Bitdefender vs. McAfee 2024: Bitdefender Beats the Competition

Are you a Windows user looking for affordable antivirus software like Bitdefender? Or are you looking for a premium program that allows for unlimited devices like McAfee?
We receive compensation from the products and services mentioned in this story, but the opinions are the author's own. Compensation may impact where offers appear. We have not included all available products or offers. Learn more about how we make money and our editorial policies.

Best for affordability

4.8
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On Bitdefender's website

Bitdefender
  • Antivirus software offering reliable security
  • Simple yet powerful interface tools
  • Perfect protection score in third-party tests
  • Premium features incur additional subscription fees

Best for multiple devices

5.0
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On McAfee's website

All-In-One
McAfee
Save $90 on a 2-year plan
  • Inclusive antivirus, scam, and web protection with the added privacy of a VPN, identity monitoring, and secure password manager
  • Get a real-time Protection Score that measures your online safety and offers guidance to improve security
  • Added peace of mind with 24/7 expert online support and McAfee’s Virus Protection Pledge
  • Multiple pop-ups for text notifications can be annoying

Have you wondered if you should use the best antivirus software? With hundreds of thousands of malware being detected daily, we’d say the answer is a resounding yes. So how do you know which program offers the security functions you need? If you’d like top-level protection with multiple pricing plans for your budget, then Bitdefender or McAfee may be right for you.

Bitdefender is the more affordable antivirus program, offering products from $14.99–$49.99/first yr. But even if you need additional features, like a virtual private network (VPN) and webcam protection, then Bitdefender’s full security suite has your back. McAfee is more expensive, with prices ranging from $39.99–$219.99/yr. However, it comes with additional features, like a password manager and identity monitoring, at every tier.

We’ll cover all the features you get with these two antivirus products, review how they performed in third-party testing, and more to help you determine which best suits your cybersecurity needs.

In this article
Bitdefender vs. McAfee at a glance
Bitdefender vs. McAfee: prices
Bitdefender vs. McAfee: features
Bitdefender vs. McAfee: test results
Bitdefender vs. McAfee: compatibility and ease of use
Bitdefender vs. McAfee: customer service
Bitdefender vs. McAfee FAQs
Bitdefender vs. McAfee: Which is better?

Bitdefender vs. McAfee at a glance

One of the main differences between Bitdefender and McAfee is the plan offerings. Bitdefender is more straightforward; you can choose between the basic Antivirus Plus plan, the Internet Security plan, or the Total Security plan.

McAfee isn’t as clear. There is McAfee Basic, McAfee Essential, and McAfee Plus, but there is also McAfee+ Premium and McAfee+ Advanced. These complicated offerings could drive people away. Yet due to all the available tiers, McAfee provides a more tailored experience, no matter what device you use. It even comes with features like a firewall, web protection, and a VPN for macOS, not just Windows.

Although Bitdefender has plenty of security features, Apple users may feel like outsiders because it offers fewer features for Mac than Windows. For macOS, Bitdefender doesn’t include features like scheduled scans or a firewall.

  • Bitdefender: Best for affordable software with premium add-ons
  • McAfee: Best for multiple devices

Bitdefender vs. McAfee review at a glance


Bitdefender

McAfee
Starting price Starts at $49.99/first yr Starts at $39.99/first yr
Max number of protected devices 10 Unlimited
24/7 customer support
Compatibility Android, iOS, Windows, macOS Android, iOS, Windows, macOS
Free version Yes, for Windows
Phishing protection
Ransomware protection
Ad blocker
Learn more Get Bitdefender

Read Bitdefender Review

Get McAfee

Read McAfee Review

Prices as of 07/27/2023.

Costs can vary greatly with antivirus software; it’s not always cut and dry. For instance, McAfee has multiple plans that range from $29.99-$89.99/first yr. Bitdefender starts at $19.99/first yr but only goes as high as $39.99/first yr for its best tier with more device coverage.

Bitdefender offers a free version for Windows, but McAfee doesn’t have a free version. Although there are numerous McAfee plans, you’ll have to pay at least $24.99/first yr for basic antivirus protection. The maximum number of devices you can protect with Bitdefender is 10, but the McAfee+ subscriptions allow for unlimited devices.

Bitdefender and McAfee have many basic antivirus features in common, like anti-phishing protection and ransomware protection. However, Bitdefender includes an ad blocker with the Total Security plan. McAfee comes with WebAdvisor to guard you against malicious sites, but it does not include an ad blocker.

Bitdefender vs. McAfee: prices

Bitdefender
Best Pricing
McAfee
Price range $14.99–$49.99/first yr $39.99–$219.99/yr
Best value plan Bitdefender Premium VPN for $39.99/first yr McAfee+ Ultimate for $199.99/first yr
Money-back guarantee Yes, 30 days Yes, 30 days
Learn more View Bitdefender Plans

Read Bitdefender Review

View McAfee Plans

Read McAfee Review

Prices as of 07/27/2023.

When it comes to price, there is a big difference between Bitdefender and McAfee. The lowest price McAfee offers is almost as much as the most expensive Bitdefender plan. We picked the Bitdefender Total Security as the best value because you get coverage for five devices, and it offers protection for Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android. The other two options offer security only for Windows, which leaves an entire demographic of users out. And if you don’t like the software, Bitdefender has a 30-day money-back guarantee.

McAfee considers McAfee+ Advanced to be the best value plan because you get unlimited device coverage with more features, like credit monitoring and credit score reports. It costs about $30 more than the next tier down and includes much more for your money. McAfee also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can contact customer service within 30 days if you don’t like the service. After that, you must contact support within 60 days of automatic renewal for one-year subscriptions.

Winner: Bitdefender wins. The pricing is simply more affordable while still including plenty of features.

Bitdefender vs. McAfee: features

Feature Bitdefender
Best Features
McAfee
Manual and scheduled scans
Phishing protection
Ransomware protection
Firewall
Parental controls
Password manager
VPN
Ad blocker
Device optimization tools
Learn more Get Bitdefender

Read Bitdefender Review

Get McAfee

Read McAfee Review

Data as of 07/27/2023.

Bitdefender and McAfee come with standard antivirus features, like manual and scheduled scans, phishing protection, ransomware protection, and a firewall. Both programs also come with extras like a password manager and a VPN. All of McAfee’s plans come with the password manager and the Safe Connect VPN, while Bitdefender users must purchase Total Security for those kinds of features. Bitdefender starts offering parental controls at the Internet Security tier, but you’ll need a McAfee+ family plan for that feature.

Bitdefender also comes with a device optimizer at the Total Security level, while McAfee’s Personal Data Cleanup tool is available only with the McAfee+ plans. You’d have to pay about double the cost of Bitdefender Total Security just to access McAfee’s device optimization tools. Many users like having device optimization tools to speed up performance and have an easy way to trim down on using device resources.

With Bitdefender, you also get a built-in ad blocker that helps keep your device safe from hijacker programs, unwanted toolbars, and unwanted pop-ups. McAfee doesn’t come with an ad blocker. You will get other features, like optional credit score monitoring, but you’ll need McAfee+ Advanced. 

That doesn’t sweeten the pot very much when you consider that many banking apps now show free monthly credit scores. Not having the ad blocker may not be a deal breaker for everyone, but it would be nice to cut down on nuisances and hackers.

Winner: Bitdefender wins again; it comes with extras like parental controls, device optimization, and an ad blocker, which McAfee either lacks or only includes at its most premium tiers.

Bitdefender vs. McAfee: test results

When we review antivirus products, we pay attention to third-party test results. These tests give an objective view of how software holds up against modern malware threats and also pinpoint how it can affect system resources.

For this review, we chose AV-TEST to give us an accurate picture of how Bitdefender and McAfee held up for protection, performance, and usability.

Bitdefender
Best Results
McAfee
Windows score 18/18 18/18
macOS score 18/18 N/A
Android score 18/18 17.5/18
Learn more Get Bitdefender

Read Bitdefender Review

Get McAfee

Read McAfee Review

Bitdefender test scores as of Mar/Apr 2023 for Windows, Mar/2023 for macOS, and May/2023 for Android.

McAfee test scores as of Mar-Apr/2023 for Windows and May/2023 for Android.

Bitdefender had perfect scores across the board. It also scored higher than the industry average protection score for Windows and Android. Bitdefender isn’t taking a backseat when it comes to performance, either. In March and April, it was lower than the industry average when it came to slowing down resources when launching popular websites.

We couldn’t compare macOS scores because McAfee didn’t have any testing available for that platform. For Windows, McAfee had a perfect score. However, the AV-TEST results from April showed that McAfee would slow down system performance by 23% when launching popular websites, which is more than the industry average of 21%.

Winner: Bitdefender wins this round, too. With perfect scores and top malware threat percentages, we were impressed. It's also curious that McAfee has no macOS scores.

Bitdefender vs. McAfee: compatibility and ease of use

Bitdefender McAfee
Windows
macOS
Android
iOS
Browser extensions Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Safari Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Safari
Learn more Get Bitdefender

Read Bitdefender Review

Get McAfee

Read McAfee Review

Reviewed by Patti Croft
Although Bitdefender has plenty of security features, Apple users may feel like outsiders because it offers fewer features for Mac than Windows. For macOS, Bitdefender doesn’t include features like scheduled scans or a firewall.

McAfee’s user interface was easy to navigate, with no noticeable performance issues while in use. You’ll get a large green checkmark upon opening the interface that lets you know your device is secure. The scanning was quick, and real-time scans ran in the background without interrupting our workflow. Some of the identity theft protection features weren’t available on the macOS interface, so we can’t attest to how easy they may be to access.

The McAfee mobile app notifying you that you are secure.

Bitdefender has a simple and user-friendly interface. Everything is easily accessible, and users likely won’t get overwhelmed by the features included. We used multiple web browsers when performing scans with numerous search tabs open and were still able to finish a full system scan in under 40 minutes. Bitdefender does seem to cater more to the Windows ecosystem, and we admit it’s a bit discouraging that Apple users won’t get as many features.

Our initial Bitdefender scan took about 37 minutes to complete. This makes sense for a more thorough first scan, but Bitdefender didn't give us an time estimate ahead of time.

Winner: This one is a tie. Both Bitdefender and McAfee have interfaces that are easy to use, and both have features that won't work with macOS.

Bitdefender vs. McAfee: customer service

Bitdefender McAfee
24/7 live chat
Phone
Email
Support forums
Online guides

Both Bitdefender and McAfee have multiple ways to contact support when you need assistance. Both products offer 24/7 support, no matter your operating system. If you like to try to troubleshoot before asking for help, both have online guides that work as tutorials to help you fix technical and account issues. There are also support forums with responses from a community of other users who can help in a pinch.

We called support with McAfee and found the representative to be helpful and courteous. The call didn’t take much time, as the customer rep was on the phone within 5 minutes. We also placed a call to Bitdefender’s customer support to get some additional information on the features, and the representative was polite and helpful. He was as surprised as we were to find certain features lacking when using macOS.

Winner: Here we have another tie. Both products offer stellar customer service options with something that every user can access.

Bitdefender vs. McAfee FAQs


+

Is Bitdefender free better than McAfee?

Bitdefender free is better than McAfee if you're on a budget or don’t want to pay for antivirus. It may also be a better option if you want optimization tools without paying for them.


+

Do I need McAfee if I have Windows Defender?

Even if you have Windows Defender, you may need McAfee to help protect your device more thoroughly from malware and computer viruses. McAfee can also help secure your network with its included VPN.


+

How do I turn Bitdefender off?

You can turn Bitdefender off under the Advanced tab and then choose your preference under the drop-down menu for keeping it off. Once you do that, click OK to confirm.


+

What is the difference between McAfee Total and Bitdefender Total?

With McAfee Total protection, you can cover up to 10 devices, whereas Bitdefender Total covers only up to five devices.

Bitdefender vs. McAfee: Which is better?

Both Bitdefender and McAfee are good antivirus programs. Bitdefender gives you a reliable, trusted security option with a clean interface and premium features. We would like to see more of those features available to Apple users in the future. McAfee comes with more for Apple users, multiple device support, and tons of plans you can choose from to suit your needs.

Deciding between Bitdefender and McAfee may be a close call, but we think Bitdefender is better. You can try Bitdefender’s free version and purchase paid plans at a better price than McAfee’s while still getting premium features. It’s light on your system, so you won’t notice lag time while you’re busy online doing what you need to do. With additional options like safe online banking, award-winning protection, and anonymous web surfing, we think Bitdefender offers something for everyone.

4.8
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On Bitdefender's website
Bitdefender
  • Antivirus software offering reliable security
  • Simple yet powerful interface tools
  • Perfect protection score in third-party tests
  • Premium features incur additional subscription fees
Author Details
Patti Croft is a seasoned writer who specializes in all things technology. She holds a B.S. in Computer Science and carries a wealth of hands-on experience thanks to her background as a technical analyst and security specialist.