There are several options at your disposal for managed WordPress hosting, but based on the solution’s own marketing, you could find it tough to tell which is best. Regardless of your WordPress experience, choosing managed hosting can be a minefield. Even so, there are two regular providers often mentioned as being superior to all others. This post, therefore, will compare Kinsta vs. WP Engine.

Both options have plenty of positives, admirers, and customers. However, choosing between them means digging into what both offer, and making a decision based on your needs. This post will pit Kinsta and WP Engine against each other, and compare their pros and cons in order to help you choose a suitable option. Let’s get started!

Introducing Kinsta and WP Engine

First off, Kinsta is one of the leading managed WordPress hosting providers – in fact, it only deals with WordPress installations, so you will be getting a team well-versed in the platform:

They have been in business for around a decade, which means they have not only grown along with WordPress but offer a hosting solution that is tailor-made for the platform. As such, their client base is strong, powering websites for notable companies such as Ubisoft, Asos, and General Electric.

As for WP Engine, they are also a long-standing member of the WordPress community, and like Kinsta, offer only managed WordPress hosting:

The WP Engine home page.

Again, this means their team are bonafide experts on the platform, and can, therefore, offer solutions that work perfectly regardless of your site’s makeup. They also have many high-profile clients, such as AMD and SoundCloud.

As you can tell, on the surface, both solutions are very similar. This means you’ll need to get ‘micro’ in order to ascertain which one is best for your needs. Let’s do that now, by looking at the various elements that make up each provider.

Kinsta vs. WP Engine: Finding the Best Managed WordPress Hosting Provider

Now we have introduced the competitors, let’s pit them again each other. We are going to look at a number of aspects for each host – their features, support provision, performance, and pricing – before giving you our opinion on which to choose. Without further ado, let’s get started!

1. Features

Of course, the features and functionality a host offers is a key purchasing factor, so looking at them first is wise.

Kinsta

Starting with Kinsta, their state-of-the-art Nginx-equipped servers run on PHP7 (i.e. the latest and greatest iteration). If you are not sure what this means, it is not strictly necessary – just know that the technology is modern, stable, and quick. What’s more, Kinsta is powered by the Google Cloud platform, with 15 global data centers ensuring your content will be served rapidly no matter where your visitors are based.

There is also a clear focus on your site’s (and therefore you visitor’s) security. Kinsta offers Direct Denial of Service (DDoS) detection and hardware firewalls to help keep malicious attacks at bay. They also check site uptime every five minutes and pride themselves on their proactive response to any issues.

Using the Kinsta backend – called MyKinsta – is a breeze too, and also looks good:

The MyKinsta dashboard.

Admittedly, this is more of a cosmetic benefit. However, the design is top-notch and enables you to navigate around your account without fuss. Finally, there are a number of account add-ons available, such as Cloudflare Railgun and Elasticsearch, meaning you will be well-catered for regardless of your needs.

WP Engine

As for WP Engine, it is just as steady and feature-packed as Kinsta, but goes about things in a different way. For starters, while their servers do not run on PHP7 out of the box, they are all equipped to handle it and can be upgraded once you have signed up. Much like Kinsta’s Google Cloud coverage, there is also a CDN (Content Delivery Network) built-in, so your site can be served across the globe with no slowdown.

WP Engine offer enterprise-grade security, and their in-house team is equipped to handle all manner of threats and malicious attacks. Where they really shine, however, is their performance and diagnostic tools. For example, there are real-time analytics covering page performance, content performance (powered by Google Analytics), a pre-launch assessment tool (on higher-tiered plans), and much more.

The account management backend is just as smart as Kinsta, with no less ease in managing your sites:

The WP Engine dashboard.

There’s much more under the hood of WP Engine, such as its practically infinite media storage courtesy of Amazon S3, WordPress Multisite support, and a wealth of other features specific to power users. Overall, it too is a front-runner in managed WordPress hosting.

2. Pricing

As you can imagine, top-notch managed WordPress hosting will command a premium price – shared hosting this is not. For example, Kinsta has a number of different pricing tiers available, the majority of which cater to business and enterprises:

Kinsta's pricing table.

You will see from the screenshot that plans start at $30 per month for one WordPress install. However, just a quick look at what comes with the package should show you exactly what you will get for your money. The feature banding between tiers is narrow in our opinion, and by combining some tiers (or at least re-banding them), it could be less overwhelming for potential customers.

In contrast, WP Engine takes the classic route of having three fixed-price tiers, along with a custom fourth option:

WP Engine's pricing table.

However, WP Engine’s plans begin at $35 per month for one site – $5 more than Kinsta. In addition, you can add more sites to this plan for $20 per month extra. If you take this route, WP Engine actually becomes cheaper than Kinsta up to the next tier. Just from eye-balling the specifications of each host, you could be led to believe that WP Engine offers less overall than Kinsta – but that is just a question of marketing and presentation.

In a nutshell, you will need a hefty budget regardless of your host. However, for up to three sites, WP Engine is arguably the cheaper option.

3. Support

If you’re plumping for managed WordPress hosting, you’ll likely want the peace of mind that quality support offers. Fortunately, both hosting providers are well-known for their high levels of support.

As we mentioned, Kinsta pride themselves on high-quality customer support and take a proactive approach to handling queries. They offer both tickets and live chat, and can be accessed around the clock, 365 days a year. To access support, you will navigate to the ‘intercom’ icon in the bottom right corner of your MyKinsta dashboard, and click it to begin a live chat session:

Kinsta's live chat.

From here, you will raise a ticket or open a live chat window and begin describing your query.

WP Engine also has a proactive support team, with a number of channels to utilize if you need assistance. While you don’t get 24/7 support on most of their plans, they do offer round the clock phone support on higher tiers. Also, those on a custom plan will receive a dedicated technical assistant for the first 30 days. There’s also a wealth of documentation to peruse, and there’s an active and constant schedule in place to develop more knowledge base and support documentation.

As with Kinsta, when it comes to raising support tickets, you’ll head to your WP Engine dashboard, and click the appropriate options in the toolbar:

WP Engine's support options.

You would expect hosting providers handling incredibly high-profile clients to have stellar support channels, and neither Kinsta or WP Engine disappoint on this front. Regardless of your choice, you will have experts on hand to help you when necessary.

4. Performance

No hosting comparison is complete without performance testing, and we have saved this until last for a number of reasons. Primarily, every website is different and while testing performance is useful, it is not the ‘be all and end all’ of choosing a host. Even so, it is still important, so we will carry out two tests using a WordPress installation loaded with the Twenty Seventeen theme, Jetpack, and the WordPress Theme Unit Test Data:

Our test site.

Firstly, we’ll use Pingdom Tools to measure how quickly our test site serves pages from three different locations, and take an average of three runs:

Pingdom Tools.

We have chosen Stockholm, Sweden, New York City, and Melbourne, Australia to offer a good spread. First up is Kinsta:

  • Stockholm: 1.22 secs.
  • New York: 555 ms.
  • Melbourne: 1.93 secs.

As you can see, even without caching, Kinsta pulls some respectable numbers, and they are well under the two-second benchmark that is often presented as a good, minimum loading speed. As for WP Engine:

  • Stockholm: 1.68 secs.
  • New York: 708 ms.
  • Melbourne: 2.55 secs.

You’ll notice the times are slower overall, and the Melbourne target is well over two seconds. Next up, we will use Load Impact to conduct a ‘stress test’ on our sites. This loads 25 users, one at a time over the span of five minutes, and records the results. It is great for seeing how your site fares under pressure. Firstly, let’s test Kinsta:

Kinsta's LoadImpact screen.

As we can see from Kinsta’s results, loading speeds are very consistent despite the traffic numbers rising. That’s a good sign, but let’s see how WP Engine handles the pressure:

WPEngine's LoadImpact screen.

Again, other than one spike, WP Engine performs incredibly well regardless of the number of onsite users. It is worth pointing out that the loading speed numbers here do not matter as much, mainly because the Load Impact test uses different targets and servers. Overall, though, Kinsta has the edge – mainly because WP Engine had slower pure page speeds.

Conclusion

Managed WordPress hosting is an important purchase for many sites, but the wrong choice can impact your income negatively – so finding the right provider is vital. Fortunately, there are a handful of solid choices, and narrowing them down is simply a case of determining your needs, which will naturally point you towards one or the other.

Ultimately, Kinsta is more upfront about their under the hood specifications, which is going to please developers and other ‘tech-heavy’ roles. However, WP Engine has just as much grunt, which is expected given how even the two hosts are on price. Support options are also even-steven, and you will arguably get the same value for money regardless of your choice. As far as performance goes, it is very close, with Kinsta performing better in our tests. All in all, Kinsta is going to suit those needing pure power under the hood, while WP Engine is going to be best for those interested in live site analysis.

Do you have any questions about our Kinsta vs. WP Engine comparison? Let us know in the comments section below!

Featured image: Myriams-Fotos.

About Will Morris

Will Morris is a staff writer at WordCandy. When he’s not writing about WordPress, he likes to gig his stand-up comedy routine on the local circuit.