This comprehensive guide was created based on the research of our seasoned experts and the top independent labs in the world so that you could make an informed decision.

We follow the work of four labs that regularly release detailed reports: AV-Test Institute based in Germany, MRG-Effitas, and SE Labs found in the UK as well as AV-Comparatives based in Austria.

AV-Test Institute discovered a record of 64.52 million new malware samples in the first half of 2020. Malicious hackers are now attacking computers and networks at a rate of one attack every 39 seconds.

Using ransomware is one of the highest growing trends among hackers. The payoff is the main reason for it. Ransomware payments are now totaling around $1 billion per year, making them far more lucrative than traditional malware operations.

As you can see, high-grade protection is more critical than ever before.

In this comparison, you’ll see the security products, features, and tools both companies offer. We look at how they stack up against each other re

Here are the most important factors that we’ve compared:

  • Protection
  • Performance
  • Usability
  • Features
  • Pricing

You need to be able to protect yourself against any digital threats, so you don’t have to deal with these kinds of problems ever in your life.

So let’s dive right in.

A quick overview of results

If you’re in a bit of a hurry or don’t feel like diving into all those nerdy statistics, you’re in the right place. We have compiled a handy overview of the results.

  • Protection

    Two independent labs found that Bitdefender offers better protection than McAfee. AV-Test even gave Bitdefender a perfect 100% protection score.

  • Performance

    Bitdefender may cause some slow-down while launching popular websites. McAfee, on the other hand, showed above average results in every test.

  • Usability

    Both products have an easy-to-use interface and just some small problems with false reporting. We have to call this round a tie.

  • Features

    Bitdefender and McAfee offer entry-level products with main features as well as complete bundles with everything you'll ever need.

  • Pricing

    Both Bitdefender and McAfee are very reasonably priced. You get exactly what you pay for. Bitdefender offers lower price points with entry-level products, but the top-end options are priced a bit higher. It all comes down to what you're looking for.

The short verdict

Bitdefender is better than McAfee because it offers higher levels of protection. McAfee does perform a bit better, but security is ultimately the most important part of antivirus software.

  1. Overall winner
    Bitdefender Antivirus logo

    Bitdefender

    Since 2001, Bitdefender innovation has consistently delivered award-winning security products and threat intelligence for people, homes, businesses, devices, networks, and cloud services.

  2. A close second
    McAfee Antivirus logo

    McAfee

    Though McAfee had a bit of trouble with few samples, its virus definition database is updated frequently, at least once a day. But more importantly, McAfee offers all-around protection, minimal impact on system performance, and great features for a reasonable price.

    Special offer 56% offGet the best dealFrom $34,99 / year

Detailed results

Analyzing side-by-side comparisons is one of the best ways to choose the best product. If you love to get to know every detail, before you buy a product, you’ve come to the right place. We will dive deep into the details that we uncovered during our research. Let’s see everything we learned when we put Bitdefender and McAfee head-to-head. The contenders were compared in 5 categories using data gathered by our experts and test results of top independent testing facilities.

So let’s see what’s what.

Protection

There is no doubt that the ability to protect your computer against viruses and other malware is the most important part of any antivirus software. The latest tests indicate that one of our competitors does that a bit better than the other.

Let’s compare the test results of two labs, AV-Test and AV-Comparatives so that you can see for yourself.

AV-Test put both software up against 402 samples of 0-day malware attacks and 20606 samples of malware in four weeks.

While Bitdefender showed a clean 100% result in both protection and detection, McAfee had problems with some of the samples. That resulted in a 99.1% protection score.

Industry average Bitdefender McAfee
Protection against 0-day malware attacks, inclusive of web and email threats

402 samples used

Detection of widespread and prevalent malware discovered in the last 4 weeks

20606 samples used

Source: av-test.org

AV-Comparatives tested the Real-Life Protection and found that Bitdefender protected against 99,3% of threats while McAfee blocked 98,9% of threats. The results are based on the test set of 754 live test cases – malicious URLs found in the field. They consist of working exploits (i.e., drive-by downloads) and URLs pointing directly to malware.

Bitdefender McAfee
Blocked
Compromised
Protection rate

Source: av-comparatives.org

As you can see, both labs found that Bitdefender offers better protection than McAfee.

Winner: Bitdefender

Performance

The second most important aspect to consider when choosing antivirus software is its performance ability. That means how seamlessly it runs on your computer. The less toll it takes on its ability to perform, the better. Trying to load websites or open applications when the computer keeps slowing down can get quite infuriating.

Let’s see how the two competitors hold up against each other in that regard.

AV-Test lab research shows that Bitdefender performs quite nicely while installing frequently used applications, but may cause some slow-down launching popular websites. McAfee has no problems with launching sites. It shows better than average results in every single test.

Industry average Bitdefender McAfee
Slowing-down when launcing popular websites

50 websites visited

Slower download of frequently-used applications

20 downloaded files

Slower launch of standard software

12 test cases applied

Slower installation of frequently-used applications

19 installed applications

Slower copying of files (locally and in a network)

7388 files copied

Source: av-test.org

If you’re looking for a seamless experience, you’ll have to opt for McAfee. It shows excellent results. Still, keep in mind that Bitdefender is faster when installing applications.

Winner: McAfee

Usability

The usability of antivirus software can be measured in two aspects. The first is its interface and how easy it is to use. The second is the software’s false reporting. If false reports keep popping up left and right, you can’t properly use your computer. That’s why we put the products head-to-head in both aspects.

First, let’s compare the interfaces.

Bitdefender offers a modern and easy to understand application with an intuitive design. Compared to some of the competitors, it has a bit more information on the home screen. Still, the important things stand out, and everything can be found in a heartbeat.

On the left side of the window, you can find a menu for different modules.

The first is the dashboard that is basically the home screen and gives you an overview of everything that is going on. There’s a big status message on the top, letting you know if your computer is safe. You can also start a quick scan there, open the VPN, safepay, and add other devices you wish to keep safe. There’s also an option to add a customized quick action.

If you check back to the right, you’ll find the protection module, where you can see if your device is protected and if the program is up to date. You are also able to start a quick scan or a vulnerability scan from there.

If you go through the options on the left, you are presented with privacy, utilities, notifications, your account, setting, and support.

Bitdefender User Interface

McAfee offers a sleek, simple, and easy-to-use client intuitive for anyone who has used computers before.

Everything is well laid out, and you can easily find anything you’re trying to find.

At the top of the window, you get five tabs: Home, PC Security, PC Performance, My Privacy, and My Info. There are also icons for alerts, tips, and settings in the top-right corner.

Home is your basic dashboard for the application.

PC Security is a deeper dive into the status of your computer. At any time, it shows you if your computer is secure or if it has identified any threats. It also keeps you in the loop of how many apps, web connections, and background processes it is protecting.

On the bottom of the window, you can start a scan for viruses, update apps, use safe browsing, and remove cookies and trackers there. In the center of the window, you can also start a scan by choosing between a full scan and a quick scan.

The left part of the window shows which sections of the security engine are running as needed – real-time scanning, firewall, automatic updates, and scheduled scans.

Mcafee User Interface Screenshot

Now let’s dive into false reporting.

AV-Test also conducts usability tests that show if any false reports show up when using the software. Results indicate that both options have some problems with false reporting. Still, just a few false notifications don’t really change the user experience that much.

Industry average Bitdefender McAfee
False warnings or blockages when visiting websites

500 samples used

False detections of legimate software as malware during a system scan

964 585 samples used

False warnings concerning certain actions carried out whilst installing and using legitimate software

87 samples used

False blockages of certain actions carried out whilst installing and using legitimate software

87 samples used

Source: av-test.org

As both products have an easy-to-use interface and just some small problems with false reporting, we have to call this round a tie. If it’s important to you, keep in mind that McAfee had one more false report than Bitdefender. We’d like to think that one false notification doesn’t really play that much of a role, as much as the results are better than the industry average.

Winner: It’s a tie

Features

Bitdefender and McAfee offer a wide variety of options and features for you to choose between. There are entry-level products and big bundles available as well. Something for every need.

Let’s first see what Bitdefender has to offer.

Bitdefender offers a wide variety of security products for PC, Mac, Android, and iOS users. They also can provide multiple services for their clients, ranging from install and setup to computer tune-up.

Bitdefender’s entry-level product for PCs is called Bitdefender Antivirus Plus and it offers essential antivirus protection. The Mac version of the same product is called Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac. It promises absolute antivirus protection against all Mac-related threats.

The lightweight software also offers multi-layer ransomware protection, as well as blocks and removes annoying adware. The software prevents phishing and online fraud when shopping and browsing. You’ll also get a secure VPN for complete online privacy, including 200 MB of traffic a day.

The only thing the Mac version offers, that the PC version doesn’t, is the additional Time Machine protection for your backed-up files in case of a ransomware attack. If you compare the two products the other way, you can see that PC users get a lot more than the Mac users.

Here’s a list of all the features that are only available with the PC version:

  • Advanced Threat Defense that uses a technique called behavioral detection to closely monitor active apps. The moment it detects anything suspicious, it takes instant action to prevent infections.
  • A new cyber threat intelligence network threat prevention technologies that can analyze and identify suspicious network-level activities and block sophisticated exploits, malware, or botnet-related URLs, as well as brute force attacks.
  • Advanced aunty fraud filtering system warns you whenever you visit websites that may try to scam you.
  • Safe Files that can prevent unauthorized changes to your most important files. You can simply add folders to the watch list, and Bitdefender guards the files stored in them against ransomware and other types of malware. Only applications you explicitly trust are allowed to access your Safe Files.

These examples are only from the protection features. Bitdefender also offers performance features such as Global Protective Network, Battery Mode, as well as Game, Movie & Work Modes for PC. There is also safe online banking, WiFi security advisor, social network protection, vulnerability assessment, a Password manager, and a file shredder features available to PC users.

If you use more than one computer, the PC version is available for up to 10 devices. The Mac option can be purchased for only up to 3 devices. A 30-day free trial is available for both PC and Mac.

Bitdefender Internet Security is a mid-tier option available to only PC users. Its threat detection is designed to keep all Internet threats away.

It comes with a privacy firewall to block intrusions, filter your network traffic, and provides webcam and microphone protection to prevent eavesdropping.

A secure VPN with 200MB daily traffic is also included to protect your bank info, passwords, and downloads from hackers when you use public WiFi networks.

Bitdefender Internet Security also comes with parental control options so you can be sure that your children stay safe while browsing. Filter out inappropriate content and limit screen time. You can also log in remotely to Bitdefender Central to keep up with your kids.

Bitdefender also offers two different bundle options.

The first is Bitdefender Total Security and is available for PCs, Macs, Androids and iOS devices. You can choose between 5 and 10 device options.

The software bundle offers top-grade protection both off and online as well as a secure VPN for up to 200 MB of traffic a day and advanced parental controls.

It is basically everything Bitdefender has to offer to keep you safe.

There is also another bundle option available for people who are heavy computer users.

In addition to everything covered before, Bitdefender Premium Security offers you unlimited VPN traffic and priority support. So every time you have a question, you’ll get a quick answer. This bundle is only available for up to 10 devices.

View all Bitdefender products

Now let’s take a look at what McAfee has to offer.

McAfee’s antivirus is called McAfee Total Protection, and it works on Windows, macOS, Android, as well as on iOS. It is the company’s flagship product and also the most popular option available.

It offers three distinct options depending on how many devices you want to use it for.

There is a Single Device option that you get to use for only 1 device. With this option you’ll get its antivirus capabilities that let you protect your computer and personal information from hackers and criminals.

The Secure VPN is also available when you’re enrolled in auto-renewal to keep your personal information and online habits private with their bank-grade encryption. Performance Optimization features block auto-play videos on websites and minimize bandwidth usage while Home Network Security secures your firewall and blocks hackers from accessing your home network.

You’ll also get the Password Manager to store and manage all your online passwords in a single location and Safe Web Browsing lets you browse confidently knowing risky sites will be blocked. The Encrypted Storage keeps sensitive files private by storing them on your PC with 256-bit AES encryption.

All Total Protection options offer security experts online support to get technical assistance and peace of mind from their team and support knowledge-base.

When you go for the Individual & Couples option, you get to use the software on up to 5 devices. An extra layer of online protection is made available as well, called Identity Theft Protection.

The Family package adds support for up to 10 devices and the Safe Family feature so you can get peace of mind knowing your kids are protected online.

McAfee also offers another antivirus option called McAfee LiveSafe. This software is only available as one bundle and offers cross-device protection. You’ll get the same protection. The main difference is that thanks to the next-gen scanning engine that offers real-time malware protection, it provides all-around security for your identity and data across all your devices. The Secure Cloud Storage feature that safeguards your cloud-based folders, is also included.

Another product in McAfee’s lineup is McAfee Gamer Security that makes the gaming experience even better. It has a Game Boost Engine that squeezes more performance out of your rig and ensures games stay prioritized over background applications. You’ll also get to monitor your computer’s performance in real-time thanks to a dashboard like in your car. You’ll get immediate access to and control over how your rig is performing.

The company gives you access to separate products like McAfee Safe Connect VPN, McAfee Safe Family, McAfee WebAdvisor, and McAfee Identity Theft Protection as well. But if you go for the antivirus bundles, you’ll get these features anyways.

View all McAfee products

The list of features is long for both Bitdefender and McAfee. Both software options have anti-malware and VPN abilities. That is why we have to call it a tie.

Winner: It’s a tie

Pricing

When deciding which option to go with, price always plays an important part. You have to take all the details into account to make the best decision. When investing in antivirus software, you are not purchasing an application but rather an ease-of-mind that your digital life is in safe hands.

So let’s see which price points are offered by both products. Here are the prices of both Bitdefender and McAfee products.

Bitdefender offers four different levels of protection for you with its products. You can buy its antivirus and privacy products separately or as a bundle.

  1. Bitdefender Antivirus logo

    Bitdefender Antivirus Plus

    A lightweight antivirus that offers essential protection for 1 to 10 PCs.

  2. Bitdefender Antivirus logo

    Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac

    A lightweight antivirus that offers essential protection 1 to 3 Macs.

  1. Bitdefender Antivirus logo

    Bitdefender Internet Security

    An Internet security suite that protects your Windows PC against all online threats.

  2. Bitdefender Antivirus logo

    Bitdefender Total Security

    Complete protection for all your devices that goes beyond antivirus & anti-malware software. For up to 10 devices.

  3. Bitdefender Antivirus logo

    Bitdefender Premium Security

    Premium security and privacy pack for absolute digital freedom – protection, unlimited VPN traffic, and priority support. For 10 devices.

We would suggest you to choose between three options if you decide to go with McAfee. For an everyday user – Total Protection, for an active online user – Livesafe and for a gaming ring – Gamer Security.

  1. McAfee Antivirus logo

    McAfee Total Protection

    Premium antivirus, safe web browsing, and password manager with VPN & ID theft protection.

    Special offer 56% offGet the best dealFrom $34,99 / year
  2. McAfee Antivirus logo

    McAfee LiveSafe

    Ultimate all-round protection for all your devices – PCs, Macs, smartphones, and tablets.

    Special offer 67% offGet the best deal $39,99 / year
  3. McAfee Antivirus logo

    McAfee Gamer Security

    A faster, quieter, safer gaming experience with performance-enhancing technologies and renowned security.

    Special offer 20% offGet the best deal $39,99 / year

Both Bitdefender and McAfee are very reasonably priced. Bitdefender offers lower price points with entry-level products, but the top-end options are priced a bit higher. It all comes down to what you’re looking for.

We think that you can’t consider price without taking into account everything you get for it. And these two companies offer exactly the right price for everything you get. That’s also the reason we have to call this category a tie as well.

Winner: It’s a tie

Final Thoughts

This was quite a battle. We haven’t seen anything so neck-to-neck, since we put AVG vs Avast head-to-head. Still, we’d like to say that the winner is Bitdefender because of its protection scores. After all, it is the most important part of antivirus.

Keep in mind that we give our best to get you all the facts so you can make an informed decision about the best option. After all, you are the one that is going to use the software. We hope this review has been helpful to you.

  1. Overall winner
    Bitdefender Antivirus logo

    Bitdefender

    Since 2001, Bitdefender innovation has consistently delivered award-winning security products and threat intelligence for people, homes, businesses, devices, networks, and cloud services.