McAfee and Norton are two of the oldest and most well-known names in consumer antivirus software. Both companies have been providing virus protection to home computer users since the early 1990s.
Over 30 years later, Norton and McAfee continue to be top choices for antivirus protection. But which one is better in 2023?
In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll compare McAfee vs. Norton on key factors like pricing, features, malware protection, system impact, ease of use and more. By the end, you‘ll have all the information you need to decide which antivirus is right for you.
McAfee vs. Norton 360 at a Glance
Before we dive into the details, here‘s a high-level overview comparing McAfee and Norton 360 antivirus suites:
|$29.99 – $89.99 first year
|$24.99 – $104.99 first year
|1 – 10 devices
|1 – 10 devices
|Ease of Use
|Phone, online support articles
|Phone, live chat, online support articles
Both McAfee and Norton offer excellent malware detection and provide robust security for your devices. However, Norton edges out McAfee when it comes to ease of use, system impact and customer support.
Next, let‘s take a more detailed look at how McAfee and Norton compare.
McAfee vs. Norton: Pricing
One of the first things to consider when choosing antivirus software is the pricing and subscription options available. Here‘s an overview of McAfee and Norton‘s pricing:
|Norton 360 Standard
|Price Per Year
|$29.99 – $89.99
|$24.99 – $104.99
|Number of Devices
|1 – 10 devices
|Discount for More Years
|Up to 25% off 2-year plan
|Up to 60% off 2-year plan
The entry-level tiers from both companies cost around $25-30 for the first year. However, Norton‘s base plan only covers one device, while McAfee‘s covers up to 10 devices.
For unlimited device coverage, you‘ll need to upgrade to McAfee‘s premium plan at $89.99/year. With Norton, you get up to 10 devices with the mid-tier plan at $99.99/year.
Both companies offer discounts if you prepay for multiple years upfront. McAfee offers up to 25% off a 2-year plan, while Norton goes up to 60% off.
When it comes to value, McAfee generally provides more device coverage for the money compared to Norton. However, Norton frequently has promotions that make it very competitively priced.
Malware Protection Comparison
The most important factor for any antivirus is how well it can detect and block malware threats like viruses, ransomware, spyware and more.
To evaluate McAfee and Norton‘s malware protection capabilities, we‘ll look at the latest test results from two independent antivirus testing labs – AV-Test and AV-Comparatives.
Recent AV-Test Results
AV-Test evaluates antivirus products on three criteria: protection, performance and usability. Here are the latest results from AV-Test‘s evaluations of McAfee and Norton:
|Protection Score (0-6)
|Performance Score (0-6)
|Usability Score (0-6)
|Total Score (0-18)
Both McAfee and Norton received a perfect 6.0 score in the crucial protection testing. They both excel at detecting and blocking malware, viruses, ransomware and other threats.
When it comes to overall scores, Norton edged out McAfee with a slightly higher performance rating. However, both are clearly top-tier antivirus programs based on AV-Test‘s rigorous testing.
Recent AV-Comparatives Results
AV-Comparatives also conducts rigorous independent tests of antivirus products. Here are their latest results:
In AV-Comparatives‘ tests, both McAfee and Norton were able to block over 99% of malicious samples. They provide excellent real-world protection as well.
However, both antivirus suites were found to cause a moderate system slowdown during active scans. Norton has a slight edge over McAfee when it comes to performance impact.
Based on third-party lab tests, McAfee and Norton are very closely matched when it comes to malware protection. Both have near-perfect detection rates against a wide range of threats.
Norton scores a bit higher in some performance benchmarks, but not enough to make a significant difference in real-world use.
For reliable antivirus protection, you can count on both McAfee and Norton to keep your devices secured.
Ease of Use
Beyond just protection, you also want an antivirus that is simple and easy to use on a daily basis.
Both McAfee and Norton have made efforts to ensure their software is intuitive and user-friendly. However, Norton generally gets better marks when it comes to usability:
- Streamlined interface – Norton has a clean, modern interface that makes navigation easy. McAfee‘s console can feel a bit more cluttered.
- Unobtrusive notifications – Norton‘s notifications are targeted and don‘t interrupt you unnecessarily. McAfee has been prone to over-notifying in the past.
- Minimal setup – Norton gets you up and running with protection quickly during installation. McAfee has more steps involved in enabling features.
- Frequent issues – Some McAfee users report bugs or glitches with the software, especially after updates. Norton tends to be more stable.
Overall, Norton provides a smoother, easier antivirus experience compared to McAfee. It offers robust protection without getting in the way of everyday PC use.
System Performance Impact
Antivirus software requires system resources to actively scan for threats. This can sometimes result in a noticeable slowdown on your devices.
In testing, Norton consistently has lower system impact compared to McAfee:
- Background scanning – Norton‘s background scans are lightweight and rarely affect system performance. McAfee‘s background protection is more resource-intensive.
- Gaming mode – Norton has an effective gaming mode that pauses notifications and non-essential background tasks. McAfee lacks a comparable gaming mode.
- Independent testing – As mentioned earlier, Norton scores higher in AV-Test‘s performance benchmark. McAfee‘s impact is moderate.
Unless you have an extremely low-powered computer, both McAfee and Norton should be manageable. But Norton has proven to be less intrusive and resource-hungry overall.
Having access to timely customer support can be crucial for troubleshooting antivirus problems. Here‘s how McAfee and Norton‘s support options stack up:
|24/7 toll-free number
|24/7 toll-free number
|Knowledge base articles and community forums
|Extensive knowledge base and community forums
|Social Media Support
|Twitter support account
|Facebook, Twitter support pages
|Via phone support
|Via live chat support
McAfee and Norton both offer the essential support channels like phone, email, live chat, FAQs and forums.
Norton has more extensive self-help resources in its knowledge base compared to McAfee. It also offers remote assistance via live chat, while McAfee requires calling in for remote help.
Overall, Norton tends to edge out McAfee slightly when it comes to the quality and convenience of customer support. But both offer decent support options for home users.
McAfee vs. Norton: Which Is Better in 2023?
So which is better between McAfee and Norton antivirus? Here is a quick summary:
- For malware protection, it‘s effectively a tie. Both McAfee and Norton provide excellent detection of viruses, malware, ransomware and other cyberthreats.
- Norton 360 has the advantage for usability, performance impact and customer support. It offers a smoother overall user experience compared to McAfee.
- McAfee tends to offer better value and pricing, especially if you need protection for more than 5 devices. It also has lower pricing on multi-year subscriptions.
- Both lack a free antivirus option. You have to pay for a subscription to use McAfee or Norton.
Overall, Norton 360 ranks slightly higher due to its superior ease of use, low system impact and helpful customer support. Norton is our recommended choice for the average home user looking for robust yet hassle-free antivirus protection.
However, power users who need to protect many devices may find better value with McAfee‘s tiered pricing for multiple devices. Overall malware protection is excellent with both vendors.
We suggest taking advantage of the free trials offered by McAfee and Norton to see which user interface and features appeal to you the most. Both companies also have money-back guarantees if you are unsatisfied.
In the end, you can trust that both McAfee and Norton will keep your devices protected against the latest cyberthreats while providing a range of bonus features like VPNs, password managers and more. Be sure to review pricing and support options to determine which antivirus suite is the best fit for your needs and budget.