From iOS to Playstation to Steam, there are plenty of different types of games and different types of gamers playing them. In the end, though, all gamers want the same thing: to be immersed in the gameplay. At Cloudwards.net we’ve put together the below list of the best VPN for gaming to help you do exactly that.
When you’re looking for a VPN for gaming, you’ll want to consider some specific details that might not be a major deal to the average consumer. For this article, we’ll be focusing on PC and console gaming, but these considerations count for mobile as well.
In the case of gaming, VPNs can give you access to games and servers that might otherwise be geoblocked or just give you peace of mind that you won’t suddenly see invasive ads based on your gaming activity.
Best VPN for Gaming 2018
What Makes a VPN Best for Gaming
Before we go on, it’s important to clarify the difference between speed and latency when gaming with a VPN. Speed will be influenced by a variety of factors, but you can generally get a good idea of a service’s speeds with a few benchmarks as we do in all our VPN reviews.
While more speed is never a bad thing, it’s not essential for a good gaming experience as the actual amount of information exchanged in online gameplay is relatively small (if speed is important to you, check out our list of the fastest VPN providers around).
Latency, or ping, is the delay you experience as information travels from your computer to its destination. This is the number one factor to keep in mind when choosing a VPN for gaming. Low latency is critical to smooth gameplay. If you’re facing a half-second delay, you’ll end up shooting where your enemy was half a second ago. Even in co-op games, lag can take you right out of the game.
Looking at specific speed tests won’t be very helpful when figuring out how much latency any given VPN has, as it will vary depending on where you’re connecting from. The only surefire test would be one that you conduct yourself. However, latency is mostly influenced by the distance between you and the server you’re connecting to. VPN providers with more server locations will be more likely to have servers near you, thus minimizing latency.
The other major factor to consider is compatibility. If you’re using a PC, you’ll want a VPN with a good Windows client (like the ones on our list for the best VPN for Windows). If you’re on a console, you’ll want a VPN that can be set up with that console or your router easily (check out our best VPN routers for ideas). The easier it is to set up, the sooner you can continue the pwnage.
The Best VPN for Gamers: ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN sits atop our list of best VPN providers for a lot of reasons: it’s a great VPN that excels in almost all areas. To read more, check out our full ExpressVPN review. It’s main draw for gamers is, however, its massive server network.
With 148 different server locations across 94 countries, ExpressVPN has a much larger network than any of the other contenders on this list. This coverage means that, wherever you live, you’ll likely have a server somewhat near you, keeping latency down.
ExpressVPN also has a great Windows client to make connecting as easy as possible. If you’re on console, the website has specific instructions for connecting an Xbox or Playstation; if you just want to connect your entire home network, the website also has router setup instructions.
While ExpressVPN is on the more expensive side, its network is your best shot at a low latency connection besides being an excellent VPN in general.
Other Reasons We Like ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN is very secure, supporting 256-bit AES encryption with OpenVPN as it’s main protocol. It also features a killswitch which severs your connection if there is a server outage, maintaining security.
The no-logging policy also means that even if the government demanded that ExpressVPN turn over your browsing activity, it wouldn’t have anything to turn over.
ExpressVPN’s other apps are also well designed and easy to use. While it’s a good VPN for gaming, there’s no reason not to protect your other devices with the same service. With a 30-day money-back guarantee, it’s also easy to try out ExpressVPN and see if it works for you.
- Servers in 148 locations
- No logging
- Only three simultaneous connections
PIA is a straightforward service that’s easy to use with sound security and a reasonable price. To learn more, read our full PIA review. PIA doesn’t have nearly as many server locations as ExpressVPN, but it’s over 3000 servers in 43 locations across 28 countries is still solid.
Depending on your location, you might face some higher latency than with ExpressVPN, but you should still be able to find a usable server for gaming.
For this compromise in server offerings, you gain a major price cut. PIA is significantly cheaper than ExpressVPN. As the service is certainly good enough for most gamers, you’ll have to consider if it’s worth paying substantially more to get a small improvement.
For this price though, you still get a solid Windows app and step-by-step instructions on router setup so you can use PIA with your console. If manual router setup is a bit intimidating, PIA also offers pre-configured routers.
Other Reasons We Like PIA
PIA’s support for pretty much every OS makes it a solid choice for covering other devices beyond your gaming needs. It allows up to five simultaneous connections, two more than ExpressVPN, so you won’t need to worry about disconnecting devices that you’re not actively using.
PIA also offers very flexible payment options, accepting bitcoin, Amazon Payments and many more less common methods if you prefer not to use your card. There’s also a seven-day money-back guarantee if you just want to try out out, first.
- No logging
- Solid speeds
- Solid server selection
- Only 7-day money-back guarantee
- No specific server selection
IPVanish doesn’t have the lowest prices or the most server locations, but it does strike a balance between price, latency and security. If you’re looking for a balanced service that can protect your connection while you game, or do anything else with its wide device support, IPVanish is a solid service. To learn more, read our full IPVanish review.
IPVanish’s network of over 1000 servers, across more than 60 countries and in 81 different locations gives you a good chance of keeping your latency down. The Windows client, though not the cleanest around, does provide a list of all available connections and their pings making it easy to choose the best.
For console gamers, IPVanish offers a clear step by step guide to setting up a router or, for anyone not looking to get too technical, a wide selection of pre-configured routers through three different partners.
Other Reasons We Like IPVanish
IPVanish offers solid security using 256-bit AES encryption to keep you safe. It also has a no-logging policy to ensure your privacy. It’s worth noting that IPVanish’s track record isn’t perfect, but since 2015, IPVanish seems to have offered a clean, no logging, service.
If you want to customize your connection, IPVanish can deliver on that front too. It includes a killswitch as well as some power-user tools like an automatic IP switcher with an adjustable time period for 45, 60 or 90 minutes.
The main panel of the client also features a speed graph and your public IP so you don’t need to dig around to access the most essential information.
- Good server selection
- A bit expensive
- A bit slow
NordVPN makes a lot of the top five lists here at Cloudwards.net. It earns these by providing a consistently solid service with great security for a reasonable price. To learn more, read our NordVPN review. It’s also the winner of our best VPN for multiple devices list, so its use extends well beyond gaming, too.
NordVPN is definitely an excellent VPN for general use and though it doesn’t make the top of this list, it can handle gaming quite well. NordVPN’s 3357 servers are distributed across 60 countries, though its website does not disclose how many individual locations they operate from. This makes it hard to tell just how low your latency will likely be without running tests on your specific system.
However, even though this number isn’t specifically listed, the NordVPN server browser displays every available server, the load on the server and the key point: distance to server. This allows you to prioritize latency reduction.
NordVPN also has a very user friendly Windows client for using your Steam library as well as a very clear tutorial section for setting up a connection from your router to protect your console.
Other Reasons We Like NordVPN
NordVPN is very secure, defaulting to the OpenVPN protocol which uses 256-bit AES encryption. It has a no-logging policy and some additional features for users seeking even more security.
Choosing a dedicated IP address can help you blend in with others and ensure your anonymity. The service offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try it with peace of mind. If it’s not for you, the process for getting a refund is straightforward.
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- No logging
- Easy to use
- Not very fast
VyprVPN is a service that focuses on ease-of-use without sacrificing privacy or security. If you want a service that lets you forget about setup and get on with gaming for a reasonable price, VyprVPN is worth considering. To read more, check out our full VyprVPN review.
With more than 700 servers in over 70 locations, VyprVPN has a network that can keep your latency down. With an easy-to-use Windows client, setup for your gaming PC is very straight forward. If you’re on a console, VyprVPN also has very clear instructions for router setup.
VyprVPN’s router app also provides a clear interface for split tunneling, meaning you can choose which devices on your network are configured with the VPN and which are not.
VyprVPN isn’t the cheapest VPN on this list, but the premium subscription with five simultaneous connections still comes in cheaper than ExpressVPN. If you want to save more, VyprVPN also offers a standard subscription with three connections for slightly cheaper.
Other Reasons We Like VyprVPN
VyprVPN offers strong security, defaulting to the OpenVPN protocol using 256-bit AES encryption. If you opt for the Premium subscription, VyprVPN’s chameleon protocol can also disguise your VPN connection to make it appear as normal internet traffic.
VyprVPN offers solid speeds so your day-to-day browsing feels responsive, even when you’re protected. If you want to see if VyprVPN is right for you, it is one of the few services that offers a free trial.
You can use the service for three days without paying, though you will need to provide payment information and specifically cancel if you decide against subscribing.
- Easy to use
- Solid server selection
- Not the cheapest
- Some logging
Here are two more services that might not have made the top five, but are still solid enough for gamers.Romania-based service scores well on privacy and ease of use, but because CyberGhost’s server network is limited to Europe we felt it based to keep it in honorary sixth place. Besides that, though, you get a no-logs, fast service that should keep your ping low and frustration to a minimum.
As you can read in our CyberGhost review, it also comes at a decent price and offers good support if you need it, meaning it will serve well as an allround VPN as well.
Though it may occasionally feel a bit shaky, CyberGhost is constantly improving and thus is on the up and up in our general rankings.VPN Unlimited review, it doesn’t have the same rock-solid privacy that our other contenders offer, but its many servers will keep your latency down at a price that’s definitely competitive. With over 400 servers across 70 locations, VPN Unlimited has a solid network. The Windows client also has an easy-to-use server selection interface to make picking one that’s fast and nearby easy.
If you’re using a console, VPN Unlimited offers a setup manual for those who want to configure their connection themselves. If you’d rather not get into the technical stuff, VPN Unlimited also sells pre-configured routers so you can get right to gaming.
As privacy is often a major motivation to use a VPN, VPN Unlimited didn’t quite make our top five, but if you’re okay with its more vague terms and conditions and data logging, VPN Unlimited is still a secure service at an affordable price.
If there’s room in your budget, there’s pretty much no question that the ideal VPN for gaming is ExpressVPN. While pricey, its offering of server locations, ease of use, security and privacy is pretty much unrivaled.
If you do need to save some money though, the other options on this list are still viable VPNs that won’t require the same investment that ExpressVPN does. PIA is very easy to use and IPVanish has a solid selection of server locations.
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NordVPN also makes for a great general purpose VPN as it edges out the other services on this list with six simultaneous connections if you’re willing to sacrifice the transparency in server locations of our first three choices.
Are you willing to pay the premium for the best VPN network available for gaming or will you go with a more budget oriented option? Do you have a favorite VPN you feel we should have mentioned? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks for reading.