Best Gaming VPN 2018
VPNs, or virtual private networks, have been quite the rage of late. Once solely the domain of tech geeks, VPNs are now seen as versatile tools for online privacy and anonymity for everyone. They gained popularity with average citizens in many parts of the world during popular uprisings, such as the Arab Spring, for allowing people to communicate, browse news, and share opinions online without fear of government monitoring or censorship.
Nowadays, VPNs are being adopted by average consumers all over the world, not just in vulnerable areas. VPN services provide several benefits to consumers, such as; encrypting traffic between you and the VPN, meaning your ISP and government cannot determine what is being sent or received; hiding your true IP address from the websites and services you visit; and granting access to otherwise geo-restricted content, or a way around geo-censorship.
In terms of gamers, VPNs offer several advantages, which we’ll discuss in more detail in the ‘Why Do Gamers Use a VPN?’ section below.
The Best VPNs for Gaming
Now, let’s take a look at some of the best VPNs for gaming. We’ll highlight 7 key gaming VPN providers, and give you an overview of what they offer for gamers.
ExpressVPN is one of the best-known and highly-praised VPNs today, for all purposes. Among VPNs for gamers, ExpressVPN features at the top of nearly everyone’s list. They started the business in 2009, and operate out of the British Virgin Isles, outside the reach of many intelligence agencies and copyright lawyers. At present, ExpressVPN has one of the most extensive networks of servers, with over 2,000 in 148 locations spanning 94 countries.
Their software is easy to use, with apps and clients for all popular Operating Systems. ExpressVPN doesn’t keep logs and uses standard AES-256-bit encryption. Up to 3 devices can be connected simultaneously per account. ExpressVPN is one of the fastest VPN services around. Any VPN for gamers must be fast, and ExpressVPN cuts download speeds by no more than 15% (less in many cases) and adds 20-30 ms to your ping on average.
- Very high-speed network for optimal gaming performance.
- Great customer support including 24/7 live chat.
- Easy-to-use software that doesn’t hog system resources.
- Servers in 94 countries, one of the most diverse networks.
Like ExpressVPN, NordVPN is also a top VPN choice, both in general and as a gaming VPN. The company was founded in 2008 and is based in Panama. It has grown to be one of the most popular VPNs. They have one of the largest server networks, with almost 5,000 spread across 64 countries. NordVPN cares about privacy, too, with one of the best no-logging policies in the business. As one of the best VPNs for gaming, NordVPN offers a generous 6 devices per account.
They also use AES-256-bit encryption, with additional features for even more security if you desire. Speed is pretty good, with an additional ping time of only 30 ms or so like ExpressVPN, but with a slightly larger hit (20-25%) to overall download speed. For most gaming, though, that should make little difference (except perhaps for massive updates/patches).
- One of the largest server networks around.
- No logging, lots of additional privacy and protection options.
- Very easy-to-use software.
- Good to very good speed for gamers.
IPVanish is another top-rated provider for VPN services, including gaming VPN. The company is one of the oldest in the business, founded in 1999, and is based in the US. At present, they boast 1,000+ servers in 60 countries. They keep no logs, there are no bandwidth caps, and they use standard AES-256 encryption. Support could be better and is often slow to respond. However, each account supports up to 10 devices, which is more than many others. Speed is also pretty good, with only 30 ms or so added ping time, and around 15-20% decreases in download speed.
- Good mid-range gaming VPN option in terms of servers/countries.
- On the faster side, comparable with top-tier providers.
- Lots of additional features and frills.
VyprVPN is owned and operated by Golden Frog; a company founded way back in 1994 with the mission of internet privacy. They are based in Switzerland. Currently, VyprVPN has 700 servers in 70 countries. Like all our other VPNs for gamers, they use AES-256-bit encryption and offer apps and clients for most operating systems that are quite easy to use. They do have some logging, though, which can be a turn-off. They offer a 3-device plan and a souped-up 5 device plan with some other benefits. In terms of speed, always the make-or-break for gaming VPNs, VyprVPN isn’t bad, adding only around 40 ms to ping, and reducing download speeds 20-25%.
- Reasonable prices, server counts, and country options.
- Speeds are likewise reasonable.
- Large range of device compatibility.
PureVPN is a provider you don’t hear about that much, though it has been around for a while, founded in 2006 in Hong Kong. While this is an area rich with gamers, it’s not the greatest (due to a political relationship with China) for a VPN service, even a gaming VPN. That said, PureVPN has over 2,000 servers in 140 countries, which is impressive.
They use the standard encryption, and they have apps and clients, along with add-on tools, for all major platforms. They allow up to 5 devices simultaneously. As ever, speed is a major concern, and while the ping time only increases by 30-40 ms in most cases, the download speeds overall are pretty bad, losing close to between 60-75% of total download speed.
- Large server base and one of the most expansive lists of countries available.
- Lots of add-ons and features available.
- Pricing comparable to most other providers on our list.
WindScribe is a Canadian-based company that offers both free VPN options (with bandwidth caps and other limitations), as well as a full, unlimited paid option. Being based in Canada is a bit of a downside for some die-hard privacy folks, but as a VPN for gaming, this should be no major concern. At present, they have around 500 servers in 51 countries. They keep no logs, use AES-256-bit encryption, and a very easy-to-use program.
For serious gamers, the free options won’t likely cut it, so we looked at speed on the paid plan, which adds 80-100 ms to ping times, and cuts overall download speed by close to 50% in most cases. On the plus side, though, you can connect unlimited devices, there are lots of great features available, and their yearly or bi-annual plans offer some of the lowest monthly prices amongst gaming VPNs on our list.
- Free plan, though highly limited, along with unlimited paid plans.
- Very affordable compared to many competitors.
- Up-and-coming server network with several additional features.
The Hide.me service was founded in 2012 and operates out of Malaysia. Like WindScribe, they offer a free VPN option with a bandwidth cap, and also paid plans. They have two kinds of paid plans, which make them somewhat unique. First, there’s a 75 GB/month plan (which should work for most people), that supports 1 device. Then, for those who need more, there’s an unlimited plan that supports up to 5 devices.
Like all the rest of the VPNs on our list, they use AES-256 encryption. Server options are a bit limited, with around 150 in 34 countries. Speed is also somewhat inferior to higher-tier options on our list, which is always a consideration for VPN gaming services. While only adding 30-40 ms ping in most cases, total download speeds get cut by 60-75%, which is a bit of a drag. Still, for gaming, that might not be too bad, as really the ping matters most.
- Variety of free and paid plan options.
- Despite download speed impact, ping impact is not too bad.
- Standard encryption and features.
Why Do Gamers Use a VPN?
Simply put, VPNs for gaming offer several benefits. They can unblock games and content that otherwise may be restricted based on country, copyrights, and so forth. Another advantage is the ability to hide your true IP address and location. Gaming can be serious business, and you never know who you might be playing against, and whether or not they’re crazy and hold a grudge, trying to track you down or hack your system. Finally, gamers can benefit from a gaming VPN by accessing geo-restricted servers, perhaps so as to play with their friends in other countries or play on servers that more closely align with their sleep/wake cycle in different time zones.
What Makes the Best VPN for Gaming?
A good VPN for gaming needs to be secure, reliable, and fast. So much of gaming, even non-competitive gaming, comes down to speed and reaction time. Gamers don’t want to introduce any artificial barriers to their speed, so we mostly looked at how these services impact ping/latency. All use industry-standard encryption, and most have no-logging policies. Therefore, the best are those that combine high speed with multiple servers and countries for geo-unblocking.
Best Gaming VPN 2018 – Summary
Based on all the above, our clear favorites for best gaming VPN are definitely ExpressVPN and NordVPN. Each has their tradeoffs, but for the money, they offer the highest speeds, most diverse servers, reliable service, good jurisdictions, and some of the best ping times available through a VPN. You’ll be safe, secure, private, and speedy – ready to slay the other team, complete your quests, or whatever else you want to do in online gaming!
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