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NordVPN Review 2024 - A Fast Feature Packed VPN

07 Jun 2024

NordVPN Review 2024 - A Fast Feature Packed VPN

A virtual private network tunnels your web traffic through an encrypted server, granting you an extra layer of privacy from internet service providers, government agencies or your school’s network administration. The extra protection comes with a trade-off: Using a VPN slows down your internet speed. 

NordVPN boasts reliable and competitive speeds, according to CNET’s hands-on VPN testing, resulting in the least internet speed degradation of any provider we’ve analyzed. 

It’s not just fast. NordVPN brings a lot more to the table: It’s secure, competitively priced and loaded with user-friendly apps. That well-rounded performance makes Nord a solid VPN for everyone from privacy-concerned users to entertainment enthusiasts. In our 2024 hands-on assessment of NordVPN, we ran over 250 internet speed tests, streamed hours of videos and tested its apps on a smorgasbord of devices. We also analyzed its price and compared NordVPN value to competitors. 

While NordVPN tops every VPN we’ve tested in the speed category, it scored lower than some of its competitors on transparency (it has undergone fewer independent audits) and accessibility (there are cheaper options with more simultaneous connections). Overall, NordVPN is one of the top three best VPNs recommended by our expert reviewers. See here for more info on how we test VPNs.

All VPNs slow down your internet upload and download speeds to some degree, but anything under 20% impresses us. 

In our January 2024 tests, CNET Labs clocked a best-in-class average speed loss of 11.1% when using NordVPN, earning it the accolade of CNET’s fastest VPN. For comparison, other top VPNs we’ve tested include Surfs hark which saw a 17% average speed loss, and ExpressVPN, with a 24.8% average speed loss.

With NordVPN, you have two sets of rules, called VPN protocols, which you can use to establish a connection. Using Nord’s proprietary protocol, called Norlina, CNET clocked an average internet speed loss of just 3.19% on Windows and 12.56% on MacOS. Nord recommends that most people stick with Norlina, and that's my preferred VPN protocol when using NordVPN. Norlina uses double NAT to create a secure connection without storing potentially identifying information like IP addresses. If you’re a NordVPN user, its Norlina protocol should maintain the fastest possible internet speeds without compromising on privacy and security. 

Using OpenVPN on Macs, our speed loss was an outstanding 10.08%, and it averaged 18.57% with Windows. Whether you choose Norlina or OpenVPN, Nord ensures blazing-fast speeds that are great for bandwidth-intensive applications like 4K video streaming, Zoom calls or uploading YouTube videos.

NordVPN has over 6,200 servers -- more overall than competitors including ExpressVPN (3,000-plus) and Surfs hark (3,200-plus servers). With servers in 111 countries, Nord's global reach is slightly more than Express (105) and Surfs hark (100). ProtonVPN and PIA deliver fewer international locations with 69 and 91 available countries, respectively. Regular globetrotters will find that Nord is one of the best VPNs for travel because it provides generous server network.

Key takeaway: NordVPN is hands-down the fastest VPN we benchmarked, with minimal speed loss regardless of which VPN protocol you select. Its extensive server network should work for many folks, with servers in as many, if not more, countries than most rivals.

Although NordVPN is pretty intuitive, you might have billing questions or need help troubleshooting. Thankfully, Nord has comprehensive help guides, including frequently asked questions and setup tutorials for installing a VPN on various devices. NordVPN doesn’t offer over-the-phone customer support, but you can contact Nord via email or 24/7 live chat. 

I spent a bit of time jumping through hoops with the live chat tool before reaching an actual representative. Initially, I asked whether there was an Apple TV client (there is) and got a canned response that there wasn’t one. From there, I politely typed “Hi, can I talk to a real person?” at which point the chatbot directed me to the correct support representative. The process for getting in touch with an actual human requires selecting the correct department, then connecting to a NordVPN server and running a DNS leak test, screenshotting the results and uploading those. I suppose the bot-first interaction and screenshot proof of existing Nord subscription weeds out spammers, but the initial incorrect information I received wasn’t helpful. 

Once I got in touch with a human, the customer support representative was knowledgeable and helpful. They satisfactorily directed me to the information I needed, provided a coupon code (one of my questions was about paying with cryptocurrency) and even asked how I was doing. Pro tip: If you live chat with Nord, start with “Can I talk to a real person?” to expedite the process of reaching a human.

Nord VPN Aps