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5 Best VPNs for Gaming in 2018

Thomas Ujj

Thomas Ujj

December 21, 2017

The same issues that can affect any online activity (hacking, geographic restrictions, speed throttling) can also occur when you’re playing your favorite game online. Whether you’re playing PUBG, Overwatch, or CS:GO, using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) for gaming could dramatically increase your online gaming experience.

Whether or not you need a VPN for gaming will depend on several factors. Click on one of the links below to learn all you need to know about gaming VPNs!

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BestVPN Editor's Choice Award
ExpressVPN Homepage
PROS:
  • Chinese New Year Promo: 49% off today!
  • Servers in almost 100 countries
  • User-friendly apps
  • Excellent customer service
  • 30-day money back guarantee
CONS:
  • A bit pricey - but worth it!

ExpressVPN often comes as our top recommendation for VPNs for gaming, as they have carefully assembled a service that is easy to learn and performs remarkably well. There are server locations in almost every major country, as well as impressive apps for Mac, Windows, and Linux, with iOS and Android devices also covered. ExpressVPN even offers unique VPN apps for routers, including Linksys WRT models and a wide range of ASUS RT series routers.

Up to 23 different payment options (including Bitcoin), and subject to British Virgin Islands laws (no jurisdiction here for the NSA!) mean they are an excellent choice for privacy as well. Impressive customer service through live chat and e-mail, and an extensive knowledgebase are also great reasons to choose ExpressVPN.

Gaming without a VPN is like leaving your front door unlocked while you are at work for the day. Protect yourself using ExpressVPN using the link below.

ExpressVPN is the best VPN for Gaming!

Visit ExpressVPN »30-day money back guarantee

Best VPN for Gaming CyberGhost

CyberGhost Homepage
PROS:
  • Chinese New Year Promo: 71% off 2-year plans!
  • High speed for ultra-fast streaming
  • More than 800 servers & global coverage
  • Multiple usage on up to 5 devices
  • No Logs Policy, guaranteed security and encryption
CONS:
  • No longer offering a free version (but does offer 30 day money-back guarantee)

CyberGhost has more than 800 servers & global coverage. The CyberGhost app is really smooth and will appeal to a fashion-conscious, young crowd. CyberGhost are based both in Romania and in Germany, the latter being responsible for most of the software development. With both teams united by a common credo for internet anonymity, CyberGhost is a major supporter and promoter of civil rights, a free society and an uncensored internet culture. Are you looking for a solid gaming VPN without breaking the bank? Check out CyberGhost today!

Best VPN for Gaming Buffered

Buffered Homepage
PROS:
  • Up to five simultaneous connections
  • 30-day money back guarantee
  • Impressive Speeds
CONS:
  • Only Windows client

Hungary VPN provider Buffered is the best option, for many reason, firstly as they aren't subject to Five Eyes or DRD legislation, so you don't have to worry about your usage logs being seized by any prying government institution like you would with a US VPN. They also offer connection to their service for up to five devices at the same time, meaning you can potentially cover your entire household with just one account!

Buffered also boast some of the fastest speeds we have experienced. This is a solid choice if you plan on engaging in any P2P activity or streaming content. Servers in 39 countries (including Mexico, Canada, and Brazil) also mean you have a ton of options to choose from when selecting your location.

Not convinced by Buffered's impressive service? Take advantage of the 30-day money back guarantee and give it a spin for yourself.

NordVPN Homepage
PROS:
  • Bitcoin payment
  • Double data encryption
  • Servers in 61+ countries
  • Up to six simultaneous connections
CONS:
  • Slightly expensive

If you are located in the US and privacy is of great importance to you, NordVPN might just be the best pick for you. NordVPN has a reputation for taking encryption very seriously, as evidenced by its “DoubleVPN” encryption system. This system allows NordVPN to encrypt inbound and outbound data with AES-256-CBC encryption not once, but twice!

NordVPN is also based in Panama, and it emerged from the recent Panama Papers scandal unscathed – erasing any doubts regarding logging policies. Tor users will also be happy to see NordVPN’s support for Tor over VPN.

NordVPN does have slightly higher prices and slower speeds (due to heavy encryption), although a nice touch is that a three-day trial to test out the service before purchasing. Check out the second-best Gaming VPN using the link below.

HideMyAss Homepage
PROS:
  • Servers in 190+ countries
  • User-friendly apps
  • Free anonymous email service
CONS:
  • Some concerns with speed

HMA has servers in more countries than any other provider. Right now it hosts servers in more than 190 countries. That’s about every country on the planet with a solid internet infrastructure capable of hosting high-speed connections.

I don’t like the fact that you’re only allowed two simultaneous connections per account, though. Although, if you’re a single user with only a couple of devices, and no desire of sharing your VPN account, it shouldn’t matter. Lastly, it is based in Britain, which is not ideal as the UK is a Five Eyes participant.

What Is a Gaming VPN?

A Virtual Private Network is a service that allows you to connect to the internet through a securely encrypted server. You can use a VPN for online gaming, with numerous benefits available for hardcore gamers looking to gain an edge over the competition. Keep scrolling to see why you might need a gaming VPN.

Additionally, you can read more about the everyday benefits of using a VPN in our handy VPN Beginners’ Guide.

Why Do I Need a VPN for Games?

Unblock Regionally Restricted Games Using a VPN

As is the case with streaming services like Netflix or BBC iPlayer, certain games are blocked in certain regions or countries. For example, Red Dead Redemption, Heavy Rain, and L.A. Noire are all banned in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, while Pokemon Go and Battlefield 3 are forbidden in Iran.

Bypass restrictions where you live. Simply sign up to a VPN, connect to a server where the game isn’t blocked, and start playing!

Another issue that some gamers experience with online gaming is port blocking or a pesky NAT firewall. A good example of this would be a workplace, school, or hotel blocking common ports that are used to access World of Warcraft (usually TCP and UDP ports 3724, 1119, 6012). Using a VPN allows you to bypass port-blocking and NAT firewalls and enjoy gaming wherever you may be!

Use a Gaming VPN to Play Games Before Their Release Date

One of the great features of using a VPN is connecting to different regions to access content that isn’t available where you live. Taking advantage of time zone differences could allow you to play games hours before they are officially released in your country!

For instance, connecting to a New Zealand VPN server from California could allow you to play a game nearly a full day before it is released! This is great news for streamers and competitive players looking to get a head start on everyone else.

play games early with a vpn

Let me give you a fair warning on unblocking games earlier with a VPN. While all gaming platforms operate differently (Xbox is completely region-free), purchasing a game from Steam using a VPN could violate the Steam terms of service. Proceed with caution!

Protect yourself against DDoS attacks and other threats

The rise in popularity of eSports and competitive gaming has likewise increased the number of dirty tactics that gamers use to gain an edge. One of these methods that has quickly spread (especially in the MOBA scene) is the use of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks by a spiteful opponent on the losing side. Read more about DDoS prevention for online gaming in this guide!

Additionally, hackers can get a hold of personal information connected with your online gaming profile. A few examples of this could be hacking World of Warcraft accounts, scamming your Steam account, or – worst-case scenario – stealing the credit card information you used to sign up for games! A gaming VPN can protect you in these situations.

Reduce Latency and Lag with a VPN for Gaming

Another reason for gamers to use a VPN is to reduce lag and latency (or “ping”) in online games. While not a solution that will work in every situation, a VPN could help you stabilize your connection or allow you to connect to different servers that might perform better.

It is worth mentioning that due to the nature of VPNs, you could end up with a worse connection to a game server when connected to a gaming VPN. Getting lower ping or latency with a VPN only works in specific situations (such as dropped packets and ISP throttling).

If you’re looking into using a VPN for gaming, I recommend trying one out to see the effect on your internet connection before committing to a long-term plan.

How to Choose the Right VPN for Gaming

Finding the right VPN that fits your requirements can be a tough task, especially with so many providers to choose from. Luckily for gamers everywhere, BestVPN.com is here to help you make the right decision when it comes to VPNs for gaming!

  • Speed

The download and upload speed of a VPN service is going to be the number one priority for online gamers using a VPN to improve their experience. Want to know which VPN will give you the best speeds for gaming online? Want less lag when gaming online? Check out the fastest VPNs updated daily via our VPN speed test tool!

  • Server Locations

Gamers looking to access unavailable games or play them early should pay extra attention to a service’s available server locations. A high-quality VPN service will have a global server presence and might even offer servers in some less common locations (South America, Asia, and Africa come to mind).

  • Security and Encryption

Although not the first thought in many gamers’ minds, a VPN will provide DDoS protection during online gameplay. There are also a number of other security benefits worth considering, such as having a secure private network for LAN games or protecting your voice chat server from hackers.

The best way to choose the right gaming VPN is to give them a try yourself! Sign up for a free trial or take advantage of a money-back guarantee to see which VPN for gaming is right for you.

How to Set up Your Gaming VPN

Setting Up a Gaming VPN on Windows PC

  1. Make sure the game isn’t running and any relevant software is closed (Steam, Battle.net, Origin, etc).
  2. Choose from one of the gaming VPN services I’ve highlighted above.
  3. Sign up and install VPN client software on your PC.
  4. Depending on your reasons for using a gaming VPN, connect to a VPN server in a country that fits your needs.
  5. If possible, select the fastest VPN protocol that the provider offers. Check my list of gaming VPN protocols for more information.
  6. Boot up the game with the VPN connection active and that’s it! Enjoy your online gaming with all the benefits of a VPN!

Setting up a Gaming VPN on Android

  1. Restart your Android device.
  2. Choose from one of the gaming VPN services I’ve highlighted above. Each VPN offers an easy-to-use app for Android.
  3. Sign up and download the VPN app from the Google Play store.
  4. Connect to a VPN server in a country that fits your needs.
  5. If possible, select the fastest VPN protocol that the provider offers. Check my list of gaming VPN protocols for more information.
  6. Boot up the game with the VPN connection active. That’s it! Start enjoying your online gaming afresh with all the added benefits of a VPN!

Setting up a Gaming VPN on iOS

  1. Make sure the game app isn’t running on your iOS device (you don’t have to delete it!).
  2. Choose from one of the gaming VPNs I mentioned above. Each one has a dedicated iOS client that will be very easy to set up.
  3. Sign up to the service and download the VPN client app from the App Store.
  4. Launch your new VPN app and enter any required login information.
  5. Connect to a VPN server in the country that best meets your needs.
  6. If possible, select the fastest VPN protocol that the provider offers. Check my list of gaming VPN protocols for more information.
  7. Boot up the game with the VPN connection active on your iOS device and you’re done! Enjoy mobile online gaming on iOS with a VPN!

Best VPN Protocol for Gaming

A VPN protocol serves as the set of instructions used between two computers to negotiate a secure encrypted connection. While some VPN protocols are more secure than others, most of the time they also incur some level of speed loss. You can read more about encryption and VPN protocols in our complete VPN encryption guide.

  • Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) – a slightly outdated VPN protocol, originally developed by Microsoft. While not as secure as other protocols, PPTP comes highly recommended for online gamers looking to avoid dramatic VPN speed loss. PPTP is also recommended if you need a VPN for gaming on Android devices.
  • Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol/Internet Protocol Security (L2TP/IPsec) – this protocol encapsulates data twice, which could lead to higher ping and a slower connection. Recommended for mobile devices but not for PC or console gaming.
  • Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol (SSTP) – SSTP is primarily a Windows-only protocol with about the same effect on speed as L2TP/IPsec. Not recommended if you are looking for DDoS protection or increased security.
  • Internet Key Exchange version 2 (IKEv2) – this is known as one of the fastest VPN protocols, even though it’s only supported on select platforms (Windows 7+, Blackberry, and iOS).
  • Cisco AnyConnect – Cisco AnyConnect is used with the AnyConnect Secure Mobility Client as an business-friendly VPN connection. While gaming is theoretically possible, Cisco AnyConnect requires official Cisco hardware in order to function.
  • OpenVPN – Not the fastest on this list, but the most popular and secure protocol that we recommend for general use here at BestVPN.com. I do not recommend using the OpenVPN protocol for gaming as the speed loss will be noticeable.

How to Test Your Gaming VPN

The speed of your gaming VPN is going to be a huge deal if you want to play online. While connection speeds are always influenced by several factors (WiFi signal, connection settings, mobile data limits, and so forth) you can still speed test a VPN to see if it would work for your gaming needs.

In order to test a gaming VPN, I always run a speed test before and after connecting to a VPN server. Speedof.me is an excellent tool for testing speeds while IPleak.net will determine whether the VPN is truly masking your IP address.

To see how much of an effect a VPN will have on an online game, simply boot up the game as you normally would and write down your average ping. Follow this up by connecting to a VPN server and measuring your ping in game again. Testing a gaming VPN this way should give you a general idea of how your connection will hold up when it matters.

Are Gaming VPNs Safe?

A VPN increases your privacy, offers increased DDoS protection from hackers and stops people looking to snoop on your activity. All of the VPN services mentioned on this page offer these privacy benefits in addition to being safe VPNs for gaming.

Free VPNs for Gaming

You might have arrived on this page looking for a free gaming VPN. While there certainly are some free VPNs out there, there are some drawbacks worth mentioning. For starters, a free VPN will probably come with some sort of bandwidth limit (usually around 1 GB/month), while various speed limitations can make online gaming nearly impossible.

More importantly, a free gaming VPN could also skimp on security and privacy features, which could actually put your PC or device at even greater risk. Check out this recent article on free VPNs and malware for more on the dangers of free VPNs.

If you do want to try out a VPN to see if it could help you, I recommend trying one of the recommending gaming VPNs I’ve listed in this article, as they all come with some form of money-back guarantee!

What Is the Fastest VPN for Gaming?

As I mentioned already, finding a fast VPN for gaming is going to be the main priority for most gamers, especially when facing off against competitive opponents in online play.

Upload speeds can also be relevant to online gaming, although generally speaking 100 Kb/s should be enough to communicate with and send data to the game server.

While your specific situation might be different, the fastest VPN for gaming that I’ve personally tested and used is ExpressVPN. Its awesome combination of usability and performance makes ExpressVPN the best VPN for gaming!

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9.9

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9.6

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