Although VPNs have largely grown in prominence thanks to their promise of better security and a greater range of content to stream, more and more people are now using VPNs for gaming, too.
There are many reasons why. Perhaps you want to access a game or expansion that's only been made available in another region of the world. Or your school or office (maybe even your government!) has blocked access to Fortnite or Minecraft.
If you're a competitive gamer, you may be more concerned about the threat of DDoS attacks. Or, at the other end of the spectrum, could you be looking to take advantage of easier lobbies on games like Warzone. All can be achieved with a good gaming VPN.
In this article, we recommend the very best gaming VPNs available now. All of the choices below are easy to use across a range of devices and, crucially, have fast and consistent enough server speeds to ensure that they won't cause you any lag when turned on.
1. ExpressVPN is the best gaming VPN
The qualities that makes ExpressVPN our overall #1 VPN - swift connection speeds, watertight security, excellent support for setting up on a range of devices - are what have also taken it to the top of our gaming VPN leaderboard. Plus, you can now get it with 3 months extra free.
2. NordVPN - fast connections and top security
If you're in the heat of an epic gaming session, you really don't want to have the burden of remembering to turn your VPN on and off every other minute. Thankfully, NordVPN's connection speeds are so fast that you can just leave it running in the background, knowing you're protected without the slow downs.
3. Surfshark - a cheaper gaming VPN option
Surfshark doesn't have the speeds or features to match our top two, but it really can't be beaten on price and it's still an exceptional VPN. The effective monthly cost is generally around the $2.50/£2-mark - an absolute bargain.
Gaming VPNs: how to choose the best
Most gamers won't need a VPN to enjoy their passion. But it stands to reason that many - especially those on the best gaming PC or gaming laptop - will still want to have a VPN installed for other reasons (be that for security, streaming, IP spoofing or anything else).
First and foremost, you want to ensure you're getting a service that isn't going to slow your whole system down. We specifically test connection speeds on multiple servers of all the VPN services we review, so we can tell you the fastest. Believe it or not, there’s even some evidence that using a VPN can actually reduce your ping time!
General security and privacy are clearly a must, too - time to say goodbye to those DDoS attacks for good. And if you game on multiple platforms, then we suggest picking out a provider that is easily usable on a variety of devices. Luckily, the below services tick all of these boxes... and more.
The best gaming VPNs in 2022:
With 160 different locations across 94 countries, ExpressVPN should allow you to find a swift server from anywhere in the world. Indeed, it not only boasts some of the fastest speeds we witnessed during our testing, but they're really stable and reliable, too - and that's pretty much the same on its servers all over the world. So if you're worried about your ping rates sky rocketing, you really needn't.
It's secure as well, so DDoS attacks can be put to the back of your mind when you're facing off in the last gasps of a battle royale.
The service excels in the mobile department by offering intuitive custom apps, in particular for Android and iOS. It's ridiculously easy to set up on PCs and there's easy to follow online guides to help get it going on PlayStations and Xbox, too.
If you were hoping to use your gaming VPN for streaming needs, then ExpressVPN is a great choice there, too. It easily unblocks the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, YouTube and more, so that you can get around geo-restrictions when trying to watch your favorite content from abroad. That also means it's super handy if you were intending to use your VPN for Warzone to get around SBMM.
Admittedly, ExpressVPN costs more than some other VPNs, but opting for a 1-year plan is the most affordable choice and gets you a bonus three months extra free plus free cloud backup from Backblaze. And, if you're not satisfied with the service, you can contact customer support within 30 days of your purchase and get a full refund, no questions asked.
NordVPN - probably the world's most famous provider - isn't coy about talking up its speeds. And to be honest, that's entirely vindicated by our real world testing that found its connection performance to be well above-average and so ideal for gamers who like to leave their VPN running in the background.
It's also really clear about why it thinks that all gamers need a VPN. NordVPN is very aware of the dangers of those DDoS attacks and, while admitting that VPNs are not a 100% watertight solution, it pledges to help mitigate more traffic than your regular broadband connection.
It has a higher server count than even ExpressVPN, with more than 5,000 around the world - only CyberGhost and Private Internet Access of the big VPN players can beat that. And they're spread far and wide, with locations as diverse as Costa Rica to North Macedonia.
But if you're thinking that cheap means you'll have to sacrifice quality then, in this instance at least, you'd be wrong. Yes, it lacks the sheer amount of servers than the likes of NordVPN and ExpressVPN, but it still has plenty of the world covered in terms of locations in over 60 countries.
And it also puts the squeeze on the competition by letting you use just one Surfshark account over multiple devices. Your PC, your Mac, your mobile, your spouse's mobile, your parents' mobiles. The lot.
And it's fast as well. Connections speeds in our tests were impressive - especially when cranking up the WireGuard protocol. And if you're a seasoned gamer but new to the world of VPNs, then Surfshark will ease you in gently with its easy-to-use interface and friendly installation.
When it comes to the best gaming VPN, it makes sense that CyberGhost would find itself in the top five. It has handy Xbox and PS4 VPN workarounds, as well as offering guidance on reaping the benefits of its service on your Nintendo Switch. Online gaming just got a whole lot more secure, with a potentially better performance to boot.
Able to protect you against DDoS attacks, CyberGhost plays host to a number of great features which will help boost your security, including auto-connecting to your favorite server at launch for an almost-instantaneous secure connection.
Anyone who doubles up their gaming console as a media streamer can also benefit from streaming from foreign libraries with CyberGhost's ability to bypass geo-restrictions and unblock Prime Video, and Disney Plus in our testing. This also means you'll be able to access different regions of your gaming stores and get around blocks IP address blocks put in place by your school or workplace.
That said, like a few other competitors right now, CyberGhost is having its struggles as a VPN for Netflix. So best to go for another option if you were wanting to access shows and movies exclusive to overseas catalogs.
Its speed performance is also very impressive, helping you to avoid lag while gaming online - it benefits from featuring the WireGuard protocol across all its apps. Simply connect to the nearest server from its selection of more than 7,000 servers across 90 countries and get gaming!
Hotspot Shield used to really stand out in terms of its performance in our tests - it has been a frontrunner for a few years in the speed department. That's mainly due to the Catapult Hydra VPN protocol that the provider uses. Others like Express, Nord and CyberGhost have caught up - and now overtaken - in recent times, but there's no denying that Hotspot Shield still has plenty enough speed to ensure that you'll hardly feel any slow down when it's turned on.
The service is really quite simple to use, with one On/Off button in the center. And Hotspot Shield says that if you ever encounter a DDoS attack while playing a game, then it will be on hand to make sure you can quickly change your location to vanquish the attack.
The service also offers native apps for Android and iOS, both being very similar in performance and simplicity. That should be great for most people, although those looking for more configurability should note that you can only use Hotspot with its own apps and clients - that's one of the disadvantages in making you use its speedy Catapult Hydra protocol.
Excluding the monthly plan, Hotspot Shield offers great value with its annual pricing and you also get a 45-day money back guarantee. Plus, if you just want to give it a go first, then we'd always recommend downloading the free version to see how that pans out (although you can only use it for 500MB per day).
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Gaming VPN FAQ
Which is the best VPN for gaming?
Right now we rate ExpressVPN as the best option out there. It boasts tonnes of server locations, reliably fast connection speeds and various security protocols (including its very own Lightway option). It's wonderfully easy to use on desktop and mobile and is also fantastic at unblocking TV services for when you're streaming.
Is a VPN good for gaming?
It depends. Opt for a poor VPN service and you risk ending up with a bit of software that slows down your connection and isn't as secure and anonymous as you'd intended. But choose one of the best gaming VPNs and you can trust your data will be encrypted and, in some cases, the service's ability to get around ISP throttling may actually speed up your gaming!
Can you get banned for using a VPN when playing Warzone?
There are plenty of reasons one might use a VPN when playing the battle royale video game, from reducing ping to accessing easier lobbies.
In the COD Warzone Security and Enforcement Policy it does not state that a Warzone VPN is strictly prohibited. In fact, a VPN can be used in order to stabilise connection and reduce lag, as long as it's not being used in order to gain an unfair advantage. When it comes to using a VPN, however, it seems like the latter would be difficult to prove considering the anonymity a VPN grants a user and their identity.
Should I get a free download for my gaming VPN?
We wouldn't recommend it. We've got nothing at all against free VPNs generally - we think they have a time and place, for sure. But they often come with pretty prohibitive data allowances that mean they'll stop working after a short stint of gaming. Their ads can be pretty off-putting, too. And you'll have far fewer servers to choose from.
Can a VPN lower ping?
When it comes to gaming, no one wants to be caught out with high ping. Thankfully, the best gaming VPN can help with that and ensure your controller input is illustrated instantly on your screen, avoiding lagging delays, when gaming online.
Ensuring the speediest possible connection, a VPN allows you to hop onto a choice of - in some cases - thousands of servers, which can see an improvement in speed performance. Even if you're not a gamer, ping can be lowered when it comes to downloading files from the Internet, etc.