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What Is the Difference Between NordVPN & NordVPN IKE?

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The NordVPN IKE version is available for download on the Apple Store on Mac devices, while interested users can only get the regular NordVPN version on the VPN provider’s website.

Furthermore, these two NordVPN versions differ in the mechanisms of their kill switch systems, unique protocols, and more.

So, keep reading as we dive into the differences between the standard and IKE versions of the NordVPN Mac apps.

4 Differences Between NordVPN and NordVPN IKE?

Other PC operating systems, such as Windows and Linux, have only one version of the NordVPN application, whereas Mac has two.

nordvpn application for mac

A lot of it is the same, such as the VPN protocols they support, the number of available servers, and more. But there are a few differences in how they behave on a Mac.

Let’s look at them briefly.

Resource Consumption

Internet Key Exchange, or IKE, is a lighter VPN protocol requiring fewer computer resources. Thus, it consumes less CPU and memory.

The NordVPN IKE version is built using the same IKE protocol, which means lower power consumption on your Mac computers. In my testing, my M1 Macbook Air with NordVPN IKE consumed less RAM and CPU, and the temperature remained stable.

However, the Mac’s temperature climbed by 2–3 degrees and consumed more memory and CPU when I tried the regular NordVPN (OpenVPN-based) for Mac.

Connection Speeds

Since the IKE protocol is lighter by default, it offers faster speeds and a more stable VPN connection compared to other versions and protocols.

nordvpn vs nordvpn ike speed test results

It’s the same with the NordVPN IKE version, offering faster speeds than the NordVPN OpenVPN version. Also, the lighter version has a more stable connection without speed drops or random disconnections.

Encryption & Connection Protocols

The IKE protocol was built solely because the industry needed a lightweight VPN protocol that offered military-grade encryption. Since then, the second generation of IKE (IKEv2) has been introduced with even better and stronger cryptographic algorithms.

Likewise, the NordVPN IKE application is built around the IKE protocol and uses the second generation of IKE (IKEv2) by default.

Thus, you won’t see the “IKEv2” option under protocol settings after downloading and installing NordVPN from the App Store (IKE version). After all, it’s built on the protocol and enabled for it by default.

However, if you install the OpenVPN-based Mac app from Nord’s website, you should select the IKEv2 manually inside the protocol settings to use this encryption protocol.

Fortunately, both versions use the same AES 256-bit encryption with PFS (Perfect Forward Secrecy), support the OpenVPN UDP and TCP versions, and offer the speed-focussed, WireGuard-based NordLynx.

Bandwidth Consumption

The NordVPN IKE version consumes less bandwidth by default. 

But does that mean the OpenVPN-based NordVPN application consumes more bandwidth?

The answer depends on many factors, such as the protocol you’ve selected (WireGuard-based NordLynx and IKEv2 are the least bandwidth-intensive), the VPN server you’re connected to, and a few other factors.

So, the OpenVPN-based NordVPN application’s bandwidth consumption varies, but it generally consumes a tad bit more bandwidth compared to the NordVPN IKE version.

Why Is NordVPN IKE Not Available on Windows?

I was curious to know this myself, and I spoke to Lawrence at NordVPN customer support to find out.

He explained that NordVPN’s developers had to build the NordVPN IKE version because the Mac’s App Store policy was stringent back in the day.

He also informed me that the NordVPN IKE lacked many features and configurations due to Apple’s strict App Store policy.

Finally, he told me that both versions are now identical and don’t lack anything compared to each other. That’s mostly due to the relaxed rules governing the Apple App Store.

In fact, the only difference now is the protocol both versions are built on and a few other features, which shouldn’t be an issue.

Troubleshooting NordVPN IKE Connection Issues

The NordVPN IKE, like its other version, can encounter connection problems. 

So, let’s explore a few solutions, just in case.

  • NordVPN IKE isn’t connecting: This could be due to the NordVPN IKE configuration not being installed on your Mac. Uninstall and re-install the application, and when a prompt asks if you want to add the VPN configuration, click “OK.”
  • Switch VPN protocols: Choosing the right protocol can significantly affect connection speeds and security. If the NordVPN IKE version struggles to connect, use NordLynx before trying the OpenVPN protocols.
  • Connect to another server: If connecting to a server from a specific country takes too long, try a different server or connect to a different location entirely.
  • NordVPN IKE couldn’t be installed: Check if you have sufficient storage on your Mac, as NordVPN IKE may not install due to a lack of space. Also, consider restarting your Mac and re-installing NordVPN IKE from the App Store in the case of a system error.
  • Speak with customer support: If nothing has worked so far or it’s a different connection issue, contact customer service. They should better help you resolve your issues.
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NordVPN is one of the best VPN service providers for your Mac device, and you now know what it’s different versions mean.

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