In the battle to become the best antivirus software, branding and reputation are almost as important as performance. That’s why Bitdefender Antivirus, with its strong reputation for quality, is one of our favorites. Even the name sparks confidence in its ability, which is something ESET NOD32 lacks.
A name isn’t everything, though, so we’re going to look at what really matters. We’ll test Bitdefender Antivirus and ESET NOD32 in a five-round battle to determine which is the better antivirus. Pricing is the biggest difference between the two, but check out each round for a clearer picture.
Setting Up a Fight: Bitdefender Antivirus vs. ESET NOD32
It’s fair to say that Bitdefender Antivirus is one of the best in the business. It’s one of the most secure antivirus software options on the market. The picture is more complex when we look at ESET NOD32, as we’ll explain later.
The differences between the two are what we care about, so we’re going to test Bitdefender Antivirus and ESET NOD32 in features, pricing, protection and more. We’ll also look at how user-friendly they are and the quality of their customer support.
We’ll declare a winner and award a point to that provider at the end of each round. Then, we’ll explain our reasoning. The overall winner will be the fist to earn three or more points.
You don’t buy antivirus software for a clever name. You buy it for what it offers. That’s why it’s important to look at the features on offer to make sure you’re getting the best for your money.
Let’s evaluate the features Bitdefender Antivirus and ESET NOD32 have to offer customers.
Unless you’re prepared to spend, Bitdefender Antivirus won’t offer you much in the way of features. That’s not to say its basic plans are bad, but you’ll get more out of it from one of the more expensive packages.
The best package for most people is Bitdefender Total Security, which covers multiple devices, including mobile and macOS. It tied with Kaspersky Anti-Virus (read our Kaspersky Anti-Virus review) when we looked for the best antivirus for Android, so it’s a strong option for mobile users.
Bitdefender Antivirus leans more toward Windows users. If you go for the cheaper Internet Security package, you can protect up to three Windows machines. Mobile and macOS protection requires a Total Security subscription.
It’s clear that Bitdefender Antivirus targets the general user. Bitdefender Safepay provides a protected browser to use for shopping, online banking and other websites where your data could be compromised.
It’ll alert you to switch to Safepay on sensitive websites. You can combine that with Bitdefender’s free virtual private network service, which includes a 200MB daily data allowance to protect you against the dangers of public WiFi when you’re out.
Along similar lines is Bitdefender’s password manager. It’s light on features, but it’ll keep your passwords and bank details safe. It’s no Dashlane (read our Dashlane review), but it’s adequate. It comes standard with all Bitdefender Antivirus packages.
There’s also an ad-tracker blocking tool, web browser extensions and a firewall. You also get protection against ransomware, with Bitdefender Antivirus using “advanced threat defense” to block new threats.
With webcam protection and a file shredder, Bitdefender Antivirus tries to cover every possibility, making it one of the most well-rounded examples of antivirus protection on the market.
ESET NOD32 is the name of just one of three antivirus packages offered by Slovakia-based ESET. It’s the cheapest, and like Bitdefender Internet Security, it’s only available for Windows PCs.
ESET calls NOD32 “basic,” and it’s a fair assessment. Don’t expect all the trimmings. It comes with ESET’s basic anti-malware and anti-spyware protection. That’s it.
You don’t get the extras that Bitdefender Antivirus includes, such as a firewall or secure browser, as standard with ESET NOD32. Those require the more expensive ESET Internet Security subscription instead.
The most expensive package, ESET Smart Security Premium, includes a password manager and encrypted file store. Those are premium features that Bitdefender offers standard, which is disappointing.
You’ll be able to protect Windows, macOS and Android devices with ESET Smart Security Premium or Internet Security. That’s almost on par with Bitdefender Antivirus, but there’s no mention of iPhone support. It won’t make our best antivirus for iPhone shortlist for that reason.
There’s no VPN protection with ESET. Bitdefender’s VPN isn’t great, but it’s good for being offered as an extra. If a VPN is important to you, look through our VPN reviews for an alternative, such as ExpressVPN (read our ExpressVPN review).
Overall, there are a lot of features across the ESET subscription packages, but many require Smart Security Premium or Internet Security. ESET NOD32 only offers basic protection.
Round One Thoughts
ESET NOD32 and Bitdefender Internet Security are basic packages, but Bitdefender Antivirus offers many features, such as the firewall and password manager, as standard. ESET charges extra for these, leaving ESET NOD32 as a basic protection tool.
Overall, with its broader and more complete set of features, Bitdefender Antivirus wins this round.
With so many plans and packages to choose from, it’s difficult to see if an antivirus provider is worth the money.
We’re going to look at how Bitdefender Antivirus’s pricing plans stack up to ESET’s to see which is the best value.
Bitdefender Antivirus offers four major products, but its pricing is complicated. The company charges you for coverage per device, meaning the most basic package, Antivirus Plus, can vary in cost from $39.99 per year for one device to $79.99 a year for 10.
1-year plan $ 2.92/ month
$34.99 billed every year
1-year plan $ 3.33/ month
$39.98 billed every year
1-year plan $ 3.75/ month
$44.99 billed every year
You’ll get a discount of around 50 percent if you get coverage for up to three devices. Antivirus Plus comes with a $30 discount, which takes a yearly subscription down to $29.99 — $10 cheaper than Bitdefender Antivirus’s coverage for one device. It’s a Windows-only package, though.
It’s worth noting that those discounts are for new customers only. Existing customers can save money by paying upfront for longer subscriptions.
Bitdefender Internet Security is the company’s middle-of-the-road protection, ranging from $59.99 per year for one device to $89.99 a year for 10. It’s another Windows-only package, but your coverage comes with webcam protection, a firewall and a WiFi scanner.
The premium Bitdefender Total Security package is the best coverage you’d need for macOS and mobile, and it’s our best antivirus for Mac. Minimum coverage is for up to five devices at a discounted rate of $39.98 per year or $89.99 a year standard.
It comes with anti-theft protection in addition to other Internet Security features. There’s no discount for 10-device coverage, which costs $99.99 per year.
There’s also a Family Plan for — you guessed it — families. It matches the protection you have with Total Security, but it gives you coverage for up to 15 devices at a discounted price of $54.99 per year or a standard rate of $119.99 a year.
There’s something for everyone in Bitdefender Antivirus’s pricing plans. Big families are protected with the Family Plan, while those looking for protection on a budget can look at Antivirus Plus and Internet Security instead.
Multi-device protection is best served by a Total Security subscription, with hefty discounts available across all plans for new customers.
ESET offers seven packages for home users. ESET NOD32 is the cheapest basic package for Windows users, offering protection against malware and spyware.
1-year plan $ 3.33/ month
$39.99 billed every year
1-year plan $ 3.33/ month
$39.99 billed every year
|Smart Security Premium|
1-year plan $ 5.00/ month
$59.99 billed every year
As with Bitdefender Antivirus, pricing varies with the number of devices you want to cover. One device costs $39.99 per year, with the price increasing in $10 increments per additional device, up to $79.99 a year for a maximum of five devices.
ESET Internet Security is the cheapest plan for all supported devices and covers up to 10 of them. You also get far more features, with a firewall, secure browser and anti-theft thrown in. A yearly subscription will set you back $49.99 for one device up to $139.99 for 10.
At $139.99 a year, ESET Internet Security is more expensive than an equivalent Bitdefender Internet Security subscription, which costs $89.99 per year.
The top-tier ESET Smart Security Premium starts at $59.99 a year for one device and goes up to $149.99 per year for 10. For your money, you get a password manager, UEFI scanner and parental controls.
Those are core Bitdefender features that ESET charges a premium for. At $149.99 a year, ESET Smart Security Premium is also more expensive than the equivalent Bitdefender Total Security, which costs $99.99 per year without discounts.
There are additional ESET products aimed at specific operating systems. ESET Cyber Security is an ESET NOD32 clone for macOS that also costs from $39.99 a year to $79.99 per year.
ESET Cyber Security Pro offers more advanced macOS coverage that costs from $49.99 a year to $139.99 per year. You can also get bare-bones Android protection with Mobile Security for Android. That’s offered at $14.99 per year for one device up to a whopping $74.95 a year for five.
Round Two Thoughts
There’s no disputing this one. It’s an easy win for Bitdefender Antivirus. Bitdefender Antivirus’s plans are cheaper across the board than ESET’s, even without its generous new customer discounts, and come with far more features as standard.
An important part of your search for the right antivirus software is considering whether it’s easy to use, especially if you’re not a PC pro. We’re going to look at how user-friendly Bitdefender Antivirus is compared to ESET to decide which is best.
It’s not too difficult to install Bitdefender Antivirus, but it may take a few minutes to download and install. User interaction, thankfully, is kept at a minimum.
The Bitdefender Antivirus client is designed for simplicity, with a modern interface that focuses on the main dashboard area and “quick actions,” which help make common tasks such as virus scans easy. Other features, as well as your settings, can be accessed from the side menu.
If you prefer to leave your antivirus software on auto-pilot, Bitdefender Antivirus will alert you to threats or recommendations with notifications from the taskbar.
You can use custom profiles to enable some settings or features at certain times. A work profile, for instance, could be used to increase web and email protection sensitivity, while a game profile would silence Bitdefender Antivirus notifications.
There’s a mix of simplicity and micromanagement on offer from the Bitdefender Antivirus client. There aren’t too many antivirus clients that are as easy to use as Bitdefender Antivirus, but our Avira review highlights one of the few that match it.
ESET, like Bitdefender Antivirus, is quick to download and install. It’ll take a few minutes to download the installation files using the installer, but everything is clearly labeled.
The installation requires more steps to navigate, though. You’ll need to register for a license, as well as enable or disable certain settings straight away, such as potentially unwanted program detection.
The ESET client will pop up with more steps after you’ve installed it, including options to enable features such as anti-theft if you have an ESET Smart Security Premium or Internet Security license. Each feature requires additional time for installation, lengthening the process.
Once everything is installed, the client is simple to navigate, but it’s limited. The main sections are for scanning your PC, but you’ll find your premium features under “tools.” You can also make extra changes in the “setup” area.
Overall, ESET isn’t too bad for user-friendliness. The client is easy to navigate and has lots of supportive descriptions. Though Bitdefender Antivirus takes care of much of the customization for you, ESET requires more immediate user interaction while setting up.
The ironic thing is that configuring ESET after installation is a lot less simple than it is to configure Bitdefender Antivirus once you’ve installed either client.
Round Three Thoughts
The configuration is what makes Bitdefender Antivirus better than ESET when it comes to user-friendliness. Bitdefender Antivirus defaults to a standard set of options while making it easy for you to micro-configure as you go.
For its much smoother, clearer user experience, Bitdefender Antivirus wins this round.
Arguably, protection is the most important round in this comparison. Installing an antivirus that can’t protect you against the latest threats is a bad idea, after all.
Using the reports of three independent testing labs, we’re going to see how well Bitdefender Antivirus and ESET will protect you.
Looking at AV-Test’s March and April 2019 test results, Bitdefender Antivirus scored a near-perfect 99.3 percent for its malware protection. This was a small dip compared to previous AV-Test scores, but Bitdefender Antivirus still awarded the maximum score of 6 overall.
Bitdefender Antivirus’s performance scores were better. AV-Test recorded slowdown speeds of 14 percent against an average of 19 percent, so the provider got another 6 from the lab.
Moving on to AV-Comparatives, Bitdefender Antivirus blocked 751 potential threats with a success rate of 99.9 percent and only two false readings. Looking at performance scores, AV-Comparatives gave Bitdefender it’s three-star Advanced+ rating in April 2019, the highest possible, which puts it in the same league as AVG (read our AVG review).
The scores from our final independent lab, MRG Effitas, were flawless. Bitdefender Antivirus had a 100 percent rate of success, detecting all 339 threats in MRG Effitas’ Q1 2019 test. Because of that, MRG Effitas awarded Bitdefender Antivirus its highest Level 1 Certified rating, alongside antiviruses such as Trend Micro (see our Trend Micro Antivirus review).
AV-Test last tested ESET’s home antivirus products in November-December 2017. Its real-world malware testing used a sample of 185 PCs, with ESET achieving a success rate of 97.9 percent in November 2017 against an industry average of 99.6 percent. It scored a 5.5 out of 6 for protection.
Much more recent scores for ESET’s business antivirus protection were no better. AV-Test recorded a 98.6 percent success rate from a sample of 277 for ESET in April 2019 against an industry average of 99.6 percent.
In AV-Comparatives’ April 2019 protection testing, ESET blocked 740 threats with six false positives for an overall protection rate of 98.4 percent. AV-Comparatives awarded ESET a one-star protection score compared to Bitdefender Antivirus’s three-star score. ESET scored better for performance, though, where it scored a three-star Advanced+ rating.
That puts it in the same category as Bitdefender Antivirus, but the individual scores were even better. ESET had the best impact scores of any antivirus tested — 0.3 versus Bitdefender’s 8.3 — proving to be much lighter on system resources.
ESET’s MRG Effitas testing scores were less impressive. Out of 339 samples, 0.29 percent required user intervention to block the threat, compared to the 100 percent automatic success rate that Bitdefender Antivirus achieved.
That was minor, though, and MRG Effitas still awarded ESET its Level 1 Certified rating alongside Bitdefender Antivirus.
Round Four Thoughts
There are positives for both sides in this round, with ESET doing well in performance but scoring worse in protection than Bitdefender Antivirus.
Overall, it’s hard to argue with the near-perfect scores that Bitdefender Antivirus recorded from all three labs, making Bitdefender the overall winner.
As ESET proved with its MRG Effitas scores, you can’t always trust your antivirus to do everything for you. Sometimes, you’ll have to get involved, and that might mean contacting customer support for help.
We’ll test the quality of customer support from ESET and Bitdefender Antivirus in this round.
Whether you like to pick up the phone or prefer to handle things via email, there’s an option for you from Bitdefender Antivirus. You’re spoiled for choice, with 16 local support lines available across the globe.
There’s also email support and a live chat system available 24/7 in case you run into an urgent issue in the middle of the night. You can also ask questions and seek help from other customers and support staff on the community support forum, with areas for different products and languages other than English.
There’s also a detailed knowledgebase for customers, with support guides and a FAQ to answer more common problems. Whether it’s posting on the forum or speaking on the phone, responses from Bitdefender Antivirus are generally quick.
Like Bitdefender Antivirus, ESET comes with an array of support options, including several telephone support lines in places such as Europe and the U.S. Live chat agents are available, too, as well as email.
One downside compared to Bitdefender Antivirus is that ESET doesn’t offer a forum, but there’s a knowledgebase. It’s not the easiest to navigate, but it includes videos to help guide you through installation and product activation.
There are also guides with “top solutions” for common problems, as well as links to a YouTube channel with support videos covering installation, malware removal and other topics. There’s no around-the-clock support from ESET, but you can make contact during weekdays between 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. PST or any time through email.
Overall, ESET’s support is okay, but the knowledgebase is clunky, and with only a Monday-to-Friday support team, you could be left high and dry in an emergency.
Round Five Thoughts
Bitdefender has everything you’d expect or want from customer support, with local phone lines, support for different languages and around-the-clock contact available.
ESET has the means, but with such limited hours and a poor knowledgebase, Bitdefender Antivirus takes this section.
ESET has always been business-orientated, but that doesn’t mean its home antivirus software is bad. When you compare it to a top-tier provider like Bitdefender Antivirus, though, you start to see what you’re missing.
That’s why Bitdefender won this comparison hands down. Though ESET will protect you, Bitdefender Antivirus has a lot more to offer for a much lower subscription cost. You’ll get more features, better support and a better client.
If you’re looking for an alternative to Bitdefender, our other antivirus articles could give you inspiration.
Do you use ESET or Bitdefender Antivirus? Leave your comments below, and thanks for reading.