All kinds of people are now turning to VPNs to help keep them and their information safe and secure online. The letters stand for Virtual Private Network and they can help you to keep your IP address and online activity safe from anyone who might be trying to spy on it.
This includes cyber criminals who are trying to steal your identity or scam you, businesses who want your information so they can sell you their products, or governments who spy on people for countless reasons of their own.
If you want to be free of all this, then a VPN is what you’ll need.
This also applies when you’re gaming – a VPN will help to ensure that nobody you’re playing with (or against) will be able to find you in the real world, giving you total peace of mind.
But what’s the best VPN for gaming?
That’s what we’ll go through in this article by listing some of the best options and explaining their pros and cons. Make sure to read our buyer’s guide and FAQ sections as well so that you’re fully clued-up on everything you’ll need to know before you buy.
ExpressVPN is one of the biggest and most reputable names when it comes to VPNs, both for gaming and for general purposes. You might be wondering if this is all just hype, but we have to admit that they’ve earned that reputation.
It does exceptionally well on just about all fronts. This includes its number of servers (well over 5000), meaning that you’ll always be able to find a server to connect to.
Since servers near your physical location typically provide better speeds, it’s good to know that you won’t have trouble finding one.
Speaking of speeds, it provides speeds that are about as good as you can expect from any VPN – all of them will generally result in some loss of speed due to the way they work, but ExpressVPN really keeps it to a minimum.
This includes low latency, so that you can play games – even ones where every millisecond counts – without worries.
Its security features are also very respectable. It uses the gold standard of encryption – 256-AES – that governments and financial institutions also use.
It also includes split tunneling and kill switch features – check the buyer’s guide for more information on them. The long and short of it is that they’re useful for keeping you safe, and not all VPNs offer them.
You’ll also be pleased to know that it works not only on phones and laptops but on all kinds of gaming devices, including the Nintendo Switch, Xbox, PlayStation and so on. You can even set it up on your router so that all the devices connected to it come under its protection.
You’ll definitely be able to find cheaper VPNs if that’s what you want, but to be honest, it’s hard to say that the money you pay for the Express VPN service isn’t worth it.
NordVPN might be the biggest and best-known name in the VPN game – you’ve probably seen it advertised around the internet and/or by streamers.
The company clearly spends a lot on marketing itself, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t paid enough attention to providing a good service as well.
To put it plainly, it’s another great choice if you’re looking for a VPN to game with, or to use for general purposes.
It’s beyond reproach when it comes to security. It uses that standard 256-AES encryption, and several security audits have proven that it’s at the top of the game when it comes to keeping your information safe.
You’ll also get great speeds, which, of course, is of paramount importance when it comes to gaming online. Our tests revealed only negligible increases in ping with the VPN active, so you won’t have to worry about your in-game performance being affected.
Despite the fact that NordVPN is comfortably in the premium bracket when it comes to VPNs, its prices are markedly lower than the other VPNs on that same rough level. This is obviously a good thing and means you can get excellent value for money here.
Surfshark is another well-known and well-respected name when it comes to VPNs.
One great thing to say about it right off the bat is that it’s available at a pretty low price relative to everything you get from it. In fact, it’s a lower price than some decidedly inferior competitors as well, so if you want to make sure your money’s not being wasted you should be safe with this one.
It offers very good speeds, which of course is essential if you want to do any online gaming. However, while they are good speeds, they’re overall not quite as great as some other VPNs, though they’re still better than most.
It’s also a great choice if you’re interested in unblocking all kinds of online streaming services like Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, and so on, since it has a great record with a huge range of such sites.
And, of course, the security side of things is beyond reproach as well. It uses the same 256-AES encryption that all reputable VPNs use, and also has a variety of security features beyond this to make sure that security doesn’t ever become an issue.
This includes a “double VPN” function, where your traffic can be routed through not one but two VPN servers to make sure there’s absolutely no chance of anyone snooping on you.
It’s a tough competition among the premium VPNs, and the only reason CyberGhost doesn’t come higher than fourth place on our list is that the ones above it are so untouchable.
That means CyberGhost is still a great option for a number of reasons, and the most important one of these is probably its speed. In fact, it’s one of the quickest VPNs you’re ever likely to see, and was only beaten by NordVPN in our tests.
Naturally, this makes it ideal for online gaming, as well as for streaming. This last is also helped by the fact that it offers several servers specifically for streaming.
Its security features leave no room for complaint either, with that all-important 256-AES encryption, as well as several other security features like a good kill switch, as well as a setting to start the VPN whenever a certain app is opened. All this comes together to make sure you’ll never be caught out.
It also does a great job of unblocking most of the widely-used streaming services, including Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video and the like.
It can be used on up to seven different devices, which is a couple more than a lot of other VPN providers. You will have to register the devices (and deregister them if you want to replace them), which is a minor annoyance, but nothing worth worrying too much about.
For most users, seven devices is probably more than they’ll need anyway.
ProtonVPN is another great choice when it comes to a VPN. It’s great for gaming with, naturally, but the benefits don’t stop there.
We’ll cover speeds first. They’re definitely up there, even if they can’t quite touch NordVPN for raw performance, and in practice, you’re not likely to notice the difference. This means that you can play all kinds of online games without having to worry about low ping wrecking your game.
It’s also very effective at unblocking streaming services, perhaps second in that only to ExpressVPN, which has held the title of unblocking king for a while now.
Its security credentials are also solid. Aside from the obvious, a good security selling point is the fact that it offers Tor functionality.
If you didn’t know, Tor is a web browser that’s specifically designed with security in mind, and this can help to keep your information even more secure.
It’s slightly more expensive than a few of the other VPNs on our list – only ExpressVPN is more expensive at the time of writing – and while we’d say it’s definitely value for money, you might want to look elsewhere if price is one of your main concerns.
There are several things you’ll want to consider if you’re choosing a VPN, whether you want it for gaming or for any other purposes. We’ll look at a few of them now so you can weigh up what’s most important when you’re making your choice.
Latency is also known as ping and is a very important concept when it comes to playing games online. If you don’t know what it is, then it’s a measure of the gap between a player taking an action and that action being registered on the game’s server.
For example, if you’re playing an FPS, a click of your mouse will fire your gun, but it will take time for that shot to be registered in-game. If the time gap between these two things is too much, then it will be almost impossible for you to play an online game properly.
That’s why you should pay a great deal of attention to the amount of latency that you’ll get from any given VPN.
With any VPN speeds are going to vary based on a range of factors, some of which won’t be in your direct control, but some are still better than others. If you want to play games online with a VPN, then low ping is a must.
Even if gaming is your number one priority, that doesn’t mean that security needs to fall by the wayside. You probably know that the original purpose of VPNs is to keep your online activity safe, but some do a better job of that than others.
The first thing to consider is the kind of encryption that the VPN uses. The industry standard is 256-AES encryption, and this is what banks and financial institutions use to keep their information safe as well.
You should look for nothing else in your VPN if your security is important to you.
You should also keep an eye out for other safety features. A useful one that not all VPNs have is a kill switch.
This is a setting that will automatically disconnect your device from the internet if the VPN connection is lost. This is useful for security, because it means that there’s not a chance that you’ll ever be in a situation where you’re online and exposed.
Another is split tunneling. This is a feature that allows you to channel some of your online activity through the VPN while leaving unimportant activity unsecured. This allows you to strike a good balance between safety and speed.
There are a couple of things you’ll want to think about when it comes to the platforms your VPN will work on. The first is the number of devices that you can use it with.
With some VPNs, you’ll be able to use it on an unlimited number of devices. With others, however, there will be a limit on this – this might be as many as ten devices, but other providers will restrict you to five or even three.
If you’re planning to use the VPN on devices other than your gaming device, this is worth considering.
The other thing to think about is the platforms that the VPN is compatible with.
Most, though not all, VPNs will have apps for the big four platforms (Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS), but a lot of them aren’t compatible with, for example, Linux, or gaming consoles like Xbox or PlayStation.
This is obviously very important if you want to use your VPN with one of those formats.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is A VPN?
The letters VPN stand for Virtual Private Network. People use them for a variety of reasons, but the original and primary function is to keep you safe while you browse the internet.
If you’re not using a VPN, then all of your web traffic can be easily spied on by anyone who knows how to look.
This might include government intelligence agencies, cyber criminals, or businesses, as well as other threats. If you don’t want any of these people or groups knowing who you are and what you’re doing online, the best way to keep them out is to use a VPN.
What Does A VPN Do?
They hide your IP address while you’re online, meaning that nobody will know where you are, or where you’re accessing the internet from.
You might be sitting in, say New York City, but a VPN can make it look like you’re in London, Cairo, or Tokyo, among a huge list of other places.
They also stop anyone from having access to any information about which sites you’re browsing or what you’re doing while you’re there. All the information is encrypted to keep you and your data as safe as can be.
That’s not all, however. Some people also like to take advantage of their IP masking abilities to bypass region locking. You probably know that streaming services like Netflix lock certain parts of their library to certain countries or regions.
That’s why Netflix subscribers in the US, UK, Japan, etc. don’t all have access to the same stuff.
A VPN can get around that by making you appear to be in whichever country you like, allowing you to access streaming services despite the restrictions.
Are VPNs Legal?
Well, the answer to this depends on where you live. In the US, as well as in most of what’s usually considered the Western World, there are no (or minimal) restrictions on VPN use.
However, some countries have placed harsher restrictions on their use – they are illegal in Belarus for example.
China is another country where VPNs are formally banned without specific government approval, although in practice they’re widely used there.
If you’re thinking of using a VPN, then it’s a good idea for you to make sure you understand what the local rules and regulations are. You don’t want to risk getting in trouble later.
Choosing a VPN isn’t necessarily an easy task these days – there are so many on the market that it’s easy to become numb to and confused by all the technical differences and promises they all make.
However, you’ll be on safe ground if you go for any of the options on this list. All of them are very solid VPN offerings that aren’t just suitable for gaming, but represent a great pick for all the major VPN functions as well. This means that they’re all from the premium end of the market.
While you will be able to find cheaper options elsewhere, we’re confident that none of the cheaper (or free) VPNs on the market will be able to compete with these for pure functionality, and that’s why we’ve chosen to include them on this list.