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The Best Free & Paid VPNs for Gaming

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Podium Rankings for Best VPN
Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN
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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

You can use a gaming VPN to bypass IP bans, and to access geo-blocked online video games.

A top-rated VPN also protects you against ISP throttling and DDoS attacks on your IP address.

A VPN changes your IP address location, so it also lets you find easier gaming lobbies and avoid skill-based matchmaking (SBMM) on games such as Call of Duty: Warzone and PUBG.

Based on our gaming tests, the best free and paid gaming VPNs are:

  1. ExpressVPN: The overall best VPN for gaming. Read summary or Visit ExpressVPN
  2. NordVPN: The top VPN for mobile gaming. Read summary or Visit NordVPN
  3. Surfshark: Our top VPN choice for console gaming. Read summary or Visit Surfshark
  4. PIA: The best VPN service for PC gaming. Read summary or Visit PIA
  5. Windscribe: The best 100% free VPN for gaming. Read summary or Visit Windscribe

The gaming VPNs we recommend are easy to use and deliver low ping times. In fact, every VPN in this list adds less than 5ms to your latency.

If you’re still unsure about using a VPN when gaming online, learn more about the reasons for using a VPN for gaming later in this article.

Why Trust Top10VPN.com?

We’ve spent thousands of hours testing and reviewing VPNs for gaming using our impartial testing process to recommend the most suitable VPN software for gaming.

Here is an overview of the main gaming VPN testing statistics:

  • Gaming VPNs tested: 68
  • Test devices & consoles: Lenovo T480s, PS5, Xbox One & Nintendo Switch
  • Total hours of testing: 30,000+
  • Weekly speed & FPS tests: 3,000+
  • Largest server network: 29,643

Comparison of the 10 Best Gaming VPNs

Use the table below to compare the top 10 gaming VPNs based on gaming speeds, average ping, and compatibility with games consoles through routers and Smart DNS.

This comparison chart details which VPNs are the fastest for gaming.

Top Gaming VPNs: Summary Test Ratings

The table below compares our favorite five gaming VPNs based on their performance in six important testing categories:

The Best Free & Paid Gaming VPNs of 2022

  1. 1. ExpressVPN: Best Gaming VPN Overall

    A fast VPN with low latency, Smart DNS and a native app for routers.

    Ranked #1 out of 68 VPNs for Gaming
    ExpressVPN's new app on mobile devices
     96% 
    (1,774 user reviews)
    Visit ExpressVPN

    Pros

    • Very low ping (3ms)
    • Apps for routers, PC and mobile
    • Smart DNS for console gamers
    • No IP or DNS leaks
    • 24/7 live chat support
    • 30-day money-back guarantee

    Cons

    • Expensive on short plans
    • Port forwarding only via router

    Overall Gaming Rating: 9.6/10

    This overall rating is calculated using the following six subcategory ratings. To learn more, read our testing methodology.

    • 9.89.8/10
    • 9.59.5/10
    • 9.69.6/10
    • 9.69.6/10
    • 9.59.5/10
    • 8.98.9/10

    ExpressVPN is our top-rated VPN for gaming on all devices. It has a large server network, excellent native applications for mobile and PC gamers, and Smart DNS for console gamers on Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo Switch.

    Our gaming tests measured low ping and a high frame rate when using ExpressVPN.

    The service also offers a dedicated router app, and supports P2P traffic, meaning it will work well with all game types.

    Cheapest Price$6.67/mo over 15 Months See all plans
    Top Download Speedi

    Based on 100Mbps local test connection

    88Mbps
    Servers3,000
    Smart DNSYes
    Countries94
    Logging PolicyAnonymous Server Usage Data
    Support24/7 Live Chat
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. androidAndroid
    3. iosiOS
    4. macosmacOS

    An average ping of 3ms and over 3000 VPN servers

    ExpressVPN’s ping time has remained below 3ms on local connections for several months. Other popular gaming VPNs can often add as much as 20ms.

    The low latency is partly due to the VPN’s Lightway protocol and a network of 3,000 VPN servers across 94 countries.

    The benefit of such a large network is the ability to connect to a VPN server near the servers of the game you’re playing, which reduces latency.

    The VPN’s frame rate per second (FPS) remained strong even over long distances. This is great if you want to play geo-blocked games.

    By changing your virtual location with ExpressVPN, you can also use it to block Twitch Ads.

    Apps for PC & mobile, plus smart DNS for console gamers

    ExpressVPN makes a good choice for gaming because it is user-friendly and versatile.

    The service has native apps for Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and more. All software comes with effective encryption and a simple user interface.

    You can’t install the VPN directly on your Xbox, PlayStation or Nintendo Switch. Thankfully, ExpressVPN has a Smart DNS service called MediaStreamer DNS.

    MediaStreamer isn’t a full VPN, but it spoofs your geo-location to access geo-blocked games on your games consoles.

    Or, you can install ExpressVPN on your home router, or even share a connection from your PC to route your gaming traffic through the VPN network.

    Great for accessing geo-restricted content

    If you’re based in a highly-censored nation like China or Turkey, or you want to access games in countries like South Korea or Japan, ExpressVPN is a strong choice.

    The VPN is very effective at bypassing online censorship, but you’ll need to use the full VPN on your router or install it on your PC.

    If you run into any issues, ExpressVPN has a 24/7 live support team which our tests found both responsive and knowledgeable.

    Moreover, the service’s 30-day risk-free money-back guarantee lets you trial ExpressVPN with peace of mind.

  2. 2. NordVPN: Best for Mobile Gaming

    A low-latency VPN with user-friendly apps for PC, Android, and mobile gamers.

    NordVPN Mobile App Screenshot
     94% 
    (246 user reviews)
    Visit NordVPN

    Pros

    • Fast speeds & low ping (4ms)
    • User friendly mobile, PC & router apps
    • Smart DNS functionality
    • Minimal logging policy & no IP leaks
    • 24/7 live chat support
    • 30-day refund period

    Cons

    • PayPal not accepted
    • No port forwarding

    Overall Gaming Rating: 9.3/10

    This overall rating is calculated using the following six subcategory ratings. To learn more, read our testing methodology.

    • 9.69.6/10
    • 8.78.7/10
    • 9.69.6/10
    • 9.59.5/10
    • 8.98.9/10
    • 8.98.9/10

    NordVPN is an excellent VPN for gaming, with a consistently low ping of 4ms.

    We recommend NordVPN for gaming on any platform, but it’s user-friendly iOS and Android apps make it the best VPN for mobile gaming.

    Cheapest Price$3.30/mo over 27 Months See all plans
    Top Download Speedi

    Based on 100Mbps local test connection

    93Mbps
    Servers5,155
    Smart DNSYes
    Countries60
    Logging PolicyNo Logs
    Support24/7 Live Chat
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. androidAndroid
    3. iosiOS
    4. macosmacOS

    Less than 2% speed loss on international connections

    NordVPN is fast on both local and international connections, which is good news if you want to access international content.

    On short-distance NordVPN connections, our tests show a speed loss as low as 2% in terms of download speeds.

    Connecting from the UK to Australia – normally an extremely slow connection – we measured a download speed loss of 40%. From London to New York, we measured a speed drop of just 21%.

    These are both good results, although as a general rule for online gaming you will want to stick to local connections for the smallest effect on speeds.

    Most importantly for gaming, NordVPN’s ping is low. When testing on a local New York connection over the last few months, we’ve never seen it go below 4ms. Based on these tests, it should have very little effect on latency.

    Over 5,000 gaming-optimized servers but no port forwarding

    The NordVPN network includes over 5,000 servers spread across 60 countries.

    A large server network is critical for gaming. It lets you select a server near the gaming servers you’re connecting to, which greatly minimizes latency.

    If you’re playing a game that uses a P2P connection, select a nearby NordVPN P2P-labeled server to keep latency low.

    Sadly, there isn’t a port forwarding option, so you won’t be able to totally optimize your connection.

    SmartDNS and user-friendly native applications

    For console gamers, NordVPN has a smart DNS service that lets you reroute your internet traffic from the settings of your console.

    Smart DNS doesn’t encrypt your traffic like a full VPN, but it reroute your traffic to unblock geo-restricted games.

    Alternatively, you can install NordVPN on a router to fully encrypt your console traffic.

    Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android gamers can use native apps with a full suite of features, including obfuscation and a kill switch.

    All the apps include a choice between the WireGuard, IKEv2, and OpenVPN protocols, as well as AES-256 encryption.

  3. 3. Surfshark: Best for Games Consoles

    A cheap VPN with low ping times and smart DNS for easy setup on consoles.

    Surfshark app
     82% 
    (121 user reviews)
    Visit Surfshark

    Pros

    • Fast speeds & good ping (5ms)
    • Smart DNS for games consoles
    • Zero-logs policy & no IP leaks
    • 24/7 live chat support
    • 30-day money back period

    Cons

    • Slower long distance speeds
    • No port forwarding

    Overall Gaming Rating: 9.2/10

    This overall rating is calculated using the following six subcategory ratings. To learn more, read our testing methodology.

    • 9.29.2/10
    • 8.98.9/10
    • 9.69.6/10
    • 9.79.7/10
    • 8.98.9/10
    • 8.78.7/10

    Surfshark is a good value gaming VPN with a low average ping of 5ms. This is absolutely fine for casual gamers, but might be slow for professional players.

    Surfshark is our favorite VPN for PlayStation, Xbox, and other console gamers thanks to the quality of its Smart DNS feature.

    Cheapest Price$2.30/mo over 26 months See all plans
    Top Download Speedi

    Based on 100Mbps local test connection

    85Mbps
    Servers3,200
    Smart DNSYes
    Countries65
    Logging PolicyAnonymous Server Usage Data
    Support24/7 Live Chat
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. androidAndroid
    3. iosiOS
    4. macosmacOS

    65 international VPN server locations

    Surfshark offers servers in 65 countries, with multiple city locations in 12 of those.

    You can choose from countries like the US, Japan, South Korea, and Germany to unlock region-restricted gaming content, or to get the best speeds possible.

    If you’re playing a P2P-based game, you’ll need to connect to one of Surfshark’s many P2P servers.

    Optimized for console gaming and streaming

    Surfshark has a Smart DNS service available for games consoles, letting you reroute the traffic of the console itself, rather than having to install the VPN on a router.

    Smart DNS makes it much easier to play geo-blocked online games such as regional events or local betas.

    You can also spoof your location to unblock US Netflix and HBO Max directly from your games console.

    Quality apps for most devices, including routers

    For better security and privacy than Smart DNS, you’ll want to use one of Surfshark’s easy-to-use apps.

    They’re available for Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS, and include a kill switch, AES-256 encryption and trusted WireGuard and OpenVPN protocols.

    If you don’t want to change your device’s DNS setting, you can also install Surfshark on a router for gaming.

  4. 4. PIA VPN: Best for PC Gaming

    An advanced VPN with port forwarding for optimized gaming on PCs.

    Private Internet Access
     86% 
    (29 user reviews)
    Visit PIA VPN

    Pros

    • Excellent speeds worldwide
    • Average ping time of 13ms
    • No logs & no IP address leaks
    • Revamped apps for popular devices
    • 24/7 live chat support
    • 30-day money-back guarantee

    Cons

    • Smart DNS tool needs work

    Overall Gaming Rating: 8.6/10

    This overall rating is calculated using the following six subcategory ratings. To learn more, read our testing methodology.

    • 9.69.6/10
    • 9.29.2/10
    • 0.10.1/10
    • 9.99.9/10
    • 9.69.6/10
    • 9.59.5/10

    Private Internet Access (PIA) is an advanced gaming VPN with low ping. Its apps use the industry-leading WireGuard VPN protocol with AES encryption.

    PIA is also the only top gaming VPN with a port forwarding setting on its Windows software, making it the top-rated VPN for PC gaming.

    Cheapest Price$2.08/mo over 26 months See all plans
    Top Download Speedi

    Based on 100Mbps local test connection

    98Mbps
    Servers29,643
    Countries78
    Logging PolicyNo Logs
    Support24/7 Live Chat
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. androidAndroid
    3. iosiOS
    4. macosmacOS

    Supports port forwarding and P2P traffic

    PIA supports port forwarding on windows, which is an increasingly rare feature in most top VPNs.

    This feature gives you the ability to manually optimize your connection for minimal lag, which is useful for PC gamers.

    P2P traffic is also supported on all servers, which makes it a good choice for online games without central servers.

    Apps for most devices but Smart DNS is unreliable

    PIA has apps for PC, macOS, iOS and Android. They’re all well-designed, but some users may find them more complicated to use than apps from competitors.

    While there is a Smart DNS tool available, it doesn’t work very well. Namely, it doesn’t unblock popular streaming apps.

    At least, PIA come with support for routers, so you can still use the VPN on PlayStation, Xbox, or Nintendo consoles if necessary.

    78 VPN server locations with 29,643 individual servers

    PIA has 29,643 VPN servers in 78 countries. It’s the largest VPN network available.

    Such a range of servers gives PIA’s global users the ability to connect to a close-by server and minimize lag, wherever they are.

    Server coverage in Asia, Europe, and North America is very strong, but like many VPNs, coverage of Africa and South America is weaker.

    Low ping times for smoother gaming

    Our most recent speed tests of Private Internet Access on a New York VPN server measured a ping of just 4ms.

    The additional latency when you game with PIA will therefore be very small. This low ping is thanks in part to PIA’s large global server network.

  5. 5. Windscribe: Best Free Gaming VPN

    The top-rated free VPN for gaming with low ping, P2P support and 10GB of data.

    Windscribe mobile screenshots
     100% 
    (3 user reviews)
    Visit Windscribe

    Pros

    • Very good ping (4ms)
    • 10GB free data allowance
    • Apps for mobile, PC and router
    • Minimal logging policy & no IP leaks
    • P2P traffic allowed on almost every server

    Cons

    • Limited server network
    • No port forwarding on free plan
    • No smart DNS

    Overall Gaming Rating: 8.3/10

    This overall rating is calculated using the following six subcategory ratings. To learn more, read our testing methodology.

    • 9.69.6/10
    • 8.58.5/10
    • 0.10.1/10
    • 9.59.5/10
    • 8.78.7/10
    • 8.78.7/10

    Based on the latest tests, Windscribe is the best free VPN for gaming.

    Unlike most free VPNs it uses AES-256 encryption, has fast speeds, and it allows P2P traffic, which means all online games will work over its VPN servers.

    Cheapest PriceFree
    Top Download Speedi

    Based on 100Mbps local test connection

    54Mbps
    Servers10
    Smart DNSNo
    Countries10
    Logging PolicyAnonymous Server Usage Data
    SupportEmail & Online Resources Only
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. androidAndroid
    3. iosiOS
    4. macosmacOS

    Variable download speeds, but low ping time

    Windscribe Free isn’t as fast as the paid version of Windscribe, or any other paid gaming VPN we recommend.

    We recorded a mediocre average download speed of 54Mbps on a 100Mbps local connections (a speed loss of 46%). This is compared to a speed loss of just 5% on the paid version.

    Despite the underwhelming download speeds, Windscribe Free’s ping time is consistently around 4ms, which is very low.

    In other words, files may take a long time to download with Windscribe, but you’re unlikely to experience lag when gaming.

    There are only 10 server locations to choose from, which is good for a free VPN, but significantly less than its paid competitors.

    While there are plenty of servers in Europe and North America, there is only one location in Asia, and none in South America or Africa. In these continents you’ll experience even slower speeds.

    Secure apps for popular devices and routers

    Windscribe Free has native applications for iOS, Android, macOS, and Windows.

    You can also install the VPN on a router, which makes it a viable option for console gamers, too.

    All applications come with a kill switch, and we’ve never detected an IP or DNS leak in our tests.

    The VPN uses the IKEv2 VPN protocol by default, which works particularly well on mobile.

    The 10GB data cap will be limiting on any of these devices, though.

    Smart DNS and live customer support missing

    There is currently no smart DNS feature available on either version of Windscribe.

    Furthermore, there is no live customer support either, but there are online guides, FAQs, and a chatbot service.

Which Gaming VPNs Have the Lowest Ping?

Ping or ‘latency’ refers to the time it takes in milliseconds (ms) for data to be transmitted from your device to another server and back again.

Having low latency is a key attribute of a good gaming VPN. It will reduce the amount of lag you experience online.

However, VPNs with fast download speeds do not always have low ping.

Based on our test results, ExpressVPN and Windscribe are the two gaming VPNs with the lowest ping. Over the past eight weeks, they recorded an average ping of roughly 2ms.

In comparison, CyberGhost has a high ping of up to 20ms.

The graph below displays the results of our automatic ping tests over the last eight weeks, on a New York to New York VPN connection:

VPN Speed Performance Comparison Chart

Why Do You Need a VPN for Gaming?

There are many reasons for using a VPN for gaming. In this section we go over why many gamers choose to game online with a VPN.

You can use a gaming VPN to:

  • Access region-restricted gaming content
  • Avoid SBMM and find easy lobbies
  • Stream geo-blocked movies and TV shows
  • Prevent DDoS attacks
  • Bypass IP bans
  • Avoiding ISP throttling
  • Bypass local firewalls or content filters

While a VPN offers many advantages for gamers, we must point out that a VPN is unlikely to speed up your internet connection.

However, the top-rated gaming VPNs have minimal impact on your latency and connection speeds.

Moreover, if your ISP is slowing (throttling) your internet connection, using a VPN can improve the speed and stability of your connection.

Below is a more detailed list of the reasons for using a VPN when gaming online:

1. Bypass Geo-Restrictions

Using a VPN with worldwide servers allows you to access exclusive gaming content outside of your geographical location.

Many online games include region-specific servers, events, and stores. Other games are only available in certain countries. Without a VPN or a proxy, you can’t access all these features from your home country.

2. Avoid Skill-based Matchmaking

Popular games like Call of Duty: Warzone and PUBG implement a system known as Skill-based Matchmaking (SBMM).

The system determines a player’s skill level and matches them with similarly-skilled players.

By connecting to a server abroad, some games will favor a better connection over the SBMM. As a result, you can play in much easier lobbies and achieve better ratings.

3. Avoid ISP throttling

Sometimes ISPs throttle your internet connection when you’re gaming. ISPs do this because you’re engaged in a high-bandwidth activity, or because of your geographic location.

If this is happening to you, a VPN will hide your activity and location from your ISP, preventing it from throttling your connection.

4. Bypass IP bans

Some online games ban users based on their IP address. If your IP address is blocked, a VPN can help you get around this ban.

A VPN will hide your banned IP address from the game server, and give you a new IP address, instead.

Using a VPN won’t bypass email address or account-related bans, though.

5. Bypass 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 a strict NAT firewall.

You can change your strict NAT Type by connecting a VPN to a Windows 10 hotspot. This permits a P2P connection regardless of your router or network settings.

6. Protect against DDoS attacks

If you’re into competitive online gaming or e-sports, a VPN can protect you against distributed denial of service (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.

7. Stream region-restricted movies and TV shows

Modern video game consoles like the PS4, PS5, and Xbox One provide access to content platforms like Netflix, DAZN, and HBO.

These game consoles can therefore be used in place of a smart TV.

A VPN lets you change your IP and DNS location to unlock video content from other countries. If this is why you want a VPN, see our list of the best VPNs for streaming.

How to Install a VPN on PlayStation and Xbox

Installing a VPN on a games console isn’t always as straightforward as it is on other devices.

However, there are several options available for consoles like the PlayStation, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.

Sadly, you can’t usually set a VPN up directly onto the games console. Instead, you have to use Smart DNS or install the VPN on your home router.

1. Use Smart DNS

Using Smart DNS is by far the easiest way to use a VPN on a games console like a PS4, PS5, or an Xbox Series X.

Smart DNS is a feature that redirects your DNS requests through servers in a different country. It lets you access content usually unavailable in your country.

Surfshark's Smart DNS tool

Surfshark VPN offers a Smart DNS feature for games consoles.

To use Smart DNS, subscribe to a VPN that supports Smart DNS, and update your device’s DNS settings with the DNS credentials of your chosen VPN server.

Many VPN services don’t have Smart DNS functionality, though. We recommend PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo users to use either ExpressVPN, NordVPN, or Surfshark, which all have a Smart DNS tool.

You can find full installation instructions in our VPN setup guides, or in our guide to using NordVPN on PS4.

2. Use a Pre-Configured VPN Router

You can also connect your console to a pre-configured VPN router.

Selected VPN services 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’ve received the router, complete the setup by following the instructions supplied.

3. Manually Configure a VPN Router

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.

To do this, you’ll need a router that has been configured with an OpenVPN client, or can be flashed with new firmware.

You can find full installation instructions in our VPN router setup guide.

How We Test the Best VPNs for Gaming

We test every gaming VPN to see how it performs in six key categories. Each of these categories carries a weighting that corresponds to its importance.

These subcategory ratings are then combined to calculate a unique overall gaming rating for each VPN service.

For gaming VPNs specifically, we test for:

  • Low ping on local connections
  • Fast download and upload speeds
  • Smart DNS for console gaming
  • A large, diverse server network
  • P2P traffic and port forwarding support
  • Minimal logging policy
  • No leaks or connection issues
  • Native apps for major platforms and router compatibility

We test all VPNs on a list of popular online games to make sure they actually work in practice. This list includes Fortnite, Warzone, PUBG, CS:GO, League of Legends, and more.

Here’s a more detailed list of the six key testing categories, along with how much of the overall gaming rating they make up:

1. Ping: 50%

Minimum Requirement: An average ping time of 10ms or less.
We Recommend: An average ping time of 5ms or less.

‘Ping’ refers to the time it takes in milliseconds (ms) for data to be sent from your device to a third-party server and back again.

Having a low ping time or ‘latency’ is the most important attribute for a top gaming VPN, as it will reduce the amount of lag you experience while playing.

Using a VPN almost always worsens your ping. We test every VPN using both automated and manual speed tests to make sure the services we recommend add as little latency to your connection as possible.

We also take upload and download speeds into account; the higher the average speed, the higher the rating.

2. Server Network: 20%

Minimum Requirement: A large number of servers in several global locations.
We Recommend: Thousands of VPN servers in a wide range of global locations.

A large network of VPN servers in a diverse range of locations is the second most important attribute of a top gaming VPN.

A good server network increases the likelihood of finding a VPN server near to the gaming server you’re connecting to, which will minimize latency.

Having an evenly-distributed network of servers near you will always result in lower ping.

Worldwide servers are also important for accessing exclusive games, events, and content that are restricted to specific countries.

3. Smart DNS: 10%

Minimum Requirement: Smart DNS is not a minimum requirement.
We Recommend: VPN services that come with Smart DNS functionality.

Using a VPN service with Smart DNS is the easiest way to get the benefits of a VPN on games consoles like the Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo Switch.

This feature lets you use the VPN service’s DNS servers to reroute the web traffic of the console through another country.

Though it doesn’t encrypt your data, Smart DNS is useful for accessing region-restricted content on consoles without installing a VPN on your router.

Most VPN services don’t come with Smart DNS, so we reward those that come with the feature by default.

4. Logging Policy: 10%

Minimum Requirement: The VPN only collects anonymised usage logs.
We Recommend: A clear, strictly no-logs privacy policy.

Privacy is important for any VPN, not just those for gaming. If you install a gaming VPN on Android, PC, or any other device, it’s likely you’ll use it for web browsing as well as gaming.

For this reason, we factor each VPN’s logging policy into our overall rating. Those that collect the smallest amount of user data are rewarded, while those that collect identifying or unnecessary information are penalised.

5. P2P Functionality: 5%

Minimum Requirement: Support for P2P traffic on some servers.
We Recommend: Full P2P support across all servers.

Peer-to-Peer (P2P) functionality is an under-appreciated aspect of any top VPN for gaming.

Some games and consoles – the Nintendo Switch for example – rely largely on P2P connections and won’t work online if you have a strict NAT firewall.

This is mainly true for games without central servers, where a P2P connection is required to connect you to other players.

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

The top-rated gaming VPNs allow P2P traffic on all servers, which means they’ll work well with all online game types.

We reward the services that make it easy to find low-latency P2P servers in any location.

6. Additional Features: 5%

Minimum Requirement: AES-256 encryption and OpenVPN.
We Recommend: All of the above plus port forwarding and 24/7 live chat.

Finally, our gaming rating accounts for overall quality by factoring in basic standards of security, customer support, and additional features.

We use packet-inspection technology to test every VPN for AES encryption, OpenVPN support, and IP or DNS leaks.

For gaming specifically, we reward VPNs that offer additional configuration options, easy installation, and a native application for home routers.

Port forwarding is a rare but related feature we also test for; this gives you the ability to manually optimize your connection for minimal lag and short lobby waits.

We also test customer support by contacting the VPN service through email and live chat, if available. If the support agent responds promptly and helpfully, we’ll rate the VPN higher.

Additional research by Liam Mullally

FAQs About Gaming VPNs

Will a VPN Reduce My Ping?

Ping time or ‘latency’ is the time it takes for data packets to be transmitted from your device to an internet server and back again.

The lower the latency on your connection, the less lag you’ll experience while gaming. However, VPNs with fast speeds do not always have low ping.

In almost all cases a VPN will make your ping worse to some degree, because your data has to travel further. We only recommend VPNs for gaming if they add as little latency as possible.

In very rare situations, a VPN might improve your ping. For example, your ISP or local network administrator could be throttling your connection speeds due to network congestion.

Similarly, if your VPN exit node is close to the gaming server you are connected to, your latency might be reduced.

What’s the Best Free VPN for Gaming?

Our latest tests prove the free version of Windscribe is the best free VPN for gaming.

Windscribe Free offers excellent security and reasonably fast speeds for a free VPN.

The free VPN has very little effect on ping, and it allows P2P traffic. This means it works with games that non-P2P VPNs are not optimized for.

However, its 10GB data limit is likely to run out quickly while gaming.

What Is the Best VPN Protocol for Gaming?

Connection speed and latency are very important factors when picking a VPN protocol for gaming.

Generally, the best VPN protocol for gaming is WireGuard. It adds less latency than OpenVPN without sacrificing security. This varies according to the VPN service you use, though.

In some cases, PPTP may be the fastest protocol, but it isn’t secure and we don’t recommend using it.

Find out how much additional data each VPN protocol uses in our guide to VPN data usage.

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