You can’t take chances when it comes to security. Antivirus software can prevent malware, but you still need a VPN to safeguard your online data. But which service should you use? I compared McAfee Total Protection and NordVPN to see which protects you better.
During my tests, I checked how McAfee (the VPN component for a fair comparison) and NordVPN keep your online identity and activities private. You’d probably agree that protection alone isn't enough — security shouldn't come at the expense of everything else. That’s why I also checked how NordVPN and McAfee work for streaming, torrenting, and gaming.
Best alternative to NordVPN
If you’re looking for a VPN with robust security features, impressive speeds, and an extensive server network — give ExpressVPN a try. It’s one of the best VPNs I’ve tested.
Short on Time? Here Are My Key Findings
|⭐ Overall Rating
|Our Score: 9.4/10
|Our Score: 4.3/10
|💲 Lowest Monthly Price
|$3.39/month on the first 2-year subscription
|$3.33/month on the first yearly subscription
|🗓️ Price on Renewal
|$99.48 per year(subject to change)
|$89.99 per year (Advanced)(subject to change)
|NordVPN offers 67% off (24-month plan)
|McAfee offers 56% off (12-month plan)
|💸 Money Back Guarantee
|📺 Streaming & Unblocking
|Can access Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and more
|Doesn’t work with most streaming platforms (Netflix detects that you’re using a VPN)
|🌍 VPN Servers
|61 countries with 6,088 servers
|50 countries with servers
|Max 41% speed drop — excellent for UHD streaming and online gaming
|Max 72% speed drop, but still can watch high-quality videos
|🎮 Gaming Performance
|Low in-game ping
|Low ping rate on closeby servers, but struggles over long distances
|🧑🤝🧑 P2P Support
|Allows P2P traffic on all servers and offers fast torrenting-optimized servers
|Allows P2P traffic
|🔐 Security Protocols
|NordLynx (WireGuard-based), OpenVPN, IPSec/IKEv2, and IPSec/L2TP
|🔌 Kill Switch
|✅ IP/DNS Leak Protection
|⚠️ Does VPN Keep Logs
|United States (California)
|🏢 Based in Country
| Works in China
|#️⃣ Number of Device Connections
|💻 Device Compatibility
|Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, Chrome, Firefox, and Edge, plus custom firmware for ASUS WRT routers
|Windows, iOS, Android, ChromeOS (Chromebook)
|🔧 Customer Support
|24/7 live chat, knowledge base, FAQs, email, Facebook, and Twitter
|Live chat and phone line (Monday to Friday during office hours), knowledge base, FAQs, and email
See More NordVPN Features
Streaming and Netflix Access — NordVPN Is a Clear Winner
Popular streaming platforms (like Netflix and Disney+) identify your location and restrict access based on your IP address. However, quality VPNs let you change your IP to bypass such limitations and access your streaming accounts while on vacation.
|✅ Yes, including popular Netflix libraries like the US, UK, Canada, Japan, South Korea, and Switzerland
|❌ No (it doesn’t bypass geoblocks)
|Amazon Prime Video
In summary, only NordVPN accessed global streaming services. Connecting to the Chicago server allowed me to watch Shameless (US) on my Netflix account while traveling. NordVPN didn’t stumble with geoblocks on other services, either.
I accessed region-specific Netflix US content without problems
McAfee’s VPN didn’t work with most platforms. No matter how many servers I tested, I couldn’t get past VPN blocks on Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Hulu, and other streaming sites. I did access Netflix, but only for the country I was currently in (despite being connected to the US server).
Netflix saw through my McAfee connection but didn’t entirely block my access
There’s no competition — NordVPN reliably works with popular streaming platforms, while McAfee VPN doesn’t.
Server Network — NordVPN Covers More Locations
|Total Countries With Servers
|Number of Servers
NordVPN has more servers and better global coverage (including Europe, Americas, Asia Pacific, Middle East, and Africa). So, you’re more likely to find a closeby server to maximize your speeds with it.
In contrast to NordVPN, McAfee doesn’t let you select specific locations — it’s only possible to choose a country. So, you can’t easily switch between cities/states if you encounter geoblocks (it can keep connecting you to the same server).
Unlike McAfee, NordVPN has specialized servers for different activities. You can select a location for double encryption, obfuscation, and torrenting. It’s worth mentioning that NordVPN only has physical servers and no virtual server locations.
NordVPN offers a more considerable number of servers, covers more regions, and has better unblocking capabilities.
Speed — NordVPN Is Slightly Faster
I compared McAfee and NordVPN on multiple servers at different times of the day to account for server load. The average base connection I recorded was 127Mbps.
NordVPN was the fastest when I used the NordLynx protocol. My connection was barely affected on the nearby servers (like the UK, Lithuania, and the Czech Republic) and dropped by 8% on the far-away US server. Streaming 4K videos feels natural like you aren’t using a VPN.
NordLynx protocol maintains fantastic speeds even on a far-away Hong Kong server
McAfee is nearly as fast as NordVPN — my connection speed was reduced by just 11% on the US servers. The upload speeds remained almost the same too. The VPN has a TCP Override feature, which can improve your speeds if your connection is unstable. But this didn’t have any effect on my results.
The connection remained stable even on a faraway Taiwan server
|NordVPN Average Download Speed
|McAfee VPN Average Download Speed
|NordVPN Average Upload Speed
|McAfee Average Upload Speed
|Connected to a US server
|Connected to a UK server
|Connected to a Hong Kong/Taiwan server
Both VPNs have excellent speeds, but NordVPN's NordLynx protocol is slightly faster on all servers.
Torrenting — NordVPN Is More Reliable for File Sharing
McAfee and NordVPN allow torrenting, thanks to P2P traffic support. You can download files without restriction too, as they don’t limit your bandwidth. Unfortunately, none have port forwarding, so you can’t get around NAT firewalls to improve your download speeds.
NordVPN offers P2P-optimized servers for high-speed torrenting. What’s interesting, connecting to regular servers with a running torrent client will reroute you to NordVPN’s P2P server in Canada or the Netherlands.
Using NordVPN’s split tunneling, I configured my torrenting client to always use a VPN for extra security. McAfee VPN doesn’t have split tunneling for Windows. Although the VPN comes with leak protection and a kill switch, it doesn’t have obfuscation and a strict no-logs policy. So, I wouldn’t recommend it for safe file sharing.
NordVPN offers a better torrenting experience thanks to the P2P-friendly servers. McAfee isn’t as fast or secure, lacking split tunneling and a verified no-logs policy.
Gaming — NordVPN is Optimized for Lag-Free Gaming
I compared McAfee VPN vs NordVPN based on in-game latency/ping, which shows how fast the data travels between your device and the game’s servers. Here are the average results I recorded while playing Apex Legends and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, shown in milliseconds:
|McAfee (Catapult Hydra)
|Connected to a US server
|Connected to a UK server
|Connected to a Taiwan server
My ping was much lower with NordVPN’s NordLynx protocol. The latency got progressively worse the farther the server I chose, but it was still enough to land kills. On the contrary, McAfee was only playable on the nearby servers.
I didn’t notice any lags while playing large-scale shooters like Apex Legends
NordLynx protocol is better optimized for online gaming no matter what server you’re connected to, while McAfee was too slow on far-away locations.
Security — NordVPN’s Security Is a Step Above
McAfee VPN and NordVPN encrypt your traffic with AES 256-bit encryption. That’s the best available standard used by the National Security Agency. Both VPNs also use perfect forward secrecy that regularly changes your encryption keys. So, even if hackers steal one of the keys, they can access only a limited amount of data. But the similarities end there.
|AES-256-GCM with 4096-bit DH key, SHA-512 HMAC authentication
|AES-256-GCM with 4096-bit DH key, SHA-2 variant HMAC authentication
|All operating systems
|DNS/IP Leak Protection
|NordLynx (WireGuard), OpenVPN UDP, OpenVPN TCP, IPSec/IKEv2, and IPSec/L2TP
|Private DNS servers
|Tor Over VPN servers
|RAM-only servers wipe data
|Ad & malware blocker
|Double hop servers
|Dedicated IP addresses
|Yes, but it requires an extra fee
Only NordVPN runs Private DNS servers — it handles your web requests instead of your ISP. This VPN also has its entire infrastructure on RAM-only servers, which means all your online data isn’t stored locally and is regularly erased. Unlike McAfee, NordVPN can send your traffic via two encrypted servers (Double VPN/Multi-Hop).
NordVPN offers several industry-standard security protocols; however, NordLynx is by far the fastest. I mainly use OpenVPN for secure browsing and prefer NordLynx for streaming and gaming.
You can choose a security protocol, trusted networks, and custom DNS
McAfee VPN uses Catapult Hydra — a secure and fast protocol. It was developed by AnchorFree (Hotspot Shield) based on OpenVPN and even won the title of “World’s fastest VPN” from Ookla. Hydra uses TLS based on NIST for secure client-server connections, making it slightly faster than OpenVPN.
You can’t choose a security protocol or customize a kill switch (Safe Reconnect) on the Windows app
NordVPN masks your data with obfuscation tech, but McAfee VPN doesn’t have it. Obfuscated servers make your encrypted traffic appear as regular internet connection. So, your ISPs, network administrators, and streaming platforms can’t identify that you’re using a VPN. As a result, it’s possible to bypass sophisticated VPN blocks and WiFi restrictions.
Streaming platforms like Amazon Prime Video can detectthat you’re using McAfee VPN
You can avoid data exposure with NordVPN’s customizable kill switch. This feature terminates a connection for a specific application or your internet if you accidentally disconnect from a VPN server. Sadly, McAfee’s kill switch is available only for Windows. However, during my tests, I haven’t lost a VPN connection on either of those VPNs.
NordVPN can provide 24/7 protection against accidental data leaks
McAfee doesn’t offer any ad blockers or anti-malware features. You have to buy different McAfee products for this functionality, which is a colossal letdown price-wise.
That’s not the case with its competitor. NordVPN’s Threat Protection blocks ads, trackers, and pop-ups on websites like Yahoo News. It also offers Tapjacking protection on Android, which automatically blocks malicious screen overlays and apps. Plus, Dark Web Monitor detects if your confidential info leaks on the web.
The VPN lets you block trackers/intrusive ads and safeguards your device from malicious software
Both VPNs use industry-leading encryption, but NordVPN is more secure overall. It offers obfuscation, built-in ad and malware blockers, and better leak protection. It also has more supplementary features for added security.
Privacy — NordVPN Keeps All Your Data Private
NordVPN’s headquarters are in privacy-friendly Panama — outside the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliances (intelligence-sharing agreements). It doesn’t have to hand in your private data to the US or European governments. However, McAfee is based in the US, the heart of the 5 Eyes Alliance.
Additionally, NordVPN doesn’t collect or share your browsing information with ad networks or ISPs. An independent auditor — PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) — verified that the provider follows a strict no-logs policy.
McAfee’s policy states that the software can scan your devices and share this information
NordVPN is by far the most secure VPN of these two. I would stay away from McAfee if you care about your online privacy.
Works in China — Only NordVPN Can Do It
NordVPN works in China, thanks to its obfuscated servers (although some can be a hit-and-miss). Still, it’s recommended to download a VPN before coming to the country or use workarounds if you’re already in China.
On the contrary, McAfee VPN isn’t likely to work in China. It has no obfuscation and so would struggle with any type of firewall.
NordVPN is the only provider of the two that is likely to work in China.
Installation & Ease of Use — NordVPN is More User-Friendly
NordVPN is available on all popular operating systems: Windows, MacOS, Linux, iOS, and Android. It also offers native apps for Android TVs, Fire TV Sticks, and Samsung TVs. You can set up Smart DNS (SmartPlay) to access worldwide content on devices without native VPN support too, like Roku and Kodi. There are even browser extensions for Chrome, Edge, and Firefox.
It’s possible to configure your router with NordVPN to protect all your network. This VPN offers custom firmware for some ASUS router models and supports routers compatible with DD-WRT, OpenWrt, and pfSense firmware.
McAfee VPN isn't available on Mac and Linux — you can only get it for Windows, iOS, and Android. It also lacks Smart DNS or router support. On the bright side, McAfee has native apps for Chromebook OS. But any VPN with Android apps can be run on Chromebook as well.
NordVPN apps are very intuitive. A single click connects you to the fastest location with optimal security settings. You can easily find a specific server on the interactive map or lists of specialized servers.
Use Quick Connect or select a location manually on the server map
McAfee allows you to connect to the optimal server using the Fastest Location option. But, as mentioned before, you can’t select a specific location.
You can’t specify which location you want to connect to
NordVPN has eye-pleasing apps for all popular operating systems. Unlike McAfee, it works on devices without native VPN support (like Smart TVs and gaming consoles) and can be set up on routers. Plus, this VPN offers more customization options.
Reliability & Support — NordVPN Is More Responsive
|Customer Support Features
|24/7 Live chat
|Yes, responds immediately
|No, the live chat only works on business days
|Step-by-step setup guides
|Yes, with pictures
|Yes, with pictures
|Searchable knowledge base
|Exhaustive FAQ section
Only NordVPN offers a responsive 24/7 live chat. The support staff answers immediately at any time of the day and does its best to help you with anything. You can also submit a ticket and wait for a reply a bit longer.
McAfee’s online chat is available from Monday to Friday (working hours only). I also didn’t get answers to my questions outright. When I was inquiring about the general services, the agent redirected me to another department which called me by phone later in the day. It also looks like McAfee’s support is tied to their antivirus solutions.
McAfee support isn’t as quick to respond and is available only on business days, whereas NordVPN does its best to assist you 24/7.
Tips on Choosing Between McAfee VPN and NordVPN
I made sure to thoroughly compare McAfee and NordVPN apps. But here are the criteria you can use if you want to test them yourself:
- Robust security features — A quality VPN protects your web traffic with military-grade encryption, a kill switch, and obfuscation. It should also provide ad and malware blockers to improve your digital security.
- Respectable privacy practices — It's important that your VPN doesn’t collect, store, or share your confidential information with any third parties.
- Fast speeds — Each VPN slows down your connection because of data encryption, but the best ones do it unnoticeably. They provide fast speeds for high-bandwidth activities (like UHD streaming and gaming).
- Server networks — A worldwide network gives you more chances to find a stable server nearby. VPNs may include specialized servers for specific activities (like torrenting).
- Bypassing geoblocks — A VPN with globally allocated servers can avoid geoblocks for popular streaming platforms, giving you access to your accounts from anywhere.
- Easy to use — Choose a VPN with user-friendly apps for your devices, multiple simultaneous connections, and professional customer support.
- Trustworthy money-back guarantee — You can try a VPN without risk if it provides a reliable money-back policy.