExpressVPN battle is going to get taken to the next level. After all, the two competing services both have a reputation for being fast.

The only way to determine which is the fastest one amongst the two is to conduct a speed test. I began with testing NordVPN as I was already connected to it.

Before looking at the results, take a look at the speed of my base connection:

speed test no vpn
Speed Test – No VPN

Now check it out with NordVPN’s Hong Kong server connected:

speedtest nordvpn hong kong
Speed Test – NordVPN Hong Kong

Last but not least are results of the test with NordVPN’s US server linked up:

speed test nordvpn us
Speed Test – NordVPN US

The speed took a hit when I used the US server of NordVPN. I am not surprised by this fact since the server is very distant from my current location. That said, I think that a VPN service could do better.

My overall experience with NordVPN’s effect on my connection speed has generally been positive. However, the results of my tests have made me wonder how ExpressVPN would compare. Look at my results:

speed test expressvpn singapore
Speed Test – ExpressVPN Singapore

Connecting to the closest major server of ExpressVPN has yielded unimpressive results. I expected something better, even if its server is farther than NordVPN’s in Hong Kong.

As with NordVPN, I wanted to see how ExpressVPN fares if I connected to a distant server. Due to that, I went ahead and linked up to the UK server of the VPN. The results below are a bit fascinating, to say the least:

speed test expressvpn uk
Speed Test – ExpressVPN UK

To my bewilderment, the long-distance server of ExpressVPN has provided me with better results. I was expecting my connection to be even slower but was proven otherwise.

Summing up my test results and coming up with a solid verdict was difficult for me since both VPNs performed beautifully.

NordVPN affected my connection in a manner that I anticipated, but ExpressVPN left me astounded. Although connecting to its UK server slowed down my internet, it wasn’t as hampered as I predicted.

With all that being said, my winner has got to still be NordVPN. I chose the service because it provided me with the consistency that ExpressVPN lacks. Its overall speed is fast, and I felt the difference when using it.

Winner: NordVPN

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Torrenting & P2P

I love torrenting, so I need to know which VPN is better at it. Like with the other categories, the NordVPN vs ExpressVPN battle is going to be close here.

ExpressVPN is heavily optimized for torrenting, with it supporting P2P sharing on each one of its servers. The same isn’t true for NordVPN, which is sad to say. Only some of its servers have P2P support. Fortunately, the VPN automatically detects torrenting and moves you over to a supporting server by itself.

The no-logs policy of each service holds true. Also, neither of them falls under the jurisdiction of the Five Eyes Alliance, which means they don’t need to follow restrictive copyright and cybersecurity laws. Furthermore, let’s also not forget that they’ve both got a kill switch.

To make sure if the two services are safe to torrent with, I decided to run some tests. As like earlier, I first checked the results were without any VPN connected.

torrenting no vpn
Torrenting Leak Test – No VPN

My next move was to connect over to run the test again while connected to the Hong Kong server of NordVPN.

torrenting nordvpn hong kong
Torrenting Leak Test – NordVPN Hong Kong

Following that, I switched to the US server and ran the test once more.

torrenting nordvpn us
Torrenting Leak Test – NordVPN US

By the looks of it, both of my tests using NordVPN were a huge success. To see if ExpressVPN would match up, I repeated the process while using it. As usual, I connected to the closest major server of the service, which is in Singapore.

torrenting expressvpn singapore
Torrenting Leak Test – ExpressVPN Singapore

The next thing I did was to link up to the VPN’s UK server. Doing it took some time, which was a bit frustrating.

torrenting expressvpn uk
Torrenting Leak Test – ExpressVPN UK

ExpressVPN was able to hide my IP address without effort on both tests. Consequently, I once again had a hard time deciding on which one was better for torrenting.

To help myself get a solid conclusion, I decided to look at NordVPN vs ExpressVPN Reddit posts.

A lot of people say that ExpressVPN has the edge over NordVPN due to its P2P-supportive server network. With that being said, many also claim that NordVPN is superior as it’s way faster. It’s also got the ability to automatically connect you to the nearest P2P server when you’re torrenting.

I must give this category’s win to NordVPN. The service is undeniably faster, and my experience with it has been nothing but positive. I guess this is the advantage of having servers optimized exclusively for torrenting. Needless to say, ExpressVPN is also an excellent VPN to use for torrenting. Sad to say, it’s limited speed capabilities simply leave it handicapped.

Winner: NordVPN

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Streaming

Our NordVPN vs ExpressVPN comparison is indeed a heated one. Now, we’re going to check out the streaming capabilities of each service.

NordVPN has the edge on paper, as it has a higher number of servers. But, ExpressVPN seems so confident of their capabilities that they’ve even listed which services they can unlock. This move is unprecedented in an industry that’s constantly trying to stay ahead of streaming site blocking.

Although NordVPN doesn’t list down what sites it can unblock, the VPN does say that it can grant access to entertainment content. It’s known to be able to bypass the geoblockers of Netflix and most other streaming services with ease.

That said, ExpressVPN vs NordVPN Reddit posts have stated that NordVPN has trouble with BBC’s iPlayer. Of course, that particular streaming service has a reputation for being very hard to unblock.

Netflix

I wanted to give a proper verdict, so I connected to both VPNs and watched Netflix on them. I started with NordVPN, and its UK server then watched Kingsman.

netflix uk nordvpn
Netflix UK – NordVPN

Not one hiccup was experienced on my end while accessing the title. However, I wanted to give the VPN another test, so I linked up to the US server and watched Spotlight.

netflix us nordvpn
Netflix US – NordVPN

Once again, I experienced no problems with getting to watch the movie. Buffering was nonexistent, and the resolution at which I was able to view the title was HD.

After my successes with NordVPN, my next move was to watch with ExpressVPN connected to see if it could compete.

To begin, I went ahead and watched Kingsman one more time on the VPN’s UK server.

netflix uk expressvpn
Netflix UK – ExpressVPN

The results were the same as when I streamed with NordVPN. There was zero lagging, and the movie loaded in full resolution.

Next up was for me to try watching Spotlight on ExpressVPN’s US server.

netflix us expressvpn
Netflix US – ExpressVPN

As anticipated, ExpressVPN's US server was able to load Spotlight effortlessly. I had no trouble with the title and watched another one with the same level of ease.

When it comes to the Netflix streaming capabilities of the two VPNs, I’d had to give them a tie. I experienced quick load times, full resolution, and zero buffering. Both of the services were also able to bypass geoblocks without difficulty.

Winner: Tie

Gaming

I’m an avid Call of Duty Mobile player that’s got friends from all over the world. For that reason, I was really excited to see how each VPN would perform. My expectations were high for both, given their excellent performance so far.

My first game started with me connected to the Singapore server of ExpressVPN. I was able to invite my friends for a game, and we played for an hour. Every match did not experience any sort of lagging. Suffice to say, I won most of them.

After giving ExpressVPN a shot, my phone’s battery died. Because of that, I had to charge before testing out NordVPN’s competence with gaming.

When it came to NordVPN, I decided to connect to the Hong Kong server. My initial thoughts were good until I encountered a lag that caused me to die in the game. I got dismayed, but only for a moment as the VPNs performance remained good after that incident.

In this category of ExpressVPN vs NordVPN, I must give the win to ExpressVPN. The VPN did not cause me to lag or experience any frame drops. Still, I must say that NordVPN certainly came close and is great for gaming as well.

Winner: ExpressVPN

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Compatibility

The fight between ExpressVPN vs NordVPN is an even one when it comes to compatibility. Each service is available on the same platforms. They’ve also got browser extensions for almost every major internet browser out there.

Another great thing is that the two VPNs may also get installed on compatible routers. This means any device will be able to benefit from it by connecting to your wifi. Just note that ExpressVPN has special firmware for compatible routers. In that sense, it’s better suited for router installation.

For your convenience, take a look at this table:

NordVPN ExpressVPN
Windows
macOS
Android
iOS
Linux
Chromebook
Chrome
Firefox
Tor
Selected routers
Windows
macOS
Android
iOS
Linux
Chromebook
Chrome
Firefox
Tor
Selected routers

Winner: ExpressVPN

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Simultaneous Connections

ExpressVPN and NordVPN both allow for more than a few simultaneous connections with one subscription. Be that as it may, there can only be one winner in this category.

NordVPN has the edge with 6 simultaneous connections vs ExpressVPN’s 5. While 1 may not seem like a deal-breaker, it can certainly be. If anything, NordVPN is much better for techy families or business owners.

Winner: NordVPN

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Servers

ExpressVPN has a rather superb number of servers. The service has more than 3000 at its disposal. All of which can get tapped into by users whenever they want to. I am more than satisfied with what they offer.

In comparison, NordVPN has got way more servers. Users can access more than 5100 across the world with just one click. Within the industry, that number is one of the most impressive. It’s only surpassed by one other VPN – CyberGhost.

Winner: NordVPN

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China

China’s Great Firewall is one of the most challenging security measures to bypass. Fortunately, the two VPNs that we’re comparing can easily do so. Users of ExpressVPN and NordVPN have reported being able to access the mainstream web without issues while in the country.

ExpressVPN has been such a problem for the Chinese government that its website was banned. Don’t worry, though, as an alternative address has been set up.

Although either of the two VPNs works in China, it’s a must to mention that NordVPN occasionally has problems. Hence, I’ll have to declare ExpressVPN as the winner of this category.

Winner: ExpressVPN

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Interface & Usability

Each of the two VPN’s apps was made with users in mind. They’re easy to use and have a lot of options for tinkering around. For both services, the advanced settings are kept on a separate page. I like this because it keeps the main screen of each of their apps simple.

The interface of ExpressVPN’s apps is not complicated. It doesn’t matter if you’re using a mobile version or not. Everything on screen is easy on the eyes and a breeze to navigate.

NordVPN’s apps are a bit more flashy. The main screen depicts a map of the world with markers to depict where it has got servers. Additionally, there’s also a drop-down menu available like that of ExpressVPN’s apps.

In summary, I’d have to say that ExpressVPN’s apps look more professional and efficient. The apps of NordVPN are more cluttered.

Nonetheless, both services have very user-friendly interfaces that anyone could get the hang of. My personal preference just lies with ExpressVPN since I’m a minimalist.

Winner: ExpressVPN

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Additional Features

One extra feature that ExpressVPN has on all its apps is split tunneling. NordVPN has recently adopted it but only one their Android app. With it, you will get to reveal your real IP address to authorized websites and services. There’ll be no need to constantly turn the service on and off.

A great free feature that NordVPN has is an ad blocker. Without paying extra, you’ll have access to software that’ll block advertisements, trackers, and malware domains. Consequently, you will experience a higher degree of protection.

I think that the additional features that each service offers are great. However, their degree of importance is user-specific. As a result, I cannot give a solid verdict on which VPN offers better.

Winner: Tie 

Customer Support

I had trouble getting around ExpressVPN’s website, so I contacted their customer service. To my surprise, a customer service representative answered almost immediately. She was very cordial and was able to solve my problem very quickly.

NordVPN’s customer service team was also able to help me quickly after I contacted them. My question was regarding their pricing and plans. The representative that attended to me was very thorough with his response, which put a smile on my face.

To make it easier to compare the customer service of the two VPNs, please refer to this table below:

  NordVPN ExpressVPN
Live Chat Yes Yes
Email Support Yes Yes
Phone Support No No
Ticket Support Yes Yes
Video Tutorials Yes Yes
Online Knowledge Base Yes Yes
Average Response Time 3 Hours 45 Minutes

Winner: ExpressVPN

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Prices

Pricing is usually the first thing that people check out when matching up ExpressVPN vs NordVPN. Both VPNs offer great plans and prices that are hard to pass up. It is necessary to pick a better service for this category. As such, let’s look at what they offer side by side.

  NordVPN ExpressVPN
Subscription Lengths 1 Month ($11.95/Month) 1 Month ($12.95/Month)
    6 Months ($9.99/Month)
  1 Year ($4.92/Month) 15 Months ($8.32/Month)
  2 Years ($3.71/Month)  
Highest Price Per Month $11.95 $12.95
Lowest Price Per Month $3.71 $8.32
One Year Price $59.00 $99.95 (12 Months +3)
Money-Back Guarantee 30 Days 30 Days
Special Offer 68% off for a 2-year plan;
58% off for a 1-year plan
3 months free with a 1-year subscription

As you can see, NordVPN offers lower base prices.

Unfortunately, both VPNs do not offer free trials. Thankfully, there is a workaround for you to try them risk-free. Both of them offer a 30-day money-back guarantee. Due to that, weary users can test the VPNs and get a full refund if they’re not satisfied with the service.

I’d have to say that NordVPN’s pricing and plans are better. The VPN is cheaper in every aspect and great for people that wish to save a buck.

Winner: NordVPN

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Verdict

Is NordVPN better than ExpressVPN?

No. I settled on Express because of one thing – NordVPNs security breach. Although the breach happened on a rented server a long time ago, who’s to say that it can’t happen again? I’d rather put my money on a VPN that’s got a flawless reputation.

While I chose ExpressVPN, I still think that NordVPN is awesome. It’s faster, boasts more servers, has a ton of great features, better plans, better pricing, and apps with great user-interfaces. Sadly, it doesn’t have a universal P2P-supportive server network and sometimes can’t bypass the Great Firewall of China.

Overall Winner: ExpressVPN

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About the author 

Kris Soliongco

Kris has two passions in life: writing and tech. He’s been building computers since he was eight years old and is very knowledgeable about online security. The first time he was exposed to VPNs was in 2016. Since then, he’s used a plethora of services and has gained much experience.