NordVPN is one of the largest VPNs on the market and is almost a household name, up there with the likes of ExpressVPN. We didn’t find much to nitpick in our NordVPN review. Instead, we found ourselves impressed by its excellent long-term pricing, user-friendliness and stout security.
IPVanish, on the other hand, is a VPN that many might consider to be an unworthy foe. In our IPVanish review, we talk about the scandal that broke in 2018 regarding IPVanish handing over logs that it claimed it wasn’t keeping. This permanently tarnished the VPN’s reputation.
That said, we decided it was still worth the effort to have a head-to-head NordVPN vs IPVanish comparison to see whether NordVPN really can hold its own against what should be an easy opponent, or if it’s actually just a house of cards waiting to be blown over.
Setting Up a Fight: NordVPN vs IPVanish
We’ve devised a set of rules to ensure that our IPVanish vs NordVPN comparison is fair and that each VPN service is competing on equal footing. We’ve broken the matchup into nine rounds.
In each round, we look at a specific element of VPN performance, such as security, speed or streaming performance. The rounds are all weighted evenly, and winning a round gives that VPN a single point. A tie is possible, in which case both VPNs get a point. At the end of the matchup, the VPN with the most points is declared the winner.
- NordVPN$$ Best Budget VPN 2020 $$
30-day money-back guarantee
- Credit card
- 6 Simultaneous connections
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Can access Netflix US
- Allows torrenting
- No-logging policy
- Visit NordVPNNordVPN Review
As we’ve seen in the past, such as in our fastest VPNs article, both NordVPN and IPVanish can be pretty underwhelming when it comes to speeds. Both of these VPN providers ended up in the “dishonorable mentions” section of that article, but for two very different reasons.
NordVPN landed itself in this undesirable position by being incredibly inconsistent from one test to another. NordVPN can have hundreds of servers in each location, so depending on which server you connected to, your results could range from fantastic to borderline unusable.
More recently, however, NordVPN has made significant improvements in this regard. In our testing for this article, NordVPN’s servers gave us no trouble, and performance was solid across the board.
The only slight hiccup was in the UK, where upload speeds on paper were noticeably slower than the rest of the locations. However, it was still in the 50Mb/s range, which is ample for almost any task.
IPVanish is in the dishonorable mentions for a more clear-cut reason: it simply isn’t that fast. In our speed testing, we saw impressive performance on the U.S. server, which also happens to be the closest server to us. Every other server we tested had mediocre results at best and outright bad results at worst, such as in the UK.
In the UK, IPVanish gave us only 8Mb/s, which is well below Netflix’s recommendation of 25Mb/s for 4K streaming. The numbers on paper and the real-world performance we see when using each VPN provider paints a perfectly clear picture, and NordVPN wins this round, hands down.
We’ve covered NordVPN a number of times when it comes to streaming, such as in our best VPN for Netflix and best VPN for Hulu articles. Unlike in the previous section, though, NordVPN is on these lists for the right reason: it’s great for streaming.
NordVPN doesn’t use dedicated streaming servers, unlike Windscribe, which you can read more about in our Windscribe vs NordVPN matchup article. Instead, you just connect to the standard servers, like you would for almost any other task, and streaming sites simply work.
Netflix, Amazon Prime and BBC iPlayer all work fantastically with NordVPN. Hulu was a bit slow to load when we did our testing for this article, but this could have been on our end or even Hulu’s end, as NordVPN hasn’t had any issue with Hulu in the past.
IPVanish also doesn’t use dedicated streaming servers, but it doesn’t have nearly the success NordVPN does at getting to geo-blocked content. We were able to get Netflix working fine, but Hulu and Amazon Prime both blocked us. This kind of makes IPVanish’s Fire TV app a bit useless, if it can’t actually get into Amazon Prime or other streaming services.
NordVPN was able to get content from every one of the streaming services we tested, while IPVanish was blocked by most. This makes this another easy-to-score round, with NordVPN being the clear victor.
Security and Privacy
When it comes to privacy and security, NordVPN keeps it pretty simple by offering only the best. NordVPN uses OpenVPN as the protocol on desktops and laptops, while IKEv2 is used for iPhone devices. This is paired with AES-256 encryption, which is, for all practical purposes, uncrackable even by supercomputers.
On top of this, NordVPN also has a number of added security features. We’ll talk more about this in the features section, but NordVPN offers a double VPN and Onion over VPN, both of which are great features to see for security-conscious users, especially if you like exploring the deep web.
IPVanish offers tons of options when it comes to security. Like NordVPN, it also gives users the choice of OpenVPN with AES-256 encryption, but it also gives the option of using other protocols, such as L2TP, SSTP and PPTP.
However, we wouldn’t recommend any of these protocols over OpenVPN for most uses, as you can read in our VPN protocol breakdown. For a unique protocol that is actually worth using, check out our VyprVPN review to hear about its Chameleon protocol.
However, all of this is largely irrelevant because, at the end of the day, we cannot recommend IPVanish if you are concerned about security and privacy. Although IPVanish claims that it does not keep logs, it has been proven to do just that.
We know the scope of the IPVanish logs because of a 2018 incident, when a now-deleted Reddit post broke a story about IPVanish handing over logs to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, after it received a summons in a case where an IPVanish user was suspected of distributing child pornography. You can see the full case PDF here.
This completely breaks any trust that we can give IPVanish. Although things may be different and the company is under new management, it only takes one of these incidents to permanently undermine your credibility in the world of cybersecurity.
In comparison, NordVPN offers top-of-the-line security with OpenVPN and AES-256, as well as some solid security features and a real no-logging policy that has never been completely disproven.
NordVPN is currently the king of torrenting, as you can see in our ExpressVPN vs NordVPN review. NordVPN doesn’t always start off the fastest, but it has a tendency to keep climbing, even with very large torrents.
In our testing, we found that NordVPN’s usual servers were actually faster than the dedicated P2P servers. On the non-dedicated servers, we saw speeds climb steadily throughout the download, reaching as high as 17MB/s by the end of it.
Our entire test download took just a few seconds over three minutes, and it seemed as if we would have seen even higher speeds if the download was larger.
IPVanish also started off slow, but it remained pretty slow throughout the first three minutes. For the first test, the torrent seemed to be pinned at 5MB/s with short bursts at 7MB/s. After this, the download sped up a bit more and reached about 11MB/s. At this point, though, the battle was already lost.
IPVanish ended up taking almost five minutes to finish the download, which was a test video file equivalent to about one TV episode. Although this isn’t a terrible time to wait for a TV episode to come in, it was a well-seeded torrent and IPVanish’s performance pales in comparison to NordVPN’s, making this another indisputable round for NordVPN.
IPVanish’s VPN server network has 1,300 servers, as of Feb. 29, 2020. These servers are spread across 75 different countries around the world. NordVPN’s network has more than 5,000 servers that are spread across 62 countries.
Although NordVPN has a great number of servers, IPVanish has a network that is spread across more locations. Naturally, there are tradeoffs in this situation. NordVPN’s network is more robust in the sense that it can handle huge traffic loads without slowing down. With nearly 1,700 servers in the U.S. alone, NordVPN will be much more reliable.
IPVanish, on the other hand, appeals to those who want as many locations available as possible. Because each VPN service specializes in a different area and deciding which one is better comes down to personal preference, we’re calling this round a tie.
This round is easily the most straightforward in the article. NordVPN allows users to connect up to six devices at once on a single account. IPVanish allows up to 10 simultaneous connections, meaning IPVanish is the winner of this round.
If the idea of being allowed to use only a certain number of devices on your account bothers you, be sure to check out our Windscribe review. Windscribe lets users connect an unlimited number of devices to their account.
NordVPN and IPVanish start out at the monthly level with practically identical pricing. Each VPN provider comes with a top-shelf price tag, with IPVanish coming in at a few cents more. Moving up chronologically, IPVanish offers a three-month plan that is a few dollars less than its monthly option.
Beyond that, both NordVPN and IPVanish have a one-year plan. This plan takes a couple more dollars off the price of IPVanish’s three-month plan and, again, both VPNs are priced pretty similarly, with IPVanish coming in at about half a dollar less per month.
This is where IPVanish’s plans end, but NordVPN also offers two-year and three-year plans. Both of these plans offer excellent value when broken down into the per-month cost, and either one beats out IPVanish’s pricing, no matter the time frame. NordVPN’s three-year plan is one of the best values on the market.
Neither one of these VPNs offers a free trial, so if you’re interested in getting a taste of what a VPN is like, check out our ProtonVPN review. ProtonVPN offers an excellent free plan. Many VPNs do not offer free plans or trials, instead encouraging potential users to take advantage of the refund policy.
NordVPN has a generous 30-day money-back guarantee, but at this point 30 days is pretty much an industry standard. IPVanish, on the other hand, offers only seven days for users to get their money back.
Between the fantastic long-term pricing and the more forgiving 30-day money-back guarantee, NordVPN is the better option when it comes to pricing.
When it comes to the user interface design, NordVPN and IPVanish are polar opposites. NordVPN’s interface is clean and streamlined. The majority of the window is taken up by a map that has blue bubbles indicating where you can connect to, with a standard text-based server list occupying the left side of the screen.
By clicking on the bubble in the country of your choice, the VPN automatically selects the best server and connects you.
IPVanish’s interface is mostly filled with a graph that displays your traffic speeds when you are connected. To select a location, there is a dropdown menu below the graph, as well as a tab on the left that lets you view a much clearer and more in-depth list of servers.
IPVanish also includes a variety of information, such as your visible IP address in the top left and a box in the bottom left that shows things like connection time and protocol. The protocol is also listed in the top right, as well. Overall, the IPVanish interface is much more cluttered than NordVPN’s.
Moving into the settings, IPVanish offers very little explanation for what each option does. However, to be fair, there’s not much going on in IPVanish’s settings that your average computer user wouldn’t already be familiar with. NordVPN, on the other hand, has small one- or two-line explanations for what each setting does.
Although we wish NordVPN would incorporate a dark mode option or just have a permanent dark mode, like IPVanish’s interface, its usability is hard to beat. NordVPN’s map makes finding your desired location easy and browsing fun, while the settings offer clear explanations for what everything does. Yet again, NordVPN easily secures this round.
When it comes to features, there are a few basics we expect every VPN to offer. These include a kill switch and some way to connect automatically on startup. Both IPVanish and NordVPN have a fully functional kill switch as well as fully customizable automatic connection options.
Both VPNs do a good job of covering our “mandatory” features, so this round comes down to which one has the better extra features. As far as IPVanish’s extra bells and whistles, there really isn’t much to talk about, unfortunately.
NordVPN, on the other hand, has a few interesting things up its sleeves. For starters, it recently added a feature called CyberSec, which is essentially a beefed-up ad blocker. It not only blocks ads, it can also help protect you from malware and phishing threats by blocking the sites that host that content.
NordVPN, as we mentioned earlier, also has a double VPN feature that lets users jump from one VPN server to another VPN server before finally connecting to the desired website. This helps add another layer of security to your web browsing, making you even harder to track online.
NordVPN also offers Onion over VPN, which is a safer way for those who are interested in diving into the deep web. Unsurprisingly at this point, NordVPN handily wins this final round.
As we said at the beginning of this NordVPN vs IPVanish article, a loss here would have been a severe blow to NordVPN’s reputation. However, things turned out about as we expected. With a final score of eight to two, NordVPN easily handled its opponent and showed just how much of a difference there is between average and top of the line.
If you’ve had experience with either of these VPNs, we’d love to hear about it in the comments below. As always, thanks for reading.