WP Engine vs Kinsta comparing bulk site economics

I’ve been using WP Engine since mid 2014. I’m not a typical customer. Currently have 4 dedicated WP Engine servers containing 518 installs. A rough breakdown of the installs would be 10% high traffic, 10% normal traffic, 70% low traffic and 10% development only.

I recently opened up a Kinsta account to run some comparison on economics and performance. I was surprised how difficult it was to compare WP Engine with Kinsta. On the surface it seems like they offer the same product, managed WordPress hosting. However it’s much more complicated then that.

Direct comparison is not as what you think

The following compares sites, storage, bandwidth and CPU between two accounts costing the same $600/month. These are enterprise level plans which are meant to host many WordPress sites.

Kinsta Enterprise 1 WP Engine P1
40 WordPress sites 100 WordPress sites
80 GBs storage 100 GBs storage
600 GB bandwidth unlimited bandwidth
unlimited cpu unlimited cpu

I know what you thinking. At first glance WP Engine appears to be the most economical. The truth is, there are big differences hidden between the lines. Let’s break them down.

Website count – Kinsta is a hard limit of 40. WP Engine is a recommendation not a limit. Some WP Engine P1 servers will handle more some will handle less. All depends on the type of websites you put on it.

Bandwidth – Kinsta charges per GB overages as they use a Google backend. WP Engine does not as their infrastructure is based on an individual VPS.

CPU – Neither Kinsta nor WP Engine charges for CPU time however Kinsta definently wins out here. When a WP Engine P1 gets overloaded it will start doing rolling 502/504 errors which affects every website on the server. When Kinsta starts to get overloaded they use autoscaling to handle the increase.

Different pricing models means different ideal customers

Let’s look at some real websites. Stats are taken from actual customers. Names have been changed.

siteabc.com – 30 day transfered: 801GB, storage: 9.75GB, traffic: 230,582

  • Kinsta – $801/month with no other capcity.
  • WP Engine – $600/month with 82 other sites running just great

site123.com – 30 day transfered: 102GB, storage: 14GB, traffic: 10,740

  • Kinsta – $600/month plan with capcity for 39 other sites
  • WP Engine –  $600/month with no other capcity. On WP Engine this site simply performs poorly due to excessive noncached requests and large database queries.

The best strategy is to use both platforms

Look both WP Engine and Kinsta are really great. They have very different pricing models. Kinsta pricing is tied to bandwidth as their backend is built on Google. WP Engine is fixed pricing as their backend is tied to an individual VPS.

I would suggest use them both at the same time. With a dedicated WP Engine server you can stack lots of cacheable websites on a single box with very high performance. However adding a few uncacheable websites, like large membership or ecommerce, to that same box and everything crawls. With a Kinsta you have crazy horsepower and really only pay for bandwidth. Stack a bunch of complex, database demanding sites and low bandwidth and you hit that ecnomical sweetspot.