NordVPN vs CyberGhost: A Cost-Effective 2021 Battle

Brian Murray
By Brian Murray (Writer)
— Last Updated: 2020-04-29T15:58:49+00:00

Out of all the virtual private network providers we’ve tested, CyberGhost and NordVPN have been neck and neck at number one and two for some time. These two have held such high positions for similar reasons, too.

If you look at our CyberGhost review, you’ll see that it did well in almost every category, but we especially liked the pricing, ease of use and the split-tunneling feature. Similarly, in our NordVPN review, we highlight NordVPN’s excellent long-term pricing and ease of use. 

With these two VPNs consistently competing against each other for a spot at the top, plus the long list of similarities between them, we thought it was time to see which is better in a head-to-head NordVPN vs CyberGhost matchup. In case you need to check out more options, here’s our best VPNs article.

Setting Up a Fight: NordVPN vs CyberGhost

To ensure that our CyberGhost vs NordVPN matchup is fair, we’ve developed a nine-round system. In each round, we’ll focus on a single aspect of VPN performance. We’ll look at how each VPN performs in that given category and declare a winner at the end of each round.

At the end of all nine rounds, the VPN with the most points is declared the winner. If any round is too close to call, it is possible that it can be declared a tie, in which case both VPNs will earn a point for that round.

  1. 1
    • Payment methods: Credit card, Google Pay, AmazonPay, ACH Transfer, UnionPay, Crypto Currencies
    • Simultaneous connections: 6
    • Unlimited bandwidth
    • Can access Netflix US
    • Allows torrenting
    • No-logging policy
  2. 2
    • Payment methods: PayPal, Credit card, bitcoin
    • Simultaneous connections: 7
    • Unlimited bandwidth
    • Can access Netflix US
    • Allows torrenting
    • No-logging policy

1. Speed

If you take a look at our fastest VPNs article, you’ll find that NordVPN is actually listed in the “dishonorable mentions” category. The reason for this is that over the many years we have been testing VPNs, NordVPN has consistently exhibited a lot of inconsistency with its speed performance.

However, this has improved a lot over time, and we might have to make changes to that article sometime in the near future. During our testing for this article, NordVPN managed to have a very impressive performance in every location with only a couple of minor hiccups.

NordVPN Speed

Location:PingDownloadUpload
Unprotected4289.17344.56
U.S.8204.57233.70
UK80220.2439.82
Japan167187.57200.05
Israel14171.6078.27

NordVPN beat CyberGhost’s download speeds by significant margins in every location we tested. The only place it was even close was in the one location where NordVPN slowed down a bit, which was in Israel. 

CyberGhost Speed

Location:PingDownloadUpload
Unprotected4289.17344.56
U.S.4493.62197.34
UK7988.54219.24
Japan15877.50322.24
Israel13866.9463.45

NordVPN has a bit more trouble with upload speed, only winning in half of the locations. However, upload speeds are less vital to overall performance, most of the time, and only really becomes critical if you’re sending large files. 

Also, even in the locations where it performs poorly, NordVPN still has enough upload bandwidth to allow it to perform perfectly fine for web browsing and streaming. 

One thing that CyberGhost excelled at was ping time. In three of the four locations we looked at, CyberGhost was able to shave just a few milliseconds off the ping time, which could make it a great VPN for gaming

Although NordVPN has had issues in the past with consistency, things have gotten much better over time. In our more recent testing, including for this NordVPN vs CyberGhost comparison, NordVPN has had very usable and reliable speeds around the globe, allowing it to win this round with its all-around better download speeds. 

Round: Speed
Point for NordVPN
Visit NordVPN1
Visit Cyberghost0

2. Streaming

Both NordVPN and CyberGhost can get around most VPN blocking measures that streaming sites employ. Both providers can stream Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and even BBC iPlayer content, which is why both of them rank highly on our best VPN for Hulu and best VPN for Netflix articles. However, there are significant differences in how each one performs while streaming. 

With CyberGhost, there are standard servers as well as a handful of dedicated streaming servers. This can also be seen in our NordVPN vs Windscribe article, when Windscribe uses a similar system. On both CyberGhost’s dedicated and non-dedicated streaming servers, we were able to get Amazon Prime Video, Netflix and Hulu working (you can read our guide on how to watch Netflix with CyberGhost).

CyberGhost-Streaming-Servers

That said, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video both loaded very slowly on the normal servers. Hulu also had an issue where videos would load indefinitely and you would be left staring at a black screen. These issues were not present on CyberGhost’s streaming servers, but Amazon Prime still seemed a bit sluggish and would still sometimes load in at a very low resolution. 

NordVPN, on the other hand, does not have dedicated streaming servers. Every streaming site we tried worked perfectly, including Amazon Prime, which was much more responsive than it was while we were on CyberGhost’s VPN network. This improved its ease of use without the need for dedicated servers, and the superior performance wins NordVPN this round.

Round: Streaming
Point for NordVPN
Visit NordVPN2
Visit Cyberghost0

3. Security and Privacy

CyberGhost and NordVPN are very comparable when it comes to security and privacy. Both VPN providers cover all of the most basic security features that we expect to see, including a functioning kill switch and some way to automatically connect on startup. 

nordvpn-review-settings

As for connection security, both VPNs offer OpenVPN paired with AES-256 encryption. This pairing is what we suggest almost everyone use for practically all applications, as it offers excellent security as well as reliable performance.

CyberGhost also lets users set the protocol to IKEv2, but this is something we would generally not recommend. If you’re looking for a VPN that has some unique protocol options, be sure to take a look at our VyprVPN review. VyprVPN offers several protocols, including its unique Chameleon protocol. 

cyberghost-reviews-settings

Both VPNs have a solid no-logging policy and collect an absolute minimum amount of information about you and your usage of the VPN. With both CyberGhost and NordVPN offering such comparable levels of security and privacy, the deciding factor in this round comes down to some of NordVPN’s added features. NordVPN offers a double VPN for added security as well as a Tor VPN for deep web browsing (read our is NordVPN safe to use? piece).

Round: Security and Privacy
Point for NordVPN
Visit NordVPN3
Visit Cyberghost0

4. Torrenting

As we saw in our ExpressVPN vs NordVPN article, NordVPN gets the best speeds of any VPN we’ve tested when it comes to torrenting. We’ve seen NordVPN reach speeds as high as 17MB/s while torrenting large files and we were able to complete our entire 1.4GB test download in under three minutes. 

That said, NordVPN has both dedicated P2P servers as well as its standard servers and we actually see better performance on the normal servers. The 17MB/s speed and sub-three-minute download were both achieved using the normal servers. The dedicated file sharing servers seem to be optimized more for security as they are not nearly as fast and appear to be located in Greece rather than more locally. 

CyberGhost, in this case — unlike in the streaming section — does not have dedicated P2P servers for torrenting. Despite this, it was able to do quite well in our 1.4GB torrenting test. After one minute, the torrent was coming in at 4MB/s, and by one and a half minutes this had exploded to an impressive 10MB/s. This is where the download speed stayed until the download was finished in about three minutes and five seconds.

While CyberGhost did make good time and managed to download our test file fairly quickly, it still couldn’t end NordVPN’s reign as the king of torrenting

Round: Torrenting
Point for NordVPN
Visit NordVPN4
Visit Cyberghost0

5. Server Locations

Although both NordVPN and CyberGhost have a similar overall network size — coming in at about 5,000 servers each — CyberGhost has a better distribution. CyberGhost has servers in 80 countries while NordVPN only offers locations in 62 countries.

nordvpn-review-marker-selection

CyberGhost does offer more locations than NordVPN, but it still leaves large regions of Africa and Asia a bit barren when it comes to server choices. If you’re looking for a VPN provider with servers in every corner of the globe, be sure to read our HideMyAss review. HideMyAss has servers in 190 countries.

Round: Server Locations
Point for CyberGhost
Visit NordVPN4
Visit Cyberghost1

6. Simultaneous Connections

While some VPNs let users have an unlimited number of connections (see our Windscribe vs TunnelBear article for an example of this), most providers limit the number of simultaneous connections you can have. This is usually to prevent people from sharing their accounts with tons of friends and to limit the overall stress on the VPN servers. 

NordVPN allows users to have up to six devices connected at one time. CyberGhost, on the other hand, allows for up to seven devices to be connected at once, meaning CyberGhost wins this round by a narrow margin. 

Round: Simultaneous Connections
Point for CyberGhost
Visit NordVPN4
Visit Cyberghost2

7. Pricing

As we continue to see in this review, CyberGhost and NordVPN are very comparable in almost every way. Pricing is no different, as both of these providers have very similar overall pricing models. 

Starting with the monthly signup option, NordVPN is the more affordable pick by about a dollar. The next plan offered by both VPNs is the yearly plan, which is a slightly better price with CyberGhost, coming in this time at a dollar less than NordVPN’s annual plan.

Both VPNs offer a two-year and three-year option, as well, with CyberGhost again coming in at a little less than a dollar cheaper per month in each time frame. At checkout, CyberGhost also gives you the option of including a dedicated IP for an extra five dollars per month. 

On top of the superior pricing, CyberGhost also offers users a 24-hour free trial, while NordVPN has no form of free trial. Check out our Windscribe review for a free VPN that doesn’t have a time limit. 

CyberGhost even beats out NordVPN’s money-back guarantee. CyberGhost gives users an impressively generous 45 days to get their money back, while NordVPN’s money-back guarantee only extends to 30 days. 

Round: Pricing
Point for CyberGhost
Visit NordVPN4
Visit Cyberghost3

8. User-Friendliness

This is finally one area where CyberGhost vs NordVPN differ greatly. CyberGhost has a fairly compact and minimalist user interface. In its normal form, there is only a button in the middle to connect and disconnect from the VPN, plus a dropdown menu below that lets you pick the location you want to connect to.

cyberghost-review-expanded-ui

When you open up CyberGhost’s settings, the window expands to about three times its normal size and gets filled up with a lot more detailed information. This expanded window lets you see the full server list and configure various settings. The settings menu for CyberGhost is well laid out and each setting has a brief explanation underneath it that explains what it does.

NordVPN, on the other hand, has a large user interface that is mostly taken up by a map. This map has blue markers in each location that you can connect to (read our guide if you have trouble with NordVPN connecting). This makes browsing the selection of servers much easier.

nordvpn-review-server-navigation

The NordVPN settings menus are similar in layout to CyberGhost’s, and they also offer some simple explanations for most of the options. Although CyberGhost has a few small touches — such as a dark mode — that help to improve the overall user-friendliness of the software, it still can’t beat NordVPN’s map.

Both CyberGhost and NordVPN have very usable interfaces that your average computer user — even without prior VPN knowledge — would almost definitely be able to figure out without any need for help. However, NordVPN’s map just gives it that little bit of extra usability that CyberGhost lacks. 

Round: User-Friendliness
Point for NordVPN
Visit NordVPN5
Visit Cyberghost3

9. Features

Aside from the standard features that we expect every VPN to have, such as a kill switch and some kind of automatic connection, both CyberGhost and NordVPN have some additional bells and whistles to show off. 

For starters, NordVPN offers “CyberSec.” This is a type of malware and ad blocker that can help protect you by blocking the sites that are known to host harmful or annoying content. NordVPN also has some interesting options when it comes to specialized servers.

nordvpn-review-killswitch

As we already mentioned in the “torrenting” section, there are dedicated P2P servers, but these aren’t as interesting as the double VPN or Onion-over-VPN options. 

The Onion over VPN feature connects you to Tor, a special browser for perusing the dark web, while the double VPN feature connects you through two servers to improve security and make your online activity even harder to track. 

CyberGhost mimics some of the features that NordVPN offers, including the blocker, but ad and malware blockers are a dime a dozen these days. CyberGhost’s real draw is one of the hardest-to-find features out there: split tunneling. 

cyberghost-review-privacy-settings

Split tunneling is something you can also read about in our ExpressVPN review. Although ExpressVPN does it differently, CyberGhost allows you to create a list of websites that will be used as exceptions. This means that when you visit these websites, you won’t be connecting through the VPN’s tunneled connection but will instead be on a normal unprotected connection.

CyberGhost also lets you set up rules that will automatically connect you to the VPN in a specified location whenever you open up a certain program. Although we don’t feel that CyberGhost’s “smart rules” are as powerful of a form of split tunneling as ExpressVPN’s, we do think it beats out what NordVPN offers when it comes to features.

cyberghost-review-smart-rules
Round: Features
Point for CyberGhost
Visit NordVPN5
Visit Cyberghost4

10. The Verdict

While both VPNs showed great performance in our testing and demonstrated why they belong at the top, the winner is NordVPN with a score of five to four. NordVPN took an early lead with its better speeds and easier access to streaming and CyberGhost even appeared to mount a  comeback towards the end. 

Winner: NordVPN

Ultimately though, it simply wasn’t enough and NordVPN’s superior ease of use helped push it over the edge in this one point victory. If you’ve had any good or bad experiences with CyberGhost or NordVPN, we’d love to hear about it in the comments below. Read our NordVPN vs IPVanish piece, to see how they compare. As always, thanks for reading.