- 3000+ servers in 94 countries
- Exclusive Lightway protocol
- Router port forwarding
- Stable support for China
- 5300+ servers in 60 countries
- Dedicated IP (at an additional cost)
- Up to 6 simultaneous connections
- Onion over VPN protection
I’ve found minor faults in my years using them, as they’re fast and offer military-grade encryption. However, I’d be lying if I said there aren’t peculiarities.
Let’s explore how ExpressVPN and NordVPN compete as I highlight some of the VPNs’ best features and hint at where they could improve.
|Privacy & Jurisdiction||BVI + verified strict no logs policy||Panama + strict no-logs policy and Warrant Canary|
|VPN Protocols||Lightway, OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPsec,||NordLynx, OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPsec|
|Countries & Servers||3,000+ servers in 94 countries||5300+ servers in 60 countries|
|Speed & Performance||6.34% speed drop||13.5% speed drop|
|Gaming||12 ms ping and no lag||14 ms ping and no lag|
|Torrenting||Port forwarding on routers, P2P support||P2P support, SOCKS5 proxy|
|Media Streaming||Unblocks Netflix (US, UK, and others), Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney Plus, HBO Max, Amazon Prime, and more||Unblocks Netflix (US, UK, and more), Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney Plus, HBO Max, Amazon Prime, and more|
|Multi-Platform Compatibility||Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Nintendo Switch, Chromebook, routers, and more (with 5 simultaneous connections)||Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Nintendo Switch, Chromebook, and more (with 6 simultaneous connections)|
|Customer Support||24/7 live chat, email and ticket support, tutorials, support center, video guides, and more||24/7 live chat, email and ticket support, tutorials, support centers, video guides, and more|
|Usability||User-friendly apps for PC and mobile||User-friendly apps for PC and mobile|
ExpressVPN vs. NordVPN: An In-Depth Analysis
I’ll put unique features on both providers to task, raise concerns, and define the ultimate CHAMPION!
Let’s get to it.
|Does It Store Traffic Logs?||No||No|
|Does It Store DNS Queries?||No||No|
|Does It Store Connection Logs?||No||No|
|Does It Store Browsing History?||No||No|
|Is It Audited?||Yes||Yes|
|Where Is It Located?||Panama||British Virgin Islands|
ExpressVPN is rooted in the British Virgin Islands, and NordVPN’s in Panama.
Both jurisdictions offer privacy-friendly laws, and there’s no concern for Five, Nine, or Fourteen-Eyes surveillance.
Thus, authorities can only access user logs on these providers’ servers if they’re dragged to the High Courts.
But even if the High Courts are involved, both VPNs offer strict no-logs policies to ensure no substantial data to share.
ExpressVPN’s Logging Policy
However, all VPNs must collect some data to process payments and stay connected. For ExpressVPN, this includes logging your:
- Email address
- Payment details
- Server locations
- Connection dates
- App versions
Still, online activities remain anonymous and untraceable.
NordVPN’s Logging Policy
Like ExpressVPN, NordVPN stores minimal logs.
- User names
- Account email addresses
- Payment details
- Customer support communication
A ball in NordVPN’s court is the Warrant Canary, which ExpressVPN lacks.
This means NordVPN regularly publishes statements confirming it hasn’t received a secret warrant for user data (and has been prohibited from reporting it).
The canary message must be removed if the provider ever receives such a request.
Both VPN services take privacy seriously, and, to date, no user activity has been logged or passed to authorities.
Security & Encryption
|Protocols?||NordLynx (WireGuard), OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPsec||Lightway, OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPsec|
|Security Features?||Threat Protection, Dark Web Monitor, Double VPN, Onion Over VPN, Kill Switch||TrustedServer Technology, automatic obfuscation, Threat Manager, Kill Switch|
|Encryption?||256-bit AES||256-bit AES|
|Leak Protection?||Passed IP, DNS, and WebRTC leak tests||Passed IP, DNS, and WebRTC leak tests|
ExpressVPN Tunneling Protocols
ExpressVPN offers OpenVPN UDP/TCP and IKEv2/IPsec, but its selling point is Lightway, the provider’s exclusive protocol.
Lightway is ExpressVPN’s replacement for WireGuard, a protocol NordVPN repackages as “NordLynx.” This propriety protocol is faster than WireGuard and NordLynx (see my speed tests below) and just as secure.
NordVPN Tunneling Protocols
Like ExpressVPN, NordVPN offers OpenVPN UDP/TCP and IKEv2/IPsec.
Then there’s NordLynx, NordVPN’s propriety protocol built on WireGuard’s open-source code.
It’s designed to be more lightweight than WireGuard to ensure faster speeds, but it’s not as fast as ExpressVPN’s Lightway, which was built from the ground up.
ExpressVPN and NordVPN share quality features like the AES 256-bit military-grade encryption, reliable automatic kill switches, and a form of obfuscation.
While NordVPN lists Obfuscated Servers under its specialty server categories, ExpressVPN obfuscates all VPN connections automatically. Under this protocol, your VPN traffic is hidden to bypass firewalls and work in restrictive regions like China and Russia.
However, ExpressVPN manages faster speeds on this security.
ExpresVPN also has a unique Threat Manager feature to block apps from communicating with trackers and malicious sites. But NordVPN has the upper hand with more extensive security offerings:
- Threat Protection: A feature similar to (but more robust than) ExpressVPN’s Threat Manager that defends against malware and trackers.
- Dark Web Monitor: Scans the dark web for credential leaks associated with your registered NordVPN e-mail address. If leaks are detected, you’ll be notified immediately.
- Double VPN: An advanced security measure that encrypts data twice by routing traffic through two VPN tunnels.
- Onion Over VPN: This feature routes traffic through a NordVPN server plus three Tor nodes while avoiding the Tor Browser. This means you can use the Tor Network with any app and benefit from safer use of the dark web.
These features are conveniently accessible via NordVPN’s app interface.
ExpressVPN & NordVPN Leak Tests: IP, DNS, & WebRTC
NordVPN and ExpressVPN claim to offer IP, DNS, WebRTC, and IPv6.
According to my test results, the claims hold water.
ExpressVPN’s Leak Test Results
I hopped on IPLeak.net to run my tests. My results showed no leaks, and my actual location was masked by my VPN location and allocated IP address.
NordVPN’s Leak Test Results
NordVPN’s results were similar – no leaks! My results only showed the IP and location of the UK server I was connected to.
While both VPNs offer the same military-grade encryption, NordVPN takes the lead because of its categorized security features, allowing you to tailor your security experience.
Countries & Servers
|Server Coverage?||94 countries||60 countries|
|Server Locations?||The Americas, Europe, Asia Pacific, the Middle East, and Africa||The Americas, Europe, Asia Pacific, the Middle East, and Africa|
But the tables turn where country coverage’s concerned, where ExpressVPN reaches 94 countries while NordVPN keeps to 60. Still, both providers have servers in the Americas, Europe, Asia Pacific, the Middle East, and Africa.
Furthermore, NordVPN categorizes its specialty servers into Obfuscated, P2P, Dedicated IP, Double VPN, and Onion over VPN (Tor) server sections.
In the greater scheme, ExpressVPN’s country coverage may override NordVPN’s massive server fleet, specialty servers included. After all, it increases the chances of finding a server in a preferred or sought-after location.
NordVPN has several helpful specialty servers, but ExpressVPN’s exceedingly larger country count and server fleet make it more valuable when trying to find a server in a favored location.
Speed & Performance
|Fastest Protocol?||Lightway UDP||NordLynx (WireGuard)|
|Smallest Drop for SA Server?||6.34%||13.5%|
|Smallest Drop for US Server?||12.5%||16.6%|
|Smallest Drop for UK Server?||12.5%||16%|
ExpressVPN Speed Results
First, I tested my base speed to compare download speed drops.
I continued to test ExpressVPN’s speed over its protocols and across three server locations.
Here are the download speeds I collected:
|Servers||Lightway UDP||Lightway TCP||OpenVPN UDP||OpenVPN TCP|
|South Africa||46.06 Mbps||39.09 Mbps||42.22 Mbps||32.06 Mbps|
|New York||43.03 Mbps||35.10 Mbps||41.98 Mbps||30.01 Mbps|
|London||43.01 Mbps||33.39 Mbps||37.15 Mbps||28.01 Mbps|
As expected, OpenVPN didn’t perform as well as Lightway or NordLynx, for that matter.
NordVPN Speed Results
Compared to Lightway, NordLynx’s speed loss on all servers was more significant.
It dropped by 13.5% on my nearby South African server and by an average of 16.5% on the US and UK servers.
But, NordVPN’s OpenVPN results were overall similar to ExpressVPN’s.
|Servers||NordLynx||OpenVPN UDP||OpenVPN TCP|
|South Africa||42.32 Mbps||41.91 Mbps||28.17 Mbps|
|New York||41.01 Mbps||40.91 Mbps||30.00 Mbps|
|London||41.31 Mbps||37.01 Mbps||28.12 Mbps|
ExpressVPN’s Lightway is a force to be reckoned with and yields faster speeds than NordVPN. That’s not to say NordVPN isn’t fast. In fact, the speed gap between the VPNS is minuscule!
Gaming: Latency & DDoS Protection
|Best Gaming Protocol?||Lightway UDP||NordLynx|
|Games Tested?||Fortnite & GTA 5||Fortnite & GTA 5|
|Any Lag?||No lag||No lag|
Gamers understand the importance of low latency and DDoS protection as much as they love speed!
Let’s see how our two VPNs perform in these departments.
Neither of the VPNs produced lag. This was to be expected since both offer fast speeds and low latency, as seen in the speed tests.
ExpressVPN (with Lightway UDP) produced a 12ms ping, which matched my usual non-VPN connection!
NordVPN’s latency was slightly higher but insignificantly so.
Here’s a tabled overview of pings I got on select servers across both providers:
|Server/Provider||ExpressVPN (Lightway)||NordVPN (Nordynx)|
I’ve used ExpressVPN and NordVPN several times for gaming and not once have I experienced DDoS attacks on either.
This is no surprise since both VPNs offer top-notch security.
Both VPNs offer DDoS protection, but ExpressVPN takes the cake with its lower ping rate. If you’re looking for an unbuffered gaming experience, ExpressVPN is a safer choice.
Torrenting (P2P Support & Speed)
|P2P Support?||All servers are P2P-friendly||A subset of servers are P2P-friendly|
|Average Download Speed?||1.1 MiB/s (Lightway)||740.5 KB/s (NordLynx)|
|Max Download Speed?||2.1 MiB/s (Lightway)||1.5 MiB/s (NordLynx)|
|Download Completion Time?||45s||1m 5s|
|Port Forwarding?||Yes (only on select routers)||No|
You risk DMCA notices from copyright trolls or, even worse, jail time if you don’t have VPN protection while torrenting!
The only difference is that ExpressVPN is optimized for P2P file-sharing on all servers, while NordVPN only offers such optimizations on a subset of its server network.
Likewise, ExpressVPN’s servers offer port forwarding (only enabled via router setup), while NordVPN’s don’t. Conversely, ExpressVPN lacks NordVPN’s SOCKS5 option, which can speed up torrenting speeds.
ExpressVPN’s Port Forwarding for Torrenting
ExpressVPN’s port forwarding, which NordVPN lacks, increases download speeds and helps with seeding/torrent uploads.
The catch is the VPN service only supports port forwarding on a router setup.
Since ExpressVPN doesn’t work on all routers, the functionality’s frustratingly restricted.
NordVPN’s SOCKS5 for Torrenting
NordVPN’s advantage is it offers SOCKS5 support to enhance download speeds like port forwarding.
It does this by eliminating the weighty encryption from a VPN server.
But for safety, SOCKS5 still replaces your original IP address.
This video goes into greater detail and explains how SOCKS5 creates direct tunnels through firewalls for faster, smoother torrenting:
Torrent Test Results: Comparison
I used a South African server for my ExpressVPN and NordVPN torrent tests.
I stuck with Lightway UDP for ExpressVPN and NordLynx for NordVPN since they’ve proven to be the fastest.
For convenience, I chose a copyright-free 44.8 MiB Rust game update to run my tests.
As you can see, ExpressVPN with Lightway took the lead and completed the download 30% faster than NordVPN with NordLynx.
My tabled results:
|Average Download Speed||Max Download Speed||Download Completion Time|
|ExpressVPN||1.1 MiB/s||2.1 MiB/s||45s|
|NordVPN||740.5 KB/s||1.5 MiB/s||1m 5s|
ExpressVPN’s advantage is that it offers port forwarding. This handy torrenting tool can increase download and upload speeds. Faster upload speeds induce smoother seeding, which is missing on NordVPN.
|Unblocks Streaming Services?||Yes – Netflix (US, UK, etc.), Hulu, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, BBC iPlayer, and more.||Yes – Netflix (US, UK, etc.), Hulu, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, BBC iPlayer, and more.|
|Smart DNS Functionality?||Yes||Yes (MediaStreamer)|
ExpressVPN & Media Streaming
ExpressVPN works with most streaming platforms, including:
I tested it on each streaming service I listed and had no problem bypassing blocks.
I could even access Netflix US, UK, and Australia from South Africa by connecting to a server in these locations.
Moreover, it offers a SmartDNS service called MediaStreamer to help users bypass geo-restrictions on smart TVs, gaming consoles, and other devices that can’t download a VPN app.
While MediaStreamer lacks encryption (like a VPN server), an upside is that you’ll enjoy faster streaming speeds.
There’s one catch. MediaStreamer preferably works on US streaming platforms.
But this still gives you access to massive content libraries like Netflix US, Hulu, HBO Max, Amazon Prime, and Disney Plus!
NordVPN & Media Streaming
NordVPN was equally up to the task, bypassing geo-restrictions on the same streaming platforms as ExpressVPN.
In one of my unblocking tests (pictured below), I connected to a NordVPN US server to unblock and stream “Wednesday” without buffering.
NordVPN also offers SmartPlay on its VPN apps, combining its built-in Smart DNS service with your chosen VPN server for reliable and faster content unblocking. Likewise, you can use its standalone Smart DNS manual setups if there’s no dedicated NordVPN app for your media streaming device (gaming consoles, streaming units, smart TVs, etc.).
ExpressVPN and NordVPN provide manual smart DNS setups and reliable VPN apps to stream content on portable devices. Both also offer relevant servers in choice locations to unblock popular content.
|Apps?||Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Nintendo Switch, Chromebook, routers, etc.||Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Nintendo Switch, Chromebook, etc.|
|Other Devices?||Manual configurations for Apple TV, Roku, PlayStation, Xbox, multiple Smart TVs, etc.||Manual configurations for Apple TV, Roku, PlayStation, Xbox, multiple Smart TVs, Raspberry Pi, etc.|
|Browser Extensions?||Chrome, Firefox, Edge||Chrome, Firefox, Edge|
|Simultaneous Connections?||Five (5)||Six (6)|
Each service also offers manual setups for:
- Apple TV
- Multiple Smart TVs
Likewise, both VPNs offer browser extensions for Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Mozilla Firefox browsers. However, I recommend their VPN apps over the browser extensions since the latter doesn’t offer robust configuration options.
That said, ExpressVPN takes the lead with its router app/firmware for easier configuration on your Asus, Linksys, and Netgear routers.
In contrast, NordVPN only has a manual setup option for all routers, which can be tedious and mind-numbing for non-tech-savvy users.
To even the playing field, NordVPN offers one more simultaneous connection than ExpressVPN to make six compared to ExpressVPN’s five.
Both VPNs cover a similarly broad range of devices. But while ExpressVPN has dedicated apps for several routers, NordVPN offers more simultaneous connections.
|24/7 Live Chat?||Yes – reliable with helpful answers||Yes – fast and very reliable with useful answers|
|Help Center?||Yes, with FAQs, set-up tutorials, troubleshooting guides||Yes, with FAQs, set-up tutorials, troubleshooting guides|
But when I put the chat boxes to the test, one outperformed the other.
Spoiler alert: NordVPN wins.
To test support teams, I asked the Live Chat agents the same question, “What are the current best servers to unblock Netflix US with?”
ExpressVPN Customer Support Query Results
Using the live chat feature was a smooth process. I didn’t have to entertain chatbots before I was issued a “real” agent.
However, the agent wouldn’t provide an answer without me sharing my ExpressVPN account email, which I thought was cheeky.
It also took the agent 5 minutes longer to give me feedback than NordVPN did.
To be fair, the answer was concise and, after testing the servers, accurate!
I received no follow-up support, though – not even a goodbye or an “Is there anything else we can help you with?” Hmph.
NordVPN Customer Support Query Results
With NordVPN, I had to jump through hoops to get to a human agent.
The feature’s designed to answer questions via a chatbot before passing you to live support.
But the support process was quick once I connected to Elaine, a live agent.
In fact, I had my answer faster than ExpressVPN’s delivery time despite chatbot challenges. Also, my non-account email wasn’t questioned.
The cherry on top: excellent follow-up support with an email asking if I was happy with the feedback I received!
Oh, and I tried some of these server suggestions. They worked!
Finally, ExpressVPN and NordVPN offer extensive help and additional support in the form of updated video tutorials, help centers with guides, FAQs, tutorials, and diagrams.
So, you can dive into their YouTube channels, read up on common issues on their websites or follow other instructional articles on their blogs before reaching out to a live agent.
NordVPN was faster with its Live chat support, but ExpressVPN didn’t lag either. They offer alternate email support, video tutorials, blog guides, and other instructionals.
User Experience & Usability
|Drawbacks?||None||You must disconnect from a server before you can adjust settings|
|Easy Connect Feature?||Yes||Yes|
ExpressVPN Windows App
To start, each tab opens in a new window, so the quick connect button’s always in view.
I should point out that NordVPN offers a better server selection where you can choose specialty servers from categorized tabs – a layout option I appreciate! Instead, ExpressVPN presents all its servers in one direct list without sectioning them.
The “Options” tab in the ExpressVPN app is where you tweak settings and change protocols. You can also access the split tunneling feature and kill switch (Network Lock) to configure them as you wish.
One gripe with the EpxressVPN app is that you must disconnect from a server before switching protocols or changing other settings. NordVPN allows you to make these changes while you’re connected.
NordVPN Windows App
NordVPN enables you to pick a server type according to your needs, and a preferred location on that server type for an instant VPN connection.
For example, you can choose from the P2P servers to download torrent files.
By extension, you can choose to connect to the fastest P2P location or choose a preferred P2P server.
You can also click the cog icon on the bottom left corner to access NordVPN’s settings. This is where you set app preferences, change protocols, activate the kill switch, and configure the split tunneling.
NordVPN’s Threat Protection can also be activated/deactivated via its mobile and PC apps. Click the shield icon and adjust the toggle according to your needs.
Now, I’d like to draw your attention to NordVPN’s Meshnet feature.
Meshnet works similarly to port forwarding, allowing you to connect multiple devices using encrypted tunnels for secure remote access.
In other words, you can use it to access a device, even if it’s in another country!
The best part about NordVPN is its support for voice assistants (such as Siri on the iOS app). Unlike ExpressVPN, you can configure it to connect to a NordVPN server by speaking to your phone, without picking it up.
ExpressVPN and NordVPN are user-friendly, but NordVPN’s app interface is easy to navigate with its sections. Plus, unlike ExpressVPN, it allows you to configure voice assistants for a seamless user experience.
Pricing, Plans, & Deals
|Plans?||1-month, 1-year, 2-year||1-month, 6-month, 1-year|
|Most Savings?||2-year plan||1-year plan|
|Payment Methods?||Credit and debit cards, PayPal, Amazon Pay, Bitcoin, Ethereum, and more||Credit and debit cards, PayPal, online transfers, prepaid cards, Bitcoin, and more|
|Refund Policy?||30-day money-back guarantee||30-day money-back guarantee|
|Free Trial?||7-day free trial on Google Play Store (not covered by refund policy)||7-day free trial on Google Play Store and iOS App Store (not covered by refund policy)|
Both VPNs share a spot at the higher end of the price scale.
This makes sense since several of the features are a far cut above the rest.
ExpressVPN Plans & Payments
Without beating around the bush – ExpressVPN’s more expensive than NordVPN.
The VPN provider splits its packages into 1-month, 6-month, and 12-month deals, with the latter being the best offer to get EXTRA 3 months free.
All plans can be purchased using most debit and credit cards, prepaid cards, online transfers, PayPal, Bitcoin, and more.
NordVPN Plans & Payments
NordVPN is cheaper than ExpressVPN unless you choose a package with add-ons (Plus or Complete). But the standard VPN services mentioned in this comparison are packaged in the Standard deal, which is considerably more affordable – especially over the 2-year plan.
NordVPN’s payment options are also similar to ExpressVPN’s. The major exception is that NordVPN accepts cash and other cryptocurrencies besides Bitcoin and Ethereum, unlike ExpressVPN.
Free Trials & Money-Back Guarantees
Both VPNs offer 30-day money-back guarantees!
So, you get your money back (no questions asked) if you cancel your subscription before 30 days of buying the VPNs.
ExpressVPN & NordVPN Discounts
If ExpressVPN and NordVPN’s prices are too steep for you, perhaps I can sweeten the deals with a discount offer.
While both VPNs are more expensive than most other VPN services, NordVPN is cheaper than ExpressVPN, especially over the 2-year deal.
ExpressVPN is the best VPN for China due to its automatic obfuscation on all servers. This feature helps penetrate Chinese firewalls persistently without losing too much speed.
While the VPN doesn’t have servers in China, it does offer servers nearby in Hong Kong, Mongolia, and Laos. So, your nearest server option won’t be too far off.
That’s a Wrap!
Offering features like unlimited bandwidth, kill switches, and high-speed servers for lag-free online experiences, it’s safe to say ExpressVPN and NordVPN are excellent VPNs.
But my research shows ExpressVPN is better for streaming, gaming, and torrenting, while NordVPN dangles security features that are hard to beat.
Protect private web traffic from snooping, interference, and censorship. All plans are covered by a no-hassle 100% money-back guarantee for your first 30 days of service.