Antivirus software is essential for protecting you while you are online. With more sophisticated threats developing today, choosing the right software is important. McAfee and ESET are widely renowned for offering exceptional protection to consumers and businesses alike, but which one is best?
In this comparison, I will look at McAfee Total Protection and ESET Premium Protection to determine which one is best for the consumer. To do this, I will use my own tests and findings to figure out which one is best at protecting against malware threats. To add further insight, I will also look at some independent tests.
Protection isn’t the only thing I’ll take into consideration. I will also be looking at McAfee and ESET additional features, useability, and price points, as these are also important things to consider when choosing the best antivirus software.
If you want the short version and don’t have enough time to read the full comparison, McAfee is my choice. This is due to its excellent privacy and security coverage and valuable features such as the McAfee Shredder.
If you would like the in-depth version to decide for yourself, read on through the comparison to see what I found.
Summary: McAfee vs ESET
- Multi-faceted privacy protection
- Comprehensive security
- McAfee Shredder
- Secure data encryption
- Safeguards your privacy
- Minimal power usage
|Antivirus and Antispyware|
|Web protection/anti phishing|
|PC Cloud Backup|
|Banking and Payment Protection|
|Network Attack Protection|
|Secure data encryption|
|Automatically update apps|
|Identity Theft Protection|
BEST DEAL FOR McAfee:Save 30% on a 2-year McAfee plan and protect up to 10 devices.
BEST DEAL FOR ESET:Get ESET for as little as $14.99 and enjoy a powerful yet affordable Antivirus.
McAfee is an American company founded in 1987. During the past 30 years, McAfee has grown to more than 7,000 employees in 189 countries. Today, the company protects over 525 million consumer endpoint devices.
ESET has grown from a small, dynamic company into a global brand over the past three decades. With more than 110 million users in 200 countries, it is fair to say ESET has proven itself as a reliable partner in the fight against cybercrime and protecting devices against online threats.
Pricing and compatibility
Whatever your budget, many antivirus programs offer competitive prices with huge discounts on your first year of purchasing. ESET and McAfee are no different. Prices for ESET start at $14.99 (for Android-only device protection) and go up to $59.99 for its Smart Security Premium package. McAfee gives you the option of basing your plan on how many devices you want to protect. For one device the price starts at $89.99 and goes up to $109.99 for the protection of 5 devices.
|No value||McAfee Total Protection Basic||McAfee Total Protection Plus||McAfee Total Protection Premium||McAfee Total Protection Advanced|
|First year price||$34.99||39.99||$49.99||$89.99|
|No value||ESET NOD32 Antivirus||ESET Internet Security||ESET Smart Security Premium||ESET Mobile Security for Android||ESET Cyber Security||ESET Cyber Security Pro|
|First year price||$39.99||$49.99||$59.99||$14.99||$39.99||$49.99|
To persuade you to buy, both ESET and McAfee offer discounts at the time of writing. McAfee is offering an $70 discount on its McAfee Total Protection Plus for 10 devices, and the other plans also have similar discounts. However, ESET only offers a $20 discount if you purchase for two years, which is not as enticing as McAfee’s big $80 discount.
If you find that the software is not right for you, both ESET and McAfee offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, which is great if you find the software not to your standards.
Both McAfee and ESET work with Windows, macOS, and Android devices.
Effectiveness against malware
Threats online are getting more and more sophisticated and complex, so having the right protection is imperative for your devices, but which one offers the best protection? I have consulted a number of tests, both my own and independent benchmarking tests, to help clarify ESET and McAfee’s malware detection rates.
I wanted to do my own tests to check for malware threats in real-time, rather than waiting until a scheduled scan was due. The live sample data is shown in the table below under ‘Live Sample 1, 2, or 3’. I also downloaded some sample malware files from The European Institute for Computer Antivirus Research (EICAR). I turned off real-time detection and ran a full system scan and a quick scan to see how well the malware was detected and quarantined. This is shown in the table under ‘EICAR Sample’.
|Eicar Sample 1||Blocked||Blocked|
|Eicar Sample 2||Blocked||Blocked|
|Eicar Sample 3||Blocked||Blocked|
|Eicar Sample 4||Blocked||Blocked|
|Live Sample 1 (Adware)||Blocked||Blocked|
|Live Sample 2 (Trojan)||Blocked||Blocked|
|Live Sample 3 (Trojan)||Blocked||Blocked|
As you can see from the table above, both McAfee and ESET both detected the threats and blocked them straight away.
This is the same for the EICAR samples and the live samples.
I also wanted to verify my findings and see if they were similar to some other independent tests from AV-Test and AV-Comparatives. In AV-Test’s latest malware protection test, in March 2020 ESET scored 99.1 percent and in April scored higher at 99.5 percent. McAfee scored lower in March at 95.4 percent and in April 99 percent, a little lower than ESET.
AV-Comparative’s March 2020 findings also showed similar results with ESET scoring 99 percent whereas McAfee nearly scored perfectly at 99.93 percent.
When searching for the best protection for your device, it is also important to consider false alarms—non-malware files flagged as malware. In March 2020, AV-Comparative found that ESET picked up two alarms and McAfee picked up a huge 25 false alarms. The lower the false alarms the better, as they can be an annoyance for the user.
Both ESET and McAfee have near similar scores for their malware protection. However, where they differ is in the false alarm test.
Impact on PC performance
Having a large antivirus program installed on your device can often cause issues with your PC performance, especially when running scans. To find out which one has the smallest impact on PC performance, I performed a full scan and quick scan. ESET does not have a quick scan setting, so I was unable to perform this. In the table below I have shown my findings.
|Full Scan Time (minutes)||223||68|
|Full Scan # Items Scanned||785000||930,000|
|Full Scan CPU Utilization %||100||68|
|Full Scan Memory Utilization %||75||70|
|Full Scan Disk Utilization (seconds)||253||510|
|Control CPU Utilization % (no scan)||12||32|
|Control Memory Utilization % (no scan)||10||63|
|Control Disk Utilization (seconds) (no scan)||66||17|
|Quick Scan Time (seconds)||633||N/A|
|Quick Scan CPU Utilization %||39||N/A|
|Quick Scan Memory Utilization %||77||N/A|
|Quick Scan Disk Utilization %||912||N/A|
The table shows that ESET was quicker at just 68 minutes for a full scan and scanned many more items compared to McAfee.
I also recorded how my PC’s resources were affected by both antivirus programs during the full scan and also when not performing a scan on my PC.
Surprisingly, McAfee has a smaller impact on my PC performance, with 12 percent CPU utilization when no scan was taking place, to ESET’s 32 percent. The full scan disk utilization also came out with McAfee on top at 253 mb/s, compared to ESET’s 510 mb/s.
As with the malware protection tests, I again looked at some independent tests run by AV-Comparatives. The test shows how each antivirus software impacts PC performance during eight common tasks:
- Downloading files
- Browsing Websites
- File Copying: first and subsequent run
- Installing/uninstalling applications
- Launching applications: first and subsequent run
Each task is given a rating ranging between very fast and slow.
In the AV-Comparatives Performance Test from April 2020, ESET came out with a rating of fast for file copying on its first run, with the other tasks all being performed very fast. McAfee came out with a very fast score for all eight common tasks, giving McAfee a slight edge over ESET.
Other than the scanner itself, many antivirus programs offer additional features to make you pick them over another competitor. You will see below that I’ve outlined the features of both McAfee and ESET to see if they are alike and picked some standout features from both.
- Performance Optimization
- Home Network Security
- Security Experts and Online Support
- Multi-device Compatibility
- Password Manager
- Safe Web Browsing
- File Shredder
- Encrypted Storage
- Identity Theft Protection
- Multi-platform protection
- Safeguard your privacy
- Enjoy premium features
- Legendary antivirus technology
- Privacy protection
- Minimal power usage
- Install and forget
Here are the feature highlights for both:
- Password Manager: Store all your online passwords safely in a single location on your device.
- McAfee Shredder: This is a useful tool to enable you to delete sensitive files to ensure no traces are left behind.
- Encrypted Storage: Keep sensitive files private by storing them on your PC with 256-bit AES encryption.
- Privacy Protection – Stop hackers misusing your passwords, to ensure your bank and purchases are safe.
- Anti Theft- The anti-theft locates your missing computer in case it gets lost or stolen, and will also identify thieves via your laptop’s built-in camera.
- Minimal Power Usage- ESET has many features to allow you to play, work and browse without slowdowns. The gamer mode allows you to auto switch to silent mode if any program is run in full-screen, while system updates and notifications are postponed to save resources.
Sign up and installation
The signup and installation process for both ESET and McAfee is simple and easy. When selecting the appropriate package for you, McAfee takes you to a separate page, where it outlines your savings clearly and the price to pay. It also lets you know that they will send a reminder email 30 days before auto-renewal in case you want to cancel.
ESET also clearly outlines its price and gives you a clear comparison between all the different products it offers. At checkout, you can also add extra features such as VPN encryption, whereas McAfee does not offer any added features to add to the antivirus cover. There is also a toggle to opt for a monthly or yearly subscription with a breakdown of the price, which is really handy if you don’t want to be tied in the long term.
How easy is the interface to use?
Most antivirus interfaces are easy and simple to use. Below are some screenshots for the dashboard of ESET and McAfee that you will regularly see if you decide to purchase.
ESET’s interface is very clean with a minimalist logo, font, and graphics, almost giving it a futuristic feel.
The robot graphic hints at the program’s strong defenses and advanced learning capabilities to find the latest threats. There’s a handy toolbar on the left-hand side that allows you to quickly jump to the most important tools included in the software. They include running a scan of the device and the program set up where you can customize what you want it to do.
The status of your device is displayed in a simple but effective way. A green bar will display if everything is fine with your machine while the bar will turn yellow or red depending on the severity of the issue should something be found during a scan.
McAfee is similar to ESET, informing you if you are protected and highlighting how many apps, web connections, and background processes are protected. The color scheme is red and grey and everything is laid out clearly and simply for easy navigation.
Having reliable customer support for any software is important, especially when the software comes at a high cost to you.
ESET has good online resources for customers to troubleshoot any issues that arise. This takes the form of FAQs, guides, a knowledge base, and videos to guide you through common fixes. If you need to get in touch with someone from the support team, it’s easy to do that via email or the online support ticket system. Should you prefer to speak to someone on the phone, that option is available between 6am and 5pm for customers in the United States.
McAfee offers phone and live chat support. Technicians are available via these contact methods 24/7 so you can get support around the clock. There is also a knowledge base, forum, and support hub. McAfee gives contact details for its social channels on Twitter and Facebook. One thing I liked about McAfee’s support is that they guarantee to keep your system malware-free and provide technicians to access and fix your device if needed.
McAfee vs ESET Conclusion
In conclusion, both McAfee and ESET are superb pieces of antivirus software and have excellent protection rates. I feel that McAfee has the edge in additional features, with secure storage, a password manager, and a file shredder. Another plus for McAfee is customer support, with a guarantee to keep your system malware-free. In terms of performance and protection, both are level with each other, offering superb protection for your device. Overall, my winner is McAfee for its outstanding protection and enticing additional features, plus a $75 (GBP £54.41) discount on the first year’s subscription.