NordVPN review

A VPN that's built for first-time users and experienced users alike.
NordVPN logo transparent background
Overall Rating 4.75 out of 5
Incredibly user-friendly
Zero traffic logs
Odd interface/connectivity quirks
Recent Updates: Less than 6 months
We’ve put NordVPN through extensive testing in Australia and updated our review to reflect our findings.

There are a lot of virtual private network (VPN) services out there, and even if you eliminate the fully free ones (you really should; VPN trials are the way to go) and shortlist the best premium VPN services, there are still at least a handful of options that are well worth considering.

And one of the top contenders in that short list is NordVPN. It’s a great place to start for those intimidated by VPNs, and the more you’re willing to buy in, the cheaper the monthly cost becomes.

NordVPN Servers

NordVPN prices and plans

Compared to its competitors, NordVPN hangs around the middle for typical monthly pricing but, as is the trend, you can bring that pricing down by paying upfront for a longer period of time. While the usual monthly cost is US$11.95 per month, you can slash that to US$4.92 a month on a one-year plan (US$59 upfront cost) or cut it back further to US$3.71 a month on the two-year plan (US$89 upfront fee).

If you don’t mind paying more initially, NordVPN has one of the cheapest adjusted monthly fees on that two-year option in comparison to other VPN providers. Ultimately, price shouldn’t stop you from trying NordVPN. Below is a breakdown of costs for NordVPN.

NordVPN pricing and plans
PlanMonthly priceUpfront paymentDetail
One-month planUS$11.95$11.95View Plan
One-year planUS$4.92US$143.40 US$59View Plan
Two-year plan US$3.71US$286.80 US$89View Plan

Data effective 25/3/2021. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

And here’s how NordVPN stacks up to the other VPN competitors in the top five.

Compare NordVPN prices to other VPN providers
Provider Price Standout feature Detail
NordVPNUS$11.95/mthUser-friendly, speedy connectionView plan
Hotspot ShieldUS$12.99/mthIncredibly fast performanceView plan
ExpressVPNUS$12.95/mth Blocks ads of your choice on all devices View plan
CyberGhostAU$18.49/mthSeven simultaneous devicesView plan
PureVPNUS$10.95/mthStacks of serversView plan

Data effective 25/3/2021. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

NordVPN connectivity and user experience

This is one of the highlights of using NordVPN. Of all the VPNs I’ve tested, NordVPN is the fastest to connect. Like any VPN, sign up for an account, download the software onto your PC (or app on a supported device), then use your NordVPN login details to connect. From here, NordVPN offers a user-friendly ‘Quick Connect’ button that will find the VPN server closest to your location and connect really, really fast. NordVPN is so fast to connect that real-time online tasks like music streaming with minimal buffers don’t skip a beat, which can’t be said of Hotspot Shield.

Disconnecting is ever-so-slightly more painful in comparison to other VPNs that simply disconnect as soon as you click or tap on the ‘Disconnect’ button. For NordVPN, hitting ‘Disconnect’ brings up four options: pause for five minutes, pause for 15 minutes, pause for an hour or fully disconnect. Given how quickly NordVPN connects, this additional disconnection step feels more like an inconvenience than anything else. To put it into context, in my months of testing NordVPN, I didn’t ever use any of the pause options.

At the time of writing, NordVPN offered 5,440 servers in 59 countries, and though NordVPN is very much in the top five for best VPN services, that server count is behind CyberGhost and PureVPN, while it has the lowest number of countries to connect to out of all five.

There are some quirks to using NordVPN, too. Certain servers will effectively stop you from being able to connect to particular websites – for instance, our sister site WhistleOut and Streamable – which is unnecessarily limiting. This wasn’t the case when testing between NordVPN and Hotspot Shield. The other quirk was NordVPN would sometimes notify me that it was connected to a server but the dashboard would say it’s still connecting, which created doubt as to whether I was actually connected (even though my tests proved I was).

NordVPN number of devices

A single NordVPN account is enough to cover six devices connected simultaneously. NordVPN is supported on the following devices:

  • Android
  • iOS
  • Windows
  • macOS
  • Android TV
  • Linux
  • Firefox
  • Chrome
  • NordVPN OpenVPN-compatible routers (supported models)

Note that if you have a router that supports NordVPN, whenever you connect to NordVPN via your router, all devices on your home network will be connected to the VPN. You can connect more than six devices this way, but it also means that devices you may not want to have a VPN connection will be automatically connected, removing the flexibility to switch servers or disable/enable NordVPN on a per-device basis.

Additionally, it’s worth noting that the NordVPN Chrome extension is less reliable than using the software on PC, so you’re better off avoiding it.

NordVPN speeds and streaming

Though a VPN can be used for any number of online activities, connecting to a server – even a local one – tends to result in slower download and upload speed as well as higher latency. Below is a table of the speeds I was able to achieve with a Superloop NBN 100/40Mbps FTTC connection in the middle of the day while using NordVPN.

NordVPN server latency and speeds from Australia
VPN serverDownload speedUpload speedLatency
No VPN94.78Mbps36.54Mbps5ms
AU VPN90.69Mbps
(~4% difference)
35.5Mbps
(~3% difference)
6ms
(~17% difference)
US VPN (auto, fastest)81.91Mbps
(~14% difference)
4.71Mbps
(~87% difference)
161ms
(~97% difference)
US VPN (manual, closest)76.65Mbps
(~19% difference)
5.75Mbps
(~84% difference)
153ms
(~97% difference)

While upload speeds cop a walloping on US servers, download speeds are still very, very useable for downloading larger files and streaming content across multiple devices (with an NBN 100 or above connection). The table below takes the 14% download-change percentage from above and applies it to average typical evening download speeds (TEDS) for different NBN speed tiers, relative to the max bandwidth requirements of 4K streaming services and the number of possible simultaneous streams allowed (note that Hulu has an unlimited screens add-on).

VPN speeds for popular 4K US streaming services
NBN speed tierAverage NBN TEDSNordVPN TEDSNetflix 4K
(25Mbps)
Hulu 4K
(16Mbps)
HBO Max 4K
(25Mbps)
NBN 1211Mbps9.46MbpsToo slowToo slowToo slow
NBN 2520.85Mbps17.93MbpsToo slow1 streamToo slow
NBN 5043.58Mbps37.48Mbps1 stream2 streams1 stream
NBN 10085.55Mbps73.57Mbps2 streams4 streams2 streams
NBN 250214.18Mbps184.19Mbps4+ streams11 streams3+ streams
NBN 1000233.15Mbps200.51Mbps4+ streams12 streams3+ streams

Tests show that NordVPN is able to get around geoblocked US streaming services, including HBO Max, Hulu and Peacock, plus it also allowed access to the Netflix US library (playback was spotty on the Edge browser but great on Chrome).

NordVPN extras

There are some great perks that come with a NordVPN subscription. For starters, NordVPN has a zero-log policy, which means the VPN service doesn’t track, collect or share your data, and it uses RAM servers these days, which can’t store permanent data. If you want to get granular, you can also make use of NordVPN’s split tunnelling for app-based control. For additional protection, you can enable CyberSec to block ads and manage malware. NordVPN also offers a Smart DNS service, which can be used to access is activated in the Nord Account dashboard and is a speedier workaround (compared to a VPN) for supported international streaming services.

NordVPN vs ExpressVPN

One of the bigger VPN showdowns is between NordVPN and ExpressVPN. NordVPN has more servers (5,440+ vs 3,000+) but ExpressVPN has servers in 94 countries compared to NordVPN’s 59. Both VPNs share many of the extras, though NordVPN offers malware protection via CyberSec while ExpressVPN has 24-hour live chat. Speaking of support, ExpressVPN has a wealth of guides online and more supported devices (including video guides for how to configure individual devices).

NordVPN is faster to connect but ExpressVPN had consistently faster speeds once connected in our tests, plus disconnecting on ExpressVPN involves a single click rather than fumbling around with a drop-down menu. Picking a winner out of the two close-competing VPN services really depends on what you want. If you want a great price for lots of servers with fast and intuitive server connection, go with NordVPN. If you want fantastic support, servers in more countries and faster overall connection speeds, ExpressVPN is the better pick.

Should I buy NordVPN?

Yes, NordVPN is absolutely a worthy purchase, held back by a handful of quirks, none of which are deal breakers. Invest for the yearly or biannual plan to get the most value, then take advantage of an intuitive service that just works and is a great fit for first-time VPN users.

NordVPN FAQs

How do you use NordVPN with a game console?

Not every VPN provides an installer for game consoles like the Xbox One. NordVPN doesn’t offer this option while ExpressVPN does. However, that doesn’t mean you are unprotected. You can install the client on your router instead, which protects all connected devices including game consoles. Here’s how to do that.

Why do I need so many servers?

The honest answer here is that most users will likely only connect using the server in their own country. In Australia, this might mean you connect to a server in Sydney and you are good to go. However, it is reassuring to know you could connect to any server for any reason. And, it means connecting will be reliable from anywhere.

Does NordVPN offer a trial?

No, NordVPN doesn’t have a zero-money trial available, but it does have a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can get a full refund within the first month if you don’t like the VPN service.