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ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: Which provider is best?

nordvpn vs expressvpn
(Image credit: Future)

If you’re in the market for the very best VPN, this is a question you’ve likely asked yourself: which is better in a match-up of ExpressVPN vs NordVPN? As two of the leading VPN providers on the market today, you've probably been recommended both by various different sources. Here, we'll be comparing the two on paper and in action, focusing on all the areas that matter so that you can make an informed choice and spend your money wisely.

Before we get into it, we’ll run down the defining specs and features on paper. Then, we’ll explore what each service is like to actually use in a number of important areas, before crowning one the winner.

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN at a glance

ExpressVPN – our #1 rated VPN service
We rate ExpressVPN as the very best VPN service on the market. It's powerful, simple to use, and now comes with three months free. Overall we'd recommend it over NordVPN thanks to its superior usability, device support and more reliable speeds.View Deal

NordVPN – a very close runner-up
Although ExpressVPN gets our vote, there are still a few compelling reasons to choose NordVPN. Firstly, over-engineered encryption could give you some extra peace of mind, and at just £3.71 a month it's a little cheaper, too.View Deal

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN – specs on paper
ExpressVPNNordVPN
Number of servers:3,000+5,200+
Server countries:9459
Maximum simultaneous connections:56
Money back guarantee:30 days30 days
Lowest monthly cost:$6.67$3.71

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: Which is more affordable?

Before we get into anything too subjective, we'll have a look at some numbers.

Like all services, paying monthly for ExpressVPN will cost you the most, setting you back $12.95/mo, while six months will cost you $9.99 a month. Express’s longest plan is the 12-month option, and this comes in at reasonable $6.67/mo, which includes the exclusive Tom’s Guide offer of three months free.

Paying monthly for NordVPN will cost you $11.95/mo, a dollar less than Express. Plump for the six-month plan and you’ll see that knocked down to $9.00/mo, which is again a little cheaper. However, your best option is to go for the two-year plan, which comes in at a cracking $3.71/mo.

We could argue that ExpressVPN provides a more well-rounded service and that it offers better true value, but if you’re looking to spend less money, NordVPN takes this round – but will it hold on to the lead for long?

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: Which is faster?

Connection speed is an essential part of any VPN service worth its salt, and we think many users will base their purchase on this section alone.

In our testing, both Express and Nord impressed. On a 75MB UK line, Express delivered speeds between 68–70MB. On the same line, NordVPN delivered speeds of 65–69MB.

While the UK line might be more representative of most users’ connections, our superfast 600MB US line is the real test of a VPN’s performance. Here, Express delivered speeds of 200–250MB, while Nord gave us variable results of between 125–300MB.

So, what does that mean for you? Well, although NordVPN did top out marginally higher in our US tests, when speeds are this similar, consistency is what we value more. Nord’s fluctuation, while by no means drastic, is something you’d likely notice more than a slightly lower maximum speed that’s consistent – plus, on the more average UK line, ExpressVPN achieved better overall speeds.

Express takes this one.

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN

(Image credit: ExpressVPN)

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: Which is more secure?

Both providers are at the top their game when it comes to keeping your data secure.

ExpressVPN uses industry-standard AES-256 encryption, backed up by Perfect Forward Secrecy which changes keys frequently to avoid compromising your security, and also owns all its own DNS servers, which can only bode well. Add to that a functional kill switch, split tunneling and tons more additional options, and you've got a seriously fully-featured VPN. 

However, NordVPN uses 2048-bit double encryption alongside Perfect Forward Secrecy, as well as some unusual features such as Double VPN and Onion over VPN.

Picking between the two is difficult – you may remember Nord’s 2018 server hack, which caused great commotion in the CyberSec world, but it’s also recently undertaken a second independent audit of its servers and privacy policy. However, Express is also a fully audited VPN, and has never had any issues in this respect.

If we’re honest, these two VPNs are arguably the two most secure services available today, so the decision will most likely come down to what you’re after from your VPN – will you actually use features like Onion over VPN, or would you prefer the peace of mind Express’s unblemished history provides?

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: Which is better for Netflix?

Both Express and Nord feature on our Netflix VPN guide, as well as our iPlayer VPN guide and overall streaming VPN guide – so either is an excellent choice for watching geo-blocked streaming content.

However, if you visit those other guides, you’ll also see that ExpressVPN tops every one of them, and that’s down to a combination of a number of factors.

Firstly, ExpressVPN is just super simple to use – all you need to do is select your location and connect. Then simply head over to the streaming service of your choice and get watching. Alongside that, Express’s reliable speeds are great for streaming, and that means that you’ll be able to watch without buffering whenever you want, wherever you are.

Importantly, though, while NordVPN has more individual servers, Express has locations in over 30 more countries than NordVPN. That means you’ll have a greater range of effective servers to connect to, potentially expanding the range of streaming content that’s available to you.

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN

(Image credit: NordVPN)

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: Which is better for torrenting?

Similarly, both services are among the very best torrenting VPNs, owing to their great speeds and excellent P2P support.

However, it’s ExpressVPN that takes it again, thanks to full P2P support – that means on every single server you’ll be able to torrent. With Nord – while it’s automated and painless in action – not every server is torrenting-optimized, and sometimes server swaps are necessary.

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: Which has better apps?

Both Express and Nord have a cohesive suite of apps for a wide range of devices, ranging from their Fire Stick VPN to Android VPN, and even apps for smart TVs and games consoles, too. Both have distinct interfaces which don’t have too much of a learning curve, and they are stable and effective.

However, one issue we have with NordVPN’s apps is that while the map-based interface works well on desktop, on smaller screens like mobile phones it’s an awkward way of selecting a server. We’d much rather be displayed a standard server list immediately rather than hunting for Macedonia on a tiny map.

While this is a small issue (both providers have apps that are top quality in the grand scheme), Express’s are more intuitive and work more seamlessly on a wider range of devices.

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN

(Image credit: Future)

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: Which has better support?

There’s a bit of a trend developing here, isn’t there? Both providers deliver excellent support, but Express’s is just that bit better.

In terms of live chat, both are swift to respond, and email responses are reliable and comprehensive. However, when it comes to your first port of call – the support website – Nord’s is somewhat confusing compared to Express’s very simple yet effective approach,

Once you find what you need, Nord’s articles are excellent, but getting there takes a bit of effort.

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: Final verdict

Going into this it might have seemed like a difficult decision – picking between two of the best-known VPNs on the market. However, having broken it down over the most important categories, the result is clear: ExpressVPN outdoes NordVPN at almost every turn.

With great speeds, an intuitive interface and seriously powerful privacy features, ExpressVPN is the best service on the market today. Plus, Tom’s guide readers can claim three months free, which works out at 15 months for the price of 12, and you’ll also be covered by a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can make sure you like the VPN before you commit.View Deal

However, NordVPN is no slouch, and we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone who wants to give it a go. It also has great security, useful apps, good speeds and an excellent support network. You’ll also be covered by a 30-day money-back guarantee for peace of mind.View Deal