Best VPNs for Gaming
5 Best VPNs Fast Enough for Gaming
As counter-intuitive as it sounds, a fast VPN could actually speed up your connection when gaming.
As well as protecting your identity and preventing DDoS attacks, a gaming-friendly VPN will improve your gameplay. It does this by helping you avoid ISP throttling and optimizing the paths taken by your traffic packets.
Not only that, a VPN service will allow you to play games that are typically geo-blocked. And allows you to buy games cheaper and earlier by geo-locating you to a different country.
Why a gaming VPN is a good idea?
Whenever you connect to a publicly-accessible gaming server, your IP address is being exposed. A malicious actor can then use this IP address vulnerability to launch DoS attacks, crash your home network, and stop you from gaming.
A VPN will protect your location and identity by routing your traffic through a server located elsewhere to hide your actual IP address from view.
Paradoxically, a VPN service can also reduce ping and latency, giving you extra speed.
If you live far from a gaming server, you will be all too familiar with those annoying lags that ruin your gaming enjoyment. But suppose you connect via a VPN to a server located nearer the game server. In that case, you will see a noticeable reduction in latency and much better gaming speeds than before.
The best VPNs for gaming are those with large fleets of servers in the right place and offer unlimited and lightning-quick connection speeds.
If you’re a console gamer, you will also need to ensure the VPN is compatible with your router.
We are long-time gamers, so you can trust that we understand what you are looking for in a VPN. Being the community-minded individuals that we are, we decided to share our insights in the form of a review of the best VPNs for gaming.
Therefore, we have no hesitation in commending these five VPNs to you as the premier providers that are gaming-friendly.
Benefits of Hotspot Shield
- An extensive network of well-placed servers
- Industry-leading connection speeds
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Connect up to five devices
- Award-winning router app
Hotspot Shield’s well-deserved claim to fame is in being the world’s fastest VPN.
Therefore, it is the natural home for gamers as Hotspot Shield has been shown to be twice as fast as its competitors.
No, really. And by none less than Ookla’s Speedtest.net, who clocked Hotspot Shield as the speed king not just in 2019 but in 2020 as well.
Hotspot Shield was in a shootout with rivals to see who did best over short and long distances. The independent study found that Hotspot Shield was 1.4 times faster than its nearest competitor over a short distance. And a whopping 2.2 times quicker on long-distance tests as well.
But not only was it faster, but Hotspot Shield was shown to increase download speed by slightly over 26%!
The reason behind this blistering performance is Hotspot Shield’s proprietary protocol, Hydra. Theirs is custom-built for streaming and gaming in today’s modern world. Rival VPN companies are still using protocols that were first developed when Netflix shipped DVDs and the iPhone remained a twinkle in Steve Jobs’ eye.
Hydra is supported by a 3200-strong network of servers comprising over 115 virtual locations in more than 80 countries and over 35 cities. Finding one of their network in proximity to your gaming server should not be too much of a challenge for most people.
However, all of this incredible performance inevitably comes at a premium price. The Premium Account at $7.99 per month allows you to connect up to five devices and attain speeds of up to 1 Gbps.
The Premium Family account costs $11.99, but you have five profiles and can connect up to 25 devices.
Benefits of NordVPN
- Well above average number of servers
- Trusted and respected VPN brand
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Connect up to six devices
- 24/7 customer support
While Hotspot Shield may have been hogging the limelight of late, the stalwart NordVPN isn’t precisely a tortoise. And has a well-established network of 5500 VPN servers located in 59 countries.
NordVPN is undeniably reliable, offering ultra-fast connection speeds via their proprietary protocol, NordLynx. Plus, they are substantially cheaper than Hotspot Shield due to promotions on their annual and two-yearly packages.
Their best deal is their two-year plan at a competitively priced $3.71 per month equivalent. The annual plan, if you prefer, is hardly eye-watering at $4.92 per month. While inexpensive, even these prices aren’t the cheapest around.
However, NordVPN has a long and illustrious reputation as a gaming VPN. At its core are NordVPN’s speed and widespread server network, ensuring you are unlikely ever to see lagging, buffering, or other disruption to your gameplay.
The entire gaming experience improves as you can relax knowing your ID is secure, and you are insulated against DDoS attacks.
Another reason many gamers opt for NordVPN is worldwide access and compatibility with mobile devices. Their router app is also widely compatible so that you can protect gaming consoles such as the PlayStation, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and many other consoles.
You can change your IP address and enter gaming without borders. If there’s a new release you can’t get your hands on, you switch location.
This functionality is not just for consoles; NordVPN supports PC games and major platforms, including macOS, Windows, Linux, Android, iOS, and Android TV.
Overall, NordVPN is a sound, well-rounded choice for gamers that want speed, reliability, and value for money. In the final analysis, NordVPN is difficult to frag.
Benefits of ExpressVPN
- Widespread server network
- Suitable for all the big-name games, including Minecraft, Fortnite, and PUBG
- Supports a wide range of digital devices and consoles
- Fast connection speeds
- 24/7 live chat customer support
You were probably waiting for these guys to put in an appearance in this review.
Well, you are not disappointed. ExpressVPN was always going to make the cut in a best VPN for gaming review. Just as they consistently make the cut in countless other reviews.
So what’s the story with ExpressVPN and gamers then?
It all boils down to their speed and server network. Price not so much, but more about that later.
With its server network spanning 94 countries and 160 server locations, ExpressVPN has an impressive footprint that’s geographically dispersed to offer outstanding coverage and connection speeds.
As with all that ExpressVPN does, it has invested time, money, and brainpower into crafting a well-thought-out and exceptional gaming experience.
Using their straightforward apps, you can enhance your gaming on most major platforms, including Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. Their widely compatible router app ensures you can safeguard your PlayStation or Xbox and other consoles that can’t install VPN services directly.
Benefits of Surfshark
- Extensive international server network
- Unlimited devices
- Independently audited privacy
- 24/7 live chat support with knowledgeable agents
- 15% student discount
As Surfshark succinctly puts it, stick to gaming. Sage advice, indeed.
With gamers being subjected to doxxing, DDoS attacks, and even swatting, hoax calling in a SWAT team with sometimes deadly results, you want to secure your privacy.
And as it happens, Surfshark is rather keen gamers place their trust in them. And that is not a bad shout, even if it comes from the company involved.
For when you look at it, there is much to like about Surfshark’s approach. As they straight up spell out why you, as a gamer, should sign up.
Number one is privacy and security to access games without geo-restrictions, hide your IP in chat rooms like Discord, and protect yourself from Denial of Service attacks.
All well and good promising. But does Surfshark have the wherewithal to deliver?
Yes. With Surfshark, you can rely on their widely distributed server network to deliver incredible speeds consistently from wherever you happen to be. Surfshark’s server inventory of 3,200 plus servers is located in 65 countries. Therefore, you can be confident you will find one next door, relatively speaking, to your favorite gaming server. This proximity serves to speed up your gameplay while at the same time the VPN helps you dodge your ISP’s attempts to throttle heavy usage. High fives all around then.
If you anticipate the ‘But’ arriving about now, you are in for a pleasant surprise. Right now, Surfshark has slashed its two-year subscription package to the equivalent of $2.49 per month. It gets billed immediately as a $59.76 payment and then annually after that.
For what you get, it is not a lot of pain. When you think about it, the monthly fee is much less than you pay for an hour in a city car park.
Benefits of CyberGhost
- Extensive server network
- Connect up to seven devices
- 45-day money-back guarantee
- Strong on privacy
- Unlimited bandwidth and traffic
If you want to set out your stall as a gaming-friendly VPN, you could do a lot worse than emulate CyberGhost.
The spookily-iconed VPN has 15 years’ worth of expertise behind them. So it is safe to say they know a thing or two about setting up and managing servers.
Their longevity has indisputably served them well and enabled CyberGhost to build up a rock-solid network of 6637 servers in 89 countries. You can comfortably assume that no matter in which far-flung corner of the world you reside, there’s a server at hand.
But there’s more to CyberGhost than a truckload of servers. They are speed kings and experts at fine-tuning to squeeze as much momentum out of their customers’ connections as humanly possible.
It’s quite the package even if they do insist on calling customers Ghosties.
If you are a big-time gamer, then CyberGhost should be on your shortlist, just like ours. They have invested heavily in providing VPN solutions for all platforms and mobile devices.
And they have apps for a range of routers, so you can hook up your PlayStation or Xbox console and have a VPN connection on them too. You can even buy a router with CyberGhost pre-installed.
The upshot is that you can play games securely via a VPN connection on just about any device.
And with support for up to seven devices, you can use your VPN for everything else as well, from general private browsing to streaming video from Netflix and Hulu, etc., and P2P.
It won’t even set you back a great deal either. Currently, there’s a promotion on their three-year package, which retails at the equivalent of $2.25 per month with three free months thrown in.
If three years sounds too much of a commitment, you can instead opt for a two-year or an annual package that works out at $3.49 per month and $3.99 per month, respectively.
Best VPNs for gaming FAQ
Which are the best VPNs for gaming?
With a degree of confidence, we can say that the best gaming VPNs are the ones we highlight here—namely, Hotspot Shield, NordVPN, Express VPN, Surfshark, and CyberGhost.
Is a VPN suitable for gaming?
The big issue is finding a VPN with blistering fast connection speeds. By their nature, a VPN will slow down your connection to the internet. So it is crucial to find a VPN with consistently fast speed so as not to introduce latency and ruin your gameplay.
You should also be aware that most online gaming stores could ban you if you use a VPN when purchasing a game or created an account to play games in that region. They do so in order to enforce their regional pricing policies and manage availability.
Will a VPN impact my connection speed?
Yes, but with premium services, the decrease in speed may not even be noticeable. Indeed, in some instances, your connection speeds may actually improve.
Which is the best free VPN to use for gaming?
Free anything comes with limitations, naturally. But if you want to try a free VPN service, you would be well advised to try out Hotspot Shield. However, given the price currently for VPN (sub-$3 per month), you may be able to stretch to a subscription service after all.
Are free VPN accounts safe?
No. Because they are free, you cannot trust them with your privacy. Being bombarded with ads is probably the least of your worries. Most free VPN services will often implant third-party trackers and other ad malware into their software.
A free account will be severely hobbled with limitations on data and which servers you can access. You are also likely to have an inferior connection speed in order to cajole you into buying a subscription.
Only a paid-for plan will get you around the toughest geo-restrictions, give you ultra-fast speeds, and protect you from bad actors.
Given the comparative cheapness of a premium service that you can try for 30 days and get a refund, there’s little risk in trading up.
Are VPNs legal?
Yes, in most countries. But the law varies by country. Many countries outlaw or restrict VPN use as they have been associated with criminal activity. But even if your country allows VPNs, you should not use them to commit crimes.
By shopping around, it is perfectly feasible to find a VPN service that’s not only gaming-friendly but may also help improve your connection speed to gaming servers.
So using a VPN is about more than protecting your privacy and security. As counter-intuitive as it appears, you may also get speed gains by using a VPN server that’s closer to the gaming server. And you will be able to dodge ISP throttling into the bargain. So in many ways, the best VPNs for gaming are a no-brainer.
Especially so today. Competition in the VPN service sector is intense nowadays. Subscription prices have tumbled. Not so long ago, anything sub-$10 was considered a win. Now, though, with various promotions on two-year deals, it’s possible to bag a premium VPN service for less than $3 per month. This is less than the price of a quarter pounder in McD’s or a Starbucks coffee.
The notion that a free VPN service will do no longer stacks up when you would barely notice a paid-for service. Admittedly, you do have to fork up a lump sum rather than literally paying monthly. And you are tied into a long contract.
However, with money-back guarantees of 30-days, or even 45 days as with Hotspot Shield, there is minimal risk involved. You can try their service for free in effect to see if it works for you. Presumably, though, the VPN service providers are pretty confident you will want to stick around.
What we have done is put VPNs under the microscope and pinpointed the five we rate as gaming VPNs. We have deliberately not chosen to rank them in order. Each could easily have captured the top spot for one reason or another. You can now choose your preference safe in the knowledge your gaming will be a whole lot safer. And maybe even significantly faster too.