ExpressVPN vs NordVPN in 2020

Jan Youngren
Jan Youngren | Security researcher
Last updated: December 1, 2020
ExpressVPN vs NordVPN

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This battle of ExpressVPN vs NordVPN only has one winner. Which of the two providers is the better one? Read our NordVPN and ExpressVPN comparison to find out!

I evaluate all key criteria, including security, privacy, speeds, and price, to determine the service that’s worth your money. No time to go through the whole comparison? Check out this overview of each VPN to instantly see where one holds the edge over the other.

NordVPNExpressVPN
Our rating9.68.3
“Best for” winnerBest overall, Best for Netflix, Best for P2P, Best for China, Fastest VPN
“Best for” nominee
Best overall, Best for P2P, Best for China, Fastest VPN
Price starts from$3.49/month$6.67/month
ReviewNordVPN reviewExpressVPN review
Websitenordvpn.comexpressvpn.com

As you can see, both providers are among the top VPNs overall. Each one is very fast, works in China, and is great for torrenting. The only difference is the cost – NordVPN offers virtually the same package for nearly half the price.

Security of NordVPN vs ExpressVPN

Winner: NordVPN

NordVPNExpressVPN
EncryptionMilitary-gradeMilitary-grade
ProtocolsNordLynx, OpenVPN, IKEv2OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPsec, L2TP/IPsec, PPTP
Kill switch
Internet kill switch, app kill switch, Always-on VPN for AndroidNetwork Lock (unavailable on iOS)
DNS and IP leaks
No leaksNo leaks
Security featuresDouble VPN, Tor over VPN, CyberSec, SOCKS5 proxy, Obfuscated servers, DNS and IPv6 leak protectionSplit tunneling, Obfuscated servers, DNS and IPv6 leak protection

Both NordVPN and ExpressVPN provide excellent security – they have reliable kill switches and no leaks. The differences are few and will matter only to some users. However, I give NordVPN an edge because of its more solid feature set.

ExpressVPN protocols

Each contestant offers military-grade encryption and modern tunneling protocols. Those new to the VPN industry might think that ExpressVPN should get more points for L2TP/IPsec and PPTP. That’s not the case because these protocols are outdated, and NordVPN ditched them purposefully.

SOCKS5 proxy and split tunneling outweigh each other, but that still leaves NordVPN with more security features. Its Double VPN gives you extra security because of two servers used. In the meantime, TOR over VPN sends your encrypted traffic via the Onion network and lets you access it without the Tor browser.

Privacy features of NordVPN and ExpressVPN

Winner: ExpressVPN and NordVPN

NordVPNExpressVPN
JurisdictionPanamaBritish Virgin Island
LoggingIndependently-audited no-logs policyIndependently-audited no-logs policy
Anonymous payment
CryptocurrenciesBitcoin

Again, both ExpressVPN and NordVPN are well known for their focus on privacy. Their companies are registered in countries with no data retention laws, allowing them to offer true no-logs policies. While both were independently-audited, ExpressVPN’s policy was tested in practice when Turkish authorities seized one of their servers in 2017 and found nothing.

NordVPN payment options - cryptocurrencies
NordVPN cryptocurrencies

Anonymous payment options are especially important for those who want to retain their anonymity. ExpressVPN offers to pay with Bitcoin, and NordVPN supports a few more cryptocurrencies. To sum up, neither provider holds a winning card, forcing us to declare this ExpressVPN vs NordVPN round a draw.

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: speed and performance

While ExpressVPN covers more countries, NordVPN offers way more servers. And when it comes to sheer speed, NordVPN leaves its competitor behind. That’s because it uses the next-gen WireGuard protocol which is much faster than any other.

Provided that your ISP gives enough boost, it would be easy to notice the differences between ExpressVPN and NordVPN. And if your provider is using bandwidth throttling, using any of these VPNs can even make your connection faster! However, since we have NordVPN as our fastest service, it would be fair to give it an edge over ExpessVPN in the performance section.

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: 14-Day Speed Average

More live data from our VPN Speed Test tool
ExpressVPN NordVPN
USA server
Download Speed 141 Mbps 1,715 Mbps
Upload Speed 240 Mbps 1,627 Mbps
UK server
Download Speed 111 Mbps 1,342 Mbps
Upload Speed 245 Mbps 1,229 Mbps
Germany server
Download Speed 193 Mbps 1,191 Mbps
Upload Speed 312 Mbps 991 Mbps

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN apps and ease of use

Winner: ExpressVPN

NordVPNExpressVPN
Major dedicated apps
AllAll
Other dedicated apps
Fire TV & Fire Stick, Android TVFire TV & Fire Stick, Android TV, Kindle Fire, Nook HD, Chromebook, Routers
Browser extensions
Chrome, FirefoxChrome, Firefox
Manual setup
Routers, firewalls, NASChromecast, Roku, nVidia Shield
Simultaneous devices
65
Customer support
24/7 live chat, email, FAQ, tutorials24/7 live chat, email, FAQ, tutorials

Both desktop and mobile apps of ExpressVPN and NordVPN are user-friendly and easy to like. ExpressVPN app is list-based and a bit more simple, but NordVPN also has a map with marked servers and is hands-down the better-looking one. Additionally, NordVPN’s options tab offers more choices, yet is very intuitive at the same time.

NordVPN server map

These services have apps for all the main platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS. Linux versions lack GUI, but that’s not a big issue for the average Linux user. When it comes to browser extensions, both providers offer Chrome and Firefox versions.

ExpressVPN has more apps overall, including those for Kindle Fire, Chromebook, and, most importantly, routers. This is where NordVPN shows its weakest point, even though it provides detailed instructions on how to set up more than a dozen router makes manually. Finally, NordVPN has Smart DNS combined with VPN, but ExpressVPN offers it separately, meaning that you’ll be able to unblock various streaming platforms on your smart TV or game console.

Torrenting and P2P with NordVPN and ExpressVPN

Winner: NordVPN and ExpressVPN

NordVPNExpressVPN
Allowed on
Selected serversAll servers
Free SOCKS5 proxy
YesNo
Split tunneling
Android onlyYes

Speed and security are of primary importance for torrenters, but in this case, there are other considerations. P2P is available in all ExpressVPN countries and only 40+ NordVPN countries – so a clear victory, right? Well, not quite.

NordVPN P2P-optimized servers

NordVPN only offers P2P in countries where the law is lax in this regard. Furthermore, they optimized hundreds of servers for P2P in particular. You can choose these from the list of “Specialty Servers” on the NordVPN client.

ExpressVPN doesn’t have a free SOCKS5 like NordVPN does, but its split tunneling feature more than makes up for it. To sum up, neither of these two VPNs have the upper hand. I reckon this NordVPN vs ExpressVPN round is a draw!

ExpressVPN or NordVPN – which one is better for Netflix?

Winner: NordVPN

NordVPNExpressVPN
Netflix US
YesYes
Other Netflix libraries
YesYes
Other platforms
YesYes

Both providers are among our best VPNs for Netflix, but NordVPN sits right at the top. It’s also slightly faster and more reliable. NordVPN has over 1,800 servers in the US alone – more than half of what ExpressVPN has in total.

ExpressVPN unblocks Netflix

Each contestant unblocks not only Netflix US but other popular libraries in Japan and the Netherlands as well. They are also great for streaming Disney+, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, among others. Finally, while neither ExpressVPN nor NordVPN have a custom app for Kodi, both work great with it, ensuring safety and privacy.

NordVPN or ExpressVPN – which one to use in China and other restricted countries?

Winner: NordVPN

NordVPNExpressVPN
Works in China
YesYes
Stealth VPN
YesNo
Tor over VPN
YesYes

Both services have a constantly growing server list, making it harder for the governments of China and other countries to keep up. They also provide Tor over VPN for that extra anonymity when you work with sensitive information. However, only NordVPN has obfuscated (stealth) servers to beat Deep Packet Inspection (DPI). These are available in 14 countries and 17 locations.

Whichever VPN you choose, make sure you download and install it before you go to China. The websites of NordVPN and ExpressVPN are blocked there, so you’ll need to contact customer support or find a working mirror site on your own.

NordVPN also offers more servers in total, which makes it less susceptible to blocking efforts. Therefore, I announce NordVPN, our best VPN for China overall, as a winner of this close round.

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: pricing comparison

Winner: NordVPN

NordVPNExpressVPN
Free version
NoNo
Free trial
NoNo
One month
$11.95/month$12.95/month
Six months
$9.00/month$9.99/month
One year
$4.92/month$8.32/month
Two years
$3.71/monthN/A
Money-back guarantee
30 days30 days

This NordVPN vs ExpressVPN round one’s easy – if you buy the former for longer than a month, it becomes WAY cheaper. What’s more, ExpressVPN doesn’t have a two-year plan, making it a poor long-term investment. You also get to use six devices simultaneously with NordVPN, compared to ExpressVPN’s five.

Neither of these providers has a free version or a free trial. Both VPNs come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN – which VPN is better?

Winner: NordVPN

NordVPNExpressVPN
Security
WinsLoses
Privacy
TieTie
Speed
WinsLoses
Apps
LosesWins
Torrenting
TieTie
Streaming
WinsLoses
China
WinsLoses
Prices
WinsLoses
Total wins
5 out of 81 out of 8
NordVPN reviewExpressVPN review

At the end of ExpressVPN vs NordVPN battle, the latter wins in five out of eight categories. ExpressVPN turned out to be better at Apps and ease of use, while both services tied in Privacy and Torrenting. Even if ExpressVPN managed to win or tie more, I’d still be crowning NordVPN as long as it offers a much lower price.

This doesn’t mean that ExpressVPN is bad – there are plenty of good reasons to prefer it over NordVPN in certain situations!

Top VPN providers
NordVPN
9.6 / 10
30-day money-back guarantee
Military grade encryption
Friendly support
Surfshark VPN
9.4 / 10
Strong encryption
Excellent performance
Unlimited simultaneous connections

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18 comments
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  1. Arley Green

    NordVPN 6.25 Error
    Do I turn off the update ?


    1. Kevin Marlowe

      Hi Arley,

      Sorry for the (very) late reply. I would suggest getting in touch with NordVPN support about any issues with updates to their software.


  2. Mike

    I would have liked to have a 3 or 7 day trial of both Express and Nord. It’s too bad there’s no such thing available right now. I generally like to try out a service before paying for it. Guess I’ll have to pay for a month with both and see the differences.


  3. Rodo

    The two are similar in many regards, with ExpressVPN seemingly investing more in being present with servers in more countries and Nord trying to increase the sheer number of servers they have.


  4. 1wayout

    Nord is my choice because it works great on Windows 10, the setup is super easy, the speed is great even when I’m torrenting and the list goes on and on.


  5. Alexander

    While both VPNs are top notch and probably the best two in the world, as a client of both (have used both) I like ExpressVPN a little more. I know there’s the price difference but Express has a better service if you ask me.


  6. Damian

    Both of these VPNs are extremely good choices. It’s hard to choose between them and depending on what you want and need, either of them may be appropriate. The bigger server number, the great speed (test it to see how they do in your country – in mine they did great), the level of security, nice torrenting options, price, etc; all of these things make me put NordVPN at the top spot. Express is very good but honestly, do I really need to pay $5+ more for it when NordVPN offers me everything I need? I wonder. Some say that ExpressVPN has better security and is very reliable in China and other restricted countries. I guess if you’re living in those countries or working there and would like to remain anonymous you should choose ExpressVPN. Otherwise, Nord should do well.

    On another note, ExpressVPN accepts paypal at this time while NordVPN doesn’t anymore. Is paypal a good thing or a bad one when it comes to a VPN service? I think paying with a cryptocurrency is the most anonymous so I can understand why Nord isn’t using Paypal anymore. So, I guess if you want really good VPN services, you can choose either of these two (depending on your specific requirements) and you won’t be sorry.


  7. Golden Jet

    It’s a tough comparison on this one. For someone who has used both VPNs, I can be in a better position to share my experience. They all are great for reasons you mentioned in the article except for Nord, all P2P traffic is routed in a specific location that affects your browsing session and this is a drawback for me. I hope they fix this soon but also an interesting thing about them is that they offer Ikev2 protocol which results in a faster connection and drains the battery much slower. Nord offers a free trial but Express does not, what they do is that you can test out ExpressVPN for a whole month – and get your money back when you’re done if you aren’t satisfied
    I didn’t notice any drop-in speed during usage of both. The only drawback with express is their poor customer service of 5 hours per day which makes it difficult getting your issues solved quickly
    For the price, I give it to Nord and this is the only thing that made me prefer Nord to Express in this comparison. Express VPN is damn expensive for me otherwise, they are both great


  8. Gerald.82

    I’ve had a test on both NordVPN and ExpressVPN when I was in a dilemma in buying either one of the two. I have to say that the torrenting ability and the widespread server of NordVPN convinced me to purchase NordVPN. It’s alsso way cheaper than ExpressVPN.


  9. Valeria

    Express vpn separate app works better than the chrome extension. VPN itself is THE BEST I’ve used, but the extension is just not good enough, doesn’t make the experience any easier or faster. Lacks ‘Speed test function. Nord which is the best alternative, in this case, wins for me. Nords reddit reviews are great too


  10. Taylor

    These two VPN giants are just too hard to choose between for me! They are both strong across the board, and which one you should pick always depends on what features are the most important to you at the end of the day.


  11. Irv Wilde

    Express VPN vs. NordVPN is really the clash of the titans (and I don’t mean that awful remake from a few years back). I use Express VPN but I almost went with NordVPN. You can’t go wrong with either one, but for me, Express wins out, regardless of the price.


  12. sting143

    It’s difficult to differentiate between the two on features. But clincher is pricing, which favors NordVPN. Nord also offers 6 devices against 3 by Express.


  13. Ramon

    If you don’t live in a heavily restricted country, then NordVPN is the best choice. Though it can be a little expensive, but I believe that it’s worth every penny. It’s a great service!


  14. Brandi R. Johnson

    Both of them do have amazing features. Awesome research!
    But I still prefer NordVPN for my device.


    1. Kevin Marlowe

      Hi Brandi,

      Yes, they’re both great choices and, ultimately, a matter of preference!


  15. youshouldntcare

    If NordVPN > ExpressVPN based on this comparison, why the numer 1 of the BEST VPNs on your site is still ExpressVPN. It should be NordVPN then.


    1. Kevin Marlowe

      Thanks for pointing it out. The page hadn’t been updated, but it’s fixed now.

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