Hear me, the best VPN for gaming is not an oxymoron. Despite what people who say nothing against gaming VPNs might have, there can actually be a benefit to using a VPN for gaming (more info in the following FAQ).
To get the best VPN experience, though, you’ll need to pay. But don’t panic! On a monthly basis, that shouldn’t add up much at all. Our options below vary in cost, performance, and features, so there’s plenty to choose from.
We tested a selection of the best VPN services to discover the potential impact of these services on your VPN gaming experience. Now, let’s find the best for you.
Surfshark is my son. For me, it’s the best gaming VPN we’ve tested, providing a nice combination of less ping than my offline VPN connection and a relatively minor hit when it comes to overall download speeds. It does tax downloads a little more than NordVPN, which comes out on top in this score, but not enough to put me off. For streaming players, you’ll probably want to prioritize this download speed, which makes NordVPN the go-to choice. But then, as a streaming operator, you likely have the full bandwidth available to you at all times…
For everything else, Surfshark will happily remain unnoticed in the background while you do anything game related with your PC. It helped make my gaming experience reliable, with fewer dropped packets and kept me safe while doing so. Although it has to be said, I am probably not the most obvious target of an attack, stalking, DDoS-ing, or other nefarious cybercrime.
The application is straightforward. There are also nifty features like an optional kill switch (disable your internet connection if the VPN drops for any reason), a whitelist to allow banking apps, etc. to block VPN. The company offers a strict no-logs policy and appears to be reliable in this respect.
Surfshark is also the only service tested that provides access to an unlimited number of devices from a single account. This is impressive considering the relatively low cost compared to some of its peers.
The only problem I encountered is that it does not seem suitable for torrenting. I’ve struggled to get anything working, so if this is a deal breaker for you, you’ll probably want to look at Nord instead.
It’s close between Surfshark and NordVPN, but the cogwheel device almost wins thanks to its unlimited hardware, low profile, and low price. However, NordVPN is the high-performance option if your download and upload speeds are the best and last for your PC experience. It offers one of the highest relative download speeds in my testing compared to a touchless connection and the absolute highest upload speed.
This seems to be where many VPN services fall, in terms of how much you squeeze out of your upload connection. My upload speed is already 10 times slower than my downloads, so I can’t afford to lose any more. But NordVPN still offers about 85% of that connection, while private internet access has actually dropped to 35%.
It is also your best option if you find torrenting your go-to way to access online content. Surfshark seems to block everything in my experience, making Nord the next best thing.
The service also performs great on the ping test as well, coming close to an unrestricted ping score and consistently outperforming my own ping results as well. NordVPN uses the latest WireGuard VPN protocol, which it calls NordLynx. He is said to be the fastest around and seems to help him run consistently well.
However, it is one of the more expensive services, and you can only have a maximum of six different devices that you can connect to at any one time. But if you want performance, you will have to pay for it.
IPVanish is one of the least expensive VPN services we tested, but that doesn’t mean you should miss it. It might not have the full feature set of Surfshark or NordVPN, but you do get 250GB of SugarSync encrypted storage and backups for free with a new subscription, which can give you a little peace of mind about your most sensitive documents.
It works well too. The impact on my upload and download speed is impressively minimal, and it manages, for the most part, to drop an in-game ping when I’m playing online. There was a slight spike in CS:GO, but nothing to worry about, and there were still fewer packet drops compared to my standard connection.
If you’re after a high-quality VPN service to run on your gaming machine, potentially working on nine more at once, but don’t want to spend big, IPVanish is a great alternative to the top two on our list.
The second most expensive service on our list is also the widest reach worldwide. With servers in an astonishing 94 countries, if you’re looking to play with friends abroad, or find yourself traveling a lot, ExpressVPN might be your best bet for a strong, secure, and relatively fast connection.
ExpressVPN isn’t bad in my in-game connection test performance, regularly giving me milliseconds fewer than my standard Battlefield V connection. However, it did struggle at times in CS: GO. However, it was the weakest when it came to download speeds – not because 94% of my regular connection is bad – but the download result came second only to the terrible performance of Private Internet Access.
Among the top four, it also has the fewest simultaneous devices allowed, however, at five, you can still share the load across your PC, laptop, phone, and other important devices. But ExpressVPN is still a high quality and reliable service that may not have the high level performance I have measured from some others but it is still a decent choice for PC gamers.
It has also been tested…
Private Internet Access
Best VPN FAQ
Q: How can a good VPN for gaming be something?
The historical consensus has been that you shouldn’t use a VPN while playing online because it can affect your connection and slow you down. Yes, you may be able to bypass the curse of geo-blocking, but many complain about the horrific lag and subsequent failure in the game.
This is still the case if you are using a free service with limited bandwidth, such as Hola or the basic TunnelBear package, but if you choose wisely, you can find the best VPN for gaming that can really improve your online performance.
It may look like we are pulling your chain. But it’s true, a good VPN service can not only keep you safe and secure behind the scenes, but it can actually improve your in-game ping results. Now, it’s not a case of some fancy magic that will suddenly turn a slow internet connection into a lightning fast one. But often the best VPNs for gaming have better routing compared to your current Internet Service Provider (ISP). This means that you can find that you get less packet loss over the VPN, and you may see even less ping, which makes your connection more responsive in the game.
I run a generally reliable connection, 100Mbps+fiber at home, however I still struggle with some packet loss when I have boots on the floor at Battlefield V. My ping isn’t bad, but hey, it can always be better, right? That said, turning on a VPN takes a significant portion of your overall download and upload speeds, but probably not as much as you might think. Choosing the best VPN for gaming will reduce this effect.
Q.Why should I deal with a VPN?
A: There are other reasons why you might want to run a VPN on your computer, the main one being online security. If you don’t want a network that tracks your every move, the best way to avoid using a VPN is to avoid it. The best VPNs operate a “no log” policy, which means that they will not store any data about you or your activity, which helps you stay safe in the face of any data breach as well. Again, it will also help you bypass geo-blocking. Let’s say you want to unlock a new game early or you want to subscribe to a service that’s only available in another country, no problem.
Q: How are VPNs tested?
A: Testing VPNs is a fun game and you don’t always end up having your internet connection turned on every time you uninstall one to install another. genuinely. Not every time, anyway… We sourced accounts for each of the services and tested them all on the same 100 Mbit connection, same time of day, to ensure a fair reflection of each one’s performance.
Obviously, there are free VPNs and some VPN services with free tiers, but you won’t find them particularly suitable for connecting while playing online. They always give up the latency of your experience and severely hamper the overall performance of your network connection.
That’s why we didn’t include any of the free options, like Hola or TunnelBear, on this list. It’s also not necessarily an effective option if you’re trying to get around geo-restricted services like video streaming, as you may still find them restricted.
For testing, first, I ran Speedtest.net’s benchmark for an unrestricted internet connection, using that as a baseline to test each of the different services. Then I installed each VPN and tested them in turn before uninstalling them to add a fresh new VPN.