ExpressVPN Review: Still the Best Overall VPN
- Unparalleled transparency
- Top-notch security with no leaks detected
- One of the fastest VPNs
- Excellent for streaming
- Only five simultaneous connections
- Owned by Kape Technologies
If you’re in need of a top-tier VPN committed to transparency and user privacy, or even if you’re just a casual user seeking a fast and exceptional streaming VPN, ExpressVPN should be your top choice. While it comes with a higher price tag compared to other virtual private networks, ExpressVPN continues to outperform its competitors for users looking to make the most of their VPN experience.
Based on a comprehensive evaluation of its speed, cost, and privacy features, ExpressVPN earns the CNET Editor’s Choice Award. Despite undergoing rigorous external scrutiny following its acquisition by Kape Technologies in 2021 and a Department of Justice investigation into its CIO (related to his previous employer), ExpressVPN still proves its dedication to privacy and deserves the title of the best VPN. With 12 independent security audits conducted just in 2022, ExpressVPN stands out, demonstrating its increasing commitment to transparency. Its TrustedServer technology further solidifies its position as a VPN provider capable of safeguarding the privacy needs of users such as journalists, activists, healthcare professionals, and lawyers.
Speed: Still Fast, Not the Fastest Anymore
Average speed loss: 18% in 2023 tests
Number of servers: 3000+ Number of server locations: 94 countries/regions, 160 locations
VPN speeds are dynamic, and in 2022, ExpressVPN’s speeds dropped by an incredible 2%, putting it on par with its 2019 performance, which easily topped CNET’s fastest VPN list at the time. However, ExpressVPN couldn’t sustain these speeds for long, as our latest tests in February and March 2023 showed an 18% speed loss. Even though there’s a decline compared to the previous year, this 18% drop is much better than the 51% speed loss we measured in 2020. Following the latest speed tests, ExpressVPN still ranks second on our list of fastest VPNs, just behind NordVPN.
I conducted speed tests from Ohio and Central Europe during the first quarter of 2023. In both locations, I connected to servers in New York, the UK, Australia, Germany, France, and Singapore using the OpenVPN UDP protocol and ExpressVPN’s proprietary Lightway protocol—a lightweight VPN protocol built for speed and security. While the best speed performance with ExpressVPN was from European servers using OpenVPN (9% speed loss), the overall average speed loss with Lightway was less than OpenVPN. Across 500 tests, I averaged a 15% speed loss with Lightway and a 21% speed loss with OpenVPN.
The fastest average speed achieved with ExpressVPN via Lightway protocol in Ohio was 327.69Mbps. European servers in France and Germany consistently showed the fastest overall test speeds, reaching 350.20Mbps from Ohio via Lightway to Germany. The average speed to the UK peaked at 343.05Mbps, followed by New York at 341.49Mbps. As expected, speeds were slightly slower to Australia (323.13Mbps on average) and Singapore (287.43Mbps on average).
Overall, I am satisfied with the speeds achieved by ExpressVPN servers across two test locations and two protocols. ExpressVPN’s consistent and impressive speed performance across all VPN server locations and each protocol is notable. It’s reassuring to see this, as many other VPNs often struggle to maintain consistency. The only VPN I’ve tested that demonstrated more stable speed performance than ExpressVPN is NordVPN.
In any case, ExpressVPN’s speeds are excellent, providing more than enough speed for any online activity you can think of. Whether you’re streaming content, video conferencing, downloading torrents, or just browsing the internet, you’re unlikely to notice any significant speed drop, regardless of where you connect using ExpressVPN. With ExpressVPN upgrading its server fleet to 10Gbps servers, you can expect even faster speeds and higher reliability across its global network spanning 94 countries/regions.
Cost: A Premium for a Premium Product
Pricing: 5 simultaneous connections for $13/month, $60/6 months, or $100/year (with an additional free three months) Refund guarantee: 30 days Payment methods: Credit card/debit card, PayPal, Bitcoin Compatibility: Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android, iOS, Fire TV, routers
Higher prices don’t always translate to higher quality, but in the case of ExpressVPN, it does. ExpressVPN is currently the best VPN, and if you want to subscribe, be prepared to pay a premium.
ExpressVPN offers three subscription plans: an annual plan for $100 per year (with the first three months free), a semi-annual plan for $60 every six months, or a monthly plan for $13. The annual fee for ExpressVPN is the same as NordVPN (after Nord’s introductory price of $60 for the first year expires), but significantly more expensive than Surfshark’s $60 annual fee.
You can purchase an ExpressVPN subscription using major credit/debit cards, PayPal, Bitcoin, or various other payment methods (including Giropay, UnionPay, iDeal, and Sofort). Each subscription plan includes a 30-day refund guarantee in case you’re dissatisfied with the service.
After purchasing ExpressVPN, you can use the service on Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android, iOS, FireTV, Chrome, and compatible routers (including ExpressVPN’s Aircove Wi-Fi 6 router). Using ExpressVPN on a router allows you to run the VPN on all connected devices, including those without native VPN support, such as gaming consoles and most smart TVs.
However, I would like to see ExpressVPN increase its simultaneous connection limit. Express only offers five simultaneous connections, while many other premium VPNs are more generous with their allowances. For example, top VPNs like Surfshark and IPVanish offer unlimited concurrent connections, and ProtonVPN allows up to 10 connections simultaneously, all at a lower price per connection than ExpressVPN. ExpressVPN is somewhat behind the times in terms of connection limits, especially considering the increasing number of connected devices in modern households and the higher cost of the Express service. Increasing the number of simultaneous connections could add significant value to its product.
If you’re into streaming content online, ExpressVPN’s higher price is well worth it, as it is the best streaming VPN I’ve encountered so far. In my tests, I had no issues accessing content on Netflix, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime Video, and HBO Max. I even managed to bypass blackout restrictions on MLB.tv to watch local TV broadcasts of baseball games.
Like any premium VPN service, if you encounter problems or have questions, ExpressVPN offers 24/7 live chat customer support. Alternatively, you can browse and search ExpressVPN’s extensive knowledge base for setup guides, troubleshooting guides, FAQs, and other information.
ExpressVPN is also gearing up to offer its own password manager solution, called Keys, free of charge to all users. While Keys is currently in testing and available only to specific ExpressVPN users, I found it to be a reliable password manager with significant potential during my testing.