When ranking the best VPNs for Apple TV, we prioritize five key performance attributes. We combine these to calculate an overall Apple TV rating for every VPN.
Here’s a summary of our Apple TV VPN testing process:
To find the best Apple TV VPN, we test for:
- A Smart DNS feature that’s easy to set up.
- How well the VPN integrates with the Apple ecosystem.
- Whether the VPN can stream geo-restricted streaming apps, like US Netflix.
- A native app for routers, so you can switch your Apple TV’s location easily.
- Average download speeds when connected to nearby and far-away servers.
- Fast download speeds for HD streaming.
Here’s a full list of the factors we analyze when looking for the best Apple TV VPN, along with how much of our overall rating they make up:
1. Smart DNS: 25%
Minimum Requirement: A Smart DNS tool available for an additional cost.
We Recommend: An included Smart DNS feature that works with US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and HBO Max.
Using a VPN with Apple TV is more complicated than other streaming devices. Because of this, the best Apple TV VPN has to have good support for easy workarounds, like Smart DNS.
Our highest-ranked Apple TV VPNs offer a Smart DNS tool at no extra cost. The VPNs lower down our recommendations list either don’t include this feature for free, or it doesn’t work consistently.
We also never take a VPN service at its word and test them all on our Apple TV 4K.
For example, we found that CyberGhost’s Smart DNS feature doesn’t work for streaming, even though it claims it works with Netflix and BBC iPlayer.
2. Apple System Integration: 25%
Minimum Requirement: Has native apps for iOS and macOS.
We Recommend: Optimized app for iPad, available on the macOS App Store, has Siri Shortcut support, and widget options.
As an Apple TV user, it’s likely that you’ll also be using an iPhone, iPad, or Mac. To make sure the VPNs we recommend function properly across all your devices, we test how well each VPN integrates with the Apple ecosystem.
For each VPN, we track whether it offers convenient downloads through the Mac App Store, whether its app has been optimized for a large display, and whether it runs natively on Apple’s M1 chip.
We also test whether its iOS app can be automated using Siri Shortcuts, as well as if it offers the option to add a widget to your iPhone or iPad’s home screen.
3. Streaming: 20%
Minimum Requirement: Unblocks US Netflix and BBC iPlayer.
We Recommend: Works with more than 10 Netflix libraries, HBO Max, Disney+, and Amazon Prime Video.
The main benefit of using a VPN with Apple TV is that you can access a lot more TV shows and movies. However, almost every streaming service actively blocks VPNs.
To make sure the VPNs we recommend unblock the most popular streaming apps, we test all of them weekly on our Apple TV 4K. This way, all of our information is kept accurate and up-to-date.
Our tests include Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Disney Plus, Hulu, HBO Max, and more.
4. Router Compatibility: 20%
Minimum Requirement: Can be installed on an internet router with instructional guides available.
We Recommend: A dedicated router app that allows for settings and server location to be easily changed.
Installing a VPN on your router gives your Apple TV the full capability of your VPN service. Unlike with Smart DNS, you can change the server location, hide your IP address, and encrypt your traffic.
We visit each VPN’s website and follow the guide to setting up a VPN on an internet router. We then install it on our Asus RT-AC68U and rank each on its difficulty.
We also look for whether the VPN provides an app for routers. This makes changing settings and server locations much quicker than doing it manually.
5. Speed: 10%
Minimum Requirement: An average download speed of 75Mbps.
We Recommend: An average download speed of 100Mbps.
Every VPN will slow down your internet speed. The best ones will make this difference unnoticeable, though, so you can still stream in HD and 4K. Netflix states that your download speed needs to be 5Mbps for an HD stream and 25Mbps for 4K.
To verify that the VPNs we recommend are the fastest available, we conduct regular speed tests on both local and international connections.
We cap the test connection speed at 100Mbps, to replicate a typical home connection. If a VPN drops below the threshold of 25Mbps on international connections, we no longer recommend it.
This speed threshold ensures that all the VPNs we recommend are well-suited for Apple TV streaming.