Surfshark vs NordVPN: Which is Better?

Today’s VPN industry is full of competing services. Among the most popular are NordVPN and Surfshark

The two have a large market share, thanks to extensive advertising campaigns. If anything, both are competing head to head to become the world’s #1 VPN service provider. 

Each has an impressive array of shared and unique features. Because of that, it can be difficult for average consumers to pick between them. Luckily, I’ve created this guide that’ll help you know what’s better. So let’s stop beating around the bush and let’s begin!

Overall Winner: Surfshark

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Comparison

We’ll start by getting a basic overview of everything each VPN has to offer. Underneath is a table listing all that you need to know:

  logo surfshark
Surfshark
logo nordvpn
NordVPN
Logging Policy  No Logging No Logging
Jurisdiction  The British Virgin Islands Panama
Encryption AES-256
SHA-256 Hash Authentication
4096-bit RSA Key Exchange
ChaCha
AES-256
SHA-256 Hash Authentication
4096-bit RSA Key Exchange
Protocols  OpenVPN UDP
OpenVPN TCP
IPSec/IKEv2
IPSec/L2TP
Shadowsocks
OpenVPN UDP
OpenVPN TCP
IPSec/IKEv2
IPSec/L2TP
WireGuard
Ad and malware blockers Yes Yes
Kill switch Yes Yes
Leak Tests No Leaks Found No Leaks Found
Speed Tests Fast Fast
Torrenting & P2P Yes (Optimized P2P Servers) Yes (Optimized P2P Servers)
Streaming Netflix
Amazon Prime
Hulu
BBC iPlayer
Firestick
Roku (Via Router)
Kodi
Apple TV (Via SmartDNS)
Android TV
Netflix
Amazon Prime
Hulu
BBC iPlayer
Firestick
Roku (Via Router)
Kodi
Apple TV (Via 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 Unlimited 6
Servers 1700+ 5161
China Yes Yes
Split Tunneling Yes (As Whitelister) Yes (For Android and Browser Extensions)
Additional Features CleanWeb
HackLock (Add-On Feature)
BlindSearch (Add-On Feature)
MultiHop
Double VPN
Onion over VPN
Prices

$12.95/Month
$6.49/month (6 Months)
$2.49/Month (2 Years)

Special Offer: 81% off for a 2-year subscription; 50% off for a 6-month subscription

$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

Our Rating 4.9 4.7
Website www.surfshark.com www.nordvpn.com

We can see that many things differentiate Surfshark from NordVPN. However, they’ve also got a lot of similarities. 

It’s necessary to go into detail to get a thorough understanding of every feature the services have. To make things easier, I’ll divide everything into categories and assign a winner for each one. 

So without further ado, let’s hop right into it!

Overall Winner: Surfshark

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Privacy & Security

A VPN service would be useless if it had inadequate security capabilities. It must provide users with complete privacy, along with online security. Surfshark and NordVPN both claim to do so easily. They guarantee the protection and anonymity of each customer.

Controversy is something that NordVPN has its share of. The VPN has been put under scrutiny because of a server breach in 2018.

A lone hacker infiltrated a single rented server in Finland. No information was stolen during the incident. Nevertheless, the damage has been done, and the service’s reputation has forever been tarnished. 

Fortunately, nothing similar has happened to Surfshark. The service has maintained a good reputation throughout its existence. As such, one may say that it’s more trustworthy than its competitor. 

Let’s now get into the specifics regarding each of the VPN’s security measures. 

Encryption Comparison

NordVPN and Surfshark utilize AES-256 military-grade encryption. Partnering that is an SHA-512 hash authentication and a 4096-RSA handshake. In this regard, they’re already a big step over other services that fail to use such a high degree of encryption.

What’s different is that Surfshark gives users the choice to use ChaCha encryption on Android which stands as a backup in case AES-256 fails or is unavailable. Meanwhile, NordVPN offers double-encryption options on all its apps. 

VPN Protocols

The two VPN services support commonly used protocols like OpenVPN (UDP/TCP) and IPSec (IKEv2/L2TP). Unfortunately, only NordVPN currently offers WireGuard support. To make up for this, Surfshark offers Shadowsocks for Android and Windows. 

Leak Protection

Reddit posts almost unanimously claim that NordVPN and Surfshark are 100% leak proof. I had to check if this was true. Due to that, I tested each VPN using IPLeak.net. Before seeing how they fared, look at my test results using no service below:

ip leak test no vpn
IP Leak Test – No VPN

The testing software detected my real IP address. Let’s see how NordVPN did after I connected to its Hong Kong server: 

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

Now here are my results after transferring to the VPN’s server in the UK:

ip leak test nordvpn uk
IP Leak Test – NordVPN UK

On both servers, the service was able to mask my IP address. It has proven that it’s capable of keeping me anonymous whenever I go online. Consequently, I’d have to give NordVPN a two thumbs up.

After my initial success, I tested Surfshark. My server of choice was the one in Hong Kong: 

ip leak test surfshark hong kong
IP Leak Test – Surfshark Hong Kong

Following that, I switched to the service’s London server:

ip leak test surfshark uk
IP Leak Test – Surfshark UK

My results were as I expected. Surfshark was able to hide my IP address just like NordVPN. I’m beyond pleased since I now know the VPN will keep me safe.

Server Security

Surfshark has a feature called MultiHop, which bounces your web traffic to a second server to double down on protection. The VPN also has its own private DNS on every server to prevent spying. 

Moreover, it runs all its servers in RAM-disk mode, which makes storing logs impossible. Lastly, it has an add-on feature called HackLock that informs you if your data has been involved in a security breach. 

In comparison, NordVPN has got WireGuard, which is a newer, more robust encryption. It’s also announced that it’ll soon run all its servers in RAM-disk mode. Finally, the VPN has a bug-bounty program in place. 

In Conclusion

Neither service has an advantage when it comes to security features. Both have unique assets that make it hard to decide a winner for this category. That said, I just can’t get NordVPN’s security breach off my mind. If it happened once, who’s to say it won’t again, right?

Winner: Surfshark

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Speed Test

All VPNs affect your internet connection’s speed to some degree. However, some hamper it more than others. Thankfully, both NordVPN and Surfshark have a reputation for being fast. Both also have unlimited bandwidth meaning they don’t have a speed limit. 

To see which one is faster, I ran some tests. Let’s first check out how my base connection does: 

speed test no vpn
Speed Test – No VPN

Here is how it changed after I connected to NordVPN’s server in Hong Kong: 

speed test nordvpn hong kong
Speed Test – NordVPN Hong Kong

And this is what happened after I connected to the service’s UK server: 

speed test nordvpn uk
Speed Test – NordVPN UK

I’m satisfied with NordVPN’s speed capabilities. My connection was barely affected after linking to the Hong Kong server. I got even faster download speeds following my transfer to the VPN’s server in the UK. During both tests, my ping took a hit, but that was expected.  

My next move was to see what Surfshark could do. Here are my results after linking to the VPN’s Hong Kong server: 

speed test surfshark hong kong
Speed Test – Surfshark Hong Kong

Last but not least are the results after connecting to the server in London:

speed test surfshark uk
Speed Test – Surfshark UK

Surfshark did better than I expected. The VPN was able to stay consistent when it came to download and upload speeds. Though the ping also got affected, the VPN didn’t affect it as much as NordVPN did. Hence, my winner for this round of Surfshark vs NordVPN is Surfshark. 

Winner: Surfshark

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Torrenting & P2P

Not all of NordVPN and Surfshark’s servers are P2P-enabled. Despite that, both services say that they’re great for torrenting. When a downloading activity is detected, the two automatically move you over to a P2P-friendly server. 

Moreover, they’re both fast, which means that you’ll finish in no time. On top of that, they’ve both got a kill switch to make sure you’re safe whenever your connection suddenly gets cut.

I wanted to make sure that my info won’t get leaked when I partake in a torrenting session. As such, I conducted a few tests. 

The first service that I tried was NordVPN. Before we look at the results, here’s the outcome from my test without any VPN running:

torrenting no vpn
Torrenting Leak Test – No VPN

IPLeak.net was able to detect my IP address in no time. Strangers could do the same if I torrented without a VPN.

Now look at the results once I connected to NordVPN’s Hong Kong server:

torrenting nordvpn hong kong
Torrenting Leak Test – NordVPN Hong Kong

And here is the outcome after pairing to the service’s server in the UK:

torrenting nordvpn uk
Torrenting Leak Test – NordVPN UK

As seen above, my tests with NordVPN yielded excellent results. The next step was to see what Surfshark’s capabilities are. 

Below are my results after connecting to the VPN’s Hong Kong server:

torrenting surfshark hong kong
Torrenting Leak Test – Surfshark Hong Kong

Lastly, here are the results after linking to the service’s server in London:

torrenting surfshark uk
Torrenting Leak Test – Surfshark UK

My predictions were correct, as Surfshark was able to do as well as its competitor. The VPN managed to hide my IP address when I was torrenting with ease.

Since NordVPN and Surfshark were able to keep me anonymous while torrenting, deciding who’s the winner in this category was tricky. Nonetheless, I decided on Surfshark as it’s the faster service among the two. 

Winner: Surfshark

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Streaming

A modern VPN must be able to bypass the geoblocks of many streaming services. Failure to do so puts them at a huge disadvantage – it’s because most people download VPNs for streaming alone. 

Many have praised Surfshark and NordVPN for their streaming capabilities. Both can access the libraries of most streaming sites. 

Surfshark has even stated that it’s capable of accessing the Netflix libraries of 15 countries. In the VPN industry, this move is a rare one. After all, almost all service providers are striving to stay ahead of streaming platforms. 

Netflix

I wanted to see if Surfshark can back their claims up. To do this, I connected to the VPN’s server in London and attempted to watch Kingsman. Below is the result: 

netflix uk surfshark
Netflix UK – Surfshark

To take things up a notch, I switched to the New York server and streamed Spotlight:

netflix us surfshark
Netflix US – Surfshark

Surfshark’s claims are true as it was able to bypass the geoblocks of Netflix in the UK and the US. It also allowed me to watch the titles in full resolution without buffering.

Because it’s known for being a media-oriented VPN, my next course of action was to give NordVPN a shot. I rewatched Kingsman on the service’s UK server: 

netflix uk nordvpn
Netflix UK – NordVPN

To my surprise, NordVPN failed to access the title. I had high expectations and got let down, which was a bummer. Be that as it may, I wanted to give the service another shot, so I transferred to its US server and tried to stream Spotlight:

netflix us nordvpn
Netflix US – NordVPN

My second try with NordVPN was successful. It quickly accessed the title, and I got to watch it again. The problem was that it didn’t load in full resolution. 

The winner in this round of NordVPN vs Surfshark match is clear. Surfshark is the better VPN for streaming as it was able to access all the titles that I wanted to watch.

In comparison, NordVPN could only reach one title. Additionally, it wasn’t even able to load it in full resolution. 

Winner: Surfshark

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Gaming

Another reason why a lot of people download VPNs is for gaming. With the right service, one will be able to access different servers across the world anonymously. In turn, they’ll get to challenge other players from anywhere without security issues. 

Being the avid Call of Duty Mobile player that I am, seeing which of the two VPNs is better excited me. To test them out, I connected my smartphone to a server and played one match. 

NordVPN was the first service that I tried. I connected to its Hong Kong server and had a decent experience. While there was lagging at first, the rest of my game went smoothly. I won and even decided to have another match.

After experiencing what NordVPN could do, I paired with Surfshark’s Singapore server. As expected, there was some lagging. That said, my match was still a good one, and my enemies were really good. While I lost, I had a good time, which was the most important thing. 

Since both services had decent results, I have no winner for this category. Neither VPN is better than the other in gaming. 

Winner: Tie

Compatibility

I don’t like being tied to a single ecosystem. My devices run all kinds of operating systems. Due to that, I must have a VPN with widespread compatibility. 

Surfshark and NordVPN have apps on every major platform. This is because they’ve been able to grab a large chunk of the market share.

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

As you can see, both VPNs are compatible with every mainstream operating system and browser extension. Because of that, I can’t assign a victor for this category.

Winner: Tie

Simultaneous Connections

VPNs that allow for many simultaneous connections provide a greater value for money. In addition, they also fit the needs of a broader demographic.

In this round of Surfshark vs NordVPN, my winner is Surfshark once again. The VPN allows users to connect an unlimited number of devices simultaneously under one account. It offers one great bargain that’s hard to pass up. 

NordVPN comes in second with it letting users pair 6 devices at the same time. By no means is that number unimpressive in the industry. Still, it comes in shorthanded versus its competitor.

Winner: Surfshark

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Servers

Surfshark has a decently-sized network of servers. With 1700+ in more than 60 countries, it has positioned itself as a leader in the industry. Keep in mind that the VPN’s network is only going to become larger. In addition, it’ll also get better with the incorporation of future security tech.

With 5100+ servers across the globe, NordVPN takes the win for this category. The service has the second largest network in the industry. Only Cyberghost surpasses it, having a massive network of 7000+ servers. 

Winner: NordVPN

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China

Our NordVPN vs Surfshark battle is turning out to be a heated one. In this category, we will determine which of the two is better for use in China. 

The Great Firewall implemented by the Chinese government is one of the toughest security measures. Hence, any service that can climb it is a good one. 

Fortunately, both VPNs work in China. Surfshark has dedicated testers in the country to make sure it works there. Meanwhile, NordVPN has even gone through the trouble of creating a special web domain. With it, they’ll be able to download the service’s apps. 

Sadly, reports have stated that NordVPN sometimes fails to bypass the Great Firewall. It’s for that reason that my winner for this category is Surfshark. The VPN has proven to be consistent in letting its users get around the Chinese internet. 

Winner: Surfshark

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Interface & Usability

Surfshark and NordVPN both have user-friendly apps with pleasant interfaces. 

The first thing you’ll notice upon opening Surfshark’s app is a quick-connect button and a list of recently used servers. On the side is a bar where you can access a list of servers. Under that is the features section where you can activate the unique offerings of the VPN.

interface surfshark
Surfshark Interface

NordVPN has a “bigger” app that displays a world map with markers on every location with a server. On the side is a drop-down list of servers for those that aren’t well-versed with their geography. The setting can be accessed by clicking on the gear icon on the top right. 

interface nordvpn
NordVPN Interface

I prefer the minimalistic approach of Surfshark’s apps. However, NordVPN’s option to pick servers using a map is really convenient for me. As such, I really can’t decide what’s better between the two. 

Winner: Tie

Additional Features

Each VPN has got nice exclusive features. NordVPN has something called Onion Over VPN that allows one to use the Tor browser with the added security features of the service. It’s also got Double VPN, which routes web traffic through two servers. Using it, your level of security doubles. 

In comparison, Surfshark has MultiHop which is its version of Double VPN. Aside from that, the service also has BlindSearch and HackLock. The former is a private search tool, whereas the latter is a data leak alert system. Unfortunately, both are paid add-ons that can’t be accessed by users with a base subscription. 

While its additional features are neat, Surfshark doesn’t offer them for free. Because of that, NordVPN wins this round of NordVPN vs Surfshark match. 

Winner: NordVPN

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Customer Support

I contacted the chat support of both VPNs to see if they’re any good. NordVPN’s representative was quick, cordial, and detailed. Meanwhile, Surfshark’s wasn’t even there. Instead, a chatbot entertained me and gave me vague answers, which frustrated me. Talking to a real person would’ve really been better. 

A thing that both VPNs have is a comprehensive online knowledge-base. Sad to say, only NordVPN provides detailed video tutorials. Surfshark compensates with write-ups and screenshots, which isn’t as good. Seeing how to solve my problem is just so much better. 

To see in detail what customer support options each service has, refer to the table beneath: 

  Surfshark NordVPN
Live Chat Yes Yes
Email Support Yes Yes
Phone Support No No
Ticket Support Yes Yes
Video Tutorials  No Yes
Online Knowledge Base Yes Yes
Average Response Time 4 Hours 3 Hours

Remember that every interaction with customer service is different. My experience with Surfshark just wasn’t as pleasant. As a result, I’ll have to declare NordVPN as the winner of this round. The VPN attended to me in a manner that was significantly better than its competitor.

Winner: NordVPN

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Prices

Both services have multiple plans at different price points. Consequently, users with different needs and budgets can get catered to. To see what best suits you, check out the comparative table below:

  Surfshark NordVPN
Subscription Lengths 1 Month ($12.95/Month) 1 Month ($11.95/Month)
  6 Months ($6.49/Month) 1 Year ($4.92/Month)
  2 Years ($2.49/Month) 2 Years ($3.71/Month)
     
Highest Price Per Month $12.95 $11.95
Lowest Price Per Month $2.49 $3.71
One Year Price $77.88 $59.00
Money-Back Guarantee  30 Days 30 Days
Special Offer 81% discount for a 2-year plan
50% discount for a 6-month plan
68% off for a 2-year plan;
58% off for a 1-year plan

While there’s little difference in cost between the two, it is clear that Surfshark offers better bargains (particularly the 2-year plan). That’s especially true when you consider that it allows for unlimited simultaneous connections. Hence, Surfshark wins this final round of Surfshark vs NordVPN. 

Winner: Surfshark

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Verdict

Is Surfshark better than NordVPN?

Yes. Surfshark is better than NordVPN due to a couple of things. 

First, the service is faster and is, therefore, better for torrenting. It has better streaming and gaming capabilities too. The VPN also boasts tighter security measures with paid additional features that are worth having. Unlimited connections and wide compatibility give it another edge. Lastly, the service is more affordable, making it ideal for those with tight budgets.

Don’t get me wrong; NordVPN is an excellent VPN. It’s got more servers, better customer support, and apps that are geared towards my preferences. However, it is slower, making it less ideal for torrenting and gaming. On top of that, the VPN sometimes fails to bypass the Great Firewall of China.

Overall Winner: Surfshark

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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.