The Best VPNs for Gamers

Table of Contents

All VPNs will slow down your device at least a little, but if you’re a gamer, that slow down can mean the difference between winning or losing a match. As a man who still throws down on Xbox Live when he can, I sought to answer the age-old question: how can I protect my precious KDR while simultaneously protecting my data online? Well, first I had to do some rigorous testing, so I booted up Fortnite’s 100 player Battle Royale mode on an iMac. Every VPN for gamers on this list has been thoroughly tested, so I’m happy to share my results with you all. Basically, if you’re looking for the best gaming VPN, you’ve come to the right place. 

Best For Ethernet
Windscribe
Windscribe
Windscribe

If you're a PC gamer, Windscribe is for you, most closely matching to my base line in three separate game tests. 

Doesn't expire

Best For Wi-Fi
CyberGhost
CyberGhost
CyberGhost

If you're a Wi-Fi user, you'll love the speed of your computer with CyberGhost, which had download, upload, and latency differences of five percent or less each.  

Doesn't expire

Best For Privacy
NordVPN
NordVPN
NordVPN

Based in Panama, you can rest assured that your gaming and any other online traffic will remain hidden from everyone but you with NordVPN. 

Doesn't expire

Best App
Private Internet Access
Private Internet Access
Private Internet Access

Private Internet Access has a no-logging policy, great app reviews, and fast speeds on Windows. 

Doesn't expire

Best For Ethernet

Windscribe App

Windscribe

Amazingly, I saw a maximum of 1% difference on download speed and upload speed, which is incredibly low. Latency was also kept in between 10 and 25, a very low range. So for those who play games on PCs, Windscribe is the best option for you, according to previous speed tests on my Windows Vivobook (see my individual review of Windscribe for more information). 

Of course, it has its drawbacks, namely the location of its company headquarters in Ontario, Canada. That means that Windscribe is subject to Five eyes, Nine Eyes and 14 eyes, so it’s not the best if privacy is your main concern. Other than that, the VPN hits the marks with a kill switch, a pretty strict no-logging policy, the ability to torrent files, access Netflix in the United States and United Kingdom, plus split tunneling. 

To learn more, read our full review of Windscribe

Get Best Offer
Windscribe
Windscribe
Windscribe

If you're a PC gamer, Windscribe is for you, most closely matching to my base line in three separate game tests. 

Best For Wi-Fi

CyberGhost App

CyberGhost

CyberGhost is one of the fastest VPNs around, especially for Mac users. I only saw a 2% slowdown in download speed, a 1% slowdown in upload speed, and only a 14% increase in latency. CyberGhost is a medium-sized VPN company with 3,157 servers in 60 countries. Based in Bucharest, Romania, they’re not subject to laws of the international surveillance alliances mentioned above, and CyberGhost won’t log any of your web traffic, so you have tons of freedom to game however and wherever you please. CyberGhost is also known for its amazing customer support, which is awesome if you have some sort of issue and want to get back to gaming quick. Finally, its most affordable subscription costs only $2.50 a month— I think I can swing it.

To learn more, read our full written review of CyberGhost

Get Best Offer
CyberGhost
CyberGhost
CyberGhost

Based in Bucharest, Romania, CyberGhost will never be forced to hand over customer's data, making it ideal for your privacy. 

Best For Privacy

NordVPN App

NordVPN

If privacy is a huge concern of yours, having to do with gaming or not, NordVPN is the best choice. Not only did it not slow down my game matches too much, but the company itself is based in Panama, and this is music to my ears. Why? Because Panama, aside from having no mandatory data retention laws of its own, isn’t part of any international surveillance alliances, so the company won’t be forced to hand over customer data. Now, I’m not sure what kind of games you’re playing, but no matter what, you can rest assured that your web traffic will remain encrypted. 

Aside from being great for privacy, I didn’t have too much slowdown playing games under NordVPN. Download and upload speed differences were no more than 2% on ethernet and 4% on Wi-Fi, which is pretty impressive. NordVPN also boasts a highly-rated app for both iOS and Android, low prices starting at $2.99 a month, plus a 30 day money-back guarantee so you can test it out yourself. 

For more information, read our full review of NordVPN

Get Best Offer
NordVPN
NordVPN
NordVPN

Based in Panama, you can rest assured that your gaming and any other online traffic will remain hidden from everyone but you with NordVPN. 

Best App

Private Internet Access Desktop App

Private Internet Access

Next we have another of my personal favorites, Private Internet Access. With a Wi-Fi connection, I saw download differences of only 3%, upload differences of 1% most often, and little latency, making it a great choice for games.  

The downside? If you’re looking for privacy, Private Internet Access should not be your first pick. Based in Denver, Colorado, the company is subject to the Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and 14 Eyes surveillance alliances. While it’s not unlikely, under certain circumstances they could be forced to hand over customer data. Now, that only matters if they have any data to hand over, so what’s PIA’s logging policy like? Well, it might be easier to say what they don’t log, which includes when you’re using the VPN, for how long, your IP address, or any of your web traffic, which makes me feel a little bit better. Plus, the company has never been forced to give up any user data, but just know that it’s not outside the realm of possibility. 

Privacy aside, PIA has pretty good customer support ratings, a user-friendly app, and torrenting access, perfect for gaming. Did I mention it starts at only $2.91 a month? 

To learn more, read our full review of the Private Internet Access VPN. 

Get Best Offer
Private Internet Access
Private Internet Access
Private Internet Access

Private Internet Access has a no-logging policy, great app reviews, and fast speeds on Windows. 

VPNs for Gamers Methodology

Best VPNs For Gamers
Fortnite screenshot.

In general, I test all of my VPNs on both a Macbook Air and a Windows Vivobook to determine their speed as well as security. After analyzing data from Security Baron’s previous VPN reviews, I chose our top-performing VPNs to put to the test while scavenging, building, shooting, and doing the Milly Rock with 99 other people. However, while I typically test VPNs on both Mac and Windows computers, I only tested the VPNs for gaming on Macs, so the speeds may not apply if you have a PC.

For this VPN review, I tested each option on a Mac using the game Fortnite. I play three matches on both Ethernet and Wi-Fi to gauge baseline performance, noting:

  • Highest spike in ping
  • Average ping
  • Highest spikes in packet loss on both download and upload
  • Average packet loss throughout match on both download and upload

Aside from performance during gaming, I also look for VPNs with strict data-logging policies, that are outside of the Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and 14 Eyes jurisdictions, with kill switches, split tunneling, highly-rated apps and low prices. For a complete methodology of VPNs in general, check out my review of the best VPNs of 2019.

For testing each VPN’s performance while gaming, I played Fortnite’s Battle Royale mode on a 2017 Retina 5K iMac with a 4.2 GHz Intel Core i7 Processor, Radeon Pro 580 8GB Graphics Card, and 40 GB 2400 MHz DDR4 Ram. If you’re curious about my graphics settings, you can check them out in the image below. 

Fortnite Capture Test
Fortnite Capture Test

While I typically test VPNs on both Mac and Windows computers, I unfortunately don’t have a PC beefy enough to run much of anything – even something as performance-light as Fortnite. As a result, I only tested the VPNs for gaming on Macs, so the speeds may differ a bit depending on your gaming platform of choice.

To get the data necessary for this list, I played three matches on both WiFi and Ethernet using each VPN so that you can make an informed decision regardless of what your gaming setup looks like. I turned on Fortnite’s in-game Net Debug Stats to display a real-time readout of my ping (or latency) and packet loss throughout each match. When analyzing the matches later, I noted fluctuations in ping and packet loss to find: 

  • Average ping
  • Average packet loss throughout match on both download and upload

In online gaming, ping is king. Having a lower ping will provide a smoother gameplay experience and having a higher ping can cause stuttering or brief disconnections that can ruin a match. Packet loss refers to small packets of game data that each player uploads to the game server and downloads from the game server during a match. Too much packet loss can pull the player out of sync with other players in the match, so it’s another important facet of a consistent online gaming experience. The sooner you pick your VPN, the sooner you can game securely, so let’s get started!

Recap of the Best VPNs for Gamers

That’s it for the best VPNs for gamers! Feel free to leave any comments or questions below. To learn about some other great options, check out my list of the best VPNs of 2019.

FAQs

Are VPNs good for gaming?

VPNs can be good for gaming, but it’s important to choose the right one (which is why we wrote about the best VPNs for gamers in the first place; scroll up for more info!)

Does VPN reduce ping?

VPNs typically cause more ping, otherwise known as latency. However, in the VPNs on this list, ping increases are kept to a minimum.

How do I use a VPN for gaming?

Make sure you pick a video game that’ll work with your video game console, router, computer or whatever device you’re playing on.

Gabe Turner

Gabe Turner

Gabe Turner is an attorney and journalist with a passion for home tech and secure, efficient living. Since graduating from NYU Law, he has maintained a paradoxical existence of trying to live life adventurously while remaining staunchly risk-averse. He is torn by the dual desires of wanting to only be in Brooklyn writing about housing policy and smart home tech and aspiring to visit his friends scattered across the globe. Gabe believes that stable, safe communities are the cornerstone to a vibrant and healthy society, and it is this passion that brought him to contribute to Security Baron.