I compared how these VPNs protect your personal information online. I also tested if they work for Netflix (and other streaming platforms) and how fast they are. Given that these services aren’t free, I also considered both VPN’s pricing, discounts, and hidden costs.
NordVPN wins in most categories. Mullvad is stronger in some areas (it has one of the most uncompromising no-logs policies). However, NordVPN’s vast network and tunneling protocols can get through nearly any geoblock while maintaining exceptional speeds. Keep reading for a more in-depth analysis.
Best alternative to NordVPN
Short on Time? Here Are My Key Findings
|⭐ Overall Rating
|Our Score: 8.1/10
|Our Score: 9.4/10
|💲Lowest Monthly Price
|$5.53/month for all plans
|$3.39/month for all plans
|🗓️Price on Renewal
|$66 per year (subject to change)
|$99.48 per year (subject to change)
|Mullvad doesn’t offer discount coupons
|NordVPN offers 67% off (24-month plan)
|📺Streaming & Unblocking
|Can access Netflix, YouTube, and HBO Max, but doesn’t work with most other streaming platforms
|Can access Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Prime, and more
|39 countries with 885 servers
|61 countries with 6,088 servers
|Max 21% speed drop, but you can get a boost with port forwarding
|Max 15% speed drop — ideal for 4K streaming and online gaming
|Optimal ping on nearby servers, but struggles over long distances
|Low in-game latency with no data packet loss
|Allows P2P traffic on all servers
|Allows torrenting traffic and has dedicated P2P-optimized servers
|WireGuard, OpenVPN, IPSec/IKEv2, and IPSec/L2TP
|NordLynx (based on WireGuard), OpenVPN, IPSec/IKEv2, and IPSec/L2TP
|✅ IP/DNS Leak Protection
|🏢Based in Country
|⚠️ Does VPN Keep Logs
|Works in China
|#️⃣ Number of Device Connections
|Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, Linux, Firefox
|Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, Chrome, Firefox, and Edge, native apps for some ASUS routers
|Knowledge base, FAQs, email, Facebook, and Twitter
|24/7 live chat, knowledge base, FAQs, email, Facebook, and Twitter
See More NordVPN Features
Streaming and Netflix Access — Flawless Victory for NordVPN
Long story short, Mullvad isn’t focused on streaming. While NordVPN can access nearly every streaming platform, Mullvad struggles even with Netflix US.
|☑️ Yes, but only with obfuscation
including popular Netflix region-exclusive content
in the US, UK, Canada, Japan,
South Korea, and Switzerland
|☑️ Yes, but not consistently
|Amazon Prime Video
|☑️ Yes, but not consistently
With NordVPN, I accessed major streaming platforms without buffering issues or disconnects. I used it to watch local and international content on my Netflix US, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, CTV, and other accounts.
I had no issues with long loading times or interruptions
For Mullvad, I tried different US-based servers and configurations and WireGuard with obfuscation did the trick. I could still watch Shameless (US) with my Netflix US account, but the configuration severely decreased my speeds. Mullvad worked with BBC iPlayer, HBO Max, ABC News, and STV1 too, but only on a few servers and with occasional buffering issues.
Apart from that, Mullvad doesn’t work with most streaming services. For example, Disney+ didn’t load for me, and Hulu and Amazon Prime detected the VPN and denied access.
Amazon Prime Video (and other services) easily identified Mullvad
There’s no real competition here — NordVPN is much better at streaming and bypassing geoblocks. Although Mullvad can let you watch Netflix, NordVPN does it more consistently and with faster speeds.
Server Network — NordVPN Covers More Locations
|Total Countries With Servers
|Number of Servers
NordVPN has better global coverage, so it's more likely to have a server near you. This means your traffic has less distance to travel, so you can get faster speeds. You also get servers in more countries for unblocking content. Mullvad’s network is smaller, so it isn’t as good at bypassing geoblocks for popular online services.
Plus, most of Mullvad’s servers are in Europe (with only a handful in the Americas, Asia Pacific, the Middle East, Oceania, and Africa). NordVPN, on the other hand, has multiple servers on every continent except Antarctica.
Additionally, NordVPN has many specialty servers (for double encryption, Onion over VPN, obfuscation, streaming, and torrenting). The service also offers the ability to use dedicated IP addresses for safe remote access to your devices.
While Mullvad has a smaller network, it also has fewer users, which means it's less vulnerable to overcrowding issues. This is one of the reasons why NordVPN can take a while to connect (up to 15 seconds), whereas Mullvad always starts instantly.
Finally, other services lease all of their servers, which can leave them (and your data) vulnerable to snoops. But both these VPNs own the majority of their servers, preventing tampering by third parties.
Despite occasionally being a little slow to connect, NordVPN wins with a broader network and more reliable unblocking.
Speed — NordVPN Is Slightly Faster
Both VPNs were quite fast on close-by locations and a bit slower on far-flung servers. I tested how Mullvad and NordVPN work with US, UK, and Hong Kong servers, in comparison to my base connection speeds of 85Mbps download and 92Mbps upload. I also measured speeds on the server each VPN selected automatically as the fastest, and how my results changed when using different protocols.
Speed isn’t always about protocol and server proximity; it also depends on the server load. So, I tested each VPN for several days with various servers to calculate the median results.
NordVPN is more than capable of smooth UHD streaming
NordVPN showed excellent speeds with the NordLynx protocol. My base speeds dropped by only 15% while connected to the US. These are excellent results if you want bufferless 4K streaming.
The WireGuard protocol was faster than OpenVPN while I was testing Mullvad
I had nearly the same speeds using Mullvad’s WireGuard protocol. It was just a bit slower than the average I recorded with NordVPN. In any case, you need only 25Mbps for bufferless 4K streaming, so both VPNs do an excellent job.
|Mullvad Average Download Speed
|NordVPN Average Download Speed
|Mullvad Average Upload Speed
|NordVPN Average Upload Speed
|Connected to a US server
|Connected to a UK server
|Connected to a Hong Kong server
NordVPN and Mullvad were nose-to-nose this round, but NordVPN wins with slightly faster download and upload speeds.
Torrenting — Mullvad Wins With Port Forwarding
NordVPN and Mullvad both support torrenting traffic on all servers and offer a free SOCKS5 proxy. They also work with all torrent clients (including BitTorrent and uTorrent) and don’t limit your bandwidth, so you can download as much data as you want. Plus, both VPNs offer robust encryption and obfuscation to prevent ISPs from detecting your P2P activity and reducing your torrenting speeds.
Unlike NordVPN, Mullvad supports port forwarding, which can boost your torrenting speed. This feature allows incoming data to get around NAT firewalls, reducing any download delays and increasing your seeding speeds. That said, NordVPN does come with dedicated P2P servers for high-bandwidth torrenting. Still, my tests showed that port forwarding gives you a slightly better speed boost.
While these VPNs are equally fit for fast torrenting, Mullvad wins by having port forwarding and a more privacy-oriented policy.
Gaming — NordVPN for Smooth Gaming
Both VPNs are router-compatible, which is a good start. This means I was able to connect my game consoles to each VPN, even if they didn’t support VPN connections natively. I had no issues testing either VPN with my gaming devices (including Xbox and PlayStation).
I was interested in how these VPNs work out for competitive multiplayer games like Call of Duty: Warzone 2.0 and Apex Legends. The in-game ping — the time it takes for data to travel between my PC and the game’s servers — was my main criteria for comparison. It’s usually measured in milliseconds (ms). The ideal ping is lower than 20ms, but anything between 20–100ms is considered good for gaming.
|Connected to a US server
|Connected to a UK server
|Connected to a Hong Kong server
NordVPN gave me the best gaming experience — it was the only service to achieve the sub-20ms ping that’s ideal for gaming (on the server chosen by the Quick Connect feature). As expected, my ping got progressively higher on faraway servers, but I could still play CoD: Warzone battle royale mode thanks to the speedy NordLynx protocol. The same couldn’t be said about Mullvad, which was only fast enough for gaming on the server nearest to me.
The VPN’s NordLynx protocol maintained a stable connection even on long-distance servers
On the plus
NordVPN is more suitable for competitive online gaming, offering low-latency connections on more servers.
Security — NordVPN Offers More Features
NordVPN and Mullvad both safeguard your web data with military-grade security. Both cipher your traffic via AES 256-bit with a 4096-bit DH key — the toughest encryption standard. On top of that, both providers let you route your traffic via 2 encrypted servers for extra security.
They also use perfect forward secrecy technology that regularly changes the encryption key, basically “dividing” your browsing session data into secure chunks. So, your information is protected from hackers and snoops (even if they get hold of one session key).
|AES-256-GCM with 4096-bit DH key, SHA-512 HMAC authentication, perfect forward secrecy
|AES-256-GCM with 4096-bit DH key, SHA2-384 HMAC authentication, perfect forward secrecy
|All operating systems
|All operating systems
|DNS/IP Leak Protection
|WireGuard, OpenVPN UDP, OpenVPN TCP, IPSec/IKEv2, and IPSec/L2TP
|NordLynx (WireGuard), OpenVPN UDP, OpenVPN TCP, IPSec/IKEv2, and IPSec/L2TP
|Yes (Windows, Android, Linux)
|Yes + inverse split tunneling (Windows & Android)
|Private DNS servers
|Tor Over VPN servers
|RAM-only servers wipe data
|Ad & malware blocker
|Double hop servers
Both VPNs also use obfuscation technology to hide your VPN traffic as regular traffic. Doing so prevents network administrators and ISPs from detecting VPN use and blocking or throttling your activity. Mullvad’s Shadowsocks obfuscation is available on Bridge servers, but only after manual configuration. NordVPN provides obfuscated servers that are easy to connect to and can be found in a dedicated list on the app.
Both VPNs offer several protocol options including the OpenVPN protocol, as well as the slightly inferior IKEv2/IPsec and L2TP/IPsec. Additionally, Mullvad has the extra-fast WireGuard protocol. I use it to max out my speeds for gaming and streaming. Still, NordVPN’s proprietary NordLynx protocol is even faster. It's based on WireGuard too, meaning it’s just as good at protecting your traffic.
You can select a tunneling protocol, DNS, and other settings
Each VPN protects you from leaks with a kill switch that cuts your internet if you accidentally lose a VPN connection. In addition, NordVPN gives you the option to terminate connections for specific applications. On the other hand, Mullvad has a Lockdown mode that prevents internet access if your traffic is not encrypted. I didn’t detect any IP/DNS/WebRTC data leaks during my tests of both Mullvad and NordVPN.
Enable ad, malware, and content blockers, and set up your tunneling protocol
An ad and malware blocker is present in both VPNs. Mullvad blocks ads and malicious domains while NordVPN has Threat Protection, which additionally scans downloaded files for malware. Both prevented trackers and annoying ads as I read Yahoo News.
Each service also has RAM-only servers that wipe your data on every reboot. However, NordVPN’s entire network is RAM-based, whereas only a part of Mullvad’s servers supports this technology.
Apart from that though, Mullvad doesn’t have as many secondary features. For example, NordVPN’s Tapjacking protection detects malicious apps and screen overlays (on Android only). Auto-Connect launches the VPN automatically whenever you connect to a WiFi network while Invisibility on LAN hides your device on networks too. NordVPN’s Plus and Complete plans also come with a Data Breach Scanner.
This is a close call because both VPNs effectively safeguard your data online. Yet, NordVPN has more secondary security features like Tapjacking and Dark Web Monitoring. The obfuscation technology is much easier to enable on NordVPN, too.
Privacy — Mullvad Is Laser-Focused on Privacy
NordVPN is based in Panama — a privacy-friendly country outside the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliances intelligence-sharing pact. It also has an independently audited (PwC) no-logs policy that prevents it from collecting or storing your personal information.
On the contrary, Mullvad is headquartered in Sweden (technically a part of the 5 Eyes Alliance). Yet, it has one of the most transparent logging policies among VPNs (also independently audited by Cure53/Assured). Mullvad specifies that it doesn't log any personally identifiable information, like DNS requests, bandwidth, or timestamps. Its policy explicitly says that it ciphers data that can link to your identity, such as your email address and payment info.
For additional privacy, Mullvad even lets you register without providing your email address. Instead, you simply generate a token within the VPN app to start using it. NordVPN doesn’t offer this option. Since NordVPN’s logging policy says it will comply with legal requests for information, this could lead to your contact or financial information linking you to the VPN (Mullvad states that it’s not subject to similar laws in Sweden).
Both VPNs support cryptocurrency payments too. However, Mullvad also lets you pay with cash in an envelope to make your payment harder to trace. This option is ideal if you don’t want any ties between the provider and your identity.
Mullvad is the winner, as it has a more privacy-focused registration process, incognito payment options, and a transparent policy.
Works in China — It’s a Tie
NordVPN and Mullvad claim to work around the Great Firewall of China. Bear in mind that you need to use workarounds to download a VPN in China if you don’t install one before visiting the country.
Mullvad requires you to configure the Shadowsocks protocol for a bridge server outside China. The process is easier with NordVPN — you only need to connect to an obfuscated server. But not every server and configuration is guaranteed to work, so you might have to experiment with locations and security features.
Winner - draw
Even though they require extra setup and experimentation, both these VPNs should be able to unblock international online services from China.
Installation & Ease of Use — Narrow Win for NordVPN
Mullvad and NordVPN work with all the most popular platforms, including desktop and mobile operating systems. They both support:
That said, NordVPN supports more browsers and routers. Mullvad works only on Firefox, while NordVPN also has Chrome, Edge, and Brave extensions. You can set up Mullad on routers with OpenWrt, DD-WRT, and pfSensei firmware. On the other hand, NordVPN supports nearly all firmware and has a router app for selected ASUS routers.
Additionally, both VPNs also let you set up SmartDNS (custom DNS server) to bypass geoblocks on devices that don’t natively support VPNs. This lets me access US-only content on my Disney+ account from my PlayStation 5. As a bonus, NordVPN implements Smart DNS functionality into all its apps, thanks to a technology called SmartPlay. It basically helps the server bypass geoblocks more easily.
Mullvad’s app is fairly intuitive; the settings are neatly divided into Preferences and Advanced. Clicking on the Secure my connection icon connects you to the closest server. You can filter available Mullvad servers based on ownership and hosting provider, too. The app remembers your latest selected location if you want to use it for your next session.
Mullvad’s settings make it easy to connect to a nearby server, manually select one, or filter available locations
In Mullvad’s settings menu, you can select a tunneling protocol and its settings (port, IP version, and multihop). You can also activate the kill switch or use split tunneling to exclude certain apps from the VPN. There are also several general settings for the appearance, language, and automatic launch on startup.
However, NordVPN’s server map is easier to use. You can either connect to the fastest nearby server or click on server markers for each location. It’s also easy to browse through the selection of specialty servers, including those with a dedicated IP, double encryption, and obfuscation.
NordVPN’s app lets you quickly connect, find a server on the map, or browse a list of available locations (regular and specialty servers)
NordVPN’s security settings are also clearly laid out. Here you can configure the protocol, kill switch, Threat Manager, split tunneling, and more. NordVPN also lets you create profile presets with your preferred settings (protocol, server, and security features). This is handy for saving time when you launch the VPN.
Both services take a few minutes to install and configure. The sign-up is a bit quicker for Mullvad as you don’t need an email address for registration, but you do need to generate a 16-digit account number first. I found NordVPN easier to set up overall.
Both VPNs have user-friendly apps and easy installation. However, NordVPN has a slightly more eye-catching design, more browser extensions, and native router firmware for some ASUS routers.
Reliability & Support — Only NordVPN Offers 24/7 Support
|Customer Support Features
|24/7 Live chat
|Yes, but the original question can’t exceed 40 words
|Step-by-step setup guides
|Yes, with pictures
|Yes, with video tutorials
|Searchable knowledge base
|Exhaustive FAQ section
Both VPNs have vast knowledge bases full of in-depth FAQs, guides, and blogs. Mullvad offers detailed screenshots, but NordVPN goes a step further by featuring video tutorials.
Only NordVPN has a 24/7 live chat for quick assistance and troubleshooting. If you’re stuck with Mullvad, your best bet is to contact the support team via email. That said, NordVPN’s staff responds to emails a bit faster, too. For example, NordVPN replied to my query about a refund in 3 hours, whereas Mullvad answered me in 7 hours.
NordVPN is a clear winner because of its responsive 24/7 online chat support.
Tips on Choosing Between Mullvad and NordVPN
A decision between Mullvad and NordVPN depends on what you want to use them for. Use my ranking criteria as a baseline for your tests if you decide to compare them yourself.
- Bypasses geoblocks — Your VPN should unblock the streaming services you need, so you can watch your favorite shows and films from anywhere.
- Fast speeds — All VPNs slow you down as they reroute your traffic but the best ones are still fast enough for torrenting, streaming, and gaming.
- Robust security features — Only a VPN with military-grade encryption (AES 256-bit), IP/DNS protection, and a kill switch can safeguard your data online.
- Respectable privacy practices — Your provider shouldn’t collect, store, or share your personal information and (ideally) should allow you to pay without exposing your identity.
- Easy-to-use apps — Choose a VPN with user-friendly apps that allow simultaneous device connections and responsive support.
- Trustworthy money-back guarantee — A reputable VPN should offer a reliable money-back policy so you can test it risk-free.