While a gaming VPN might not be quite as tantalizing a purchase as a new GPU or an RGB mechanical keyboard, for the serious gamer it's an essential tool to have on-hand. After all, who wants a DDoS attack from a thirsty enemy to end your sesh?
Staying safe when you're gaming isn't the only reason to bag a VPN for gaming, though. If you've ever noticed your internet connection start fluctuating after you've been online for a while, it's likely that your network is being throttled by your ISP. By using the best VPN, you can hide your traffic from your ISP so it can't target you as a high-bandwidth user.
What's more, you may also be able to find better prices on games by changing your location. There's no guarantee of this, but if you hear a tip-off about the next AAA title going for cheap in, say, Argentina, all you need to do is hop on your VPN for gaming and check it out.
What makes the best gaming VPN?
If you’re planning on using your chosen service as a gaming VPN, speed will be a priority – but privacy shouldn't take a back seat. The best gaming VPN today is ExpressVPN, thanks to its excellent speeds, low ping times, plus powerful privacy features and simple apps for all sorts of devices. That's a winning combination.
If you want to access geo-blocked games or play on different regional servers, making sure your VPN has a wide network is essential. Again, ExpressVPN excels here with over 3,000 servers in 94 countries, and with an excellent app for routers as well as its dedicated Aircove router, you can evade throttling on your PlayStation, Xbox, Switch, or any other device you connect to the web.
Below we'll explore more about why we think ExpressVPN is the best gaming VPN on the market, and we’ll also look at its closest competitors to see which is the best fit for you.
1. ExpressVPN – the best VPN for gaming (opens in new tab)
For gamers looking to max out connections and avoid lag and ISP throttling, ExpressVPN is the top VPN for the job. Its speeds are great, but its reliability is unparalleled, and once it's switched on you'll forget it's even there. Plus, now you can claim three free months on a 12-month plan.
2. NordVPN – the biggest name is super secure (opens in new tab)
You're probably no stranger to NordVPN – your favorite streamer might even plug the service at the start of their videos. Thankfully Nord genuinely is a great gaming VPN that now delivers excellent speeds, and with a 30-day money-back guarantee it's certainly worth considering.
3. Surfshark – the best-value VPN on the market (opens in new tab)
If Express and Nord are just a little too pricey, then you'll want to check out Surfshark. For less than $2.50 a month, you'll get fully featured VPN cover and unlimited connections so you can install the app on every one of your devices – as well as two months free!
The five best gaming VPNs today(opens in new tab)
We're not surprised that ExpressVPN performs better than any other service when it comes to being a gaming VPN – it tops loads of our other guides, and again it's knocked it out the park.
Most importantly, Express delivers excellent speeds so you won't see yourself lagging – and if your ISP delivers regular speeds of around 100-200MB, it's unlikely you'll notice any change at all. In our testing it topped out at a very respectable 560Mbps on a 1Gbps line, which is more than fast enough to 360 no-scope n00bs (how do you do, fellow kids).
ExpressVPN also provides a dedicated router VPN app, which means you'll be able to avoid throttling and stay secure even on consoles, which don't natively support VPNs – there's no special treatment for the PC gamer here. Plus, while it doesn't offer encryption, Express's MediaStreamer Smart DNS tool will allow you to switch locations on your PlayStation or Xbox to watch geo-blocked content.
Outside of gaming you'll also be able to unblock pretty much any regional Netflix library, as well as access restricted sites like BBC iPlayer in the States. Plus, if you ever have any issues with the service, the 24/7 live chat will be able to sort you out in minutes.
If we had to find a negative, it'd be that Express only offers five simultaneous connections per plan. However, if you install one of those on your router, any device connected to that will be covered – then you can install the other four on phones and laptops you take away from home.
Overall, there's not a service that can challenge ExpressVPN today. If you're looking for a gaming VPN that can help you avoid throttling, keep you safe from hackers and trackers, and unblock streaming media too, ExpressVPN should be at the top of your list.
Get 3 months FREE of the best gaming VPN (opens in new tab)
Blistering speeds plus excellent privacy equals the best gaming VPN on the market. And, Tom's Guide readers can claim three months FREE, working out at 15 months for the price of 12. Not happy with the service? Just request a guaranteed refund within 30-days for your money back, no questions asked.
As the most famous VPN around, you'd expect NordVPN to work great as a gaming VPN – and you'd be right.
Our NordVPN review found the Panama-based provider delivered some of the fastest speeds we've tested, and you'll have a network of over 5,500 servers in 60 countries to pick from. That means no matter where you are, you're pretty much guaranteed a connection that will work great on your regular internet line.
Previously, NordVPN suffered from slightly unreliable speeds, but in our last testing it proved to be much more reliable, and it's one of the very fastest on the market, topping out at a blistering 820Mbps.
Nord's apps are very stable, meaning you won't be going back and forth to check on it, and you can also set it up on a router to cover your consoles. Plus, streaming support is strong so you'll be able to watch pretty much whatever you want, wherever you are. However, unlike ExpressVPN, Nord doesn't offer a dedicated router app, so setup can be tricky.
Although not quite as easy to use or reliable as ExpressVPN, it's still a close match and Nord's definitely worth considering.
Sign up now on the NordVPN website (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
Surfshark hasn't historically been as fast as NordVPN or ExpressVPN, but in our last round of testing it came out ahead of both – in fact, it's the fastest VPN we've ever tested, topping out at 950Mbps!
Its network of 3,200 servers is ample, but the biggest draw is the combination of unlimited connections plus a sub-$2.50 price tag. Both are almost unheard of in the VPN industry, and that combination is absolutely unbeatable. Surfshark is simply the best way to get a gaming VPN on the cheap.
No, the apps don't have quite as much configuration as others, and yes, the support system is marginally slower, but if you're happy to stick with the recommended settings, evade throttling, access tons of Netflix libraries and more, then this is the best-value way to do it.
Sign up now on the Surfshark website to sign up (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
In our CyberGhost VPN review, the Romanian provider performed admirably, and is a safe bet when it comes to anything that requires a swift connection – not least as a gaming VPN.
Cyber Ghost isn't just great for gaming, though. There are a number of useful features in-app like server load (great for gamers), Smart Rules, which starts the VPN when a particular app is launched, and a good kill switch. However, we do miss the inclusion of desktop notifications to tell you when you've connected and disconnected.
There are a couple of usability issues we came across, though. First of all, although CyberGhost permits 7 devices to be used on any single plan, you have to register these devices. You need to unregister one to add any above 7, whereas with other services you can just log out on a device.
It's also worth noting the CyberGhost's support site isn't quite up to par with the very best services, but on the whole, CyberGhost is a powerful gaming VPN – and for the price, it's a real bargain.
Sign up now on the CyberGhost website (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
Proton VPN delivers more than just a gaming VPN – it's a seriously private service that's great for streaming, too.
First up, connection speeds are a must, and Proton VPN really excels here. With speeds of up to 670Mbps on WireGuard and a truly impressive 440Mbps when using OpenVPN, whatever you're doing, Proton VPN will be able to keep up. It's not quite as fast as Nord or CyberGhost, but you won't notice in practice.
Outside of gaming, Proton VPN is still remarkably capable. The only rival that unblocks more Netflix libraries is ExpressVPN, and it could also access just about every other streaming site we tested.
In comparison, though, it's also a little more expensive than all but Express – and while it's definitely worth the outlay, this may be a sticking point for some users. Otherwise though, it's one of the very best gaming VPN services on the market. and we highly recommend it.
Sign up now on the Proton VPN website (opens in new tab)
Best gaming VPN FAQ
Why do I need a gaming VPN?
There are a couple of reasons why you might want a gaming VPN.
Firstly, if you find your internet connection fluctuating, that could quite possibly be because your ISP is throttling your connection due to your activity. A VPN helps you avoid this by anonymizing your activity, meaning your ISP can't single you out as someone to throttle.
Secondly, privacy. Anyone is vulnerable, but gamers especially experience DDoS attacks and run a higher risk of being hacked. A VPN can protect anyone – not just gamers – from a whole load of the inherent risks on the web, plus it'll stop Google tracking you, too.
Is it legal to use a VPN for gaming?
Simple answer: yes.
However, what you use your gaming VPN for might not be – remember that while it may make illicit activities possible or easier, it does not make them legal.
If you're using your VPN to spoof your location and buy games at a lower price, that's probably against the developer or distributor's Ts&Cs, and if you're caught you may have your account suspended or worse.
But, if you're just using it to make sure your ISP isn't throttling you, you don't have anything to worry about.
Will a VPN increase my ping?
This is a tricky one. Compared to your standard connection at peak speeds, a VPN is likely to slightly increase your ping – but, if you're very near one of your VPN's servers it could possibly decrease it if you're lucky.
Really, though, what you're using a gaming VPN for is to stabilize and make your connection more reliable. So, on your regular connection you might peak at a 10ms ping, but when you're being throttled that might increase to a difficult-to-manage 300ms.
By using the best gaming VPN, you can make sure your ping will stay at a usable speed – perhaps 20ms or better if you're used to 10ms – but you can be sure that it will stay that way for as long as you play.
To learn more about this, see how to use a VPN to speed up your internet.
What should a gaming VPN have?
The most important feature of any gaming VPN is excellent connection speeds. You'll want to be able to get as close as possible to your regular connection speeds as possible, so having a speedy VPN is a good start.
Then, you should also ensure that your gaming VPN has excellent privacy credentials. While it might not be top of your priority list, seeing as so many services deliver excellent speeds as well as great security, there's really no reason to sacrifice either.
Finally, do your research and make sure that your chosen service is reliable – it's not good if your VPN will be constantly cutting out, and if it has a kill switch activated you'll see your whole connection die in this situation.