What Is The Best VPN For Gaming In 2018?

overwatch characters

After weeks of testing 14 popular VPNs, I’ve concluded that ExpressVPN is the best available Virtual Private Network (VPN) for gaming in 2018. The provider increases ping numbers by only single digits, and provides fast connection speeds (averaging in at 94 Mbps) and an impressive 99.9% server uptime.

ExpressVPN offers online gamers the ability to play on any server, download in-game content from anywhere and prevent DDoS attacks from giving opponents an unfair advantage. For more information, visit the ExpressVPN website.

1. ExpressVPN: Best Overall VPN for Gaming

ExpressVPN Logo

Best Overall VPN for Gaming

ExpressVPN

Impressive connection speeds, ping and server uptime

ExpressVPN offers consistently low ping numbers for low-latency gameplay, as well as speedy connections, which come in handy for downloading your game updates and in-game content.

The provider offers reliable connections with solid uptime numbers, as well as comprehensive customer service.


If you’re looking for a VPN that will offer the best performance for gaming while comprehensively protecting your connection, ExpressVPN is the provider for you.

The service offers low ping numbers (less than 4.88 ms slower on average) for the games we tested it with (World of Warcraft, League of Legends and Call of Duty: WWII). The provider’s average connection speed of 95 Mbps is the best of any provider we tested.

ExpressVPN’s 99.9% server uptime means you’ll always be able to connect via the provider’s reliable and easy-to-use apps for all of the popular platforms. The provider has you covered when it comes to the top gaming hotspots around the globe, kill switch protection and router support.

While the provider’s pricing is a bit dear - $12.95/month for a monthly subscription and $6.67/month for an annual subscription (with a 30-day money-back guarantee) - when compared to other providers on the list, its excellent overall level of service and features, including its excellent privacy protections and top-notch customer service, still makes it an excellent value for the money.

2. VyprVPN: Best Gaming VPN for Distant Servers

VyprVPN

Best Gaming VPN for Distant Servers

VyprVPN

Lowest ping to distant gaming servers 

VyprVPN provides the lowest average ping numbers when accessing game servers located a lengthy distance from your location, such as servers located in other countries.

The provider also offers fast connections and excellent reliability.


VyprVPN is the top provider to consider if your gaming arenas of choice are located in foreign lands, because the service offers the lowest ping increase of any VPN provider when connecting to distant servers.

It’s important to consider the amount of latency a VPN adds to the already-high ping readings you get when gaming on a server located in another country. The higher the ping reading, the better chance you’ll see a delay between when you press a button and when your avatar responds. VyprVPN added an average of only 2.07 ms to my ping during testing.

VyprVPN’s connection speeds of 70.6 Mbps - while not the fastest of the bunch - offer more than enough speed for your needs. VyprVPN’s connections are kill switch-protected and reliable. Additionally, the provider’s global server coverage has you covered when it comes to foreign gaming hotspots.

The provider’s subscription prices - $9.95/month for the monthly option and $5.00/month if you opt for the annual plan - don’t offer quite as big a bargain as low-price leader CyberGhost. However, you get a great bang for the buck, considering the high level of services VyprVPN offers.

3. ExpressVPN: Best Gaming VPN for First-Person Shooters (FPS)

ExpressVPN Logo

Best Gaming VPN for FPS

ExpressVPN

Lowest ping to FPS server 

ExpressVPN consistently provides low ping numbers while playing FPS games like Call of Duty: WWII.

The provider’s reliable connections mean you won’t be cut off from the action, no matter what your online activities consist of.


First-person shooter fans will appreciate ExpressVPN’s low ping numbers to FPS servers and fast connection speeds (95 Mbps) when playing first-person shooter games like Call of Duty: WWII.

When playing a fast-moving first-person shooter, like any of the Call of Duty games, latency is important, as a high ping rate will cause the action to stall or stutter, delaying your movements in the game or causing your opponents to appear to jump around, making it tough to get an accurate shot. During my testing, ExpressVPN only added a mere 0.63 ms to my ping readings.

99.9% server uptime, reliable and easy-to-use apps, and solid router support all mean you’ll never have an issue with connecting. The provider’s kill switch ensures your connection will never be exposed if you do happen to experience a disconnection.

ExpressVPN’s pricing of $12.95/month for a monthly subscription and $6.67/month for an annual subscription definitely don’t qualify it as a budget provider, but considering the high level of service ExpressVPN provides, it does qualify as a value-priced one.

4. TorGuard: Best Gaming VPN for Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs)

TorGuard

Best Gaming VPN for MMORPGs

TorGuard

Lowest U.S. WoW ping numbers

TorGuard provides the lowest ping numbers for MMORPGs, like the U.S.-based World of Warcraft servers. Their connection speeds also make it attractive for other purposes.


Players of Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs) will appreciate the low ping numbers TorGuard offers to MMORPG servers, like those of World of Warcraft.

While not as important in MMORPGs as in first-person shooters or other fast-moving games, high ping numbers can still affect the time it takes for your on-screen character to react to your commands, threatening your chances for victory. During my testing, TorGuard increased my ping to WoW servers by only 0.48 ms, making it the best VPN to use with MMORPGs.

The service’s average connection speeds of 60.9 Mbps are slower than other providers in this roundup, but are up to WoW’s requirements, as well as up to other online activities, like video streaming. TorGuard’s rock solid apps are simple to set up and easy to use, needing only a few clicks of the mouse to grab a reliable, kill switch-protected connection.

Subscription pricing of $9.90 per month for the monthly option or $5.00 per month if you opt for the annual subscription option isn’t cheap, but the service is still worth the investment. If you’d like to try the service, a 7-day free trial is available.

5. CyberGhost: Best Gaming VPN If You’re on a Budget

CyberGhost

Best Gaming VPN If You’re on a Budget

CyberGhost

$2.75 per month for their 3-year deal

CyberGhost provides an attractive method of protecting your gaming sessions, without breaking the bank. This provider’s connection speeds and ping numbers are also impressive.


If you’re a gamer who would rather save their money for the next big game, or their current gaming passion’s in-game purchases, CyberGhost’s low price of $2.75 per month for 3 years of service will make it an attractive VPN option.

In addition to their low price, CyberGhost offers fast connection speeds of 65.2 Mbps (on average) and a rather high (when compared to other providers’ numbers), on-average ping increase of 7.28 ms. During my testing, CyberGhost’s kill switch-protected connections proved to be stable and reliable.

6. ExpressVPN: Best Gaming VPN If You Also Torrent

ExpressVPN Logo

Best Gaming VPN If You Also Torrent

ExpressVPN

Great privacy protections, speedy connections

ExpressVPN is the best choice for gamers who also engage in P2P file sharing via BitTorrent, thanks to their speedy, kill switch-protected connections and comprehensive privacy protections.


If you’re the type of gamer who likes to grab the latest updates and new content through P2P file sharing, you’ll want to check out ExpressVPN. The provider’s kill switch option and their top-notch privacy protections make it the best VPN provider for torrenting.

A kill switch protects your privacy by shutting down your internet connection in the event of disconnection from the VPN’s servers, preventing your file sharing activities from being revealed to third parties, such as your ISP. However, reliable apps and 99.9% server uptime mean you won’t need to worry about that much.

ExpressVPN’s no-log policy means that they don’t keep any records of your online activities while connected to their servers, further protecting your privacy by keeping your torrenting activity anonymous.

This provider also doesn’t limit your torrenting activities to only a few servers, but instead allows it on all of their well-placed servers.

You can also be sure that your content will download as quickly as possible with ExpressVPN’s impressive download speeds of 95 Mbps. And although the provider’s low ping numbers (less than 4.88 ms slower on average) won’t affect torrenting, it will prove handy when you get back to gaming.

True, $12.95 per month if you go for the monthly payment option and $6.67 per month for the annual plan are the most expensive prices on this list. But the service that ExpressVPN provides justifies its champagne pricing.

7. ExpressVPN: Best Gaming VPN If You Also Stream

ExpressVPN Logo

Best Gaming VPN If You Also Stream

ExpressVPN

Netflix and Hulu support in multiple countries

ExpressVPN is one of the few providers around that offer reliable unblocking of Netflix content in both the U.S. and abroad. 


ExpressVPN is the best VPN for accessing Netflix and other streaming services thanks to its fast connections and ability to unlock Netflix content all over the world.

Netflix is always on the watch for VPN users connecting to their service. Netflix can easily recognize shared VPN IP addresses and block them from accessing the Netflix servers. VPN services then need to set up new IP addresses, and most don’t have the resources to keep up.

ExpressVPN is one of the rare providers that can - and not only that, it offers reliable access in 90+ countries, including the U.S., offering access to domestic and international Netflix content wherever it’s housed.

During my streaming testing, I found that ExpressVPN’s fast connection speeds, averaging in at 95 Mbps, offer smooth Netflix streaming, even if you’re enjoying 4K content. (Try any of the Marvel series - they look great in 4K.) The service’s connections are reliable and kill switch-protected.

In my overall testing, ExpressVPN added an average of a mere 4.88 ms to my gaming ping times, meaning that your gaming and streaming experiences will be equally satisfying.

$12.95 monthly ($6.67 per month if you opt for a year-long agreement) means ExpressVPN is far from being an inexpensive provider, but the service is worth the price.

Why You Can Trust Us

Hi, I’m Chris Hauk, IT Specialist & Gamer, and a member of the Pixel Privacy team!

I have over 20 years of experience in the IT industry, providing desktop support, working in network administration and developing apps and websites.

I am also a gamer. I’ve been playing games since the days when a 28.8K modem connection was considered to offer a fast internet speed! 

Fun Fact: A 28.8K modem took about 1.5 minutes (or more) to download a single song. A file that size at current average connection speeds takes just a few seconds to download. Plus, you got to hear this lovely sound every time you connected to the internet back then!

Nowadays, I game on my PC, Mac, iOS and Android devices, my Linux box, and my Xbox One and PS4. I also dabble in gaming on my Apple TV 4K and Amazon Fire TV set-top boxes, and my internet speed is “slightly” faster than the days of yore, as I have a gigabit connection now. I play games of all genres, but Fortnite has been my game of choice for a while now. 

Gaming is a passion of mine, so I’m always on the lookout for ways to improve and protect my online gaming binges.

Chris playing online games

The Pixel Privacy team is subscribed to 14 different VPN providers. We extensively research and assess these VPNs, and I run each one of them through an extensive battery of tests.

Our goal for this article was to discover which VPNs offer the best gaming experience for gamers and their unique needs.

VPNs for gaming

For that purpose, I performed tests that included connection speed testing, ping (latency) tests and more.

I don’t simply perform a single test for each VPN. Instead, I test each of the 14 VPNs multiple times, testing connection speeds and ping readings for each. 

Speed testing

I first ran tests without a VPN enabled in order to set a benchmark for the VPN-protected testing. This enabled me to determine how each VPN would affect the quality of your online gaming sessions.

I then ran each of the VPN speed and ping tests daily, over a 3-day timespan (which, this time around, fell on Thursday, Friday and Saturday), measuring each one 3 times per day: morning, afternoon and evening.

I did this while connected to both local and foreign server locations, one after the other. This enabled me to determine how each VPN performs during different times of day, under various traffic situations and in different server locations.

In addition to subjecting each provider’s server network to a battery of tests, I also used each VPN while playing various types of games, which run the gamut from strategy, to first-person shooters, to esports games. This took weeks of testing, but I did it for you, the gamer. (I give and I give - I’m a giver.)

In this article, I’ll provide you a look at Pixel Privacy’s unique approach to ranking VPNs for use with online gaming, to allow you to make an informed decision as to which VPN is the best one for your unique needs.

Speed testing for different VPNs

Why is our approach unique? Because we’re not satisfied with simply testing connection speeds and ping numbers using an app like Speedtest and then calling it a day.

Instead, we test our connections under actual gameplay conditions, which includes pinging the servers of popular games, like WoW and League of Legends.

We spent weeks researching the issues that all gamers face, what factors are most important to them, and how VPN services can help gamers improve their access to their favorite games and their accompanying content.

After the research was complete, I immersed myself in long days of testing, using various testing tools to run my ISP-provided and my VPN-provided connections through torture tests, to provide the most accurate conclusion possible as to how well a given VPN will protect and enhance your online gameplay.

I assure you that my many years of experience in the IT industry, as well as the thousands of hours I have spent with a gaming controller in my hands, allow me to provide a unique insight into the world of VPN-protected online gaming.

At the end of this in-depth and thorough review, you will have enough knowledge at hand that you will be able to make an informed VPN-buying decision, secure in knowing the choice you make will provide the best protection for your gaming sessions.

Why You Need a VPN for Gaming

There are many reasons why you, the gamer, need a VPN.

From preventing DDoS attacks during eSports competitions, to gaining access to blocked game servers and normally-unavailable content, to improving lag (yes, it can happen), to opening up access to online games while you’re at work or in school: there’s a lot to gain.

In this section, you and I will take a close look at the types of issues facing online gamers and what a VPN can do to resolve them.

We’ll take a look at the following issues:

  • How a VPN Prevents DDoS Attacks in eSports
  • How a VPN Improves High Ping Due to a Bad ISP or a Long Distance From a Game Server
  • How a VPN Unblocks Games While in School or at Work
  • How a VPN Opens Up Access to Geographically-Restricted Content
  • How a VPN Unblocks You From a Server You Were Banned From

1

How a VPN Prevents DDoS Attacks in eSports

A DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack is when a large number of computers, also known as a botnet, send an overwhelming amount of traffic to the IP address of a specific server or a single user’s computer. 

As a result, the traffic overwhelms the victim’s internet connection, causing it to slow to a crawl or even shut down completely.

DDoS attacks are a growing problem in the eSports arena, with more and more online competitors falling victim to attacks. 

How Are DDoS Attacks Used in eSports?

If you have become a fan of eSports in the past few years, you are not alone. The popularity of eSports has exploded in recent years

Recently, Variety reported that eSports could be added to the Olympics as early as 2024. Yes, eSports are that serious.

Some eSports numbers for the year 2018 so far:


Game

# of Professional Players

# of Tournaments

Total Cash Prizes (USD)

1

Dota 2

828

96

Over $38 million

2

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

3,634

558

Over $16 million

3

Fortnite

842

106

Over $11 million

4

League of Legends

1,498

130

Over $7 million

5

Overwatch

1,217

77

Over $6 million

DDoS attacks have become a popular method of gaining an unfair advantage in the online gaming arena. Less-than-scrupulous players direct DDoS attacks at their opponents in order to prevent them from being able to compete online in eSports events.

While professional eSports gamers are the most popular target of attacks, casual gamers can also face opponents who are willing to pull dirty tricks to win.

It is surprisingly easy for unscrupulous players to attempt to gain the unfair advantage by waging DDoS attacks against their opponents. There are even DDoS services on the web that will attack IP addresses for a nominal fee.

These “booter services” are specifically designed to “boot” users offline. I won’t mention the names of any of the services here, as I’m sure my readers wouldn’t pull any dirty tricks simply to score a victory.

In addition to being the potential target of another competitor, players may find that the game servers themselves are being targeted. The 2015 International Dota 2 Championships suffered a DDoS attack, which took down the entire competition for an hour before connections could be restored.

How a VPN Protects Against DDoS Attacks

A VPN provides the best protection available to prevent successful DDoS attacks against your connection while gaming.

When you use a VPN, the service hides your true IP address by routing your connection through a shared IP address. This technique prevents hackers from identifying your true IP address, making it impossible to direct an attack against your actual internet connection.

In addition, VPN providers also use DDoS mitigation techniques to filter out traffic - such as the DDoS traffic that a sore loser might attempt to direct against their servers. All traffic directed toward your IP address is run through filtering software, which determines if the traffic is valid or if it is suspicious.

If a large amount of traffic is coming in at a high volume, from different IP addresses, simultaneously, the VPN provider’s servers recognize that as an attack, and the DDoS filter blocks the DDoS traffic, preventing the traffic from reaching the users connected to that VPN server.

How a VPN Protects Against Distributed Denial of Service Attacks

The DDoS protection that a VPN provides works so well that you’ll be unaware that an attempt was even made, as your connection will show little, if any, type of performance hit.

2

How a VPN Improves High Ping Due to a Bad ISP or a Long Distance From a Game Server

High ping numbers can be a killer when you’re gaming online. If you’re playing an online game and your connection is less than optimal, you stand a good chance of becoming just another statistic in another player’s kill count.

If your ping times are less than optimal (which would be anything over 100 ms, give or take), you’ll see lag while playing online games.

Okay, high ping numbers are bad, but what exactly is “ping”?

Ping is the time it takes to send and receive messages from an originating computer to another computer. Basically, it’s the amount of time it takes to make a round-trip on the internet (much like the time it takes to run to the corner store and back again).

The longer it takes for data to make a round trip, the longer it will take for your actions in the game you’re playing to update. If it takes too long, your in-game actions will be much like you’re in slow motion, taking too long to move. In a first-person shooter, this delay affects your gameplay by giving other players the opportunity to easily zero in on your on-screen avatar and “kill” you.

Plus, when you play Madden NFL, you’ll find that, even though you pressed the right button to make your running back juke the defender out of his jock, your player ends up getting tackled, as it took too long for the server to register their move.

To illustrate this, allow me to share a story from the early days of online gaming (around 1997 or so).

Developer iD Software created Quake, the spiritual successor to their popular first-person shooter game, Doom. A popular feature of Quake was its multiplayer mode, where players could connect to a Quake server and battle it out in a last-player-standing battle royale. 

Quake

I was employed by a software publisher at the time, and the IT director loved the game so much, he set up a Quake server on the local server network, and my coworkers and I proceeded to waste many hours of company time competing amongst ourselves for the title of Quake Champion. (That’s just between you and me. If anyone asks, gameplay always took place after hours. Got it? Good.)

After a few months, the IT director had the bright idea of allowing other players to connect to our Quake server via outside connections. At this time, broadband was just a twinkle in Al Gore’s eye, so most of the outside players connected to the Quake server via 56K dial-up modems. This is when I learned the advantages of a fast connection and low latency (ping) numbers.

Those of us sitting at our desks, connected to our network via a speedy (at the time) 10 Mbps Ethernet connection, delighted in the easy competition with competitors who would connect to our Quake arena via phone lines.

As those players waited for the server to respond to update other players’ positions, we would gleefully pick them off, as they appeared to be standing still. Sadly for those players, their next update were words to the effect of: “You have died!”

iD eventually offered updates to the Quake code that allowed for high latency connections, but for a while, bumping off dial-up competitors was like shooting fish in a barrel.

While a VPN isn’t exactly the first tool that comes to mind when looking for a way to lower your ping numbers, in some cases, it is exactly the tool needed to improve your gaming connection.

How Do ISPs Worsen Your Ping?

With the end of net neutrality, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) can now throttle certain types of traffic. This can result in slower connection speeds and higher ping numbers.

In addition, ISPs aren’t exactly known as experts on routing your connection through the fastest virtual pathways, either.

If your ISP doesn’t have an agreement with your favorite gaming provider, it can end up connecting you to the servers through a less-than-optimal pathway. Kind of like driving from Florida to California via Canada.

How a VPN Resolves ISP Issues

If you use a VPN to mask your gaming connection, your ISP can’t tell where you’re connected and won’t throttle your connection.

In addition, a VPN provider is more likely to route your connection in a more direct way - think freeways, not back country roads - resulting in more responsive connections with improved ping times.

Plus, as most VPN providers offer more than one server in a geographical area, you would have the ability to try different servers to see if a particular server might perform better than others

Gaming Average Ping with ExpressVPN

Note: I won’t tell you that ping times always improve when using a VPN while gaming, but there are instances where this can happen.

During my extensive testing of various VPNs, I pinged a large number of popular online gaming servers and discovered improved ping numbers in isolated instances.

However, even when ping numbers weren’t improved, I found that, for the most part, ping numbers increased by only single digits and didn’t hamper my gaming experience.

Pro Tip: Use an Ethernet Cable

Speaking of routing your connection in a more direct way, keep in mind that you should always, if at all possible, use a wired Ethernet connection to your router and not a Wi-Fi connection. An Ethernet connection will pay dividends in both faster speeds and lower ping numbers. 

Ethernet cable

My provider-supplied router is in the front room, next to my television. Yet, I do much of my gaming in my home office, which is on the other side of my home. I used a 100 ft. and a 50 ft. Ethernet cable to run the connection to my office. (Please forgive how they look - my wife and I just moved and are still settling in.)

While this may seem a bit extreme, I assure you that it is well worth it, because of the average pings of 2 ms and connection speeds of 580 Mbps for an Ethernet connection, as opposed to ping times of 4 ms and connection speeds of 238 Mbps when connected via Wi-Fi. While that doesn’t seem like a huge leap, remember that every little bit helps.

Just be sure to run your cables under rugs or along the baseboard. Otherwise, someone could trip on them - or even worse, the dog could discover them.

3

How a VPN Unblocks Games at School or Work

If you attend school, or work for a living, you may have found that your school administration or company management blocks access to certain websites, online services and - most importantly - your favorite online gaming arenas.

While it’s certainly a reasonable expectation that you should pay attention to your schoolwork or do the job you’re paid to do, why can’t you play a quick round of your favorite game while you’re between classes or on your lunch break?

While I’ve been lucky enough to work for employers who allowed game play while in the office, I have also toiled at firms where the internet was so locked down that I couldn’t even check my Gmail account, much less play a quick round of Fortnite.

When it comes to network blockades, a VPN will reliably unblock virtual roadblocks, getting you connected to your favorite gaming server.

A VPN cloaks your connection in a tunnel of encryption, allowing you to keep your online travels away from the prying eyes of network administrators. While an observer can tell that you’re connected to a VPN, the VPN’s hard encryption shell keeps your actual activities hidden from sight.

This feature is what makes a VPN perfect for accessing your favorite online arena from school or work, as network administrators can’t block your access to something if they don’t know what that “something” is.

I have personally used a VPN numerous times to avoid the blockades thrown up by restrictive employers. (Hey, it’s my business if I want to play World of Warcraft while I’m on my lunch hour.) I’ve found that they work quite well and consistently, making them an invaluable tool in my gamers’ toolbox.

Keep in mind that you’ll want to download and install your VPN app to your own computer or other connected device(s), as many schools and employers do not allow third-party apps to be installed on their devices. 

4

How a VPN Opens Up Access to Geographically-Restricted Content

If you’re like me, then you have read a press release or two announcing new in-game content for your favorite game, and you’ve experienced a moment of pure gaming bliss, only to be followed by a big “bummer” feeling when you learn that the content is only available to gamers in other countries.

Much of the content on the internet is geographically restricted. This includes online gaming content, streaming services (more about that later) and other services.

How a VPN Helps Access Geo-Restricted Content and Bypass Censorship

Many software developers commonly restrict certain content to regions where it might be most popular, or they’ll release content early in some regions. While this is a nice perk if you live in one of the privileged areas, it sucks if you don’t.

Epic Games, publisher of popular games like Fortnite and Unreal Tournament, routinely restricts access to certain in-game content and awards to certain regions.

Sure, you could buy a plane ticket and fly to one of those regions (say, South Korea), laptop in hand, to download the new content, then fly back and enjoy your new items. (That should only take three to four days and $2,000 or so for a coach ticket).

Another, cheaper option would be to subscribe to a VPN provider and download the new content from the comfort of your own home.

One of the fine abilities that VPN providers offer to their customers is the ability to make your internet connection appear to be coming from a completely different location. Most VPN providers have servers located around the globe, opening up access to content in a particular area.

For example, you may be based in New York City, USA, but your internet connection can appear to be originating from Paris, France.

ExpressVPN Server Locations

Make sure the VPN you choose has servers located in regions where your favorite games are located.

5

How a VPN Unblocks You From a Server You Were Banned From

Have you ever been blocked from an online game or a particular server (or “world”)?

Of course not! None of us have. We are all always completely courteous and never make comments about another player’s mother or how she dresses them funny.

But, from time to time, any of us could find ourselves blocked from our favorite games for reasons completely out of our control. (We’re still using the “Who? Me?” defense here when we find ourselves blocked.)

Fortnite blocked

Some reasons why a player may be blocked from a game can include:

  • Use of rude or unwarranted language
  • Harmful interactions or conversations
  • Black market trading (trading in-game items using unapproved methods)

I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you were unjustly banned from a game due to unproven accusations by other players, or a game administrator who simply didn’t like you. (Hey, it happens!)

When a user is blocked from a game, the system usually notes two things: the user’s handle (such as “BigMomma1973”) and their IP address. Game administrators use this information to block a banned user from logging into the server.

Noting the user handle makes it easy to recognize a player, and noting the IP address makes it easy to detect a player that has once again attempted to gain access by changing their user handle.

How Does a VPN Work

While a VPN can’t make it appear that you are another user, it can make you appear to be located in another part of the world by changing your virtual IP address to an address other than the one you were using when game administrators banned you.

Although a VPN can’t change your user handle, your new IP address would allow you to sign up as a new player, once again opening up access to your favorite servers.

Using a VPN With a Gaming Console

While this article has, up until now, covered using a VPN with any type of device, a VPN can also pay dividends for players that prefer to game on consoles, such as the Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Xbox One or Sony PlayStation 4.

While it’s true that, at the time of this article, there are no native apps available for the big three’s consoles, you can take advantage of all a VPN has to offer by using a VPN with your router or by sharing your Mac or Windows PC’s internet connection.

Many of the popular VPN providers offer support for the most popular brands and models of routers. Many of them even offer ways for users to purchase a pre-configured router that’s ready to go right out of the box, so a user can simply enter their VPN account info and hit the ground running.

gaming console

In addition, using a VPN with your router has the pleasant side effect of protecting all of the devices in your home that connect to the router. Unlimited simultaneous connections!

Other considerations for using a VPN with your favorite gaming console are connection speed and ping times.

Just like gaming on a PC, users will appreciate a fast connection - certainly during gameplay, but also when downloading all of that new content that a VPN can open up for you.

Low ping times are just as important when using a VPN with a console as they are when gaming on a PC. Maybe even more so, due to the fact that you’ll be seeing your deaths (and victories) on a 65-inch 4K HDTV instead of your computer’s smaller desktop monitor.

Console gamers like us are most concerned about finding a VPN solution that protects our devices, doesn’t slow us down and opens up access to in-game content and arenas we may not usually have access to. Router support brings all of that together for us.

VPN Scoring Methods

When the Pixel Privacy team developed the scoring system to determine the best VPN for online gaming, we researched and considered several important factors that can affect your online gaming experience.

In the paragraphs below, I’ll explain the factors we scored upon and why each one is vital to a satisfactory online gaming experience, as well as how I tested each factor and determined a ranking for each VPN provider.

1

The Top Factor: How We Test and Score Ping

When you’re competing in the online arena, ping is the most important factor for satisfying gameplay. If you experience high or inconsistent ping numbers while gaming, there is a very good chance that, at the end of the match, you will not have victory clenched in your teeth.

When testing ping, I first found the IP addresses for servers located in both the U.S. and Europe for 3 popular games: World of Warcraft, Overwatch and Call of Duty: WWII.

I ran ping tests against each server using a handy macOS tool called Network Utility. This utility allows users to enter an IP address and run multiple types of network-related tests on it. 

One of these tests is the ping test. To use the utility, I simply enter the IP address I wish to ping and then press the ping button.

While connected to my normal, ISP-provided internet connection, I ping each game server 10 times and then record the average response times. I then connect to each VPN provider, one by one, and repeat the ping process again.

Network Utility Ping

I conduct this test 3 times per day (morning, noon and night) for 3 days (Thursday, Friday and Saturday), recording the results. I then average the ping numbers for each provider, ranking them according to the results.

VPN for Gaming Ping Measurements

2

How We Test and Score Speed

While ping is the most important factor in ensuring your online gaming enjoyment, connection speed is also an important ingredient. It’s worth noting, however, that once a minimum connection speed of 3 Mbps or so is met, anything above that is gravy.

However, online gamers will find that a fast connection comes in handy for downloading game updates, in-game content and more. Plus, when you’re taking a break from gaming, you’ll enjoy a fast connection while streaming video or music.

Speed testing

When testing the connection speeds delivered by each VPN provider, I conduct a process similar to how I test ping measurements.

By that, I mean that I first test the connection speeds from my ISP, then load each VPN and conduct the speed test again. I repeat the test 3 times a day for 3 days straight. (All tests are run using the Speedtest.net app for macOS.)

I then average the results for each provider and rank them according to their connection speeds.

3

How We Score Global Server Coverage

When considering a VPN provider for use with online gaming, always keep in mind that the better their global server coverage, the better access you’ll have to geo-restricted content, such as certain downloadable content or early access to beta or new releases of your favorite games.

When scoring for global server coverage, I research the number of countries where a VPN has servers located. The better a VPN provider’s global server coverage, the higher they score. 

For this article, we specifically looked for servers in these countries, as they are the top gaming countries: The United States, the United Kingdom, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, France, Brazil and the Netherlands.

4

How We Score Kill Switch Capabilities

Kill switch protection helps keep your VPN activities under cover by automatically shutting down your internet connection if you lose connection to your VPN provider’s servers.

This keeps your actual location from being revealed, preventing servers from banning you - or, when you’re torrenting, preventing your ISP from discovering your file sharing activities.

Scoring for kill switch capabilities is simple, as it’s a “yes” or “no” indicator.

5

How We Score Router Support

Router support can be an important factor when considering what each VPN offers for online gaming.

This is especially true for gamers who prefer their action on consoles, like the PS4, Xbox One or Nintendo Switch, as there are no native VPN apps currently available for consoles.

In addition to offering VPN services for your game consoles, router support can also lend VPN protection to all of the devices that connect to the internet via your router.

When considering router support and how to rank the various providers’ router support, I first consider whether the provider offers router support at all.

If that doesn’t eliminate the provider, I then check to see how many different brands and models of routers are compatible with the provider.Finally, I also check to see if the provider partners with Flashrouters.com to offer pre-configured routers for use with the provider’s service.

Why ExpressVPN Is My Choice for Best Overall VPN for Gaming

ExpressVPN Logo

Best Overall VPN for Gaming

ExpressVPN

Impressive connection speeds, ping and server uptime

ExpressVPN offers consistently low ping numbers for low-latency gameplay, as well as speedy connections, which come in handy for downloading your game updates and in-game content.

ExpressVPN offers reliable connections with solid uptime numbers, as well as comprehensive customer service.


ExpressVPN proved to be the best VPN overall for online gaming.

The provider offers low ping numbers for the games I tested it with (World of Warcraft, League of Legends and Call of Duty: WWII), and you will find that the provider supplies more than enough bandwidth for gaming.

While I am nowhere skilled enough to warrant an opponent waging a denial of service attack on my connection, better-skilled warriors can feel secure knowing that their connection is protected from any such attacks.

Your gaming controls will be responsive, with no lag between the time you initiate a move on your end and when the move is executed in the game. The provider, on average, added only 4.88 ms in lag to my internet connection (making it the best ping of all providers), which had a negligible effect on my gaming experience, and you can expect similar results.

The provider’s average connection speed of 95 Mbps was more than enough for any game I played, as most online games perform just fine as long as your connection is 3 Mbps or more. However, I greatly appreciated the fast connections when I was streaming video and torrenting files.

While your mileage may vary depending upon your regular ISP connection speeds, your VPN connection speeds will still be impressive.

While ExpressVPN’s 99.9% server uptime means you don’t have to worry much about losing your connection to the provider’s VPN servers while gaming, streaming or torrenting files, the provider’s kill switch covers you if disconnection does occur. Plus, I never had an issue connecting to (or maintaining a connection to) an ExpressVPN server, personally.

The ExpressVPN app is simple to install and use on any compatible device. Once it’s set up, it’s user-friendly and reliable. In all the time I have used ExpressVPN, I have never had the app crash on me on any of the many platforms I’ve used it on.

Once the app loads, it’s simple to select a server from the handy list of countries and cities - or, if you’re simply looking to keep your online antics under wraps, you can use the “Smart Location” feature to automatically opt for the best-performing server in your country.

While ExpressVPN would never be mistaken for a budget-priced VPN provider, their pricing is not out of line when you consider the high level of service you receive in return.

At $12.95 per month for the provider’s monthly option and $6.67 per month for their annual plan, the service is a great value. (Plus, if you click our link to visit the ExpressVPN website, you get 3 months free! That’s a 49% savings over the monthly option.)

ExpressVPN’s comprehensive global server coverage hits all the right notes for the games you play online, with servers located in all of the top gaming hotspots. They also offer solid router support.

Additionally, ExpressVPN does an excellent job of unblocking Netflix. You can learn more about ExpressVPN’s Netflix-unblocking abilities below, since they also won the top spot for “Best Gaming VPN If You Also Stream.”

When it comes to customer support, ExpressVPN not only offers email support, a searchable knowledge base and a support ticket tracking system, they also provide 24/7 live support chat.

ExpressVPN grabbed the top spot as the overall choice for best VPN for gaming thanks to its low average ping numbers, high average connection speeds and impressive server uptime. The provider’s apps are logical and easy to use, while their customer service is second to none.

For more information or to purchase an ExpressVPN subscription, visit the ExpressVPN website.


Why VyprVPN Is My Choice for Best Gaming VPN for Distant Servers

VyprVPN

Best Gaming VPN for Distant Servers

VyprVPN

Lowest ping to distant gaming servers 

VyprVPN provides the lowest average ping numbers when accessing game servers located a lengthy distance from your location, such as servers located in other countries.

The provider also offers fast connections and excellent reliability.


VyprVPN offers the best ping numbers when you’re playing on a server in another country.
As I’m sure you already know, when playing on a server located outside of your own country’s borders, you can often face ping numbers above the desirable 100 ms limit.

In my extended testing, I found that, on average, VyprVPN only adds approximately 2.07 ms to the lag time you already experience while playing on international gaming servers. This is the best ping measurement of any provider for distant servers, beating even the best overall winner, ExpressVPN.

2.07 ms is negligible enough that you won’t notice a difference in the performance of your connection. (So, the next time you get blown away, you won’t be able to blame it on VyprVPN!) While that is the best ping around for foreign servers, VyprVPN’s U.S. ping numbers (13.77 ms) lag a bit when compared to the U.S. ping numbers (4.88 ms) of the overall winner, ExpressVPN.

VyprVPN’s average connection speeds of 70.5 Mbps offer more than enough horsepower to keep up with fast online action when you’re waging battle across the pond. It’ll also shine when you’re streaming video or torrenting files. Their kill switch protection means you won’t be exposed if you do lose your VPN connection.

The provider’s app proved to be easy to install and simple to use on all of the devices I tried it on. Setup requires just a few clicks of the mouse, and you’re ready to go. The app is reliable and doesn’t use much in the way of system resources, leaving more resources for the games.

Selecting a VPN server is just a matter of a few clicks on a list of countries and cities. You could also opt to connect instead to the fastest available server or select from a “favorites” list. It doesn’t get much more user-friendly than that, does it?

You also don’t have to worry about this provider not having a server located where the action is, as it has servers located in all of the most popular gaming countries. They also offer router support (although not as expansive as the router support that ExpressVPN offers).

While VyprVPN isn’t a bargain-basement-priced VPN provider, at $9.95 per month when you pay monthly or $5.00 per month when you opt for the annual plan, it does still beat ExpressVPN’s price.

VyprVPN is my top choice for long-distance gaming thanks to their low ping times to international servers and fast connection speeds. If you like to participate in online action with more of an international flavor, I recommend you check out VyprVPN.

For more information or to purchase a subscription, visit the VyprVPN website.


Why ExpressVPN Is My Choice for Best Gaming VPN for First-Person Shooters (FPS)

ExpressVPN Logo

Best Gaming VPN for FPS

ExpressVPN

Lowest ping to FPS server 

ExpressVPN consistently provides low ping numbers while playing FPS games like Call of Duty: WWII.

The provider’s reliable connections mean you won’t be cut off from the action, no matter what your online activities consist of.


ExpressVPN proved to be the most impressive VPN when it comes to optimal performance when playing first-person shooters (FPS) like Call of Duty: WWII.

FPS competition is all about staying on the move so that you can’t be targeted, and low ping numbers will ensure that your on-screen avatar isn’t a sitting duck.

Adding less than 0.63 ms to the ping for Call of Duty servers, ExpressVPN ensures you won’t be caught in a game of freeze tag, leaving yourself an easy target.

While playing Call of Duty: WWII, I always saw responsive replies to my moves, with none of that “logging through mud” feeling (unless there was actual mud on the battlefield, of course), and I avoided becoming an easy kill thanks to those low latency numbers.

Racing along at an average connection speed of 95 Mbps, ExpressVPN won’t let you down in the heat of battle. Plus, you’ll never experience long waits when downloading updates or in-game content.

ExpressVPN’s 99.9% server uptime means that you shouldn’t ever have issues connecting to your favorite VPN server. During all of my testing, I never experienced a system outage or an issue with connecting to the server of my choice. If you do happen to experience a disconnection, the provider’s kill switch feature will cover you.

The ExpressVPN app is simple to install and use. With just a few clicks, you’re set up and ready to connect nearly anywhere around the world. On their list of countries and cities, you can connect to the server of your choice. The app never bombed out on me and doesn’t hog precious gaming resources.

You can protect all of the connected devices in your home by taking advantage of ExpressVPN’s router support. ExpressVPN has all of the global online gaming hotspots covered, too.

At $12.95 per month for the monthly option and $6.67 per month for the annual plan, ExpressVPN is more expensive than other providers on this list, but it is a great value.

ExpressVPN is the best VPN for use with first-person shooters thanks to its low ping numbers to FPS servers, fast connection speeds and reassuring reliability. For more information or to purchase a subscription, visit the ExpressVPN website.


Why TorGuard Is My Choice for Best Gaming VPN for Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs)

TorGuard

Best Gaming VPN for MMORPGs

TorGuard

Lowest U.S. WoW ping numbers

TorGuard provides the lowest ping numbers for MMORPGs, like the U.S.-based World of Warcraft servers. Their connection speeds also make it attractive for other purposes.


TorGuard proved its mettle when I tested it while playing Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs), like World of Warcraft (WoW). The provider offered better ping numbers to U.S. WoW servers than any other provider.

The service added an average of only 0.48 ms to my unprotected ping measurements while connected to a U.S. WoW server. This kept my ping measurements under 25 ms during gameplay, and caused no noticeable lag while playing.

Plus, a fast average connection speed of 60.9 Mbps means that the provider’s kill switch-protected connections will keep the action going strong as you are happily connected to the world of Azeroth, no matter which portal you choose to enter.

The TorGuard app is easy to set up and use. I didn’t experience any crashing or performance issues.The interface is simple, and it takes only a few clicks to connect to the server of your choice. There is no “fastest server” option to be found, though.

The provider offers router support for routers flashed with the DD-WRT and Tomato firmwares. You’ll be able to connect to all of the global gaming hotspots thanks to TorGuard’s global server coverage.

TorGuard is a reasonably priced provider, charging $9.90 per month for their monthly option or $5.00 per month if you elect to go for the annual subscription option. While that price can’t match a bargain provider like CyberGhost (see below), it does beat out ExpressVPN.

If you’re a fan of MMORPGs, I suggest you take a close look at TorGuard. The service provides an excellent method of keeping you covered while playing MMORPGs, with low average ping numbers when connected to U.S. servers like those used by World of Warcraft.

For more information or to purchase a subscription, visit the TorGuard website.


Why CyberGhost Is My Choice for Best Gaming VPN If You’re on a Budget

CyberGhost

Best Gaming VPN If You’re on a Budget

CyberGhost

$2.75 per month for their 3-year deal

CyberGhost provides an attractive method of protecting your gaming sessions, without breaking the bank. This provider’s connection speeds and ping numbers are also impressive.


If you’re a gamer on a tight budget, or if you’d rather spend your money on new games, power-ups or in-game content instead of a high-priced VPN provider, I advise that you take a look at CyberGhost.

Note: While there are free VPN services available if you want to go total bargain-basement on a gaming VPN, those services won’t offer satisfactory performance. Plus, a free VPN service is never really free. Most “free” services keep track of a user’s online activities to sell to advertisers. That’s a no-no!

CyberGhost is available for the low, low price of $2.75 per month when you opt for their 3-year subscription deal. They also offer a still-reasonable $4.99 per month for the annual plan and $11.99 per month for the monthly option. This is quite the bargain compared to ExpressVPN’s $6.67/month charge for their annual plan.

CyberGhost’s low price does not mean it cuts corners. The provider offers an excellent level of service, with a 7.28 ms on-average ping increase and an average connection speed of 65.2 Mbps. When using CyberGhost for online gaming, I always experienced smooth movement in-game, with quick responses to my commands.

The CyberGhost app is easy to set up and use, and in my testing, proved to offer reliable connections, never crashing or dropping my connections. Should it ever crash, though, the provider’s kill switch will keep your activities hidden. The app also keeps its system resource requirements low, leaving more horsepower for your gaming needs.

While the app’s interface is rather unwieldy, perhaps requiring more clicks to connect than it really should, it’s still easy to understand and use. I prefer a simpler interface, like ExpressVPN’s app offers, but it’s not a deal killer.

CyberGhost also offers all devices coverage via its compatibility with routers flashed with the DD-WRT and Tomato firmwares. The provider doesn’t skimp on server placement, with coverage for all of the most popular gaming regions.

If you’re looking to save a few bucks on a VPN for gaming, be sure to take a closer look at CyberGhost. For more information or to purchase a subscription, visit the CyberGhost website.


Why ExpressVPN Is My Choice for Best Gaming VPN If You Also Torrent

ExpressVPN Logo

Best Gaming VPN If You Also Torrent

ExpressVPN

Great privacy protections, speedy connections

ExpressVPN is the best choice for gamers who also engage in P2P file sharing via BitTorrent, thanks to their speedy, kill switch-protected connections and comprehensive privacy protections.


In addition to waging battle online, there’s a good chance that you also spend some of your time sharing files via your favorite torrenting app.

Sadly, the gaming, recording and film industries put a lot of pressure on ISPs to stop the activity due to its use to illegally share copyrighted material. However, this causes an issue for legal uses of the technology, as some game publishers, such as Blizzard, use torrenting to distribute game updates and new content.

To appease these industries, many ISPs block torrenting activity out of hand. And even if your ISP doesn’t completely block P2P traffic, they can throttle your download and upload speeds so tightly that it’s no longer even worth trying.

ExpressVPN is the best VPN provider I’ve ever used when it comes to keeping my torrenting activities up and running, as well as undercover. 

Express VPN for torrents

No matter whether you’re downloading a game to try before you buy, or you’re downloading a movie that you can’t find anywhere else, ExpressVPN is my recommended VPN provider to protect you while torrenting.

Some providers limit your torrenting activities to just a few of their server locations, but ExpressVPN allows torrenting on all of their servers. The provider even offers instructions on using popular BitTorrent client uTorrent with their service.

Does Express VPN allow torrentng :P2P?

Privacy is an important factor that we consider when scoring a provider’s torrenting protections, as “no logs” means there’s no evidence of torrenting activity that could be used against you in court.

ExpressVPN offers top-notch privacy protections. Located in the privacy-friendly country of the British Virgin Islands, ExpressVPN takes full advantage of the country’s laws, keeping no logs of their users’ online travels.

In addition, the provider accepts Bitcoin as payment for their services, keeping your payment info under wraps, too.

Is ExpressVPN safe for torrenting?

The provider also offers the all-important kill switch option to disconnect your internet connection if you do happen to lose your connection to the ExpressVPN servers. That means you’ll never have to worry about high-powered entertainment industry types or your ISP getting a peek at your online activities.

Because ExpressVPN is the fastest VPN on the list, with an average download speed of 95 Mbps, it’s the best choice if the speed of downloading large files is high on your priority list.

And, while ping doesn’t come into play much in torrenting, it’s still nice to know that the provider’s small addition of an average 4.88 ms to your ping numbers won’t slow you down when you’re behind the joystick - in fact, those numbers are the best overall of any of the providers I tested.

The ExpressVPN app is super easy to set up and use. Installation takes but a few clicks, while selecting a server requires only a few more, as you quickly select a server from a country/city list. It takes only one click to connect if you opt to use the app’s “Smart Location” option.

ExpressVPN boasts a 99.9% server uptime, meaning you won’t experience any interruptions while sharing files. In addition, the provider has all of the popular gaming hotspots covered with their comprehensive global server coverage, and their router support is top-of-the-line.

ExpressVPN offers their above-average services for $12.95 per month for their monthly option or $6.67 per month if you elect to go for their annual subscription plan. That makes ExpressVPN the most expensive provider among all of the providers in this roundup. However, it’s still an excellent value when you consider the level of service you get.

If you’re a gamer who digs the convenience that torrenting offers in collecting new gaming content, movies, songs or any other downloadable content, ExpressVPN is the VPN provider I recommend. For more information or to purchase a subscription, visit the ExpressVPN website.


Why ExpressVPN Is My Choice for Best Gaming VPN If You Also Stream

ExpressVPN Logo

Best Gaming VPN If You Also Stream

ExpressVPN

Netflix and Hulu support in multiple countries

ExpressVPN is one of the few providers around that offer reliable unblocking of Netflix content in both the U.S. and abroad.


I’m making an informed guess when I say that, if you’re a gamer, you stream movies, too. After all, most popular gaming devices offer a great way to view content from all of the popular streaming services, such as Netflix, Hulu and others.

However, access to these popular services can be blocked in some locations. Hulu is available only to those residing in the United States and Japan, for example. And although Netflix is available in most parts of the world, the content on the local version of the service can vary greatly from country to country.

Happily, a VPN can open up access to blocked streaming content by using its location-spoofing abilities to make it appear as if your internet location is originating from a country where this streaming content is available.

How a VPN Enables Access to Netflix

In all of my extensive streaming testing (yes, my job entails watching streaming content!), I have found ExpressVPN to be the most reliable way to access Netflix, Hulu and other content in the U.S. and any of the other 93 countries where the VPN service has servers located.

Netflix is a particularly difficult nut to crack for many VPN providers, as Netflix is vigilant when it comes to blocking VPNs. This has led many providers to simply give up when it comes to offering Netflix access, enabling access to just one or two countries, if at all.

However, ExpressVPN continues to fight the good fight, providing access to Netflix in an impressive count of 93 countries, including the United States.

During testing, I used ExpressVPN to access the Netflix service in the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Canada and numerous other countries. The provider offered reliable access to the content, providing high-quality video.

On occasion, I did need to try more than once to connect to Netflix via the VPN connection. However, this isn’t unusual, due to the ongoing chess game that goes on between Netflix and VPN providers like ExpressVPN.

When you’re streaming video, connection speed is an important consideration, and ExpressVPN’s 95 Mbps connection speeds mean you’ll be able to enjoy your favorite movie in no time. During my testing, even 4K content only took a few seconds to begin. The service never stuttered, and video never needed to buffer mid-show.

Netflix Streaming with ExpressVPN

And while it’s true that ping readings don’t affect streaming, it always comforts me to know that the low average of 8 ms the provider adds to my ping numbers means I’ll see fast reaction times once I do jump back into the online gaming arena.

The ExpressVPN app is easy to install and use. I never experienced any issues with the app. The interface is logical, and you can quickly connect to any server around the world with just a few clicks.

While ExpressVPN’s impressive 99.9% server uptime means you’ll likely never run into issues getting connected, you can feel secure in knowing the provider’s 24/7 customer support is at the ready.

Those reliable servers are well-distributed around the globe, including all of the top gaming hotspots. That means you can take advantage of kill switch-protected Netflix access, no matter what you’re in the mood for.

Netflix is available on all of the popular computer, device and gaming console platforms, and this provider offers comprehensive multi-platform support. It also offers wide coverage for most popular routers.

A monthly ExpressVPN subscription costs $12.95 per month, while the yearly subscription will run you $6.67 per month. This is the most expensive subscription cost in this roundup, but the service is still a great value for the money.

For more information or to purchase a subscription, visit the ExpressVPN website.


Final Thoughts

In this article, I’ve shared the best ways to keep your online gaming options open, allowing you to access your favorite game, no matter where it might be located, and no matter where you might be located.

Selecting the right VPN provider will not only open up new gaming vistas, but will also enhance your online gaming experience and keep you and your personal information safe as well.

As we’ve seen in this article, the best VPN for online gaming is ExpressVPN. 

ExpressVPN Logo

The provider offers low ping numbers to gaming servers, fast connections and an impressive 99.9% server uptime, making it an excellent way to unblock any restrictions thrown up in your way by network administrators or the game publishers themselves.

For more information or to purchase a subscription, visit the ExpressVPN website.