Mullvad VPN vs NordVPN Review 2024: Which VPN is Better?

Sayb Saad
Last Updated by Sayb Saad on April 01, 2024 Fact-checked by Amar Cemanovic Fact-checked by Amar Cemanovic

NordVPN is one of my favorite VPNs due to its well-rounded performance. I was curious to see how Mullvad VPN compares against a trusted name like NordVPN. I did a thorough analysis after comparing each VPN to find the better contender.

I compared Mullvad VPN and NordVPN across 13 categories, and NordVPN was the better performer in nearly every aspect. However, Mullvad did surprisingly well in my tests and can be considered a solid second choice to NordVPN.

While NordVPN has a slightly expensive monthly plan, it offers better value than Mullvad on its long-term packages with substantial discounts. You can try NordVPN risk-free with its 30-day money-back guarantee.

Try NordVPN risk-free

No Time? Here’s a 1-Minute Summary

Mullvad VPN logo
NordVPN logo
Pricing Has the same flat fee for all plans, so it’s costly for long-term plans Has a slightly more expensive monthly plan, but long-term packages offer good value
Streaming Works with only 3 Netflix libraries and has trouble with sites like Max, Hulu, and Disney+ Works with 15+ Netflix libraries and most other sites like BBC iPlayer, DAZN, and more
Servers 800+ servers in 40 countries, with obfuscated ‘Bridge’ servers 6,300+ servers in 111+
countries with Tor, Double VPN, and P2P specialty connections
Speed Reduced speeds by 12% and 28% on nearby and distant servers, respectively Reduced speeds by 1% and 14% on nearby and distant servers, respectively
Security Protects you with leak protection, an ad and malware blocker, RAM-only servers, and multihop ‘Bridge’ servers Protects you with dark web monitoring, double VPN, RAM-only servers, LAN Invisibility, and more
Torrenting All servers support torrenting but can be a bit slow on distant servers Only P2P-optimized servers support torrenting and provide slightly faster speeds
China Bridge servers use Shadowsocks proxy to obfuscate traffic and can work in China, but not all the time Doesn’t guarantee accessibility in China even on its obfuscated servers
Gaming Average ping of 57ms and 140ms on nearby and distant servers, respectively Average ping of 29ms and 65ms on nearby and distant servers, respectively
Device Compatibility Supports 5 simultaneous connections Supports 10+ simultaneous connections
and has smart DNS to protect incompatible devices
Company Jurisdiction Located in Sweden, which is part of the 14 Eyes Alliance of intelligence-sharing countries Located in Panama and isn’t subject to any data retention laws
Privacy Policy Has a strict no-logs policy audited by Cure53 Has a strict no-logs policy audited by PwC
Payment and Refunds Accepts all popular payment channels Accepts all popular payment methods and provides refunds even on crypto payments
Customer Support Support options include email only, with below-average response times Support options include 24/7 live chat, email, in-app ticketing, and online guides

13 Categories of Comparison for Mullvad VPN vs NordVPN

My thorough testing revealed that NordVPN is the better contender in this showdown. It provides better global coverage, speeds, and security features. Here’s how I evaluated each VPN’s performance across the following categories:

  1. Pricing — compared the cost of each VPN’s plans and determined which offers the best value for money.
  2. Streaming — included tests on different servers to check if each VPN works with popular platforms like Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and more.
  3. Servers — looked at the total number of servers, global coverage, and their ability to provide stable and secure connections.
  4. Speed — ran multiple tests with each VPN, recording percentage dips on nearby and remote servers to determine if they’re suitable for bandwidth-heavy tasks.
  5. Security — considered the number of security features each contender offers, including encryption grade, security protocols, leak protection, and extras.
  6. Torrenting — checked whether the VPNs support P2P traffic and how their download and upload speeds compare on nearby and distant servers.
  7. China — investigated if the VPNs have obfuscated servers, what obfuscation technology they use, and whether it’s powerful enough to work in China.
  8. Gaming — tested each VPN’s impact on ping and server stability with real-life gaming tests to determine the better contender for gaming.
  9. Device Compatibility — reviewed simultaneous device connections, ease of use, app compatibility, and availability of smart DNS with each VPN.
  10. Company Jurisdiction — found the headquarters location of each VPN and checked if they’re in any intelligence-sharing alliances or bound by data retention laws.
  11. Privacy Policy — researched the privacy policies of each VPN to check if it collects any data and whether its no-logs policy has been audited.
  12. Payment and Refunds — explored each competitor’s supported payment options, the ease of getting a refund, and the time it takes to get reimbursed.
  13. Customer Support — evaluated all support channels of each VPN in terms of promptness and helpfulness.

1. Pricing — NordVPN Has More Affordable Long-Term Plans

Despite its costly monthly plan, NordVPN is more affordable than Mullvad VPN on long-term plans. This is because it reduces its monthly premium with increasing subscription duration. In contrast, Mullvad charges a fixed $5.42 monthly fee whether you subscribe to it for a month or a year, so it makes more sense to get the monthly plan and keep extending it.

Mullvad VPN NordVPN
Offered Plans 1 month, 1 year, and 1 decade 1 month, 1 year, and 2 years
Best Deal $5.42/month on the monthly plan $3.09/month on a 2-year + 3 months plan
Free Trial 7 days on Android
Money-Back Guarantee 30 days 30 days

I was surprised to see Mullvad offering a 1-decade plan. However, subscribing to it doesn’t make sense because you won’t get any discount for choosing a long-term plan. The only way it beats NordVPN is on the monthly plan, which costs half that of NordVPN’s.

NordVPN’s monthly premium reduces to just $3.09 on its 2-year + 3 months plan. Even the yearly plan would cost you less than Mullvad at just $4.99 a month. Note that these prices are for NordVPN’s Standard plan, which only includes a VPN. The Plus plan offers a data breach scanner and password manager, while ‘Complete’ has file encryption and 1TB storage.

Overall, NordVPN is more affordable than Mullvad VPN on long-term plans. It also provides greater flexibility in choosing a tier that suits your needs. While both VPNs offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, NordVPN provides a 7-day free trial for Android users.

Pricing Winner: NordVPN

2. Streaming — NordVPN Works With More Platforms and Supports a Wider Range of Devices

NordVPN wins this round because it works with 400+ streaming platforms. Unfortunately, Mullvad VPN’s speeds can fluctuate, leading to frequent buffering during UHD streams. Sometimes, you might be able to sign into your streaming platform but get a blank screen.

With SmartPlay, NordVPN lets you stream on devices that don’t natively support VPNs, like gaming consoles. SmartPlay combines the benefits of a VPN with a Smart DNS proxy. Streaming sites often block VPN traffic, even on local servers. NordVPN routes your DNS queries, making VPN usage undetectable. With NordVPN, you can stream on:

Netflix Disney+ ITV Hub ESPN
Amazon Prime Video Max DAZN 9Now
Hulu BBC iPlayer Paramount+ 10Play

My global team of testers reported that Mullvad doesn’t work with Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, or Max. A US colleague said that while using Mullvad’s US server, he could sign into his Disney+ account but was met with a black screen. He had to fiddle around to make it work. Once it worked, he didn’t face buffering while streaming.

Unlike NordVPN, Mullvad doesn’t have smart DNS, so you can’t stream on incompatible devices like PlayStation and Xbox. Like NordVPN, you can set it up on your router to use the VPN indirectly on all your devices. To sum it up, NordVPN is better for streaming on Netflix US or any other platform and lets you watch content on any device.

Streaming Winner: NordVPN

3. Servers — NordVPN Has a Much Larger Network With Specialized Connections

NordVPN has a larger server network and spread, which provides more connections per country for better flexibility. It also has special double-VPN, Tor-supported, and P2P servers dedicated to those specific tasks. Mullvad VPN lacks these specialized connections but at least supports obfuscation.

Mullvad VPN NordVPN
Server Number 800+ 6,300+
Server Countries 40 111

A sizable chunk of NordVPN’s servers have 10Gbps ports for ample bandwidth. This makes them suitable for data-intensive tasks like UHD streaming, gaming, and torrenting. Unlike Mullvad, NordVPN owns and manages most of its servers to have more quality control. This prevents third-party data mishandling. NordVPN’s special servers comprise:

  • Double VPN servers — route your traffic through 2 servers to encrypt it twice, making it virtually impossible for prying eyes to decode your online activities.
  • Onion over VPN servers — sends your data through the Tor network after encrypting it with a VPN server, giving you an additional layer of protection.
  • Obfuscated servers — change the appearance of your data packets to resemble non-VPN traffic and get past anti-VPN filters and firewalls.
  • P2P servers — are designed for torrenting and are located in P2P-friendly countries. Note that NordVPN’s standard servers don’t support torrenting.
  • Dedicated IP servers — give you a dedicated IP address unique to you for a small extra fee. They’re more reliable for IP-sensitive tasks like online banking while traveling.

In comparison, Mullvad’s network is considerably smaller but decent enough to meet your needs. While it doesn’t have specialized connections, Mullvad servers are all-purpose and can be used for streaming, gaming, and torrenting. Strangely, I could only see server information through Mullvad’s website and not through the app.

screenshot of Mullvad VPN's server status list

You can sort servers by protocol, location, and ownership on Mullvad’s website

In summary, NordVPN’s network is more extensive and well spread out, which makes it travel-friendly. Its specialized connections make it easier to choose a server depending on the activity. The only thing I missed having was an equivalent of CyberGhost’s gaming servers with ultra-low latency.

Servers Winner: NordVPN

4. Speed — NordVPN Was Much Faster Across Nearby and Distant Servers

In my tests, NordVPN was significantly faster than Mullvad VPN. This translated to a noticeable difference in performance while streaming, video calls, and downloading files. First, I ran a speed test to record my baseline of 100Mbps. Next, I used various nearby and distant servers with both VPNs and jotted down the results in the chart below.

Speed on nearby servers Speed on servers in the US (7,000+ miles) Speed on servers in Australia (6,000+ miles) Buffer-free UHD streaming on YouTube
NordVPN 99Mbps 86Mbps 87Mbps
Mullvad VPN 88Mbps 72Mbps 74Mbps Some buffering on distant servers

I streamed MKBHD’s YouTube tech reviews in UHD without buffering on local servers. On Mullvad’s distant US servers, the videos took slightly longer to load, but I still streamed lag-free. However, your experience could differ if your internet is slower.

Without a VPN, it took 2 minutes to upload a 1GB 4K UHD video on Facebook, shot on my iPhone’s camera. On NordVPN’s and Mullvad’s distant servers, the upload time increased to 2.5 and 3.5 minutes, respectively. It wasn’t a huge difference, but the gap can widen if the data volume increases.

Video conferencing also went pretty well with both VPNs. I had a 1-hour Zoom call with my colleagues without lag despite being connected to faraway servers in Australia. Overall, NordVPN’s scores rank it among the top-rated VPNs in 2024. Mullvad’s performance dips didn’t reflect in streaming and video calls but would’ve if I had a slower internet connection to start with.

Speed Winner: NordVPN

5. Security — NordVPN Offers Slightly Better Security Protocols and Servers

Mullvad VPN lags behind NordVPN in security features but only slightly. The only reason is that it doesn’t have Tor over VPN servers or the option to use dedicated IP servers at an extra charge. While that doesn’t make much of a difference for the average user, NordVPN still technically wins this round. Here’s a comparison chart of what you get with each VPN.

Mullvad VPN NordVPN
Encryption AES-256-GCM SHA-256 AES-256-GCM and ChaCha20, SHA512
VPN Protocols OpenVPN and WireGuard NordLynx, OpenVPN, and IKEv2/IPSec
Kill Switch Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, and Android Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, and Android
Leak Protection (lacks WebRTC leak protection)
Malware/Ad Blocker
Multi-Hop/Double VPN (Bridge servers)
Tor Over VPN Servers
Dedicated IPs (at a small additional fee)
RAM-Only Servers

Both VPNs include Perfect Forward Secrecy, which creates a unique encryption key for each VPN session. If 1 key is compromised, only that session’s data will be at risk instead of all of it. However, NordVPN goes the extra mile and offers a range of security features like:

  • Dark web monitoring — scans the dark web for your data, alerting you if your email addresses, credit card numbers, and other data have been leaked
  • LAN Invisibility — makes your device invisible to others on the same LAN, preventing unauthorized access or hacking attempts, especially on unsecured public WiFi.
  • Password manager — securely stores your credentials to prevent data stealing via keyloggers, but it’s only available on the ‘Plus’ plan.
  • Meshnet — lets you create a virtual network of up to 50 devices so that you can access your home devices while traveling or host LAN parties with friends.

To conclude, NordVPN outnumbers Mullvad VPN in security features. However, Mullvad was better in very specific aspects. For instance, its Lockdown Mode acts as an advanced kill switch and cuts off internet connectivity when you’re not connected to the VPN.

Security Winner: NordVPN

6. Torrenting — NordVPN Offers Faster Download Speeds

Both VPNs are equally good for torrenting, but NordVPN has a slight edge due to its faster speeds. Another difference is that NordVPN has P2P servers that are optimized for torrenting. However, you can’t torrent on its regular servers, which isn’t the case with Mullvad.

NordVPN has P2P servers in 50+ torrenting-friendly countries. In my tests, it automatically connected me to a P2P server in Austria when I started torrenting a public-domain, 2GB file from uTorrent with 5 seeders. This is how the 2 contenders compared:

Upload time (2GB file) Download time (2GB file) Connection stability
NordVPN 3.5 minutes 2.5 minutes Excellent
Mullvad VPN 4 minutes 3 minutes Excellent

All Mullvad servers support torrenting, which reduces the hassle of finding one every time you want to torrent. Both VPNs guarantee secure torrenting with a kill switch, DNS leak protection, and a no-logs policy. However, torrenting copyrighted files is against the law and could land you in trouble. I don’t condone using a VPN to break any laws.

In totality, NordVPN is better for torrenting due to faster speeds. Unfortunately, neither VPN supports port forwarding, which lets you create direct connections to peers in a torrent swarm for faster downloads. However, this can expose you to malware attacks.

Torrenting Winner: NordVPN

7. China — Mullvad VPN’s Bridge Servers Work in China

Neither VPN guarantees consistent access in China. However, Mullvad VPN’s Bridge servers offer some success. These servers use Shadowsocks proxies that obfuscate your traffic and make it seem like you’re not using a VPN. This prevents anti-VPN filters from detecting you.

However, Chinese censorship has gotten more effective at identifying Shadowsocks traffic. It sends specially crafted payloads to suspected servers and measures how they respond. If the response fits a certain pattern indicative of VPN or proxy use, the firewall blocks the server.

While NordVPN also has obfuscated servers, they’re not powerful enough against Chinese censorship. ExpressVPN is one of the few VPNs that consistently work in China. It uses proprietary obfuscation technology designed to stay undetected from the sophisticated deep packet inspection tools in China.

China Winner: Mullvad VPN

8. Gaming — NordVPN Offers Low Ping for Lag-Free Gaming

In my tests, both VPNs ensured lag-free gaming, but NordVPN was smoother on distant servers. With a baseline ping of 21ms, I connected to each VPN’s nearby and distant servers and compared the latency spikes in the chart below.

Average ping — Nearby servers Average ping — US (7,000+ miles away) Anti-DDoS protection Lag-free gameplay
NordVPN 29ms 65ms
Mullvad VPN 57ms 140ms

Across all tests, NordVPN gave me a consistently lower ping than Mullvad. On distant servers, the difference became quite apparent. While playing Rocket League with my friends on a US server, I noticed a very minute lag. However, it was too small to be even noticeable by beginner gamers.

Screenshot of Rocket League gameplay while connected to Mullvad VPN

Mullvad lets you play games without lag even on distant servers

The difference was more evident while playing Call of Duty: Warzone, as it’s a much more data-intensive game. With Mullvad, I struggled to take a few headshots due to lag. In contrast, NordVPN is one of the best VPNs for playing Call of Duty and other fast-paced games. Its server in Germany had a ping of 62ms, which works even for pro gamers.

Playing Call of Duty: Warzone while connected to a German NordVPN server.

I had a smooth gaming experience while connected to NordVPN

NordVPN is slightly better for gaming, especially for bandwidth-heavy games that require large volumes of data transfers. However, if you don’t see the difference between 60 and 120FPS (frames per second) gaming, Mullvad VPN can suffice for your needs.

Gaming Winner: NordVPN

9. Device Compatibility — NordVPN Works on More Devices and Includes Smart DNS

NordVPN wins this round again due to its compatibility with devices that don’t natively support VPN apps. You can set up a VPN connection on your smart TV, desktops, or mobile phones. Its Smart DNS works on VPN-incompatible devices like gaming consoles and non-Android smart TVs. Here are all the operating systems each VPN supports:

NordVPN Major platforms: Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, and Android

Other platforms: Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, Apple TV, Android TV, Chromebook, and Kodi

Browser extensions: Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Opera, and Brave

Manual setup: Gaming consoles, Roku, and routers

Mullvad VPN Major platforms: Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, and Android

Browser extensions: Firefox

Manual setup: Routers (DD-WRT and Tomato) and any device that supports OpenVPN and WireGuard protocols

Compared to Mullvad, NordVPN gives you extra connection slots so that you can protect up to 10 devices simultaneously. However, even Mullvad’s limit is enough for most users. I’ve never had to use more than 3 at once. In my tests, NordVPN never slowed down or glitched with its device limit maxed out, whereas Mullvad got noticeably slower on the fourth device.

I set up both VPNs on my PC, MacBook, iPhone, and Android tablet in 10 minutes. Mullvad prompted me to enter the account number from the homepage to activate it. Strangely, the VPN wasn’t a moveable window by default — I had to toggle that option from preferences. Setting up NordVPN only required an initial sign-up, and using it was less cumbersome overall.

NordVPN login form screenshot

I signed in with Google to activate NordVPN’s app on my Windows desktop

In conclusion, NordVPN is the better contender because it works with incompatible devices with Smart DNS and offers more simultaneous connections. I also found it more intuitive than Mullvad because its mobile apps resembled desktop apps, which made switching between devices easier.

Device Compatibility Winner: NordVPN

10. Company Jurisdiction — NordVPN’s Location Is More Privacy-Friendly

NordVPN is based in a more privacy-friendly location, Panama. While Mullvad VPN’s location in Sweden isn’t too bad, the country is part of the 14 Eyes group of intelligence-sharing countries. Intelligence agencies in these countries can demand user data from VPN providers. In contrast, NordVPN isn’t bound by data retention laws or liable to share data with international authorities.

NordVPN Mullvad VPN
Company Headquarters Panama Sweden
Inside 5/9/14 Eyes
Warrant Canary

Unlike Mullvad VPN, NordVPN’s warrant canary system alerts you to any official data-sharing requests. These include secret government warrants, gag orders, or national security letters that compel it to share user data against its privacy policy.

Company Jurisdiction Winner: NordVPN

11. Privacy Policy — Both VPNs Have an Audited No-Logs Policy

This round is a tie as both VPNs have a proven no-logs policy. But if you account for jurisdiction, NordVPN has a slight lead due to its privacy-friendly location in Panama. Besides that, NordVPN and Mullvad VPN are on par, independently audited by trusted names.

All data they collect and store is anonymized and is only used to improve the VPN’s functionality

NordVPN’s no-logs policy has been audited by PwC

Although it operates under Swedish laws, Mullvad’s strict no-logs policy has been verified by Cure53. However, it stores transaction data, complying with GDPR and other data protection laws. Unique to Mullvad is its anonymous account setup, using a random account number instead of personal identifiers.

Despite a minor security breach in 2020, Mullvad immediately resolved the issue to prevent such targeted attacks in the future. Besides this slight blemish in its track record, I trust Mullvad’s ability to guarantee privacy given its independent audit. For these reasons, I’d give equal points to both VPNs for privacy.

Privacy Policy Winner: Tie

12. Payments and Refunds — NordVPN Refunds Payments Made Through Crypto

While both VPNs offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, I give this round to NordVPN because, unlike Mullvad, NordVPN can refund crypto payments. Here are various payment methods supported by each VPN.

NordVPN Mullvad VPN
Credit or Debit Cards Visa, MasterCard, AMEX, Discover, and JCB Visa, MasterCard, AMEX, and Discover
PayPal
Cryptocurrency Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Ripple Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Monero
Other Cash, wire transfer, AmazonPay, Sofort, iTunes, and Google Pay Cash, wire transfer, Swish, Giropay, EPS transfer, Bancontact, iDEAL, and Przelewy24

To stay anonymous, you can pay via cash or cryptocurrency. NordVPN accepts cash if you buy a subscription from a retail store. With Mullvad, just send the cash in an envelope to the VPN’s address on its website with your login information and the code you received when registering.

With NordVPN, I got my refund in just 5 working days. After submitting a request through live chat, the support agent tried offering me an extended trial, which I refused. Without any questions, he approved my request, and I got a confirmation email within seconds.

Since Mullvad VPN doesn’t include live chat, I had to email my refund request and wait for 5 hours to get a response. This could be longer, so I suggest emailing them at least 2 days in advance before your money-back period expires.

Overall, getting my refund with NordVPN was much easier due to its live chat. Unlike Mullvad, NordVPN’s policy lets you get a refund even if you paid through crypto. However, it’ll be through email. You’ll have to provide your email address, a reason for leaving, the purchase date, cryptocurrency, paid amount, and your wallet address.

Payment and Refunds Winner: NordVPN

13. Customer Support — NordVPN Has More Support Options and Faster Response Times

NordVPN is the clear victor due to its faster responses and more support options. Unlike Mullvad VPN, it includes a 24/7 live chat, which I consider a must-have for any VPN. It provides instant and personalized support to queries you won’t find answers to in its FAQ guides. The table below summarizes the support options you’ll get with each VPN.

NordVPN Mullvad VPN
24/7 Live Chat
Average Response Time via Live Chat Under 1 minute N/A
Email Support
Average Response Time via Email 3 hours 9 hours
Ticket Support
Phone Support
Online Knowledge Base

NordVPN’s live chat was super helpful but unclear about refunds for cash payments. The support agent replied that it depended on the retailer, which didn’t make sense because it was NordVPN that had to process the refund at the end of the day. I got the same response when I pressed for details. However, answers to my other queries were detailed and clear.

Unfortunately, the only way to contact Mullvad’s customer support is via email. After sending an email, I had to wait for 5 hours before I got a response. Subsequent follow-ups also took that long. Thankfully, you’ll find answers to most of your questions in Mullvad’s FAQ guides on its website. Overall, NordVPN is a much better option in terms of customer support.

Customer Support Winner: NordVPN

And the Winner Is… NordVPN

NordVPN outperformed Mullvad VPN in nearly every category. It’s a much better option in terms of security, privacy, speeds, streaming, gaming, and even customer support. NordVPN has unique features like Meshnet and dark web monitoring that even top VPNs don’t offer.

The only aspect where Mullvad is better is accessibility in China. Its Bridge servers use Shadowsocks obfuscation, powerful enough against the sophisticated censorship in China. However, it’s still not guaranteed to work there. If you’re traveling to China, I recommend ExpressVPN or a few other VPNs that work in China.

NordVPN won this battle by a big margin. It’s much more well-rounded in terms of speeds, security, privacy, and server spread. I suggest buying the 2-year + 3 months plan to get a 74% discount. You can even try it risk-free with its 30-day money-back guarantee. I submitted my refund request via live chat and got reimbursed within 5 working days.

Overall Winner: NordVPN


The Best VPNs to Try in 2024

Top Ranked Top Choice
ExpressVPN
$6.67 / month Save 49%
CyberGhost VPN
$2.19 / month Save 83%
Private Internet Access
$2.19 / month Save 82%
NordVPN
$3.09 / month Save 76%
Surfshark
$2.29 / month Save 85%

Editors' Note: Intego, Private Internet Access, CyberGhost and Expressvpn are owned by Kape Technologies, our parent company.

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