Without much hesitation, it could be said that ExpressVPN and NordVPN are the top dogs of the VPN industry in 2021. Both of them have been around for a long time, they offer great value for the price they ask, as well as plenty of high-end features.
However, this is also what makes it really hard to choose between the two. So, which one is better, and for what types of users? We’re going to take a look at what sets the two apart in this ExpressVPN vs NordVPN comparison guide.
When we reviewed ExpressVPN, it was hard to imagine another VPN being able to directly compete with it. This VPN is extremely user-friendly, highly polished, and offers exceptional customer service. Thanks to its broad set of features, it caters equally well to both complete beginners and highly advanced users.
Then, we reviewed NordVPN, and – suddenly – we were torn. NordVPN goes toe-to-toe with ExpressVPN in usability but also offers a wider range of features that help you customize and enhance your VPN experience. It’s equal to ExpressVPN in many ways but also tries really hard to build its own identity based on transparency.
Before we get deeper into our ExpressVPN vs NordVPN comparison, here’s a breakdown of the most important highlights of the two VPN services. Take a look at the following table to compare their most prominent features.
|Jurisdiction||The British Virgin Islands||Panama|
|Logs||No logs collected, whatsoever.||No logs collected, whatsoever.|
|Number of Servers||3,000+ servers in 90+ countries.||5,500+ servers in 55+ countries.|
|Encryption Standards||AES-256; OpenVPN, Lightway, L2TP/IPSec, IKEv2, PPTP.||AES-256; OpenVPN, IKEv2, NordLynx.|
|Speed Reduction||44.7%, on average.||39.9%, on average.|
|Supported Platforms||Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android, Web browsers, routers, and media streaming devices.||Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android, Web browsers & compatible routers.|
Next, take a look at the final scores from our reviews of these two VPN services. By inspecting the following table carefully, you’ll manage to see the strongest and the weakest points of both ExpressVPN and NordVPN.
|Background, Jurisdiction & Reputation||10/10||8/10|
|Supported Platforms & Devices||10/10||10/10|
|Installation & Initial Configuration||10/10||10/10|
|Server Count & Infrastructure||8.5/10||9.5/10|
|UI/UX Design & Ease of Use||10/10||9/10|
|Media Streaming & Torrenting Support||10/10||9/10|
|Security & Privacy||10/10||9/10|
|Speed & Performance||8.5/10||9/10|
We had no choice but to create the ultimate head-to-head to find out which VPN deserves to sit on the throne. So, keep on reading our ExpressVPN Vs NordVPN comparison.
ExpressVPN vs NordVPN (2021) – Which of These Two VPNs Is Better?
Just like in our reviews of these two VPN giants, we’ll be taking a look at every important aspect of using a VPN service. So, let’s jump right in.
Table of Contents
Background, Jurisdiction & Reputation
When choosing a VPN, you’ll want to check its background first. Ideally, you should pick a VPN outside the 14-Eyes Alliance that didn’t go through any privacy scandals in the past.
- ExpressVPN: This VPN brand comes from the British Virgin Islands. It’s outside of the 14-Eyes Alliance, which is always a good starting point. ExpressVPN has had its services reviewed by an independent party in the past, and it’s one of a few certified no-logs VPN services. Let’s not forget to mention that ExpressVPN’s servers use ‘TrustedServer’ technology, which replaces hard drives with RAM. This should make you 100% sure that your private data won’t be collected, at any point in time.
- NordVPN: This VPN comes from Panama, a privacy-friendly country with no mandatory data retention laws. NordVPN was also independently audited, so they’re a guaranteed no-logs VPN service. However, it’s important to mention that NordVPN has once been hacked in 2018, and there were allegations regarding a strange behavior of NordVPN’s data flow. Even though those situations hadn’t endangered NordVPN’s users, they’ve left a dent in the VPN’s reputation.
Supported Platforms & Devices
Depending on how many devices you want to use, you need a VPN service whose apps work on the most popular platforms. Lucky for you, both ExpressVPN and NordVPN offer decent cross-platform compatibility.
|Desktop Platforms||Windows, macOS, Linux, Chrome OS.||Windows, macOS, Linux, and Chrome OS.|
|Mobile Platforms||Android, iOS, Amazon Kindle Fire, Nook HD.||Android, iOS.|
|Web Browsers||Chrome, Firefox, Edge.||Chrome, Firefox.|
|Routers||DD-WRT, Tomato, and more.||DD-WRT, Tomato, and more.|
|Other Devices||Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, and more.||Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, and more.|
- ExpressVPN: This VPN offers a wide range of native apps that can be installed on all popular desktop and mobile operating systems. You also have the freedom to use ExpressVPN’s Web browser extensions, available for Chrome, Firefox, and Edge. Furthermore, you can install ExpressVPN on VPN-compatible routers, and use it on up to five devices at the same time.
- NordVPN: When it comes to supported platforms and devices, NordVPN doesn’t disappoint. It offers highly polished apps for every popular platform out there. Also, you can set it up on a wide range of routers. NordVPN can be used on six devices at the same time, which gives it a small advantage over its direct competitor.
Winner: It’s hard to pick a winner in this category since both of these VPNs are present on pretty much any platform. If we really want to nitpick, we’d go with NordVPN since it offers up to six simultaneous connections (while ExpressVPN offers five).
Installation & Initial Configuration
Getting started with a VPN shouldn’t be a tiresome process. Instead, it should take only a couple of minutes of your time, which is achieved by offering native apps that come without complicated installation methods. So, here’s what ExpressVPN and NordVPN offer.
- ExpressVPN: After signing up for a new account, you are free to download any of ExpressVPN’s apps. This is done simply by logging into your account on the VPN’s website, picking your platforms, and downloading the required installation files. ExpressVPN doesn’t contain any bloatware, so it takes up very little space on your hard drive. You can install and start using the application in less than a few minutes on both desktop and mobile devices. ExpressVPN also has numerous helpful installation guides for all devices, including routers.
- NordVPN: Just like its direct competitor, NordVPN comes with a highly polished installation process as well. The setup file is quite small so you don’t need a fast Web connection, and you should be ready to connect to VPN servers in under a minute. Aside from desktop and mobile devices, NordVPN can be installed on compatible routers as well. Like ExpressVPN, this VPN also offers user-friendly step-by-step tutorials, great for first-time users.
Our next step in the ExpressVPN vs NordVPN debate takes us to their most important features. And yes, we’re talking about privacy-related features, so make sure to pay special attention to this segment.
|DNS Leak Protection||YES||YES|
|IPv6 Leak Protection||YES||YES|
|Unlimited Server Switches||YES||YES|
- ExpressVPN: The best thing we can say about ExpressVPN is that it just works. It is a rock-solid VPN, reliable, and nails the fundamentals. Aside from that, you’ll get to use a highly polished kill switch (available on Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and routers) as well as highly secure VPN protocols. On top of that, ExpressVPN also offers split-tunneling on Windows, macOS, Android, and routers. However, the best part is that even inexperienced users will easily get the hang of more advanced security features.
- NordVPN: NordVPN, on the other hand, is almost overflowing with features. The kill switch (available on Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS), double VPN, and Onion servers are just the start. There are special obfuscation servers, a paid option for dedicated IP servers, as well as a new protocol built around WireGuard (NordLynx). You’ll also find split tunneling on offer (even though it’s available only on Android).
Winner: Even though both ExpressVPN and NordVPN are hugely capable VPN services, we have to say that NordVPN is the winner of this round. You get a constant stream of new features and even ad-blocking is included.
Server Count & Infrastructure
If you’re after Web content unblocking, or if you’re concerned about your Web connection’s performance, having access to thousands of VPN servers should ease your mind. However, If ExpressVPN or NordVPN don’t meet your needs, take a look at our article about VPNs with the highest number of servers.
|Number of Servers||3,000+||5,500+|
|Number of Locations||160||N/A|
|Number of Countries||94||59|
|Specific Cities Selection||YES||NO|
- ExpressVPN: This provider manages a network of over 3,000 servers spread across 90+ countries. This is more than enough to meet your every need. Also, you get to test the speed of each server and pick the fastest one – even before you dive into connecting to VPN servers. Overall, this is the VPN you should pick if you’re after unblocking websites, as well as having the ability to change your IP address in an instant (and get a new IP from one of the 90+ countries on offer).
- NordVPN: Without any doubt, NordVPN is one of the most powerful VPN services in terms of its server network. It has more than 5,250 servers spread across the globe. However, that doesn’t necessarily translate to more variety. Compared to ExpressVPN, NordVPN only has servers in 50+ countries. Therefore, even though this VPN has more servers than its competitor, it actually gives you a much narrower range of options.
UI/UX Design & Ease of Use
Both ExpressVPN and NordVPN come with user-friendly interfaces, and they cater to almost every type of device under the sun. They both have invested a lot of time and effort into refining their UI and UX to make them as convenient as possible.
- ExpressVPN: Their app has a simple and elegant design. The main screen has a big, bold power button that will connect you to a ‘Smart Location.’ If you want to pick any server manually, there is a list of recommended locations to try, or the full list of ExpressVPN’s servers. There’s no immediate way to know what server to choose, but you can run a speed test (it takes about five minutes) on all the servers to determine the fastest options for you. And lastly, ExpressVPN brings a uniform design across all of its apps, which is always a welcome thing to see.
- NordVPN: This VPN greets you with a stylishly designed map of the world and a ‘Quick Connect’ option that automatically connects you to a recommended server. We absolutely love how NordVPN organizes its servers into types and countries. You’ll also see the server load of each individual unit, which helps you make a perfect choice. However, NordVPN can also be a bit overwhelming for first-time users, as it takes a bit of effort to understand technical terms and icons found throughout NordVPN’s applications.
Winner: Both of these VPNs are exceptionally user-friendly and they come with modern, uniform interfaces. However, ExpressVPN digs beneath the surface to provide a richer experience overall. In our opinion, this VPN comes out on top.
Media Streaming & Torrenting Support
Aside from protecting your privacy, VPNs also help you unblock media streaming services. On top of that, they let you download torrents anonymously. So, here’s how ExpressVPN and NordVPN fulfill those roles.
|Amazon Prime Video||YES||YES|
|Torrenting (P2P) Support||YES||YES|
- ExpressVPN: We strongly believe there’s no better VPN for streaming than ExpressVPN. It unblocks pretty much any website out there, including Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, and plenty more. Also, this VPN supports torrenting via all of its servers. This is a big advantage over other VPNs, which usually bring a smaller selection of P2P-optimized servers.
- NordVPN: NordVPN can unblock the most popular media streaming websites. However, you’ll often find yourself trying out dozens of servers, hoping to find one that brings a smooth streaming experience. And also, NordVPN supports torrents – but only via P2P-optimized servers. In the end, it can bring the same experience as ExpressVPN but it will take more effort and time to truly get the most out of NordVPN.
Winner: It’s clear that ExpressVPN wins this round. It’s the most capable VPN service for media streaming and downloading torrents – and not just when compared to NordVPN.
Security & Privacy
Besides unblocking content, privacy and security are the second reason why people use VPNs. Well, we’re happy to say that your data is safe with both ExpressVPN and NordVPN, as you’ll soon find out.
Speed & Performance
Security and privacy are great but not when they come at the cost of speed. If you’re going to connect to servers on the other side of the world, you will eventually experience slowdowns, but a great VPN will minimize it. To check out other options, here’s our overview of the fastest VPN providers.
- ExpressVPN: On average, this VPN slowed us down by 44.7%. What’s important to mention is that we haven’t experienced noticeable fluctuations in performance. In other words, no matter if you connect to nearby or remote servers, ExpressVPN works well (which usually isn’t the case with today’s VPNs). We also need to praise ExpressVPN’s performance in terms of long-distance connections, as we managed to stream in up to 4K using a US-based streaming platform (even though we’re far away from that country).
- NordVPN: During the last year or so, NordVPN has been doing plenty to improve its performance. Today, we can say that NordVPN is one of the fastest VPNs around, suitable even for the most demanding online tasks (it slowed us down by 39.9%, on average). No matter if you want to stream in 4K or download large P2P files, NordVPN will meet your needs. And just like its competitor, this VPN is now managing to bring equally fast and reliable short- and long-distance VPN connections.
Winner: NordVPN takes the lead here – as it comes out slightly faster than ExpressVPN. This is one of the fastest VPN services on the market, offering great performance even with OpenVPN (a really resource-intensive protocol).
We were very impressed by the levels of support these VPNs offer. Whichever one you pick, you’ll get the help you need, in a timely manner.
- ExpressVPN: ExpressVPN was lightning-fast in responding via live chat (available 24/7). Over email, they took a bit longer (three hours). Still, you may not even need to talk to anyone because their website contains plenty of tutorials and guides to help you find the solution you need. Trust us that you won’t find yourself lost at any moment, no matter what questions you have or technical issues you might experience.
- NordVPN: As good as ExpressVPN’s live chat was, we were even more impressed with NordVPN’s 24/7 support. Their reps were just as fast, and we didn’t feel like they were reading from a script. It’s also pretty cool that you can offer your email in advance while using live chat, so you don’t need to do it mid-conversation. Overall, NordVPN offers incredibly helpful customer support.
Winner: Both VPN services provide top-level customer support, and your questions will be answered in a timely manner. ExpressVPN connects you faster through live chat, but NordVPN’s agents are pretty helpful too. It’s basically a tie, but we liked ExpressVPN more because they responded faster via email.
ExpressVPN and NordVPN are considered two of the most expensive VPNs on the market by most people. However, having spent a lot of time with them, we can confidently say they’re worth every penny.
- ExpressVPN: At the moment, the most affordable ExpressVPN plan is the one-year subscription ($99.95/year or $6.67/month). With their current offer, you also get three 3 months for free. Their plan comes with a nice 30-day no-questions-asked refund that doesn’t impose any bandwidth limits.
- NordVPN: This VPN also offers a one-year subscription, priced at $59.00. However, that’s the price for the first year only (you’ll need to pay $79.00 later on). If you want to go for the long term, then choose a 2-year plan which comes with 3 extra free months. Like ExpressVPN, they also offer a 30-day money-back guarantee. And yes, it’s also a no-questions-asked policy, but they will try to troubleshoot the issues you’re experiencing before offering the refund.
Winner: At the moment, NordVPN comes at a cheaper price on it’s 2-year plan + get 3 extra free months. However, If you take a look at the value these two VPNs bring, ExpressVPN comes out as the winner in this category (especially if you decide to purchase the one-year subscription, which gets you 3 extra free months).
ExpressVPN vs NordVPN – The Final Verdict! Which One Should You Pick?
ExpressVPN and NordVPN are, in our opinion, the best of the best. You can’t go wrong with whichever choice you make, but there can be only one winner. And for us, that’s ExpressVPN.
ExpressVPN has the looks of a champion and delivers the privacy and security that you’d want from a quality VPN service. It’s just as easy to use as NordVPN (newbie-friendly) but also offers deeper functionality for those who want a bit more control over their connection.
And even though NordVPN is more affordable, it doesn’t really offer the same level of service or functionality as ExpressVPN (especially if we take their backgrounds and reputation into consideration). So, go ahead and sign up for ExpressVPN today. You won’t regret it!
With that said, you’ve reached the end of our ExpressVPN vs NordVPN comparison. In case of any questions of doubts, make sure to post your comment below. Thanks for reading!