VPNs aren't always the first thing to come to mind when you think of online gaming. Typically used to circumvent streaming restrictions or other blocked content, a VPN was always thought of as more of a tool than a gaming utility. Recently, however, that's all changed.
Why would you want to use a VPN for gaming? There are various reasons, some of which may even help you net more wins in your favorite online games. Primarily a tool for staying more secure when online, VPNs can also spoof your location, help boost your speeds and even give you access to gaming in regions in which you wouldn't typically be able to play.
If you're into competitive gaming or even streaming, you may also worry about the threat of a DDoS attack. A VPN can help keep you safe from any such threats, while also giving you access to easier lobbies for some games — a true win/win.
In this article, we recommend the very best gaming VPNs available now. All the choices below are easy to use across a range of devices and, crucially, have fast and consistent enough server speeds to ensure that they won't cause you any lag when turned on.
1. ExpressVPN is the best gaming VPN (opens in new tab)
The qualities that make ExpressVPN our overall #1 VPN - swift connection speeds, watertight security, excellent support for setting up on a range of devices - are what have also taken it to the top of our gaming VPN leaderboard. Plus, you can now get it with 3 months extra free.
2. NordVPN - fast connections and top security (opens in new tab)
If you're in the heat of an epic gaming session, you really don't want to have the burden of remembering to turn your VPN on and off every other minute. Thankfully, NordVPN's connection speeds are so fast that you can just leave it running in the background, knowing you're protected without the slowdowns.
3. Surfshark - a cheaper gaming VPN option (opens in new tab)
Surfshark comes close to matching the above two VPNs, but has one extra major selling point - its price. The effective monthly cost starts at under the $2.50/£2-mark, which makes it among the cheapest out there and an absolute bargain.
Gaming VPNs: how to choose the best
Most gamers won't necessarily need a VPN to enjoy their passion. But it stands to reason that many — especially those on the best gaming PC or gaming laptop — will still want to have a VPN installed for other reasons (be that for security, streaming, IP spoofing or anything else).
Foremost, you want to ensure you're getting a service that isn't going to slow your whole system down. With that in mind, we specifically test connection speeds on multiple servers of all the VPN services we review, so we can tell you the fastest. Believe it or not, there’s even some evidence that using a VPN can actually reduce your ping time!
General security and privacy are clearly a must, too - time to say goodbye to those DDoS attacks for good. And if you game on multiple platforms, then we suggest picking out a provider that is easily usable on a variety of devices. Luckily, the below services tick all of these boxes... and more.
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With 160 different locations across 94 countries, ExpressVPN should allow you to find a swift server from anywhere in the world. Indeed, it not only delivered some of the fastest speeds we witnessed during our testing, but they're really stable and reliable, too - and that's mostly the same on its servers all over the world. So if you're worried about your ping rates skyrocketing, you really needn't be.
It's secure as well, so DDoS attacks can be put to the back of your mind when you're facing off in the last gasps of a battle royale.
The service excels in the mobile department by offering intuitive custom apps, in particular for Android and iOS. It's ridiculously easy to set up on PCs, and there's easy to follow online guides to help get it going on PlayStation and Xbox, too.
If you were hoping to use your gaming VPN for streaming needs, then ExpressVPN is a great choice there as well. It easily unblocks the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, YouTube and more, so that you can get around geo-restrictions when trying to watch your favorite content from abroad. That also means it's super handy if you were intending to use your VPN for Warzone to get around SBMM by spoofing your location to somewhere that has easier lobbies - we won't judge!
Admittedly, ExpressVPN costs more than some other VPNs, but opting for a 1-year plan is the most affordable choice and gets you a bonus three months extra free plus free cloud backup from Backblaze. And, if you're not satisfied with the service, you can contact customer support within 30 days of your purchase and get a full refund, no questions asked.(opens in new tab)
NordVPN — probably the world's most famous provider - isn't coy about talking up its speeds. And to be honest, that's entirely vindicated by our real-world testing that found its connection performance to be well above-average and so ideal for gamers who like to leave their VPN running in the background.
It's also apparent about why it thinks that all gamers need a VPN. NordVPN is very aware of the dangers of those DDoS attacks and, while admitting that VPNs are not a 100% watertight solution, it pledges to help mitigate more traffic than your regular broadband connection.
It has a higher server count than even ExpressVPN, with more than 5,000 around the world - only CyberGhost and Private Internet Access of the big VPN players can beat that. And they're spread far and wide, with locations as diverse as Costa Rica to North Macedonia.
If you're intending to use your VPN on mobile, we prefer ExpressVPN's apps. Nord's are far from terrible, but we just find the map interface a little clunky (we realize this is entirely subjective, of course). But even this minor quibble won't matter if your main purpose for the VPN is to use on your gaming PC, Xbox or PS5.
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But if you're thinking that cheap means you'll have to sacrifice quality then, in this instance at least, you'd be wrong. Yes, it lacks the sheer number of servers than the likes of NordVPN and ExpressVPN, but it still has plenty of the world covered in terms of locations in over 60 countries.
And it also puts the squeeze on the competition by letting you use just one Surfshark account over multiple devices. Your PC, your Mac, your mobile, your spouse's mobile, your parents' mobiles. The lot.
And it's fast as well. Connection speeds in our tests were impressive - especially when cranking up the WireGuard protocol (although the results on plain old OpenVPN still lag a bit). And if you're a seasoned gamer but new to the world of VPNs, then Surfshark will ease you in gently with its easy-to-use interface and friendly installation.
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When it comes to the best gaming VPN, it makes sense that CyberGhost would find itself in the top five. It has handy Xbox and PS4 VPN workarounds, as well as offering guidance on reaping the benefits of its service on your Nintendo Switch.
Able to protect you against DDoS attacks, CyberGhost plays host to a number of great features which will help boost your security, including auto-connecting to your favorite server at launch for an almost-instantaneous secure connection.
Anyone who doubles up their gaming console as a media streamer can also benefit from streaming from foreign libraries with CyberGhost's ability to bypass geo-restrictions and unblock US Netflix (although it struggles with other regions), Prime Video and Disney Plus in our testing. This also means you'll be able to access different regions of your gaming stores and get around blocks IP address blocks put in place by your school or workplace.
Its speed performance is also very impressive, helping you to avoid lag while gaming online - it benefits from featuring the WireGuard protocol across all its apps. Simply connect to the nearest server from its selection of more than 8,000 servers across 90 countries and get gaming!
One thing we think CyberGhost could still really do with is a bit of a shake-up of its support site. It isn't always easy getting VPNs to play nice with consoles or for streaming, and other providers on this list have spent more time and effort developing a library of handy help articles. And currently, it is worth noting that the company still hasn't enlisted the help of an independent auditor to verify its privacy claims and no-logging policy.
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Last but by no means least on this list, Private Internet Access has been one of the most impressive all-round VPNs in our latest rounds of testing. It's a feature-filled option that you can get for a bargain price if you sign up for more than a year - and it has extra options available that will specifically suit serious gamers.
Because we physically test all the VPNs we review, we can tell you that PIA is one of the easiest and most intuitive to use of them all. That goes all the way from installation through to day-to-day use across platforms and apps.
It has thousands upon thousands of servers that are set across 100+ locations and uses them with purpose to help its customers get around geo-restrictions - so PIA will really be useful for getting you access to games in other parts of the world that get released early or simply aren't available where you are.
Talking of IPs, we like that Private Internet Access makes it effortless for gamers to obtain a dedicated IP address (at a small extra charge). The function is to give you the same IP address every time you log on, and that isn't shared by anybody else in the world. That should mean you're less prone to IP block-listing and CAPTCHAs, plus promises to make gaming with a VPN turned on even more stable.
We say at the head of this article that speed is a key consideration when it comes to gaming VPNs, and that's what pushes PIA to the bottom of this top five. In our speed testing, we saw WireGuard speeds on a 1 GB line come in at about half of what Express, Nord and Surfshark managed. It's still no slouch, but for dedicated or professional gamers that can't afford to lose any edge, this may be a difference maker.
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Gaming VPN FAQ
Which is the best VPN for gaming?
Right now we rate ExpressVPN as the best option (opens in new tab) out there. It boasts tonnes of server locations, reliably fast connection speeds and various security protocols (including its very own Lightway option). It's wonderfully easy to use on desktop and mobile and is also fantastic at unblocking TV services for when you're streaming.
Is a VPN good for gaming?
It depends. Opt for a poor VPN service and you risk ending up with a bit of software that slows down your connection and isn't as secure and anonymous as you'd intended. But choose one of the best gaming VPNs and you can trust your data will be encrypted and, in some cases, the service's ability to get around ISP throttling may actually speed up your gaming!
What are DDoS attacks?
Short for distributed denial of service, DDoS attacks are the surge of professional and serious gamers the world over. It's a tactic used to slow down other players, by flooding their IP address with junk traffic that overwhelms the gamer's network and preventing their system from responding at normal speeds and reliability.
That's where a VPN comes in. Because VPN users send all their internet traffic through the provider's third party IP address, it's extremely hard (although still not impossible) for the malicious actor to target your particular network for any sustained period.
Can you get banned for using a VPN when playing Warzone?
There are plenty of reasons one might use a VPN when playing the battle royale video game, from reducing ping to accessing easier lobbies.
In the COD Warzone Security and Enforcement Policy it does not state that a Warzone VPN is strictly prohibited. In fact, a VPN can be used in order to stabilise connection and reduce lag, as long as it's not being used in order to gain an unfair advantage. When it comes to using a VPN, however, it seems like the latter would be difficult to prove considering the anonymity a VPN grants a user and their identity.
Should I get a free download for my gaming VPN?
We wouldn't recommend it. We've got nothing at all against free VPNs generally - we think they have a time and place, for sure. But they often come with pretty prohibitive data allowances that mean they'll stop working after a short stint of gaming. Their ads can be pretty off-putting, too. And you'll have far fewer servers to choose from.
Can a VPN lower ping?
When it comes to gaming, no one wants to be caught out with high ping. Thankfully, the best gaming VPN can help with that and ensure your controller input is illustrated instantly on your screen, avoiding lagging delays, when gaming online.
Ensuring the speediest possible connection, a VPN allows you to hop onto a choice of - in some cases - thousands of servers, which can see an improvement in speed performance. Even if you're not a gamer, ping can be lowered when it comes to downloading files from the Internet, etc.