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Best VPNs for Gaming in 2021

Best VPN for Gaming

Finding a good VPN for gaming isn’t easy. You’ll need a service that doesn’t ruin your speed and doesn’t jack up your latency. So, there’s quite a lot that you have to take into consideration while choosing the one and only.

Thankfully, you don’t have to go through that all by yourself. We’ve already compiled a list of the best VPNs for gaming. With all of these services, you’ll be able to jump into the action even if the game is banned in your country, or you want to be matched with players from other continents.

Best VPNs for Gamers – our shortlist:

Is your squad already waiting in the lobby, and you don’t have the time to read everything? Here’s a rundown of the best VPN services for gaming.

  1. NordVPN – best VPN for gaming
  2. Surfshark – best VPN for value hunters
  3. VyprVPN – budget-friendly VPN for gamers
  4. ExpressVPN – one of the fastest VPNs for gamers
  5. Private Internet Access – biggest VPN server list

Why do I need a VPN for online gaming?

There are plenty of reasons gamers may need a VPN. Here are just a few of the many:

  • Preventing DDoS attacks. There are plenty of ways people can learn your IP address when you’re gaming, which means they can (and will) DDoS you. A VPN can obfuscate your real IP, protecting you from these annoying situations
  • Accessing blocked games. Some games are blocked in certain countries — unless you have a VPN, which can change your virtual location or hide what you’re doing online
  • Avoiding server bans. Got banned from your favorite community server? No worries – a changed IP can help you fix that
  • Server hopping. With a VPN, you can avoid location-based region locking – just change your virtual region and play with your friends overseas
  • Saving money on games. Online game marketplaces often use region-based price discrimination. For example, you may be able to get games cheaper in Russia than you would in the US. A VPN can help with that
  • Reducing lag. Although VPNs slow down your internet connection, in some cases, they can improve your ping times. In particular, a VPN may be able to solve inefficient routing to the game server

The best gaming VPNs – our detailed list:

Whether a VPN is good or bad for gaming doesn’t depend only on latency. The overall impact on speed, the number of servers, and other aspects can be significant. I filtered out the services that can provide only the highest degree of performance necessary for a comfortable gaming experience. Here are the ones that made the cut.

1. NordVPN – best VPN for gaming

NordVPN banner
Based in:Panama
Simultaneous connections:6
Servers/countries:5,542 servers in 59 countries
Has router setup guides:Yes

If you go around forums looking for the best gaming VPN, NordVPN is a frequent recommendation. It’s no coincidence that it’s also our #1 pick in this top list.

They have a wide array of tunneling protocols like NordLynx, OpenVPN, and IKEv2. You can even find guides on how to set up OpenVPN and IKEv2 on a router, so if you’re a game console user, you’ll have the path laid out in front of you. Plus, connecting to a nearby location will make your latency increase minimal.

NordVPN is one of the fastest VPN services on the market. This is partially due to their awesome NordLynx tunneling protocol, which is their custom-made version of WireGuard.

PC gamers, and those playing on mobile or tablets, can use NordVPN apps. The convenient map-based interface will make things very easy – just click on a country and you’ll automatically connect to the fastest server in that country. Of course, finding the best VPN server for specific online games and game servers can take more time.

NordVPN, as the service provider, guarantees that your anonymity is the highest priority. Even their privacy policy claims have been evaluated by the independent audits.

Pros

  • Great speed test scores
  • SOCKS5 proxy
  • P2P servers
  • Independently-audited no-log policy
  • 24/7 live chat
  • Unblocks Netflix
  • Split tunneling

Cons

  • No free version

2. Surfshark – best VPN for value hunters

Surfshark banner
Based in:British Virgin Islands
Simultaneous connections:Unlimited
Servers/countries:3,200 servers in 65 countries
Has router setup guides:Yes

Surfshark is a strong contender for the crown of the best VPN for gaming. Not only is it available at a very attractive price, but it also offers as many features as the most expensive providers.

With WireGuard, ShadowSocks, OpenVPN, and IKEv2 tunneling protocols, Surfshark covers all the bases. WireGuard download speeds aren’t that different from your connection without a VPN, so downloading that huge new patch won’t make you bang your head on the keyboard. The latency gains aren’t dramatic either, especially if you’re connecting to a nearby server.

Surfshark has guides on how to set up the service on a router with OpenVPN or IKEv2. So, if you’re using a router that supports at least one of these protocols, your setup will be much easier. That’s great news for game console users who can’t install VPN clients directly on their devices.

If you’re on PC or mobile, there’s a handy Whitelister function. With it, you’ll be able to route your games through a VPN. This won’t affect your other online activities, and you won’t have to switch back and forth.

The service itself is dead-set on protecting your privacy. Surfshark VPN keep no logs about your activities. Plus, you get an unlimited amount of simultaneous connections to cover all your devices.

Pros

  • Great speed test scores
  • Low subscription price
  • Unblocks several Netflix libraries
  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • Data breach alerts
  • Has browser extensions
  • Strict no-logs policy

Cons

  • No Shadowsocks/Whitelister on Mac app
  • No free version

3. VyprVPN – budget-friendly VPN for gamers

VyprVPN banner
Based in:Switzerland
Simultaneous connections:5
Servers/countries:700 servers in 70 countries
Has router setup guides:Yes

Even though, design-wise, VyprVPN doesn’t look like a gamer’s VPN, this is one of the best gaming VPN services in 2021. Their server network isn’t that big, but they own every single one of them. This certainly helps to keep the quality high.

With WireGuard, IKEv2, and OpenVPN, you’re getting a decent selection of tunneling protocols. There’s also their proprietary Chameleon protocol, which will be very useful for gamers in countries where VPN use is restricted.

You can set up OpenVPN on your router, provided that you have the right firmware. This means using a VPN with a console or handheld isn’t out of the question. If you were previously unable to collect Microsoft Rewards on Xbox or snatch Japan-exclusive games on Switch, you will be with VyprVPN.

Still, it’s much easier to use their apps for desktop or mobile. There are helpful features like a customizable kill switch. With it, you can shut down your entire Internet connection if you’re not connected via VPN. This guarantees that no bit of your data leaks outside of the encrypted tunnel.

VyprVPN guarantees that your browsing habits will be kept private. They have a strict no-logs policy, meaning that they don’t keep any data on their users. Everything that goes through their servers is instantly purged.

Pros

  • Customizable kill switch
  • Split tunneling
  • Unblocks most streaming services
  • P2P-compatible
  • Great speed test scores
  • 24/7 live chat support

Cons

  • No free version
  • Small server fleet

4. ExpressVPN – one of the fastest VPNs for gamers

ExpressVPN banner
Based in:British Virgin Islands
Simultaneous connections:5
Servers/countries:3,000 servers in 94 countries
Has router setup guides:Yes

ExpressVPN is one of the fastest premium VPNs you’ll find. This translates well into your gaming performance.

You can switch between Lightway, OpenVPN, and IKEv2 tunneling protocols, to get the best speeds. Even though VPNs aren’t supported on Xbox or PlayStation consoles, you can set up ExpressVPN on your router. The developers even made a handy router app, which is very easy to set up and use. Their help portal has plenty of text and video guides on how to do it.

Even if you’re not planning to install their router app, they have a superb desktop client. There’s a split tunneling function to route your game through a VPN. This comes in handy when you prefer the local version of web pages when browsing.

Most importantly, they offer one of the best location lists of all VPNs. You’ll be able to find a server nearby, which will help to keep your latency in check. Whether you’re in Europe or Asia, there will be plenty of countries to choose from.

The service is also committed to keeping you anonymous. As a matter of fact, ExpressVPN has put the service through several independent privacy policy audits.

Pros

  • Works in China
  • No-logs policy
  • Fast connection speeds
  • Split tunnelling
  • P2P-compatible
  • Browser extensions

Cons

  • Browser extensions require apps
  • Expensive

5. Private Internet Access – biggest VPN server list

Private Internet Access banner
Based in:United States
Simultaneous connections:10
Servers/countries:29,000 servers in 77 countries
Has router setup guides:Yes

Private Internet Access might as well be in Guinness World records. A fleet of 35,430+ servers in 78 countries isn’t something every VPN can boast of. With so many servers, you’ll have no problems finding a server for optimal ping times.

Mind you, this isn’t solely a result of their network size. It’s also made possible by their WireGuard and OpenVPN tunneling protocols. You can set up the latter on your router, making it possible to use PIA with consoles.

On desktop, PIA can be a very useful addition even without router configurations. There are features such as split tunneling to use VPN exclusively for your games and even port forwarding. If you want to set up a game server but still need the protection provided by a VPN, it will be possible.

If you don’t care about encryption at all, you can just opt for their proxy servers, which will give you speeds almost identical to your baseline.

Finally, if security and privacy matters to you, PIA offers a great package. They let you switch between several strengths of encryption, they don’t keep logs, and they have a kill switch.

Pros

  • Split tunneling
  • Low subscription price
  • Port forwarding
  • Unblocks Netflix
  • P2P-compatible
  • Customizable encryption
  • Massive server fleet
  • 24/7 live chat support

Cons

  • Based in a Five-Eyes country
  • No independent audit

How we selected and tested these VPNs

When looking for the best VPN for gaming, there isn’t one test that will show you the winner. However, there are a few things you can look at:

  • Server number. More servers make it easier to keep your latency low. The further the server is, the longer the route for the packet to travel, adding up to lag, which can ruin your gaming experience.
  • Speed test scores. The better the speed test scores, the lower are the reductions to your baseline speeds. In some cases, this could mean even better speed improvements if your ISP is throttling your speed.
  • Additional features. Some additions like port forwarding or proxy servers can tip the favor of who makes the cut in the best VPN for gaming list. Proxy servers add privacy without severe performance cuts, while port forwarding can make hosting servers with a VPN possible. Split tunneling is also important – the ability to route a particular app’s traffic through the VPN can come in handy.
  • Security. When choosing a VPN, you should never cut your nose off to spite your face. Security is paramount. If your VPN is leaking your IP address or using vulnerable tunneling protocols, you might as well be connecting directly. Have zero tolerance for flaws in this area.
  • Privacy. Strong security is only half the answer. The second part is a commitment to keeping your identity hidden. No-logs promises are fine, but they’re even better when the service has third-party audits to show that they mean business. Previous court cases and refusal to collaborate with government agencies also earn you bonus points and our badge of honor.
  • Price. The last tickbox to check is pricing. In the VPN market, many services fit none of the mentioned criteria while charging a premium price. Yet, the opposite is also true – some services have packages that you can purchase without making a significant dent in your budget.

How do you use a VPN for PC gaming?

If you’re gaming on a PC or mobile, using a VPN will be quite straightforward. You just have to install the app of the select service, log in, connect to a server, and that’s it. All your traffic gets routed through a VPN server, displaying a different IP address. This can help you match players from different regions, bypass previous IP bans, or even buy games from the other areas. It should also work with most digital video game distribution services like Steam, Origin, Battle.net, GOG.com, and Epic Games Store.

How to use a VPN with a console?

One of the issues you might run into straight away is that no console natively supports VPN apps. This already makes the setup more complicated than it would be on PC or mobile. This is still possible, but you’ll have to look for workarounds. Installing a VPN on your router or sharing a connection from your PC are two possible solutions.

Set up VPN on a router

Before you go about installing a VPN on your router, you must first check whether your router supports VPNs. You can find this in your user’s manual. It might also be good to check the forums – maybe someone has already figured out a way to do it with the same model. Even if it doesn’t support VPNs natively, you can install a third-party firmware to bypass all the restrictions, but that’s a separate tutorial.

As you can probably guess, the instructions vary heavily depending on whether you’re router natively supports VPNs or you’re running custom firmware. However, the nuts and bolts look like this:

  1. Get a VPN service provider subscription. We recommend NordVPN.
  2. Connect to your router’s configuration interface
  3. Once you’re there, go to the VPN tab
  4. There, you’re likely to have to upload settings and provide authentication
  5. Submit all the required settings and restart your router
  6. Check whether the displayed IP address has changed

This setup has the added benefit that it will count as a single VPN connection, so it will only reduce your cap by one device. This trick is a great way to bypass the maximum number of simultaneous connections.

Share a VPN from your PC

You don’t necessarily have to set up a VPN on your router. Sharing a connection from your PC is also possible:

  1. Choose a VPN service provider and create an account
  2. Once you install the software, launch it and connect to a VPN server
  3. Connect an Ethernet cable between your PC and Xbox/PlayStation
  4. Click the Windows icon and select the gear icon to go to the settings
  5. Once you’re there, select Network & Internet
  6. From the menu, select VPN
  7. Under Related settings, choose Change adapter options
  8. Right-click on your VPN, and click Properties
  9. Go to Sharing tab and check to Allow other network users to connect through this computer’s internet connection
  10. Click on the Select a private network connection box
  11. From the opened list, select your console’s Ethernet connection and click OK
  12. Fire up your console and make sure that you’re connected via Ethernet.
  13. Now, all your traffic will be routed through a PC, which effectively shares your VPN connection.

It’s worth mentioning that this method will work as long as you keep your PC on. It’s also not limited to Windows. If you’re using macOS, you can also share your connection. You also don’t have to keep the connection wired, it’s also possible to pull off wireless VPN sharing (but the performance will suffer).

What is the best free VPN for gaming?

Since there are so many free VPN services, using one for gaming might seem like a good idea. The reality is a bit more complex, and a free VPN can be a double-edged sword. When talking about free VPNs, this might mean two entirely different things.

Some VPNs are completely free. You can’t pay for them even if you wanted to. Usually, they’re funded through ads, but not in all cases. There are many examples of such VPNs logging your data and then selling it afterwards to third parties. Their whole business model rests on profiting from their user’s browsing habits. Finally, these VPNs rarely offer the best performance, so gamers should skip such VPNs altogether.

Other VPNs have paid versions but offer free versions on the side. Those are limited versions of their premium products and are usually intended to get a taste of how a complete edition would feel. Pretty often, they also have some monthly data caps, which means that there are limits on how much you can do. For this reason, these are usually not an ideal choice for gamers either.

Conclusion

Gaming with a VPN isn’t as uncommon as you might think. It can be the only way to get particular matchups when playing online or fix the lag if your ISP is throttling traffic. Yet, this makes choosing the right VPN service all the more important.

Hopefully, our guide for choosing and recommendations for the best-in-class services will help you out. Stick to our tips, and you will drastically improve your gaming experience.


More VPN guides from CyberNews:

Best VPNs for Xbox One: Improve ping and gameplay

VPN for Roobet: Play Roobet from US & other countries

Best VPNs for Nvidia Shield: Fast TV streaming


FAQ

What is the best VPN for gaming?

After testing numerous VPN services, we conclude that NordVPN is the best VPN for gaming. With it, you can choose any server from their massive fleet and get fast connection speeds.

Does a VPN slow down gaming?

Usually, yes. All VPNs introduce an additional intermediary in your connection. If you choose a distant location, this can add up to your latency. To solve this, you can choose a nearby server or pick faster tunneling protocols.

Can you get banned for using a VPN on Fortnite?

No, you can’t get banned from Fortnite for using a VPN because their Terms of Service don’t specify it as a bannable offense. If you want to add extra privacy on Fortnite or bypass your IP ban, you can use a VPN and not worry about it.

Is it legal to use a VPN for gaming?

Yes. Using a VPN for gaming is a completely legal practice, unless gaming or VPN services are illegal in your country.

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