ExpressVPN vs. NordVPN - Comparing Our Top 2 VPN Providers

Do you sometimes use public WiFi? Like to stream videos on Netflix or Amazon? Or maybe you don't want websites and Internet Services Providers (ISPs) to constantly collect data about you, bombarding you with ads or perhaps even following what you do online? Whether for greater security, anonymity, or convenience, 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 17 of the biggest and most well-known providers, with ExpressVPN and NordVPN emerging as our Top 2. In each of the areas we measured, both performed exceptionally, surpassing all other contenders. But how do they stack up against each other? We'll tell you below!

ExpressVPN vs. NordVPN

ExpressVPN
(179,370)
Fastest VPN in our test
3000+ Server
160 cities in 94 countries
Saves no logs
30-day money-back guarantee
Devices
3
Datenvolumen
unlimited
Protocols
6
Contract Period
1 - 12 months
ExpressVPN 12 Months
$8.33
monthly price
Visit Website
Best Overall
4.8 / 5
excellent
NordVPN
(318,174)
5000+ servers worldwide
60 countries
No logs
6 devices simultaneously
Inexpensive 2-year package
Devices
6
Datenvolumen
unlimited
Protocols
5
Contract Period
1 - 24 months
NordVPN 2-year plan
$3.71
monthly price
Visit Website
Review Score
4.7 / 5
excellent
1.

Installation & Features

Our comparison begins with a tie: Both ExpressVPN and NordVPN receive equal scores for their user-friendly and feature-loaded apps. We couldn't choose between ExpressVPN's straight-to-the-point approach and NordVPN's world map, which visualizes server locations on a digital globe both on the desktop and smartphone.

In terms of functions, both apps have a kill switch, as well as most of the features we looked for. One difference is that ExpressVPN supports split tunneling, whereas on NordVPN's desktop version, this feature is absent. Split tunneling allows you to choose which apps use the VPN tunnel you've created, and which rely on your regular Internet connection. This is important when downloading on a VPN, since it will prevent your regular surfing activity from being adversely impacted.

However, NordVPN compensates for this with its "Specialty Servers", which are customized 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 even more anonymity.

How important split tunneling or other features are for you, as well as which user interface is more to your liking will largely shape which of the two providers is more appealing. However, we're certain you'll be happy with either, so we give each a point.

Winner: Draw

2.

Server Network

Unlike the first category, we do have concrete figures for each provider in this second area: As of September 2020, NordVPN offers more than 5,500 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, however, ExpressVPN is better spread across the globe, with its facilities in Africa (Kenya, South Africa, Algeria, and Egypt) helping it to stand out in the North American/European-dominated server portfolios of most providers.

Again, both providers are miles ahead of their competitors, but neck and neck with one another. Similarly to the first category, which provider is better depends largely on 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 essential, ExpressVPN.

Winner: Draw

3.

Performance

We were also able to measure the performance of both providers numerically using a server in Europe with a 1 GB/s connection. To do this, we tested random servers from ExpressVPN and NordVPN at different times of the day to more accurately evaluate their speeds.

Both providers received perfect scores, however, with slightly better download speeds (and equal upload speeds) ExpressVPN just edged out NordVPN .

Winner: ExpressVPN

4.

Security and Privacy

Which VPN is more secure? To measure this, we used a few different criteria. First of all, we looked at where the provider is headquartered and registered, which shapes their legal culpability and ultimately, their privacy policies. Laws in some countries necessitate that Internet providers save certain data or 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 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 selection of VPN protocol: Both providers utilize OpenVPN by default, which offers good performance and high security. Similarly, both have adopted AES-256, the world standard for encryption. NordVPN's "No Logs" promise is somewhat more explicit than that of ExpressVPN, whereby, in practice, there's most likely little difference in either's behavior: Neither provider seems to save activity logs or IP addresses.

Both providers breezed past our VPN leak tests (DNS, WebRTC, and IPv6). In terms of security and privacy, we give a point to both.

Winner: Draw

5.

Customer Support

Both providers offer extensive help sections loaded with FAQs as well as guides about features and known problems, with the only difference being that NordVPN's help center is limited to English.

Importantly, ExpressVPN and NordVPN have live chats, and for less-pressing matters, the ability to email customer support. ExpressVPN also offers a very nifty contact form within the desktop app, which allows you to directly ask questions when and where they appear, with support team members replying to an email address of your choice.

For security reasons, the smartphone version of the app does not allow screenshots

For our live chat queries, we were connected to the support teams of both providers within seconds. Our in-app question was answered by ExpressVPN within 20 hours, while our email to NordVPN was replied to in 12. Even though NordVPN was a bit faster in responding, ExpressVPN's non-English support areas and somewhat easier contact possibilities (in-app) impressed us more.

Winner: ExpressVPN

6.

Price Point

Both ExpressVPN and NordVPN offer premium products, and as such, are relatively expensive compared to the rest of the providers we evaluated. In terms of a month-by-month, or even half-year subscription, the two basically cost the same, although NordVPN is slightly less expensive. For longer contracts, however, the difference between the two becomes readily apparent: 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
Price
Set-up fee $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
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 Logs
P2P allowed
Tor Access
Kill Switch
Protocols
OpenVPN
PPTP
SSTP
IKEv2
IPSec
L2TP
OpenVPN
PPTP
SSTP
IKEv2
IPSec
L2TP
OpenVPN
PPTP
SSTP
IKEv2
IPSec
L2TP

NordVPN Prices

2-year plan6-month plan1-month plan
Price
Set-up fee $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Price per month $3.71 $9.00 $11.95
Contract period (months) 24 6 1
Limits
Data volume unlimited unlimited unlimited
Number of devices 6 6 6
Features
Number of servers 3,000 3,000 3,000
Number of countries 60 60 60
No 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 Ratings

NordVPN is also more popular with its customers than ExpressVPN. Make no mistake, both providers have excellent reputations and are widely viewed as user-friendly. Nevertheless, there are some who doubt NordVPN's "No Logs" commitment, or feel poorly treated by ExpressVPN's customer support. ExpressVPN's pricing is also a subject of criticism.

Winner: NordVPN

ExpressVPN Customer Ratings

Customer Rating
3.9 / 5
179,370 Ratings
good
We analyzed the reviews and ratings from various portals and found 179,370 ratings with an overall rating of 3.9 out of 5 .
Show sources

NordVPN Customer Ratings

Customer Rating
4.3 / 5
318,174 Ratings
good
We analyzed the reviews and ratings from various portals and found 318,174 ratings with an overall rating of 4.3 out of 5 .
Show sources

Conclusion

In our head-to-head between NordVPN and ExpressVPN, each won 2 rounds, with the other 3 rounds being draws. In terms of performance and customer support, ExpressVPN came out ahead, however, in terms of price and customer ratings, our #1, NordVPN, carried the day.

For both areas that ExpressVPN won, NordVPN gave a good accounting of itself. Compounding this, NordVPN easily claimed what might be the most important facet for a majority of customers, namely, price. For less than the cost of 12 months with ExpressVPN, you can have 24 months with NordVPN.

Our duel ends in a draw. Which provider is "better" largely depends on your needs and requirements: ExpressVPN offers enhanced performance, however, you'll pay less for basically the same from NordVPN.

You can read our complete reviews for ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and 15 other VPN providers here.

Best Overall 2020
ExpressVPN
(179,370)
Fastest VPN in our test
3000+ Server
160 cities in 94 countries
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.
Devices
3
Datenvolumen
unlimited
Protocols
6
Contract Period
1 - 12 months
+3 months
Black Friday Deal
ExpressVPN 12 Months
$8.33
monthly price
Visit Website
Best Overall
4.8 / 5
excellent
Best Value for Money
NordVPN
(318,174)
5000+ servers worldwide
60 countries
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.
Devices
6
Datenvolumen
unlimited
Protocols
5
Contract Period
1 - 24 months
+3 months
Black Friday Deal
NordVPN 2-year plan
$3.71
monthly price
Visit Website
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.
English Translator & Editor: D Bare
Other languages:
Deutsch