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The best VPN for gaming in 2024: Providers with the lowest lag

Verified by Molly Dyson

Using a virtual private network (VPN) for gaming will help keep your data safe, while offering the ability to access geo-restricted content. 

Although an occurrence hasn’t happened in recent years, the world of gaming has been known to suffer from distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, which are essentially other gamers’ tactics designed to throw you off your kill streak and temporarily out of the game. 

As well as security, VPNs are useful for accessing games earlier, for instance, users can switch to a server based in Australia or the US if the content is not yet available in the UK. 

Speed is also a concern for gaming as it consumes a lot of bandwidth. As a result, your Internet Service Provider (ISP) may also hit you with what’s known as bandwidth throttling – essentially, slowing your connection down to manage network congestion. A VPN is useful here, as it is possible to decrease Latency (ping) with certain providers. 

To help you optimise your gaming experience, we’ve compiled a list of all the best VPNs for gaming – tried and tested for speed and security.

Our top three VPNs for 2024

Based on extensive research and testing, our team of experts have named three providers as the best of the best for 2024, and they’re all great choices for those in need of a VPN for gaming, offering router configuration to cover all your favourite consoles.

The best VPNs for gaming compared

There were several factors our researchers took into account to establish the best VPN for gaming:

  • A good VPN for gaming should have fast connection speeds. Most importantly, its latency, which determines how quickly data is passed through the network, should be comparable to a non-VPN connection. A high latency will affect video and audio lag. 
  • The VPN should have a high level of security. Ideally, the VPN is encrypted with AES-256 and it should have a range of protocols – WireGuard is the fastest. The service ought to have a kill switch, and split tunnelling is a nice touch. 
  • Just as important as security and speed is price. A VPN, good or bad, should still be affordable. A VPN should be good value for money with a balance between features and price.
Price From £2.49/m From £6.77/m From £1.79/m From £1.78/m From £4.27/m
Free version No No No No Yes
Max number of connected devices 6 5 Unlimited 7 10
Number of servers 5500+ 3000+ 3200+ 9000+ 2700+
AES-256 encryption Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Audited no-log policy Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Where to buy

The best VPNs for gaming reviewed

Here’s what our experts rate as the best VPNs for gaming.

CyberGhost: Best overall VPN for gaming

cyberghost vpn on multiple devices

Free version: No | Maximum number of connected devices: Seven | Number of servers: 9,000+ | Encryption: AES-256 | VPN protocols: OpenVPN, IKEv2, WireGuard | No-log policy: Yes | Audited: Yes, by Deloitte | Headquarters: Bucharest, Romania | Pricing: From £1.78 per month for a 24-month plan (plus three months free)

Pros and cons

Pros Cons
Dedicated servers for gaming No 24/7 live chat
Excellent range of security features
Reasonably priced

CyberGhost is our best VPN for gaming – it boasts fast connection speeds, dedicated gaming servers and a range of security features. Notably, CyberGhost’s latency, which determines video lag, was the lowest when tested by our researchers. The service is compatible with gaming consoles and routers and comes with a kill switch and split tunnelling features. 

Cost

CyberGhost offers a 45-day money-back guarantee, which is more than most other providers.

Subscription Term Price
Monthly £10.89 ($13.81) / month
6 months £6.19 ($7.85) / month (£37.14/$47.11 up front)
24 months (+2 months free) £1.78 ($2.26) / month (£49.92/$63.32 up front for 28 months)

Security

Although rare, when gaming, users can be susceptible to cyberattacks, whereby their internet connection becomes temporarily interrupted. CyberGhost’s secure VPN connection is designed to ward off DDoS attacks, ensuring you’re never kicked out of a game. 

CyberGhost’s dedicated gaming servers provide fast and secure connections. On the Windows app, you’ll have access to a selection of optimised gaming servers, which offer the lowest latency. Users can also sort CyberGhost’s servers by distance, load and ping from the main server menu in order to utilise the fastest server for gaming. 

Security features like an automatic kill switch, split tunnelling and a choice of VPN protocols are also available to use and provide an excellent level of security for gamers. 

User experience

There’s a lot to like when it comes to CyberGhost’s apps; gamers will especially benefit from the option to download the VPN directly onto their router, and CyberGhost’s Smart DNS can be configured for Xbox and PlayStation. The provider’s app interface is sleek and easy to navigate. 

CyberGhost comes with a range of useful features, but its Smart Rules feature is the most notable for gamers. It allows users to turn on auto launch for specified apps when opened. For its Windows app, there’s a dedicated gaming server list, which focuses on speed and low latency. 

Performance

Best VPN for gaming CyberGhost laptop
CyberGhost provided the lowest latency in our testing, which makes it an ideal VPN for gaming (The Independent)

For gaming, the most important thing to consider when carrying out a speed test is a VPN’s latency. Low latency will mean minimal delay in video and audio playback.  

CyberGhost’s latency was the best across all three servers we tested. For the UK server, it was just one millisecond slower than our non-VPN connection; the most impressive was the US server, which was just 75ms slower despite the physical distance between our researcher and the server – you can expect minimal lag for both the UK and US servers. 

Its download and upload speeds were also above average, not dropping by more than 10 per cent, bar the Australian upload speed. 

Speed test results

Download speed (Mbps) Upload speed (Mbps) Latency (ping) Percentage of base download speed Percentage of base upload speed
No VPN 73.07 18.06 13ms
UK to UK 69.6 17.2 14ms 95% 95%
UK to US 69.22 16.88 88ms 94% 93%
UK to Aus 66.4 8.71 250ms 90% 48%

Customer service 

CyberGhost is well-liked by its customers and receives excellent reviews on the Apple App Store, where it scores a 4.2 out of five stars, and an admirable 4.2 out of five stars on the Google Play Store. Notably, customers praise the service for its low lag time and its easy-to-use app. 

“I have been using CyberGhost VPN for about four years. On the computer, I haven’t experienced lag time like other VPNs. This VPN is on all my devices, [and the] paid version (as with almost everything everywhere) is fantastic. [The] UI is easy to navigate – if you have no experience with a VPN, you can still use this one quite easily. They have dozens and dozens of servers in lots of different countries.. The customer service is awesome.”

Verdict

CyberGhost is our best VPN for gaming thanks to its low latency and fast connection times, both of which are paramount to a smooth, uninterrupted gaming experience. The service is also encrypted with AES-256, which masks your real IP address, keeping players safe from DDoS attacks. CyberGhost is an affordable VPN that comes with an excellent level of security and speed. 

Score: ★★★★

Read our full CyberGhost VPN review.

Today’s best CyberGhost deals
CyberGhost 2 year £1.78 /Month
£1.78 /Month
CyberGhost 1 year £6.19 /Month
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CyberGhost 1 month £10.89 /Month
£10.89 /Month

NordVPN: Best for privacy while gaming

nordvpn app on multiple devices

Free version: No | Maximum number of connected devices: Six | Number of servers: 5,500+ in 60 countries | Encryption: AES-256 | VPN protocols: IKEv2/IPsec, OpenVPN, and NordLynx (WireGuard protocol) | No-log policy: Yes | Audited: Yes, by PwC and Deloitte | Headquarters: Panama | Pricing: From £2.49 per month for a 24-month subscription

Pros and cons

Pros Cons
Can be directly installed onto your router Expensive subscription for higher-level plans
Double VPN feature

It should come as no surprise we’ve chosen NordVPN as one of the best for gaming thanks to its excellent security and fast connection speeds – it’s also our best overall VPN, and if you’re a mobile gamer, we’ve named it the best VPN for iPhone and the best VPN for Android. NordVPN comes with high-quality privacy features, such as a double VPN that encrypts the user’s traffic twice, and its Meshnet feature, which allows for secure local and global gaming.  

Cost 

NordVPN can be paid for in monthly, annual, or 24-month installments and the provider has three payment tiers; standard, plus and complete. Longer plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

If you’re interested in bagging the most significant savings, the asking price drops to £2.49 for a two-year NordVPN subscription. As with any long-term VPN deal, you’ll have to pay the entirety of the contract upfront, but the addition of three extra months for free definitely makes it more palatable.

Subscription Term Standard plan Plus plan Complete plan
Monthly £10.39 ($13.26) / month £11.19 ($14.28) / month £13.09 ($16.71) / month
12 months (+3 months free) £3.59 ($4.58) / month (£53.85/$68.74 up front for 15 months) £4.39 ($5.60) / month (£65.85/$84.06 up front for 15 months) £6.39 ($8.16) / month (£95.85/$122.36 up front for 15 months)
24 months (+3 months free) £2.49 ($3.18) / month (£67.23/$85.82 up front for 27 months) £3.19 ($4.07) / month (£86.13/$109.95 up front for 27 months) £5.19 ($6.63) / month (£140.13/$178.89 up front for 27 months)

Security

A few years ago, gamers faced DDoS attacks, which temporarily interrupted their connection and resulted in losing games. Although this is unlikely to occur these days, NordVPN protects users from said attacks by hiding their real IP address and absorbing the brunt of the attack. 

NordVPN’s double VPN encrypts users’ traffic twice and is routed through two VPN servers; it’s an excellent security feature to have when gaming, since the feature makes it virtually impossible for your real IP address to be leaked, keeping you safe from potential cyberattacks. 

The service is also headquartered in a data-secure country and comes with an audited no-logs policy, as well as an ad and malware blocker.

Its Meshnet feature is designed to simplify gaming, allowing you to create secure networks for LAN gaming with players located both locally and globally. 

User experience

NordVPN has downloadable apps for MacOS, iOS, Linux and Windows; it can also be installed directly to your router, providing it’s compatible, which is ideal for gamers who wish to protect all of their gaming devices from one place. 

Its apps are some of the best on the market for beginners thanks to its simple and straightforward design. One notable feature that makes it one of the best VPNs for gaming is its server selection for browsing, downloads and speed; with the latter providing easy access to fast servers with low latency. 

Performance

Best VPN for gaming Nord laptop
NordVPN offers a few extra features that make it a great choice for gamers (The Independent)

NordVPN boasts fast connection speeds, and when our researcher tested its performance, its low latency and fast download and upload speed for the UK server were outstanding at just 2ms slower than our non-VPN connection; this is great for video and audio playback. 

It didn’t perform quite so well when we tested the US and Australian servers. Its latency was slower and the upload speed for the Australian server was far below what’s considered average when compared with competitors.

Speed test results

Download speed (Mbps) Upload speed (Mbps) Latency (ping) Percentage of base download speed Percentage of base upload speed
No VPN 73.03 17.13 13ms
UK to UK 70.52 17.11 15ms 96% 99%
UK to US 65.48 15.32 104ms 89% 89%
UK to Aus 60.87 11.32 276ms 83% 66%

Customer service

NordVPN receives 4.6 out of five stars on the Google Play Store, 4.7 out of five stars on the Apple App Store and 4.3 on Trustpilot. Customers have noted that NordVPN has fast and stable connection speeds and excellent security features.

“Excellent product! It works as promised with no bloat or lag, perfect for online gaming. Marina was amazing and helped me with some minor troubleshooting today (user error). I will continue to use Nord moving forward!”

Verdict 

NordVPN is an excellent choice for gamers who are looking to protect themselves from DDoS attacks. Nord’s double VPN routes traffic through two secure servers, and the provider has an audited no-logs policy. Gamers hoping to bypass geo-restrictions might find NordVPN is the right choice for them thanks to its Meshnet feature, which allows customers to create secure networks for LAN gaming both globally and locally. 

Score: ★★★★½

Read our full NordVPN review.

Today’s best NordVPN deals
NordVPN 2 year £2.49 /Month
£2.49 /Month
NordVPN 1 year £3.59 /Month
£3.59 /Month
NordVPN 1 month £10.39 /Month
£10.39 /Month

Surfshark: Best value VPN for gaming

surfshark vpn app on multiple devices

Free version: No | Maximum number of connected devices: Unlimited | Number of servers: 3,200+ | Encryption: AES-256 | VPN protocols: WireGuard, IKEv2 and OpenVPN | No-log policy: Yes | Audited: Yes, by Cure53 | Headquarters: The Netherlands | Pricing: From £1.79 per month for a 24-month plan (plus two months free)

Pros and cons

Pros Cons
Affordable subscription High latency
Good level of security features
Can be installed directly onto your router

Surfshark is best known for its affordability, and it’s also our choice for the best cheap VPN. Not only is its service good value for money, it also doesn’t skimp on security features. It’s encrypted with military-grade AES-256 encryption and has an automatic kill switch and the option for a static, dedicated IP address (for an extra charge). 

Cost 

Surfshark offers a 30-day money-back guarantee and monthly, 12-month and 24-month subscriptions.

Subscription Term Price
Monthly £12.23 ($15.45) / month
12 months £2.29 ($2.90) / month (£32.06/$40.66 up front)
24 months (+2 months free) £1.79 ($2.27) / month (£46.54/$59.03 up front for 26 months)

Security

When gaming, using a static IP can help prevent players from being kicked off of gaming servers (which can happen if your IP changes a lot, such as when you’re using a VPN), and it’s also useful if you’re setting up your own multiplayer server, as it means you won’t have to share your IP every time it changes. Surfshark’s static IP addresses can also help you bypass restrictions when playing, such as if a particular IP address has been blocked. It’s important to note, however, that Surfshark charges an additional fee on top of your regular subscription for a dedicated IP. 

Surfshark can also be set up directly onto your router. Although other providers allow for this too, with Surfshark all you have to do is access your router via a laptop or computer and add the VPN as a profile and then connect your gaming console via your wifi. 

The service also has a split tunnelling feature, where users can route gaming traffic via Surfshark’s secure VPN tunnel while other apps or devices use the regular internet, and a reliable automatic kill switch that prevents you from DDoS attacks even if your VPN connection drops. 

User experience

Surfshark’s apps are some of the most user-friendly on the market and require no previous technical knowledge. Its apps feature a clear and simple design, with options to connect to static IP or MultiHop servers.  

Performance

Best VPN for gaming Surfshark laptop
While it had the highest latency in our tests, Surfshark is still a great value VPN for gaming (The Independent)

When our researchers tested Surfshark’s performance, we were impressed by how little connecting to one of its servers affected our internet speeds. For users who don’t need to bypass geo-restrictions, Surfshark’s UK server only slowed our internet speed by 6 per cent for both our download and upload speed. 

For those needing to bypass geo-restrictions, the US and Australian servers were above average speeds. The US server was faster for its upload speed, and we found the Australian server to have faster downloads. However, Surfshark’s latency was not all that great when compared with other providers, and this may not be well-suited to gaming. 

Speed test results

Download speed (Mbps) Upload speed (Mbps) Latency (ping) Percentage of base download speed Percentage of base upload speed
No VPN 74.3 18.6 13ms
UK to UK 70.57 17.62 115ms 94% 94%
UK to US 68.77 17.63 102ms 92% 94%
UK to Aus 72.34 16.83 262ms 97% 90%

Customer service 

Surfshark is a popular VPN, receiving 4.4 out of five stars on the Google Play Store, 4.8 stars on the Apple App Store and 4.5 out of five stars on Trustpilot.

“[I’m] happy with this VPN, [the] speeds are good enough for gaming and Netflix … [It’s] worth checking out which regions [it unlocks] if you’re looking for a specific one. Customer service response is fast and polite. For me it required some tinkering in settings to get a stable connection, but I’ve had no problems since. [I] would recommend [it].”

Verdict

Surfshark allows for an unlimited number of device connections, which is well-suited for users with multiple devices and gaming consoles. The service provides an excellent level of security with static IP addresses and dedicated IP servers (for an extra monthly cost). Surfshark’s performance wasn’t the best and it’s latency was high on our tested servers, but its security and  subscription price is one of the most affordable plans compared with competitors.  

Score: ★★★★½

Read our full Surfshark VPN review.

Today’s best Surfshark deals
Surfshark 24 month £1.79 /Month
£1.79 /Month
Surfshark 12 month £2.29 /Month
£2.29 /Month
Surfshark 1 month £10.29 /Month
£10.29 /Month

ExpressVPN: Best for global gaming

expressvpn app on multiple devices

Free version: No | Maximum number of connected devices: Five | Number of servers: 3,000+ | Encryption: AES-256 | VPN protocols: Lightway, IKEv2, WireGuard and OpenVPN | No-log policy: Yes | Audited: Yes, by KPMG | Headquarters: British Virgin Islands | Pricing: From £6.77 for a 12-month subscription

Pros and cons

Pros Cons
Bypass geo-restrictions Expensive subscription
Fast connection speeds

ExpressVPN is one of the best providers on the market, and its reliable and stable connection, as well as security features, are excellent for gaming. Although its service is one of the most expensive, its ability to bypass geo-restrictions means you can play games with anyone anywhere in the world while protected by a secure AES-256-encrypted connection. And if you’re gaming on a Mac, we’ve named it the best VPN for Mac

Cost

ExpressVPN offers a 30-day, no-questions-asked money-back guarantee. The provider’s subscription payments are taken in US dollars.

Subscription Term Price
Monthly £10.53 ($13.36) / month
6 months £8.12 ($10.30) / month (£48.75/$61.84 up front)
12 months £6.77 ($8.59) / month (£81.29/$103.11 up front)

Security

ExpressVPN’s robust protection enables gamers to avoid DDoS attacks by masking their real IP address. The service also has a kill switch that will automatically disconnect users if the VPN connection drops. ExpressVPN’s split tunnelling feature allows users to route just their gaming traffic through the encrypted tunnel, which not only keeps you safe but also improves your connection speed. 

ExpressVPN is especially good at bypassing geo-restrictions, and for gamers, this means they’ll be able to interact with players from anywhere in the world while remaining anonymous online.  

User experience

ExpressVPN has user-friendly apps that are both practical and aesthetically pleasing. Its apps come with a Smart Location feature whereby Express will choose the fastest server for you, which is a great VPN feature for gaming. The app also includes a built-in speed test so you can find servers with the lowest latency. There’s also no need to worry about third parties accessing your data for ads, as its Threat Manager, when turned on, will ensure your activity is never tracked by third parties. 

Performance

Best VPN for gaming Express laptop
ExpressVPN is great at location spoofing, making it ideal for gaming with players worldwide (The Independent)

When our researchers tested ExpressVPN, we found its performance to be impressive across three different geographic locations. What was most impressive was its low latency for both the UK and US servers, with the UK server just 4ms slower than our non-VPN speed. 

For download and upload speed, Express averages around 5 per cent slower for both the UK and US servers. However, when we tested the Australian server, it was noticeably slower for download, upload and latency – although it’s not uncommon for VPNs to have slower connection speeds for servers that are farther away.  

Speed test results

Download speed (Mbps) Upload speed (Mbps) Latency (ping) Percentage of base download speed Percentage of base upload speed
No VPN 72.89 17.88 13ms
UK to UK 68.72 17.07 17ms 94% 95%
UK to US 69.73 17.05 90ms 95% 95%
UK to Aus 65.02 8.16 271ms 89% 45%

Customer service

ExpressVPN receives excellent customer reviews. On the Google Play Store, it receives 4.3 out of five stars and on the Apple App Store, 4.7 out of five stars. Customers have applauded Express for its low latency and easy-to-use apps. 

“[It’s] one of the more expensive VPNs, but it’s the easiest to use and has really short latency. Sometimes I’ll forget to turn it off before playing [a game with higher frames per second (FPS)], and it’s almost entirely imperceptible. The interface on desktop and mobile is simple [and] professional. I’ve tried other VPNs, but there’s always been some issues, like their speeds are lousy, or some content doesn’t load on a webpage. [I’ve] never had an issue with Express. [I’ve] been a user for a few years now and don’t see that changing any time soon.”

Verdict 

ExpressVPN is one of the best services on the market and for gaming because it boasts fast connection speeds and noticeably low latency. Its ability to bypass geo-restrictions makes it ideal for gamers who wish to play with players worldwide. The service also comes with an excellent set of security features. The only downside here is its price tag is much higher than most other providers.  

Score: ★★★★½

Read our full ExpressVPN review.

Today’s best ExpressVPN deals
ExpressVPN 12 month £6.77 /Month
£6.77 /Month
ExpressVPN 6 month £8.12 /Month
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ExpressVPN 1 month £10.53 /Month
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Proton VPN: Best for ad blocking

proton vpn app on multiple devices

Free version: Yes | Maximum number of connected devices: 10 | Number of servers: 2,700+ | Encryption: AES-256 | VPN protocols: IKEv2 | No-log policy: Yes | Audited: Yes, by Securitum | Headquarters: Switzerland | Pricing: From £4.27 per month for a two-year plan

Pros and cons

Pros Cons
VPN Accelerator Not the fastest connection
P2P-optimised servers
Audited no-logs policy

Proton VPN is a safe and secure VPN with P2P-optimised servers. It’s also suitable for gaming, with the option to use its VPN Accelerator to improve the connection speed, and the service has an audited no-logs policy, ensuring none of your data is ever logged or stored. 

Cost

Proton VPN offers subscription terms of monthly, 12 months, and 24 months. It also provides a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you’re looking for a free VPN for gaming, our researchers have named Proton VPN’s free version the best overall, but beware this is limited to three server locations, so it might not be suitable if you’re looking to play with other gamers in different countries.

Subscription Term Price
Monthly €9.99 (£8.55) / month
12 months €5.99 (£5.13) / month (€71.88/£61.51 up front)
24 months €4.99 (£4.27) / month (€119.76/£102.48 up front)

Security 

Proton VPN is headquartered in a data-secure country and comes with an audited no-logs policy. Its service is encrypted by AES-256 and ChaCha20, and for an extra layer of security, its NetSheild feature blocks ads, malware and trackers. Its VPN Accelerator is ideal for gaming and provides users with a good level of connection speed.  

User experience 

Proton VPN’s apps are straightforward and beginner friendly. Our researchers especially liked the option to create your own profile, where you can customise your favourite servers, protocols and privacy features; and this is a worthwhile feature for gaming because you’ll be able to log in to Proton and immediately begin gaming safely without needing to spend time selecting the features that work best for gaming each time. Proton’s apps have options to connect to the fastest server, which is chosen by the provider. 

Performance

Best VPN for gaming Proton laptop
Proton VPN’s VPN Accelerator feature provides faster speeds while playing online (The Independent)

Our researchers tested Proton VPN’s performance and found it wasn’t the best performing compared with competitors. However, when connected to a UK server, our download was 91 per cent as fast and our upload 95 per cent as quick as our non-VPN speed. 

Connecting to servers further afield, such as US and Australian servers, showed a considerable drop in speed. This may not be ideal for some games, but users who do not need to bypass geo-restrictions and only need to protect their online identity and avoid DDoS attacks can enjoy fast connection times from Proton’s UK server.  

Speed test results

Download speed (Mbps) Upload speed (Mbps) Latency (ping) Percentage of base download speed Percentage of base upload speed
No VPN 71.25 18.61 13ms
UK to UK 65.25 17.8 14ms 91% 95%
UK to US 62.5 11.96 160ms 87% 64%
UK to Aus 55.37 10.11 279ms 77% 54%

Customer service

On the Apple App Store, Proton VPN receives 4.6 out of five stars and on the Google Play Store it receives 4.4 out of a possible five stars. Proton is praised for stable connection speeds and app design. 

“So far [it] has been solid for me, the connection speed is both impressively high and is also stable, which is great. The design of the app is also yet another thing which I applause it for – zero UI bugs, [and I’m] loving the shortcut for the control centre, loving the stealth protocol and everything else, I just wish that it was easier to connect to servers. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the worst, [as] some VPNs don’t even connect whilst this does, but it is slow and you often have to switch servers if it doesn’t connect.”

Verdict

Overall, Proton VPN comes with many worthwhile benefits for gamers, such as a VPN Accelerator. The provider also has an audited no-logs policy and is encrypted by military-grade encryption, ensuring you’re protected from cyberattacks while gaming. However, Proton isn’t the fastest when compared with its competitors, and this might be a downside if you require a super-fast connection time. 

Score: ★★★★

Read the full Proton VPN review.

Today’s best Proton VPN deals
Proton 2 year £4.27 /Month
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Proton 1 year £5.13 /Month
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Proton 1 month £8.55 /Month
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Which is the fastest VPN for gaming?

A VPN for gaming must have excellent connection speeds. We tested all of the services in this guide and found that CyberGhost had the best overall performance when taking into consideration latency, download and upload speeds.

No VPN (Mbps) UK to UK (Mbps) UK to US (Mbps) UK to Australia (Mbps)
NordVPN 73.03 70.52 65.48 60.87
ExpressVPN 72.89 68.72 69.73 65.02
Surfshark 74.3 70.57 68.77 72.34
CyberGhost 73.07 69.6 69.22 66.4
Proton VPN 71.25 65.25 62.5 55.37

How do VPNs work for gaming?

Using a VPN for gaming works very much the same as using it for browsing or other web activities. 

Most gaming consoles don’t support native VPN apps, so it’s best to install the VPN directly onto your router, but you can also install on your PC and follow your provider’s instructions on how to set this up for gaming (it usually involves connecting your console to your computer using an Ethernet cable). Once installed, you’ll have the option to choose VPN protocols – WireGuard is typically the fastest – and use privacy features such as a kill switch or split tunnelling.

Why do you need a VPN for gaming?

There are plenty of benefits to using a VPN for gaming, including to reduce latency (ping) to access games early and the use of different country-locked servers for a Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMO). 

Security is also a concern for some. A good VPN will protect you from DDoS attacks, which is where other players will attempt to temporarily disrupt your connection by using bots to bombard your connection with requests to overload the server. By masking your real IP address, you’ll be protected from potential cyberattacks and your risks while playing mobile games on public wifi will be reduced when using a mobile VPN

Using a VPN for gaming also helps you avoid bandwidth throttling from your Internet Service Provider (ISP) – which is deliberately done to slow down internet speeds and deal with congestion for users with lower internet service plans. A VPN for gaming can also help bypass geo-restrictions, enabling you to interact and play with players worldwide.

How to set up a VPN for gaming

Setting up a VPN for gaming isn’t quite as simple as setting it up for everyday use, particularly if you’re on a console, but there are some easy steps you can take to use your service regardless.

  1. Choose a reputable VPN provider: A VPN will hide your IP address from your ISP, and this should shield you from DDoS attacks and bandwidth throttling. It should also come with security features such as a kill switch, which is advantageous for gaming.  
  2. Download the VPN: Using your chosen app store, download the VPN and install it. Depending on which device you’d like to game on, this can be on your computer or mobile device. You may also download and install it directly onto your router, if it supports this, which means your gaming console will be protected.  
  3. Launch the app and configure: Once installed, you’ll need to follow the provider’s configuration steps before you can use the VPN. For router configuration, the provider should provide a step-by-step guide. 
  4. Turn on privacy settings: If your chosen provider has a kill switch or double VPN, you should turn these on for an added layer of security when gaming. 
  5. Connect to the VPN: Connect to a server that is the fastest. The provider might have dedicated gaming servers or a list of the fastest servers available.

What to look for when buying a VPN for gaming

Consider the following when buying a VPN for gaming:

  • Fast connection speeds and low latency: Gaming requires fast connection speeds. More importantly, low latency is advantageous when gaming – it is the time in which it takes for data to be transferred across the network. With a high latency, you’re likely to experience video and audio lag 
  • Security: Any good VPN should come with AES-256 or ChaCha20 and a choice of VPN protocols, such as OpenVPN, WireGuard and IKEv2 – ideally, WireGuard is included since it’s the fastest protocol and one you’ll want to use for gaming. Other features such as a double VPN and an ad and malware blocker are aloso good to have
  • Privacy: For gaming, a kill switch is a good feature to have. It protects you even if your connection drops. Check whether your chosen provider offers one, and if not, shop around
  • Price and subscription plans: A VPN doesn’t have to break the bank; shop around and find a service that offers decent prices with a high level of security. Choose a VPN with a money-back guarantee, as this allows you to try the service risk-free

Why you shouldn’t get a free VPN for gaming

It might sound like a good idea to avoid the cost by installing a free VPN, but you should consider how safe and secure they are, as well as their suitability for gaming. It’s unlikely a free VPN will have the same ability to bypass geo-restrictions as their paid counterparts. Free versions will also almost always come with a limited amount of data allowance per month, so when you’re spending hours gaming, this simply will not be enough to cover you. Free VPNs also have fewer privacy and security features, which is not helpful when you’re trying to avoid DDoS attacks and mask your IP address so your ISP doesn’t throttle your bandwidth.

These are just some of the reasons our researchers recommend spending money on a reputable VPN. If budget is a concern, there are plenty of good providers out there offering a decent service at low prices, such as Surfshark, and you can also get some good value VPN deals if you shop around.

Frequently asked questions about VPNs for gaming

According to our research and testing, the best VPN for gaming is CyberGhost; thanks to its fast connection and low-latency, users should experience very minimal lag while gaming. Its dedicated gaming servers also contribute to its speedy and stable connection, and CyberGhost has an excellent level of security features, which includes a kill switch.

The two main reasons for needing a VPN for gaming are to avoid DDoS attacks and bandwidth throttling by your ISP. When gaming, other players may use DDoS attacks as an underhand tactic to throw you out of the game temporarily. A VPN can mask your IP address and keep you safe online. Some ISPs can penalise you with what’s known as bandwidth throttling; this will slow down your internet speed when gaming in order to avoid low internet speeds for other customers, but with a VPN you can avoid this by staying anonymous online.

In short, yes, a VPN can affect performance while gaming, but this also depends on the server you choose and the VPN provider. Providing you choose a VPN that is geared towards gaming with fast servers, and connect to a server that is not geographically far away from your current location, your performance should only be affected minimally. More importantly, your VPN’s latency, which affects video and audio playback, should be low in order to avoid lag when gaming.

Round up of today’s best VPN deals
NordVPN 2 year £2.49 /Month
£2.49 /Month
Surfshark 24 month £1.79 /Month
£1.79 /Month
ExpressVPN 12 month £6.77 /Month
£6.77 /Month
CyberGhost 2 year £1.78 /Month
£1.78 /Month
Proton 2 year £4.27 /Month
£4.27 /Month
PIA 2 year £1.57 /Month
£1.57 /Month
Atlas 2 year £1.34 /Month
£1.34 /Month
PrivadoVPN 2 year £1.99 /Month
£1.99 /Month
Windscribe 12 month £4.53 /Month
£4.53 /Month
IPVanish 2 year £3.58 /Month
£3.58 /Month

How we research and rate VPNs for gaming

250+
hours performance testing
700+
customer reviews read
500+
hours of research
35
competitors compared
4
VPN experts consulted

Our reviewers are dedicated to bringing you the most accurate and up-to-date information so you can make an informed decision when it comes to buying a VPN for gaming. We will only recommend a VPN after hours of testing, head-to-head feature comparisons, and after taking into account verified customer feedback and reviews and the opinions of industry experts.

Our review scores are determined the following categories:

  • Privacy and performance, including latency (30 per cent)
  • Features and functionality (30 per cent)
  • Reputation and credibility (25 per cent)
  • Plans and pricing/value (10 per cent
  • Customer experience (5 per cent)

We research and test a total of 25 elements within these categories including:

  • Number and location of servers
  • Streaming service accessibility
  • Security features such as AES-256
  • Performance (upload, download, latency)
  • Value for money, guarantees, and customer service
  • Independent server-site security audits

All of our VPN articles are verified by our in-house team of fact-checkers, so you can be assured that our content is as accurate and up-to-date as possible.

The data in this review is reported from a neutral stance and should be used for informational purposes only. We review VPN services from the perspective of:

  • The quality of the product based on the security it affords the user
  • User experience of the application(s)
  • Level and quality of customer service

Independent Advisor does not endorse the streaming of content from regions other than where the subscription is held, nor does it endorse the downloading or consumption of illegally pirated content.

Overall Score: 4.5/5
Overall Score: 4.5/5

If you’re looking to maintain privacy across all your devices but still want high speeds, NordVPN is a great option. It offers a wealth of extra features at great value, including its Meshnet tool, which allows you to set up a private network for gaming with friends around the world.

Surfshark: Best value
Overall Score: 4.5/5
Surfshark: Best value
Overall Score: 4.5/5

Surfshark is one of the cheapest VPNs on the market, but it doesn’t skimp on features. It offers incredible speeds anyway, but its split tunnelling feature means you can use the VPN for gaming while routing other traffic outside the tunnel to optimise the service’s performance.

ExpressVPN: Best for global gaming
Overall Score: 4.5/5
ExpressVPN: Best for global gaming
Overall Score: 4.5/5

If you thrive on playing online with people all over the world, ExpressVPN is one to consider. It’s famous for its ability to bypass geo-restrictions, making it ideal for accessing multiplayer servers in other countries. While it’s one of the most expensive VPNs, we think it’s worth the money.

rachel

Rachel Sadler

Home Tech Writer

Rachel is a seasoned writer who has been producing online and print content for seven years. 

As a home tech expert for Independent Advisor, Rachel researches and writes buying guides and reviews, helping consumers navigate the realms of broadband and home security gadgets. She also covers home tech for The Federation of Master Builders, where she reviews and tests home security devices. 

She started as a news and lifestyle journalist in Hong Kong reporting on island-wide news stories, food and drink and the city’s events. She’s written for editorial platforms Sassy Hong Kong, Localiiz and Bay Media. While in Hong Kong she attended PR events, interviewed local talent and project-managed photoshoots. 

Rachel holds a BA in English Language and Creative Writing and is committed to simplifying tech jargon and producing unbiased reviews.

Molly Dyson

Editor

After growing up with a passion for writing, Molly studied journalism and creative writing at university in her home country of the United States.

She has written for a variety of print and online publications, from small town newspapers to international magazines. Most of her 10-year career since relocating to the UK has been spent in business journalism, writing and editing for admin professionals at PA Life magazine and business travel managers at Business Travel News Europe and representing those titles at conferences around the world.

Now an Editor at the Independent Advisor, Molly is an expert in a broad range of consumer topics, that include solar panels and renewables, home improvements and home insurance, and consumer technology such as home security and VPNs.

In her free time, Molly can usually be found exploring the outdoors with her husband and their young son or gardening.