ProtonVPN vs NordVPN

A winner in almost all of our testing categories, NordVPN comes out the winner but not quite as cleanly as you would imagine. ProtonVPN definitely throws in a pleasant surprise in the pricing category and it’ll make you question how and when you’re using a VPN. This one is definitely worth a full read through.

ProtonVPN vs NordVPN
Leona

Leona Baker, Author

Riley Marsden, Chief Editor

Contents

If you’re looking for a virtual private network (VPN) to protect your privacy and keep your internet connection secure, it can be difficult to know which one to choose – there are so many on the market offering a vast selection of features and making big promises.

We’ve taken a look at two of the most popular VPNs around, NordVPN and ProtonVPN, and compared their vital statistics to decide which one is best.

Speed

One key consideration when choosing your VPN is the effect it has on your internet speed; VPNs have a habit of lowering your internet speed due to the way in which it encrypts data, but some are better than others at limiting this impact than others.

NordVPN has consistently proved itself to be one of the best VPNs for maintaining high speeds – our test showed a speed decrease of just 19%, which should allow for high-quality streaming if your base internet speed is good. ProtonVPN, on the other hand, reduced internet speed by almost half – a 42% drop that is far more likely to lead to frustrating buffering.

Servers

NordVPN’s excellent reputation has been built on its breadth of servers – with over 5,500 servers in 59 countries, the service offers near-limitless access to reliable, speedy connections around the world – not to mention the ability to stream geo-blocked content from those countries (see streaming below for more details).

ProtonVPN’s server range is tiny by comparison, with 479 servers in 37 countries at the time of writing – although it should be pointed out that ProtonVPN is a growing company and has been expanding its number of servers for some time.

Although ProtonVPN’s range of servers is significantly lower and thus liable to offer slower speeds, it does cover most of the countries with major streaming apps.

Features

For the security-conscious user, one of the most important features of a VPN is the inclusion of a kill switch, which automatically takes you offline if you become disconnected from the VPN, preventing you from transferring data publicly.

Both NordVPN and ProtonVPN offer this function, although NordVPN also boasts an app kill switch which allows you to create a list of programs that will stop if your VPN disconnects, while allowing others to remain online.

NordVPN’s inclusion of a dual VPN option that routes your connection through more than one VPN server adds an extra layer of security that ProtonVPN cannot offer, while it also offers an auto-connect option that allows you to specify a country you would like to connect to – a real time-saver if you want to access region-specific content from a specific country on a regular basis.

Although ProtonVPN includes highly efficient versions of all the critical features you would expect from a VPN, the sheer variety of features offered means NordVPN claims victory in this category.

Streaming

The enduring popularity of streaming apps like Netflix and Disney Plus means people now expect access to content on-demand – so it can be frustrating to find that a show you’d like to watch is ‘geo-blocked’, meaning it is only available in a specific region. A VPN allows you to circumnavigate this issue by connecting to the app via a server in that country, opening up a whole new library of content to you.

Testing of these two VPNs showed that both were able to bypass the geo-restrictions on Netflix (both the US and UK versions), Hulu, Amazon Prime and BBC iPlayer.

However, while NordVPN streamed high-quality content from all of these services with minimal issues, the lower speeds offered by ProtonVPN led to occasionally blurry picture and occasional buffering. If streaming is your number one priority when choosing a VPN, then NordVPN is the superior product in this area.

Torrenting

Both NordVPN and ProtonVPN are great choices if you need a VPN that offers privacy when torrenting. Each of the companies has a no-logs policy that is designed to prevent outside agents such as your ISP or hackers from monitoring your online activity – an essential feature when torrenting, as some ISPs don’t allow P2P file-sharing.

ProtonVPN allows the use of torrenting software on all of its servers, while NordVPN offers servers optimised for P2P data transfer. Although there is little to choose between the two products in this category in terms of the privacy they offer or the efficiency of their servers we have to give the narrow win to NordVPN – the vast number of servers and superior internet speeds just giving it the edge.

Gaming

Modern online requires a fast, reliable connection – and that can be an issue if you have an ISP that throttles your bandwidth during busy periods. A VPN can come in handy in this scenario, masking your activity and therefore making it difficult for your ISP to limit your download speeds.

Once again, the number of available servers and average speed are the key issue in this category, which gives NordVPN a clear advantage. Gaming is certainly not impossible with ProtonVPN, but the amount of lag can make it a frustrating experience – but NordVPN’s ability to maintain a high proportion of your base internet speed ensures you cam comfortably play games without worrying about buffering issues.

If offline gaming is more your thing, the geo-unblocking capabilities of both products means you can access games that have only been released in other countries without any hassle – but for gaming enthusiasts, NordVPN is the superior service.

Free Trials

Nordvpn free trial

NordVPN have a well-documented month long trial which is a fantastic offering, particularly compared to others in the market. A stand out.

ProtonVPN free trial
While ProtonVPN doesn’t offer free trials, it does provide a low-speed entry package completely free of charge, as well as a 30-day money-back guarantee on paid plans.

Other Considerations

Price

NordVPN’s prices start at $11.95 per month, but that price is reduced hugely for longer-term plans – a three-year plan works out at $3.44 per month.

ProtonVPN’s low-speed entry package (limited to one device) is free, with high-speed paid plans ranging from the $4 per month basic plan to the $24 per month ‘visionary’ plan?

Support

NordVPN’s customer support is helpful and response times are very quick.

ProtonVPN, on the other hand, offers no live webchat function – so if you have an issue, you will have to email and wait for a response.

The Verdict

ProtonVPN is what we would call a highly efficient VPN – consistent, trustworthy and reliable. All of those words are good things in the world of VPNs and although this might look like a landslide result for NordVPN, it really isn’t. ProtonVPN is a seriously good VPN offering up against one of the best operators in the market. It will definitely beat other VPNs when head-to-head.

NordVPN, however, is the victor, dominating almost every category. However, this comes with one proviso – and that is price. If you’re a low-intensity user, ProtonVPN’s free package may be perfectly suitable for your needs, making it preferable to NordVPN’s more powerful paid options.