It may not seem like it, but online games and VPN services are natural companions. You can use a VPN to protect yourself from DDoS attacks, access games blocked in your country, and (sometimes) even improve your ping.
With a good VPN, usually, the ping increase will be minimal, and you will also get a tool expanding your accessibility and safety.
Those are just some of the ways a VPN can help a gamer out. Yet there’s also the possibility of getting better deals on games by spoofing your location, as well as an increase in your general level of online access and privacy. So, without further ado, here are the 5 best VPNs for gaming in 2020.
1. NordVPN – safest VPN for gaming
- Pricing: $3.49/month
- Ping: 41 ms
- Features: great for restrictive countries, SmartPlay unblocks otherwise unavailable content and works without any manual configuration, protection for all your devices with 6 simultaneous connections
NordVPN is a great VPN for gaming. In addition to being one of the fastest services, it also offers unparalleled security and privacy. This is especially important for players who want to make sure they’re safe from DDoS attacks and similar issues that gamers face.
Another remarkable feature of NordVPN is its server fleet. Comprised of 5500+ servers in more than 58 countries, it allows great connectivity around the globe. NordVPN also has all the tools to circumvent the Great Firewall of China, making it a perfect choice for gamers inside the country.
After you install NordVPN, you’ll instantly notice that the client is neatly designed and easy to use, marking all available connections on a huge world map. And should you experience any issues, NordVPN’s responsive 24/7 support team won’t leave you alone.
2. Surfshark – unlimited devices for less than $2
- Pricing: $1.99/month
- Ping: 48 ms
- Features: smart DNS so that you can enjoy this even if your device doesn’t support VPN apps, protect as many devices as you’d like with unlimited simultaneous connections, Camouflage Mode that eliminates VPN traces on your network
Surfshark scores well in our latency tests, making it one of our best VPN for gaming contenders. Its server fleet of 1000+ in over 60 countries might look modest compared to the competition, but the speeds are great. What’s more, there are no device limits, allowing you to use it on all your devices.
Surfshark VPN provides great security features for gaming enthusiasts: bank-grade encryption, protection from all types of leaks, as well as Camouflage and NoBorder modes to help against tough online censorship measures. All these features make Surfshark a good choice not only for gaming but streaming and torrenting as well.
Unexpectedly, Surfshark doesn’t charge that much for an account with an unlimited number of simultaneous connections. You can get Surfshark’s 7-day free trial on Google Play and the Apple App Store. After you’ve activated the trial, it’s possible to test it on PC and other devices as well.
3. PrivateVPN – the cheapest VPN for gaming
- Pricing: $1.89/month
- Ping: 52 ms
- Features: works in high-censorship countries if you use Stealth VPN mode, gets its internet capacity from IP transit providers directly allowing for high-speeds,
With only 150+ servers across 60+ countries, PrivateVPN is still one of the best gaming VPNs there is. Buying internet capacity directly from the IP transit provider, this service bypasses hosting companies and other middle-men to offer good speeds and low ping – just what the gamers need.
From the security standpoint, this VPN uses AES-256 encryption, OpenVPN and IKEv2 protocols, and a built-in kill switch – more than enough for secure gaming.
PrivateVPN is great for other types of entertainment as well – it allows P2P and unblocks Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and other streaming platforms. It also has apps for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, and supports a bunch of routers. When you set-up PrivateVPN on one, it will protect all your devices, including game consoles.
4. CyberGhost – gaming VPN with the largest server fleet
- Pricing: $2.75/month
- Ping: 47 ms
- Features: if you have a PC it’s usable with any gaming console with Windows’ ‘Internet Connection Sharing’ function, avoid DNS filtering and ISP throttling
When it comes to global coverage, no other gaming VPN beats CyberGhost. This provider boasts over 5800 servers in more than 80 countries for an unparalleled worldwide spread. The speeds are high, and the ping is low enough to name CyberGhost as one of the best VPNs for gaming.
You can use CyberGhost to be safe from DDoS attacks and other gaming woes with this VPN that gives military-grade encryption, leak protection, and a kill switch.
CyberGhost has slick apps with many customization options for all major platforms and then some. It also unblocks Netflix and allows P2P and torrenting with ease. A 24/7 live chat customer support agents are helpful and quick to reply.
5. ExpressVPN – speedy VPN for gaming
- Pricing: $6.67/month
- Ping: 38 ms
- Features: access all the content you want with the MediaStreamer service, optimize ping times between gaming servers by connecting to closer locations between network hosts
ExpressVPN is among the best VPN services for gaming: it provides excellent speeds and low latency, as seen in our test results. With over 3000 servers distributed in more than 90 countries, ExpressVPN is an ideal choice for gamers from various locations, even China.
Get ExpressVPN to benefit from its premium security features. The service has military-grade encryption, no known DNS or IPv6 leaks and supports OpenVPN and IKEv2 connection protocols. What’s more, it provides a kill switch that automatically terminates your connection if the VPN fails, keeping your IP from getting exposed.
There are easy to use apps for all major platforms, as well as MediaStreamer (SmartDNS) configs for Xbox, PlayStation, and Switch consoles. ExpressVPN also allows torrenting and will unblock Netflix along with other streaming services. The only downside? A somewhat steep price.
Do gamers need a VPN?
If you’re using a computer that’s connected to the internet, it’s a good idea to use a VPN in general. This is especially the case when you’re gaming. For example, hackers have tricks to determine your IP address. Using this information it’s possible to direct DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack by flooding your traffic and cutting you off internet access – unless you’re using a VPN.
Aside from protecting you from such situations, a VPN can be simply useful by reducing restrictions imposed by your ISP. This usually comes in the form of DNS filtering and ISP throttling. This means that in some cases you’re even able to reduce your ping during online gaming sessions.
Gamers might also appreciate the ability to get geo-blocked games unavailable in your country. This works for banned games as well as exclusive regional DLC content for which Japan is notorious with many of Sony and Nintendo exclusives appearing only there.
How to choose the best gaming VPN?
If you’re looking for the best VPN for gaming, there are many factors that determine which is truly the best service. Here’s what we recommend looking for:
- Low ping: this means smooth gameplay by allowing faster updates of game data exchanges between the players’ client and game server. The more frequent the refreshes are, the better your gameplay experience. For that, you need a speedy VPN with a large pool of servers to choose from.
- Security: for PC gamers, this includes military-grade encryption, the best tunneling protocols (OpenVPN, IKEv2 or Wireguard), kill switch and protection against IPv6/DNS leaks. For console gamers, no VPN out there has native apps for PS4/Xbox One. However, you should be able to set up DNS servers or route your traffic through a protected PC.
- Privacy. The provider should have a strict no-logs policy, allow anonymous registration and payments.
- Ease of use and customer support. Is the app user-friendly? Does your provider offer 24/7 live support via chat?
- Price. Last but not least, the VPN should offer enough bang-for-your-buck and a solid money-back guarantee. A free trial is a bonus too.
Average ping scores of the best gaming VPNs
Since latency is the most important factor for all gamers, we measured the average ping in ms to see the ultimate VPN for gaming.
Here are the results:
|Brand name||Ping scores|
Free VPN for gaming
While there are a few free VPNs that are actually good, we cannot recommend any of them because of two reasons – limited monthly bandwidth and server selection. While some gamers might be able to live with one, usually, these limitations come together. But if you’re on a really tight budget, the services below are your only hope to get back online.
ProtonVPN is the best free VPN for gaming because it has no bandwidth limit and a no-logs policy. It also has no advertisements that might appear in the middle of a heated battle royale. On the downside, there are only three countries (US, Netherlands, Japan) to choose from, so if you’re situated somewhere far away, most likely, the lag will be too much.
If you’re a less avid online gamer, Windscribe’s free VPN might also be a good idea. This service has 13 countries and gives you the same security features that a premium version has. Sadly, there’s a 10 GB monthly data limit, and the speeds might not be good enough for gaming.
VPN for gaming FAQ
The answer is highly subjective and it varies based on a number of factors. If you’re gaming on PC, Linux, Android or iOS device, the best VPN providers usually have dedicated apps that provide stronger security and encryption features. If you’re a console gamer your options will be limited to DNS configuration, set a VPN up on your router, or you can route your traffic through a protected PC to reap the same benefits. Our #1 provider, NordVPN is strong on all these fronts.
Usually, if a VPN is terrible, it’s going to be unsuitable for gaming. However, ping scores using a VPN are very user-dependent so your best course of action would be to try the service for yourself. Keep in mind that your performance might also be affected by the game server loads so test it using different settings at different times. If you follow our tips on how to choose the best VPN for gaming you should be all set.
Setting up VPN software on your PC is a simple task that can be done in minutes.
1. Go to the website of your chosen VPN provider
2. Download the setup file
3. Run the .exe file and choose where to install it
4. Wait a few seconds until the installation completes
5. Fill in your login credentials and that’s it. Now choose a server to connect to and launch your game
This is tricky. Technically, no VPN provider has a dedicated app for Xbox One. However, you’re still able to use your VPN providers’ DNS servers to avoid some geo-restrictions.
1. Press the Xbox button on the controller, then go into Settings
2. Select Network, then Advanced settings
3. Select DNS settings, then Manual
4. Fill in the IP addresses of DNS servers that were given to you by your provider
5. Press the (B) button to save your settings.
6. That’s it – your Smart DNS solution is configured
It’s impossible to set up a VPN on PS4 with a dedicated app, no top provider offers such a solution. However, there is a workaround to change your default DNS settings.
1. On your PS4, go to Settings, then Network
2. Select Set Up Internet Connection and select Use Wi-Fi or Use a LAN Cable, depending on which you use
3. Under the “How do you want to set up the Internet connection?” select Custom
4. In IP Address Settings select Automatic
5. Under DHCP Host Name select Do Not Specify, then select the Manual setting in the DNS Settings window
6. Fill in the details of your primary DNS server IP addresses and select Done
7. Restart your PS4 for the DNS changes to take place, wait for 30 seconds and turn it back on.
8. The DNS server is now in action and can be used.
There are no dedicated VPN apps for Nintendo Switch. However, this shouldn’t stop you from configuring a DNS.
1. On your Switch, go to System Settings.
2. Choose Internet and then, Internet settings
3. Select the network you want to modify and click Change Settings
4. Go to DNS Settings and select Manual
5. Fill in the addresses given by your VPN provider and press OK
8. That’s you you’re all set.