NordVPN and ExpressVPN are two of the most widely-acclaimed VPNs in the industry. Both of these providers are exceptional in quality which is why they are a part of our best VPN list.
But now we are challenged with a tough question: which VPN is better for multiple use cases, either ExpressVPN or NordVPN? To find the answer, we are going to perform a comparison between these VPNs with due diligence to pick a winner for the NordVPN vs. ExpressVPN 2021 battle.
At first, both VPNs seem identical in their strengths. Upon deeper evaluation, one VPN trumps the other in several areas, as you’ll find as you read along with this post. However, covering every detail is not possible for either of these VPNs. To get complete information, see the ExpressVPN review and the NordVPN review.
Setting Up a Fight: ExpressVPN vs. NordVPN
To provide you with a detailed comparison of NordVPN vs. ExpressVPN, we have tested these services on certain criteria. The comparison between ExpressVPN and NordVPN is divided into 10 different categories.
A Quick Comparison of NordVPN vs. ExpressVPN
This is a summary view of both VPNs in terms of their main features:
|Jurisdiction||Panama||The British Virgin Islands|
|Logging Policy||No logs||No logs|
|Speed||24.91 Mbps||27.17 Mbps|
|Server Network||5,500+ servers|
|Customer Support||Live Chat||Live Chat|
Unblocking Strength: NordVPN vs. ExpressVPN
|Netflix||US, UK, Australia, Canada,|
|US, UK, Canada, Germany, France, Japan, and more|
|Hulu||US, Japan||US, Japan|
|Amazon Prime Video||US, UK||Yes|
Unblocking streaming platforms is a difficult task for any VPN today. This is because of the strict blocking technologies that services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and other use.
The good news is that both ExpressVPN and NordVPN are efficient at unblocking multiple popular platforms.
For instance, ExpressVPN works exceptionally well for Netflix and unblocks more Netflix libraries and regions as compared to NordVPN. While NordVPN works great for the US library and others, as mentioned in the table, it doesn’t work for many other regions that ExpressVPN is good for. As we also noted in our ExpressVPN vs VyprVPN comparison.
Both providers are also impressively reliable for BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and other streaming services.
ExpressVPN supports a wider range of Netflix libraries as compared to NordVPN. Therefore, you’re more likely to be successful in satisfying your streaming cravings with ExpressVPN, though NordVPN is a very good option itself if you’re only looking for certain popular Netflix libraries such as the US, UK, and Canada.
Torrenting: NordVPN vs ExpressVPN
One of the applications of a VPN is to hide in order to safely download torrents. Most people use a VPN to download torrents. Directly performing p2p-activities without taking any privacy measures is a risky business. This is why it is important to mask your identity with a VPN.
If you are caught torrenting music, apps, or movies in the US or UK, you will receive a warning letter from your ISP. Most ISPs also terminate the contract of users that constantly use torrents to illegally download copyright content. While we do not support piracy, but with a VPN you can use P2P for filesharing.
Moreover, since both providers are equipped with robust security (as you will learn below), they can both be relied on for torrenting purposes.
Winner: It’s a Tie
Both ExpressVPN and NordVPN are perfectly capable of unblocking torrents and providing you the security you need to perform p2p activities safely, away from the view of law enforcement. Therefore, both NordVPN and ExpressVPN are the best VPN services for torrenting.
Pricing: NordVPN vs ExpressVPN
|Regular Plans||1-month: $11.95/mo|
12-month: $6.99/mo – 41% off
24- month: $3.71/mo – 68% off
12 + 3 months extra: $6.67/mo – 49% off
|Cheapest Plan||68% off on a 24-month subscription||49% off on 12 + 3 months subscription|
|Special Offers||3 months free on a 3-year plan||No Special Offers|
|Payment methods||Credit cards, PayPal & Bitcoin||Credit cards, PayPal, Alipay, Bitcoin|
Most of the big fish in the VPN industry follow a similar pricing structure: expensive monthly subscriptions and discounted annual plans.
This is also true of NordVPN and ExpressVPN. NordVPN’s subscription periods start from 1 month to 3 years. On the other hand, ExpressVPN offers 1-month, 6-month, and 15-month plans.
NordVPN is slightly cheaper than ExpressVPN. The most expensive plan from Nord is the 1-month subscription which costs $11.95/month. ExpressVPN’s most expensive plan is also the 1-month subscription costing $12.95/month. Despite high ExpressVPN costs, you cannot overlook the fact that it does offer some of the best features in the VPN industry.
With both VPNs, you get a 30-day money-back guarantee. So, if you are skeptical about either of these, you can sign up for a subscription and cancel ExpressVPN or cancel NordVPN to get your refund. Both ExpressVPN and NordVPNs refund policies are user-centric and excellent. Check here to get the 30-day free trial hack for ExpressVPN.
Winner in Pricing: NordVPN
Related Reading: Cheapest VPN Service Guide for 2021
Security and Encryption: ExpressVPN vs. NordVPN
The privacy and security features are exceptionally strong in NordVPN as well as ExpressVPN. From encryption to tunneling protocols and logging policies, these VPNs have it all covered.
|Protocols Supported||OpenVPN, IKEv2||PPTP, L2TP/IPSec, SSTP and OpenVPN UDP / TCP|
|App Security||Kill switch||Kill switch|
For encryption, ExpressVPN has a slight upper-hand over NordVPN. Although both providers use AES-256 encryption for the data channel, ExpessVPN uses RSA-4096 on the control channel, which has longer keys as compared to NordVPN’s RSA-2048 keys.
The tunneling protocols offered by ExpressVPN include OpenVPN, L2TP, SSTP, and PPTP, whereas NordVPN only offers OpenVPN and IKEv2.
NordVPN implements the OpenVPN protocol on Windows, Android, and Mac apps. IKEv2 is only available for its iPhone/iPad apps.
Both ExpressVPN and NordVPN support various VPN protocols. You can manually choose a protocol you like, or you can choose the option where ExpressVPN automatically sets a protocol that is best for you. ExpressVPN offers the following VPN protocols:
- L2TP/ IPsec
- OpenVPN (TCP & UDP)
NordVPN also offers various VPN protocols that offer different speeds, security, and privacy features. Here are some of the protocols offered by NordVPN:
- OpenVPN (TCP & UDP)
Both ExpressVPN and NordVPN offer the best server security in the industry. Here are some of the noteworthy features of both VPNs server network:
ExpressVPNs Server Security
- All servers run on RAM-disk mode that offers high security as no server physically stores any data.
- Rents servers from third parties and does not have colocated servers (self-owned servers)
- Uses some virtual locations.
NordVPNs Server Security
- Just like ExpressVPN, all NordVPN servers are running on RAM-disk mode.
- All servers in the network are colocated servers (self-owned), meaning there are no third-party rented servers like ExpressVPN.
- All of its servers are running on physical hardware (no virtual servers).
Both ExpressVPN and NordVPN offer IPv6, DNS, and WebRTC leak protection. Both the VPNs performed excellently and passed all the leak tests. Therefore, you can expect foolproof privacy with both ExpressVPN and NordVPN. Here are the leak protection test results of both the VPNs:
ExpressVPN Leak Protection Test Results
I connected the test by connecting to ExpressVPNs US server, and there was no IPv6 leak, as shown in the image below:
For DNS leak testing, I ran tests on dnsleaktest.com, and the results were amazing. After connecting to ExpressVPNs US server, my DNS address was changed to a DNS address from the United States, proving no DNS leak.
Similarly, ExpresVPN also passed the WebRTC leak test. After connecting to ExpressVPNs US server, results showed US IP address.
NordVPN Leak Protection Test Results
Just like ExpressVPN, NordVPN doesn’t leak IP, DNS, or WebRTC. NordVPN passed all the tests without any issues. After connecting to its US server, the IP leak test showed no data leaks.
Similarly, NordVPN also passed DNS leak tests without any issues. It showed no signs of DNS leaks after connecting to its US server, as you can also see in NordVPN vs Surfshark comparison.
Finally, it also passed the WebRTC leak tests. My default IP address was nowhere to be seen, as shown in the screenshot below.
|Headquarter||Panama (safe)||British Virgin Islands (safe)|
Their privacy statement is highly reassuring because it is hard to come across service providers that actually take the step of minimizing data logging of users.
Coupled with the fact that ExpressVPN is located in the BVI, these are good reasons to trust the provider to keep your privacy intact.
The jurisdiction that a VPN is based on often determines their logging policies and whether the VPN companies are under any legal obligation to share customer information with agencies or governments.
The good news is that NordVPN is based in one of the most privacy-friendly countries: Panama. There are no mandatory data retention laws in the country, which is why they don’t log any information other than what is needed to deliver services to each user.
The same can be said of ExpressVPN, which is located in the British Virgin Islands. The country is far from the reach of Five Eyes, a network of intelligence-sharing countries. The laws in the British Virgin Islands are protective of individual privacy and place no retention requirements on service providers.
Jurisdiction is very important when you are deciding on a VPN for yourself. You don’t want to purchase a VPN provider like PIA, which is operating from the US, and risk your online privacy and data. Even though PIA is a competitive VPN provider on many levels with ExpressVPN, due to its jurisdiction, it is not a favorite. Check out how it performs against top-tier VPN in ExpressVPN and PIA comparison.
NordVPN offers a wealth of features and is one of the best in the business when it comes to value-added features.
It is equipped with CyberSec (ad/website blocker), DoubleVPN (multi-hopping), and Onion over VPN. These features can boost your online privacy significantly when browsing the web.
The NordVPN kill switch works on two different modes. You can either enable it to cut off the internet at the system level, or you can select specific apps that should be cut off from the connection in case your VPN service drops temporarily.
ExpressVPN offers a kill switch that cuts of your internet connection entirely if the VPN connection goes down. However, it lacks some of the features available in NordVPN, such as ad-blocker and DoubleVPN.
Though you get a split-tunneling feature with ExpressVPN, which allows you to select apps that should use the VPN connection and apps which should connect to the internet directly.
NordVPN has a much larger set of privacy-boosting features as compared to ExpressVPN. Though ExpressVPN great features in the form of split-tunneling and kill switch, NordVPN offers a lot more than that in the form of CyberSec, DoubleVPN, and Onion over VPN.
Server Network: ExpressVPN vs. NordVPN
The server network is something that VPN providers excel in.
NordVPN has 5,500+ servers in over 59 countries. On the other hand, ExpressVPN has 3,000+ servers in 94 countries.
NordVPN only offers its services in 55+ countries but has more server locations than ExpressVPN overall. Nonetheless, ExpressVPN covers 94 countries which are quite remarkable.
NordVPN vs ExpressVPN: Server Country Checklist
You can use the following table to see server locations offered by both providers:
|Bosnia & Herzegovina||Yes||Yes|
|British Virgin Islands||No||No|
|Isle of Man||No||Yes|
|Papua New Guinea||No||No|
|Trinidad and Tobago||Yes||No|
|Turks and Caicos Island||No||No|
|United Arab Emirates||Yes||No|
Winner: It’s a tie
There is no definite winner here. ExpressVPN has a larger coverage in terms of countries, whereas NordVPN possesses a bigger overall count. Both VPNs have a strong server network, better than most other providers out there.
NordVPN vs. ExpressVPN Speed Test
|US: 25.4 Mbps||US: 26.62 Mbps|
|UK: 25.9 Mbps||UK: 26.43 Mbps|
|Germany: 24.29 Mbps||Germany: 28.97 Mbps|
|Australia: 24.81 Mbps||Australia: 26.40 Mbps|
|Avg. Download: 24.91 Mbps||Avg. Download: 27.17 Mbps|
Download speed is an important factor to consider when evaluating the performance of a VPN. No matter how good you a VPN is otherwise, it won’t do you any good if it’s too slow to even load a page properly.
NordVPN is extremely consistent. From the US to Australia, it delivers fast speeds that almost reach the level of the base internet connection. However, ExpressVPN is even faster, but only slightly. It reached as high as 28.97 Mbps at its fastest. The average download speed of ExpressVPN was recorded at 27.17 Mbps, while that for NordVPN was 24.91 Mbps.
To test the speeds of both providers, a base internet connection of 30 Mbps and the tool speedtest.net were used. Check more details in our fastest VPN guide.
Server Speeds in the United States
ExpressVPN US server speed test results:
ExpressVPN gave a reasonable speed of 26.62Mbps on its US server, considering my internet speed of 30Mbps. Let’s check NordVPN now.
NordVPN US server speed:
Nord VPN gave a speed of 25.4Mbps on its US server, with very high pings (226 ms).
Long-Distance Speed Tests in the UK
We also ran long-distance speed tests with UK servers of both ExpressVPN and NordVPN. Here are the results:
ExpressVPN UK server speed:
ExpressVPN gave 26.43Mbps speed on its UK server, with surprisingly lower pings as compared to the US server.
NordVPN UK server speed:
NordVPN gave a decent speed of 25.9Mbps on its UK server with considerably lesser pings than its US server, but they were higher as compared to ExpressVPN.
Therefore, you can see that ExpressVPN offers not only high-speed servers but also lesser pings which makes it the best VPN for gaming with its higher performance.
ExpressVPNs slow OpenVPN speeds
When using the OpenVPN protocol, you should expect slower speeds. ExpressVPN gave significantly slower speeds as compared to without OpenVPN. Pings were also very high.
NordVPNs slow OpenVPN speeds
NordVPN is a great choice for users who want to use OpenVPN protocol as it offered faster speed as compared to ExpressVPNs OpenVPN speeds, even with double VPN encryption. NordVPN gives a great performance on both OpenVPN and WireGuard protocols as can be seen in the NordVPN vs TorGuard comparison.
NordVPN is also very fast, as we witness how good it can be in our NordVPN vs TunnelBear comparison. In that differentiation, NordVPN easily defeated one of the fastest VPN providers that are known prominently for their free subscriptions.
Having said that, this time ExpressVPN worked even faster, even if the difference is really small. Although you can’t go wrong with either provider if you want a fast performing VPN, we can’t argue with numbers. ExpressVPN wins this round by a small margin.
Compatibility: ExpressVPN vs NordVPN
VPNs need to offer good compatibility in order to serve users across all devices and platforms. Privacy needs protection no matter which device you are using. ExpressVPN and NordVPN offer dedicated apps and devices for a wide range of devices and operating systems. You can find dedicated apps for both providers for mobile devices as well as desktops.
While ExpressVPN supports 5 simultaneous connections and NordVPN supports 6 simultaneous connections, what if you can get a VPN that supports 7 simultaneous connections. Yes, 7 simultaneous connections for those users who are not looking for 5 or 6 simultaneous connections. We recently pitted CyberGhost against NordVPN in our NordVPN vs CyberGhost VPN comparison. You can learn more about CyberGhost VPN by comparing it with NordVPN.
Now let’s see how the two VPNs compare for specific OSs and devices:
NordVPN’s dedicated app supports Windows as far back as XP and Vista and obviously the newer versions up to 10. ExpressVPN’s dedicated VPN app supports Windows 7, 8, and 10. If you want to use the VPN on Windows XP, you will have to rely on manual setup through OpenVPN GUI.
For Mac, NordVPN and ExpressVPN both offer extensive support. The dedicated Mac apps of these VPNs are compatible with Mac OS as far as Yosemite 10.10 up to Mac Catalina 10.15. So even if you have an old Mac machine, you should have no difficulty running the apps of either of these powerful VPNs.
ExpressVPN is compatible with Android 5 all the way up to current Android 10. It also supports Android TV and Android-based tablets with its well-designed app. NordVPN also supports a wide range of Android OS versions, including Android TVs.
NordVPN has a slight edge over ExpressVPN as its apps work for iOS versions as far as 9.0. For ExpressVPN, however, you will need a device with iOS 10 at least. You can use the iOS apps of both VPNs for iPhone as well as iPad devices.
NordVPN has a common-line-based app for Linux users that works with the Debian distro. For other distros, you will need to manually install the VPN. ExpressVPN offers wider support for Linux users offering its command-line app that is compatible with Ubuntu, Debian, CentOS, Fedora, Aarch, and Raspbian (32-bit only).
Router support is available for both VPNs. You can get a router with a pre-configured ExpressVPN or NordVPN router installation, or you can also perform the manual setup yourself (but it is pretty tricky).
NordVPN also supports the following:
- Video game consoles and smart TVs
- Browser extension (Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari)
- FireStick TVs
ExpressVPN can also be used with:
- Browser extension (Chrome, Firefox)
- Smart TVs and video game consoles
- FireStick TVs
Compatibility is never a problem with either of these VPNs, but ExpressVPN goes the extra mile with excellent support for Linux users with its command-line-based interface. If you want to use a VPN on your common phone or desktop, both VPNs are equally matched.
But when it comes to extended support for some less popular platforms, ExpressVPN often gets the better of NordVPN. You can also check NordVPN vs. ExpressVPN reddit threads to get insight into the user experience on various devices.
App Usability and Interface: ExpressVPN vs. NordVPN
|One-click installation setup||Android, iOS, Windows, MacOS||Android, iOS, Windows, MacOS|
|Browser Extensions||App Dependent||App Dependent|
Both apps allow you to select your server instantly from the main screen, but the settings and other advanced features are tucked into separate tabs for better usability. It is a respectable design decision and makes the apps a highly well-organized appearance.
The Options tab of ExpressVPN can be used to change the VPN protocol, change kill switch settings, configure the split-tunneling feature, and tinker around with other preferences.
NordVPN doesn’t offer any options for changing the VPN protocol – which is OpenVPN by default for desktop and Android and IKEv2 for iPhones – but you can control its advanced features in settings.
This includes CyberSec and a kill switch. The DoubleVPN and Onion over VPN features are basically “specialty servers” that you can use from the server selection screen. Only a few servers are designed with the functionality for the above, but these can really make your online experience secure when enabled.
Both apps are highly user-friendly, and users of all levels – beginner to expert – will enjoy using these apps. The balance of usability and configuration level is nicely maintained in both apps.
Winner: It’s a tie
In both cases, the app interfaces are efficient, appealing, and professional-looking. The learning curve is small enough to get users rapidly familiar with these apps and find their way around it, whether they are looking for a specific server or control some setting. This is why this round is a tie.
NordVPN vs ExpressVPN Netflix Test
Both NordVPN and ExpressVPN work with Netflix and are excellent choices for accessing geo-blocked streaming sites from anywhere in the world. However, ExpressVPN has a larger server network with 30+ more server locations than NordVPN. Meaning, you can stream local content from any country, including various Netflix libraries from anywhere in the world.
ExpressVPN also offers fast-speed servers as compared to NordVPN, which is great for streaming without any lags or buffering. Therefore, it is one of the best VPNs for Netflix in 2021. Both NordVPN and ExpressVPN unblocked the Netflix US library without any issues. You can also use the NordVPNs dedicated IP address feature to access clocked content from anywhere in the world.
Netflix US testing with NordVPN
Netflix US testing with ExpressVPN
We also tested other country servers to access different Netflix libraries using NordVPN and ExpressVPN. ExpressVPN unblocked all Netflix libraries within seconds, NordVPN; on the other hand, it took some time. Here are the results:
|NordVPN Netflix Test||ExpressVPN Netflix Test|
|US Server: Unblocked||US-New Jersey Server: Unblocked|
|Spain Server: Unblocked||Spain Server: Unblocked|
|Canada Server: Unblocked||Canada Server: Unblocked|
|UK Server: Unblocked||UK Server: Unblocked|
|France Server: Unblocked||France Server: Unblocked|
|Japan Server: Unblocked||Japan Server: Unblocked|
|South Korean Server: Unblocked||South Korean Server: Unblocked|
|German Server: Unblocked||German Server: Unblocked|
|Sweden Server: Blocked||Sweden Server: Unblocked|
Both NordVPN and ExpressVPN unblocked most Netflix libraries from abroad, but ExpressVPN is the real winner. NordVPN failed to unblock Swedish Netflix, which ExpressVPN had no problem with unblocking. ExpressVPN also managed to serve excellent streaming speed as there were no buffering or lags.
Customer Support Test: NordVPN vs ExpressVPN
Efficient customer support is an important component that determines the quality of service for any company. The fact that NordVPN and ExpressVPN are widely considered to be the best in the VPN industry, we would expect nothing less than top-notch customer support.
Both ExpressVPNs and NordVPN’s customer support services are excellent.
Both providers are also extremely efficient in responding to your queries if you reach out through their live chat or email support. You can also check ExpressVPN vs. NordVPN Reddit threads and see that both providers offer amazing customer support.
We found ExpressVPN a little bit faster in responding to our answers through email as compared to NordVPN, though both providers are equally quick when answering through live chat support.
To test both VPN services, we decided to test them by asking a few questions.
NordVPN offered human response instead of automated responses through its Live Chat feature. The response time was also pretty good, coming at around 3 minutes 25 seconds.
Similarly, we tested ExpressVPN too, and I got my reply in a short time of just 2 minutes and 17 seconds which is pretty good. The response was not automated and personal as can be seen in the screenshot below:
It is hard to choose a winner as both VPNs have excellent customer support teams. However, the depth and quality of ExpressVPN’s support articles trump that of NordVPN even though both are equal in other aspects of customer support. Therefore, ExpressVPN has a slight edge over NordVPN here.
Final Verdict: ExpressVPN is the Winner!
This was arguably one of the toughest battles between VPNs. It was almost impossible to choose a winner, considering how powerful NordVPN and ExpressVPN are. Just check out our VPN comparison chart to get an idea. Nonetheless, we had to choose one, and ExpressVPN is the one we decided to crown victorious. This decision was based on account of the fact that ExpressVPN won in 5 of the categories against NordVPN, which won in 2 categories.
But overall, these are both top-of-the-line VPNs that have set the benchmark for quality in performance for the whole industry. You can toss a coin and pick either one of these and won’t be disappointed. The winner, nonetheless, is ExpressVPN as far as this head-to-head comparison is concerned. However, if you’re looking for more VPNs to try, here are the best VPNs that offer a free trial. Also, if you’re looking for an alternative to NordVPN or ExpressVPN, check out our PureVPN or IPVanish comparison.
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