Surfshark VPN vs NordVPN

Probably the toughest VPN battle that we’ve had to call yet. In this installation we compare VPN royalty; Surfshark and NordVPN. Both are wonderful examples of a well-balanced VPN offering; top features, reliability and high speeds coupled with well-thought-out pricing and great customer support.

Will NordVPN lose it’s crown? This is too close to give away. Scroll to find out.

Brian Choi, Author

Riley Marsden, Chief Editor

Contents

Whether you want to protect yourself from hackers, the government or your ISP, a virtual private network (VPN) is an essential bit of software if you value your online privacy.

NordVPN has been one of the market leaders for many years, but a host of new services offering innovative features have been launched in recent times as VPNs have become more widely known.

Surfshark is one of the most well reviewed of the new breed of VPNs, so we’ve tested it alongside NordVPN and compared the results.

Speed

The encryption process that a VPN uses to protect your data usually results in a loss of internet speed, so if your internet activity requires high-speed internet – for example gaming or streaming – you’ll need a VPN that can limit the amount of speed you lose.

Losing 23% of its download speed (7.8mbps with the VPN in use compared to 9.3mbps without it), NordVPN performs reasonably well in this category – but Surfshark’s 92% speed retention (10.1mbps with the VPN compared to 9.3mbps without) is truly impressive.

Upload speed and ping are roughly similar for both, but the download speeds offered by Surfshark put it easily on top.

Servers

A wide range of servers across the world is essential if you’re looking to access geo-blocked content (see streaming below for further details), as the VPN tricks the streaming service into thinking you are in the country where streaming is enabled.

With over 5,800 servers offered in 59 countries worldwide, NordVPN’s huge network puts it ahead of the competition in this respect.

Surfshark actually offers servers in more countries (63 at time of writing, with more being added regularly), and the 1700 available servers covers most streaming services around the globe – but the sheer scale of NordVPN’s server base makes it the winner here.

Features

One area in which both VPNs excel is the variety of excellent features they offer. If security is your priority, then NordVPN and Surfshark boast a raft of functions designed to protect your privacy.

Both services offer military-grade encryption to protect your data and an automatic kill switch feature, which will stop your internet connection instantly if the VPN server disconnects to prevent your online activity being made public.

NordVPN and Surfshark also have a no-logs policy, meaning they do not collect any information transmitted through the server.

The two services also offer split tunnelling, which allows you to route specific applications through the VPN while allowing others to remain public – so you can access geo-blocked content, but also maintain high internet speeds in your other activity.

In truth, it’s difficult to separate these VPNs based on their features, however one crucial benefit gives the win to Surfshark– they allow unlimited devices to connect to the VPN, whereas NordVPN limits you to six devices connected at once.

Streaming

Watching content from around the world has become one of the big draws of owning a reliable VPN. Many of the major streaming applications such as Netflix and Disney Plus provide different content to different regions, and limit the access to those regions – for example, the content available on Netflix differs if you’re in the US or Canada, and you will only be able to access your country’s content.

That is, unless you have a VPN, which can unblock shows by connecting via a server in the country where the content is streamed.

Again, NordVPN and Surfshark provide an excellent service in this regard, successfully providing access to various regions of Netflix and BBC iPlayer during testing.

Both allowed high-quality streaming at excellent speeds, making this one too tight to call.

Torrenting

If you use a P2P client to download and upload files, a trusty VPN (to protect your privacy) is very strongly recommend – even if this does come at a small cost in terms of losing some upload/download speeds.

Any regular torrent user that relies on fast data transfer has a top end VPN to ensure they have those speeds optimised. It’s as simple as that.

Some VPNs don’t allow you to access P2P clients, but both NordVPN and Surfshark not only allow it – they offer dedicated P2P servers that are optimised for quick transferral of files. With both services offering comparable privacy features and access to all major torrenting applications, the only way to separate them is by the speed they can offer – Surfshark narrowly wins.

Gaming

VPNs are useful if you’re into gaming, preventing your ISP from throttling your bandwidth and allowing you to access games that have only been released in other countries.

Although, as established above, Surfshark offers excellent download speeds, it doesn’t perform quite so well in terms of ping, leading to higher latency. This means it takes a little longer for data to be sent to and from your device, and can lead to lag that can make gaming a frustrating experience.

Testing had showed that NordVPN had a similar level of latency, but both should allow you to play games without too many problems.

Overall, although the products perform similarly in this area, NordVPN’s greater number of servers make it the superior choice.

Free Trials

Nordvpn free trial

NordVPN has a well-documented 30 day free trial that many other provider fail to match. It’s a generous amount of time to fully get to grips with the app. Top marks.

Surfshark free trial

Surfshark offer a 7 day free trial – a much more common trial period in line with much of the industry. They also offer a 30-day money back guarantee which is typically well-honored in our experience with Surfshark.

Other Considerations

Price

As with most VPNs, both Surfshark and NordVPN offer significant reductions if you take out a long-term plan.

Prices start at $11.95 for a monthly rolling plan, while prices drop to as a little as $1.99 per month for a two-year Surfshark plan and $3.44 per month for a three-year NordVPN plan.

Support

Each of these services offer dedicated support through their websites, allowing you to access help quickly and easily. NordVPN also offers a live chat function with replies usually received within moments.

The Verdict

This has potentially been our most difficult decision yet. We’ re comparing two of the very best options on the VPN market and frankly, I didn’t foresee NordVPN ever being beaten in a battle.

Well for my money, Surfshark just wins it with slightly better speeds and cheaper pricing. 

That’s not to say NordVPN has performed poorly, quite the opposite. With either of these providers you’ll enjoy the best of features, speed and user experience. Purchase both with a lot of confidence.