ExpressVPN vs. NordVPN - Comparing Our Top 2 VPN Providers

Martin Gschwentner

Do you ever connect to public WLAN or WiFi networks? Stream on platforms like Netflix or Amazon Prime Video, but find yourself unable to watch content from abroad? Or maybe you're tired of websites and Internet services providers (ISPs) constantly collecting data about you, bombarding you with ads, and following your activities? Whether for greater security, convenience, or anonymity, VPNs are important for anyone who enters so much as their name on a computer or device. The only question is, which provider is best?

In EXPERTE.com's comprehensive and exhaustive evaluation, we assessed 22 of the most well-known providers, with NordVPN and ExpressVPN emerging at the top of our list. In each of the areas we measured, both performed exceptionally, surpassing all other contenders, but how do they stack up against each other?

ExpressVPN vs. NordVPN

NordVPN Test
NordVPN
(721,405)
5400+ servers, 60 countries
Excellent performance
No logs
6 devices simultaneously
Inexpensive 2-year package
Data volume
unlimited
Devices
6
Protocols
5
Contract Period
1 - 24 months
NordVPN 2-year plan
$3.30
monthly price
Visit Website »
30 days money-back guarantee
Best Overall
4.7 / 5
excellent
ExpressVPN Test
ExpressVPN
(401,888)
3000+ Server
160 cities in 94 countries
Excellent performance
Saves no logs
30-day money-back guarantee
Data volume
unlimited
Devices
3
Protocols
7
Contract Period
1 - 12 months
ExpressVPN 12 Months
$8.33
monthly price
Visit Website »
30 days money-back guarantee
Review Score
4.7 / 5
excellent
1.

Installation & Features

Our comparison begins with a tie: Both ExpressVPN and NordVPN share the points for their user-friendly and feature-laden apps. We couldn't choose between ExpressVPN's no-nonsense approach and NordVPN's world map, which visualizes server locations both on the desktop and smartphone.

The world map in NordVPN's desktop client is dynamic, allowing users to zoom in and scroll around at will.

In terms of functionality, both apps include a kill switch, as well as most of the features we expect from a VPN, such as split tunneling. This makes it possible to select which apps use the VPN tunnel you've created, coming in handy when downloading since it will allow you to stream video content from Germany while downloading a file from Los Angeles with both occurring at normal speeds.

Despite receiving equal points, there are some differences between the two: ExpressVPN offers up a better browser extension, which not only creates a proxy connection but also serves as a sort of remote control for the main desktop client, making high-quality VPN connections possible.

NordVPN compensates for this with its "Specialty Servers", which are optimized for certain activity or purposes: P2P servers are designed for peer-to-peer platforms like BitTorrent, whereas "Onion Over VPN" establishes a connection to the Tor network for enhanced anonymity.

Depending upon how important (or unimportant) either feature is for you, as well as which user interface is more to your liking, you might favor one service over the other. In our eyes at least, we can't pick a clear winner.

Winner: Draw

2.

Server Network

Unlike the first category, we do have concrete figures for each provider in this second area: As of May 2021, NordVPN offers more than 5,400 servers in 59 countries, whereby ExpressVPN provides access to more than 3,000 servers spread across 160 locations in 94 countries. NordVPN has more server power, but ExpressVPN's global presence is more pronounced. Thanks to its facilities in Africa (Kenya, South Africa, Algeria, and Egypt), ExpressVPN stands out from the North American/European-dominated server portfolios of its competitors.

In terms of server network, we also can't decide between NordVPN or ExpressVPN.

Again, both providers are miles ahead of their competitors, but neck and neck with one another. Similar to the first category, you might prefer one over the other, depending upon your needs. Should server power be of the utmost importance, then NordVPN will be your best bet, however, if the geographical spread of servers is more critical, then ExpressVPN.

Winner: Draw

3.

Performance

For day-to-day usage, NordVPN and ExpressVPN performed excellently, offering reliable, stable, and fast connections over which we could view foreign content on four streaming platforms (Netflix, Amazon Prime VIdeo, Disney+, and the BBC's iPlayer). In addition, we could establish connections from China with both services.

Even though they might have performed just as well as one another for regular usage, we also measured the average speeds of each over an extended period of time. To do this, we used a server in Europe with a 1 GB/s connection, randomly connecting to NordVPN and ExpressVPN servers in the US and Germany at different times of the day.

Both providers received perfect scores, however, with slightly higher download speeds (and a nearly equal upload speed) NordVPN edged out ExpressVPN.

Winner: NordVPN

4.

Security and Privacy

Which provider is more secure? To measure this, we used a few different criteria. First of all, we looked at where each provider is headquartered and registered, owing to the impact this has upon their legal culpability and ultimately, privacy policies. Laws in some countries mandate that Internet providers save certain data or store logs of their users and maintain them for a specific period of time. Since ExpressVPN is based in the British Virgin Islands, and NordVPN is headquartered in Panama, both score equally well since their host countries are known for their protection of privacy and non-compliance with requests for such data by foreign authorities.

The second criterion is the variety of VPN protocols on offer: NordVPN uses NordLynx, a protocol based on WireGuard, however, it is possible to switch to OpenVPN. ExpressVPN offers OpenVPN, IKEv2, and L2TP/IPsec, alongside its proprietary Lightway protocol. Both providers utilize the global standard for encryption, AES 256.

Similarly, both providers passed our VPN leak tests (DNS, WebRTC, and IPv6) with flying colors.

We didn't identify any leaks when using either ExpressVPN or NordVPN.

Both providers promise not to save any logs or protocol their users' activity, regularly submitting to (and passing) independent security audits. This means that we don't have to take their word(s) for it and can actually trust in their "No-Logs" guarantees.

In terms of security and privacy, we award a point to both.

Winner: Draw

5.

Customer Support

Both providers offer extensive help sections loaded with FAQs as well as guides for features and known issues. NordVPN and ExpressVPN offer direct support via live chat and email, whereas ExpressVPN's app includes an integrated contact form. This makes it convenient to pose questions when they surface, with support staffers sending answers directly to the email account you provide them with.

In terms of response times, we waited slightly longer to receive an answer from ExpressVPN, with NordVPN replying within 12 hours compared to ExpressVPN's 20. When testing the respective live chats of either service, we were connected to staffers in a matter of seconds.

Both providers offer excellent and neatly organized support centers.

Once again, there's almost nothing separating the two providers, however, with a faster response time, the point goes to NordVPN.

Winner: NordVPN

6.

Pricing

Monthly subscribers will pay a pretty penny for either ExpressVPN or NordVPN, however, even here, the latter is a bit more affordable. This difference becomes unmistakable the longer you sign on for: A 2-year contract with NordVPN costs less than half as much (per month) as ExpressVPN's cheapest package (12 months). In other words, NordVPN offers more than twice as much bang for your buck, making it a clear winner, at least for those interested in inking long-term subscriptions.

Winner: NordVPN

A detailed price list for both providers can be found here:

ExpressVPN Prices

12 Months6 Months1 Month
Pricing
Set-up fee $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Base price per month $8.33 $9.99 $12.95
Contract period (months) 12 6 1
Limits
Data volume unlimited unlimited unlimited
Number of Devices 3 3 3
Features
Number of servers 3,000 3,000 3,000
Number of countries 94 94 94
No server logs
P2P allowed
Tor access
Kill Switch
Protocols
OpenVPN
PPTP
SSTP
IKEv2
IPSec
L2TP
Eigenentwicklung
OpenVPN
PPTP
SSTP
IKEv2
IPSec
L2TP
Eigenentwicklung
OpenVPN
PPTP
SSTP
IKEv2
IPSec
L2TP
Eigenentwicklung

NordVPN Prices

2-year plan1 year plan1-month plan
Pricing
Set-up fee $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Base price per month $3.71 $4.92 $11.95
Contract period (months) 24 12 1
Limits
Data volume unlimited unlimited unlimited
Number of Devices 6 6 6
Features
Number of servers 3,400 3,400 3,400
Number of countries 60 60 60
No server logs
P2P allowed
Tor access
Kill Switch
Protocols
OpenVPN
WireGuard
SSTP
SOCKS5
IKEv2
OpenVPN
WireGuard
SSTP
SOCKS5
IKEv2
OpenVPN
WireGuard
SSTP
SOCKS5
IKEv2
7.

Customer Reviews

Should review aggregators be important when making purchase decisions, we're happy to note that both providers enjoy good reputations: NordVPN and ExpressVPN are seen as user-friendly offering high-quality applications and plenty of flexibility. Nevertheless, there are some who complain about their experiences with the support offered by either service or other problems.

Overall, both providers had equally high customer ratings as of the time of writing (May 2021).

Winner: Draw

ExpressVPN Customer Ratings

Customer Rating
4.4 / 5
401,888 Ratings
good
We analyzed the reviews and ratings from various portals and found 401,888 ratings with an overall rating of 4.4 out of 5 .
Show sources

NordVPN Customer Ratings

Customer Rating
4.4 / 5
721,405 Ratings
good
We analyzed the reviews and ratings from various portals and found 721,405 ratings with an overall rating of 4.4 out of 5 .
Show sources

Conclusion

In our head-to-head battle between NordVPN and ExpressVPN, the former took three rounds, with the remaining four draws. NordVPN might have edged out ExpressVPN in terms of performance and support, but just by a hair.

With that said, NordVPN did excel in one category that might be the most important for a majority of customers, namely, price. For less than the cost of 12 months with ExpressVPN, you can have 24 months of NordVPN. If paying monthly, both services are priced fairly equally.

Thanks to its better price-performance ratio, NordVPN, our overall winner, also triumphs over ExpressVPN in direct contest.

Of course, this doesn't mean that NordVPN is the best service for you or perfect for your needs. With that in mind, we encourage you to check out our complete reviews of both services as well as 20 other services in our comprehensive VPN evaluation.

Best Overall 2021
NordVPN Test
NordVPN
(721,405)
5400+ servers, 60 countries
Excellent performance
No logs
6 devices simultaneously
Inexpensive 2-year package
NordVPN combines speed, user-friendliness and functionality into a coherent overall package that is also fairly affordable.
Data volume
unlimited
Devices
6
Protocols
5
Contract Period
1 - 24 months
+3 months
Summer Deal
NordVPN 2-year plan
$3.30
monthly price
Visit Website »
30 days money-back guarantee
Best Overall
4.7 / 5
excellent
ExpressVPN Test
ExpressVPN
(401,888)
3000+ Server
160 cities in 94 countries
Excellent performance
Saves no logs
30-day money-back guarantee
ExpressVPN impresses with strong performance, a huge server network and excellently designed applications, but this quality also comes at a higher price.
Data volume
unlimited
Devices
3
Protocols
7
Contract Period
1 - 12 months
ExpressVPN 12 Months
$8.33
monthly price
Visit Website »
30 days money-back guarantee
Review Score
4.7 / 5
excellent
Author (German Version): Martin Gschwentner
Martin Gschwentner majored in American Studies and Media Studies in Germany, the USA and France and works as a freelance editor in Paris. He is a doctoral student at the Institute for English and American Studies at the University of Paris Diderot, where he is researching the influence of money on US politics. On EXPERTE.com he writes about IT security, data protection and software for the self-employed and small businesses.
Translator & Editor: D Bare
Other languages:
Deutsch Italiano 
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