NordVPN vs. Surfshark: VPN speed, security and price compared
Can industry leader NordVPN fend off its newer, ambitious rival?
Rae HodgeFormer senior editor
Rae Hodge was a senior editor at CNET. She led CNET's coverage of privacy and cybersecurity tools from July 2019 to January 2023. As a data-driven investigative journalist on the software and services team, she reviewed VPNs, password managers, antivirus software, anti-surveillance methods and ethics in tech. Prior to joining CNET in 2019, Rae spent nearly a decade covering politics and protests for the AP, NPR, the BBC and other local and international outlets.
Surfshark might be newer to the VPN scene than its more well-known rivals, but its feature-rich applications and unlimited simultaneous connections make it a tempting offer for VPN users. As Surfshark races to lead the VPN pack, should industry titan NordVPN be worried?
Both VPN providers are excellent choices, but the best way to pick the right one for you is to do a VPN comparison and slice up their speed and price. Here's how Surfshark stacks up in 2022 against one of the biggest VPN brands out there.
Savings $2.49/mo with 24-mo plan (+2 free months)Latest tests Zero data leaks and 19% internet speed loss in fall 2022 testsNetwork 3,200-plus in 99 countriesJurisdiction Netherlands
Although Surfshark is newer to the VPN scene than its big-name peers, it's faster than a VPN of its size should be, has stronger security than you'd expect, a suite of impressive features, and cutthroat prices to go with its unlimited simultaneous connection allowance. During our testing, Surfshark gave our most highly recommended VPNs a run for their money on speed, security and cost.
You want to watch Netflix from any country? Surfshark's watertight DNS features make that possible. You want to torrent quickly and privately? Surfshark routes you to its own P2P-configured servers out of the US. You want to block fingerprinting trackers, use a private search engine and camouflage your traffic so it looks completely normal with the assurance of a kill switch? Surfshark's CleanWeb ad-blocker, Blindsearch search engine and on-board obfuscation covers you.
With more than 3,200 servers in 65 countries, we lost less than 17% of average internet speeds during our most recent speed tests. That's faster than the 27% speed loss we saw in previous tests, and pushes it ahead of both NordVPN and ExpressVPN to be the current front-runner in our speed comparisons.
Surfshark is currently living up to its name with an aggressive pricing scheme. Right now, the VPN provider is offering an 81% discount, bringing costs down to $2.49 a month for a two-year plan ($60, billed every two years). That offer stands up easily to NordVPN's two-year plan at $3.67 a month ($99, billed every two years), and offers unlimited simultaneous connections compared to Nord's six-device limit. The Surfshark VPN is also available for Linux, Windows, Android, MacOS, iOS, Android TV and Amazon Fire TV.
Savings 59% off with 24-mo plan (+ 3 extra months)Latest tests No leaks detected, 13% speed loss in summer 2022 testsNetwork 5,600-plus servers in 84 locations across 59 countriesJurisdiction Panama
This heavy-hitter stays on our list of best mobile VPNs for many reasons, including its status as the reigning value champion. Hands-down, you aren't going to get a virtual private network anywhere else that can do more than NordVPN does, as cheap as the VPN company does it. Despite a security breach reported last year, you'll be hard pressed to find another VPN that can do what NordVPN does at all.
Sure, NordVPN could offer a little more privacy if it boosted the number of servers it owns, but we're talking about 5,000-plus servers in 62 countries, a strict zero-log policy and jurisdiction in Panama. It's an encryption powerhouse that recently switched to RAM-disk mode, and has a feature that allows you to VPN into Tor. It's available for not only iOS and Android, but also Windows Phone and even BlackBerry.
In our most recent speed test, NordVPN's performance was on par with many of its competitors, reducing our speeds by 53% on average (which is slower than the 32% loss measured in previous speed tests). We found NordVPN's connection speed was reliably fast. There were never any sudden dips or service interruptions, and where we expected the VPN provider to underperform, it proved itself up to the task.
For all that, how much are you paying? The company's two-year plan is currently $3.67 a month ($90 billed every two years). That price is lower than most VPN contenders, but creeps up for the one-year plan ($4.92 a month or $59 total) and the monthly plan ($11.95 a month). But it does have a full 30-day refund policy. And yes, NordVPN also has a full 30-day refund policy if you aren't happy with the VPN service.