- Low ping + 0.07% packet loss for gaming
- More security features than TunnelBear
- 5,500+ servers in 60 countries
- Dedicated P2P servers
- Unlimited simultaneous device connections
- Better for gaming than NordVPN
- 5,000+ servers
- TCP Override feature for stable connections
NordVPN and TunnelBear were launched around the same time, but their features and performance differ heavily. So, who wins?
I conducted exhaustive tests on both VPNs based on streaming capabilities, user privacy, security, connection speeds, gaming, and other core features.
The results were surprising!
If you’re undecided between NordVPN and TunnelBear, you can find more information in this guide to help you reach a final decision. Keep reading!
NordVPN vs. TunnelBear (Overview Table)
|Speed:||4 Mbps drop||8 Mbps drop|
|Protocols:||OpenVPN, IKEv2, NordLynx||WireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2|
|Streaming:||Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, NRK, Pandora Radio, Qobuz, Prime Video, Sling TV, etc||Disney+, Pandora, Hulu, Sling TV, Qobuz, Peacock TV, Prime Video|
|Torrenting:||On all servers, no seeding||P2P Support|
|Gaming:||30 ms ping + 0.7% packet loss||27 ms ping + 0.0% packet loss|
|Logs:||Verified no-logs policy||Verified no-logs policy|
|Security:||AES 256-bit encryption, two kill switches, Double VPN, obfuscation, Onion Over VPN, Wi-Fi Protection||AES 256-bit encryption, kill switch, obfuscation, public Wi-Fi protection, Chrome, Firefox|
|Devices:||Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Smart TVs, routers, consoles, Raspberry Pi, Fire Stick||macOS, Windows, iOS, iPadOS, and Android.|
|Customer Support:||Live Chat||No Live Chat|
NordVPN offers 5,500+ servers in 60 countries, but I couldn’t find the exact number of servers provided by TunnelBear. The closest was a brief mention on the TunnelBear website that it has over 5000 servers in 47 countries.
I contacted TunnelBear’s customer support, and they claimed they had uncountable servers without a specific number. (Before they started stonewalling me – more on this later!)
That said, NordVPN edges out TunnelBear regarding US servers by offering 1,800+. Meanwhile, TunnelBear offers 13 US servers. This makes unblocking content on sites like Peacock TV, HBO Max, or Sling TV easier with NordVPN than TunnelBear.
When it comes to Africa, TunnelBear offers more servers than NordVPN.
It has three servers in Kenya, South Africa, and Nigeria, while NordVPN only has a South African server.
Moving on, things are fairly even in Asia, with NordVPN barely beating TunnelBear with 8 Asian servers against TunnelBear’s seven.
The last thing worth mentioning is that NordVPN offers RAM-only servers.
As for TunnelBear, I couldn’t find anything pointing to any presence of RAM-only servers, and my attempts to get that clarification from customer care hit a brick wall.
I’ll discuss more on this in the customer support section.
NordVPN and TunnelBear don’t have servers in China. The closest you can get via NordVPN is through its Taiwan and Hong Kong servers.
However, TunnelBear only offers a server in Taiwan.
To end on a positive note, both VPNs offer solid obfuscation, which makes them safe to use inside China without detection. I’ll dive deeper into this in a later section.
Neither VPN has Chinese servers. However, NordVPN has a superior server count and offers more server locations in the United States and Asia. Though TunnelBear comes ahead with African servers, NordVPN still has the upper hand, winning this round.
Is NordVPN Faster Than TunnelBear?
NordVPN is faster than TunnelBear, outperforming it in most of the tests I conducted. The fastest I managed was 30 Mbps on OpenVPN UDP.
I used the following protocols and servers on my Mac computer to ensure uniformity for the speed tests:
- NordLynx for NordVPN and WireGuard for TunnelBear
- OpenVPN UDP
I also limited the tests to the following servers:
- South Africa (Closest server to my physical location)
- United States
- New Zealand (The furthest server)
This was a close race.
On average, NordVPN blew TunnelBear out of the water when using NordLynx, OpenVPN, and IKEv2 against TunnelBear’s WireGuard, IKEv2, and OpenVPN protocols.
But there were instances where TunnelBear edged out NordVPN.
For example, it was slightly faster than NordVPN when using New Zealand and South African servers on the IKEv2 protocol.
The two tied on the OpenVPN protocol through a South African server.
The only instance TunnelBear performed badly was on the IKEv2 protocol through the US server, which was surprising, as it was significantly slower than New Zealand, which is much further from me.
It’s also worth mentioning that TunnelBear has a unique feature called TCP Override that forces the VPN to use slower speeds in exchange for a more stable connection on unreliable internet.
While NordVPN lacks TCP Override, you can switch to OpenVPN TCP protocol because it offers the most stable connections.
Speed & Performance Tests
Speed drops are a better measurement tool when dealing with unpredictable speed tests, and that’s what I focused on. Here’s a breakdown of the 18 tests I conducted for each VPN. Note that I rounded off the speeds to the nearest integer for cleaner comparison.
|US Server||South Africa Server||New Zealand Server|
|NordVPN (NordLynx)||4 Mbps speed drop||5 Mbps speed drop||2 Mbps speed drop|
|TunnelBear (WireGuard)||7 Mbps speed drop||4 Mbps speed drop||7 Mbps speed drop|
|NordVPN (IKEv2)||8 Mbps speed drop||4 Mbps speed drop||6 Mbps speed drop|
|TunnelBear (IKEv2)||26 Mbps speed drop||3 Mbps speed drop||4 Mbps speed drop|
|NordVPN (OpenVPN)||0 Mbps speed drop||3 Mbps speed drop||3 Mbps speed drop|
|TunnelBear (OpenVPN)||4 Mbps speed drop||3 Mbps speed drop||10 Mbps speed drop|
|Average NordVPN Speeds||26 Mbps|
|Average TunnelBear Speeds||22 Mbps|
With 0 Mbps speed drop on the US server and OpenVPN protocol, alongside other stellar performances on other protocols and servers, NordVPN had the upper hand against TunnelBear VPN. So NordVPN wins this category.
NordVPN and TunnelBear unblocked the five streaming services I tested.
Here’s a breakdown of how that panned out.
|Streaming Service||NordVPN Works?||TunnelBear Works?|
Thanks to the fantastic speeds that each clocked during the tests, NordVPN and TunnelBear VPN were adept at handling all my streaming needs, even in 4K.
You also get a SmartDNS feature with NordVPN, which worked seamlessly on my Samsung smart TV, allowing me to rewatch The Good Omens on Prime Video in preparation for the second season.
As for TunnelBear, I couldn’t confirm whether it has a SmartDNS feature.
Meanwhile, a SmartPlay feature on NordVPN offers the best streaming experience with full encryption to keep your activities anonymous and private.
I tested each VPN with five streaming sites. Here is how things played out.
I tested NordVPN and TunnelBear with a show called The Bear using US servers, and they worked without issues.
For BBC iPlayer, I switched to UK servers on both VPNs and tried to stream Fleabag, one of my favorite British comedies. Both VPNs worked without issues, as illustrated below.
Since I had used a US server for Hulu, I experimented with Spanish servers to unblock Disney+ and stream A Small Light.
Both VPNs bypassed the region restrictions to stream a Norwegian comedy called Familien Lykke.
Using French servers provided by both VPNs, I unblocked France.TV and streamed their Live News channel, pretending to understand what they were saying.
Netflix has better global coverage than the other streaming platforms I’ve covered so fast above. To balance things out, I tested the US, the UK, Poland, Italy, and Japan libraries, and here are the results.
|Unblocks Netflix US?||Unblocks Netflix Ge?||Other Netflix Libraries?|
|NordVPN||Yes||Yes||Netflix POL, IT, JP|
|TunnelBear||Yes||Yes||Netflix POL, IT, JP|
Both VPNs unblocked all five libraries. Finding the servers was also easy for both; they all connected on the first attempt.
For the Netflix test, I streamed NCIS in the highest quality possible, and there wasn’t any buffering from NordVPN or TunnelBear VPN.
This was a tie. NordVPN and TunnelBear VPN unblocked every streaming site I tested them with, even the fringe ones like NRK. Each was fast enough to handle 4K streaming, and I didn’t experience any buffering.
NordVPN and TunnelBear VPN offer P2P support, which means they support torrenting. NordVPN even goes further with over 4,900 P2P-dedicated servers, which provide better download speeds. TunnelBear VPN doesn’t have these specialty servers.
Another helpful feature NordVPN offers that makes torrenting better is the SOCKS5 Proxy. This boosted my download speeds significantly.
As for TunnelBear, I didn’t see any mention of SOCKS5 Proxy on their website, nor did I see the feature on any of their apps. Customer Support didn’t confirm or deny this was available when I reached out.
Furthermore, NordVPN doesn’t support port forwarding for security reasons, so torrent seeding isn’t possible. I’m also not sure about TunnelBear’s stand on port forwarding because, once again, I couldn’t get any answer from support.
That said, NordVPN distances itself from any intellectual property infringement conducted through its servers through its General Terms of Service.
Likewise, TunnelBear prohibits using its services to distribute copyrighted material through its servers.
Here’s what NordVPN says.
And this is TunnelBear’s stand.
The tests I conducted in the next section better explain how the VPNs handle torrenting.
I tested both VPNs’ abilities to torrent with a 270 Mb file through a torrent client called Free Download Manager.
I set each VPN to use the fastest protocol and server from my speed tests;
- OpenVPN UDP plus a P2P US server for NordVPN
- IKEv2, plus a South African server for TunnelBear VPN.
Below is a table showing how things played out.
|Average Download Speed||Max Download Speed||Download Completion Time|
|NordVPN||2.6 MiB/s||3.0 MiB/s||1 min, 30 seconds|
|TunnelBear VPN||2.8 MiB/s||3.2 MiB/s||1 min, 24 seconds|
As you can see, TunnelBear was faster than NordVPN. But the difference was mere seconds.
NordVPN and TunnelBear VPN offer P2P support, with NordVPN also offering SOCKS5 Proxy. However, TunnelBear outperformed NordVPN slightly to win this category.
I ran ping and packet data loss tests. Here’s a quick breakdown of the results.
|NordVPN||United States||OpenVPN UDP||30 Mbps||0.7%|
|TunnelBear VPN||South Africa||IKEv2||27 Mbps||0.0%|
I tested both VPNs on my Mac using one light game (Asphalt 9: Legends) and a heavy game (Fortnite).
The performance of both VPNs was stellar, with barely noticeable differences. However, TunnelBear was smoother than NordVPN for both games, as it had the most negligible packet loss and the least lag.
There was slight lag with NordVPN, especially when I switched to Fortnite, but I could still power through the game on equal footing with my opponents.
Below is a screenshot showing the packet data loss results.
TunnelBear VPN had the least lag of the two VPNs. So, TunnelBear takes this category by a narrow win.
NordVPN and TunnelBear VPN don’t collect unnecessary information from their users. The only personal data you may need to provide is your email address when creating an account. This will also be used for any communication in the future.
Additionally, NordVPN and TunnelBear VPN offer a Bitcoin payment option.
NordVPN also provides XRP and Ethereum, giving it an edge over TunnelBear.
I’ll expand more on the payment options in the Price and Value section.
Additionally, NordVPN is based in Panama, which has no affiliation with any surveillance alliances. No law or government can compel NordVPN to hand over your private data.
Meanwhile, TunnelBear VPN is based in Canada, which is part of the 5 Eyes.
However, this shouldn’t worry you because a no-logs policy means no data to hand over.
But what sets of private data are covered by the logging policies?
Let’s have a look at that in the next section.
Nothing is out of place with the logging policies of NordVPN and TunnelBear, and both have undergone several audits.
|Traffic Logs?||Connection Logs?||IP Address?||Server Location?|
NordVPN has had three audits so far; the last carried out by an independent audit firm between November and December 2022. So far, no loopholes have been found in its logging policy.
TunnelBear has had five audits since 2016. The last detailed audit was in 2021 by Cure53, and it took 47 days starting in November. Every inch of the VPN was looked into, and a few vulnerabilities were discovered.
Fortunately, the VPN service dealt with the vulnerabilities, and there hasn’t been anything significant to worry about.
Both VPNs are also open-sourced, so the code is in the public domain, and people can go through it, which underlines how each VPN values transparency and opens the door for collaborations. But NordvPN isn’t fully open-source, just some of its products and the Linux application.
Furthermore, NordVPN has something called a Warrant Canary. This is the VPN’s way of transparently notifying its users whenever they’re served subpoenas and other legal requests to share user data.
TunnelBear doesn’t have a Warrant Canary or anything similar. I contacted their customer support to inquire about it but was informed they couldn’t share that information due to “privacy reasons.”
NordVPN and TunnelBear VPN offer verified no-logs policy and IP masking. But while NordVPN is located in a country with no affiliation to surveillance alliances, TunnelBear is based in Canada, which has data retention laws. NordVPN also has a Warrant Canary for more transparency, thus winning this category.
As far as critical security features are concerned, NordVPN and TunnelBear VPN are evenly matched. Both use the industry-standard AES 256-bit encryption, available automatically across all protocols.
To ensure it wasn’t just talking, I tested each VPN connection with Wireshark, and the results confirmed that encryption works.
Besides the military-grade encryption, NordVPN and TunnelBear VPN come with kill switches for IP leak protection. NordVPN has two kill switches on Windows.
On the other hand, TunnelBear only has one kill switch called VigilantBear, which is available across all apps.
Like encryption, I conducted IP and DNS leak tests on both VPNs using South African servers. Here’s how things panned out.
WebRTC & IP Leak Tests
The virtual IP addresses provided by the VPN are the same IP addresses I see when I run this test. If you see your actual IP address, there are leaks.
DNS Leak Test
Here, only the virtual IP addresses can be seen instead of my actual IP address, proving that IP and DNS leak protection works on NordVPN and TunnelBear.
Encryption and DNS leak protection aren’t the only key security features.
In the next section, let’s examine how the two VPNs fared in other advanced security features.
Public Wi-Fi Protection
NordVPN and TunnelBear offer protection on unsecured public networks.
I decided to kill two birds with one stone by grabbing coffee at Starbucks while simultaneously testing the two VPNs on the free Starbucks Wi-Fi.
NordVPN’s public Wi-Fi protection feature was handy because it automatically triggers when it sniffs a new network. On top of this, you can tweak your settings to connect to various servers, like specialty servers or the fastest ones.
Meanwhile, TunnelBear protects you automatically through its robust encryption when you connect to unsecured public hotspots. This keeps you safe from common hacker threats like Wi-Fi Sniffing or Man in the Middle Attacks.
I ran another Wireshark test using the Starbucks Wi-Fi network and confirmed that whatever I was doing on my device was not seen by anyone.
If you’re a heavy online gamer, you’re not new to DDoS attacks from other players looking to gain an advantage. The good news is that NordVPN and TunnelBear offer DDoS protection for free.
By connecting to either VPN when gaming, no one can see your IP address, making it impossible for request bombardments to be directed at you to slow you down.
TunnelBear provides DDoS protection through Cloudflare, while with NordVPN, you simply need to change your server to counter any DDoS attack.
Ad Blockers are another underrated VPN feature offered by both VPNs.
However, I got varying results when I tested them.
NordVPN has a Threat Protection ad blocker that blocks trackers, malicious domains, and annoying pop-up ads. This is vital if you’re visiting torrenting sites.
A quick run through the AdBlock Tester site returned a score of 72/100.
TunnelBear’s ad blocker differs slightly. It has a browser extension called TunnelBear Blocker that you install to block ads, tracking, malicious domains, and any privacy-invading techniques deployed by hackers on risky sites.
I installed the extension on my Google Chrome browser, and it scored 75/100.
TunnelBear VPN beat NordVPN by a very small margin. I didn’t see many ads on torrenting sites with both VPNs.
Both VPNs offer obfuscation. For NordVPN, this comes as obfuscated servers that can only be accessed when you switch to the OpenVPN protocol.
At the moment, NordVPN has just over 100 obfuscated servers.
But be ready for slow speeds once this is activated.
Meanwhile, TunnelBear’s obfuscation feature is cleverly called GhostBear, currently available on Windows, macOS, and Android. Unlike NordVPN, GhostBear is toggled in the settings to activate.
However, as with NordVPN, your speeds will take a significant hit.
But overall, NordVPN’s obfuscation was better because you get to choose obfuscated servers of your choice.
Extra Security Features
There are extra security features not shared by both VPNs, which I feel are important to highlight because they serve vital functions.
NordVPN offers DoubleVPN servers that encrypt your traffic twice for double the protection. These servers work with all NordVPN protocols.
Furthermore, NordVPN has Onion Over VPN servers that work with all protocols. These servers allow you to access the Tor Network with an extra layer of privacy.
You also get Meshnet on NordVPN, which secures your LAN. This is perfect if you’re working remotely or gaming online and would like to safely access other devices without speed drops.
And finally, there’s the Dark Web Monitor, another essential NordVPN security feature that monitors the dark web for any instances where your email address and other credentials are used without your permission.
TunnelBear VPN has no unique extra security features.
Both VPNs offer encryption, IP leak protection, obfuscation, and DDoS protection. But NordVPN goes that extra mile with additional security features that TunnelBear can’t match, like double VPN and Meshnet. So, NordVPN is the clear winner.
Devices & Connections
NordVPN and TunnelBear have apps compatible with various devices, but NordVPN works on significantly more devices than TunnelBear.
You can install NordVPN on Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, and Linux.
You can also run it on FireTV, Android TV, Gaming Consoles, and Raspberry Pi, among others. Meanwhile, TunnelBear VPN only works on iPhones, iPads, Android, Linux, macOS, and Windows.
In addition, NordVPN offers SmartDNS that work on gaming consoles and smart TVs like LG and Samsung TVs that don’t have native support for VPNs.
Currently, you only get six streaming DNS servers, including ABC Go US, Amazon Prime US, Disney Plus US, Fox Now US, HBO Now US, and Netflix Originals.
NordVPN is also the only VPN that works on certain routers, though the setup is manual for most. Here’s a quick summary of what app each VPN offers.
|Native App Support?||Windows, macOS, iOS, Linux, Android||Windows, macOS, iOS, Linux, Android|
|Smart TVs?||Android TV, FireTV, + SmartDNS||Unconfirmed by Support|
|Router Support?||Yes (manual + app)||No|
|Browser Extensions?||Chrome, Firefox, Edge||Chrome, Firefox|
NordVPN is compatible with more devices than TunnelBear. It also offers SmartDNS that expands its usability to devices that don’t support the native VPN app, something that TunnelBear appears to lack. NordVPN wins this round despite allowing only six simultaneous connections to TunnelBear’s unlimited simultaneous connections.
Both VPN services offer split tunneling, but for NordVPN, this varies with the platform. For example, there’s no split tunneling on the macOS and iOS versions of NordVPN.
I reached out to support, and they confirmed that the feature isn’t supported on the two platforms, and there are no plans for adding it in the future.
TunnelBear continues with its fascinating naming system by calling its split tunneling feature Split Bear. Unlike NordVPN, you can use this split tunneling feature on all the supported platforms, including Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android.
However, it functions differently on each.
You can use Split Bear to exempt apps and websites from the encrypted tunnel on Windows. You can only exempt websites on macOS, as there’s app split tunneling.
On iOS, you can exclude websites and subdomains only, but not apps.
Finally, on Android, you can exempt a selection of applications but not websites.
I tested both split tunneling features with my banking apps which never work with VPNs, and this time, they worked on my Android device.
TunnelBear wins this round because it offers split tunneling on more devices than NordVPN.
There’s a vast ocean between NordVPN and TunnelBear regarding Customer Support.
First, NordVPN offers efficient Live Chat support that connects you to a bot.
Then, you can request to connect to a Live Agent. The process took seconds, and once I was given a Live Agent, I floated them a question, and they responded right away.
Meanwhile, TunnelBear doesn’t offer Live Chat. The only way to contact Customer Support is through email. I had a couple of questions that needed to be addressed, and the response was just as swift as you would experience in a Live Chat.
However, I didn’t get most of my questions answered, and the customer support rep essentially shut down the entire back-and-forth communication.
He said he couldn’t answer some of the questions for privacy reasons.
So, I didn’t push further.
Meanwhile, NordVPN also offers direct mail to contact customer support if the Live Chat option fails. The response was swift, and answered every question I asked.
NordVPN offers other support resources, including FAQs, product guides, support guides, troubleshooting studies, and tutorials. The closest thing TunnelBear has to this is a blog that works like a troubleshooting guide for various issues.
TunnelBear doesn’t offer Live Chat, and the only means of communicating, direct mail, didn’t give me the answers I needed. NordVPN offers instant Live Chat, direct mail, FAQs, and tutorials, and that makes it the winner.
Both VPNs are user-friendly based on my experience using them on Windows, macOS, and Android.
However, there are differences across both VPNs, depending on your platform.
For example, NordVPN’s Windows app has features not found on other platforms, like split tunneling.
TunnelBear, on the other hand, has more features on its Windows and Android apps than on macOS. You get VigillantBear, GhostBear, SplitBear, and TCP Override buttons on Windows and Android (No TCP Override here) but none on macOS.
Both VPNs were equally fast in connecting to a server, and you don’t need to disconnect from one server before switching to another. Simply tap on the new server, and the connection is shifted within seconds.
Despite the subtle differences in functionality in each VPN across their respective apps, NordVPN and TunnelBear are very easy to use. Therefore, this is a resounding tie.
Price & Value
TunnelBear is cheaper than NordVPN.
NordVPN offers price plans on a monthly, annual, and biennial basis.
Long-term plans are cheaper than short-term ones.
Unlike NordVPN, TunnelBear’s price plans depend on whether you want an individual or a team package.
Furthermore, TunnelBear offers a free version, something NordVPN doesn’t have. However, you get a 30-day money-back guarantee when you purchase any NordVPN price plan, with a full refund assured if you cancel before the stipulated time frame.
TunnelBear, on the other hand, has a different type of “money-back guarantee,” whose refunds are determined on a case-by-case basis.
NordVPN offers more payment options than TunnelBear, including six credit and debit card options, Bitcoin, Ethereum, XRP, and Google Pay. You can only pay for a TunnelBear subscription through your credit/debit card or Bitcoin.
TunnelBear is cheaper than NordVPN, and despite its cryptic refund policy, you will spend less overall than you would on NordVPN, so it wins this round.
NordVPN vs. TunnelBear (Overview Table)
Here’s a recap of the updated head-to-head comparison of these two VPNs.
|Speed:||4 Mbps drop||8 Mbps drop||NordVPN|
|Protocols:||OpenVPN, IKEv2, NordLynx||WireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2||Tie|
|Streaming:||Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, NRK, Pandora Radio, Qobuz, Prime Video, Sling TV, etc||Disney+, Pandora, Hulu, Sling TV, Qobuz, Peacock TV, Prime Video||Tie|
|Torrenting:||On all servers, no seeding||Unconfirmed by Support||NordVPN|
|Gaming:||30 ms ping + 0.7% packet loss||27 ms ping + 0.0% packet loss||TunnelBear|
|Logs:||Verified no-logs policy||Verified no-logs policy||Tie|
|Security:||AES 256-bit encryption, two kill switches, Double VPN servers, obfuscation, Onion Over VPN, Wi-Fi Protection||AES 256-bit encryption, kill switch, obfuscation, public Wi-Fi protection, Chrome, Firefox||NordVPN|
|Devices:||Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Smart TVs, routers, consoles, Raspberry Pi, Fire Stick||macOS, Windows, iOS, iPadOS, and Android.||NordVPN|
|Customer Support:||Live Chat||No Live Chat||NordVPN|
Still Undecided? Don’t Sweat It!
If ultimate security, user privacy, and device compatibility are essential, NordVPN is the best fit.
Meanwhile, TunnelBear is cheaper, perfect for gaming, and you can connect as many devices as you want, making it ideal if you have friends and families who need a VPN.
So, take your time, and once you decide, grab your NordVPN or TunnelBear discount deals while they still last.
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.