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NordVPN review: Consistent speed and performance

NordVPN is a popular VPN service. But how does it perform? Our review of NordVPN looks into the features, capabilities, and performance of this well-known VPN.
Written by Jason Stauffer, Staff Writer


4.5 / 5
Very good

pros and cons

  • Reliable and speedy connection
  • User-friendly interface
  • No activity logs
  • Available on most platforms
  • A large number of servers
  • Variety of useful features
  • Not the cheapest
  • Only six simultaneous connections
  • No split tunneling option for Apple products

NordVPN is one of the most popular and highly rated VPNs, with millions of downloads and a 4.5+ rating on both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

But does it live up to the hype?

It's one of the fastest VPNs we've tested. And it has everything most users will want from a VPN service, with all the bells and whistles you'll need for protecting your data while doomscrolling Facebook or Twitter. 

In addition to a speedy and reliable connection, its feature-rich interface is available on all the major mobile and desktop operating systems. Although NordVPN isn't the cheapest VPN, it stacks up well against the competition in other areas and has earned a spot in ZDNET's best VPN guide as the best VPN for travel.

NordVPN specifications

Servers 5,000+
Server locations 59 countries
Price From $3.69 per month
Free trial No, but has a 30-day money-back guarantee
Platforms Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Android TV
Simultaneous connections 6
Speed 32% reduction
Logs No logs (only billing information)
DNS leak No leaks
Features Kill switch, split tunneling, ad and tracker blocking, malware protection, dark web monitor

How much does NordVPN cost?

NordVPN has three subscription lengths to choose from: monthly, one-year, and two-year plans. You pay up front for the one-year and two-year plans, but the larger one-time payment reduces your average monthly cost.

SeeHow to set up and use NordVPN

In addition to three different subscription plans, there are three packages available. If you're just looking for a good VPN, then the Standard package is all you need. But it could be cost-effective to bundle the password manager or cloud storage with your VPN service if you normally would pay for those services separately.

Here's what each subscription includes:

  • Standard: VPN service, malware protection, tracker, and ad blocking
  • Plus: Password manager, and all of the Standard package features
  • Complete: 1TB of encrypted cloud storage and all of the Plus and Standard package features

Here is a breakdown of the current prices:

Monthly*$11.99 per month
$12.99 per month$14.29 per month
One year*
$4.49 per month ($67.35 for a year + 3 free months)$5.49 per month ($82.35 for a year + 3 free months)$6.79 per month ($101.85 for a year + 3 free months)
Two years*
$3.69 per month ($99.63 for two years + 3 free months)$4.69 per month ($126.63 for two years + 3 free months)$5.99 per month ($161.73 for two years + 3 free months)

*Taxes may apply

NordVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee on all of its plans, so you can try out the service risk-free, and get a full refund if it's not a good fit for you. There is no free trial advertised on NordVPN's site, but I found a couple of different offers for a seven-day free trial when subscribing through mobile.

The free seven-day trial offer via mobile may not be available every time, and if you are subscribing through the Apple or Android app, pay attention to the pricing because it may be different from the offers available through the website. For me, the seven-day free trial was only available for the one-year plan at $49.99 (a better deal than the one-year plan). 

When subscribing through the mobile apps, there was no option for a two-year plan, and there was a six-month option for $54, but these mobile offers could change at any time. You'll want to compare the pricing offered through NordVPN's site and its mobile apps to make sure you're getting the best deal. Currently there are Black Friday offers that bring the prices even lower.

NordVPN accepts credit cards, debit cards, cryptocurrencies, Amazon Pay, Google Pay, Apple Pay, and ACH transfer. If you purchase NordVPN through the Apple App Store, you'll need to contact Apple in order to get a refund. You should also be able to pay with PayPal through Google Pay.

Is NordVPN fast?

Speed and performance

NordVPN has consistent speeds and ranks as the third fastest VPN (out of 17) in our recent testing. We ran multiple tests over two days measuring NordVPN's download speeds with a number of servers located around the world. 

The average speed reduction across all the tests was about 32%, which is on par with the 28% cut in download speeds from our previous testing. It also has quick and reliable connections and we had no problems streaming Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and HBO Max. NordVPN has over 5,000 servers located in 59 countries, and your performance will vary depending on the server you're connecting to. 

You can use NordVPN on all of the most popular platforms, including:

  • Windows
  • MacOS
  • Android
  • iOS
  • Android TV

There are also browser extensions available for Firefox, Chrome, and Microsoft Edge. NordVPN is available for Linux, but there is no graphical user interface for that operating system.

You are limited to six simultaneous connections with any NordVPN subscription. If you need to connect more than six devices, you may be able to install NordVPN directly on your router; then every device connecting through the router will have the protection of the VPN.

Is NordVPN really private?

Privacy and security features

NordVPN has a number of meaningful privacy policies and security tools that should provide most users with the options they need to stay safe online. For starters, the company has a strict no-logs policy -- no user activity or information is stored by NordVPN other than your email and billing information (for processing refunds). It also effectively masks your location. I ran several DNS (Domain Name System) leak tests that showed that my IP address wasn't exposed. (However, when your VPN is a matter of life or death, don't rely on reviews.)

With NordVPN you'll have access to a built-in ad and third-party tracking blocker, as well as protection against malware. To use these safeguards, you'll need to activate the Threat Protection feature through the NordVPN app (desktop or mobile). You can also enable its Dark Web Monitor, which alerts you if your email address is included in any data leaks.

Kill switch setting
Jason Stauffer/ZDNET

There is a customizable kill switch to protect you if your connection to NordVPN is disrupted. When it's turned on, your internet connection will be disabled when you're not connected to the VPN. This will keep you from accidentally exposing your information without realizing it. You can enable a universal kill switch to completely cut off your connection if you're disconnected from the VPN, or create a custom list of programs that you want cut off if your VPN connection is disrupted.

Also: Meet NordSec: The company behind NordVPN wants to be your one-stop privacy suite

You can further personalize your online security with split tunneling, which allows you to enable or disable the VPN for specific apps. However, split tunneling is available for the Android and Windows apps, but not for iOS or MacOS. One thing to keep in mind is that NordVPN's kill switch is automatically enabled for the iOS and MacOS apps, so it can't be toggled off.

How do I contact NordVPN support?

NordVPN has a searchable database of common FAQs covering issues involving billing, connectivity, and general info. 

If you can't find a solution to your issue there, there's a customer service support team available 24/7 via email or chat. The chat support starts off with a bot, but it's not hard to reach a real human and afterward you email yourself a transcript of the chat for your reference.

Is NordVPN worth the money?

The bottom line

NordVPN is a good fit for anyone looking for a secure, fast, and reputable VPN. It has a variety of features that will meet the needs of most users and is compatible with every major operating system.

The most lowest average monthly cost is $3.69 per month for a two-year plan with three free months, which isn't as budget-friendly as some of the cheapest VPNs.

Are there alternative VPNs worth considering?

Here are a few other comparable VPN services:

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