Comparing Bitdefender vs ESET – Which is Best for You?

By Conner Sinclair | Antimalware

Last Updated on

When the Internet was still young, viruses weren’t as common as they were today. To be fair, computers weren’t all that sophisticated, and there weren’t nearly as many attack-vectors for hackers to try to crack. These days, however, our computers, laptops, and mobile devices run millions (if not billions) of lines of code.

Bottom Line Up Front: Before going further… My overall pick is Bitdefender which you can pick up on sale here. It’s slightly better than Eset both on price and in terms of system load (it won’t slow your computer down).

Despite advancements in computer technologies and programming, the fact remains that computer code is inherently fallible – it’s just part of life in the digital age. When the Internet started becoming more mainstream and available to the average consumer, the number of feral viruses started growing, giving rise to the need for antivirus software.

Back in the day, there were only a handful of competent antivirus providers. These days, however, there seem to be new antivirus companies popping up like those bothersome critters in the Whack-A-Mole game. As a home user, how are we to know which antivirus companies are heroes, and which are zeros? The last thing you want is a lemon or a dud that fails to adequately protect your system.

To that end, today we’re going to be comparing two of the top antivirus services in the industry: BitDefender and Eset. To start things off, let’s take a look at their pricing models.

Comparing the Pricing

Pricing is rather difficult to compare among providers of digital services for several reasons. First of all, they often use different pricing schemes and may choose to discount rates based on the number of devices a user wishes to secure, the length of subscription terms, and various other factors. Also, it’s worth noting that there always seems to be some sort of promotional sale going on.

Whether it’s Cyber Monday, Black Friday, the holiday season, New Year’s, or other holidays, you never know when each provider is going to discount their prices. Nevertheless, the following reflects Bitdefender’s current pricing model, based on the number of devices and length of subscription:

The following outlines Bitdefender’s pricing model:

Eset’s pricing model is a real pain to understand, because they have created so many different products. That’s both a blessing and a curse. The good news is that since they have custom developed different versions of their software for mobile, Mac, and Windows, their software will run smoother than software that was ported to run on multiple operating systems. The following outlines their pricing model:

I’m really not sure why they decided to make their pricing model so complicated. For instance, even though the prices may be same for Windows and Mac, why don’t they offer longer subscription terms for Windows users? Why offer 5-year pricing for Mac but a maximum of 2-year pricing for Windows?

Some of it just seems to be a contrived mystery to me, which makes it hard to compare pricing. Furthermore, it’s worth noting that they offer a myriad of pricing options for small and medium-sized businesses, as well as multi-platform licenses. And if you just want to test out either provider, note that both BitDefender and Eset offer 30-day free trials.

Key Features Evaluated

Now it’s time to take a closer look at each provider’s features. Again, remember that we’ll be looking at their core antivirus products as opposed to larger packages that include eclectic protection features.

The following outlines the features included with BitDefender’s Antivirus Plus software:

  • Available on Windows
  • Defends against viruses, malware, adware, spyware, Trojans, keyloggers, rootkits, and script-based attacks
  • Intelligent antivirus that defends against threats better than the competition (as evidenced by their claims and lab tests)
  • Safe browsing features that throw warnings when you visit a dangerous URL
  • Ransomware protection
  • Warnings issued when you inadvertently connect to dangerous Wi-Fi networks
  • Secure online banking and payment card transactions
  • Includes an encrypted password manager
  • Harmful link scanner
  • Antiphishing and antifraud features
  • Local vulnerability scanner
  • Free 24/7 support

For comparison, the following outlines Eset’s features included in the antivirus product:

  • Defends against viruses, malware, adware, spyware, Trojans, keyloggers, rootkits, and script-based attacks
  • Available on Windows, mobile devices, and Mac OSX
  • Extremely low impact on system performance
  • Gaming mode to ensure that system resources are given priority to graphics applications
  • Easy to use interface
  • Free 24/7 support

Unfortunately, if you want advanced features with Eset, you’ll need to upgrade to their Internet security package. For instance, the following are include in the Internet Security package, and not the antivirus software:

  • Safe online shopping and secure credit card payments

  • Identity protection
  • Webcam protection
  • Home router protection

Performance Benchmarks and Lab Tests

Both BitDefender and Eset scored better in the real world protection lab test than the majority of other providers. In fact, both made the top 5, which just goes to show you that these two providers are leaders of the pack.

Nevertheless, BitDefender performed marginally better. In fact, BitDefender performed quantifiably better, but only by a 0.3% margin. In the lab test, BitDefender was able to ward off 100% of the viruses thrown at it, while Eset was only able to ward off 99.7%. It’s also worth noting that neither provider issued a false positive in the lab test.

On competency of warding of viruses alone, I don’t think there is such a large difference between these two providers to impact your choice. Remember that no antivirus software is perfect, though the lab tests do provide enlightening benchmarks. It’s also worth noting that Eset had a smaller impact on system performance.

Eset ranked in slot 2 of providers with the smallest impact, while BitDefender ranked number 6. Any way you slice it, I think these two providers are evenly matched in terms of ability to actively defend against viruses while still having as little an impact as possible on the host systems CPU and memory resources.

Final Thoughts: Bitdefender vs ESET

So what does it all boil down to? Which service is better?

Usually it’s a pretty convoluted process trying to narrow down a clear winner. In fact, it’s more common that one provider is better in specific situations, while the other provider is better in opposite situations.

However, this time I think the clear-cut winner is Bitdefender for a couple reasons.

  1. First of all, let’s not forget that Eset and BitDefender are well matched in terms of efficacy and low impact on system performance. That said, BitDefender was a hair better.
  2. Also, BitDefender is cheaper than Eset (full review here!), even if you’re a single user looking at a simple 1-year subscription.
  3. Last but not least, BitDefender (full review here!) includes more features. So in summary, BitDefender is slightly cheaper, works slightly better, and includes more features. Barring bad personal experiences and personal taste regarding the interface, BitDefender seems to be the clear victor.

However, as a final note, I would also like to mention that Eset is by no means a bad provider. In fact, they performed better in lab tests than most other providers, so I don’t mean to belittle them.

How does BitDefender compare to other antiviruses?


About the Author

Conner is a self-professed tech nerd, obsessed with digital security and privacy. He loves debugging "lost causes" and thwarting hackers. When not in his depressing cubicle in Corporate America, he's blogging here.