NordVPN vs. ExpressVPN
Users regularly come across many review websites that list these two as top providers in the marketplace. What happens if you put both VPNs against each other?
Pricing and Discounts
|Subscription Period||1 Month||1 Month|
|1 Year||6 Months|
|2 Years||1 Year|
|Special offer||70% Discount on a 3-Year Plan||3-Months Free with a 1 Year Plan|
|Highest price per month||$11.95||$12.95|
|Lowest price per month||$3.49||$8.32|
|Money Back Guarantee||30-Days||30-Days|
For NordVPN, the monthly pricing starts at $11.95. However, you can always opt for their bi-annual subscription, which gives you an amazing 24% discount.
Of course, the longer the duration, the cheaper the pricing. If you go for the yearly, you receive a 41% discount. This means, you only pay $6.99 month.
To get the best value though, I advise users to go for their 3-year plan, which brings down monthly costs to $3.49 (billed once as $125.64).
ExpressVPN tends to be the more expensive option among the two, costing $12.95 monthly. However, similar to Nord, you can get better discounts with longer durations.
For instance, the six-months plan will cost you $9.99/mo. (billed as $59.95 every 6-months), and the yearly $8.32/mo. (billed as $99.95 every 12-months).
With regards to money back guarantees, both ExpressVPN and NordVPN offer a 30-day refund, which you can utilize if you are not satisfied with either service.
Get This Best Deal for NordVPN: 70% discount on the 3-year plan
Get This Best Deal for ExpressVPN: Save 35% on their 1-year special
|Operating System Apps||Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android, iOS, Amazon Fire TV||Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android, iOS, Amazon Fire TV, and Routers|
|Manual Install Devices||Set-Top Boxes, Routers, and Linux||Some Routers, Set Top Boxes|
|Split Tunneling||Not Available||Yes (Desktop Apps Only)|
|Free Extras||Browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox, CyberSec, DoubleVPN, SmartPlay||Media Streamer Smart DNS, browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari|
If we talk about apps compatibility and features, ExpressVPN and NordVPN have equal standings. Of course, ExpressVPN gains an edge through its router support.
However, where ExpressVPN offers a router app compatible with DD-WRT and tomato routers, NordVPN makes available preconfigured VPN routers for its users.
With regards to split tunneling, ExpressVPN does support it only on desktop apps, whereas NordVPN does not include this feature in their VPN clients.
However, they do make available a list of useful features like CyberSec (protection against ads/malware/trackers), SmartPlay (speedy streaming), and DoubleVPN.
Most of these are missing with ExpressVPN, apart from the competitive Media Streamer, which allows users to enjoy smoother streaming on VoD services.
For browser compatibility, both ExpressVPN and NordVPN offer extensions for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Safari. So, it is a tie here again.
With regards to simultaneous connections, ExpressVPN only supports 3 multi-logins, whereas NordVPN offers the ability to establish 6 multi-logins!
|Netflix||All Netflix Libraries||13 Libraries|
ExpressVPN and NordVPN are both able to unblock all popular VoDs in the marketplace. ExpressVPN does face a little trouble in unblocking VoDs on some servers.
However, they still are able to unlock 13 different Netflix libraries. NordVPN, on the other hand, tends to be way better for streaming and unblocking different platforms.
If you approach their support team, they will give you a list of “working” servers. However, I’ve tested servers excluding the list, and Nord was still able to stream smoothly on all channels.
If I be completely unbiased, NordVPN and ExpressVPN are great choices for those residing in China, but not for expats who may want to access Chinese content elsewhere.
This is because both Nord and Express do not offer servers in China. Albeit, they do offer better functionality to residents, as they offer dedicated Chinese pages.
Setup and Interface
|Automatic Setup Wizard||Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and Linux,||Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Tomato, and DD-WRT Routers|
|Main Location Selection||Map-based||List-based|
|Extra Settings Pages||Yes||Yes|
If we compare the two services, ExpressVPN tends to adopt a more simpler yet user-friendly appearance. They stick to their traditional outlook, with a mixture of red and white in colors.
This remains consistent across all its desktop and mobile apps. The main screen is free of clutter and has a clear and visible connect button in the center for easy connectivity.
Country-selection and smart-locations options are placed at the bottom for easy finding of servers, which you can use for unblocking VoDs or engage in p2p torrenting.
For mobile devices, configurations options are lesser than their desktop version. Kill switch and protocol selection are also missing, along with split tunneling features.
NordVPN, on the other hand, has a more broader interface. The Windows app launches by displaying its many server locations on a dynamic map.
They also offer a separate “Specialty” panel, where you can choose servers for specific tasks: P2P/file sharing, accessing a dedicated IP, DoubleVPN, or Onion over VPN.
If you click on “Settings”, you gain access to a list of features like CyberSec, Internet Kill Switch, Invisibility on LAN, which boost your privacy online.
NordVPN’s mobile apps are just as user-friendly, swiping up gives you access to the complete list of servers, and you can even activate obfuscated servers directly.
Servers and Performance
|Total Number of Servers||5,300+||3,000|
ExpressVPN has a huge list of 3,000+ servers in 94 countries and 160 locations around the world. This is already more than many of its competitors in the marketplace.
Performance on each server is also quite amazing and ExpressVPN manages to deliver an average of 85.29 Mbps in downloads and 76.92 Mbps in uploads, based on my speed tests.
NordVPN, on the other hand, offers the second largest network in the marketplace of VPNs (first being CyberGhost), totaling to 5,300+ servers in 58 countries of the world
Speeds are also quite reasonable, touching the same averages as delivered by ExpressVPN. Both even successfully unblock streaming platforms and work in China.
However, it is worth noting that ExpressVPN uses virtual locations. 33 of their servers are virtual, whereas all of NordVPN’s servers are physical and obtained from third-parties.
Albeit, this did not work in favor for them, as recently NordVPN’s Finland server from Creanova was hacked, resulting in the exposing of their private keys (read more in the section below).
|VPN Protocols||PPTP, L2TP, IKEv2, OpenVPN||PPTP, L2TP, OpenVPN|
|OpenVPN Data Encryption||AES-256||AES-256|
|OpenVPN Control Channel Encryption||RSA-2048||RSA-4096|
|Cloaking Technology||Obfsproxy||Cipher Block Chaining|
|Extra Protection||Double-Hop Routes and Onion over VPN|
|App Security||Kill Switch, Wi-Fi, DNS/WebRTC/ IP Leak Protection||Kill Switch|
|DNS Status||PrivateDNS||Private DNS|
Both NordVPN and ExpressVPN offer amazing privacy and security to users. They utilize some of the best and advanced technologies for keeping the identity of customers anonymous.
NordVPN offers support for all protocols, including OpenVPN, L2TP and IKEv2. For the data channel, the provider uses an AES-256-CBC cipher with HMAC SHA256 hash authentication.
For its control channel, NordVPN utilizes the same ciphers and hash authentication above, with the inclusion of an RSA-2048. Perfect Forward Secrecy (PFS) is setup using the strong DHE-4096 key exchange.
The VPNs iOS apps, on the other hand, use IKEv2 with an AES-256-GCM cipher and HMAC SHA2-384 data authentication. PFE is provided by a DHE-3075 exchange.
For users who sign up with ExpressVPN, you can expect the same strong security as NordVPN. The service supports OpenVPN, SSTP, L2TP/IPSec, and PPTP protocols.
For security, you receive protection via AES-256-CBC and AES-256-GCM ciphers. The difference between the two is of something called “chosen ciphertext attacks”. AES-256-CBC uses a secure Message Authentication Code (MAC).
Conversely, AES-256-GCM has built-in authentication codes, which makes the process a whole lot faster! For added security, ExpressVPN utilizes Perfect Forward secrecy via the DH-2048 Diffie-Hellman key exchange.
Since both providers successfully anonymize your IP address, revealing no WebRTC, DNS, or IPv6 leakages, it is tough to decide on a winner in the privacy segment. So, it is 2 points each for now!
In terms of cloaking technology, ExpressVPN uses cipher blocking chaining and NordVPN the infamous Obfsproxy, which displays VPN traffic as regular HTTPS traffic.
As such, the latter (Nord) is definitely better, even in terms of features, offering Kill switch, Wi-Fi, and DNS/WebRTC/IP leak protection.
Sadly, these features did not help NordVPN gain defense from a hacking attempt, resulting in their private keys getting exposed. You can read about the complete incident here.
|Headquarters||Panama||British Virgin Islands|
|Sign Up Information||Email Address||Email Address|
|Anonymous Payment Methods||Monero, Dash, Gridcoin, Rpple, ZCaas, Ehterum, Litecoin, Bitcoin||Bitcoin and Mint|
NordVPN and ExpressVPN both have their headquarters in safe jurisdictions, away from the prying eyes of the Five, Nine, and Fourteen Eyes Alliances.
Where ExpressVPN is located in the British Virgin Islands, NordVPN has its HQ in the incredibly safe Panama. Both locations are free from mandatory data retention and mass surveillance laws.
As such, you can expect them to be more defensive than those VPNs, located in the US, Canada, Australia, etc, which have to comply with gag orders and requests from the government.
With regards to anonymous payment methods, ExpressVPN supports only Bitcoin and Mint, whereas NordVPN accepts Monero, Dash, Gridcoin, Rpple, ZCaas, Ehterum, Litecoin, Bitcoin, and others.
|Static IPs||40+ Locations||None|
For configurations, NordVPN gains an upperhand over Express. Where the BVI-based provider adopts a shared infrastructure and address allocation, Nord supports both: dynamic and static.
This helps the Panama-based provider offer more incentive to its users, particularly expats/travelers wanting remote access to office files and protection while accessing banking information.
It even makes it easier for NordVPN to bypass geographical restrictions on streaming platforms, as you use an IP address that is private and not being utilized by many different users at a single time.
Dedicated IPs are available as an add-on by NordVPN, meaning you will have to pay extra for them, with features like DDoS protection costing you more. Below is an overview on the pricing and locations where you can get a dedicated IP:
|Searchable Knowledge Base||Yes||Yes|
|Average Email Response Time||30 Minutes||33 Minutes|
|Live Chat Support||Yes||Yes (Outsourced)|
Competitors in the VPN industry should learn a thing or two from NordVPN and ExpressVPN. Both providers do a great job of delivering instant and useful customer support.
You have quite a lot of options available for receiving assistance, excluding a phone helpline. Regardless, you still can rely on the live chat, email support, and knowledgebase for answers.
I even conducted a test on the response times from each provider. The process included sending both providers four questions via email. See the statics for each VPN below:
|Question||Initial Response Time||Number of Emails||Question Answered|
|Does NordVPN work with Netflix?||12 Minutes||1||Yes|
|Is NordVPN good for Torrenting?||40 Minutes||1||Yes|
|What encryption does NordVPN use?||38 Minutes||1||Yes|
|How activate NordVPN’s obfuscated servers?||30 Minutes||1||Yes|
|Question||Initial Response Time||Number of Emails||Question Answered|
|Can ExpressVPN be traced?||15 Minutes||1||Yes|
|Does ExpressVPN store Logs?||18 Minutes||1||Yes|
|How to Watch Netflix with ExpressVPN?||55 Minutes||1||Yes|
|What features does ExpressVPN offer for torrenting?||47 Minutes||1||Yes|
There is no doubt that NordVPN is equally as good as ExpressVPN. Sadly, the recent scandal of it being hacked has resulted in it losing all its credibility and reputation.
This is why I recommend going for the much safer and reliable option, ExpressVPN, as it has never been hacked nor does it store logs (verified when the Turkish authorities seized their servers).
The VPN is an all-rounder service, which is worth the high costs. However, if you are in search of a cheaper alternative, do consider signing up with the Hong Kong based, PureVPN!