What makes the best VPN for gaming? For starters, it has to be fast. It’s no good investing in something that’ll just slow down your connection during a firefight, after all. Secondly, it needs to be as reliable as it is secure. Where does that leave us? With the VPNs we've rounded up for you below.
If none of this is making sense, let’s rewind for a second. VPN means ‘Virtual Private Network’ and it works hard to encrypt your online communications - basically, it keeps your info away from prying eyes. It also allows you to overcome the tricksy practice of ‘geo-blocking’. This is where content isn’t available in certain parts of the world, usually due to rights issues. Overcoming that is helpful for a couple of reasons. For example, a VPN becomes essential if you’re on vacation and want to catch up on a show you’re able to watch at home but not abroad (if that sounds handy, give our Netflix VPN guide a look).
What does this have to do with gaming, though? Well, a VPN might be useful if you want to play multiplayer but can’t find enough opponents in your area. One of our recommendations would allow you to try matchmaking in another part of the world instead. Cool, right? VPNs are also really handy if you're based in China and want to use Steam; you can manage it via one of our picks below. Sure, we wouldn't recommend getting a VPN to improve your connection speeds in-game (it could have the opposite effect), but they've definitely got their advantages.
So, do you need a VPN for gaming? If you're still on the fence, our in-depth feature will help. And if you're hunting down a PlayStation-specific VPN, our guide to the best VPN for PS4 is here to help.
Best VPN for gaming
Of all the VPN services we've tried, ExpressVPN came out on top; it's fast and well-suited to gaming as a result. Happily, it's also compatible with a wide variety of devices and is equally good for HD streaming.
Although ExpressVPN is a little more expensive than some competitors, it's reliable, secure thanks to 256-bit encryption, and easy to use. We'd recommend it for those reasons alone, but its versatility when it comes to protecting your data via PC and watching shows outside of your region elevate it to the top spot.
When it comes to speed, IPVanish performs well - it tests up to five times faster than some other VPNs over short-hop connections. Overall download speeds are pretty good, too.
The service's functionality is just as impressive. Its servers are sorted by ping-time and suitability, and you won't be stuck for choice; IPVanish has well over 1000 servers spread across 60 international locations. As you'd expect, security is good as well - it has 256-bit AES encryption to speak of.
Thanks to 4,400 servers spread across the world, NordVPN's coverage is excellent. Its performance is equally impressive - there's little obvious difference between gaming with the VPN active and using a normal connection.
Security is where NordVPN really pulls ahead, though. It boasts 2048-bit encryption and DDoS protection on selected servers (alongside a very strict 'no logging' policy), so it's pretty watertight.
If you want speed, look no further than VyprVPN. It excels in that department, and in our tests we found that it actually increased our download speed by up to 250%. That's exceptional.
It's got 200,000 IP addresses as well, not to mention an NAT firewall for blocking unwanted traffic, so VyprVPN is a formidable piece of software. However, be warned - it doesn't offer refunds.
Buffered VPN may not offer the most servers on this list, but it does bring the goods in other areas. Namely, it clears up in terms of latency. Our tests recorded lower pings using Buffered VPN than a normal connection, and that's impressive work.
It comes at a price, of course - this is one of the more expensive VPN options for gaming. Still, it's got a very reasonable refund policy. You can get your money back if you don't go over 10 hours, 100 sessions, or 10GB of use.