NordVPN Review: Streaming & Torrenting Powerhouse

On the VPN scene, NordVPN is by and far the most well-known and loved provider. With the biggest YouTubers routinely singing its praises (like PewDiePie or Gus Johnson) and their fantastic marketing, it’s no surprise NordVPN consistently ranks as one of the best VPNs on the market.

Its popularity is not unfounded, I believe – NordVPN has some great features going for it. It’s the fastest VPN on the planet, for starters. You can split tunnel, obfuscate your servers, use double IP protection for added security, and block malware with Threat Protection. NordLocker encrypts your data and NordPass keeps your passwords safe.

All of these features come at an impressive price point, too; $3.29 per month isn’t quite as low as you’ll get with SurfShark, but it’s still a great value. It’s hard to look past the consistent track record, user-friendly interface, and impressive features list that NordVPN offers.

But does it all live up to the hype? In this in-depth review, I’ll be taking a closer look at NordVPN to find out.

NordVPN Overview

First of all, let’s cover the basics. NordVPN pricing starts from $3.29 up to $11.99/mo depending on your subscription length.

The NordVPN app uses AES-256-GCM encryption algorithm with a 4096-bit DH key; however, it frequently changes keys to make the encryption even more secure.

Their server park is large, with 5507 servers in 60+ countries – so streaming videos and accessing blocked content is made incredibly easy. In our tests, Netflix streaming worked with over 90% of servers we tested. That’s the highest we’ve seen by far.

Another enormous advantage to NordVPN is the ease of torrenting. With so many servers to choose from, you won’t have to look far for a high-performing server. This, combined with P2P support and Onion integration, sets the stage for ultimate privacy and anonymity.

For added security, NordVPN has a strict no-logs policy. Their base in Panama, which has no data retention law, ensures that your data won’t slip through the cracks.

NordVPN Pros

1. An Incredibly Far-Reaching Server Park

NordVPN users can enjoy over 5507 servers in 60+ countries, which is one of the biggest server parks we’ve seen to date. The app automatically selects the best server based on your location, loads, and specific needs – but you can move it to wherever you’d like, almost anywhere in the world.

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2. Fast Results from Multiple Speed Tests

When looking for a VPN, speed is one of the key characteristics to look for. It’s easy for VPNs to weigh down your internet speed.

Why does this happen? Well, the answer lies in how VPNs work. All of your traffic is routed through the VPN server, meaning that your data takes an indirect route to its destination. This can add latency and slow down your connection – especially if you are using double encryption.

There are, however, ways that VPN providers can optimize their servers and networks to deliver faster speeds. In our NordVPN review, we found that the provider delivered consistently fast results from multiple speed tests. I was pleased and not at all surprised; NordVPN does have a strong reputation for speed.

As you’ll see below, our benchmark ISP connection speed at the time of testing was 250Mbps down and 25Mbps up.

isp connection benchmark speed

We tested the NordVPN download speed in two US locations (New Jersey and New York) as well as one in Europe. For all three tests, the download speed was above 110 Mbps – a result that sits among the best VPN speeds on the market currently. There’s not a lot you can’t do with speeds like that!

New Jersey (Quick Connect: Fastest/Closest Location)

  • Ping: 18ms
  • Download: 131.44 Mbps
  • Upload: 9.10 Mbps

New York

  • Ping: 18ms
  • Download: 140.52 Mbps
  • Upload: 11.28 Mbps
nordvpn speed

Europe (UK)

  • Ping: 154ms
  • Download: 110.82 Mbps
  • Upload: 11.47 Mbps

3. Vast Majority of Servers Unblocked Netflix

When VPNs were first becoming popular, one of the main appeals was the ability to watch Netflix from other countries. This remains a popular use for VPNs – but unfortunately, not all VPNs work with Netflix. NordVPN is one of the few that does (hence why it’s so popular).

Netflix has been cracking down on VPNs in recent years, but NordVPN has been able to stay ahead of the curve. In our tests, we were able to unblock Netflix in 95 percent of regions. 14 out of 15 US servers work, 3 out of 3 CA servers work, and the UK server works (see results below). This is more than any other VPN we’ve tested.

Netflix isn’t the only service that NordVPN unblocks. It also works with BBC iPlayer, ABC iView, and Hulu, among others, which is accomplished through its Smartplay DNS feature. Needless to say, all of your viewing options are covered with NordVPN.

nordvpn netflix testing
  • 14/15 US servers work
  • 3/3 CA servers work
  • UK server works
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I selected the region and connected to the fastest server.

US

  • Manassas (US) – Yes
  • San Francisco (US) – Yes
  • Dallas (US) – Yes
  • Chicago (US) – Yes
  • Seattle (US) – Yes
  • St. Louis (US) – Yes
  • Phoenix (US) – Yes
  • Los Angeles (US) – Yes
  • Miami (US) – Yes
  • Buffalo (US) – Yes
  • Atlanta (US) – Yes
  • New York (US) – Connection Issues/Proxy Detected
  • Charlotte (US) – Yes
  • Salt Lake City (US) – Yes
  • Denver (US) – Yes

CA

  • Vancouver (CA) – Yes
  • Toronto (CA) – Yes
  • Montreal (CA) – Yes

4. User-Friendly Interface and Over 25 Quality Features

When it comes to usability, I can tell that the user interface will be a strong selling point for many users. It’s got a clean user-facing design that is intuitive and satisfying to use.

The NordVPN experience is smooth, fast, and user-friendly. I really like the design of the app – it’s modern and easy to navigate. The process from sign-up to connection is so swift that you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d missed a step.

NordVPN is also one of the most feature-rich VPN providers on the market, boasting 25 different high-quality features. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights.

Multi-Factor Authentication

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Any smartphone user will be able to tell you about multi-factor authentication these days; it’s become one of the most popular ways to keep your device and online accounts safe from prying eyes. In a nutshell, it’s an extra layer of security that requires more than just a password to access your account.

NordVPN employs multi-factor authentication, meaning that even if someone has your login credentials, they still can’t get into your account without the extra verification code. This is a great way to keep your data safe, especially if you’re using public Wi-Fi networks.

With NordVPN, there are two main ways you can use multi-factor authentication:

  • Download an authentication app. There are a number of apps that NordVPN supports, including Google Authenticator, Authy, and Duo Mobile. You can download any of these apps and use them to generate verification codes that expire periodically.
  • Use a security key. If you have a physical Bluetooth, NFC, or USB security key, you can use it to log in to your NordVPN account.

The setup instructions are nice and simple, too:

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Of course, using one of these methods isn’t essential – but you can’t always guarantee the safety of your VPN password, so it’s best to have another layer of security in place.

Dark Web Monitoring

The dark web comprises roughly 48 percent of the internet as of 2023. Dark websites are anonymous; they can’t be found simply by using a search engine. Because they require special tools in order to access them, they are often used for illegal activities such as drug trafficking and human trafficking, as well as the selling of private data and hacked information.

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Dark web monitoring is the process of tracking and investigating activities that take place on the dark web. This can be a difficult task, as it requires special tools and knowledge that most law enforcement officials do not have. However, with the increasing popularity of the dark web, it has become more important than ever to track and investigate the activities that take place there.

NordVPN takes your security a step further by being proactive about dark web data leaks. If any of your information is ever detected on the dark web, NordVPN will reach out to you and help you take steps to secure your data. The alert will be instant, so that you can take immediate action.

Here’s how it works:

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Browser Extensions

The first VPN protocol, and the ones that followed, were a lot more complicated to configure than they are now. Where once you had to be tech-savvy to set up your own VPN, NordVPN has a range of easy-to-use browser extensions that make the process a breeze.

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NordVPN brags that it takes just one minute to download, add, and run the NordVPN extension for your browser of choice. The extension is available for Chrome, Firefox, and Edge browsers.

Once the extension is installed, you can use it to connect to one of NordVPN’s servers with just a few clicks. It means that your browsing is always protected – regardless of whether the website itself is encrypted or not.

Minimal Interruptions

There’s only one thing worse than a scratched DVD – bandwidth throttling!

Depending on your internet provider, you may from time to time experience throttling of your bandwidth. You’ll notice that this happens when you’re streaming a movie or music and the quality suddenly decreases, or when you’re trying to download something and it’s moving at a snail’s pace.

This is because your internet service provider (ISP) is purposely slowing down your connection because you’re using too much bandwidth. They want you to upgrade to a more expensive plan, or else they’ll throttle your connection until it’s practically unusable.

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Mean, right?

NordVPN eliminates this threat altogether by hiding your activity from ISPs. If they can’t see how much data you’re using, they can’t throttle your connection – and you can say goodbye to those annoying interruptions.

Easy Sports Streaming

We’ve all been there – your favorite team is playing, but the game is blacked out in your area. Or maybe you’re on vacation and don’t have access to your usual streaming services. In the past, this would mean going through dodgy methods like using proxies or VPNs that are known to be unstable.

But with NordVPN, you can easily stream your favorite sports events without any hassle. The service has a range of servers optimized for streaming, so you can always find one that’s fast and reliable. Plus, NordVPN’s SmartPlay technology ensures that you’ll never have to miss a moment of the action.

CyberSec

NordVPN’s CyberSec feature appears as a toggle option in Preferences. Though a VPN in itself will protect you from many threats, this feature can further protect you against intrusive ads, malware, phishing attempts, and other dangers.

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While it is optional, there are three major benefits to enabling CyberSec:

  1. Enjoy integrated protection from scams, spyware, malware, and other malicious threats.
  2. Stay protected from DDoS attacks by immediately breaking connections between you and the botnet. This will work even if malware has already begun to infect your device.
  3. Have a better browsing experience with automatic pop-up ad blocking.

CyberSec takes care of pesky ads and scams, doing the heavy lifting for you.

Specialty Servers

NordVPN offers both Double VPN and P2P specialty servers, allowing you to choose which best fits your needs.

  • With Double VPN, you can route your traffic through two VPN servers instead of one, creating an even more secure browsing experience.
  • NordVPN allows you to browse or stream using one of their obfuscated servers, so you can stream under even the most restrictive conditions without being recognized.
  • With NordVPN, you can use The Onion Router – or Tor – which allows you to communicate anonymously and evade analysis.
  • Enjoy unlimited peer-to-peer file sharing with no bandwidth threshold or activity tracking.
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AES Encryption and Data Protection

Of course, VPNs are most known for their ability to protect your data – and they do this by encrypting it, which renders it unusable to anyone who might intercept it while in transit. NordVPN uses AES encryption, which is currently the strongest on the market.

It isn’t just hackers that NordVPN protects you from; internet service providers (ISPs) are also known to throttle internet speeds, especially when users are streaming or downloading content. NordVPN prevents your ISP from being able to see what you’re up to, meaning that it can’t interfere with your speeds.

NordVPN takes data protection one step further with its strict no logs policy. This means that your data is not tracked or monitored in any way, ensuring that your privacy is always protected – and ISPs can’t see what you’re doing online.

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You may be thinking: “I don’t need a VPN! I’ve got nothing to hide.” What you might not realize, however, is that you are producing far more data than you think. Everything from your medical history to your location data is being collected and stored by corporations, governments, and other institutions. Nothing is safe – not even your banking information.

NordVPN uses an Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) with a 4096-bit DH key, which is recommended by the NSA for securing any classified and top-secret information. It also uses four different VPN protocols (IKEv2, NordLynx, and OpenVPN UDP or TCP).

While your NordVPN app will automatically use the protocol best suited to your device, users can choose whichever protocol they prefer.

Double VPN

One of NordVPN’s best features is its “double VPN” service, which encrypts your data twice. This is a great feature for people who are looking for an extra layer of security.

What does this mean, exactly? Well, when you use a VPN, your data is encrypted and sent through a secure tunnel to the VPN server. When the data reaches the server, it is decrypted and sent on its way. With NordVPN’s double VPN feature, you select and enable two different servers, and your data is encrypted and decrypted twice.

This provides an extra layer of security, as it becomes much more difficult for someone to hack into your data. It also makes it harder for your ISP to track your activities.

You won’t always want to use the Double VPN option; in fact, NordVPN doesn’t recommend it for everyday browsing or torrenting. However, it can be a great option for people who are looking for an extra layer of security.

No Logging Policy

As mentioned previously, NordVPN is adamant about its no logging policy. Let’s explore it in further depth.

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NordVPN doesn’t keep track of user activity logs, traffic logs, or IP addresses. This is great news for people who are looking for a VPN service with a strict no logging policy.

Even if the authorities come knocking on NordVPN’s door, the company can’t provide any information about its users because it doesn’t have any logs to provide. This is one of the main reasons why people trust NordVPN and consider it to be a reliable VPN service.

But shouldn’t all providers have this policy? No, as it turns out – your data is being collected by not only your ISP, but almost every site you visit. This is because of something called ‘third-party tracking’.

Third-party tracking is the act of tracking users through the use of cookies, pixel tags, and other web beaconing technologies. When you see targeted ads or experience coincidentally similar content on different websites, it’s because of third-party tracking.

The vast majority of websites – including major ones like Google, Facebook, and Amazon – use third-party tracking to increase their profits. By collecting data about users’ browsing habits, they can target them with more relevant and personalized ads.

Needless to say, an uncomfortable amount of your data is being collected by third-party trackers. NordVPN makes sure that your data stays safe from these trackers, as well as from the VPN itself!

However, they do monitor some lesser important data, such as:

  • Service performance data (for recommending most suitable servers)
  • E-mail address
  • Payment data (but you can also use crypto)

There’s no need to fret about this data collection. All VPNs will log this information purely for the sake of performance and functionality. If you want to, you can read the NordVPN logging policy.

Kill Switch

No matter how security-conscious you are, there may be instances where you inadvertently leave your device unprotected. Your VPN connection might falter, or you could accidentally open an unsecured website while connected to the VPN. In these situations, your data and personal information could be exposed.

To protect you from this risk, NordVPN offers a kill switch. This feature automatically terminates your internet connection if the VPN fails; thus, it prevents your device from being exposed to any unsecured networks.

The NordVPN kill switch is in-built, as there’s no reason to have it disabled.

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Additionally, you can toggle the Advanced Kill Switch which allows you to choose specific applications to terminate in the event of a VPN failure. For instance, you may want to keep your web browser open, but stop your torrent client if the VPN connection drops.

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DNS Leak Test

With certain VPN setups, there is the potential for DNS leaks. This occurs when your system reverts back to using your default DNS server instead of the VPN’s. This can be a problem, as it can reveal your identity and location to your ISP and other third-party entities.

NordVPN is aware of this issue, and as such, the app ensures that your devices only use the VPN’s DNS servers. The company also assures users that if any leak tests come back positive, they will be of immediate assistance until the issue is resolved.

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Multiple Devices

NordVPN is our top pick for both Mac and Android, and it isn’t hard to see why.

One of the things we love about NordVPN is that it allows up to six devices to be connected at the same time. Whether you want to use your laptop, phone, and tablet all at once or just share your subscription with friends or family, NordVPN makes it easy.

NordVPN doesn’t skimp out when it comes to devices – in fact, it might just be the best at allowing simultaneous connections. You can also connect to your router, which sends protection out to all devices on your network whilst using only one of your licenses.

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5. Supports Torrenting and P2P with Onion Over VPN Special Feature

P2P (or peer-to-peer) traffic is a way of exchanging files between two or more computer users on the internet. NordVPN is one of the few VPNs that allow torrenting and P2P file-sharing; it isn’t available on all servers, but you’ll be recommended a server that supports P2P when you select the P2P option.

This is why NordVPN is actually our top recommended VPN for torrenting.

Tor Network

NordVPN has a useful Onion Over VPN feature that allows you to connect to the Tor network directly from their VPN servers. This gives you an extra layer of security when browsing the web as your traffic is first encrypted and then sent through the Tor network.

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The issue with unprotected Onion servers is that they are often volunteer-run, meaning they leave you vulnerable to attack. NordVPN’s Onion Over VPN feature solves this problem by encrypting your traffic and routing it through their secure servers before it reaches the Onion servers.

This feature is perfect for those who want to keep their browsing activities private, as it hides your IP address and makes it difficult for anyone to track your online activity.

6. Absolutely No Leaks Found In Five Tests

To test whether NordVPN’s claims about DNS leaks are accurate, we tested for leaks extensively using the following methods:

  • Perfect-Privacy.com
  • IPLeak.net
  • BrowserLeaks
  • IPX.ac
  • VirtualTotal.com

As you’ll see in the results below, every result assured us that NordVPN is every bit as leak-proof as it claims.

IPLeak.net Test – No Leak

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IPX.ac

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VirtualTotal.com Report – Scan on the Installer

There were no viruses detected in the installer package.

nordvpn no leak test

7. Strategically Based In Panama (No Data Retention)

VPNs have grown incredibly popular; but still, there are people who refuse to trust VPNs with their personal data. Why? Because some countries enforce data retention laws, meaning that your personal data is stored by the VPN service and can be accessed by authorities if they so choose.

NordVPN, however, is based in Panama – a country without data retention laws. This means that your data is never stored or accessible to anyone other than you. NordVPN doesn’t store your data, meaning that if anyone tries to break their door down, they won’t find anything.

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As you can see in the image above, NordVPN is incredibly open about its no-logging policy. They’ve gone to great lengths to ensure that your data is never stored, meaning that you can trust them with your personal information.

8. Helpful and Proactive Customer Support

One of NordVPN’s strengths is its comprehensive resource menu and proactive customer support. The company has a 24/7 live chat feature, as well as an extensive help center that includes user guides, troubleshooting tips, and an FAQ section. NordVPN also has a blog that covers a variety of topics related to online privacy and security.

Helpful Live Chat & Email

In this day and age, I’d be unpleasantly surprised to find any major provider that doesn’t offer live chat support. NordVPN is thankfully one of those companies that do. Although my questions were given copy-paste answers at first, you will eventually connect with a human. The email support is also good, with knowledgeable and friendly staff replying to queries rapidly.

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Extensive Knowledge Base

Sometimes you won’t have free time to speak to customer support or wait on an email reply. Fortunately, NordVPN has covered all of its bases with an extensive knowledge base. This is one of the most comprehensive I’ve ever seen, and it’s easy to navigate.

There are set-up tutorials for a wide range of devices and platforms, as well as articles on general security topics and specific NordVPN features. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, there’s also a search bar.

After going through their directory and quickly skimming to any support related page I could find, I estimate NordVPN to have well over 500 guides and tutorials.

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9. Excellent VPN for Your Gaming Needs

Any avid gamer will tell you that internet speeds are incredibly important for an optimal gaming experience. Lag and latency can mean the difference between winning and losing a match; between a successful raid and a failed one. If you’re looking for a quality VPN to improve your online gaming, NordVPN is an excellent choice.

In our game testing, NordVPN impressed us once again. We had no issues whatsoever, least of all with the server connection speeds. In fact, NordVPN is one of the few VPNs that has consistently performed well in our speed tests, so gamers will be happy to hear that.

NordVPN is also great for unblocking geo-restricted content. So if you’re a fan of streaming games or watching live tournaments, NordVPN will get you access to all the action!

Haste Game Recap

First, we connected to the Quick Connect feature. You couldn’t possibly tell the difference between using NordVPN and going without – it was almost identical. Total Packet Loss was a mere 0.1% and ping was down only 5.1ms.

NordVPN Haste Game Recap
  • Ping: 54.9ms (+5.1ms)
  • Jitter: 1.3ms (+0ms)
  • Packet Loss: 0.1% (+0.1%)

Speedtest.net

Though totally unnoticeable, the ping climbed from 7ms without VPN to 22ms with VPN. Download speed loss was 1.31Mbps and Upload loss was 0.20Mbps.

NordVPN Speedtest
  • Ping: 22ms (+16ms)
  • Download: 19.64Mbps (-1.45Mbps)
  • Upload: 2.12Mbps (-0.67Mbps)

To ensure we were only testing the very best servers, we looked at Apex Legend’s own servers. Their Amsterdam server had the best ping at 58ms.

NordVPN Best Server

Playing on US Servers

Of course, when connecting so far away, there is going to be a delay in your connection. Just based on the physical distance the data has to travel there is going to be a loss of connection time – and unfortunately, there’s nothing a VPN provider can do about that.

What they can do, however, is minimize extra time on their end. NordVPN has done this very well. Here are some stats about our connection to the US server:

Haste Check
  • Ping: 132.6ms (+82.8ms)
  • Jitter: 3.3ms (+2.0ms)
  • Packet Loss: 0.0%
Speedtest.net
  • Ping: 128ms (+122ms)
  • Download: 11.27Mbps (-9.82Mbps)
  • Upload: 2.00Mbps (-0.79Mbps)
Gaming Session Recap
  • Ping (EU to EU): 54.9ms (+5.1ms)
  • Long Distance Connection PING (EU to US): 128ms (+122ms)
  • Download: 19.64Mbps (-1.45Mbps)
  • Upload: 2.12Mbps (-0.67Mbps)

10. Great 3rd Party Ratings

Apple Store

NordVPN has over 300,000 ratings on the App store. With an average 4.7-star rating, it ranks as the number 21 app in the utilities category.

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Google Play Store

On Google’s play store, NordVPN has racked up over 577 thousand ratings and an overall score of 4.4 stars.

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Trustpilot

NordVPN has a rating of 4.4 stars on Trustpilot and has been rated a whopping 18,707 times.

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NordVPN Cons

1. Apple App Store Purchases Cannot Be Refunded

Unfortunately, NordVPN notes that if you purchase NordVPN through the Apple App Store, refunds must be requested with App Store support and cannot be processed directly with NordVPN. In addition, payments made using any prepaid or gift cards cannot be refunded.

NordVPN also cannot process purchases made through resellers, including Amazon, BestBuy, StackSocial, etc. Considering that this is the only identifiable con, however, it can be forgiven – especially since you’ll be hard-pressed to find a reason for wanting a refund!

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