Improving your gaming experience or performance can be quite the challenging task whether you’re a PC, Console, or Mobile gamer. A gaming VPN will help you achieve just that. High speed servers, unblocking ability, secure encryption, and low ping times are among the most important factors in assessing how good a VPN really is for gaming.
Setting up a gaming VPN on your PC, Console, Mobile, or router can significantly improve your experience as well as your performance by reducing lag/latency, allowing you to play in different regions and lobbies, Bypass ISP bandwidth throttling, avoid censorship and geo-blocks, protect your home network from DDoS attacks.
The objective of this article is to showcase how you can utilize VPNs to get an advantage over your competition or simply improve your overall gaming experience. I’ve tested many VPN providers with a number of different games including Call of Duty Warzone, NBA 2K21, Among Us, Dota 2 and PUBG Mobile.
- Best Gaming VPN
- What Are The Benefits of a Gaming VPN?
- Can I Get Around Regional Bans with a Gaming VPN?
- A Gaming VPN Unblocks Streaming Services Too!
- Gaming VPN Alternative For Console Gamers
- Best Gaming VPN – Conclusion
Best Gaming VPN
Assessing the viability of a VPN for gaming relies heavily on it’s ability to provide a stable connection (low ping and lag), secure your connection to the game server to avoid hacks and leaks, and provide you with the freedom to change regions and play wherever you feel like it.
The 4 VPNs I’ve listed below are the cream of the crop. They offer competitive prices and high quality performance. Every VPN product offers unique subscription packages that might save you some money in the long run or even give out extra free months. Compare the prices and main features for the top 3 VPNs in the table below before making your final decision.
NordVPN is one of the most gamer-friendly VPNs on the market. They offer over 5800 blazing fast servers all over the world so you can enjoy regional freedom. Additionally they provide a stable and secure connection with AES-256 bit encryption deployed on all servers. Another added benefit is the VPN’s ability to unblock any streaming service or website including major platforms like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, and countless others.
The company maintains a strict no-logs policy to ensure your online anonymity at all times. Being headquartered in Panama helps NordVPN achieve that since the country doesn’t adhere to international law regarding user data retention. All subscription plans include a “no questions asked” full 30-Day Money-Back Guarantee.
Surfshark is a VPN company that is primarily focused security and user privacy. They also have high speed servers that are able to unblock most streaming services and provide a stable connection for gaming.
The product is considerably cheaper than others in it’s class and also ensures satisfaction with a 30-Day Money-Back Guarantee.
A great product at a fairly cheap price. For gamers, the service can help you stabilize your connection and hop around regions freely. Additionally you can unblock all streaming services on any compatible device.
The service uses the AES-256 bit encryption algorithm to secure your connection from any threat while you play online, stream, or browse. Additionally, CyberGhost supports P2P applications so you can download torrents anonymously. On top of that you have unlimited bandwidth and up-to 7 devices per account.
If you come across any technical difficulties or need help setting up the VPN on your device or router, you can contact CyberGhost’s support team via email or live chat, they’re available 24/7. You also have a 45-Day Money-Back Guarantee just in case you change your mind.
An all purpose VPN that excels in gaming. Although a bit pricier than it’s competitors, ExpressVPN offers an excellent service with over 3000 highly optimized servers. Furthermore you can unblock any streaming service with ease.
The company is based in the British Virgin Islands and is therefore able to safely maintain their no-logs policy. ExpressVPN servers are also optimized for P2P applications like uTorrent, Bittorrent and others. You also benefit from a risk-free subscription with ExpressVPN’s 30-Day Money-Back Guarantee.
What Are The Benefits of a Gaming VPN?
A lot of gamers suffer from high ping and packet loss issues for many different reasons. For example, some ISPs apply bandwidth throttling techniques to limit the volume of traffic you can consume. Needless to say that’s not going to work, you need full speed. Additionally, a gaming VPN provides a secure layer which encrypts your traffic so that hackers can’t manipulate or steal your data.
Using a VPN for gaming has become essential. Instead of letting the game decide which region to connect you to, you can choose any region you want. A feature that has become very popular in competitive games like Call Of Duty and CS:GO. Furthermore, with a gaming VPN you don’t have to worry about regional blocks and missing out on content that isn’t available in your area. You simply connect through a VPN and access any game or DLC on the planet.
DDoS Attack Protection
A DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attack is when someone overloads your network by sending a large number of requests to your system causing it to shut down. A VPN masks your actual IP address. Which means hackers won’t be able to find your Network to flood it with requests and get you disconnected.
Over the years players have been victims of DDoS attacks in-game which causes players to disconnect and lose the game. Such attacks occur across all games but perhaps most notably in competitive and team based games.
It is worth noting that performing a DDoS attack is a fairly easy task with ready-made software that does all the dirty work for you. So basically, anyone can do it. Which is why you need a VPN for DDoS protection. VPN’s can protect you from DDoS attacks with military-grade encryption and shared server IPs.
Public WiFi Security
Mobile, Tablet, and Laptop gamers regularly connect to public WiFi networks, be it in a Hotel, restaurant, coffee shop or wherever. The point is, these public WiFi hotspots are not secure and can cause a lot of harm.
- WiFi sniffing: There are many software packages and devices available for people to see everything you are doing online by sniffing out your device on a network and hijacking it’s connection. Your valuable information may be at risk on a public WiFi connection as cybercriminals can easily acquire personal and payment information off of your device without you noticing anything.
- Malware: Public WiFi connections are open to vulnerabilities where attackers can inject malicious software into your device through the public network you are both connected to. Such attacks are due to the lack of security protocols and encryption techniques that are just not implemented in public WiFi hotspots. All the more reason to always have a VPN active on your device to shield you from such threats.
Bypass ISP Bandwidth Throttling
Unfortunately, it is a common occurrence that internet service providers (ISPs) throttle their user’s bandwidth speed while gaming to reduce the strain on their network infrastructure. Some ISPs detect your traffic by type, gaming, streaming, or file sharing and then lower your download and upload speed accordingly.
You can see why such behavior by ISPs can be problematic for gamers, you obviously don’t want your speed to be downgraded, it would destroy your performance. This is where a gaming VPN can help. A VPN encrypts your data in a private tunnel through which your ISP cannot pass or even see the data being transferred. Therefore bypassing any method your ISP can deploy to detect what kind of traffic your using, be it gaming or something else.
Play In Any Region
Gamers have the unique choice to join multiplayer servers in any region of the world via a VPN. Your gaming experience may vary widely depending on which servers you play on. For example when I play NB2K21 I like to join US servers as the community there seems more engaged in the game. On the other hand, when I’m playing Call of Duty Warzone, I tend to join different regions based on the time zone. The busiest hours are around 7-8 PM up until midnight. Of course if you’re trying to avoid steep competition, you’ll want to connect to regions where the time is closer to dawn, so 5-6 AM.
You can also get the scoop on titles that are yet to be released in your region. All you need to do is just hop on a VPN server in another region and play your games early. Most VPN providers have server networks spread across the globe. You can surely find a location in any region you want.
Significantly Reduce Lag/Latency
Ping refers to the network latency between a player’s device, and the game server. Lag/latency is the most important contributing factor to your gaming performance, that is a fact. Connecting to a fast VPN server in the same region as your game server will greatly reduce lag and lower ping times. Consequently you can start getting those headshots you’ve been missing because your ping is too high.
A gaming VPN establishes a stable connection between you and the game server. In turn that allows you to send and receive requests to and from the game server much faster than you previously could through your regular connection. The difference is the number of hops a packet(unit of data) has to go through before reaching it’s destination. A good gaming VPN should be able to reduce the number of hops necessary and therefore solve your lag issues.
Bypass IP Bans
The most common type of bans in the gaming world is the dreaded account ban. Unfortunately, if your account gets banned, there’s nothing a VPN or anything else can do to help you except pleading your case with the game developers themselves. However, another type of bans, though less popular, is an IP ban. That’s where a VPN can definitely help by changing your IP address. Once you connect to a VPN server, your IP changes and therefore your ban is lifted.
Can I Get Around Regional Bans with a Gaming VPN?
The list of banned games in some regions has been steadily growing the past few years with increasing global economic tension between countries like US, China, and others. If you happen to reside in a region where a video game you like is banned, then a VPN can help you get over that hump easily. Here are some countries that are currently banning certain games or have been known to regularly ban certain game genres.
They usually ban any game that is detrimental to “China’s national dignity and interests”. Such banned titles include:
- Animal Crossing: New Horizons
- Plague Inc
- Battlefield 4
- Command & Conquer: Generals
- I.G.I.-2: Covert Strike
- Valkyrie Drive: Bhikkhuni
- Plague Inc./Plague Inc. Evolved
They ban any game with nudity, drug use, violence, and even graffiti. Australia has a specially long list of banned titles that include:
- Saints Row IV
- Katana Zero
- Super Blood Hockey
- Omega Labyrinth Z
- Valkyrie Drive: Bhikkhuni
- South Park: The Stick of Truth
- The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
They prohibit video games that glorify violence, and overt sexual activity.
- Army of Two
- Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
- Dead Island
- Far Cry
- Left 4 Dead (uncensored)
- Mortal Kombat: Armageddon
- Postal III
- Quake 4
- Resident Evil 4
- X-Men Origins: Wolverine
The UK bans any video game title containing realistic violence or sexual conduct. Such banned titles include:
- The Godfather II
- God of War series
- Heavy Rain
- The Last of Us Part II
- Postal 2
- Spec Ops: The Line
- Saints Row IV
- Peace, Gal Gun 2
- Postal III
- Omega Labyrinth Z
A Gaming VPN Unblocks Streaming Services Too!
You can use your VPN subscription for more than just gaming. Elite VPN providers can unblock all geo-restricted streaming services so you can stream it all in Ultra HD quality.
In order to unblock services like ESPN+, Netflix US, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and more, all you have to do is connect to a VPN server in the relevant country where the service is available. Your VPN will hide your IP address and allow you to appear in the region of your choice. Therefore tricking streaming services into thinking you are in a covered area.
Unblocking geo-restricted content comes in real handy when it comes to sports events and leagues. With a VPN, you don’t have to miss out on live games because of regional blackouts. You can use a VPN for NBA League Pass, NFL Game Pass, MLB.tv, and many more.
Gaming VPN Alternative For Console Gamers
Console gamers (PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S) can benefit as well from using a gaming VPN. However, since consoles don’t natively support VPN applications, you can’t just install a VPN on your gaming console. That said there are 2 ways you can get around this issue:
- VPN router method: If you have or are willing to get a router that has a built-in VPN client, meaning it supports VPN connections. Then you can install the VPN directly on your router which in turn is connected to your console. This is the ideal way since it automatically connects all your devices through the VPN router.
- Smart DNS method: All 4 VPN providers I’ve mentioned in this article offer a free Smart DNS service alongside any subscription package you purchase. You can easily configure the DNS in your gaming console’s network settings. Keep in mind that not all providers optimize their Smart DNS service for gaming. I’ve tested NordVPN Smart DNS with a few games and can confirm it works as advertised.
Best Gaming VPN – Conclusion
Regardless of what device or console you game on, you need to protect your gaming profile, and connection. Avoid DDoS and other malicious attacks with a simple VPN solution. An elite VPN provider offers high speed, low ping servers which is greatly beneficial for gamers looking for opportunities to improve their performance. Add to that all the additional benefits that come with a VPN including bypassing geo-blocks and moving around regions.
That’s why I’ve curated a list of the best gaming VPNs available so you can get all the information you need to make the right decision. My selections all include full refund guarantees and have been rigorously tested with multiple online games, streaming services, and torrent clients. In other words, if it’s in my list, it works!