TL;DR – These are the Best VPNs for Gaming
Best VPN for Gaming
Express VPN (read our review) is one of the most popular VPNs in the world and for good reason. The company has been in operation for more than 10 years and in that time has proven to be extremely secure thanks to its zero logging policy and connection encryption. It was even put to the test in a high profile criminal case and proven secure.
Despite it’s easy setup and simple appearance, ExpressVPN is highly customizable and feature rich. Through its MediaStreamer service, it can even run on your console or Apple TV. Even more importantly, it offers stable, high-speed connections and thousands of server and region choices to make sure that you can connect where you want, when you want.
ExpressVPN isn’t the most affordable VPN on the market at $8.32 a month, but it earns its asking price by delivering an all-around excellent experience.
Best Budget VPN for Gaming
We get it, all of those subscriptions add up. That’s where Surfshark (read our review) comes in with its generous two-year plan for only $1.99 a month. That can be a bit misleading since it’s also billed bi-annually, but at only $47.99 every two years, it’s the most affordable high quality VPN we’re laid hands on.
Just because it’s cheap doesn’t mean it cuts corners. Surfshark performed well in our latency and connection speed tests, so you’ll be able to download and stream without a problem across your devices. Additionally, it has a strict “no logs” policy to further protect your anonymity.
Best Freemium VPN for Gaming
TunnelBear (read our review) might lag behind the competition in download speed, but it offers something most other VPN services lack: a free VPN package for users on a limited budget. You’ll be limited to 500MB a month but at no cost to use, it acts as an unlimited free trial and an excellent solution if you only need a VPN on rare occasions.
In addition, TunnelBear supports a Teams pricing package that caters to businesses that need to secure multiple employees. This service makes managing multiple VPN users both cheaper and easier thanks to TunnelBear’s management interface and unified invoice. Each device is also encrypted with TunnelBear’s AES-256 bit encryption to prevent sensitive data from falling into the wrong hands.
Best VPN for Streaming
Have you ever heard someone talk about a cool new show or movie only to find out it’s not available in your region? Fret not, because CyberGhost (read our review) actively works to make accessing that content easy by keeping a selection of servers that have been optimized for Netflix.
What’s that: you thought that watching U.K. content was as easy as selecting a U.K. server? Not so fast. Streaming services have gotten wise to the trick of using VPNs to bypass region locks and routinely block access to those servers. CyberGhost takes the tedious guesswork of finding a working server off your hands and simply tells you which have been optimized to work with the streaming giant.
CyberGhost also has the distinction of offering the largest amount of servers in our entire roundup with 6400 options across more than 89 regions.
Best VPN for Game Streaming
IPVanish (read our review) wasn’t the best when it came to download speeds, but when it came to uploading, it was a chart-topper. During off-peak hours, it offered nearly a 1Mbps upload advantage over its closest competitor. When other VPNs began to struggle during network-congested evening hours, however, IPVanish stayed consistent and increased its lead, offering a greater upload speed than with no VPN at all!
Taken as a whole package, IPVanish covers most bases. Its app is a bit overwhelming, but it offers 256-bit encryption and zero logging to keep your connection secure. It also supports up to 10 simultaneous connections with no bandwidth limit. It’s a top contender for latency when gaming, which helps make up its mediocre download speed.
Best VPN for Privacy
NordVPN (read our review) may just be the best known private network out there thanks to their heavy presence on YouTube. Thankfully, it’s not all marketing hype as this VPN performed well in our latency and download tests. It didn’t top the charts in speed (though it was consistently one of the top performers), but it becomes a great value when you take a closer look at its features.
NordVPN offers the standard encryption and zero-logging policy, but it takes things a step further with Double VPN IP masking. In essence, this service changes your IP address twice to make it even more difficult to track. Conversely, if you would rather have a static IP through its network, you can do that too. To prevent sensitive data leaks, enable the VPN Killswitch and take the DNS Leak Test. If downloading is more your style, you’ll be pleased to know that it’s P2P optimized.
What To Look for in a VPN
Looking for a VPN can be daunting. Even though many are very easy to set up and use, nearly all of them throw intimidating network terminology at you while all offering the same basic service. Here’s how to choose the right VPN for you.
Security: The single most important thing you should look for in a VPN is how secure it is. Anonymity is the reason to use the service in the first place, so only choose a provider that guarantees absolutely zero logging. After you’ve found one, Google different reviews to see what kind of vulnerabilities might have surfaced. Related to this, do not use a free VPN if you care about your anonymity. Though many claim to be 100% secure, remember that something that sounds too good to be true probably is. As the saying goes, if the service is free, you (and your data) are probably the product.
Somewhat related to this, always search for stories related to controversies the company may have been involved in. These can often reveal situations you may not be comfortable with, such as parent companies, or instances where it hasn’t been honest in the past.
Connection Quality at Different Times of the Day: Many people avoid VPNs because they’re worried it will leave them with a laggy connection. While it’s true that any VPN is a middle man and can theoretically slow down your gaming, many are fast enough to have no impact at all. Read sites like ours to find out about the connection quality at different times of the day. Be leery of any review that doesn’t disclose the time of day their test was conducted as network congestion can have a large impact on your ping.
Additional Features: Many VPNs offer additional features to differentiate themselves from the competition. Be sure to look at what, if any, extra security features the VPN offers to earn your subscription. Private Internet Access, for example, includes a VPN Killswitch that pauses your network if you disconnect suddenly, ensuring your activity doesn’t slip out by accident. NordVPN allows you to test for DNS Leaks. These features can enhance your peace of mind and offer extra value with your monthly sub.
Does it accomplish what you’re looking for? Before choosing a VPN, think about everything you would like to do with it. If your goal is to stream video content from different countries, you’ll need to make sure your VPN of choice will make that easy for you. If it’s to connect your whole home through your router, you should ensure the developer supports that service and has documentation to help you get setup. Not all VPNs are created equal and, oftentimes, it’s worth sacrificing in one area to ensure that it performs in the area you need.
Chris Coke is a tech critic that cares way too much about mechanical keyboards. Check him out at IGN, MMORPG.com, or PC Perspective. Follow him on Twitter @gamebynight.