Get ready to get your game face on! We’ve put together some of the best VPNs for gaming so you can enjoy your games with a speedy and protected connection.
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) have become popular among gamers because they help access those geo-restricted games. VPNs also reduce gaming latency or ping time when gamers are participating in competitive games, as long as the connection is fast and stable. You can enjoy games like “Fortnite” or “League of Legends” through using a VPN. But what kind of VPN should you choose for your online gaming experience?
VPNs for gaming aren’t created equal, and some are much better than others. You need a VPN that is fast, secure, allows torrenting, and doesn’t limit your bandwidth or speed. You also want a VPN that has an extensive server park with servers distributed in numerous countries. Before we look at the best VPN for gaming, let’s examine the considerations behind choosing a VPN.
Things to consider when choosing the best VPN for gaming
If you are a serious gamer, your safety on the internet should be a priority. Having a VPN is crucial for online security and safety. When looking for a reliable VPN, there are several things you need to look out for including performance, tunneling protocols and encryption, torrenting ability, server location and price.
The best VPNs for gaming should have speeds that are considered first tier connections. If a VPN reduces your connection speed by 5 percent, that is acceptable, but if it lowers the speed by 20 percent, that mediocre connectivity could severely affect your gaming experience.
To help determine the performance of a VPN service, look at the location of the servers in comparison to where you live. While a VPN will disguise your identity and location regardless of where you are, the geographical location of the VPN service will go a long way in determining the VPN’s performance. You could find a highly regarded VPN, but, if it only has servers in 10 countries on the other side of the world from where you live, the speed and performance of the VPN could be affected. On the other hand, there are VPN services with servers located in over 100 countries, so it’s much easier to find a nearby server.
Apart from performance, server locations, and speed, the kind of data tunneling technology the VPN service uses is another crucial point to look at. CyberGhost, for example uses AES-256-CBC encryption alongside SHA256 hash authentication. The control channel of CyberGhost is directed within an AES-256 cipher that has an RSA-4096 certificate alongside an SHA384 hash authentication. In plain English, this means that hackers cannot use brute force to attack it.
This is the kind of encryption you want to have when using a VPN for gaming. If you compare a VPN service like HideMyAss with NordVPN, the former isn’t as good of a choice as the latter. This is because although HideMyAss uses strong encryption similar to ExpressVPN, it’s known for handing out customers’ identity information to the police. Also, although it’s owned by AvastSoftware, a Czech company, HideMyAss is a UK-based VPN service.
A gamer looking for a VPN that guarantees privacy and security of their personal data wouldn’t want to use HideMyAss despite it having extensive server locations. Having looked at the factors to consider when selecting a VPN for torrenting and gaming, let us examine the top ones and see which VPN is the best option for online gaming.
1. ExpressVPN ‣
- 1 month – $12.95
- 6 months – $59.95 ($9.99/month)
- 1 year – $99.95 ($8.32/month)
ExpressVPN is a leading VPN service for torrenting and gaming. It has a powerful encryption and uses the kill switch technology. It also has no known DNS or IPv6 leaks. With over 3,000 servers distributed in more than 90 countries, you can see that ExpressVPN is an ideal choice for gamers from various locations.
The VPN is also fast with the best speeds and performance. ExpressVPN also works in China, but your speed may be lower if you want to get optimal security. The VPN originates from the British Virgin Islands (BVI), a privacy-friendly territory. One setback with ExpressVPN is their above average pricing. ExpressVPN allows five simultaneous connections and offers support for certain routers.
The VPN uses AES-256-CBC encryption to protect data flows. Online gamers can feel safe that their data and online activities are kept secure with this VPN. ExpressVPN’s certification process uses 4096-bit RSA handshake together with SHA-512 authentication.
The VPN service says that they don’t collect activity, connection logs or other kinds of data that can identify a user. They do, however, gather meta-data that they use for technical purposes to ensure good performance of the service. Additionally, ExpressVPN has a strong tunneling protocol, it uses OpenVPN protocol through TCP or UDP since it performs well in terms of security and performance.
Unfortunately, OpenVPN isn’t available on some devices so the VPN service gives gamers an opportunity to choose from other tunneling protocols like L2TP, IPSec, PPTP, SSTP, and IKEv2 for iOS devices. A Network Lock feature that uses a kill switch is also available in ExpressVPN service to terminate the flow of data if the VPN connection drops. To prevent DNS leaks, ExpressVPN has secret, zero-knowledge and encrypted DNS within each server.
Many VPNs will fall short on speed as their security increases because of the encapsulation, but in the case of ExpressVPN, it has tried to strike a balance. The VPN is among the fastest and most secure on the market. It has over 3,000 servers situated in 160+ locations in more than 90 countries.
The VPN supports multiple operating systems including Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, as well as offering support for certain routers. Another benefit is that ExpressVPN allows users to access various entertainment platforms that use geo-blocking tactics like Hulu, HBO Go, Amazon Video, Spotify, and BBC iPlayer. It will also enable you to watch Netflix.
ExpressVPN also has a SmartDNS feature to allow users to gain access to MediaStreamer for watching content on numerous devices like PS4 and Xbox. You can also use the Kodi open-source media player while running ExpressVPN. When using ExpressVPN, BitTorrent users can download content without any bandwidth limits. And you know what? Even the Chinese Great Firewall cannot block ExpressVPN.
2. NordVPN ‣
- 1 month – $11.95
- 1 year – $83.88 ($6.99/month)
- 2 years – $95.75 ($4.99/month)
- 3 years – $107.55 ($3.49/month)
NordVPN is a great competitor for ExpressVPN. NordVPN has a strong encryption and reliable kill switch, and there aren’t any issues with leaks. The “Onion over VPN” is a feature that places NordVPN higher on the scale than many of its competitors. It uses military-grade AES-256 encryption. This is the same encryption used by NSA and the USA government.
Regarding logging information, Nord only keeps minimal logs and allows anonymity. It doesn’t log personal data. A very interesting aspect for gamers to know is that NordVPN is based outside the 14-Eye intelligence alliance, specifically in Panama, so there are no troubles with data retention laws and intelligence.
NordVPN has a larger server park comprised of over 5000 servers, but not all of those allow peer-to-peer torrenting. There are, however, servers that have been optimized to deliver high performance. NordVPN avoids riskier locations and it readily works in China. A plus with this VPN is that it’s comparably cheaper than other VPNs such as ExpressVPN. Members can enjoy having up to six simultaneous connections.
NordVPN uses double encryption which although greatly improves security, it also leads to a significantly slower connection. To address the problem of reduced speed, Nord provides its customers with faster servers paired with the user’s chosen location. NordVPN has DNS leak protection and provides the Onion over VPN additional security and privacy features to secure gamers when online.
Using Onion over VPN makes it almost impossible for intruders to trace the traffic getting back to you. The huge number of servers, over 5,000 in number distributed over 62 countries shows that the VPN service is available for people in different regions. Nord has also very fast speeds and when coupled with its large distribution of servers, it gives it an edge over other VPNs.
NordVPN has selective efficient servers that allow peer-to-peer torrenting rather than allowing it to happen on all servers. For gamers streaming online games, they would find P2P technology such as torrents very helpful. NordVPN is also great for Kodi media streaming, and accessing restricted entertainment platforms such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO, and BBC iPlayer. NordVPN is supported on Windows and Mac devices as well as iOS and Android.
3. CyberGhost ‣
- 1 month – $12.99
- 1 year – $59.88 ($5.99/month)
- 2 years – $90.96 ($3.69/month)
- 3 years – $99.00 ($2.75/month)
Security and privacy are the cornerstones of any VPN service, and if you cannot get these from a VPN, you are at a huge risk. CyberGhost takes that risk seriously – it encrypts data using the AES-256-CBC standard in tandem with SHA-256 hash authentication. On top of that, the control channel passes within an AES-256 cipher that has an RSA-4096 certificate coupled with an SHA-384 hash authentication.
The encryption and authentication for CyberGhost may be insurmountable, but what about the DNS and IP leaks? Frequent vanilla DNS, as well as WebRTC leaks, have been found within the CyberGhost Windows client. CyberGhost, despite experiencing DNS and WebRTC leaks, has some other strong features like blocking tracking and malicious sites.
Additionally, CyberGhost doesn’t log identifiable data and maintains a no-nonsense log-free policy. Being outside the 14-Eyes alliance, the VPN is based in a country that does not employ data retention laws. This again is a big plus. CyberGhost also works in China. Tests on CyberGhost connectivity speeds show that they are alright, however, they aren’t anywhere near being the best. It has about 1,300 servers distributed in over 60 countries, not quite as many as ExpressVPN and NordVPN.
Because much of the infrastructure for CyberGhost is within the Americas and Europe, it is justified why the speeds are low – because of overcrowding. The CyberGhost client is compatible with a wide range of devices and operating systems including Windows OS, Linux, Mac OS, Android, iOS, Chromebooks and some routers.
Users can also watch Netflix when connected through CyberGhost. Many VPNs can’t figure out how to circumvent Netflix’s geo-blocking, however, CyberGhost will provide you with a reliable server that you can use to stream Netflix. Other entertainment platforms like Amazon, Hulu, BBC iPlayer and HBO also work with CyberGhost. Additionally, CyberGhost allows users to access P2P site so users are able to use torrenting clients such as BitTorrent.
4. TorGuard ‣
- 1 month – $9.99
- 3 months – $19.99 ($6.66/month)
- 6 months – $29.99 ($4.99/month)
- 1 year – $59.99 ($4.99/month)
TorGuard is comparable to NordVPN and ExpressVPN in that it has stronger security and privacy. It uses AES-256 encryption and doesn’t have leak issues like DNS and WebRTC. TorGuard has very fast connections and a huge collection of over 3,000 servers located in more than 50 countries.
Something to watch out for is that the company is registered in the U.S, meaning it could be forced to share identifiable data with the Five Eyes intelligence alliance. Additionally, some communications relayed through TorGuard servers go through Google’s Gmail. Google doesn’t play it well when it comes to privacy.
The basic TorGuard VPN seems to not work well for entertainment platforms like Netflix US and Netflix UK. However, users can overcome this problem by using TorGuard’s dedicated IP address service that goes for $7.99 a month. That in itself may be a disadvantage to users considering that other VPN services, for example, ExpressVPN and NordVPN may still unblock and access Netflix with no extra cost of having to purchase a dedicated IP.
5. PrivateVPN ‣
- 1 month – $7.67
- 3 months – $14.63 ($4.88/month)
- 13 months – $49.68 ($3.82/month)
Although a less popular option for BitTorrent seeders, PrivateVPN has strong privacy and encryption features. It has the kill switch and no DNS and WebRTC leaking issues have been reported. PrivateVPN is a small Virtual Private Network and it does limit peer-to-peer file-sharing and torrenting. The company that owns PrivateVPN is based in Sweden, a country that could be forced to reveal your privacy. Sweden is a member of the 14-Eyes countries meaning that surveillance is an issue.
PrivateVPN has, however, a strict no logging policy. It doesn’t keep track of traffic data or other online activities. Though the VPN service has occasionally been pressed to share data, it has refused to do so. That’s a good stance to take as customers’ data protection when using Virtual Private Networks is highly important. Users can simultaneously use up to six devices. It may be a meagre VPN in terms of infrastructure, but it raises its bar to sail in the space of top VPNs for gaming.
While you can use PrivateVPN in China it is only possible if you connect via L2TP since the Great Firewall of China manages to block other tunneling protocols like OpenVPN and PPTP. The service may be considered safe for accessing sites that are geo-blocked like Netflix, Kodi media player, and BBC iPlayer. It can also be used for gaming and torrenting.
The VPN service has lightning speeds, but a small number of servers. It has around 100 servers that are distributed in about 56 countries. The PrivateVPN client supports Mac OS, Windows, Linux, Android, *iOS* Kodi and some routers. PrivateVPN uses a variety of tunneling protocols, which include OpenVPN running along with UDP and TCP, or L2TP, PPTP, IKEv2 and IPSec. These ensure compatibility with the different devices and OSs.
You can configure the client to meet your internet access needs. Some tunneling protocols may be blocked by certain websites or governments, so having different types of these protocols helps get through the shields.
Best VPN for gaming: comparing the top tiers – ExpressVPN vs NordVPN
Very few of the VPNs you find on the market today have the ability to meet all of the gamers’ streaming needs. Accessing games on the internet requires steady speeds and a great deal of security and privacy. Before you choose a VPN for gaming and torrenting, you will certainly want to know what to expect. Low prices may lure you towards a certain VPN, but does the service protect your privacy and data?
Be cautious, because even if there is a no logging policy, behind the scenes, things could be different. ExpressVPN, despite having a higher priced premium, comes with great customer service, speed, and security. If you go for the 1-year subscription, you will have a discount of 35 percent, but this discount is not placed on the $99.95 annual billing or the $59.95 6-month billing, it is actually placed on the $12.95 monthly price. That’s a trick ExpressVPN uses on pricing.
NordVPN also takes its security level higher with maximum care through modern strong encryption, leak protection, and Onion over VPN. Nord has specialized servers for customized tunneling, for example anti-DDoS servers, P2P servers, Dedicated IP servers, and Onion over VPN servers. These are just some of the reasons why it’s a popular VPN service in online gaming.
ExpressVPN only allows you to connect three devices at a time, which is pretty low compared to other VPNs that support, on average, five devices. Additionally, ExpressVPN doesn’t offer a free version or even a free trial to desktop users, however, they do have a 30-day money back guarantee. For mobile, iOS users can enjoy a 7-day free trial and Android users get just a 1-day free trial. If you’re wondering why ExpressVPN charges a higher price when it allows only three devices to be connected, it’s because it has branded itself as a superior, secure, and fast VPN.
Right now NordVPN’s two-year deal at $95.75 billed every two years means that you can get one of the best VPNs on the market at an incredibly affordable rate. And paying for NordVPN couldn’t be easier as the company accepts various cryptocurrencies as well as Paypal, Yandex and all major credit cards.
The best VPN for gaming: the bottom line
Some VPNs are infamous for handing over identifiable data to police. HideMyAss, which is one of the largest VPNs in terms of server size, has been involved in giving customers’ data to the authorities. In 2011, HideMyAss leaked personal details of Cody Kretsinger who was accused of being involved in hacking Sony Pictures.
These are the kind of issues internet users and gamers want to look at keenly when selecting a VPN. You can’t be comfortable when you doubt the safety and privacy of your internet access – it just keeps pestering you in your mind, “Am I really safe here, using this VPN service?” Looking at the five VPNs for gaming we have listed, ExpressVPN takes the lead, and it very well deserves it. However, the price may be high for some gamers, but if you can afford it, go for it. TorGuard and NordVPN are also good, their prices are reasonable and within range. PrivateVPN is cheap but based in a riskier location, which is part of the 14-Eyes alliance. If you don’t mind that, it can save you money.