3 Best Gaming VPNs for PC, Xbox, PS4, and More in 2021
As a gamer, you’re more at risk from online threats than ever before. Whether it’s upset opponents launching DDoS attacks or hackers taking advantage of unencrypted traffic, these are serious threats that can compromise your security.
A VPN is a great way to protect your IP address and personal data through multiple layers of security, but it can slow down your connection and cause lag during online games. There’s no need to sacrifice speed for security though — and with the VPNs on this list, you don’t have to. I’ve tested over 25 VPNs to find top choices for fast download speeds, low ping, and best-in-class security to protect all of your devices. Some of these VPNs actually improved my gaming speeds and responsiveness.
If you’re looking for a recommendation, ExpressVPN is the best VPN for gaming in 2021 — it has a huge server network with quick connections and top-tier security to block online threats. You can use it for gaming on your PC, mobile, tablet, Xbox, PlayStation, and more as it has app support for multiple devices. Even better, you can try it yourself risk-free with its 30-day money-back guarantee.
In a Hurry? Here Are the Best Gaming VPNs in 2021
- ExpressVPN — Fast speeds on 3000+ servers make gaming smooth and buffer-free.
- CyberGhost — Offers optimized servers for gaming, but ping fluctuates more than other VPNs on this list.
- Private Internet Access (PIA) — “Squid” proxies reduce ping for fast gaming, but doesn’t work in countries with internet restrictions (like China).
3 Best VPNs for Gaming With Fast Speeds and Low Ping (Tested May 2021)
- Consistently fast speeds ideal for gaming without interruption
- 3000 global servers in 94 countries
- Best-in-class encryption, zero-logs policy, and leak protection
- Works on Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Xbox, PlayStation, Linux, Chrome, Firefox, Smart TVs, routers, and more
- 24/7 live chat, email support, and help guides to provide quick answers
- No questions asked money-back guarantee for 30 days
ExpressVPN is one of the best VPNs for reliable connections and consistently rapid speeds in countries with restricted internet access. It’s even one of the few VPNs that work in China. Thanks to ExpressVPN’s top-tier encryption, you also get maximum security. The app has built-in advanced features like an automatic kill switch, leak protection, and an audited no-logs policy to protect your information. This combination of security measures guarantees your data is protected and anonymous while using the service. I never had to worry about my connection to a VPN getting detected and blocked.
I was happy with my speeds when I played online, particularly in games that required fast responses like Counter-Strike and Overwatch. I didn’t experience any lag or interruption when connected to ExpressVPN during gaming. I could even play on US servers from my location in the UK and I didn’t experience delays.
ExpressVPN’s desktop and mobile apps make it easy to connect to a fast server with its simple “Quick Connect” button. You can even configure your router, which protects all internet-enabled devices in your household (including Xbox and PlayStation consoles). If you have one of ExpressVPN’s own routers, you can even use port forwarding to host video games from your own servers. This means other devices (like your friend’s PC, Xbox, or PlayStation) can send traffic to your router — you allow a particular port number on your router to accept traffic from any device that tries to connect to it. If you’re all using the same connection, you can play together on the same game server. Plus your outgoing connection to the server will be VPN-encrypted so you can all game securely and anonymously.
ExpressVPN is worth the extra cost for its advanced technology to bypass worldwide cyber restrictions so you can game from anywhere. If you want to try it before you commit, I suggest you take advantage of ExpressVPN’s money-back guarantee for a full 30 days. If you’re not satisfied with your purchase, you can always request a refund. When I contacted a 24/7 live chat agent for a refund, he processed it right away with no questions asked. The entire process took less than 3 minutes and I had my money back in 4 business days.
May 2021 Update! ExpressVPN has dropped prices for a limited time to a crazy $6.67 per month for the 1-year plan (you can save up to 49%) + 3 months free! This is a limited offer so be sure to grab it now before it's gone. See more information on this offer here.
- Fast gaming speeds, but distant servers have higher ping
- 6800 servers in 90 countries for global access
- Military-level encryption, kill switch, and zero-logs for anonymous online activities
- Works on Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Xbox, PlayStation, Linux, Chrome, Firefox,
- Smart TVs, routers, and more
- 24/7 live chat and email ticketing to help with troubleshooting
- Straightforward 45-day money-back guarantee
CyberGhost’s dedicated gaming servers significantly improve connection speed and reduce latency. You can conveniently sort them by ping, distance, or load to find the best option. I was surprised at just how much better the dedicated servers performed, as CyberGhost provided download speeds faster than my regular ISP during testing! The difference in speed and lower ping was immediately noticeable — my games loaded faster, were more responsive, and didn’t have any lag at all.
It’s worth noting that you may experience higher latency on distant servers than with ExpressVPN, even on the dedicated gaming servers. In my tests, gaming servers in the US and Japan resulted in ping between 100-110ms. However, this shouldn’t impact you too much unless you’re playing competitive eSports.
In terms of security, CyberGhost provides high-level encryption to keep your data and online activity totally anonymous. It has specific DDoS protection on all of its servers so you can rest assured that frustrated opponents can’t interfere with your connection. CyberGhost also has an automatic kill switch that will secure your data if the VPN connection is interrupted.
CyberGhost is a great choice for first-time VPN users because of its easy-to-use apps for Windows, Mac, mobile and more. Although it doesn’t have dedicated apps for Xbox or PlayStation, you can find helpful instructions to set up the VPN on your router to connect any gaming device. This makes it much easier to choose servers, navigate the interface, and customize settings to improve your gameplay. You can find out just how simple, fast, and secure it is if you try CyberGhost risk-free with its money-back guarantee for a generous 45 days.
May 2021 Update: CyberGhost has dropped prices for a limited time to a crazy $2.25 per month for the 3-year plan (you can save up to 83%)! This is a limited offer so be sure to grab it now before it's gone. See more information on this offer here.
- Fast speeds but high ping from distant servers
- 29,000+ servers provide global connections
- High-level encryption and zero-logs policy for data security
- Works on Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Xbox, PlayStation, Linux, routers, and more
- 24/7 customer support with live chat, email, and knowledge base
- 30-day money-back guarantee without hassle
Private Internet Access (PIA) has useful SOCKS5 “Squid” proxies to decrease your latency for online gaming. These servers are less heavily encrypted than a normal VPN connection so they provide a faster response time when gaming. As they’re not as secure, I wouldn’t recommend using them for any sensitive online activities like banking.
You’ll have no issue keeping your online activity and IP address private while gaming with PIA. This means you’re protected in case you become the subject of an attempted DDoS attack mid-game. Don’t let the fact that it’s based in the US (and part of intelligence-sharing alliances like the Five Eyes) deter you. It has a strict zero-logs policy and it even shut down servers in Russia when the local government demanded the VPN to share its user data. You can rest assured that your identifying information is kept safe.
PIA’s many servers (almost 30,000!) helps it to maintain its fast speeds without overcrowding, although my ping wasn’t always as low as I’d like during my tests. I was satisfied with download speeds, but I experienced some lag and delayed responses due to higher ping when connecting to distant servers (in countries like Japan and Australia). As long as you can connect to closer servers to your location, you won’t experience lag — when I connected to servers in the UK and Europe, my gameplay was flawless.
PIA is one of the most budget-friendly VPNs on this list — you get top-tier security for a low monthly price. Better still, you can test PIA risk-free using its 30-day money-back guarantee.
May 2021 Update! For a limited time only, save 77% on PIA's 2-year plan + get an additional 2 months free! Hurry and check out the deal here!
Warning! Don’t Download Any of These VPNs for Gaming
VPN Land is limited in its server network (only 700) and speeds, so it’s not ideal if you’re looking for quick-response gaming or global network reach. Plus, it claims to have a zero-logs policy but would be willing to hand over connection log information to the authorities if requested. Even worse, when I tried to access VPN Land’s website, I was warned it could be hosting phishing malware!
While there are some decent free VPN services on the market, they’re not suitable for gaming. Free VPNs are too limited to provide the fast speeds, low ping, and global server reach that you need for the best gaming experience. Plus, some free VPNs have shady privacy policies and low security, putting you at risk of DDoS attacks or being hacked. To avoid all of these issues, the safest and fastest option is to get a premium service for gaming like ExpressVPN.
Do You Really Need a Gaming VPN? (Yes!)
Here are some of the best reasons to use a VPN while gaming:
- Avoid device and personal attacks — DDoS attacks or swatting are based on your IP address, which is securely hidden by the VPN.
- Access blocked content — Trick sites and services into thinking you’re in a different location.
- Bypass NAT firewalls — A Network Address Translation (NAT) firewall protects private networks, which can block P2P gaming connections.
- Stop your ISP from throttling your connection — Your ISP can slow your speeds if it sees you’re gaming, but a VPN prevents this and hides your activity.
- Reduce lag, ping, and latency times — You can get faster speeds by connecting to a nearby server.
- Bypass IP bans — Get around blocks with a new IP address.
- Purchase games unavailable in your location, at a lower price, or released for early access — Find deals by switching to a different country server.
- Keep your device safe while playing games using public WiFi — Public connections are hotspots for malicious activity and hackers.
For the best gaming experience, you should try ExpressVPN for its blazing-fast speeds and high-level encryption. I didn’t have any lags and my data was secure during my tests.
How I Tested and Ranked the Best VPNs for Gaming
I tested more than 25 VPN services to find the 5 best options for gamers and ranked them based on the following criteria:
- Fast speeds to avoid lag or reduced responsiveness while you’re in-game. You’ll need low latency or “ping” (less than 100ms) for rapid responses.
- Unlimited bandwidth to avoid interruptions in the middle of a game.
- Global server network to take advantage of lower prices, limited-edition content, and start playing new games as soon as possible.
- Premium security features, such as military-grade encryption and data leak protection to keep your connection and personal information secure from external threats. Hiding your IP address also helps avoid bandwidth throttling if your ISP detects that you’re engaged in intensive online activity. The best gaming VPNs will even help you unblock Netflix and support anonymous torrenting.
- Works on multiple devices so your PC, mobile, and gaming consoles are all protected.
- User-friendly VPN app for straightforward download and installation, an easy-to-navigate interface, and effortless connection to the best server in one click.
- 24/7 customer support for quick responses and resolutions on live chat available around the clock for any technical issues or questions.
Easy Guide: How to Set Up Your VPN on Any Gaming Device
How to Set Up a Gaming VPN on Windows PC
- Get a VPN that works with Windows computers. ExpressVPN has Windows compatibility for OS 7, 8.1, and 10.
- Download the VPN to your PC. You should be able to do this after you’ve made your purchase by a direct link from the VPN’s website.
- Install and launch the VPN. You can connect to your chosen server and start gaming immediately.
How to Install and Use a Gaming VPN on Mac
- Get a VPN with Mac compatibility. ExpressVPN supports macOS Yosemite and later.
- Download the VPN to your Mac. You can download the native app from the App Store after purchasing from the VPN’s website, or manually configuring OpenVPN settings.
- Install and launch your VPN. Connect to a server and start using your VPN on your Mac!
How to Configure a VPN on Router
Setting up a VPN on your router is the easiest way to connect your game consoles and devices that don’t natively support VPN connections. Every device connected to the router will be securely encrypted through a VPN tunnel. It’s easy to set up, even if you’re completely new to VPNs.
- Get a VPN. ExpressVPN is compatible with a variety of routers.
- Log in to your router and configure the settings for your VPN. The exact instructions will depend on your router — you can find configuration guidelines on the ExpressVPN website or on your router manufacturer’s site.
- Test the connection. You can check to see if your VPN connection is secure by running an IP test or by connecting one of your game consoles to your WiFi.
How to Change VPN Settings for Faster Gaming Speeds
If you have slow download speeds or high latency, there are a couple of simple changes you can make to your VPN settings to fix the problem. These options can also help you access blocked games that aren’t available in your location. However, neither of these options provides the encryption or security of a standard VPN connection — you should only use these options if you really need to improve your speed.
PPTP — Get Higher Speeds Without Lag
PPTP stands for Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol and it’s one of the oldest VPN protocols still in use. It’s also one of the fastest protocols, but it’s not often used with VPN connections because it’s not secure. In fact, its encryption has repeatedly been cracked since it was developed!
As such, I don’t recommend using PPTP if you’re going to be undertaking any tasks involving private or personal data. As long as you aren’t sending anything sensitive, PPTP can provide a significant speed boost over other, more secure protocols like OpenVPN.
Below are instructions on setting PPTP up with ExpressVPN on Windows PC.
- Using your browser, sign into ExpressVPN and find the manual configuration options for PPTP. These instructions are included in the setup guides for your VPN. Keep the browser window open as you’ll need the details later.
- In your taskbar, click the internet icon and choose “Network & Internet Settings”. A new window will appear.
- On the right side menu, click “VPN” and then “Add a VPN connection”.
- Fill out the following details: VPN provider (Windows), connection name (pick a name associated with the server you’re connecting to), server name or address (choose a server name from the available list in the manual configuration options), VPN type (choose PPTP), type of sign-in information (username and password), and username and password (provided by ExpressVPN).
- To connect to your chosen PPTP server, click the name of the connection and then “Connect”. You’ll know it’s successful if it says “Connected” below the server name.
- You’re ready to start using your PC with PPTP!
SOCKS5 — Reduce Ping When Gaming
You can use the SOCKS5 proxy if your ping is too high when you’re connected to your VPN, or you want to quickly change your location. This doesn’t encrypt your connection, but it will change your IP address so you can access blocked content. I use the SOCKS5 proxy to download games that aren’t available in my location and find games at a cheaper price.
As it isn’t encrypted, SOCKS5 isn’t a secure setting and doesn’t have the protection of a standard VPN connection — so don’t use it to send or receive sensitive data. The lack of encryption makes it a faster option with less ping.
You can easily set up a SOCKS5 proxy with PIA. It has plenty of SOCKS5 locations you can use for free as they’re included with your subscription. PIA has browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Opera that automatically route your connection through a proxy server.
FAQ: Gaming Online and Offline With a VPN
Can I use a free VPN for gaming?
You can, but it’ll be a disappointing experience. For the best gaming experience, you need a VPN with fast speeds, premium security, and no data limits — a free VPN can’t offer you with all of those features at the same time. Even the most secure and reliable free VPNs have strict data and bandwidth limits that won’t let you game as much as you want. You’ll have slow reactions, unresponsive movements, or even lose your connection completely mid-game.
Even worse, some free VPNs simply aren’t safe to use. You might think you’re protected, but these free services can log your data and sell it to third-party advertisers. This compromises your data security when you expect the VPN to keep your activity private.
For a secure connection that won’t throttle your bandwidth, your best bet is to try ExpressVPN risk-free with its money-back guarantee for 30 days. I tested the process myself and it really works. After 3 weeks testing it while gaming, I requested a refund through the 24/7 live chat. The agent asked if there were any issues but I just responded that I didn’t need the service anymore. My cancellation was processed in less than 5 minutes and I had my money back in my account within 4 days.
Do gaming VPNs reduce ping?
Yes, they can. All of the VPNs on this list have servers with low ping to keep your response times fast, even when you’re connected to servers farther away. By routing through a server, a VPN like ExpressVPN can help you get around congestion caused by online traffic at peak times. This helps to reduce your ping to improve how responsive your gaming is.
Even your standard internet speeds can sometimes suffer from increased latency. By connecting to a VPN server, you can reduce lag and improve your online speeds. Closer servers are more likely to give you the fastest speeds with the lowest latency. However, you should be aware that using a VPN won’t always reduce your ping. When you connect to a VPN server, your data has to be encrypted and decrypted, so the route might not be the most direct. This can also result in a higher ping and greater latency.
You can easily improve your ping time by adjusting your VPN protocol. Many VPNs have WireGuard, which is both fast and secure, or you can choose IKEv2 or OpenVPN UDP. Alternatively, if your VPN offers PPTP, you can try that — but be mindful that your connection will be less secure as PPTP has very basic (and crackable) encryption.
Can I get cheaper online games with a VPN?
Yes, you can usually find games at a lower price by using a VPN. By using one of the top gaming VPNs on this list, you can make it look like you’re in a different country with more affordable games and take advantage of those deals.
One of the best countries to purchase cheap games is Argentina, where you can save more than 50% on the US retail price. I recommend that you try ExpressVPN’s global server network, including its servers in Argentina to make significant savings on your game purchases.
How does a gaming VPN work?
A gaming VPN works by routing your connection through an encrypted tunnel to a VPN server that hides your IP address and your online activity. When you consider a high-quality VPN for gaming, you can connect to servers anywhere in the world to access restricted content or play region-blocked games with friends abroad. You can also data-intensive games online without any bandwidth throttling from your ISP. Even better, you can even improve your gameplay by reducing lag when you connect to the best VPN server for your location.
I recommend that you take a look at ExpressVPN as the top-rated VPN for gaming — its fast server connections and military-grade encryption keep your sensitive information secure and lag-free while gaming.
Enjoy Fast and Secure Gaming With a Quality VPN
When you’re gaming online, you need a VPN to get better speeds, high responsiveness, and reliable connections that won’t interrupt your game time. However, some VPNs are known to slow down connections, so many gamers don’t use a VPN to choose speed over security — putting them at risk of malicious attacks.
With the VPNs on this list, you can get improved gaming response times plus top-tier security to stay safe online. As the overall top choice, ExpressVPN has fast speeds, low ping, and military-grade security to protect your data. Best of all, you can try ExpressVPN for free with the money-back guarantee for 30 days to see how well it works for your gaming.