26% of users utilize a VPN when accessing the internet. Among these, users of ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and PureVPN make a considerable chunk of the market.
Each of these VPNs has its benefits and shortcomings. Evaluating which one is the best for you can be confusing and can waste a lot of time. Fortunately, we have planned this guide to help our readers decide the best VPN for streaming, file sharing, privacy, and others.
Our comparison of ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and PureVPN is based on speed, price, features, ease of use, and much more.
Brief Overview – Which VPN is the Best?
Each VPN has its Unique Selling Point. Some are good for streaming, while others provide higher speeds or an extensive feature set. Let’s discuss some of the outstanding features of the VPNs on our list.
ExpressVPN is a household name among VPN service providers. According to Techradar, it’s “the best offshore VPN for privacy and unblocking.” With servers in more than 94 countries, ExperssVPN offers excellent infrastructure among its competitors.
Apart from offering stable connections for streaming, NordVPN is ideal for P2P file sharing. Also, it has other advantages such as dedicated servers for specific workloads. Overall, NordVPN is priced well and provides excellent value.
PureVPN is one of the cheapest VPNs out there, and still offers almost all the features that other premium options offer. Moreover, it’s compatible with various platforms and has an excellent Google Chrome extension. PureVPN is targeted towards casual users looking to stream and browse geo-restricted content.
Let’s take a look at the pricing of our VPNs and what kind of value they provide.
|6 month||$9.99/month (23% off)||N/A||N/A|
|1-year||N/A||$4.92/month (58% off)||N/A|
|15-Month||$6.67/month (49% off)||N/A||N/A|
|2-year||N/A||$3.71/month (68% off)||$3.33/month (70% off)|
ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and PureVPN, all provide a 30-day money-back guarantee, and the packages are billed at the beginning of the period.
All three options have distinct pricing strategies. ExpressVPN charges the most as it is somewhat of a premium option. NordVPN is pricey too, but it offers heavy discounts for long-term customers. PureVPN, on the other hand, is inexpensive and focuses on short term customers.
It’s worth mentioning that ExpressVPN offers a free 3-month period for users that opt for a 15-month package. This deal is sure to attract a lot of users that want premium features at a fraction of the cost. Similarly, PureVPN offers a 7-day trial and a 47% discount for subsequent months at $5.82/month.
The Winner: NordVPN turns out to be an inexpensive and worthy option as far as the pricing comparison goes. Their 1-year plan is suited best for everyone at $6.99/month.
The Speed Test – Which VPN is the fastest?
VPN reroutes your internet traffic and your internet speed is bound to get affected by that. Let’s discuss why this happens before we test these VPNs for their speed.
What Affects Your Internet Speed While Using a VPN?
Internet speeds can be affected by various factors that may or may not be related to VPNs:
- Bandwidth Throttling: ISPs often share bandwidth with different networks causing your speeds to throttle. In addition, they may put limits on certain downloads, such as large files or P2P file sharing.
- Your Connection speed: Your connection speed has the most noticeable impact on how fast your internet is.
- Server Location: A VPN that has physical servers all over the world will provide stable connections wherever you are. Generally, it’s best to have a server in your country or a neighboring one.
- VPN speed limit: Some VPNs may limit the speed they can provide, such as 15mbps-50mbps, regardless of your connection speed.
A good VPN optimizes your connection to minimize the bandwidth loss. We have done our analysis by checking which VPN provides the fastest speeds.
First, we compared the baseline speed our ISP allows
Our numbers via ethernet on our desktop are 10.10 Mbps download, 10.23 Mbps upload, and a 2 ms ping.
Upon testing, ExpressVPN provided some of the highest speeds that we’ve seen. It retained more than 95% of the download speed. This kind of speed is more than enough for streaming, browsing, and more or less every other task. Moreover, a 183ms ping can also handle multiplayer games in most cases.
NordVPN retained 77% download speed. This kind of performance is still excellent, but it’s lesser than ExpressVPN. While this speed is sufficient for Full HD streaming, a ping this high will ruin your online gaming experience.
PureVPN performs just as expected. In terms of speed, it is not that far behind NordVPN, but it limits the upload speed. This kind of connection is still enough for streaming and browsing, but you may have to wait a while when uploading large files over the web.
The Winner: Without any doubts, ExpressVPN turns out to be a blazing fast VPN due to higher download and upload speed.
Ease of use (Setup/Interface)
Every software needs to be intuitive and easy to use. This applies to VPNs as well. To help you figure out the best one in this category, we did an in-depth VPN comparison for ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and PureVPN based on ease of navigation and user interface.
The user interface is simple and easy to use with a prominent button that lets you secure your connection. It chooses the best server for you and connects quickly.
On the other hand, ExpressVPN offers plenty of options for various user preferences. Users can choose when the program starts, which servers it connects to, and toggle the built-in internet killswitch.
NordVPN also presents a user-friendly interface. The quick-connect option works fast and handles the settings all by itself. Moreover, the option to choose between specialty servers on the front page is a pleasant addition.
On the other hand, the windows application provides plenty of options for advanced users, ranging from obscured servers to custom DNS.
Connecting to PureVPN takes one extra step; it asks which “mode” you prefer before it connects to the most suitable server.
Moving on, as you go into the application’s preferences, you can change app settings, choose security protocols, and optimize the multi-port settings.
There is no objective winner when it comes to the user interface. These applications are intuitive, and even users with limited knowledge can easily operate all three of them.
The Winner: While personally using all three apps, ExpressVPN seemed easier to use and navigate. Their app is compact and displays everything required.
Take a look at this table to see which of the three VPNs has support for the following features.
|No Logs Policy||✓||✓||✓|
|Automatic Kill Switch||✓||✓||✓|
|DNS Leak Protection||✓||✓||✓|
|Native Onion Over VPN||✓||✓|
|Multi-logins||5 devices||6 Devices||10 Devices|
As you can see, all three VPNs offer a range of services, and they are quite competitive with the features they offer.
Apart from various features, a VPN needs to have a robust infrastructure as well. A good VPN should have servers located all over the world so the users get a reliable connection regardless of where they are located. Here are the stats for each of our picks:
- ExpressVPN has more than 3000 servers located in 94
- NordVPN has more than 5500 servers in 59 countries
- There are more than 6500 PureVPN servers located in more than 140 countries
A well-scaled network of servers has obvious benefits. It allows users to access uncensored internet, and region-free streaming, among other things. For example, a user located in China can connect to a US-server and get uncensored access to the web. They can even stream shows from Netflix US.
Both NordVPN and ExpressVPN have successfully established a network of fast servers over the globe that support streaming, file sharing, and provide superior security. PureVPN, on the other hand, has a less expansive network, but can still perform well for streaming and basic browsing.
Moving on, let’s talk about compatibility. Compatibility refers to the support for various platforms and software that these VPNs provide.
ExpressVPN has support for a wide variety of computers, tablets, and phones. It has apps for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Amazon Kindle Fire, Windows Phone, Chromebook, and Linux. It’s also compatible with routers from Asus, D-Link, DD-WRT, Linksys, etc. Moreover, it supports NAS storage systems like QNAP, Synology, and ASUSTOR. For reference, NordVPN officially supports only Synology and QNAP.
Now, let’s talk about the USPs of each of our VPNs.
Since ExpressVPN provides the highest speeds, it is ideal for streaming. Moreover, it has an excellent android app. This makes ExpressVPN the best option for streaming Netflix, BBC, Hulu, Disney+, etc.
On the other hand, NordVPN has dedicated support for P2P file sharing and specialty servers that support Onion over a VPN. P2P and onion service can be used with ExpressVPN and PureVPN, but NordVPN supports it natively. It provides higher speeds for torrenting via clients like uTorrent, BitTorrent, etc. Most NordVPN servers provide full support for P2P, whereas it’s not as well-supported on PureVPN.
Looking at the features, we can see what each VPN is best for. ExpressVPN is on top if you need privacy over various platforms. It supports consumer-grade Windows, as well as NAS storage for professionals. It also provides a stable connection and excellent customer support (more on that later)
The Winner: NordVPN costs marginally less and performs just as expected. It also provides support for various platforms, but perhaps it functions best in streaming services, for downloading large files and providing overall internet security.
Here, we’ll compare how well-optimized ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and PureVPN are when using streaming services.
Just as we expected, ExpressVPN performed flawlessly in this regard. The VPN took a few seconds to connect to a US server. Although the speed was noticeably slower compared to the nearest servers, we could see all US specific shows. We tried streaming on Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer, all of whom worked without any issue.
NordVPN performed the most consistently out of all three VPNs, perhaps due to its servers being more optimized for streaming. Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer streamed flawlessly with no buffering or lag.
PureVPN worked as expected. It streamed all the latest shows in “streaming mode” without any issues. We were able to stream US-region Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer without any trouble.
The Winner: When it comes to streaming, both NordVPN and ExpressVPN are marginally better than PureVPN. If you have to make your decision solely based on streaming performance, then we’d recommend NordVPN as it’s cheaper.
Servers and Performance Comparison
It’s interesting to see how the servers work. NordVPN has by far the highest number of servers that provide you with better connectivity options. But, it’s limited to 59 countries. That’s not bad, but ExpressVPN and PureVPN have servers in 94 and 140 countries respectively.
In practice, ExpressVPN performs similarly to NordVPN, with PureVPN close behind, as evident from our initial speed test. But that’s not it, there are other aspects to consider in a server and performance comparison.
For example, a dedicated IP. Dedicated IPs handle large amounts of traffic better, which makes them ideal for, say, a gaming server. Not only that, but dedicated IPs also allow users to install SSL certificates, and help SEO professionals improve their site ranking, among other things.
In our list, only NordVPN and PureVPN provide a dedicated/static IP. ExpressVPN does not provide a static IP as its servers are regularly rotated.
In addition to Dedicated IP, NordVPN has a few other specialty servers:
- P2P servers
- Onion over VPN
When it comes to compatibility and server performance, NordVPN takes the trophy! It offers various servers for specific uses like:
- Dedicated IP for stability and building a better brand identity, especially for e-commerce professionals.
- Onion over VPN: Native support for secure browsing using the .onion domain.
- P2P servers: for high-speed file sharing
The Winner: NordVPN, due to its robust features and prime performance.
Security Protocols Comparison
Modern VPNs use military-grade encryption. This refers to AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) that’s used by the military for confidential and top-secret data. AES-256 bit is the highest level of encryption and is used by most VPNs today.
It’s no secret that security protocols evolve. With time, experts develop advanced security protocols that offer higher security and better optimization. Here are performance and compatibility comparisons of various security protocols that these VPNs offer.
|PPTP||Fast||Poor||Medium||Good||Good||Most OS and devices|
|IPSec||Medium||Good||Good||Good||Good||Most OS and devices|
|L2TP/IPSec||Medium||Medium||Good||Good||Good||Most OS and devices|
|IKEv2/IPSec||Fast||Good||Good||Good||Good||Most OS and devices|
|OpenVPN TCP||Medium||Good||Good||Medium||Good||Most OS and devices|
|OpenVPN UDP||Fast||Good||Medium||Good||Good||Most OS and devices|
|WireGuard||Fast||Good||Poor||Medium||Medium||Android, Linux, iOS, and Mac|
VPNs choose the most suitable security protocols for their target performance. Accordingly, we have prepared a table that shows supported VPNs for ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and PureVPN.
The security protocol mumbo jumbo may be confusing for you, so let us break it down in simple words.
OpenVPN is by far the most commonly used, and reliable security protocol. There are similar protocols like SSTP that are better-integrated with the Windows platform. There are other protocols like L2PT that come with native support for various devices. But OpenVPN still outweighs the competition when it comes to benefits.
NordVPN uses OpenVPN by default but supports other protocols if you’re facing compatibility issues. It also supports Wireguard (NordLynx), a modern security protocol developed by NordVPN itself.
On the flipside, NordVPN does not support PPTP, unlike ExpressVPN and PureVPN. PPTP is one of the less secure protocols, but it’s the fastest. It can be ideal for casual use such as streaming and browsing.
The Winner: ExpressVPN, was the one that came up with the more secure WireGuard protection at first. And also they are a popular solution for maximum online privacy.
Privacy / Data required to Sign-up
Privacy is of utmost importance for VPN users. Sites that require you to input your payment details gather only your contact and billing information. VPNs also adhere to this standard.
In addition to the standard payment methods, ExpressVPN also supports giropay, Klarna, Yandex, etc. Moreover, all three VPNs provide a 30-day moneyback guarantee, and PureVPN even offers a 7-day trial period.
NordVPN and ExpressVPN both accept payment via Bitcoins, and NordVPN even offers a 30-day money-back guarantee via Bitpay.
Customer Service Comparison
Our comparison is based on the following criteria:
- Response times
- How helpful the representatives were
- Time is taken for Live Chat support to respond
But first, let’s take a look at the various support options available for each VPN.
|Mode of Support||ExpressVPN||NordVPN||PureVPN|
|Dedicated “Help/Support” tab||✓||✓|
Having a help/support page can go a long way for users facing connectivity issues. PureVPN lacks this feature, and users may have difficulty troubleshooting
When it comes to Live Chat support, NordVPN again took the lead. The representative who contacted us was prompt, knowledgeable, and was able to quickly resolve the issue.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t get any response from ExpressVPN as they’ve relieved their support staff due to the ongoing pandemic.
As for PureVPN, their reply wasn’t as prompt but they did a good job of trying to help us out in an understanding manner.
But it’s worth noting that neither of our VPN customer support is without its fault. NordVPN is fairly well-known for an unnecessarily long inquiry process where users have to go through multiple calls before they can solve their issues.
The Winner: Overall, we found ExpressVPN to be more helpful with their strong email support and resourceful guides.
Bottomline – 1 Clear Winner
Here it is, our final verdict on the best VPN among ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and PureVPN. What we can conclude from our thorough testing is that ExpressVPN is a premium option for users that want the best possible speed without compromising their privacy. NordVPN comes a close second and offers support for extra features.