When it comes to choosing a VPN, there are a lot of choices in the market, and all providers claim to be the best when it comes to performance. But that is not the truth.
In this VPN comparison, we subject VPN providers Surfshark, NordVPN, and IPVanish to the unyielding eyes of our review team. If you are trying to choose the best VPN among these providers, we’ve got you covered.
In this head-to-head comparison, we’ll compare these top VPN providers. We’ll look at features, prices, and more to help you decide which one is best for you.
Let’s get started!
Brief Overview – Which VPN is the Best?
The best VPN really depends upon your needs, but not all VPNs offer the services they claim. Therefore, after an in-depth comparison of Surfshark vs IPVanish vs NordVPN, here is a brief overview of each provider.
If you’re still here, let’s check out a brief overview of all three top VPN providers.
Surfshark is regarded as the best VPN as it offers premium features at an affordable cost. It works with all popular streaming services such as Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, DAZN, etc. Moreover, the provider has an arsenal of security features including a kill switch, CleanWeb, Multihop, NoBorders, and many more. The best thing about this VPN is that it offers unlimited simultaneous connections. For details, feel free to check out our detailed review of Surfshark.
IPVanish is a feature-rich VPN with a great performance as it can help you stream US Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and more. It offers geographically diverse servers with support for unlimited simultaneous connections. It protects your data with a kill switch, military-grade encryption, and IP leak protection. Read our complete review of IPVanish to know more about this VPN.
Best known for its privacy features and large server network, NordVPN is a top-ranking service. The provider offers speedy servers for streaming, torrenting, and much more. It can easily unblock BBC iPlayer, Prime Video, Disney+, Netflix, etc. Some of its proprietary security features include Onion Over VPN, Double VPN, NordLynx, and CyberSec. You can check out our in-depth NordVPN review.
Surfshark vs IPVanish vs NordVPN – Price Comparison
Here is the side-by-side price comparison of the three providers:
|Free Trial||7-day trial||Nil||7-day trial|
Surfshark and NordVPN offer a 7-day free trial for Android and iOS users, but IPVanish is currently offering no free trial offer. The free trial offer gives a chance for users to try the service risk-free.
Surfshark is more budget-friendly as its 2-year plan is very cheap offering more savings. Therefore, Surfshark offers more value to customers with an 84% discount.
NordVPN, on the other hand, is offering a 68% discount on its 2-year plan. IPVanish does not offer a 2-year plan yet. The provider only offers monthly, quarterly, and yearly plans, with the yearly plan offering 63% off. But it’s still expensive as compared to other providers.
With that said, all these providers offer a 30-day money-back guarantee. So, in case you subscribe to any of the above-mentioned VPNs, you have 30-days to check the service, and if you don’t wish to continue, you can get a refund.
Winner: Surfshark is the winner of this category considering that it costs just $2.05/month on its 2-year plan. It offers the maximum value and savings.
IPVanish vs NordVPN vs Surfshark – Speed Test
VPNs in general slow down your speed a little because of traffic reroute and encryption. However, with the best VPN, you don’t experience any drastic changes. Typically, top-rated VPNs reduce your speeds by no more than 30%.
What Affects Your Internet Speed While Using a VPN?
There are a lot of factors that affect your internet speed while you are using a VPN such as:
- Bandwidth throttling: If you are a heavy data user, your ISP will throttle bandwidth causing slow speeds. You might experience throttling while doing a specific task or during a specific time period.
- Connection speed: Your base connection speed also plays an important role. Most modern networks offer a speed of 10 Mbps to 1 Gbps. If your connection is slow and you connect to a VPN server, you’re certainly going to notice sluggish speeds.
- Server location: Server location plays an important role in determining speed. If you are connected to a long-distance server, your traffic needs to travel a large distance thus slowing down speed.
- VPN speed limit: Although not common, some VPNs impose speed limits on their servers, so no matter how fast your connection speed is, you will get slow speeds.
Before testing our speed with a VPN, we recorded our normal speed and recorded a download speed of 10.10 Mbps and an upload speed of 10.23 Mbps.
Surfshark performed great in our speed test, as it retained more than 90% of our download speed which was impressive. On its US server, we got a download speed of 9.29 Mbps, meaning there was no bandwidth throttling.
It means you can enjoy P2P, streaming, gaming, and other activities that require high-speed internet. However, we got really high ping, so it might disrupt your gaming experience with latency.
In terms of speed, IPVanish lagged behind Surfshark as we received a download speed of 7.12 on its German server which was close to our actual location in the Netherlands. However, our upload speed decreased drastically to 3.53 Mbps.
We also ran speed tests on its US server, and our speed decreased to 4.31 Mbps. Considering the low upload speeds, IPVanish is not suitable for torrenting.
NordVPN was not as fast as Surfshark, but it did retain 70% of our download speed. We connected to NordVPN’s US server and used its proprietary NordLynx protocol which is an enhanced version of the WireGuard protocol.
Nonetheless, with this speed, you won’t have to face any buffering or lag while streaming, browsing, or torrenting. With NordVPN too, the ping was very high, so it might affect your gaming experience a bit.
Winner: Surfshark is a clear winner here as it retained most of our internet speed, offering a fast connection for data-intensive tasks like streaming, torrenting, gaming, etc.
Surfshark vs NordVPN vs IPVanish – Ease of Use (Setup/ Interface)
A VPN needs to have easy-to-use apps and an interface that is easy to navigate around. Therefore, we tested IPVanish, NordVPN, and Surfshark to see how easy they are to use, and here are the results.
Surfshark offers an easy-to-use app with a simple UI that most VPNs offer. On the main app window, you can see all the server locations, and a quick connect button for ease.
The app comes in light and dark modes. You can even set the mode to follow the theme of your device and it will change automatically. All the advanced settings are stacked to the left of the app and are easily accessible.
If you go to settings, you will find all the advanced VPN features in the tab like kill switch, split tunneling, CleanWeb, and others. You can also choose your desired tunneling protocol, or select the automatic option.
IPVanish has a striking app with a green and dark background. It’s not as easy to use as Surfshark because it displays too much information once connected to a server such as a speed graph, connection time, protocol used, used data, and server.
The server list is not accessible from the main window but is stacked to the left sidebar where you can easily access them. Similarly, you can also access advanced settings like kill switch, encryption, protocols, and split tunneling from the Settings option.
NordVPN boasts an intuitive app interface with a map that shows server locations. Instead of searching for servers from the list, you can simply click on a location on the map, and it will connect you to a server.
In the app menu, you will find different tabs for features like General, kill switch, and advanced. Each one is neatly organized and it is very easy to navigate the app on windows, mobile phones, and other devices.
Winner: Surfshark and NordVPN both offer great apps, but Surfshark is the winner here because its apps are very easy to use. The map interface in NordVPN takes a lot of screen space which might be confusing for some users. Similarly, IPVanish apps offer a lot of information, which is confusing at times.
NordVPN vs Surfshark vs IPVanish – Features Comparison
The table below shows a side-by-side comparison of features offered by IPVanish vs Surfshark vs NordVPN.
|256-bit AES encryption||✓||✓||✓|
|Automatic kill switch||✓||✓||✓|
|Onion Over VPN||✓||x||✓|
|DNS leak protection||✓||✓||✓|
Surfshark offers tons of advanced features. Since its launch in 2018, it has come a long way and is now a full-fledged VPN that offers tough competition for other providers.
If we dive into features, Surfshark’s NoBorders feature allows you to use the VPN in countries with heavy restrictions. There is also a Camouflage mode that obfuscates your traffic, allowing you to surf the internet undetected.
You also get a CleanWeb feature that blocks ads, trackers, and malware when your VPN is connected. Other features include WhiteLister, a split tunneling feature, and MultiHop which acts as a double VPN. Apart from that, it offers a network of 3200 servers in 65 countries.
IPVanish is a feature-rich VPN with advanced features like encrypted storage, split tunneling, and SOCKS5. It offers 2000 servers in 75 countries.
When you subscribe to IPVanish, you get access to encrypted storage called SugarSync for a small fee. SugarSync allows you to store up to 500GB of data that gets encrypted with AES 256-bit encryption.
You also get a split tunneling feature, along with a free SOCKS 5 proxy and perfect forward secrecy. There’s a customizable kill switch feature available as well.
NordVPN is geared heavily towards privacy and offers so many features that you will not find in other services. It recently started offering a Threat Protection feature that blocks various threats including trackers, dangerous files, and malicious websites.
There is a dark web monitor, double VPN, and onion over VPN. Dark Web Monitor checks your email ID and warns you if your personal data is leaked onto the dark web.
Kill switch makes sure your data is protected at all times. Some proprietary features of NordVPN include Meshnet and Presets. Meshnet allows NordVPN to establish a secure connection between devices for data sharing. Presets allow users to create their VPN connection with speed and location settings.
It offers a large network of 5300 servers in over 60 countries across the world. NordVPN has one of the most diverse networks in the US with over 1970 servers.
Winner: Surfshark and NordVPN both offer great features, but NordVPN takes the lead due to the fact that it offers more advanced features.
Device Compatibility – Which VPN is the Best?
VPNs generally offer apps for various devices and platforms. To check the compatibility of these providers, here is an in-depth comparison of IPVanish vs Surfshark vs NordVPN and the apps offered.
Surfshark offers simple, easy-to-use apps for various devices, and you can also manually set it up on platforms like Xbox, PlayStation, Smart TVs, etc.
You can download its native app on Windows, iOS, Android, and macOS. It also supports various Linux distros, and one thing that we like about Surfshark apps for different devices is that they all are similar in terms of functionality.
Its apps are available in 15 languages, and the most impressive thing is that you can use one account on as many devices as you want as it supports unlimited simultaneous connections. It is no doubt one of the best multiple-device VPNs.
IPVanish is compatible with all major devices and platforms, and its apps are pretty easy-to-use. There are dedicated apps for Windows, iOS, Android, and iOS users. Linux users will need to use the Command Line Interface, as there is no dedicated app.
IPVanish Windows app offers the richest experience and it will be more appreciated by advanced users because you get a selection of different features that offer customization. Like Surfshark, you can connect unlimited devices simultaneously on a single account.
NordVPN offers a variety of apps for different devices, and it can also be used on a router. There is a Smart DNS feature as well that allows you to use NordVPN on devices that don’t have native support for VPNs like Smart TVs (like Samsung TV, Nvidia Shield, etc), gaming consoles, and others.
Windows, Android, iOS, Mac, and Linux users get dedicated applications with a map interface. You can connect 6 devices simultaneously and it also works with Amazon Firestick.
However, unlike Surfshark, NordVPN apps are different in terms of functionality across platforms. There are even two Mac apps.
The Winner: Surfshark is a winner here with its unlimited multi-logins and intuitive apps that are similar across all platforms. Even its mobile apps have all the features that you can find in desktop apps.
NordVPN vs IPVanish vs Surfshark – Unblocking Capability Comparison
VPNs are quite popular among users for streaming purposes as most popular VoD platforms are geo-restricted. Therefore we tried unblocking various popular streaming services to see which one is the best. Here are the results.
Surfshark is a great VPN for unblocking streaming sites as its servers are capable of bypassing stringent geo-blocks. During testing, we were able to unblock US Netflix, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime, and HBO Max.
Streaming speeds were great as well, as we experienced no buffering at all and the video quality was Ultra HD.
While IPVanish can unblock major streaming platforms, it does struggle with streaming Disney Plus, and a few Netflix libraries. We could, however, stream US Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer during testing.
However, it struggled with BBC iPlayer, and it only unblocked the platform on our second try, and the video quality was poor.
NordVPN is another solid VPN for streaming as it offers a vast server network that helps you unblock various sites. We could stream US Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer easily.
The Winner: Both Surfshark and NordVPN are great choices when it comes to streaming. However, Surfshark takes the lead slightly as it offers faster speeds, and works with all popular Netflix regions.
Unblocking Geo-Restrictions in China and Other Restricted Countries
VPNs have become quite common in China, and other countries with similar restrictions like UAE, Saudi Arabia, and more. However, not all VPNs are capable of working in these countries. So, we tested to see which VPN works in restricted environments. Here are the results.
Surfshark works great in China. We also confirmed from chat support that it is currently working in Mainland China and other restricted countries. For Chinese users, the UDP protocol is recommended.
Surfshark offers a “NoBorders” feature that obfuscates your VPN traffic and makes it look like normal HTTPS traffic. It allows you to bypass Chinese censorship and unblock websites and apps.
After a lot of research, we found that IPVanish does not work in China. IPVanish says on its website “please note that China, in particular, has started blacklisting our IP addresses…”
If you still want to use IPVanish, you can try connecting to it via manual configuration. Instead of connecting to servers, you can connect to a server’s IP address. But still, there is no guarantee that it’ll work in China.
NordVPN is another great choice for Chinese users as it works in Mainland China and other restricted countries. However, to use it, you have to manually set up the VPN on your device, using its mirror link.
NordVPN also offers an “obfuscation feature” to help you bypass the VPN blocking mechanisms of the Great Firewall of China and other countries.
The Winner: Surfshark and NordVPN both work in countries with heavy internet restrictions like China thanks to its obfuscation feature. IPvanish, however, doesn’t sadly.
IPVanish vs NordVPN vs Surfshark – Torrent Comparison
Most people use a VPN while torrenting because it not only keeps your online activities private but also helps bypass ISP throttling, offering faster speeds. Therefore, we decided to check how these VPNs would perform when it comes to torrenting, and here are the results.
Surfshark is a great choice for downloading torrent files as it offers special P2P servers for the task. Moreover, it also offers split tunneling and a SOCKS5 proxy for achieving fast download speeds.
While testing with uTorrent, we got a great average bitrate of 8.7MB/s on Surfshark’s Sweden server. It offers similar speeds on long-distance servers as well.
IPVanish is another solid choice for torrenting, but not the best in the department. The service does not have any specialized P2P servers, but its normal servers work with P2P without any issues.
There’s also a free SOCKS5 proxy for those who want faster connection speeds without compromising security. As for speed, IPVanish gave a download speed of 5.3MB/s which was slower than Surfshark.
NordVPN has dedicated servers for P2P, approximately, 4800 servers support P2P traffic. Moreover, its NordLynx protocol, an enhanced version of WireGuard, offers the best downloading speeds without any throttling.
During our tests, NordVPN gave us an average bitrate of 7.8MB/s, and you could expect even faster speeds if your seed/peer ratio is good. As for features, NordVPN supports split tunneling and SOCKS5 proxy.
Winner: Both Surfshark and NordVPN are excellent for torrenting, but Surfshark takes the lead by a small margin because of its fast-speed servers. The provider offers great torrenting speeds without any throttling.
Surfshark vs NordVPN vs IPVanish – Servers and Performance Comparison
The number of servers offered by a VPN affects the overall performance, as the more servers offered by a VPN the better the chance of getting over regional blocks on websites and unblocking geo-restricted platforms.
Surfshark offers 3200+ servers in 65 countries, while IPVanish has 2000+ servers in 75+ locations. NordVPN takes the lead with 5200+ servers located in more than 59 countries.
More servers mean you can find less congested servers to connect to for better speeds and performance. Moreover, NordVPN also has specialty servers such as Double VPN, P2P, and Onion Over VPN.
Onion Over VPN servers combines the features of Tor over VPN encryption thus enhancing your online security and privacy. This feature is lacking in Surfshark and IPVanish.
Additionally, NordVPN has hundreds of servers in different countries. For example, you will find 1900+ servers in the US, 600+ in the UK, and more.
Winner: NordVPN is the winner here as it has a wide network of servers with specialty servers as well.
NordVPN vs Surfshark vs IPvanish – Security Protocols Comparison
All VPNs use different protocols for securing data with encryption ciphers as well. In this section, we are going to compare the security protocols offered by each VPN.
The following table shows a side-by-side comparison of VPN protocols, and other features offered by NordVPN, IPVanish, and Surfshark:
|Encryption||256-bit AES||256-bit AES||256-bit AES|
NordVPN supports OpenVPN and WireGuard protocols. Its uses an advanced version of WireGuard called NordLynx that offers better security and performance. Moreover, the obfuscation feature ensures you can bypass VPN blocks all over the world.
Surfshark supports OpenVPN and WireGuard. It also offers a NoBorders feature that obfuscates internet traffic and circumvents internet censorship, useful in countries where VPNs are blocked.
IPVanish supports the latest WireGuard protocol, but it lacks obfuscation features, so it does not work in countries with heavy restrictions on VPNs and censorship.
Winner: Surfshark and NordVPN offer great features and protocols, but NordVPN takes the lead by a few points because of its upgraded version of WireGuard, called NordLynx.
Comparison of Logging Policies
When you are choosing the best VPN, it is very important to read the logging policies of the providers because it’s no good using a VPN that keeps logs of your usage data. Therefore, we have checked the privacy policies of each VPN to see what kind of data is stored. Here are the results.
Surfshark is a strict no-log policy VPN as it does not log any data. The provider does not store any connection logs or personal data like browsing histories, originating IP addresses, and more.
Surfshark is based in the safe jurisdiction of the British Virgin Islands and it has undergone third-party audits as well.
Fortunately, in 2017, IPVanish was acquired by StackPath and has been maintaining a clean no-logs policy. It was also audited by the Leviathan Security Group which confirmed the company’s no log practices.
NordVPN is a popular VPN known for being super secure. It is based in Panama and does not collect any user data regarding IP addresses, traffic information, and others.
Winner: Surfshark and NordVPN are the winners of this category as both have a trustworthy no logs policy with no records of divulging user information to authorities. IPVanish, on the other hand, has helped Homeland Security arrest a suspect by providing user logs.
IPVanish vs Sufshark vs NordVPN – Ease of Signing Up
Some VPNs make the signing up process so difficult that users abandon the service mid-way. Therefore, it’s important that the VPN offers a simple and easy signing-up process.
Surfshark and NordVPN both offer different payment options for users. Surfshark also supports Google Pay, Amazon Pay, and various cryptocurrency. NordVPN does not support Amazon Pay, but it does support Google Pay, Crypto payments, and credit/debit cards.
IPVanish on the other hand only supports PayPal, and credit cards. It does not support payments in cryptocurrency which is a drawback for users who want to make anonymous payments.
Both Surfshark and NordVPN offer a 30-day money-back guarantee for crypto payments as well.
Winner: Both NordVPN and Surfshark are great when it comes to payment options available for users and ease of signing up. However, Surfshark takes the lead because it also supports Amazon Pay, something that NordVPN does not support at the time of writing. IPVanish, on the other hand, does not support crypto payments.
Surfshark vs NordVPN vs IPVanish Customer Service
Customer support is an important feature of a VPN. VPNs are easy to use, but you might experience issues while using a VPN and this is where customer support plays an important role.
Surfshark live chat support is the best as it offers a human response, and before asking a question, Surfshark gives you an option to either talk to a live agent or bot. Their agents are very responsive and they respond within seconds so you don’t have to wait long.
IPVanish on the other hand also offers a live chat feature that is available 24/7. However, when you ask a question, a bot responds with blogs and FAQs to help you. After that, you get the option to talk to a live agent or leave a query.
NordVPN also offers a live chat feature that is powered by a chatbot. If you want to talk to a live agent, like IPVanish, you can later opt for it.
Winner: Surfshark is a winner here with superb customer support including human assistance as well. With Surfshark you don’t have to spend time chatting with the robot and get straight to live agents for help.
Other VPN Comparisons
You can check our other VPN comparisons:
- PureVPN vs Surfshark vs ExpressVPN
- Surfshark vs CyberGhost vs ExpressVPN
- PureVPN vs CyberGhost vs NordVPN
- NordVPN vs PureVPN vs Surfshark
- PureVPN vs ExpressVPN vs NordVPN
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Surfshark better than IPVanish and NordVPN?
Surfshark is better than IPVanish and NordVPN as it offers an unlimited number of simultaneous connections on a single account, is very affordable, and offers fast connection speeds, with a lot of features.
Do Surfshark, IPVanish, and NordVPN offer any deals?
Yes, Surfshark, IPVanish and NordVPN offer deals. Surfshark offers an 84% discount, IPVanish is offering 65% off on its yearly plan, and NordVPN is offering a 68% discount on its 2-year plan.
Is Surfshark faster than IPVanish and NordVPN?
Yes, Surfshark is faster than IPVanish and NordVPN. Thanks to its WireGuard protocol, it offered a fast average speed of 9.29 Mbps on a base connection of 10 Mbps, which was great. NordVPN was not far behind with 7.80 Mbps.
Bottomline – 1 Clear Winner
There you have it! A detailed rundown of Surfshark vs IPVanish vs NordVPN. If you are on a tight budget and want fast speed, Surfshark is an excellent choice with support for unlimited simultaneous connections. On the other hand, if you are more inclined toward privacy, NordVPN is a great choice with an array of privacy features. IPVanish is another great service, but it lacks in terms of speed and streaming.