Best VPNs for Counter-Strike 2 in 2023
The fifth major installment of the renowned Counter-Strike series finally launched on September 27, 2023. Adopting the name Counter-Strike 2, it replaced the previous Counter-Strike: Global Offensive version on the gaming platform Steam.
Like many new releases nowadays, Counter-Strike 2 came out far from perfect. It dropped macOS support, and many mods available for CS: GO are absent. Although the new version runs on an improved Source 2 game engine, the game suffers from massive ping issues, requiring a reliable Counter-Strike 2 VPN for a smooth experience.
To overcome the lag issue, in this article, we recommend the five best CS2 VPNs. Let's take a look!
Top 5 VPNs for Counter-Strike 2 in 2023
- NordVPN – the best CS2 VPN overall
- Surfshark – Counter-Strike 2 VPN with unlimited device support
- Atlas VPN – fast and secure freemium CS2 VPN
- ExpressVPN – feature-rich VPN for Counter-Strike 2
- CyberGhost – CS2 VPN with specialized gaming servers
Why do I need a VPN for CS2?
Fast-paced games like Counter-Strike 2 require the best internet connection quality to play at a competitive level. Here's why using a VPN for CS2 is a great idea:
- Reduce ping. Users on Steam and Reddit report that CS2 is unplayable when the ping reaches 100ms and lags even on a decent 40ms. A CS2 VPN with a large server fleet allows you to connect to a server with more optimized data routing, fixing latency issues and improving gaming quality.
- DDoS attack protection. DDoS attacks target high-level gamers to disconnect them from important matches. A VPN obfuscates your original IP address so that your device cannot be overflooded by fake online traffic.
- Protect your identity. Doxxing is another serious gaming hazard. Spiteful and tech-savvy players can utilize the original IP address to trace your real identity and expose it online. A reliable VPN for Counter-Strike 2 will prevent this from happening.
- Stop ISP speed throttling. Some dubious Internet Service Providers lower the connection speed for specific online activities, which could negatively affect gaming. You will get better speeds if you connect to a fast gaming VPN, like NordVPN.
- Bypass geographical restrictions. Countries like China, Brazil, Venezuela, and several others ban specific video games for their citizens. You can regain access by connecting to a gaming VPN server in a country where it's available. However, we advise taking extra care and avoiding making online purchases while connected to a VPN to avoid being flagged by Steam.
The best VPNs for Counter-Strike 2 – our detailed list
We thoroughly tested 42 VPNs to help you choose the best Counter-Strike 2 VPN. Below are five gaming-friendly VPN services with thousands of speedy worldwide servers, robust cybersecurity features, and valuable additional benefits.
1. NordVPN – fastest worldwide servers for Counter-Strike 2
|Servers/countries:||5,900+ servers in 60 countries|
|Current deal:||🔥Holiday Deal! Get NordVPN with 69% OFF + 3 months FREE!🔥|
NordVPN is the best CS2 VPN that mixes security and speed without costing an arm and a leg. More so, it has useful free features that will take your gaming experience to the next level.
Speed. NordVPN offers NordLynx and OpenVPN protocols, but we recommend NordLynx for gaming because it provides the best connection speed and latency. This protocol retains 90% of the original connection speed connected to closeby servers and has no lag or ping issues.
Servers. NordVPN offers over 5,900 servers in 60 countries. You can either choose one in the desired region or use the Quick Connect feature to connect to the fastest one automatically. This provider owns and maintains all of its servers to ensure spotless performance.
Features. Gamers can utilize NordVPN’s free Meshnet feature to create fast and secure virtual networks for multiplayer gaming sessions. Meshnet is encrypted using market-leading AES-256-GCM encryption and uses proprietary NordLynx protocol to ensure high speed. Other NordVPN benefits include split-tunneling, a kill switch, specialty servers, and a threat protection feature to neutralize malware and trackers and disable annoying ads.
Pricing. You can get all this for just $2.99/month to secure up to six devices simultaneously with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
2. Surfshark – budget-friendly CS2 VPN
|Based in:||The Netherlands|
|Servers/countries:||3,200+ servers in 100 countries|
|Current deal:||🔥Holiday deal! Get 82% OFF Surfshark + 4 months FREE🔥|
Surfshark is an excellent Counter-Strike 2 VPN that allows securing all devices for no additional charge. Its prices are below market average, so this might be your top pick for a budget gaming VPN.
Speed. Surfshark uses the WireGuard protocol to guarantee the best possible connection speed, and switching between servers is nearly instantaneous, even if they're far-flung. You can expect it to retain an average of 86% of your initial connection speed, and a low ping that does not interfere with gaming.
Servers. This VPN has 3,200+ servers in 100 countries so that you can play CS2 in any chosen region. The RAM-only server structure resets all data upon server restart, protecting the user's privacy.
Features. Like NordVPN, Surfshark also uses AES-256-GCM encryption to protect users' online activities. However, Surfshark also offers a top-notch antivirus with its Surfshark One bundle, providing all-around cyber protection with a single subscription. Although it's based in the Netherlands, which is a part of the 14-eyes alliance, the Big Four auditing company Deloitte verified that this VPN does not collect user data and adheres to its strict no-logs policy.
Pricing. Surfshark subscriptions start from $1.99/month with a 7-day free trial on Android, iOS, and macOS and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
3. Atlas VPN – Counter-Strike 2 VPN with a free version
|Based in:||United States|
|Servers/countries:||1,000+ servers in 42 countries|
|Current deal:||🔥Holiday deal! Get Atlas VPN, now 86% OFF + 6 months FREE!🔥|
Atlas VPN is the only freemium Counter-Strike 2 VPN on the list. Its exceptionally high speeds allow it to compete with paid VPN services, although you'll have to subscribe for the full list of benefits.
Speed. Atlas VPN is one of the fastest freemium VPNs on the market that also utilizes the WireGuard protocol to maintain such results. We were surprised it retained an impressive 80% of the initial download speed, competing with the fastest paid VPN services.
Servers. Currently, Atlas VPN has over 1,000 servers in 42 countries, with free server locations in the US, Netherlands, and Singapore. It also provides specialty streaming servers, if you’re looking for more online content between gaming sessions.
Features. Atlas VPN also uses AES-256 encryption and a ChaCha20 cipher, so you don't have to worry about online safety – it's got you covered. It's a no-logs service, and although there's no independent audit to prove it, Atlas VPN Windows app security features were audited by cybersecurity experts from MDSec with positive results.
Pricing. Atlas VPN has a limited free version, but upgrading it to premium costs only $1.64/month. There's a 7-day free trial for Android users and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
4. ExpressVPN – secure and time-tested VPN for CS2
|Based in:||British Virgin Islands|
|Servers/countries:||3,000+ servers in 105 countries|
|Current deal:||🔥Holiday deal! Get ExpressVPN, now 49% OFF + 3 months FREE!🔥|
ExpressVPN is a renowned and time-tested VPN brand and a solid Counter-Strike 2 VPN with strong cybersecurity benefits.
Speed. Instead of opting for the industry-standard WireGuard, ExpressVPN uses the proprietary Lightway protocol that's been audited twice by Cure53. We can verify the protocol is lightning-fast, retaining around 77% of the original connection speed. An independent audit also proves that it is just as secure.
Servers. ExpressVPN has over 3,000 servers in 105 countries, taking the top spot for worldwide server spread. However, it uses virtual servers to expand the global coverage.
Features. Its abundant list of features includes split tunneling, a kill switch, private DNS servers, 24/7 customer support, and more. We have to warn you it's not going to be cheap, but gamers looking for a secure service, regardless of the price, should consider this as one of the best CS2 VPNs.
Pricing. For $6.67/month, you can secure up to 8 devices simultaneously. There's a 7-day free trial for iPhone users and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
5. CyberGhost – CS2 VPN with the largest server network
|Servers/countries:||10,200+ servers in 100 countries|
|Current deal:||🔥Holiday deal! Get CyberGhost VPN, now 84% + 4 months FREE!🔥|
CyberGhost is a Counter-Strike 2 VPN that has the biggest server fleet. It also offers specialized servers optimized to reduce ping during gaming sessions.
Speed. Slightly slower than other VPNs on this list, CyberGhost still maintains an excellent connection speed using the WireGuard protocol. However, we encountered a few oscillations during our tests that were fixed by switching to IKEv2.
Servers. This VPN has a massive network of over 10,200 servers in 100 countries and specialized servers for gaming, streaming, or torrenting.
Features. Regarding cybersecurity, CyberGhost encrypts data using the AES-256 algorithm and has a no-logs policy audited by Deloitte. CyberGhost allows securing up to 7 devices simultaneously, has a split tunneling feature on Windows and Android apps, offers an AdBlock, and a unique Smart Rules feature to customize it the way you like.
Pricing. CyberGhost plans start from $2.04/month. It offers a 24-hour free trial for Windows and macOS, a 3-day free trial for Android, and a 7-day free trial for iOS. There's also a 45-day money-back guarantee.
How we picked and tested these VPNs
A gaming-friendly VPN must have an excellent internet connection speed and an extensive server network to avoid overcrowding. Here are the main criteria we used to compile this list:
- Speed. We tested 42 VPNs to identify the fastest ones, including download/upload speed and ping times, that are especially important for gaming. We also checked the WireGuard (or a proprietary alternative) protocol support because numerous tests prove it is the fastest contemporary VPN protocol.
- Server fleet. A large server network allows maintaining a speedy and stable connection throughout the whole gaming session. It prevents server overload even if it is used by multiple people simultaneously. Furthermore, you can always find a working alternative server if yours gets too slow for whatever reason.
- Security. Because you trust your VPN service provider with your online activities, we only included those servers that have a no-logs policy, a kill switch, and use at least AES-256 encryption. Independent no-logs and security feature audits are a significant advantage.
- Price. There's no need to overpay for a gaming VPN. We included only those VPNs that provide outstanding features for an affordable price and have a money-back guarantee to try them out.
How to change the Counter-Strike 2 region with a VPN – detailed guide
After the recent Counter-Strike 2 update, Valve allows one to manually select a server in a desired region with the best ping. However, a VPN can still optimize data routing and increase performance, maintaining valuable cybersecurity benefits like DDoS protection. Here's a step-by-step guide for changing the CS2 region with a VPN:
- Pick a VPN with worldwide servers.
- Download the VPN app and install it on your device
- Create a new account or log in with your username and password
- Turn off Steam if you have it running in the background
- Launch the VPN app and choose a server in a desired region. For example, US players can connect to a UK server to experience European gameplay
- Relaunch Steam, go to your games library, launch Counter-Strike 2, and you’re ready to go!
Counter-Strike 2 not working with a VPN? Here's how to fix it:
There are a few occasions when you can experience a high ping rate while connected to a VPN server. Here are the most common VPN issues with solutions right after:
- IP address leak. Your VPN may have failed to connect to a chosen server and shows your unique IP address routing data through the Internet Service Provider.
- Overcrowded servers. You might be sharing a server with users that use it for large-file downloads or other bandwidth-consuming activities interfering with CS2 performance.
- Outdated VPN app. VPN updates include quality changes that optimize server performance to provide the best connection speed and ping. Older VPN versions may cause a laggy connection.
- Incompatible VPN provider. Some VPNs are simply not built for gaming and will significantly increase the ping once connected to a server.
Luckily, fixing these issues is straightforward. Here's what you can do to improve your gaming quality:
- Check for IP leaks. Disconnect from a VPN server and mark down your original IP address on websites like Whatismyip. Reconnect to the VPN server and refresh the website. If it still shows the same IP address, switch to a different server and try again. It's best to contact customer support if the problem persists.
- Check server congestion. Go to your VPN service provider's website and check the server congestion. Alternatively, you can use features like NordVPN Quick Connect that will connect you to the best-performing server automatically.
- Update the VPN app. Make sure your VPN is updated to the latest version. Most worthwhile VPNs alert of the newer version in-app.
- Switch VPN providers. If your VPN is not optimized for gaming, consider subscribing to a gaming-friendly VPN service.
Can a VPN reduce my ping in Counter-Strike 2?
Yes, a VPN can reduce your session's ping if you connect to a server that optimizes data routing. For example, even though Valve allows manually selecting a CS2 server in a different region, its ping might be high if it is too far away from your geographical location. By connecting to a VPN server closer to the CS2 server location, your data will travel a shorter distance, thus lowering your ping.
Simultaneously, you will get better results if the ISP is throttling your internet connection speed. A VPN will reroute online traffic from the ISP through one of its high-speed servers, improving gaming quality.
On the other hand, you can get worse results if you connect to a server that's halfway across the globe (like using a server in Indonesia from the US.) Carefully selecting a server to optimize the data travel path is always advisable.
Can I use a free VPN to play Counter-Strike 2?
Yes, you can use a free VPN to play Counter-Strike 2, but the results might be disappointing, therefore we don’t recommend it. Firstly, free VPNs often lack a large server fleet, limiting worldwide server options. More so, they cannot maintain the best possible connection speed because many people use them simultaneously, which decreases gaming quality.
We must also warn you of free VPN scams that are set up to mine your data. Free VPNs might log your internet activities and sell them to third parties to target you with ads, but stolen data can also be used for more nefarious purposes, like identity theft. Even if this is quite rare, better to be safe than sorry.
Instead, we recommend using reliable freemium VPN services or premium VPNs that have free trials or money-back guarantees. Here are two options that are perfectly fit for gaming:
- NordVPN – with 5,900 high-speed servers in 60 countries and a 30-day money-back guarantee, NordVPN is an excellent VPN for CS2 to try risk-free
- Surfshark – this CS2 VPN provides unlimited device support, thousands of speedy servers, and a 30-day money-back guarantee to enhance gaming for a whole month with no risk
The much-awaited Counter-Strike 2 release date had a rocky start, with many users reporting massive lag spikes even with a decent session latency. Luckily, tech-savvy gamers have been using VPNs to fix ping for years, protecting their devices from DDoS attacks simultaneously.
After testing competitive CS2 matches with different VPN services, we can strongly recommend NordVPN as a top Counter-Strike 2 VPN to enhance gaming quality. The 5,900 servers provide the best connection speed using NordLynx protocol, and we can only praise the solid cybersecurity benefits, like Threat Protection.
More VPN guides from Cybernews:
Which VPN to use for Counter-Strike 2?
NordVPN is the best VPN for Counter-Strike 2, with over 5,900 servers in 60 countries. Proprietary NordLynx protocol ensures the best possible speeds and fixes latency issues if your ISP is throttling your internet connection.
Can I play the original CS:GO with a VPN?
No, Valve has replaced the original Counter-Strike: Global Offensive with Counter-Strike 2 in its Steam platform. Unfortunately, it also removed popular CS: GO mods like Demolition, Danger Zone, and Arms Race.
Is it legal to play Counter-Strike 2 with a VPN?
Yes, it’s legal to play CS2 with a VPN. It helps optimize data travel paths to get better ping results or protect your device from DDoS attacks. However, you shouldn’t use a VPN to connect to a region with lower CS2 in-game purchase prices to save money, as it could result in banning your account.