This comprehensive comparison is created based on the research of our seasoned experts and the top independent labs in the world. This way, you can make an informed choice, making a tough decision a bit easier.

We follow 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.

The total of malicious programs has increased from 597 million to 1.05 billion in the last five years. Malwarebytes says that the sophistication of threat capabilities in 2019 increased.

Ransomware attacks are on the rise as well. Ransomware is malware that locks your files and data so hackers can release it when you pay the ransom. Emisoft says that US ransomware attacks cost an estimated $7.5 billion in 2019.

So you can see that the stakes are pretty high when it comes to digital security.

In this comparison, you’ll see the security products, features, and tools both companies offer, as well as how they stack up against each other regarding malware protection, system performance, user interface, cost, and more.

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

  • Protection
  • Performance
  • Usability
  • Features
  • Pricing

That way, you can protect yourself against any digital threats and never have to pay hackers to get your precious files and photos back.

So let’s dive right in.

A quick overview of results

If in-detail specs and stats don’t interest you, and you’d just like to get a clear idea, what’s what, you’re in the right place. We have done a small overview of the results in each category.

  • Protection

    While McAfee's results were nearly perfect, Malwarebytes showed below industry average test results.

  • Performance

    When it comes to installing and launching applications, Malwarebytes is one of the worst performers in the industry. At the same time, all McAfee results are above average.

  • Usability

    McAfee and Malwarebytes have easy-to-use interfaces. When it comes to false reporting, Malwarebytes does a bit better.

  • Features

    The list of extra features seems long for both McAfee and Malwarebytes. Still, McAfee offers some extras like SafeFamily and WebAdvisor that Malwarebytes doesn't have.

  • Pricing

    McAfee gives you all-around protection with the price of an entry-level product. At the same time, Malwarebytes' bundle will set you back a considerable amount.

A short conclusion

McAfee is a superior option with better protection, performance figures, features, and pricing. While Malwarebytes did a bit better with false reporting, it seems like a few false reports would be better than a few viruses.

  1. Overall winner
    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 - up to 63% offGet the best dealFrom $34.99 / year
  2. The other choice
    Malwarebytes Antivirus logo

    Malwarebytes

    Malwarebytes offers an excellent user interface and is easy to operate. The downsides are its protection abilities and performance issues.

    Visit websiteFrom $39.99 / year

Detailed results

If a short overview and quick summaries aren’t for you, we’re happy to dive into the details. We put McAfee and Malwarebytes head-to-head in all the categories using data gathered by our experts and test results of top independent testing facilities.

Let’s see which of the software came out on top.

Protection

Protection against malware is undoubtedly the most crucial part of any antivirus software. In the last tests, McAfee and Malwarebytes showed results that differed from one another quite a lot.

We usually compare the test results of many labs, but unfortunately, Malwarebytes is only tested by AV-Test, so let’s see what the results show.

In the last tests, AV-Test put both software up against 402 samples of 0-day malware attacks and 20606 samples of malware for four weeks.

McAfee tested a high 99.1% result in protection and a clean 100% in detection. Malwarebytes, on the other hand, showed below industry average result with 95,9% in protection and 99,8% in detection.

Industry average McAfee Malwarebytes
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

As you can see, test results show that McAfee offers higher-grade security than its rival Malwarebytes.

Winner: McAfee

Performance

We now know which one of our competitors protects you better. Let’s see how much of a toll that protection takes on your computer. Some antivirus software are known to run pretty smoothly while some use up too much of the computing power.

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

AV-Test independent research shows that McAfee performs better than the industry average in almost every aspect. Launching standard applications was the only test that yielded the same result as the industry average.

Malwarebytes shows reasonably good results when launching popular websites. When it comes to installing and launching applications, it takes a considerable toll on your computer. Not the best outcome for Malwarebytes.

Industry average McAfee Malwarebytes
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

Because of the toll, Malwarebytes puts on your computer while installing and launching applications, we have to announce McAfee as the winner.

Winner: McAfee

Usability

When deciding how usable an antivirus software is, we have to take a look at two aspects. The first is its interface and how easy it is to use. The second is the software’s false reporting. Error notifications that start popping up each time you open a perfectly virus-free photo or document prevent you from doing anything on a computer.

First, let’s compare the interfaces.

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.

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

Mcafee User Interface Screenshot

Malwarebytes offers a modern and easy to understand application that is intuitive in its design as well. Colors are natural on the eyes, and everything can be found in a heartbeat.

The main window shows your device’s status and gives you an option to update the bundle if you need protection for more than one device.

On the left, you can see Detection History that shows the results of the last scan and items quarantined.

In the middle of the bottom portion, you can find Scanner and see when the next scan is scheduled. There is also a button for you to start a scan if you wish to do so.

On the right is the Real-Time Protection section that lets you know what features are turned on. You can turn on and off Web Protection, Malware & PUP Protection, Ransomware Protection, and Exploit Protection.

Notifications, settings, and information are in the top right corner of the main window.

Malwarebytes User Interface Screenshot

Now let’s dive into false reporting.

AV-Test laboratories also gather information on false reporting. Results show that McAfee had some problems, and a few incorrect notifications showed up. Malwarebytes had only one false notification pop up.

Industry average McAfee Malwarebytes
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

Both software have easy to use interfaces, and everyone who has used a computer before can navigate them. When it comes to false reporting, these kinds of small numbers really don’t impact usability too much for everyday users. Still, as Malwarebytes did a bit better, we have to call it the winner

Winner: Malwarebytes

Features

McAfee and Malwarebytes have long lists of features. Both offer these features in pretty logical lineups. With McAfee, you can get almost every feature independently as well.

Let’s dig into the features of McAfee first.

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

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

Malwarebytes offers antivirus for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, and Chromebook. There is also a free version of Malwarebytes. Still, you can only use it to clean up an already infected computer.

The paid version is called Malwarebytes Premium and offers different features based on the device you use.

The Windows version protects your identity and privacy from hackers as well as your documents and financial files from ransomware. It also includes security against malicious and fraudulent websites and offers malware protection.

If you use an Apple computer, Malwarebytes offers protection against viruses, spyware, and malware and blocks adware and unwanted programs. Mac users also get notifications if they are about to open apps from developers of unwanted software.

You can buy the software for only one device or up to 5 devices.

The new addition to the product family is Malwarebytes Privacy. It helps protect your online privacy, secures your WiFi connection, and delivers speeds way faster than older VPNs.

It helps keep your connection secure with 256-bit encryption and uses a newer and faster VPN protocol to get all the benefits of a VPN with less lag.

The Privacy software can stop advertisers and websites using your IP address to track your activity across sites by assigning you a virtual IP address.

You can also use it to make it appear like you’re connecting to the Internet from a different country so you can view new content.

Malwarebytes also offers its products a discounted bundle called Malwarebytes Premium Bundle, where you get both Premium antivirus and Privacy as one package. You can use it on up to 5 devices.

View all Malwarebytes products

The list of extra features seems long for both McAfee and Malwarebytes. Both software options have anti-malware and VPN abilities. Still, McAfee offers some extras like SafeFamily and WebAdvisor that Malwarebytes doesn’t have.

Winner: McAfee

Pricing

Whenever you spend money, it’s good to keep in mind what you are really investing in. With antivirus software, you are not buying an application but rather an ease-of-mind that your digital life is in safe hands.

Let’s see what the price points are that this ease-of-mind comes in. Here are the prices of both McAfee and Malwarebytes products.

  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 - 33% offGet the best deal $39.99 / year

Malwarebytes offers a few options for its products. You can buy its antivirus and privacy products separately or as a bundle.

  1. Malwarebytes Antivirus logo

    Malwarebytes Premium

    Malwarebytes is smarter, faster, and lighter than ever before. Go beyond antivirus and stop worrying about online threats.

    Visit websiteFrom $39.99 / year
  2. Malwarebytes Antivirus logo

    Malwarebytes Privacy

    Next-generation VPN helps protect your online privacy, secures your WiFi connection, and delivers speeds way faster than older VPNs.

    Special offer - 34% offGet the best deal $49.99 / year
  3. Malwarebytes Antivirus logo

    Malwarebytes Premium Bundle

    All the antivirus capabilities with an added VPN to give you all-round protection both offline and online.

    Visit website $74.99 / year

McAfee gives you all-around protection with the price of an entry-level product. McAfee Total Protection and McAfee LiveSafe are both reasonably priced. At the same time, Malwarebytes Premium Bundle will set you back a considerable amount.

Winner: McAfee

Final Thoughts

McAfee offers better protection and is undoubtedly the right choice if you don’t want to put too much of a toll on your computer’s ability to perform. Its different options are more reasonably priced as well. Still, Malwarebytes did a bit better with false reporting. But it seems like a few false reports would be better than a few viruses.

Keep in mind that we give our best to get you all the facts so you can make an informed decision for what is the best option for you. 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
    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 - up to 63% offGet the best dealFrom $34.99 / year

Top 3 best antivirus software in 2020

  • Norton Antivirus logo

    The best protection, performance, and usability you can get.

    Special offer - up to 60% offGet the best dealFrom $29.99 / year
  • Avira Antivirus logo

    Professional grade protection for home users.

    Visit websiteFrom $34.95 / year
  • Kaspersky Antivirus logo

    High-level of protection with low impact on performance.

    Special offer - 50% offGet the best dealFrom $25.99 / year