While using a VPN for online gaming might sound redundant at best, the situation is perhaps not as black-and-white as you think. Yes, even the best VPN service has the potential to slow down your performance and possibly inflate your ping time. You won’t hear us argue there.
However, just as with any other online activity, there are dangers that a VPN can protect you from when gaming – such as the unwanted attention of hackers.
A VPN provides an additional layer of security beyond your regular security measures such as a firewall. In particular, it increases protection against DDoS attacks, a popular method of gaining a competitive advantage for the more obsessive and cheat-happy gamers out there. Additionally, a VPN service can bypass geo-restrictions and unlock games and servers previously locked to specific regions.
How to choose the best VPN service for game consoles
Needless to say, speed is the top priority here, so performance needs to be fast with a stable and reliable connection. Wide server coverage means a better chance of finding a fast connection, so look for a company with plenty of servers.
VPNs are primarily designed to be used on PCs (or mobiles), so expect some tinkering to be necessary in order to get them working on your favorite console, either via a PC or router. You should also look out for handy extra features like DDoS protection and dedicated gaming servers.
Now, let’s move on to highlight our top five choices for the best VPN for game consoles.
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Best all-round VPN
Number of servers: 850+ | Server locations: 60+ | IP addresses: 40000+ | Maximum devices supported: 5
With plenty of choice in terms of servers and locations, IPVanish offers a good number of gaming-tailored options (like being able to sort servers by ping time) to help get a quality connection.
Performance-wise, the service was much faster on shorter hops than what we’re used to, boasting superb download speeds throughout our testing. Longer-distance speeds weren’t so great, though, so bear that in mind – although your ping is likely to suffer when connecting to a far-off server, anyway.
IPVanish also does well on the security front, covering all the major protocols, and offering tight 256-bit AES encryption.
One snag might be pricing as the service is a bit more expensive than your average VPN. There is no option of a free trial, but you do get a 7-day money-back guarantee. As usual, the yearly subscription is the way to go in terms of the best value. The packages available are:
Number of servers: 700+ | Server locations: 70+ | IP addresses: 200,000+ | Maximum devices supported: 3-5
VyprVPN is the master of its own network, and that certainly helps in the performance department. Indeed, in our testing, we experienced excellent download speeds which were more than double our normal rates with the VPN turned off, along with an acceptable increase in latency.
Apart from its speed, VyprVPN provides several features gamers will appreciate, including a NAT Firewall that allows blocking of unrequested inbound traffic. There’s also the company’s own Chameleon protocol, which aims to bypass VPN blocking and bandwidth throttling, hopefully ensuring better speeds for your connection.
For users thinking of subscribing to VyprVPN, there’s a free 3-day trial to test things out. The choice comes down to either a Basic or Premium plan on a monthly or an annual basis. The Premium plan with yearly billing is the best option here as it has all the advanced features on-board, such as the aforementioned Chameleon protocol. The packages available are:
- Basic: $9.95 monthly or $5.00 per month billed annually
- Premium: $12.95 monthly or $6.67 per month billed annually
Most secure VPN
Number of servers: 3000+ | Server locations: 50+ | IP addresses: N/A | Maximum devices supported: 5
TorGuard offers a massive selection of servers to choose from, one of the largest in the business. Still, be warned that we only experienced average performance with the service, and it wasn’t great on the latency front.
While there are obviously faster options on the market, TorGuard’s appeal lies in the security aspects of the service. The provider offers expert-level configurability through its clients, as well as the usual wide protocol support and strong encryption. Gamers will be particularly pleased to know that TorGuard also offers a dedicated IP service with DDoS protection running 24/7, available as a paid VPN add-on.
Price plans are quite affordable with options for customizing through various add-ons. Interestingly enough, both the 6-month plan and year-long subscription offer the same monthly rate, so you may as well go with the former as there’s no need to make a bigger commitment. The packages available are:
- [$9.99 a month] 1-month
- [$6.66 a month] 3-months - $19.99
- [$5 a month] 6-months - $29.99
- [$5 a month] 12-months - $59.99
Best low latency VPN
Number of servers: N/A | Server locations: 37 | IP addresses: N/A | Maximum devices supported: 5
The performance front is where Buffered VPN truly shines, and in particular with latency. Our testing revealed that it gave us lower ping times compared to having the VPN turned off, with great upload speeds and slightly less consistent download speeds throughout our testing. The native client presented a couple of issues, but nothing serious enough to ruin the fun altogether.
You have to set up the service on a DD-WRT or Tomato-enabled router for the VPN to work with a game console. Buffered’s 256-bit Blowfish encryption, in combination with the OpenVPN protocol, is good news on the security front.
The provider is on the pricey side with its selection of subscriptions, and even the most affordable annual plan isn’t all that cheap. However, a pretty generous refund policy might help persuade users to give it a go: you can still get your money back as long as you haven’t used the service for more than 10 hours, 100 sessions or 10GB of bandwidth. The packages available are:
Most affordable VPN
Number of servers: 250+ | Server locations: 100+ | IP addresses: N/A | Maximum devices supported: 5
To put it succinctly, Ivacy’s performance was excellent in our tests. Latencies were better than average and we enjoyed a consistent, fast performance across the board.
On the security front, this Singapore-based provider uses multiple protocols, 256-bit encryption, and a few additional features such as split tunneling, a kill switch, and Secure DNS.
One slight negative is an ‘anti-fraud’ policy which makes it needlessly hard for residents of any African nation (other than South Africa) to sign up.
Those thinking of signing up have a choice of three subscriptions. The 1-year plan is by far the most desirable choice as it offers one extra year for free and comes at a very affordable price. Just bear in mind that there are refund restrictions here, namely that you can’t get a refund if you’ve made more than 30 connections or exceeded 7GB of bandwidth. The packages available are: