NordVPN vs ProtonVPN in 2021

Nadin Bhatt
Nadin Bhatt | Writer
Last updated: November 30, 2021
NordVPN vs ProtonVPN

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Both NordVPN and ProtonVPN are respected and widely-used VPN providers. But which one offers more value for its users?

In my comparison, I’ll discuss topics such as security, privacy, apps, ease of use, pricing, and more. No time to read an entire article? No worries – below, you’ll find a summary table.

NordVPNProtonVPN
Our rating9.6⭐8.0⭐
“Best for” nomineeBest overall, Best for Netflix, Best for P2P, Best for China, Fastest VPNBest Free VPN for Android, Best Free VPN for Popcorn Time
Price starts at$3.29/month$3.29/month
ReviewNordVPN ReviewProtonVPN Review
WebsiteNordVPNProtonVPN

As you can tell, apart from price, NordVPN looks better when I compare both providers side by side. Continue reading to see what makes NordVPN the winner.

Security of ProtonVPN vs NordVPN

NordVPNProtonVPN
EncryptionMilitary-gradeMilitary-grade
ProtocolsNordLynx, OpenVPN, IKEv2WireGuard, OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPsec
Security featuresDouble VPN, Onion over VPN, CyberSec, SOCKS5 proxy, Obfuscated servers, app, and internet kill switchKill switch, Tor over VPN, Secure Core

When it comes to security, NordVPN vs ProtonVPN are similarly placed. Both providers employ military-grade AES-256 encryption and have a powerful kill switch.

What about IP and DNS leaks? To see how both providers do in this department, I ran an online test:

ProtonVPN IP leak test

 

First, I connected to a ProtonVPN DE server. In the picture above you can see that my IP address shows a German location, meaning there is no leak.

The same case was with NordVPN:

NordVPN IP leak test

Both ProtonVPN and NordVPN offer strong bonus features, such as integration with the Tor network (Onion over VPN or Tor over VPN), and a stealth mode. NordVPN’s Double VPN option (in the picture below) lets you chain VPN servers. ProtonVPN has a similar feature in Secure Core, which funnels traffic through servers in privacy-friendly countries (such as Switzerland or Iceland).

NordVPN DoubleVPN feature

NordVPN, though, goes the extra mile by providing its users with its propriety WireGuard implementation called NordLynx. With it, you’ll enjoy the best speeds without sacrificing security. ProtonVPN’s WireGuard is great, but it cannot compete with NordLynx.

Hence, NordVPN is the definitive winner of this round.

NordVPN
NordVPN
VPNpro rating: 9.6 / 10

Privacy of ProtonVPN vs NordVPN

NordVPNProtonVPN
JurisdictionPanamaSwitzerland
LoggingZero logs (independently audited)Zero logs (independently audited)
Anonymous paymentCryptocurrenciesCryptocurrencies

Both providers are based in privacy-friendly locations, that are not part of the Five Eyes alliance. NordVPN has had its zero-logs policy audited by third-party auditors in 2018. Meanwhile, ProtonVPN has built a lot of trust in that regard with their long-standing ProtonMail product.

Lastly, I’m glad that both providers offer an anonymous payment option using cryptocurrencies. While NordVPN offers more of them – at the moment 10 – this is not a great deal of difference.

Despite the minor differences, both providers are winners in this round.

NordVPN vs ProtonVPN speed and performance

NordVPNProtonVPN
Average speed132 Mbps47.4 Mbps
Servers51001300
Countries6061
Download
Germany server252 Mbps (17% drop-off)106 Mbps (65% drop-off)
US server
213 Mbps (29% drop-off)85 Mbps (72% drop-off)
Upload
Germany server87 Mbps (72% drop-off)65 Mbps (78% drop-off)
US server88 Mbps (71% drop-off)22 Mbps (93% drop-off)
Ping
Germany server46 ms39 ms
US server136 ms167 ms

NordVPN is much faster than ProtonVPN. The latter’s 1300+ servers in 61+ countries are put to shame by NordVPN’s ever-expanding list of 5100+ servers spanning over 60+ countries worldwide.

On average, NordVPN, our fastest VPN provider, will give you two times the speed that ProtonVPN does, but some of the Swiss VPN’s servers can be up to six times slower than those of NordVPN.

To see how great both providers are in terms of speed, I tested their speeds online using a server in the US. Before connecting to a VPN provider, my download speeds were 106 Mbps and my upload speeds were 105 Mpbs.

After connecting to the US server with my NordVPN account I got the following results: download 252 Mbps and upload 87 Mbps.

Once connecting to the US server with my ProtonVPN account I got the following results: download 26 Mbps and upload 34 Mbps.

The difference is quite striking, and NordVPN is yet again number one.

For more accurate and up-to-date results, be sure to take a look at our own VPN speed test.

ProtonVPN and NordPVN apps: ease of use and support

NordVPNProtonVPN
Major appsWindows, Linux, macOS, iOS, AndroidWindows, Linux, macOS, iOS, Android
Other appsFire TV & Fire Stick, Android TVAndroid TV
Browser extensionsChrome, Edge, FirefoxChrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, Opera
Manual setupRouters, firewalls, NASRouters
Simultaneous devices61 (Free plan) & 10 (Visionary plan)
Customer support24/7 live chat, email, FAQ, tutorialsEmail, knowledge base

In terms of apps and ease of use, both providers look great. Both VPNs offer apps for all major platforms, while the specific details differ a bit.

Proton VPN ease of use and customer support

Here’s a peek at the user interface of the ProtonVPN Windows app:

ProtonVPN interface

It is simple, straight to the point, and provides some extra information about your connectivity.

ProtonVPN has an additional dedicated app for Android TV. Naturally, manual configuration is possible on routers. Plus, there are browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, and Opera.

The number of simultaneous connections depends on your subscription plan. The free plan allows one connection, while the visionary plan allows a whopping 10 connections.

ProtonVPN support

In terms of customer support, ProtonVPN is a bit behind. You get the typical means of communication, such as email and a knowledge base on the website, but the lack of 24/7 live chat is disappointing.

NordVPN ease of use and customer support

And here’s what the NordVPN Windows interface looks like:

NordVPN interface

It is much simpler and easier to use but provides less information about your current connection.

When it comes to additional dedicated apps, NordVPN goes the extra mile by providing apps for Android TV and Amazon FireOS (Fire Stick and FireTV). Furthermore, there are browser extensions for Chrome, Edge, and Firefox. Manual configuration is available for routers, firewalls, and NAS (Network Access Storage). Finally, six simultaneous connections are possible with all subscription plans.

NordVPN support

NordVPN is way ahead of most VPN services in terms of customer support. Communication options include:

  • Email
  • 24/7 live chat
  • A chatbot
  • An online knowledge base
  • Video tutorials

Essentially, the 24/7 live chat option is what tips the scales in NordVPN’s favor.

Torrenting and P2P with NordVPN and ProtonVPN

NordVPNProtonVPN
Allowed onSelected serversSelected servers
Free SOCKS5 proxyYesNo
Split tunnelingYes (on Windows and Android)Yes (on Windows and Android)

ProtonVPN and NordVPN are both good choices for torrenting, but NordVPN is simply the best VPN for torrenting.

Firstly, it’s about the speed – NordVPN is many times faster than its Swiss counterpart. This will be particularly important with a weak connection: ProtonVPN can make torrenting excruciatingly slow unless your base connection is amazing.

Both services have a split tunneling feature, which means you can use your VPN connection only for the torrenting app, but that will only solve the speed reduction for your other online activities.

NordVPN has none of these issues – its server base is huge and the speeds are amazing. Additionally, it offers a free SOCKS5 proxy you can set up directly on your torrent client.

Netflix and other streaming platforms

NordVPNProtonVPN
Netflix USYesSelected servers
Other Netflix librariesYesYes
Other platformsYesYes (Hulu)

Looking at the table, you might guess that both providers work more or less the same when it comes to Netflix. However, there’s something to consider when choosing ProtonVPN.

It is true that you can stream with ProtonVPN (American Netflix and other Netflix libraries) but to do that you’ll need to opt for the Plus or Visionary plan. Free and Basic will not be able to unblock streaming platforms, and I find it to be a huge detriment.

On the other hand, NordVPN is our top VPN for streaming. NordVPN’s superior download speeds make a substantial difference, especially if you want to watch HD and Ultra HD content.

China and other restricted countries

NordVPNProtonVPN
Works in ChinaYesUnstable
Stealth VPNYes (Obfuscated servers)No
Tor over VPNYes (Onion over VPN)Yes

For those traveling behind the Great Firewall of China, we do not recommend ProtonVPN. While its great security features make ProtonVPN a good choice for your safety, the lack of a stealth mode means your traffic can be blocked.

Secondly, there’s again the issue of speed – ProtonVPN has few servers in Asia, which means it won’t offer great performance even if does work.

NordVPN, on the other hand, is one of the few VPN services that work reliably in China. Its Obfuscated Servers feature means the service can’t be stopped by Deep Packet Inspection or other common VPN blocking means. It’s also very fast and has top-notch security features.

Likewise, NordVPN is better equipped to protect those who travel in other censorious countries as well, including Russia, the United Arab Emirates, and any other region that might restrict and/or monitor internet access.

Pricing of NordVPN and ProtonVPN

NordVPNProtonVPN
One month$11.95/monthN/A
One year$4.92/month$4.00/month; $5.99/month or $24.00/month
Two years$3.29/monthN/A
Money-back guarantee30 days30 days

ProtonVPN offers more user-friendly prices, especially when you opt for the one-month plan. It also offers a very good free version, which you can use without the fear of running out of data. This is one round that ProtonVPN comfortably wins.

On top of that, ProtonVPN is one of our Best Free VPNs.

NordVPN pricing

NordVPN has a typical pricing plan in the VPN industry. It comes with three subscription plans:

NordVPN pricing

  • $11.95/month for one month
  • $4.92/month for one year
  • $3.29/month for two years

However, this is only for the first month, year, or two years. After the initial period is over, the price actually increases. To be precise, the plan simply switches to the monthly price, which will cost you $119 annually. The logic is that the first deal was just a temporary promo.

The pricing may also differ if you got a subscription bundled with a different Nord Security product, but that’s a whole different story. Alternatively, you can also get a better deal when opting for a NordVPN coupon code.

Besides that, NordVPN offers a 7-day free trial (requires Android). Once claimed, it can be used on other devices too. Furthermore, there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee with all plans.

ProtonVPN pricing

protonvpn prices

ProtonVPN is a bit different from the usual VPNs in terms of pricing. Instead of choosing a subscription plan based on a time frame, you can choose between four plans based on your needs. The four plans are:

  • Free, which doesn’t cost anything
  • Basic, which costs $4.00/month
  • Plus, which costs $5.99/month
  • Visionary, which costs $24.00/month

Each plan has different benefits and needs to be paid for one year in advance. Of course, there’s also a 30-day money-back guarantee.

ProtonVPN
ProtonVPN
VPNpro rating: 8.0 / 10

NordVPN vs ProtonVPN video reviews

NordVPN vs ProtonVPN 2021 | Ultimate comparison of 2 TOP VPNs
2021-05-08
NordVPN review 2021: Best VPN or... 2nd best? 💥 Here’s what you NEED TO KNOW
2021-01-13
ProtonVPN review: Good enough in 2020? FREE or Premium? +LIVE SHOWCASE
2020-09-02

NordVPN vs ProtonVPN – which is better?

NordVPN🥇ProtonVPN🥈
SecurityWins✔️Loses❌
PrivacyTieTie
Speed and performanceWins✔️Loses❌
Apps and ease of useWins✔️Loses❌
Torrenting and P2PWins✔️Loses❌
NetflixWins✔️Loses❌
ChinaWins✔️Loses❌
PricingLoses❌Wins✔️
Total wins6 out of 81 out of 8

In spite of facing a strong competitor, NordVPN is the true winner in this competition. Its security and privacy features are unbeatable, it works great with Netflix and torrenting, and it’s easy to use.

Even though NordVPN is a little bit more expensive, the features it provides are worth the price.

Get NordVPN with 72% OFF


FAQ

Is ProtonVPN a good VPN?

Yes, ProtonVPN is a good VPN. It has a free plan, but also a few premium options. It’s based in Switzerland and has an independently-audited no-logs policy, as well as a wide range of security features.

Is the free plan of ProtonVPN limited in any way?

The free plan of ProtonVPN does not have any data limits. However, the connection speed is not as fast as the premium plans.

Is using a VPN legal?

Yes, using a VPN is perfectly legal. It is an essential security feature used by many companies around the world.

Is NordVPN worth it in 2021?

NordVPN is totally worth it in 2021. It uses strong AES-256 encryption, has the fastest connection speeds with NordLynx, plenty of features against geo-blocking or monitoring, and is still quite affordable.

18 comments
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  1. Gary

    NordVPN absolutely does have split tunneling


    1. avatar
      Nadin Bhatt Author

      Hi, Gary. You’re right, thanks for noticing and letting us know! We’ve fixed the issue now.


  2. silent J

    I’ve been using protonvpn and their email service for years now and I couldn’t be happier! They do the very basics of what I need in terms of security and I really don’t understand the need for anything else. I mean really – what are the advantages and disadvantages of the different specialty servers offered by NordVPN? Seems like that’s the only thing that I’d be paying for so it has to be really good, but so far I’m not convinced. The default encryption is enough for me.


  3. Camilla

    recently i purchased nord but im still not sure what streaming services can be used with nordvpn. Sometimes they work, sometimes they dont…. I’m looking for a definitive list of what can be used for sure. thank you for your help


  4. alexender

    i dont care about protonvpn vs nordvpn – they are old and irrelevant! i want to know about the new vpns that are being made and if theyre worth buying.


  5. Faustus

    Proton and Nord are really great online security products and the vpns aren’t the only tools they offer which is pretty neat. But I think it’s weird that they don’t offer bundles where you get all their products for a cheaper price. Anyway I’m still on the fence about which one to go with, I’m still not sure is it possible to stream with ProtonVPN.


  6. ashton939

    for me in the battle of protonvpn vs nordvpn the clear winner is nordvpn. this might seem weird but nordvpn sponsors some content creators I love and that means something to me – they support independent creators and let them create awesome content. it means nordvpn cares about others as well. i get it – they gain some sales from the cooperation with the creators, but it’s still a great way to support others.


  7. Tony T.

    so uhh what is the best setting on nordvpn for video streaming? cuz like it doesn’t work all the time so idk maybe i’m missing something. please make a tutorial on that


  8. Jap

    vpnpro, please make a tutorial on how to use protonvpn on android smartphones. i’m stuck, as it doesnt work on my phone ( i’m using free plan) it just doesn’t connect to any country on my phone 🙁 🙁 🙁


  9. jovanni

    lot’s of vpn providers face problems with “chinese firewall”. when the covid will be finally diwn, i’m goint to visit china for 1 month approximetaly. i want to prepare well in advance. i have a couple of concerns on how to download nordvpn app in china for iphone (or is it better to download it in us) and what are the speeds for nordvpn in the us. i will use it for netflix, so i need it pretty good speed.


  10. blu ivy

    I am only planning to buy a vpn, so your website is my holy bible! I have read many good reviews about nordvpn, but comparison nordvpn vs protonvpn is something quite rare. Now I am I little confused and don’t know what to buy 😀 😀 I need a vpn for bypassing geo-restricted content (articles, news portals, and for Netflix as well. I have always wanted to watch US Netflix because it has a lot of great shows. What should I pay attention to when choosing the best option?


  11. Sam Sam

    Pretty awesome review as protonvpn vs nordvpn is quite an interesting stand-off. I would never think of comparing them. They seem to be in different categories for me. ProtonVPN by performance is lower than NordVPN, but its pricing (plans) outstands even ExpressVPN. In my opinion, anonymity, and privacy begin with the payment method: Does NordVPN or ProtonVPN support Bitcoin payments? The most secure way is to pay with cryptocurrency.


  12. Alexis

    Nord is a provider that is always improving. I always see news about them. That’s why I use them for more than two years. They latest Nordlynx implementation is phenomenal. The speed is impressive. Also, there is always a great chance to find discount coupons over the internet, or they have special deals. I’ve never used ProtonVPN, so I can’t say anything about them, but I heard that they are not so bad, especially since they went OpenSource, which is a significant step toward trustability.


  13. Vito

    Hi Nadin Bhatt,
    I’ve been reading your website recently, and this particular VPN comparison caught my eye. I have some questions (sorry if they are silly) .
    How can you compare 2 completely different VPN providers? I mean, they play in different leagues, and since NordVPN is a high class provider, it’s obvious, that ProtonVPN will lose.
    Also, what ISP you have, and how did you measure the speed of each VPN? Because it affects the speed, right?
    ProtonVPN costs pretty much the same as NordVPN, but offers much less options, and also I’m concerned about it’s location. Switzerland? vs Panama? Europe and VPN? That’s a huge NO.
    What can you say about it?


    1. Mark

      Switzerland is way better than Panama cause do you really know that they’re in Panama ? Where ProtonVPN is really based in a bunker in Switzerland cause they are the same running Protonmail, also, one focus on advertising when the other is focusing on privacy.


  14. thamara.james

    Although ProtonVPN sounds like a good one, I would rather stick to a VPN that is well-established as I can’t afford to have data leakage using a new VPN


  15. bridgesforladybugs

    NordVPN all the way. ProtonVPN looks like it might be good for people just starting out, but I got hooked on NordVPN from the start and it just works so well. I got a good deal, too – no complaint here on the prices. There’s just nothing that could beat it in my opinion. It’s worked perfectly for everything I need.


  16. Nami H

    ProtonVPN sounds like a great alternative, but I really love NordVPN, I’ve been using it for the past month and it’s really powerful, plus you get safety and privacy. I haven’t tested ProtonVPN but I’m sure it’s a great one as well.

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