Sometimes it's hard for a VPN to stand out from the crowd. All of them claim watertight security, website unblocking skills, and an array of easy-to-use apps and clients. Some of those boasts are pretty subjective - but figuring out and ranking the fastest VPNs is way more clear cut.
And it's a very important metric for these services, too. Because VPNs work by sending all your internet traffic via your chosen provider's secure server (twice, in some cases), that's a lot of extra potential latency. Thankfully, by going for one of the best fast VPNs, you can pretty much avoid any slow down completely.
Depending on the robustness of the company’s network and the number of servers it offers (with closer servers generally providing better speeds), some VPNs barely impact your connection. And we've tested all the top providers out there on their speed to make sure that you can confidently pick out a provider that won't slow you down - especially if you’re using your service to stream video or play games, where having fast VPN speeds is a priority.
And to be absolutely clear, the list below considers more than purely speed to establish the rankings. We've seen some mega fast VPNs that don't have the goods in other areas to justify a place among our recommendations.
Today's top 3 best fast VPNs
1. NordVPN - one of the biggest names in VPN (opens in new tab)
It's no surprise that one of the most famous names in virtual private networks is also one of the fastest out there. It's the consistency from region-to-region that really impresses. And NordVPN delivers when it comes to security, usability and streaming service unblocking, too.
2. Hide.me VPN - some of the fastest speeds on test
(opens in new tab)Nord pips it to the top spot because of its all-round VPN game, but Hide.me has the goods when it comes to pure speed. When we fired used WireGuard in the US, we witnessed astonishing speeds of 900Mbps on our 1GB line - pretty much the very fastest we saw in our testing.
3. CyberGhost - fast in any scenario (opens in new tab)
CyberGhost displayed some great speeds on a variety of servers and protocols in play. It's a feature-filled VPN that impresses across devices and has the features to cater to most users.
The fastest VPNs 2022(opens in new tab)
NordVPN is fast becoming one of those brand names that's just synonymous with the product itself - a bit like Hoover or Tannoy. And a good reason for its huge popularity (as well as all the advertising it does) is because of its speed.
When we tested it via US servers, we found connections speeds of up to 760Mbps when you use its own WireGuard-based NordLynx protocol - that's way up on the heights of 630Mb that we got from ExpressVPN. Now, there aren't too many homes around that have broadband as fast as that anyway, so don't expect your streaming or downloading speeds to suffer very much at all if you have NordVPN switched on in the background.
We also found that NordVPN has nailed things in terms of consistency on global servers, too. The UK speeds we saw, for example, were pretty much on a par with the US. That's great news for travelers or people trying to access streaming feeds from other countries.
Outside that, NordVPN really comes good in terms of security and privacy. Its no-logs policy is independently audited and it brings unique features like Double VPN and Onion Over technology to the table to ensure that your private details will never be leaked.
And if you've got the need for speed, we reckon it's because you're probably looking for a top streaming VPN. Nord has you covered on that front, too - it nails Netflix, unhooks Hulu, delves into Disney+ and unblocks BBC iPlayer.
And there's some really attractive pricing options available, too - especially if you up your subscription to a multiyear plan.
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Over on our main VPN chart, Hide.me has been one of our biggest climbers in recent tests. One of the few independent providers among the big boys, the Malaysian-based company has a lot going for it.
But undeniably its most eye-catching asset from our in-depth testing was during our speed evaluations from the US and UK. Knowing that Hide.me takes this aspect seriously from the fact that it supports the ability to run in the Windows kernel for better performance, we had high hopes. But when we turned on the WireGuard protocol (available across platforms) on our 1Gbps+ cable connection, we had to check it multiple times to believe what we were seeing. The US test clocked in consistently at an eye-watering 900Mbps, while it wasn't far off in the UK at an average of 700Mbps.
And if you know that you'll be using your VPN for activities where WireGuard just won't fit, then the results of our OpenVPN testing was almost as impressive. The speeds we recorded were reliably over the 400Mbps second-mark on both sides of the Atlantic, with highs of 580Mbps in the US.
The only VPN that managed to pip it in our speed tests was TorGuard when using WireGuard, but that VPN was found wanting in other areas so doesn't warrant a place in this countdown.
Outside pure speeds, Hide.me is nice and straightforward to use for VPN newbies, while also having plenty of configurable options for anybody who wants to go a bit deeper. And the service has really upped its game of late when it comes to unblocking geo-restricted material, coming up trumps in our streaming testing on services like US Netflix, Disney Plus and BBC iPlayer. There was the odd kill-switch niggle though, and if Hide.me really wants to mix with the big boys then we're going to want to see a nice fresh VPN audit.
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You'll often see CyberGhost pop up in our various VPN buying guides. For a while now, it has impressed with the amount of solid features you get - especially on its desktop clients. And although it isn't quite as strong as the likes of ExpressVPN and NordVPN on streaming, it's a fantastic option if that isn't your primary concern.
It wouldn't be on this list, of course, unless we'd registered some impressive server speeds in our latest testing. On regular OpenVPN we clocked top speeds of 160Mb and a tasty 415Mbps respectively in the US and UK. And when we turned on the WireGuard juice, that went up again to 850Mbps and 670Mbps. What does that mean in real life? Well, that by having it running along in the background, you'll barely notice a jot of performance issues.
CyberGhost may have even threatened to climb higher in this chart, but it's true that the variation in the speed testing was wider than some of the competition above. For example, the lowest speeds we saw were down around the 140Mbps-mark in the US.
With a generous 45-day money back guarantee and excellent pricing on longer-term plans, CyberGhost is very much worth considering.
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It took a while, but IPVanish is finally able to boast to having WireGuard as an optional protocol to use. That's great news for a provider that we've lambasted in previous tests for coming up way behind the rest when it comes to pure speed. Now, it's one of the very fastest - we managed to clock it at an astonishing 890Mbps on our 1Gbps line in the US.
If you're more likely to be using OpenVPN however, it comes in a little slower than some of the options on this countdown. The max speeds of just under 300Mbps in the US certainly aren't slow, but others are coming back quicker.
This provider is an old favorite of ours. On top of the speeds displayed, it's easy-to-function software. One subscription allows you to use it across an unlimited array of devices. In fact, you can use it on as many as you like - so desktop, laptop, mobiles, TV streaming devices, routers... the lot.
Other areas for improvement would be when it comes to streaming. In IPVanish's defense, it doesn't make lofty claims in this department. But it would be nice to know that your VPN of choice works effectively to unblock Amazon Prime Video and Netflix catalogs outside the US, which this one currently can not.
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The two factors most in ExpressVPN's favor are the fact that: a) it's right at the top of our overall chart of the very best VPN services; and b) when we switched over to its proprietary Lightway protocol, we found eye-catching UK connection speeds of a monumental 630Mbps. That's quite the rate, and more than fast enough to ensure that your streaming and general web surfing doesn't stutter at all when the VPN is switched on.
A nice extra touch is that ExpressVPN offers its own speed test that helps you make sure that you're connecting to the best possible server - we admire that extra dedication to performance.
But ultimately, we found speeds from other services to have a better, higher consistency when we did our checking on international servers. In our latest US test, for example, Express's speeds were relatively underwhelming (although still no slouch). For us it maxed out at 430Mbps in the most recent speed tests, so coming up short of the likes of Nord (760Mbps), Hide.me (900Mbps), IPVanish (890Mpbs) and Surfshark (790Mbps).
Since our testing however, the provider has announced that it is committing to upgrade its server network from a standard 1Gbps to a small number that will have a bandwidth limit of up to 40Gbps. It will be fascinating to see how (if at all) this impacts our next round of speed testing.
Outside of pure performance, ExpressVPN has really got things sewn up - from its superb array of apps and clients (it works like a dream on Windows, Mac Linux, Android, iPhone, games consoles, TV streaming devices, routers, and more) to the way it automatically connect to the optimal server so you can experience the best possible performance right from the off.
On the security front, you get a thorough choice of protocol support - including that custom-built Lightway. You get a kill switch, and private ‘zero knowledge’ DNS solution, among other privacy boons. And speaking of privacy, there is no logging of network traffic such as connection times or IP addresses.
If there's one disadvantage to ExpressVPN, then it's probably the price - we think 'reassuringly expensive' is probably a good way of looking at it and costs more than the four providers above. Still, the provider does offer a hassle-free 30-day refund and an extra freebie besides.
Fastest VPN results table
Just want to know the raw speeds that we discovered in our testing? You can see our results from early 2022 in the table below, listed from their top US speed downwards. The table features some of the best providers on test, together with a few others that had particularly noteworthy results (good and bad!).
Just remember, this table is based purely on speeds, which is why we curated the providers that combine maximum performance, consistent speeds across regions and protocols, and other qualities in our countdown above.
|US speed range||UK speed range|
|TorGuard||50-950 Mbps||315-950 Mbps|
|IPVanish||290-930 Mbps||120-700 Mbps|
|Hide.me||550-900 Mbps||440-720 Mbps|
|Mullvad||700-820 Mbps||480-620 Mbps|
|IVPN||180-810 Mbps||140-700 Mbps|
|Surfshark||90-790 Mbps||130-700 Mbps|
|CyberGhost||145-850 Mbps||300-670 Mbps|
|PureVPN||180-840 Mbps||250-460 Mbps|
|NordVPN||220-760 Mbps||250-680 Mbps|
|ExpressVPN||375-430 Mbps||270-630 Mbps|
|TunnelBear||310-380 Mbps||290-310 Mbps|
|Private Internet Access||70-320 Mbps||170-250 Mbps|
|FastestVPN||70-930 Mbps||220-325 Mbps|
|UrbanVPN||5 Mbps||10 Mbps|
Fastest VPN FAQ
Which VPN is fastest?
In our latest round of speed testing, we saw some blistering speeds from a number of providers. But top of the pile in terms of consistently fast VPN connections in a number of different server locations is NordVPN (opens in new tab).
Jump on to Nord's very own (WireGuard-based) NordLynx protocol when in the US, and we recorded speeds that clocked in at 760Mbps on our 1Gbps line. That's quite extraordinary, and means you can have NordVPN quietly protecting you at all times in the background, knowing that it won't cause you any lag.
Our #1 favorite service ExpressVPN (opens in new tab), also impressed in terms of displaying excellent speeds in a range of territories and protocols. While it was Hide.me that recorded the very fastest speed - 900Mbps while on WireGuard in the US.
How to choose the fastest VPN
A lot of VPNs claim to be the fastest around, but as you can imagine, in many cases that’s an idle boast. In this article, we are going to pinpoint the providers that we’ve found really deliver on the performance front, going by our reviews and testing.
Of course, speed isn’t the be-all-and-end-all, and we always expect solid security and privacy from any VPN. As mentioned, broad server coverage is important here in terms of getting a fast and stable connection. And user-friendly native clients never hurt.
Bear in mind that the VPN won’t be the only thing affecting the performance of your internet connection, and this can vary depending on your ISP, the time of day (particularly whether it’s peak traffic times), and also the status of the service or website you’re using.
Methodology: how we speed test VPNs
It takes us a long time to test the top VPNs every six months, and the speed testing is one of the most time consuming parts.
To put every provider on an even playing surface, we use the same Windows set-up for each one on a Ethernet-based 1Gbps connection. Using a combination of at least three respected speed testing sites, we test our normal connection speed with the all VPNs turned off. Then - one by one - we turn on our VPNs, testing the speeds with at least five tests and then taking the median average as our result.
If the default VPN protocol for the service was OpenVPN, we then do the same thing with WireGuard or its own proprietary protocol (i.e. Lightway for Express, NordLynx for Nord, Catapult Hydra for Hotspot Shield, etc) - or vice versa.
To ensure a fair test we do this in the morning and the evening. And because connection speeds can change around the world, we test in the US and the UK to try and give the fairest representation possible.
What is the fastest free VPN?
When it comes to getting the best performance from your VPN, both in terms of speed and other areas, we always recommend paying for your VPN. While free VPN tools are available, it's wise to err on the side of caution with many only able to maintain the infrastructure to run its VPN by logging and selling your information onto third parties. This means they're really not as secure as you'd like.
That being said, with ProtonVPN offering fantastic speeds (opens in new tab), it may be worth trying out its free plan option before upgrading to reap the full benefits of its features and extensive list of servers.
Most other VPN services give you a courtesy window to try out the VPN with the safety blanket of an all-your-money-back-guarantee, spanning anywhere from 30 to 45 days.
Is NordVPN or ExpressVPN faster?
In our recent round of testing, NordVPN claimed the top spot as fastest VPN, with its protcol NordLynx securing speeds ranging from 2200Mbps up to 760Mbps. ExpressVPN doesn't trail too far behind with its Lightway protocol, though, reaching up to 630Mbps.
Need help deciding which to go for? Why not check out our ExpressVPN vs NordVPN comparison piece to help you choose?