Surfshark vs NordVPN in 2021 – which one wins?

Jan Youngren
Jan Youngren | Security researcher
Last updated: March 8, 2021
Surfshark VS NordVPN comparison

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Which one is better, Surfshark or NordVPN? Both are great services that I can recommend to anyone. However, each of our comparisons has one winner, no matter how close the fight. So, which provider wins this Surfshark vs NordVPN battle? Check out my in-depth comparison – its results might surprise you!

In this article, I take a closer look at the most important VPN criteria, such as privacy, security, performance, and price, among others. Don’t have time to read the whole NordVPN vs Surfshark comparison? This table below should give you a good idea which Virtual Private Network better suits your needs.

Our rating9.6⭐9.4⭐
“Best for” winnerBest overall, Best for Netflix, Best for P2P, Best for China
“Best for” nominee
Best overall, Best for Netflix, Best for P2P, Best for China
Price starts from$3.71/month$2.49/month
ReviewNordVPN reviewSurfshark review

As you can see, NordVPN wins in all major categories, including the Best overall service. In the meantime, Surfshark holds the #2 position in four out of five, which means no other VPN is that close to NordVPN. If only Surfshark VPN was faster, it might have won this comparison because of its lower prices. But now, paying a bit more for the fastest VPN is totally worth it.

Security of NordVPN and Surfshark

Winner: NordVPN

ProtocolsNordLynx, OpenVPN, IKEv2WireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2
Kill switch
Internet kill switch, app kill switch, Always-on VPN for AndroidYes
DNS and IP leaks
No leaksNo leaks
Security featuresDouble VPN, Tor over VPN, CyberSec, SOCKS5 proxy, Obfuscated servers, DNS and IPv6 leak protectionCleanWeb, MultiHop, Whitelister, Camouflage mode, NoBorders mode, Shadowsocks, DNS, IPv6, and WebRTC leak protection

Surfshark and NordVPN offer top-notch security. Both have military-grade encryption, next-gen WireGuard (or in NordVPN’s case, NordLynx) protocol, and solid leak protection. Surfshark has even more security features than NordVPN, but the latter wins this Surfshark vs NordVPN round thanks to its advanced kill switch.

NordVPN two kill switches

Both providers allow you to connect to two VPN servers at once (Double VPN and MultiHop), which makes your online actions virtually untraceable. However, NordVPN also adds Tor over VPN to the mix, a great boost for your privacy. Both services also come with their own anti-malware tools (CyberSec and CleanWeb) that will stop ads, tracking, and phishing.

NordVPN’s SOCKS5 proxy holds a slight edge against Surfshark’s Whitelister, which can be treated as a split tunneling feature. That’s because the SOCKS5 proxy connection is faster. On the other hand, Surfshark VPN boasts Shadowsocks proxy, which is faster than using stealth protocols.

Both VPNs will let you access the web in China and other countries that strictly regulate online activities. NordVPN uses Obfuscated servers that hide Virtual Private Network traffic from China’s Deep Packet Inspection (DPI). Surfshark’s Camouflage mode has the same role, and the NoBorders mode unblocks the online resources no matter where you are.

NordVPN vs Surfshark – which one offers more privacy?

Winner: NordVPN

JurisdictionPanamaBritish Virgin Island
LoggingIndependently-audited no-logs policyNo-logs policy
Anonymous payment

NordVPN wins this close round of the NordVPN vs Surfshark battle. Both services are registered in privacy-friendly jurisdictions that have no data-retention laws. This allows for a true no-logs policy, and both contestants claim to have one. However, NordVPN’s policy has been independently audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers, which is already a better argument than Surfshark’s claim that’s not backed in any way.

NordVPN payment options - cryptocurrencies
NordVPN cryptocurrencies

Every solid Virtual Private Network should offer anonymous payment that gives maximum privacy to its clients. NordVPN accepts more cryptocurrencies even though Surfshark allows to pay via two services – CoinPayments and CoinGate.

To sum up, this round could have been a draw if Surfshark had its no-logs policy audited or proven in court. For now, NordVPN holds the edge in terms of privacy.

Is Surfshark faster than NordVPN?

According to our in-house VPN speed testing tool, NordVPN is faster than Surfshark, but the difference pales when you see how far behind them all other services are. This is because of the next-gen WireGuard tunneling protocol that both contestants have implemented.

When it comes to latency, Surfshark holds a slight edge over NordVPN, but neither of the two would work for online games with servers in another continent.

NordVPN has way more servers to choose from, which is vital in case of a sudden usage spike. Surfshark offers a few more countries, but most users will probably want to connect to popular locations like the US or the Netherlands anyway. Neither of the contestants owns all of their servers but Surfshark’s fleet is 100% RAM-only.

NordVPN vs Surfshark VPN: 14-Day Speed Average

More live data from our VPN Speed Test tool
NordVPN Surfshark VPN
USA server
Download Speed 1,125 Mbps 949 Mbps
Upload Speed 1,048 Mbps 878 Mbps
UK server
Download Speed 1,251 Mbps 675 Mbps
Upload Speed 1,212 Mbps 644 Mbps
Germany server
Download Speed 1,414 Mbps 596 Mbps
Upload Speed 1,244 Mbps 493 Mbps

Surfshark vs NordVPN apps – are they easy to use?

Winner: Surfshark

Major dedicated apps
Other dedicated apps
Fire TV & Fire Stick, Android TVFire TV & Fire Stick, Android TV
Browser extensions
Chrome, FirefoxChrome, Firefox
Manual setup
Routers, firewalls, NASRouters, Chromebook, pfSense, Raspberry Pi
Simultaneous devices
Customer support
24/7 live chat, email, FAQ, tutorials24/7 live chat, email, FAQ, tutorials

No matter which one you try, both NordVPN and Surfshark have easy-to-use apps and excellent 24/7 customer support. But even if we don’t count NordVPN’s beautiful map with all the countries marked, it still looks better than its opponent. When it comes to tweaking your settings, each provider offers enough room for customization and explains what will happen if you turn them on or off.

NordVPN server map

Surfshark and NordVPN have dedicated apps for Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS. While the Linux clients are command-based, you won’t find a Virtual Private Network that has created a GUI for this version. In fact, most Linux users don’t have a problem with that.

Speaking of browser extensions, both VPNs have versions for Firefox and Chrome. They come with a malware blocker, while NordVPN also adds WebRTC protection. But in the end, Surfshark wins this NordVPN vs Surfshark micro-encounter because their browser extensions have been audited by Cure53 security testers.

When it comes to routers, both services offer manual configuration options for the most popular models and makes. However, Surfshark wins this duel thanks to its unlimited simultaneous connections and Smart DNS feature. While NordVPN also has a version of it named SmartPlay, it’s integrated with the VPN and doesn’t extend the number of devices that can benefit from the unblocking without traffic encryption.

NordVPN or Surfshark – which one is better for torrenting?

Winner: NordVPN

Allowed on
Select serversAll servers
Free SOCKS5 proxy
Split tunneling
Android onlyYes

All torrenting fans know that speed and security are the two main criteria when looking for a reliable P2P VPN. As I’ve mentioned earlier, NordVPN is a clear winner in the speed department, but is Surfshark a safer option for torrenting? Well, it turns out that both providers are secure enough, thanks to their kill switches and leak protection.

NordVPN P2P-optimized servers

So the only thing left to evaluate is the extra features that can enhance your P2P experience. To start with, NordVPN allows torrenting on select servers, while Surfshark lets you roam free on all 3200+. On the other hand, NordVPN has about three times more servers but allows torrenting in 40+ countries only, so both break even here. Moving on, NordVPN has a free SOCKS5 proxy, while Surfshark answers with split tunneling (Whitelister), which is not bad either.

So, is Surfshark any good for P2P? To sum up, both VPNs are great for torrenting, but this round of Surfshark vs NordVPN goes to the latter thanks to its sheer speed.

NordVPN vs Surshark – which one wins the Netflix battle?

Winner: NordVPN

Netflix US
Other Netflix libraries
Other platforms

NordVPN is the best VPN for Netflix, and Surfshark is right behind as #2. But how good Surfshark is for streaming, really?

Once again, NordVPN is faster and might give you UHD (4K) when Surfshark will struggle with HD. What’s more, while Surfshark has around 3200 servers, NordVPN has more than 1,700 in the US alone, which means there’s less chance of overcrowding.

Surfshark unblocks Netflix

Both contestants of the NordVPN vs Surfshark duel easily unblock American Netflix and libraries in other countries, such as the Netherlands, the UK (which had the largest library when I was writing this comparison), or Japan. The same goes for other streaming platforms like Amazon Prime, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, or Disney Plus.

Speaking of Kodi, none of our contestants has a dedicated app for it, but both support it and can be used together without any issues.

So, is there anything that Surfshark has and NordVPN doesn’t? It’s the above-mentioned Smart DNS feature that extends the number of supported devices with various smart TVs and game consoles. Therefore, if you have Apple TV or Xbox One and a good internet connection, go for Surfshark VPN.

NordVPN vs Surfshark – which one to choose for China?

Winner: NordVPN

Works in China
Stealth VPN
Tor over VPN

NordVPN vs Surfshark contestants sit at the very top of the best VPNs for China list. Once more, the sheer speed of NordVPN helps it win this round because using a stealth VPN, not to mention Tor over VPN, significantly slows down your connection. If we put the speed aside, we will soon see the advantages that Surfshark holds over its opponent.

For starters, Surfshark supports obfuscated servers (stealth VPN) on all servers, while NordVPN provides you with 17 locations in 14 countries. On the other hand, there’s not much point in connecting to a server in Europe or the Americas if you’re in China, trying to overcome Deep Packet Inspection (DPI). Besides, Surfshark’s No Borders mode should be used together with the Camouflage mode for the best effect.

My final tip is to install the Virtual Private Network before you visit China because their websites are blocked, and you’ll need to contact customer support or someone who knows a working mirror site.

Surfshark vs NordVPN: comparing prices

Winner: Surfshark

Money-back guarantee
30 days

Free version
Free trial
No7-day, for macOS, iOS, Android
One month
Six months
One year
Two years
Payment options
Credit card, Google Pay, Amazon Pay, ACH Transfer, cryptocurrencies, UnionPayCredit card, PayPal, Sofort, Google Pay, Amazon Pay, cryptocurrencies, Giropay, Webmoney

This NordVPN vs Surfshark round goes to the latter, although the former is left not that far behind. As you can see, Surfshark is cheaper when we count the long-term plans. Also, let’s not forget that NordVPN allows only six simultaneous connections, so if you want to protect more devices that aren’t under the router, you’d have to buy a second subscription. In the meantime, Surfshark VPN has no limit for the number of devices online.

Another great thing is that Surfshark has a 7-day free trial. Even though it works on macOS, iOS, and Android only, it’s still better than no trial (I’m looking at you, NordVPN). Both services offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, which is more than enough to see if this VPN suits your needs. Finally, some may argue that Surfshark doesn’t have a three-year plan, but its bi-annual option cost less than NordVPN’s cheapest one.

Both services offer a bunch of payment options, including anonymous ones, such as cryptocurrencies or cash payments in retail stores. NordVPN is the one that accepts more different cryptocurrencies than Surfshark.

Surfshark vs NordVPN video review

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NordVPN vs Surfshark VPN: Ultimate battle | Winner for 2020

Surfshark vs NordVPN – which one is better?

Winner: NordVPN

Total wins
6 out of 82 out of 8

And here are the results of Surfshark vs NordVPN comparison. The latter wins in six out of eight categories. So, is NordVPN really the best? Well, Surfshark supports more devices and has a Smart DNS feature that allows you to stream unblocked content on smart TVs and game consoles. It also has better prices than NordVPN and offers a 7-day free trial for Apple and Android devices.

However, when it comes to security, privacy, speed, torrenting, and streaming – there’s no better choice than NordVPN. Having said that, Surfshark VPN is a great service and a close competitor that you may like even better. That’s why I strongly suggest reading our Surfshark review to learn more. Want to know about the other features of the winner? Head straight to the NordVPN review.

Recommended reads:

NordVPN vs CyberGhost
NordVPN vs ExpressVPN

Top VPN providers
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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