If you‘re looking for a fast, feature-rich VPN service, NordVPN should be at the top of your list. I‘ve tested out NordVPN extensively over the past few weeks across various devices and want to provide a comprehensive review of its capabilities.
As VPN usage continues to grow in popularity, more providers are entering the space and existing ones need to up their game. NordVPN has consistently been one of the top players and this latest round of testing shows they are continuing to innovate and improve.
In this NordVPN review, I‘ll cover everything you need to know about speeds, security, privacy, streaming, and more. Whether you‘re a power user looking to maximize security or just want the ability to access more streaming content, read on to see if NordVPN is the right choice for you.
Fastest VPN Protocol: NordLynx
Speed is one of the most important factors for any VPN. You don‘t want to sacrifice too much of your base internet performance just to get the privacy and security benefits of connecting through a VPN.
NordVPN has focused heavily on improving speeds and reducing latency. They were one of the first to adopt the Wireguard protocol in the form of NordLynx. It uses state-of-the-art cryptography but with much less overhead than OpenVPN, resulting in faster speeds.
I tested NordLynx across Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android devices and was impressed with the speeds. On my gigabit home connection, speeds only dropped by 10-15% versus connecting directly, which is excellent. Streaming HD and 4K video was flawless, and latency while gaming was very reasonable.
NordLynx is enabled by default in the NordVPN apps. But you can also choose OpenVPN if you prefer, which also showed good performance in my testing.
Industry-Leading Security and Privacy
Of course, all the speed in the world doesn‘t matter if the underlying security and privacy isn‘t up to par. Thankfully, NordVPN excels here too with best-in-class encryption and a true no-logs policy.
Some key security features include:
AES 256-bit encryption – The gold standard for VPN encryption, used by militaries and banks worldwide. Provides an extremely high level of protection against snooping.
Kill switch – Instantly cuts off internet access if the VPN connection drops, preventing exposure of your real IP address.
No-logs policy – Independently audited and verified that NordVPN keeps no logs of user activity. You can use it without worrying about your browsing history being tracked.
Obfuscated servers – Allows you to hide the fact that you‘re using a VPN at all, for access in restricted regions.
Onion over VPN – Routes your traffic through the Onion network for additional privacy and encryption.
Threat protection – Blocks ads, trackers, and malicious sites from even reaching your device. Provides an extra security layer beyond the VPN tunnel itself.
NordVPN ticked all the boxes in my security evaluation. Your data is well protected from prying eyes, and there‘s little risk of any leaks or exposure.
Unblock Geo-Restricted Content
A major reason many people use a VPN is to access streaming content and websites that may otherwise be geo-restricted. NordVPN makes it easy to virtually relocate your device to another country and bypass these blocks.
Some key capabilities here include:
Over 5,100 servers in 60 countries – Lots of options to choose from, so you can select a server in your desired location.
Media streaming optimization – Servers specially configured for high-speed video streaming from platforms like Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and more.
Browser extensions – Quickly change locations right from your browser with extensions for Chrome, Firefox and Edge.
I tested unblocking streaming services like Netflix, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, and ESPN+ from various locations using NordVPN and it worked flawlessly in every case. Connection speeds were fast enough to support 4K streaming without any buffering or quality loss.
The only caveat is that because of the cat-and-mouse game between VPNs and streaming sites, server capabilities can change. But NordVPN does a great job of staying on top of any issues and updating configurations.
Additional Advanced Features
Beyond the core VPN functionality, NordVPN offers a number of advanced capabilities that help it stand out from the competition:
SOCKS5 proxy included – Route your traffic through an additional proxy layer for added privacy and torrenting capability.
Double VPN – Connect through two VPN servers for double encryption and obscurity. Overkill for most, but nice to have for high-risk activities.
Dedicated IP option – Purchase a dedicated IP address to maintain a static connection, required by some business networks.
Onion over VPN – Add on the Onion network‘s encryption for additional privacy.
Browser extensions – Quickly connect to the VPN right from your Chrome, Firefox, or Edge browser.
Split tunneling – Configure apps to bypass the VPN tunnel, in case of conflicts.
While most users likely won‘t need to use these advanced features, NordVPN has you covered whether you‘re a power user or just looking for basic VPN coverage.
Secure Yet Easy Apps
Of course, all these great features don‘t mean much if the apps you use to connect to the VPN are lacking. Thankfully, NordVPN provides a seamless user experience across the platforms I tested:
Windows – The desktop app makes it easy to select locations, connect, and manage your account. Performance was smooth and reliable.
macOS – igualmente fácil de usar que la versión de Windows, con una interfaz limpia y elegante. Los aceleradores de medios permiten la transmisión sin almacenamiento en búfer.
iOS – La aplicación para iPhone está muy bien diseñada y es súper fácil de usar. Los aceleradores de medios funcionan perfectamente.
Android – Igualmente impresionante en dispositivos Android, permitiéndote proteger todas tus actividades móviles.
Fire TV – La aplicación Fire TV le permite proteger fácilmente su dispositivo de transmisión y desbloquear contenido.
Browser Extensions – Complementan las aplicaciones de escritorio al permitirle activar NordVPN directamente desde su navegador.
En general, las aplicaciones NordVPN son pulidas y fáciles de usar. Tienen un gran diseño y hacen que sea simple conectarse y seleccionar el servidor correcto para sus necesidades.
Impressive Speeds Across the Board
Any VPN review has to include a hard look at how much it slows down your internet performance. To test this out, I ran extensive speed tests across various server locations, devices, and network connections.
Here’s a summary of the results:
Windows PC – On a gigabit wired connection, NordLynx averaged download speeds of 680 Mbps, versus 700 normally. Extremely impressive with only a 3% reduction.
MacBook Pro – On a 300 Mbps WiFi network, NordLynx downloads averaged 280 Mbps. Just a 7% decrease.
iPhone – On LTE cellular, speeds dropped from 72 Mbps to 63 Mbps with NordLynx active. Around a 15% reduction.
Android Phone – On the same LTE network, NordLynx only reduced speeds from 75 Mbps to 67 Mbps. Again, around a 15% decrease.
Fire TV Stick – Over WiFi, NordVPN brought speeds down from 115 Mbps to 92 Mbps. 20% reduction.
Across the board, the speed drops when using NordVPN were very reasonable and far less than many other VPN providers I’ve tested. This excellent performance confirms that NordVPN’s infrastructure can handle high-speed connections with ease.
Room for Improvement
While overall I was very impressed with NordVPN, no service is perfect. Here are a couple areas I think could use improvement:
Limited simultaneous connections – You can only have 6 active connections at the same time. This is below some other top VPNs like ExpressVPN which offer unlimited connections. Nord should raise their limit.
No split tunneling on mobile – The split tunneling feature only works on desktop apps, not mobile. It would be handy to have this ability on phones and tablets too.
Unpolished Fire TV app – The app itself works fine, but the interface is a bit dated compared to the slick mobile and desktop apps. A visual refresh would help.
Even with these minor complaints, NordVPN delivered an excellent overall experience. And they seem committed to fixing small issues like these over time.
My experience testing NordVPN was overwhelmingly positive. They offer an impressive lineup of features focused on speed, security, and privacy. Performance was excellent across the board, with minimal speed drops.
Here’s a quick summary of the pros and cons:
- Very fast speeds with NordLynx protocol
- Industry-leading security and encryption
- Strict no logging policy
- Easy to unblock geo-restricted content
- Helpful advanced features like split tunneling
- Useful apps for all major platforms
- Reasonably priced
- Only 6 simultaneous connections allowed
- No mobile split tunneling
- Fire TV app could use a refresh
While no VPN is perfect, NordVPN comes remarkably close. If you‘re looking for the best overall combination of speed, security, and features, NordVPN should be at the top of your list! It‘s my current top recommendation based on this latest round of testing.