Disclosure: Top10VPN is editorially independent. We may earn commissions if you buy a VPN through links on our site.

Best VPN for Gaming in 2021

Illustration of games console controller
Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN

Simon is a recognized world expert in VPNs. He's tested hundreds of VPN services and his research has featured on the BBC, The New York Times, CNet and more. Read full bio

The best VPNs for online gaming easily bypass IP bans and geo-restricted online games. They also protect you against ISP throttling, and DDoS attacks on your IP address.

We tested 69 VPN services on our test computers, smartphones, and games consoles to find the best VPNs for playing video games online lag-free.

The five best VPNs for gaming in 2021 are:

  1. ExpressVPN: Very fast VPN servers in 90 countries and a Smart DNS tool. Read summary
  2. NordVPN: Extremely quick yet affordable VPN with Smart DNS functionality. Read summary
  3. CyberGhost: Low-priced VPN with Smart DNS and the largest VPN server park. Read summary
  4. Surfshark: Cheap VPN with good speeds and a Smart DNS tool. Read summary
  5. Private Internet Access: Fast same-country speeds plus many security features. Read summary

The five VPNs above recorded very fast speeds, low ping times, and bypassed known geo-blocks. ExpressVPN, Surfshark and CyberGhost even come with Smart DNS, for improved compatibility with games consoles like PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.

The Best Free Gaming VPN

The best free gaming VPN is ProtonVPN Free. It’s nowhere near as fast as the VPNs above, but it has acceptable speeds, it’s secure and, unlike other safe free VPNs, it doesn’t have any data cap.

However, ProtonVPN Free simply can’t compete with ExpressVPN’s thousands of fast worldwide servers, anonymous IP addresses, advanced security tools, and 24/7 live customer support.

Wondering why you should trust our reviews?
See How We Review VPNs.

The Best VPNs for Lag-free Gaming

1. ExpressVPN

The best VPN for online gaming especially on gaming consoles.

  1. Very fast connection speeds
  2. Best recorded ping time of 8ms
  3. Smart DNS feature for gaming consoles
  4. Virtually no-logs with no IP leaks
  5. 24/7 live chat support
  6. 30-day money-back guarantee
  1. Price could be lower on shorter plans
  • Best Price

    $6.67/mo over 15 Months

    See all plans

  • Top Speedi

    88Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    94 countries, 3,000+ servers

  • Compatible with

    • Windows logoWindows
    • Mac logoMac
    • iOS logoiOS
    • Android logoAndroid
    • Linux logoLinux

The Bottom Line

Ranked #1 Best VPN for Gaming

ExpressVPN is one of the fastest and most secure VPN services we’ve tested, and currently our top-rated VPN for online gaming. 

It has 3,000 VPN servers across 94 countries and we recorded very fast same-country download speeds and very low latency. We also experienced fast speeds connecting to far-away servers, once again with very low ping times and no lag.

ExpressVPN is undoubtedly one of the most user-friendly and versatile VPN services with custom apps for Windows, macOS, iOS, Android and FireTV devices. The mobile apps are particularly easy to use, ideal for fans of mobile games like Mobile Legends. 

In addition, ExpressVPN is by far the best VPN to use with gaming consoles like PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, thanks to its MediaStreamer (Smart DNS) feature. All you need to do to connect to an ExpressVPN server is change your gaming console DNS settings, as shown in this step-by-step video.

And if you’re based in a highly censored nation like China or Turkey, ExpressVPN is the most effective VPN at bypassing aggressive online censors.

If you run into difficulties using ExpressVPN, we suggest you contact its 24/7 live support team, which is responsive and knowledgeable. ExpressVPN also comes with a risk-free money-back guarantee of 30 days so you can try it without worrying about losing your money.

For a more in-depth look, read our full ExpressVPN review.

2. NordVPN

A very good alternative VPN for gaming with exceptional speeds.

  1. Superb speeds across all servers
  2. Best recorded ping time of 8ms
  3. Smart DNS functionality
  4. Strict zero-logs policy & no IP leaks
  5. 24/7 live chat support
  6. 30-day refund period
  1. Manual setup required for China
  2. Doesn't accept PayPal payments
  • Best Price

    $3.71/mo over 24 Months

    See all plans

  • Top Speedi

    93Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    59 countries, 5,533 servers

  • Compatible with

    • Windows logoWindows
    • Mac logoMac
    • iOS logoiOS
    • Android logoAndroid
    • Linux logoLinux

The Bottom Line

Ranked #2 Best VPN for Gaming

NordVPN is a very good alternative to ExpressVPN when it comes to gaming. It’s very fast across its network of over 5,000 servers spread across 59 countries, with very low latency.

While NordVPN’s applications are not as eye-pleasing as ExpressVPN’s native software, they work very well on all platforms: Windows, macOS, iOS and Android. 

You can also use NordVPN’s Smart DNS feature to use the VPN on your PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, or any other gaming console that allows to change its DNS settings. Using Smart DNS is by far the easiest way to install a VPN on gaming console, and NordVPN has dedicated how-to guides on this.

Similarly to ExpressVPN, NordVPN can work in high-censorship countries like China or the UAE, although to get the VPN working you may need to set it up manually. It’s certainly not as smooth an experience as using ExpressVPN if you’re in these locations.

If you ever need help, NordVPN’s 24/7 live chat support is prompt and helpful. And if you’re not happy with the VPN service, you can always ask for a refund within 30 days of signing up.

All in all, NordVPN is very good alternative to ExpressVPN for gaming with a VPN, and it does come at a cheaper monthly price, with a multi-year subscription plan.

For a more in-depth look, read our full NordVPN review.

3. CyberGhost VPN

Fast 'budget' VPN with Smart DNS ideal for PS4 and Xbox One gaming.

  1. Fast same-country download speeds
  2. Ping times as low as 14ms
  3. My Smart DNS tool for gaming consoles
  4. Virtually no-logs policy & no IP leaks
  5. Highest number of servers: 6,400
  6. 45-day money-back guarantee
  1. Slower long-distance speeds
  2. High latency on some servers
  3. Won't work in high censorship countries
  4. Doesn’t work with Chromebook
  • Best Price

    $2.75/mo over 3 years

    See all plans

  • Top Speedi

    89Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    90 countries, 6,700+ servers

  • Compatible with

    • Windows logoWindows
    • Mac logoMac
    • iOS logoiOS
    • Android logoAndroid
    • Linux logoLinux

The Bottom Line

Ranked #3 Best VPN for Gaming

CyberGhost is a great gaming VPN for people on a budget, but this takes nothing away from its quality as a premium VPN.

While ExpressVPN and NordVPN are faster, CyberGhost is also fast particularly across shorter distances. In fact, there was only a minimal drop off in speed when we connected to a nearby server. However, latency is pretty high at 14ms.

CyberGhost’s server park is very extensive, with over 6,400 secure servers in 90 countries. That’s currently the highest number of servers on offer by any VPN provider. However, we did experience some higher than ideal latency on a few servers, particularly on longer distance connections.

Just like ExpressVPN, CyberGhost VPN also comes with its own Smart DNS funcionality. Its My Smart DNS feature allows you to connect to CyberGhost’s servers on your gaming console by simply adjusting your DNS settings.

Unfortunately, CyberGhost has one big issue: if you’re currently located or travelling to a high censorship country like China, CyberGhost is unlikely to work and you should use ExpressVPN instead.

Thankfully, its generous 45-day money-back guarantee means you can thoroughly test CyberGhost before fully committing.

For a more in-depth look, read our full CyberGhost VPN review.

4. Surfshark VPN

A cheap VPN with Smart DNS and easy to use apps.

  1. Fast same-country download speeds
  2. Lowest recording ping time of 14ms
  3. Smart DNS works with gaming consoles
  4. Strict zero-logs policy & no IP leaks
  5. 24/7 live chat support
  6. 30-day money-back guarantee
  1. Slower long-distance speeds
  2. Time to connect can lag
  • Best Price

    $2.49/mo over 24 months

    See all plans

  • Top Speedi

    85Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    66 countries, 3,200+ servers

  • Compatible with

    • Windows logoWindows
    • Mac logoMac
    • iOS logoiOS
    • Android logoAndroid
    • Linux logoLinux

The Bottom Line

Ranked #4 Best VPN for Gaming

Surfshark is a good VPN for gaming, and its speeds have been on the increase, which is critical for optimized online gaming. While it’s still not as fast as NordVPN, especially over long-distances, and its latency is rather high, the recent improvements in this area are a good sign.

Just like its rivals above, Surfshark VPN has a Smart DNS feature for optimal use on gaming consoles. Also, Surfshark’s native applications are user-friendly and a good choice for VPN beginners.

What’s also good for VPN newbies is the quality of Surfshark’s 24/7 live customer support, which has always been helpful when called upon.

Undoubtedly, one of the key advantages of Surfshark is its price point. While it’s not as good for gaming as ExpressVPN or NordVPN, Surfshark is significantly cheaper than both at the moment. For gamers on a tight budget, this can be a deciding factor.

For a more in-depth look, read our full Surfshark VPN review.

5. Private Internet Access

The fastest VPN we've tested with a wide range of security features.

  1. Excellent speeds worldwide
  2. Average ping time of 13ms
  3. No logs & no IP address leaks
  4. Revamped apps for popular devices
  5. 24/7 live chat support
  6. 30-day money-back guarantee
  1. No SmartDNS functionality
  2. Doesn't work consistently in China
  • Best Price

    $2.69/mo over 26 months

    See all plans

  • Top Speedi

    89Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    74 countries, 12,204 servers

  • Compatible with

    • Windows logoWindows
    • Mac logoMac
    • iOS logoiOS
    • Android logoAndroid
    • Linux logoLinux

The Bottom Line

Ranked #5 Best VPN for Gaming

Private Internet Access is a VPN that will deliver top speeds across its entire server network. When connecting to same-country connections we experienced barely any loss of speed. That’s why PIA VPN is our fastest VPN for 2021.

Also, it’s latency is often low although it’s certainly not as low as IPVanish or PrivateVPN’s ping times. Nevertheless, you shouldn’t have many lag problems when gaming with PIA VPN.

Crucially, PIA VPN does come with router-level support so it will work with your PlayStation, Xbox, or Nintendo Switch. However, it is a shame PIA doesn’t have a Smart DNS tool, which is by far the best way to connect a gaming console to a VPN server.

Another drawback of using PIA VPN is that it’s unlikely to work in China – it often can’t beat Chinese web censors. It does work better in other countries like Turkey and the UAE, though.

With a newly upgraded server park of over 3,300 servers across 44 countries, a 30-day refund period and 24/7 live support, PIA is definitely a VPN to consider for your gaming needs.

For a more in-depth look, read our full Private Internet Access review.

Gaming VPN FAQ

Should You Use a VPN for Gaming?

Whether you need a VPN when online gaming or not depends on a multitude of factors. It may not always be necessary, but there are several issues when gaming online without a VPN that you need to be aware of.

Below are the main benefits of using a VPN when playing video games online:

1Protection against DDoS attacks

If you’re into competitive online gaming, like e-sports, a VPN can protect you against DDoS attacks on your IP address. A VPN replaces your true IP address with the anonymous IP address of the VPN server you connect to. This makes it virtually impossible to attack your true IP address.

2Bypassing IP bans

If your IP has been banned from a game, you’ll need a VPN to get a new IP address to bypass the IP ban imposed by the gaming platform.

3Beating Geo-restrictions

Many games, and in-game features, are geo-blocked. That means that you can’t access them depending on where you are. Using a VPN with worldwide servers, you can unlock these games, and access exclusives before they’re released in your country.

4Avoid ISP throttling

If your internet service provider (ISP) throttles your internet connection when you play online, a VPN can mask your traffic and prevent your ISP from slowing down your speed. That’s because your ISP can no longer see that you’re gaming online.

5Reducing latency

If you connect to gaming servers located far away from your physical location, ping time will increase and cause lag. Using a VPN allows you to experiment with connecting from different servers in order to reduce latency.

Sometimes, even your standard internet connection might suffer from increased latency. You may be able to reduce the lag by connecting to a nearby VPN server.

6Bypassing NAT Firewalls

If your Network has a strict NAT firewall you might struggle to maintain a P2P gaming connection. Some games and consoles – the Nintendo Switch for example – rely largely on P2P and won’t work online if you have strict NAT firewall.

A VPN routes your traffic past the firewall, and allows a P2P connection regardless of your router or network’s settings.

If you play very competitive online games like Fortnite, PUBG or League of Legends, we recommend you do so using a VPN. It gives you extra piece of mind, and possibly allows you to access special in-game features only available in specific countries.

How to Install a VPN on Games Consoles

There are several ways to use a VPN with games consoles like PlayStation, Xbox or Nintendo Switch.

These are the best methods for using a VPN on a gaming console:

1Using Smart DNS

By far the easiest way to run a VPN on a gaming console, like a PS4 or an Xbox One, is to use a VPN’s Smart DNS feature, if available. All you need to do is go into the DNS settings of your gaming console and update them with DNS credentials provided by your VPN service.

Many VPN providers don’t come with Smart DNS functionality so we recommend PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo users go with either ExpressVPN, NordVPN, CyberGhost or Surfshark, which all have a Smart DNS feature.

2Using a pre-configured router with VPN

Alternatively, you can connect your games console to a pre-configured, or pre-flashed, VPN router. Selected VPN providers sell pre-flashed routers either directly on their website or via authorized third-parties.

The VPN router will be almost completely set up on arrival. Once you’re in possession of the router, complete the VPN installation following the instructions supplied by your VPN provider.

3Configuring a router to use with VPN

The third option is to install a VPN on your home router yourself. It’s more complicated than buying a pre-flashed router, but it can be cheaper. However, you’ll need a router that has either been configured with an OpenVPN client, or which can be flashed with new firmware.

To see how to set up a VPN on PlayStation, follow our NordVPN and PS4 setup guide

What's the Best Free VPN for Online Gaming?

The best free VPN for gaming is ProtonVPN Free. It’s trustworthy, reasonably fast, and it has no data usage caps. However, it just can’t compare against the speeds of the very best gaming VPNs.

While there are countless free VPNs available, many of them present serious limitations to gamers. Free VPNs often feature minimal server lists and strict data caps. Worse than that, free VPNs can have dangerous privacy and security issues. As such, you should only game online with one of the VPNs we recommend on this page.

If you’ve never used a VPN before, you may want to try either the free version of ProtonVPN, or a limited-time free trial of a paid VPN.

Will a VPN Slow Down My Internet Connection?

Many gamers fear that running a VPN will slow down their internet connection. It’s a valid concern, and even the best VPNs will slightly reduce your internet speed, but this is only by 10% or less on short-distance connections.

It’s worth noting that some internet service providers actively throttle gaming connections, in which case using a VPN can actually speed up your web connection.

The graph below charts the speed of 10 popular VPNs, connecting to nearby servers on a 100Mbps internet connection:

Graph showing our fastest VPN speed test results

As you can see from the graph above, the speed loss suffered is minimal and your gaming experience will be unaffected.

Which VPN Has the Lowest Ping?

When you’re gaming online, the last thing you want is lag. This is especially the case if you’re a competitive gamer, playing fighting games, for example.

In order to have a lag-free gaming experience while using a VPN, you need a service with low latency (also known as ping) and very fast speeds. We’ve taken all this into account when we selected the best gaming VPNs on this page.

Using our automated speed test tool we track the speeds and ping times of 18 of the most popular VPNs 365 days a year. The data is updated every six hours and goes back eight weeks.

You can see the results for the lowest ping VPNs below (we’ve used a New York to New York connection):

VPN Speed Performance Comparison Chart

About the Author


  • Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN

    Simon Migliano

    Simon is a recognized world expert in VPNs. He's tested hundreds of VPN services and his research has featured on the BBC, The New York Times, CNet and more. Read full bio