To help us provide you with free impartial advice, we may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site. Learn more

NordVPN review: An excellent VPN for almost anyone

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £2.99
(/mth, 27 month subscription)

A superb all-round VPN for speed and security, despite a few stumbles with streaming services


  • Very fast connections
  • Impressive security
  • Interesting range of optional add-ons


  • Expensive for short-term sign-ups
  • Not all streaming sites worked for us

NordVPN is a virtual private networking service that routes all your internet traffic through a secure pipeline. This ensures that no-one can spy on your internet usage – not even your ISP. It can also allow you to access content that would normally be blocked on your network, or from your geographical location.

Check price at NordVPN

NordVPN review: How much does it cost?

You can subscribe to NordVPN on a month-by-month basis, but doing so doesn’t deliver great value. Indeed, it’s more expensive than it looks, because the advertised prices are exclusive of VAT, meaning a monthly subscription priced at £10 will actually cost you £12/mth. As usual, the cost becomes cheaper if you sign up for a longer term: a year-long subscription costs £56 inc VAT, equivalent to £4.67/mth, while a two-year commitment comes to £81 inc VAT, plus an extra three months free, so you’re paying the equivalent of £2.99/mth

Before you pick a plan, though, there are some other factors to be aware of. Like many VPNs, NordVPN offers its best rates only to new subscribers: after your one-year subscription runs out, it will automatically renew at a much steeper £95 inc VAT, unless you cancel and rejoin. The two-year deal leaps up in price to £214.

There are additional pricing tiers, too. The prices above are for NordVPN’s “Standard” tier, which includes unlimited VPN use on up to six devices at once, plus built-in blocking of malware, web trackers and intrusive adverts. For a little extra cash you can move up to the “Plus” tier, which adds the NordPass password manager and a data breach scanner that alerts you when your sensitive information has leaked online. That will cost you £13 on a monthly basis; £66 for the first year of an annual subscription; or £103 for 27 months.

At the top end, the NordVPN “Complete” package adds a total of 1TB of secure cloud storage, shared across all your devices, with end-to-end encryption to protect your data from unauthorised access. That’s a pretty meaty amount of storage, and isn’t bad value if you were already interested in signing up for NordVPN: the premium package costs £14/mth, £81 for a year or £136 for two years – plus, again, the extra three months.


NordVPN review: What’s it like to use?

Once you’ve picked your plan, you can install the NordVPN software on Windows, macOS, Android, iOS or Linux. The publisher also offers downloads for Amazon Fire TV Sticks, Chromebooks and NAS appliances, and provides instructions for setting up the service on a games console or router. Choosing the latter option lets you protect every device on your home network with just one connection, but note that NordVPN doesn’t support L2TP or PPTP.

Once the VPN is connected, you’re free to do what you want. NordVPN offers numerous servers specifically dedicated to BitTorrent (although violating copyright is strictly against its terms of service), and you can stream video from services all around the world. The company operates more than 5,500 servers in 59 countries and there’s 24/7 customer support via live chat and email, in case you need a hand installing the app or connecting to a specific server.

We tested the NordVPN software on both Windows and Android. In both cases, the app opens with a stylised map of the world, allowing you to pick a server by clicking and dragging around.

While this offers a nice visual sense of where your traffic is going, it’s normally quicker to type a location into the accompanying search box, or to scroll down and browse the alphabetical list. On Windows, you can alternatively set the app to launch in windowless mode and use the system tray icon to open quick connections or bring up the full interface as needed.

Aside from finding and connecting to servers, all the client’s controls are found in the Settings view. Nice clear switches let you enable or disable auto-connect, and configure features such as the kill switch and split tunnelling options. There’s also an option to block ads and malicious websites, in order to speed up and streamline your browsing experience. The recently added Meshnet feature lets you easily share files and play games over the internet with other computers running the software.

The one thing that’s notably missing is any built-in performance or testing tools; but, overall, it’s a clean interface that presents a good spread of features in a way that’s largely logical and consistent across platforms.

Check price at NordVPN

NordVPN review: How fast is it?

We tried out NordVPN on a Windows 11 laptop connected to a 350Mbits/sec Virgin fibre line – and we were impressed with its speed. Without the VPN enabled, the Google Speed Test tool reported a download rate of 376Mbits/sec; connecting to a server in London caused this to fall only to 309Mbits/sec. That’s a hell of a lot of bandwidth – in our recent tests, we’ve only seen HMA and IPVanish having less of an impact on network speed.

Even when we switched to a more remote virtual location, NordVPN kept up the pace. The New York server gave us a magnificent 313Mbits/sec – the fastest download speed we’ve seen for a transatlantic VPN connection.

Curiously, mobile performance wasn’t quite as strong. Our Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 registered a download speed of 304Mbits/sec when connected to the London server – still fast, but distinctly slower than the desktop client. And when we switched to a New York server, performance plummeted to just 82Mbits/sec. We tried mashing NordVPN’s Refresh button to cycle through different servers in the same location, but couldn’t find a faster connection. Still, there’s more than enough bandwidth here for anything you’re likely to be doing on a tablet.

It’s also worth noting that the NordVPN software supports split tunnelling on both Windows and Android (although it isn’t currently available on Apple platforms), so you can set specific apps to run over the VPN, while the rest go at full speed through your local ISP.

READ NEXT: Best free VPN

NordVPN review: Is it good for video streaming?

For smooth streaming of 4K and HDR content, most providers recommend a connection speed of at least 25Mbits/sec. NordVPN can easily deliver that, even when using the mobile app to access servers on the other side of the Atlantic, so there’s no reason why you can’t use it for video streaming.

It’s effective at location spoofing, too. NordVPN doesn’t offer streaming-specific servers, but with our laptop connected to the regular New York server, we were happily able to watch US-only content from Netflix, Disney+ and Hulu in a web browser. We were also able to access a wide range of British content when using a UK server, which is good news for Brits on holiday. There was just one catch: while ITVX, Channel 4 and Now TV all streamed without a hitch, no matter how much we switched between servers, we couldn’t get BBC iPlayer to work.

Happily, we were able to view all UK content, including iPlayer, using the various services’ native Android apps on our tablet. US services mostly worked well, too, with the Netflix and Hulu apps not quibbling with our connection. The one exception here was Disney+, which insisted on offering the UK library even when we were connected to a US server.

As usual, neither can NordVPN unlock Amazon Prime content from any region other than your own; but that isn’t the fault of the VPN – the service uses your registered Amazon address to determine what content to offer.

Check price at NordVPN

NordVPN review: Is it secure?

If you want your private activities to stay private, NordVPN has you covered. Its corporate HQ is located in Panama, which means it isn’t subject to UK or EU data-retention rules, and the company proudly affirms that it doesn’t keep any records whatsoever of your activity. In the past few years, it’s put itself through two extensive investigations at the hands of independent auditor PwC, which confirm that its privacy claims are as good as they sound.

To further protect your privacy, NordVPN uses its own VPN protocol, called NordLynx. This is based on WireGuard, but adds IP address obfuscation so that your own details aren’t stored on the VPN server. Double VPN options make you even more difficult to trace by forwarding your traffic through two servers in different locations, and you can set the software client to automatically activate the VPN whenever you connect to a network – excluding those you’ve explicitly marked as trusted. The built-in malware blocking feature also helps protect your privacy by shutting out data-stealing exploits.

Another point in NordVPN’s favour is its unusually clever kill switch, which not only shuts off internet access if you get accidentally disconnected from the VPN, but also automatically closes nominated apps, to make absolutely certain that no ongoing activity is inadvertently exposed to your ISP.

Unusually, the software shows you the default security settings at the point of installation, and invites you to customise them if desired as part of the setup process – a great, thoughtful touch. And to help you ensure your ongoing security is tickety-boo, the Nord VPN client gives your configuration a “Security score”, and suggests options that can be tweaked to improve it.

Check price at NordVPN

NordVPN review: Should you buy it?

NordVPN won’t break the bank, but nor is it a budget VPN. For comparison, Atlas VPN costs just £1.50/mth on a three-year contract, with support for unlimited devices; other price-competitive options include CyberGhost and Surfshark.

Even so, NordVPN has plenty going for it. With its neutral location and independently audited privacy policy, it’s as secure as you could possibly ask for. It also has all the features you’re likely to want – including a few decent security add-ons, and optional password and file-management extras for a modest surcharge. It will unblock most streaming services, and we’ve no complaints about speed: on the desktop in particular, NordVPN’s performance is hard to beat.

Read more