Best Warzone VPN: how to get easy lobbies by avoiding SBMM

Best Warzone VPN - Warzone Pacific cover art on new map Caldera
(Image credit: Activision)

Modern Warfare 2 is live, and Warzone 2 looms close on the horizon. However, a Warzone VPN is still an essential bit of kit whether you're sticking to the original or jumping ship for the upgrade.

Using the best VPN for Warzone is a super simple way of avoiding COD's skill-based matchmaking (SBMM). The higher your rank, the harder players you'll face – and if you just want to bag wins and boost your K/D, using a VPN to evade SBMM is the perfect solution.

Here, we're going to tell you exactly how to use a Warzone VPN, why you might want to use a VPN with Warzone, and which service we’d recommend to do the job.

Just want the best Warzone VPN? Look no further

1. ExpressVPN – the top VPN for Warzone and gaming (opens in new tab)

1. ExpressVPN – the top VPN for Warzone and gaming (opens in new tab)
With superfast speeds, tons of locations worldwide and a superb support service in case anything goes wrong, ExpressVPN is the best Warzone VPN. You can now bag three months FREE on a 12-month plan, plus a 30-day money-back guarantee to try before you commit.

NordVPN – super secure and excellent for Warzone (opens in new tab)

2. NordVPN – super secure and excellent for Warzone (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 Warzone VPN that delivers excellent speeds, and it also comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

3. Surfshark – cheap, cheerful, and very effective (opens in new tab)

3. Surfshark – cheap, cheerful, and very effective (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 Warzone VPN cover and unlimited connections so you can install the app on every one of your devices.

Why use a VPN with Warzone?

Although neither Infinity Ward nor Activision have ever officially confirmed it, it's quite clear that Warzone uses SBMM. This is most evident for the very strongest players, who often face the same elite names and successful hackers far more often than you’d expect.

However, matchmaking isn’t just based on skill – location and time of day are factors as well. To take advantage of this, a Warzone VPN can virtually change your location, and with a little research, you'll have a better chance of facing easier opponents every time you play.

Plus, even if you don't want to change your location, using a VPN can help evade network throttling. This is when your ISP slows down high-bandwidth users (streamers, torrenters and gamers, usually) by monitoring what they're doing online. A VPN masks this activity from your ISP, meaning they can't make a decision to slow you down.

How to use a Warzone VPN to get easy lobbies

There are a couple of simple things to consider here, and knowing exactly how the game functions is essential for getting an easy lobby.

Matchmaking is partially led by wait time, meaning that if there are fewer players available at any one moment, they'll all be lumped together into the same match rather than making everyone wait for a 'fairer' game. 

By using a Warzone VPN, you can connect to a server in a country with fewer players (this article (opens in new tab) suggests Egypt), which means you'll be thrown into a much more mixed game, rather than a seriously difficult pro lobby.

In combination with this, it's worth considering the time of day you're playing. Evenings are traditionally busy – meaning more players, and more effective SBMM – while mornings are quiet and will deliver easier lobbies

Setting your Warzone VPN to a time zone that is roughly 8 hours ahead of yours is a good rule of thumb. For example, evening in the US is early morning in most of Europe and Africa. Speeds will obviously vary, however, so test a few servers before trying to play a match.

Playstation controller in front of Warzone

(Image credit: Rokas Tenys/Shutterstock)

What makes the best Warzone VPN?

While you want your Warzone VPN to be secure (we never recommend services that aren't), first and foremost you're looking for excellent connection speeds, reliability, and a wide range of locations. There are a number of services that can do the job, but overall we consider ExpressVPN to be the gold standard for Warzone, and as a gaming VPN in general.

If you're playing on a console, you might want to set up a router VPN. ExpressVPN is one of the few providers to offer a dedicated app, although this is possible with most competitors, too.

Below we'll explore more about why ExpressVPN is the best Warzone VPN on the market, and we’ll also look at its closest competitors to see which is the best fit for you.

The five best Warzone VPNs today

Best Warzone VPN ExpressVPN on a variety of devices

(Image credit: ExpressVPN)
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1. ExpressVPN

The best VPN for Warzone on the market

Router support: Yes | Max speeds on 1Gbps line: 560Mbps | Streaming services unblocked: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, YouTube, Hulu | 24/7 customer suppoort: Yes | Simultaneous connections: 5

Good speeds
Super reliable
Simple router setup
Great for streaming too
Only 5 devices at once

In our testing for our ExpressVPN review, the British Virgin Islands-based provider comes out on top in just about every area including as a Warzone VPN, and for gaming in general. 

First up, Express's speedy connection speeds mean you won't be lagging and you'll be able to play to your full potential. In our testing we've rarely, if ever, experienced a connection drop, and over long distances speeds are good and connections are reliable. Plus, with maximum speeds of over 500Mbps, you can be sure that your VPN isn't slowing your down.

If you play on a console, router setup is one of the only ways to get access to VPN connections. ExpressVPN has streamlined the whole procedure by developing an app for routers, and it's far simpler to get up and running than the competition. Plus, its brand-new Aircove router is the first hardware offered by a VPN.

When you're not blasting noobs into oblivion in your new-found easy Warzone lobbies, ExpressVPN also does a great job at unblocking geo-restricted content on Netflix, iPlayer, Prime and more. No matter where you are, you'll be able to watch whatever you want. Perfect if you're heading on holiday or want to watch US-exclusive Netflix shows.

In terms of price, ExpressVPN does come in at the higher end of the scale, and its five-device policy is a little stingy compared to some others, but in this case you really do get what you pay for. The app is simple, effective and, most importantly of all, totally unnoticeable once you've switched it on. What more could you want?

Get 3 months FREE of the best Warzone VPN (opens in new tab)

Get 3 months FREE of the best Warzone VPN (opens in new tab)
Blistering speeds plus excellent privacy equals the best Warzone VPN on the market. And now, Tom's Guide readers can claim 3 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.

Best Warzone VPN NordVPN on a variety of devices

(Image credit: NordVPN)
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2. NordVPN

Privacy-first Warzone VPN

Router support: Yes | Max speeds on 1Gbps line: 820Mbps | Streaming services unblocked: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, YouTube, Hulu | 24/7 customer suppoort: Yes | Simultaneous connections: 6

Max speeds are through the roof
Tons of privacy features
Good for streaming
Router setup is tricky

NordVPN has made a name for itself through aggressive marketing, and your favorite streamer might even plug the brand. As our NordVPN review testifies, though, it's not all hot air, and the service really delivers.

As a Warzone VPN, it hits all the key features – great speeds, reliable connections, simple setup and plenty of server locations worldwide. 

Since the introduction of its WireGuard-based NordLynx protocol, NordVPN has seen a significant upgrade in its maximum speeds, beating even ExpressVPN in some tests. While these speeds aren't repeatable on many of its servers, it's still thoroughly capable and certainly won't slow down your gaming.

Standout features include Onion over VPN (not great for gaming, but super secure), multi-hop server selection and excellent apps that work on tons of devices. However, the apps are a little more complex to use than ExpressVPN, and while this is a small quibble, it's worth making a note of if you prefer a plug-and-play experience.

If you're a console gamer, though, Nord might not be the best bet. It's perfectly possible to set it up on a router, but be aware that ExpressVPN is much simpler.

However, with its great streaming support and excellent speeds, as a Warzone VPN Nord is sure to deliver.

Sign up now on the NordVPN website (opens in new tab)

Best Warzone VPN Surfshark on a range of devices

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3. Surfshark

Excellent Warzone VPN on a budget

Router support: Yes | Max speeds on 1Gbps line: 950Mbps | Streaming services unblocked: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, YouTube, Hulu | 24/7 customer suppoort: Yes | Simultaneous connections: Unlimited

Incredible value
Simple and effective
Great speeds
Unlimited devices
Others have better support

As our favorite cheap VPN, in our Surfshark review we found the Netherlands-based provider to be as good as, if not better than, some of its far more expensive rivals.

Great speeds mean you'll be able to dominate in Warzone without any slow-down, and one-touch connection is a great user-friendly feature.

With over 3,200 servers worldwide, there's plenty to pick from, so selecting an uncrowded server in your desired location shouldn't be an issue.

However, the biggest draw will be that sub-$2.50 price tag. It's perfectly understandable that to gain an advantage in a game that's free to play such as Warzone, you'll want to spend as little money as possible on add-ons – and Surfshark fits the bill perfectly.

While the apps aren't quite as in-depth as Nord and Express (although it's steadily improving in this area), for quick and easy access to easy Warzone lobbies and additional online privacy, Surfshark is an excellent choice for the savvy gamer.
Head over to Surfshark's website to sign up (opens in new tab)

Proton VPN Warzone VPN on a range of devices

(Image credit: ProtonVPN)
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4. Proton VPN

Great speeds and superb privacy

Router support: Yes | Max speeds on 1Gbps line: 510Mbps | Streaming services unblocked: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, YouTube, Hulu | 24/7 customer suppoort: No (live chat available) | Simultaneous connections: 10

Very powerful apps
Privacy-focused service
Unblocks tons of streaming sites
Connections speeds not class-leading

Proton VPN is well known for its free VPN service, but in our last Proton VPN review, we found that the Swiss provider has really upped its game. It's now no longer just a privacy tool, and its range of servers and excellent connection speeds mean it's great as a Warzone VPN, as well as a torrenting VPN and for streaming.

When gaming, you won't find yourself lagging, even if you've chosen to use a server in a different country. That's thanks to Proton VPN's VPN Accelerator (opens in new tab). This sends your traffic through multiple cores of multiple CPUs, effectively supercharging your connections and negating any slow-down you might otherwise feel.

However, in our latest round of testing we saw peaks fall to 510Mbps. That's likely faster than your base connection, but be aware that if you're on a gigabit line, Proton may not be able to keep up.

One of the few downsides to Proton VPN is the fact that the support system isn't quite up there with the best. While the live chat agents are incredibly helpful and knowledgeable, they're not available 24/7. So, if you're fragging out at midnight on Sunday and you have an issue, you might be waiting a few hours for a response.

Overall though, Proton VPN is a seriously powerful VPN for Warzone, and will prove itself useful on and off the battleground.

Sign up now on the Proton VPN website (opens in new tab)

Best Warzone VPN IPVanish on a variety of devices

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5. IPVanish

Detailed apps and great speeds

Router support: Yes | Max speeds on 1Gbps line: 720Mbps | Streaming services unblocked: US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Disney+ | 24/7 customer suppoort: Yes | Simultaneous connections: Unlimited

Good connection speeds
Lots of additional info inc. ping
Distinctive apps
Unlimited connections
Can struggle with unblocking streaming sites

Every gamer knows that maintaining a good ping time is essential for serious success, and out of the providers on this list only IPVanish shows you exactly how each one of its servers is performing. Plus, as a US VPN, a vast amount of Warzone players will be well-served by its useful, in-depth apps.

IPVanish's standout feature is its incredible connection speeds. In our most recent testing it's stayed very close to the top of the table, and at 890Mbps, it's absolutely searing.

A real bonus, though, is that IPVanish offers unlimited simultaneous connections, meaning you can install and use the app on any and all your devices – as a Warzone VPN on your PC, a mobile VPN, and Smart TV VPN and just about anything else. 

Unfortunately, IPVanish isn't the greatest streaming VPN. In our testing, we could unblock US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Disney+, but other Netflix locations were unavailable. We've also seen some small streaming issues in the past, so if this is a deal breaker, we'd go with one of the services further up this page.

However, if you're looking for a VPN with a techy interface plus great speeds, IPVanish could well be a top choice.

Sign up now on the IPVanish's website (opens in new tab)

Best Warzone VPN FAQ

Can you get banned for using a VPN on Warzone?

The jury's out on this one, but in the Warzone T&Cs, there are no explicit rules stating that you can't use a Warzone VPN. This is due to the fact you may be using a VPN to stabilize your connection, and while getting easier lobbies may be a side-effect of this, it's not an offense, per se.

However, if you're a professional or high-profile Warzone player, we'd recommend researching yourself if there's any risk involved.

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. If you're heading to an overseas server your ping will almost certainly increase, but by being smart about your choice, you should be able to minimize this.

Of course, many people are using a Warzone VPN to stabilize and make your connection more reliable and to avoid throttling. 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 a Warzone 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.

Warzone VPN disclaimer

Mo is VPN Editor at Tom's Guide. Day-to-day he oversees VPN, privacy, and cybersecurity content, and also undertakes independent testing of VPN services to ensure his recommendations are accurate and up to date. When he's not getting stuck into the nitty-gritty settings of a VPN you've never heard of, you'll find him working on his Peugeot 205 GTi or watching Peep Show instead of finally putting up those shelves.

  • WarzoneCasual
    Tom's Guide very clearly has not tested using a VPN at all. This is not an article just an advertisement. I have tested ExpressVPN and it has not functioned with Warzone (can log in but no matchmaking). This is straight up false advertising. Tom's Guide has lost all credibility in my book.
  • UKPete
    I personally use the SBMMOFF VPN software, you get a geo fence plus a free VPN clone of NoLag VPN.

    Works for Warzone and Vanguard.