(Updated on March 11th, 2021)

Bitdefender or McAfee, which is the best antivirus security suite for 2021?

Bitdefender and McAfee offer the best antivirus security suites in the market. In this ultimate comparison, we will see how products from the two brands fare in various aspects. We will evaluate them in terms of features, malware protection, system performance, user interface, pricing, and compatibility. We will also rely on the latest results from independent labs.

Continue reading to know which brand offers the best suite.

Your devices and your digital data are always at risk due to online and offline threats. According to Security Magazine, 2021 is a new playground for cybercriminals. You should watch out for the following cyber threats, zero-day and exploit attacks, ransomware, phishing, and other malware.

Table Of Contents

To get peace of mind, you will need a premium paid antivirus security suite. This antivirus suite will monitor and offer complete protection against various online and offline threats. A paid antivirus security suite will protect against prevalent online threats, zero-day attacks, exploit attacks, and even against file-less threats, unlike free products.

A premium antivirus also packs a slew of features regarding online protection, privacy, and on-device performance. Standard features include VPN, anti-phishing, anti-fraud, anti-tracker, vulnerability protection, password manager, File shredder, optimization tools, parental control, and safe browsing. Other suites even offer identity theft protection.

Besides protection, premium paid antivirus security suites don’t compromise on your performance. They are cross-platform, and their subscriptions give you excellent value for your money. That is, a single subscription can cover multiple devices.

Below is an in-depth comparison of Bitdefender vs. McAfee.

Comparison at a Glance

Bitdefender and McAfee are both global leaders in cybersecurity. They provide personal antivirus products for home use which offer outstanding protection against threats. Their products are superior and are loaded with advanced features for security, privacy, and performance. They are also cross-platform, multidevice, and they offer competitive subscription plans.

Here is a quick overview of Bitdefender vs. McAfee.

1. Features overview
Winner: Bitdefender. Bitdefender gives you a wide array of features well distributed in its products. These features enhance your privacy, performance, and security. McAfee also offers excellent features with identity theft protection.

2. Malware protection
Winner: Tie. Both Bitdefender and McAfee products offer comprehensive online and offline security. Their award-winning antivirus engines are coupled with various technologies that ensure protection against all threats, including zero-day attacks.

3. System performance
Winner: Tie. Products from both brands offer protection without compromising system performance. Bitdefender products can adapt to your system resources and hardware configurations, while McAfee Total Protection is not resource-hungry.

4. User interface
Winner: Tie. Bitdefender and McAfee products sport a user-friendly interface. The main windows are decluttered, and the dashboards are streamlined. Features and functionalities are well organized, and navigation is easy.

5. Pricing
Winner: Tie. Bitdefender and McAfee offer competitive subscription plans for their products. Furthermore, these subscriptions cover multiple devices, with Bitdefender covering a maximum of 15 devices.

6. Compatibility
Winner: Tie. Products from Bitdefender and McAfee are cross-platform. They are compatible with Windows, Macs, Android, and iOS devices. Windows and Android devices get the fully-fledged suite, while Macs and iOS devices get limited functionalities.

Short Verdict

Bitdefender and McAfee offer one of the best antivirus products in the industry. Bitdefender products pack an impressive list of well-balanced features regarding performance, privacy, and security. McAfee’s Total protection is also fully-featured, and it also comes with identity theft protection essential for your privacy.

Both Bitdefender and McAfee products offer comprehensive security and protection against threats. Besides malware protection, these products have little impact on performance. They also have the backing of Independent labs such as AV-Test and AV-Comparatives as they fared well in their evaluations.

Moreover, products from both brands are cross-platform, and their subscriptions cover multiple devices. We recommend Bitdefender Total Security and Bitdefender Family Pack. These products offer unmatched protection, performance, and they have excellent features. You also get value for your money as Bitdefender Family Pack can support up to 15 devices on a single subscription.

1. Features Overview

Bitdefender and McAfee antivirus products pack premium features and functionalities. These features work hand in hand with the core antivirus engine. They boost security, performance and even help in safeguarding your online security. Other features are just utilities that complement your day-to-day computer activities. Below is a highlight of features from both Bitdefender and McAfee products.

Bitdefender is a global leader in cybersecurity, and this is evident in its product features. Like most antivirus providers, Bitdefender offers various products. For home and personal use, you get five premium products. These products come with unmatched features that make Bitdefender one of the best security antivirus suites in the market.

We’ll start by looking at the lower-end product features; Bitdefender Antivirus Plus for Windows. As the name suggests, this product is only compatible with the Windows operating system. It has a great base of features that other Bitdefender products build upon. The features are divided into three categories.

Protection features include:

  • Antivirus engine interwoven with real-time data protection and multi-layer ransomware protection.
  • Advanced threat defense.
  • Network threat prevention.
  • Vulnerability assessment.
  • Web attack prevention.
  • Anti-phishing and anti-fraud.
  • Rescue environment.

Performance features include:

  • Autopilot.
  • Bitdefender Photon.
  • Global protective network.
  • Performance profiles (Game, Movie, and Work).
  • Battery mode.

Privacy features include:

  • 200MB VPN.
  • Anti-tracker.
  • Safe online banking.
  • Password manager and File shredder.
  • Social network protection.

Bitdefender Internet Security follows up next. Similar to the previous product, it is only compatible with the Windows operating system. It adds unique features for protection and privacy. They include:

  • Antispam.
  • Microphone monitor and Webcam protection.
  • Parental Control.
  • Privacy firewall.
  • WIFI security advisor.

The next three products are cross-platform and are compatible with Windows, Macs, Android, and iOS products. They have all the features from the previous products with a few additions. The most notable feature is the multidevice support.

The first cross-platform product is Bitdefender Total Security. This is also our Bitdefender recommendation. It balances security, privacy, and performance. Its unique features include:

  • Antitheft utilities.
  • Performance optimization via the One-Click Optimizer.
  • Support of up to a maximum of 10 devices.

The second product is Bitdefender Family Pack. We also recommend this product alongside the previous product. Here is why:

  • Supports a maximum of 15 devices.

The third and final product is the Bitdefender Premium Security. It has all the features of the previous product with the following addition:

  • Unlimited VPN traffic.
Bitdefender features

McAfee is known for securing what matters most and giving you peace of mind. Its product, McAfee Total Protection, offers complete antivirus protection with personal protection (for sensitive information). This is via the identity theft protection service. This functionality makes McAfee Total Protection more than just an antivirus.

McAfee Total Protection suite is subdivided into three tiers. This is a bit different and yet akin to other antivirus brands with varying products for home use. Its features are distributed across the three tiers with unique addition for the high-end tiers. The tiers include; Single device, Individual/Couples, and Family.

The Single Device tier is the low-end tier, and it packs a variety of features that are also available in the other tiers. The features include:

  • Award-winning antivirus engine.
  • 1 license of secure VPN.
  • Performance optimizations.
  • Home network security.
  • Password manager.
  • Safe web browsing.
  • Encrypted storage.
  • McAfee shredder.
  • Online support from security experts.

Up next is the Individual/Couples tier. Personal protection starts from this tier. Its additions include the following:

  • Multidevice compatibility.
  • 5 licenses of secure VPN.
  • Identity theft protection essentials.

The family tier doesn’t offer much; it is loaded with features of the previous tiers. However, it offers one feature not available in the other tiers.

  • Parental control via Safe Family.
Mcafee features

Overall, both Bitdefender and McAfee offer a slew of features. McAfee gets an edge over Bitdefender due to its Identity theft protection essentials. However, it doesn’t match Bitdefender’s unrivaled array of features.

Winner: Bitdefender

2. Malware Protection

Bitdefender and McAfee products are equipped with award-winning antivirus engines. They offer comprehensive and robust protection against viruses, malware, ransomware, spyware, and other online security and privacy threats.

Bitdefender’s antivirus engine is bolstered with Bitdefender’s cyber threat intelligence. This is useful for analyzing and identifying potential network threats, other exploits, and stopping zero-day attacks. Furthermore, this cyber threat intelligence offers protection against botnets, brute force attacks, and suspicious network-level activities.

McAfee, on the other hand, reinforces its antivirus engine with machine learning and multi-layered protection. This combination offers faster malware detection rates, reduced false positives, and total protection. McAfee is also known for protecting against ‘fileless’ threats in the system memory and other legitimate system files.

To evaluate their malware protection capabilities, we will rely on tests from independent labs such as AV-Test and AV-Comparatives. Both labs subject the antivirus products to various samples that offer realistic test scenarios. The AV-Test lab tests for zero-day malware attacks, protection against malware infections, and widespread and prevalent malware detection.

Here are AV-Test results for Bitdefender.

Chart 1 Bitdefender

Here are the results for McAfee.

Chart 2 McAfee

The AV-Comparatives lab subjects the antivirus products to two tests; real-world protection and malware protection tests. Real-world protection tests against malicious websites/malware, malicious URLs, and drive-by exploits.

Here are AV-Comparatives Real-world protection results for Bitdefender.

Chart 3 Bitdefender

Here are AV-Comparatives Real-world protection results for McAfee.

Chart 4 McAfee

Malware protection tests focus on malware that rely on the file vector, such as USB drives and networks.

Here are AV-Comparatives Malware protection results for Bitdefender.

Chart 5 Bitdefender

Here are AV-Comparatives Malware protection results for McAfee.

Chart 6 McAfee

In the recent AV-Test tests, both brands got all the 6 out of 6 scores for malware protection. In the recent AV-Comparatives evaluations, Bitdefender got the three-star advanced plus rating, while McAfee settled for the two-star advanced rating. They had a 1% difference. For malware protection, both brands got the three-star advanced plus rating.

Winner: Tie

3. System Performance

Bitdefender and McAfee products don’t have a huge system impact. Most of the time, you won’t notice any performance impact unless you are using older devices.

Bitdefender can work with whatever system resources you have by adapting to your system’s hardware and software configurations. Also, most scans utilize cloud technology that doesn’t impact your local resources. Its various performance profiles also ensure you get the best performance regarding your current activity.

McAfee Total Protection is also designed to offer protection without compromising on performance. It continuously performs background scans that are light on resources. Active scans also don’t have significant performance impacts.

To evaluate the impact Bitdefender and McAfee products have on your system performance, we will again rely on independent labs’ results. AV-Test and AV-Comparatives measure the performance impact an antivirus product has on daily computer activities. This is via evaluations of computer activities such as installing programs, launching apps, file operations, browsing, and downloads.

Here are the AV-Test results for Bitdefender products.

Chart 7 Bitdefender

Here are AV-Test results for McAfee.

Chart 8 McAfee

Here are the AV-Comparative results for Bitdefender products.

Chart 9 Bitdefender

Here are AV-Comparatives results for McAfee.

Chart 10 McAfee

From the above results, both brands don’t impact your system resources. In the AV-Test results, they both bagged all the 6 points for system performance. AV-Comparative gave them a three-star advanced plus rating. If you get a higher performance impact while using the products, try to optimize your system.

Winner: Tie

4. User Interface

All Bitdefender products sport the same user-friendly and abstract user interface. Although not much has changed in the recent updates, under the hood changes, make the interface fluid. The main window houses two panels; a thinner left panel for feature categories and a wider right panel where the feature categories expand when clicked. The categories include the Dashboard, Protection, Privacy, Utilities, Notifications, and Settings. 

Bitdefender interface

On the other hand, McAfee’s recent updates are noticeable on its user interface. It is now streamlined and intuitive. The main window opens into a dashboard with three categories. There’s also a status banner at the top for reports and alerts. The categories include PC, Web, and Identity.

Mcafee interface

Generally, both brands sport user-friendly interfaces, well-organized features and functionalities, and navigation and accessibility are done quickly.

Winner: Tie

5. Pricing 

Bitdefender and McAfee offer different competitive pricing plans for their products. The subscriptions carry a 30-day money-back guarantee, and they cover multiple devices. Here are the introductory prices for both brands at the time of this review.

Bitdefender has a base of five subscription plans for its five products. The subscription details are as follows;

  • Bitdefender Antivirus Plus subscription costs $29.99 for 3 devices.
  • Bitdefender Internet Security subscription retails at $34.99 for 3 devices.
  • Bitdefender Total Security subscription goes for $39.98 for 5 devices.
  • Bitdefender Family Pack subscription goes costs $49.99 up to15 devices.
  • Bitdefender Premium Security subscription retails at $64.99 for 10 devices.

McAfee offers three subscription plans for McAfee’s Total Protection three tiers. The plans are as follows;

  • The Single device subscription costs $24.99 per year per device.
  • The Individual/Couple subscription retails at $29.99 per year for 5 devices.
  • The Family subscription goes for $34.99 per year for 10 devices.

Besides the 30-day money-back guarantee, McAfee also offers a 100% virus removal guarantee or your money back.

Winner: Tie

6. Compatibility

Bitdefender offers both cross-platform and platform-specific (Windows) products. McAfee’s Total Protection product is cross-platform. The cross-platform products are compatible with Windows, Macs, Android, and iOS devices. The products for the Windows and Android platforms are well endowed and have the most features.

Macs and iOS devices sport a few features due to their platform limitations. Nonetheless, the base protection is the same as the one on other platforms. Smartphones and tablets get some specific features well-suited for their platforms.

Winner: Tie

Final Thoughts

Both Bitdefender and McAfee offer the best comprehensive protection. Their award-winning antivirus engines protect against a wide array of online and offline threats. Products from both brands are fully-featured on security, privacy, and performance. McAfee’s features are geared towards privacy, while Bitdefender tries to maintain a balance in all aspects.

Both brands don’t compromise system performance, and you get excellent value for your money.

Frequently asked questions

Is Bitdefender good in 2021?

Bitdefender continues to offer one of the best antivirus protection in the market. Its antivirus engine is coupled with many features which ensure you are well protected against threats. Bitdefender is also backed by excellent results from independent labs regarding protection and performance.

Is McAfee worth it in 2021?

McAfee is an excellent antivirus suite, and it also offers impeccable protection against online and offline threats. You should go for this antivirus if you are concerned about your privacy (which you should). McAfee Total Protection offers identity theft protection essentials. Concisely, its searches for the web and checks if your sensitive information has been leaked.

Does Bitdefender slow down your PC?

Unlike most antivirus products that take a toll on your system, Bitdefender products are different. Bitdefender is not resource-hungry, and you won’t notice a significant impact on your performance. This is because Bitdefender adapts to your system resources and hardware configurations.

Which is better, McAfee or Bitdefender?

Among the two, Bitdefender is the best option. This is mainly due to its advanced features for security, privacy, and performance. Nonetheless, both products are well suited for antivirus tasks. They offer robust protection without compromising your performance. They are also cross-platform, and their subscriptions cover multiple devices.

Which Bitdefender product is the best?

We recommend Bitdefender Total Security and Bitdefender Family Pack. Total Security offers an outstanding balance in terms of performance, security, and privacy. Family Pack has all the Total Security perks, and its subscription can cover up to 15 devices. Both products are also cross-platform.

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