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NordVPN vs Surfshark (2021): Which VPN Is Better?

Comparing NordVPN and Surfshark is like pitting a famous celebrity against a rising star. NordVPN is arguably the most popular VPN today, with millions of users and thousands of servers across the world. Can Surfshark, with its amazing value and surprisingly topnotch performance, compete toe-to-toe with such a VPN giant? Find out below. 

NordVPN vs Surfshark VPN Comparison Chart

NameNordVPNSurfshark
 NordVPNSurfshark logo
PriceCheck Price at NordVPN.comCheck Price at Surfshark.com
HeadquartersPanamaBritish Virgin Islands
No. of Servers5,000+1,700+
No. of Countries59+63+
P2P ServersYesYes
Max Devices6Unlimited
Streaming ServicesAmazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, HBO GO, Hulu, Netflix, YouTube TVAmazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Netflix, YouTube TV
AppsWindows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, Chrome, Firefox, Fire TV, Apple TV, PlayStation, Xbox, Smart TVs, RoutersWindows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, Chrome, Firefox, Fire TV, Apple TV, PlayStation, Xbox, Smart TVs, Routers
Support24/7 Live Chat24/7 Live Chat
Ad BlockerYesYes
Money-Back Guarantee30 days30 days

Apps and Features

Surfshark allows unlimited devices while NordVPN’s apps have slightly more features.

Both NordVPN and Surfshark have downloadable apps for all major operating systems. They can also be set up on gaming consoles, smart TVs, streaming media players, and routers. However, NordVPN’s apps are a bit more impressive and feature-rich, offering its proprietary features such as SmartPlay DNS, CyberSec, etc., along with a visual world map of server locations. While it’s debatable how useful this map is, there’s no denying its added flair, which makes using the NordVPN apps more fun than Surshark’s simplified interface.

One of Surfshark’s biggest trump cards over NordVPN is that you can connect an unlimited number of devices at the same time. In comparison, NordVPN only allows up to 6 devices simultaneously. You can get around this by configuring NordVPN on your router, but you’ll have to check whether it’s compatible first. 

If you’re getting a VPN for streaming, NordVPN and Surfshark are equally adept at getting past geo-restrictions. Both have proven to be capable of unblocking Netflix in multiple regions, though Surfshark can access a few more libraries and had no problems with BBC iPlayer. On the other hand, NordVPN works smoothly in streaming other platforms, including HBO GO, ESPN, and Disney+.

Speed and Coverage

NordVPN is faster and has more servers than Surfshark.

As one of the biggest VPNs today, NordVPN has more than 5,000 servers spread throughout 60 countries. Yet despite having tens of millions of users, NordVPN is able to deliver fast connection speeds to every one of them. It’s truly impressive how NordVPN maintains its topnotch speed whether you’re connecting to a local or long-distance server. Moreover, all of NordVPN’s servers are physically located within the country they’re designated. You can expect decent speeds even when connected to a server halfway around the world.

In comparison, Surfshark uses virtual locations for some of its servers, which ensures acceptable performance in countries with poor connection speeds. Surfshark is a medium-sized VPN based on their server numbers. To put it into perspective, Surfshark’s 1,700+ total global servers are still considerably less than NordVPN’s 1,900+ servers in the US alone. Speed-wise, Surfshark delivers amazing speeds considering how new it is, though you’ll experience much bigger speed drops as you connect to physically farther servers.

For torrenting, neither NordVPN or Surfshark have specialty servers dedicated for it, though they have numerous P2P-friendly servers. The good thing is, once their apps detect P2P traffic, they’ll switch you to a P2P-friendly server so you can get optimal speeds. For extra secure connections, NordVPN also other optimized servers, including double VPN, dedicated IP, obfuscated, and Onion over VPN servers.

NordVPN’s obfuscated servers do an excellent job of bypassing censorship in strict countries like China. These hide your VPN activity along with your traffic and location, allowing unrestricted access while inside said countries. Surfshark’s NoBorders mode and Camouflage mode work similarly.

Security and Privacy

NordVPN and Surfshark offer comparable security and privacy features.

For any VPN to be considered among the best, it needs to have rock-solid security and watertight privacy. Naturally, NordVPN and Surfshark does not skimp on this aspect. Offering some of the most secure VPN services today, both utilize the strongest encryption available as well as effective DNS and IPv6 leak protection to ensure that your traffic is kept private and unreadable by third parties. 

NordVPN and Surfshark both implement strict no-logs policies, so no user data gets kept in any of their servers. They’re based in Panama and the British Virgin Islands, respectively, countries which do not require user data to be stored and whose laws are very friendly towards online privacy. 

To create VPN tunnels, NordVPN uses OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPSec, and their proprietary NordLynx, which is an improved version of WireGuard. Surfshark uses the first two security protocols, too, along with Shadowsocks, which they’ve specially designed for restrictive countries. Their app versions and specialty servers will automatically use default protocols, though you’ll be free to switch manually. 

Both also have ad and malware blockers (NordVPN’s CyberSec and Surfshark’s CleanWeb) that you can customize further. Other security features they share include a kill switch, and double VPN, which Surfshark further improves with MultiHop for even better footprint masking. Meanwhile, NordVPN has servers that are compatible with The Onion Router, which adds layers of anonymity to your VPN tunnel.

Pricing and Support

Surfshark is more affordable than NordVPN.

It’s almost unbelievable how cheap Surfshark’s special pricing is when you think about the overall quality of its services. Among the top VPNs today its 2-year plan is certainly the most affordable, so you can get amazing value with a VPN that works on all devices and sports all necessary security elements. Even better, you can take advantage of their 30-day money-back guarantee to get a risk-free trial to test out their VPN apps for yourself.

NordVPN is just as impressive, though, since its multi-year plans are still very affordable. Longer-term subscriptions will usually net you a lot of savings on the monthly rate, and NordVPN’s current promotions make their 2-year plan just as low as their 3-year one. 

Customer support is excellent for both VPNs, as their live chat support teams are reachable 24/7 and provide friendly help. You can route your concern via their ticketing systems but expect replies to take longer, up to 24 hours. If you want to troubleshoot and find things out for yourself, they have a hefty knowledge base and user guides section on their websites.

Verdict

NordVPN is faster and bigger, but Surfshark beats it on value.

NordVPN

Ultra-fast VPN

NordVPN

Surfshark

Top value VPN

Surfshark logo

While it’s been making an impressive showing thus far, Surfshark still has some ways to go to catch up to NordVPN. With its large global network and rocket-boosted speeds, NordVPN is the clear winner if you’re after a fast VPN that lets you utilize your high-speed connections while being protected online at the same time. Moreover, NordVPN continues to take further steps in upgrading their security, enhancing both their infrastructure and software. 

If you’re looking for an affordable yet capable VPN, then Surfshark is simply unbeatable in value. Its best plan with the most savings is roughly half the cost of NordVPN’s cheapest, and you still get comparable performance in terms of security and online privacy. Furthermore, you can easily install Surfshark’s apps on any of your devices and connect them all securely at the same time.

FAQs

📌 Which VPN is best for streaming?

Both NordVPN and Surfshark are among the few VPNs that can reliably unblock streaming geo-restrictions on popular platforms. NordVPN stands out a bit more due to the size of its global network and effectiveness for several services, which include Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer. Moreover, you can get faster speeds on NordVPN to fully enjoy video content in high-definition without any buffering.

📌 Does NordVPN slow down Internet speed?

Actually, all VPNs will slow down your connection speeds to some degree because your traffic gets routed to the VPN server to be encrypted. The physical distance between you and the server you connected to will also impact speed, so the farther the server you selected, the bigger its impact to your download and upload speeds. Compared to most VPNs, NordVPN is among those that will slow down Internet speeds the least. In most cases you’ll find no discernible speed drop when connecting to a local server.

📌 Does NordVPN limit bandwidth?

No, NordVPN will not cap your bandwidth usage or speed, like most premium VPNs (including Surfshark). Note that you may experience slower connection speeds when using a VPN simply because of how they work. 

📌 How do I know if Surfshark is working?

The home screen of the Surfshark app you’re using will indicate whether you’ve successfully connected to a VPN server. Clicking on the white arrow above the ‘Connected’ status will show you your new IP address as well as the total data that traveled via VPN tunnel. You can further verify your VPN protection through independent websites that conduct IP and DNS leak tests.

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Derick Bondoc

Managing Editor at Compare Before Buying. Writer and researcher passionate about gadgets, gaming and snacks.