To surf anonymously or access services blocked in certain countries, a VPN can be a great ally, provided it performs well. We tested 4 VPN services: ExpressVPN, NordVPN, Cyberghost and Private Internet Access. Which one is faster ?
The need to secure your connection or bypass local restrictions on content have made the VPN subscription an interesting addition to surfing anonymously by hiding your personal IP address and simulating a connection from another country. Subscription packages are multiplying for these increasingly secure and efficient services. We’ve sifted through 4 of them, including determining which one gives you access to the fastest connection. Here is our selected selection for this comparison.
: The fastest VPN of the selection, based in the British Virgin Islands, it is distinguished by its great ease of use, and offers more than 3,000 servers in 94 countries. One of the most popular VPNs, it regularly finds its place in the podiums of the rankings.
NordVPN: This highly visible VPN service on the web was created in 2012. Based in Panama, it has 5363 servers in 59 countries, and makes it a point of honor to offer a connection that respects the basic values of the web in terms of security and anonymity.
CyberGhost: The Romanian VPN has more than 30 million users, and draws its strength from excellent support for video streaming services. With more than 6246 servers in more than 90 countries, it is a safe bet.
Private Internet Access: this VPN has been collecting awards for 5 years, and offers more than 10,000 servers in more than 70 countries, taking advantage of open source foundations and a focus on malware protection.
Below you will find the detailed results of our tests on selected VPNs to help you choose the most suitable tool.
ExpressVPN’s slogan is “Quite simply, the VPN that works”, and simplicity is what sets the service apart. Already, ExpressVPN is available everywhere: applications are available for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android and Linux, but also on Samsung Smart TVs, on Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV Stick, Roku or even Android TV. Via the ExpressVPN router app, you can even enjoy your VPN connection on any device connected to your Wi-Fi, while extensions are available for Firefox, Safari, and Edge.
The Windows application, in particular, shines with its easy configuration. Like most VPN clients, it automatically connects to the best location. If you want to switch to another country, it is done in one click with a very fast switch between the two. There are also parameters to force a particular protocol or to trust the automatic choice. The interface also allows you to create shortcuts to frequently used applications or websites.
As for the localization, it is rather exhaustive. ExpressVPN offers more than 3,000 servers located around the world in more than 94 countries. For some of them, several locations are available, bringing the whole to 160 locations. For example, there are two locations in Brazil or Spain, 4 in Canada and Germany, 3 in France. The United States is the most present with 23 locations. ExpressVPN allows the use of classic and secure protocols like OpenVPN, UDP and TCP, but also offers its new protocol among the selection. This protocol based on very secure cryptography was created from scratch by the company itself and allows ultra-fast speeds and speeds of connections.
How does ExpressVPN fare when it comes to downloads? On a fiber connection, we measured peaks at 330 Mb / s in Ethernet on French servers, and between 120 and 150 Mb / s on an American server. With Wi-Fi ac, we stay at 135 Mb / s in France. The speed may vary depending on the protocol chosen. ExpressVPN offers an automatic mode capable of choosing the most relevant for your connection, but not necessarily the fastest, since by forcing on ExpressVPN’s Lightway protocol, you can reach up to 708 Mb / s on Ethernet. It is therefore worth it to force this protocol.
As for the upstream loading speed, we remain at fairly comfortable values with up to 280 Mb / s in Ethernet and 160 Mb / s in Wi-Fi, which guarantee good speeds to transfer files in a secure manner. on a cloud space. Again, forcing the protocol doubles the results with over 600 Mb / s, almost imperceptible impact on the initial connection.
Ping, which represents the speed required to reach a server, is crucial for activities that require high responsiveness, including online gaming. On a French server, it remains at a value of 12 ms in Ethernet and 14 ms in Wi-Fi, an imperceptible impact on the connection compared to the same requests made without VPN. Obviously, the ping logically falls when contacting more distant servers. In the United States, we will measure a ping of around 120 ms.
NordVPN has been one of the big names in VPN since its creation in 2012. Based in Panama, the service is nonetheless faithful to Nordic traditions, with an anchor on the protection of anonymity with in particular a policy of refusal of recording logs. NordVPN offers apps for Android, iOS, Windows, MacOS, Linux and Android TV, a presence complemented by extensions for Firefox and Google Chrome.
NordVPN is present in many localities, even though it only covers 54 countries. In all, NordVPN offers 5,496 servers. The service draws its specificity from its secure anchoring. Thus, depending on the location, it can offer different options such as optimized servers to facilitate P2P exchanges, special protection against countries that severely restrict connections or even a double VPN that encrypts twice the traffic for more security. NordVPN also makes it possible to combine the TOR network with a private tunnel, always with a view to preserving the anonymity very present on the service.
The NordVPN application, in its Windows version, offers an original interface, including the kli; main window is a simplified map that represents the different locations available. QuickConnect mode automatically connects you to the best server, but rather than scrolling through a list of flags, which is also possible, it’s a well thought out approach. The settings are not too numerous and accessible, which makes NordVPN a rather easy-to-use and secure solution with a malicious site filtering tool and a Kill Switch that cuts the Internet connection when a VPN is not activated.
NordVPN does not compromise on the quality and speed of the connection. Compared to a fiber connection, the impact is minimal on nearby servers in France with speeds that can reach nearly 580 Mb / s in Ethernet at low traffic hours, and around 470 Mb / s in the evening. In Wi-Fi, we get up to 157 Mb / s. Access to streaming sites can be quite long, but the speed from the United States is well assured for compatible services.
The finding is similar for the rising data. In uploading, we still lose very little on the connection without VPN with measurements up to 625 Mb / s in France and appreciable peaks at more than 300 Mb / s on an American server on a wired connection. In Wi-Fi there is a flow of 162 Mb / s. This is good news for activities that require uploading and online backup, with however variations observed depending on the time of day.
The ping necessarily varies between the different locations. In France, it logically remains very low between 9 and 10 ms. On a destination like the United States, we will spend between 120 and 150 ms, a value in line with the average. The responsiveness of some servers takes a hit, especially on tasks that require very low latency, but the wait is not interminable either.
Like ExpressVPN, Cyber Ghost is widely available on PC and Mac platforms, but also mobile (Android and iOS) and Smart TV (Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Roku, etc.) and for good reason: Cyber Ghost is a particularly oriented VPN for use with video streaming services to bypass local blocks. Based in Bucharest, Cyber Ghost also emphasizes the protection of privacy with a “No logs” policy and a very committed “Ghosties” community.
Cyber Ghosts servers exceed 6,000, spread over more than 90 countries. The specificity of Cyber Ghosts comes in particular from dedicated servers for P2P downloading and also for video streaming. Depending on the service you want to join (Netflix, BBC, Amazon Prime…), you can choose specially optimized servers that will facilitate the connection. We also appreciate the anti-malware or advertising tools, as well as the ability to compress images to lighten the connection.
Cyber Ghost offers a very complete PC client which offers easy access to the various servers and in particular to dedicated streaming servers. The connection is quick and easy, no problem on this side. The options are quite extensive with the possibility of setting quite fine rules for the Wi-Fi connection and even for certain applications. The software remains simple to use for those who simply want to connect to a server, but allows users who wish to go further in the configuration.
What does Cyber Ghost give from the point of view of speeds? Let’s start with the downstream bitrate, which is necessary for activities like video streaming. A speed of up to 369 Mb / s is observed on a French server. Going through an American server, we barely lose a few Mb with a peak at 344 Mb / s. Going over Wi-Fi ac, we go up to 155 Mb / s. These figures seem sufficient to perform demanding activities much bandwidth like video streaming.
On a nearby server, upload performance is also excellent with measurements observed at 519 Mb / s. We should obviously not expect such figures as soon as we move to more distant servers, especially in the United States. United. In Wi-Fi, the speed observed is 91 Mb / s, a little less than the three other VPNs tested, and a little more loss compared to the initial connection, without this being really penalizing.
Nothing to report on the Ping which remains almost imperceptible on a server in France (9 ms) or in Europe. If we go to other continents, we can go down to values close to 100 ms, so a small impact on the latency depending on the chosen server. Overall, Cyber Ghost remains fairly well positioned compared to other VPNs tested and guarantees decent latency.
Private Internet Access
Private Internet Access, like NordVPN, mainly emphasizes the protection of anonymity and personal data in its offer, without emphasizing other dimensions such as those of video streaming. This does not necessarily mean that it is not recommended to use Private Internet Access for this purpose, but we do not find the same specialization as Cyber Ghosts on this point for example. Le VPN offers protection against ads, trackers and malware, a no user logs policy, and a solution that relies on its reliability and the quality of its technical support, for this service based in the United States.
The Private Access VPN network is made up of 15,686 VPN and Proxy servers, spread over 95 locations across 74 countries. All servers support the Wireguard protocol in particular. The United States alone has 14 locations and 7,412 servers, also with 4 locations for Canada and 3 locations for the United Kingdom and Australia.
Private Internet Access offers a fairly discreet client on Windows, which comes in the form of a small dashboard, the different sections of which can be arranged. You can display the interface in the form of a notification panel or an independent window. We appreciate having information on performance, usage, quick settings or even shortcuts to connection locations directly at hand. In the options we will particularly appreciate the possibility of dividing the tunnel: you can thus pass certain applications or IP addresses through the VPN and bypass it for others.
Private Internet Access is renowned for its high speeds. We check it over Wi-Fi with the fastest downlink speed measured at more than 179 Mb / s from a French server. In Ethernet, we get a result of 322 Mb / s on the same server, and even up to 350 Mb / s on a server located in New York. These figures are in any case satisfactory, especially in Wi-Fi where the loss compared to the connection without VPN is minimal.
These results are confirmed with regard to uplink data, where Private Internet Access reproduces remarkable performances. In Ethernet, we thus manage to maintain a speed of 640 Mb / s, barely less than our reference connection. By switching to Wi-Fi, we keep a figure of 166 Mb / s, again a fairly limited loss compared to a basic connection. In all cases there are sufficient speeds to make backups or publish content quickly.
On a nearby server like French servers, Private Internet Access has no trouble maintaining a ping of around 10, comparable to that obtained without a VPN. Even on American servers, Private Internet Access maintains correct Pings around 80 ms. Results which therefore make it possible to maintain good latency in all cases.