PureVPN vs NordVPN (including Speed Tests) Updated 2019
PureVPN and NordVPN are both solid VPN services, so deciding between them will depend on your specific needs.
Which is the better VPN: PureVPN or NordVPN? Let's find out!
If you are trying to decide between PureVPN or NordVPN, you’ve come to the right place.
Both are very popular VPN services, each boasting millions of customers, but are very different. Each of them will appeal to a different type of customer.
We compare both of these VPNs in detail across all the important features and benefits. But, if you are in a hurry, the bottom line is this:
- PureVPN is a better choice than NordVPN if you are a complete beginner to VPN services or will be focused on streaming or torrenting from South America or Africa (where they have servers but NordVPN doesn't)
- NordVPN is a better choice if you are even a little tech savvy, want to have more control over your settings and if consistency and reliability are paramount for you
'PureVPN vs NordVPN' contents (select to expand)
Introducing PureVPN and NordVPN
PureVPN is based in Hong Kong and has been on the VPN scene a very long time. NordVPN has also been around a while, though it only adopted its current name a few years ago. NordVPN is based in Panama in Central America.
We mention where both VPN services are based because, increasingly, VPN customers are looking for VPN services that are based outside the USA. This is because of concerns linked to that country’s intelligence services, including the NSA, and its more aggressive approach to problems in general.
5 at same time
6 at same time
Yes (incl by app)
DNS & IPv6 leak protection
Apps and Devices
Both PureVPN and NordVPN have apps for almost any device or operating system you are looking for. Of course, this means Windows, MacOS, Android and iOS, but also includes smart TV, gaming consoles and even network routers.
Both services are easy to sign-up for and their apps are simple to install. But that’s the case with almost all VPNs these days.
Where PureVPN and NordVPN really differ, however, is the user interface of their apps.
PureVPN Keeps it Simple
PureVPN employs a much more “wizard” like interface. You make a selection based on what you want to do, rather than focusing on settings.
For example, in PureVPN’s apps you have 5 broad choices which it calls “Modes”:
- Internet Freedom
- Security / Privacy
- Dedicated IP
This makes PureVPN super-easy to use. You just choose a Mode, click Connect and you’re done. You can also specify a connection location for a Mode, but that’s about it.
But that’s exactly what PureVPN is aiming for.
Take another example: in its Streaming Mode, PureVPN offers a list of popular online channels to select from such as Netflix US, Amazon Prime US, Hulu and dozens of others.
You simply connect and forget about it. These preset channels in PureVPN make it the easiest VPN for streaming.
NordVPN Lets you Get Under the Hood
However, people more familiar with using a VPN will itch for more settings, like being able to choose the specific VPN protocol or level of encryption.
For those people, NordVPN’s user interface will be more familiar.
Although you can also use NordVPN in a very easy way – it too has a Connection Wizard which lets you choose from presets like Security, Streaming P2P (ie, torrenting) and Anonymity – you can also drill down into its settings for more precise options.
For example, almost all VPN apps will let you choose servers in a specific location to connect to. NordVPN is no exception. But it also has a number of Specialty Servers you can choose from including Anti DDoS, Dedicated IP, Double VPN, Onion over VPN, and P2P servers.
What’s more, you can dig even deeper into each of these Specialties. Hover your cursor beside one of them and select the universal More icon that appears. You’ll see details right down to each specific server, their distance from you and their current load. That’s an unprecedented level of detail for a VPN app.
In its defense, we know what PureVPN would say, “Well, you can also do that in our apps”. While that’s true to a point, you really have to go digging in PureVPN’s Settings to find these kinds of options. With NordVPN, it is all just a couple of intuitive clicks away.
Like all good VPN services, PureVPN and NordVPN both have all the bells & whistles that discerning VPN customers now expect. These include:
- Kill switch
- DNS leak protection
- IPv6 leak protection
- UDP and TCP protocol options
- Auto-connect on start-up
- Server ping tests
Here is a series of screenshots showing some of PureVPN's settings.
However, a couple of things that NordVPN has that PureVPN doesn’t are CyberSec and Obfuscated servers.
CyberSec is the name for NordVPN’s technology that blocks ads and malware while you are connected to its VPN. This is a fairly new feature but it has already received accolades including in independent VPN testing by AV-TEST labs.
You can find and enable it in NordVPN’s settings.
Obfuscated Servers can be found in NordVPN’s Advanced Settings (you’ll first get a warning not to mess around in these settings). You should enable these servers only if you are based in a location with heavy Internet censorship and blocking, such as China.
We should also mention that NordVPN’s kill switch is a little different than usual. Normally, a kill switch will cut your entire Internet connection if the VPN drops unexpectedly. This is to keep your connection safe and your real IP address from being exposed. However, with NordVPN’s kill switch, you can set it so that only specific apps are cut off from the Internet without killing your entire connection.
This can be very handy. For example, for torrent file-sharing, you can set the NordVPN kill switch so that only your torrent download software such as µtorrent or qBitTorent has its connection cut off. This protects your real IP address from the very real risk of torrent monitoring.
PureVPN has a slight edge in this department as it offers an industry-leading 31-day money-back guarantee.
But NordVPN is right behind it with 30 days during which you can ask for your money back if you are not happy with the service.
In either case, these generous money-back periods give you plenty of peace of mind and lots of time to make sure the VPN service is right for you.
Number of Simultaneous Logins
You’ll see this described in different ways including “multi-logins” or “number of simultaneous devices/connections”, but it all means the same thing.
It describes how many different VPN apps you can be logged into at the same time on one account.
Years ago, you would need a VPN plan for each and every different device you wanted to use at a given time. But these days, it’s common to use a computer, tablet, smart phone and sometimes even more devices (think smart TVs and consoles) at the same time.
PureVPN lets you use a single plan on up to 5 devices at the same time. NordVPN allows 6 simultaneous logins for its VPN accounts.
Here at Cogipas, we highly recommend you choose a VPN service with a strict no-log policy.
A no-logs policy means that the VPN service keeps no records of any kind about your activities as a customer. There are different kinds of logs, such as activity logs (the websites you visited and what you did while connected to the VPN) to connection logs (the time and real IP address from which you connected to the VPN).
If one of the main benefits of using a VPN is to stay “anonymous” online, logs have no place in this and should be avoided. Therefore, always insist on a no-log VPN service. This feature can also go by the terms zero-log VPN, zero-knowledge VPN or non-logging VPN.
It’s not as easy as it sounds though, because plenty of VPN providers have claimed not to keep any logs only for it to come out later that they do. Read more about false no-log claims.
PureVPN and NordVPN both claim to be no-log VPN services. Although PureVPN had a somewhat sketchy past about its no-log policy, it has gone to great lengths recently to say that it is now a fully no-log VPN. This claims was backed up with an audit which concluded that PureVPN did not keep any data that could identify any specific person or activity.
Similarly, an audit has proven NordVPN’s no-log claims to be true. A large, international auditing firm looked at NordVPN’s service in great detail and went on record to say that NordVPN was not recording user IP addresses or logging Internet traffic.
We are more satisfied with NordVPN’s no-log claims and track record than PureVPN’s.
PureVPN and NordVPN both let you connect super-easily to VPN servers for safe torrenting.
With PureVPN, select File-sharing mode and then either auto-connect to the best server available or manually select a location. With NordVPN, go to Specialty servers and either click directly on P2P to auto-connect to the fastest server or click on the three dots (…) to select a specific location or server.
Using a VPN to keep you anonymous while torrent file-sharing is one of a VPN’s most important functions for every day users.
Using a VPN while torrenting will hide your IP address and encrypt your connection so your torrent downloads can’t be monitored by your ISP or snoops.
That’s why it’s not a coincidence that we cover torrenting right after discussing no-log policies. That’s because your torrent safety and privacy is only as solid as your VPN’s no-log policy.
PureVPN and NordVPN both openly support torrent file-sharing and are not shy about it. But for the same reasons above, we would give the nod to NordVPN. You need to have confidence in your VPN’s no-log policy and NordVPN has been audited as a truly no-log VPN.
However, PureVPN allows torrenting on many more servers than NordVPN. As you’ll read under ‘VPN Servers & Locations’ below, PureVPN has servers in many more locations than NordVPN and that’s true too for servers that support torrenting.
PureVPN has torrent-friendly servers in 83 countries all around the globe whereas NordVPN has torrent-friendly servers in 36 countries. In particular, PureVPN has a big advantage over NordVPN for P2P-friendly servers in Africa and South America. Unless you live in those regions, we’d recommend NordVPN over PureVPN for torrenting.
Plans and Prices
PureVPN and NordVPN are both very competitively priced VPNs. This is especially true the longer the subscription you take.
PureVPN’s best price is $2.88/mo for a 2-year plan while the lowest cost plan for NordVPN is $3.49/mo for a 3-year subscription.
And remember, their lengthy money-back guarantee periods (31 days for PureVPN and 30 days for NordVPN) mean you shouldn’t be too worried about signing up for a longer-term deal.
Finally, like all VPNs (or all products in general), their homepages will try to convince you about what a great deal is on offer by touting large discount percentages. Just remember that these “save %” deals are the savings achieved when compared to their monthly plans. It is better to compare VPN services to each other rather than to compare a VPN services’ annual (or biannual) plan price to its monthly plan price.
VPN Servers & Locations
As two of the biggest players in the VPN industry, it will be no surprise that both PureVPN and NordVPN offer lots of VPN servers in lots of different locations.
At the risk of generalizing, the more VPN servers that are available to use, the more options you have. This is especially true for online streaming of live events in faraway places and even for avoiding annoying Captcha’s.
Here are the up-to-date stats for PureVPN vs NordVPN when it comes to servers and locations:
- PureVPN: 2,000 servers located in 140 countries – see PureVPN server list in full
- NordVPN: 5,589 servers located in 60 countries - see NordVPN server list in full
PureVPN has a big advantage over NordVPN when it comes to the number of countries where it has VPN servers. In fact, PureVPN has servers in more than double the amount of countries than NordVPN. This can be important if you want to livestream local events taking place in countries where PureVPN has servers, but NordVPN doesn’t.
VPN Speed Tests
In our opinion, the speeds offered by a VPN service are more important than the number of servers and locations it offers.
We placed this part of the head-to-head comparison near the end of the post because it is long, a bit technical and contains lots of screenshots.
All our speed tests utilized speedtest.net by Ookla. Our speed tests for USA were done from Arizona over WiFi on a typical residential Internet connection (semi- not super-fast). Our speed tests for Asia were done from Thailand over a faster connection. Because the two sets of tests in the different locations were done under very different circumstances, please do not compare them to each other. What's important is the relative results in the same location on the same Internet connection.
Bottom Line: PureVPN vs NordVPN Speed Tests
See all the details below, but the bottom line of our speed tests was as follows:
- Connecting to USA servers, PureVPN performed better (faster) than NordVPN.
- Connecting to VPN servers in Asia, NordVPN performed better (faster) than PureVPN.
Interestingly, we expected the reverse of these results as PureVPN is based in Asia and NordVPN is based in Central America. Keep in mind that both VPN services performed well in both Continents.
Establishing a Baseline Speed (Speed Test with No VPN)
To get a baseline, it's important to first test speeds without a VPN. Because results can vary, it's also good to do more than one test.
The "winning" results below are all expressed as a % degradation of download speed compared to the average figures above. This is just a fancy way of saying how much speed was lost when connected to the VPN compared to not being connected. By definition, the VPN connection will always be slower because the connection is being diverted to/from the VPN servers for your safety.
Note: on some websites you'll see claims such as, "we were able to keep 95% of the original Internet speed with [VPN]". Claiming a 5% speed degradation using a VPN is not credible for download speeds and shouldn't be believed, especially if it is not backed up with test screenshots etc.
Even for the very best VPN services, download and torrenting speed degradations are higher and sometimes much higher. Don't just take our word for it, check for yourself by looking at the VPN speed results of independent testing labs (in this 29-page report, look at pages look at pages 13 & 14). Only streaming and upload speed degradation %s can be in the single digits.
PureVPN vs NordVPN: USA Servers
Baseline Speeds (No VPN) USA
Our no VPN speed test results in USA gave us the following ranges:
- Ping: a consistent 21 ms across the board with an average of 21 ms
- Download speeds: 16.2 to 27.54 Mbps with an average of 20.61 Mbps
- Upload speeds: 4.45 to 4.74 Mbps with an average of 4.51 Mbps
VPN Speed Tests USA Servers
For our US-based VPN speed tests, we let both VPNs connect to their fastest available server via each app's auto mode.
- WINNER: PureVPN with a better (lower) ping and a speed degradation of only 17% versus 32% for NordVPN.
PureVPN vs NordVPN: Asia Servers
Baseline Speeds (No VPN) Asia
Our no VPN speed test results in Asia gave us the following ranges:
- Ping: 4 to 7 ms with an average of 5.75 ms
- Download speeds: 41.95 to 75.66 Mbps with an average of 57.77 Mbps
- Upload speeds: 40.22 to 59.73 Mbps with an average of 51.18 Mbps
PureVPN vs NordVPN: Thailand Servers
As we were based in Thailand at the time of the Asia-based tests, we started our Asia speed tests of PureVPN vs NordVPN by connecting to their Thailand servers.
- WINNER: NordVPN but not by much. NordVPN had a much better (lower) ping and a speed degradation of 37% versus 40% for PureVPN.
PureVPN vs NordVPN: Singapore Servers
Our next speed test comparison was done by connecting to each VPN's Singapore servers. The initial result for PureVPN somewhat surprised us, so we re-ran the test.
- WINNER: Virtually tied with NordVPN's and PureVPN's speed degradation at an impressively low 18%; both also had a very similar ping. However, as a tie-breaker, NordVPN's upload speeds were significantly faster then PureVPN's.
PureVPN vs NordVPN: Hong Kong Servers
Next, we compared PureVPN and NordVPN connecting to servers in Hong Kong. Despite multiple tests, PureVPN's speeds were surprisingly poor for some reason even though PureVPN is based in Hong Kong!
- WINNER: NordVPN by a mile with speed degradation of only 10% compared to PureVPN's 46%.
There you have it. This is the most detailed analysis on the Internet you will find comparing PureVPN and NordVPN.
Much of your choice will depend on your specific and individual needs as a VPN customer. For us, we prefer NordVPN overall.
But for complete beginners or people only or mostly interested in online streaming, PureVPN is an attractive choice at a great price.
If you are still sitting on the fence, keep in mind that both of these VPNs have long money-back guarantee periods. Nothing stops you from signing up for both, trying both of them and then cancelling the one you liked the least. After all, there’s no better way to choose a VPN than to actually use it.
Last updated: September 2, 2019