ExpressVPN vs NordVPN 2020

We put these VPNs to the test to find out which is the best!

NordVPN and ExpressVPN are two of the biggest names on the VPN market.

Both VPNs perform very well when it comes to security, Netflix, streaming, torrenting, and ease of use.
The three biggest differences are:
1. Total number of servers (advantage: NordVPN)
2. Number of server locations (advantage: ExpressVPN)
3. Pricing (ExpressVPN costs around 55% more than NordVPN)

At the end of the day, we felt that ExpressVPN outperformed NordVPN (and was able to justify their price tag) by just enough for us to declare them the winner.
Continue reading to see how we came to the conclusion. More Info

How do these VPNs Compare?


ExpressVPN’s average download speed reduction time is lower than NordVPN

You should always expect that your internet speed will slow down when connected to any VPN. There are a few reasons for this, including the added level of encryption and rerouting of your internet to a remote server.

That being said, when using ExpressVPN and NordVPN you will still enjoy a high-speed connection, that closely matches the speed limit that you get from your internet provider. We ran several tests in order to compare the speeds that we get with each VPN. These tests ran while watching Netflix, torrenting with uTorrent, connected to an ethernet connection, and on wi-fi. We took all the data that we had and compared them with the speeds that we get doing these same activities without a VPN.

As you can see in the chart below, ExpressVPN has a download speed reduction of 18% and NordVPN had an average reduction time of 19%. While this is truly a minor difference, ExpressVPN is the winner.

In addition to having a slight edge in the speed test, ExpressVPN also offers an L2TP/IPsec tunneling protocol. L2TP is known to give users faster speeds at the cost of weaker security.

NordVPN doesn’t have L2TP/IPsec, so you would need to use the UDP/OpenVPN connection to get fast speed

VPN vendor ExpressVPN NordVPN
Download speed reduction 18% (UK) 19% (UK)
Upload speed reduction 20% (FRA) 17% (FRA)
Ping time to 24ms 25ms
Average time to connect (sec.) 11ms 9ms
Unblock successful for Netflix-logo Hulu-logo Kodi-logo Espn-logo Youtube-logo Bbc-logo Netflix-logo Hulu-logo Kodi-logo Espn-logo Youtube-logo Bbc-logo
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Why Most Speed Tests are Pointless & How We Correctly Test VPN Speeds

Speed determines how fast content uploads, so if you're torrenting or streaming, you want the speed to be somewhat identical to your regular internet speed. Since a VPN encrypts your data, it usually takes a bit longer to send your data back and forth, which can slow down your connection. However, if your ISP deliberately slows down your connection (also known as throttling) a VPN might increase your internet speed. Testing a VPN is somewhat pointless because new servers pop up and affect speed. Your speed can also differ according to your location, so your speed test might not match ours. Having said that, we tested the speed in numerous locations to provide you with the average.


NordVPN has more customization options

In terms of pure numbers, NordVPN wins when it comes to the overall number of servers (5,000+ vs 3,000), while ExpressVPN wins in terms of server locations (94 to 60).

We took a look beyond the numbers to see which VPN has better servers.

For starters, both companies have a strict no-log policy, which means that what happens when connected with their servers, stays on their servers. They both use military-grade encryption with AES 256-bit encryption, include unlimited speeds, connect with Netflix in the US, UK, Canada, France, Italy, Japan and more, allow streaming and torrenting, and work with TOR.

What sets NordVPN apart in this category is the customization options that you get with their servers. They have optimized some servers for Onion Over Tor, P2P, Double VPN, and offer Dedicated IP addresses. ExpressVPN doesn’t have customization options, it’s a one-click app, and the program will connect with the “best server available.”

VPN vendor ExpressVPN NordVPN
Server Locations 148 59
Server Countries 94 59
IP Addresses 1500 5201
Dynamic Server Switching
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The Big Mistake When Comparing Number of Servers and What to Really Look For

The ratio of servers to countries is an important factor to look at when choosing a VPN. Only paying attention to location or number of servers can get you in trouble. More servers generally means faster speeds, but if VPN X has a few more servers than VPN Y but twice as many users, VPN X will typically have slower speeds. Ideally, you want a VPN that has a lot of servers in every location. This way you won’t have to worry that server/country that you want will be overburdened and running slow


ExpressVPN has better troubleshooting and setup guides

It’s easy to see that customer service is a priority for both VPN providers. They both have 24/7 live chat support where you get an actual person to talk with instead of a chatbot. They also have ticket options in a case where you don’t need instant answers.

It’s the troubleshooting guides at ExpressVPN that put them over the top in this competition. They cover nearly every question or issue that might arise and give solutions that are easy to answer.

NordVPN does have a very good FAQ section, but it was more of a process to find what we needed than what we experienced with ExpressVPN.

Two examples that stand out are connecting my VPN to a router and connecting my VPN to PS3. ExpressVPN gives detailed instructions, including how to connect with the leading routers, while NordVPN was a more general article on How to connect a VPN with a router.

VPN vendor ExpressVPN NordVPN
Email Response Time 3 3
24/7 Support
Live Chat
Knowledge Base
Video Tutorials
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How We Test Customer Support and Why Should You Care

We personally test the customer support team of every VPN we review. This means asking technical question through the live chat feature (where applicable) and measuring the response time for email questions. Whether you need to connect to a specific server, change your security protocol, or configure a VPN on your router, finding a VPN with quality customer support should be important to you.

Ease of Use

ExpressVPN homepage screenshot
Extremely intuitive and easy to use, ExpressVPN lets you connect to any server you wish with just one click. Unless you have experience with computers, you're going to want a VPN that is easy to install and use. Intuitive apps that install and configure everything for you only enhances your VPN experience. However, you also want a VPN that allows you to personalize your settings if you wish. ExpressVPN has all of this and more.
It takes only a few minutes to understand NordVPN's interface. The map makes it easy to click and connect, and it's easy to enable added features. Because there are so many features and abilities, it takes some playing with to get the hang of, but it's one of the easiest VPNs to install and configure. Plus, because NordVPN has native apps for so many devices, you'll hardly have to lift a finger to get started.




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Which VPN Will You Choose?

This competition between NordVPN and ExpressVPN is very tight. With many similarities, it's easy to see why they are the top two VPNs on the market.

With that being said, it came down to the little things that really convinced us to declare ExpressVPN the winner. With the exception of the server numbers and customization options, anything the NordVPN does ExpressVPN just does it a little better. That is why, if you're deciding between NordVPN and ExpressVPN, our recommendation is to go with ExpressVPN. More Info

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