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Best VPN for Gaming in 2020

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 gaming allow you to bypass IP bans and unlock geo-restricted online games, as well as in-game features. They’ll also protect you against ISP throttling and DDoS attacks.

We tested 69 VPN services on our test computers, smartphones and games consoles to find the ideal VPN for playing video games online. From our latest test results, these are the current five best VPNs for gaming:

  1. ExpressVPN: Vert fast VPN wither servers in 90 countries and Smart DNS funcitonality. Read summary
  2. NordVPN: One of the fastest VPNs with Smart DNS available at an affordable price. Read summary
  3. CyberGhost: Good low-priced option with Smart DNS and the largest VPN server park. Read summary
  4. Surfshark: A very cheap VPN with good speeds and a Smart DNS tool. Read summary
  5. Private Internet Access: Very fast same-country speeds and wide range of security features. Read summary

These five gaming VPNs recorded fast speeds, low ping times, and they bypassed known geo-restrictions. ExpressVPN, Surfshark and CyberGhost even come with Smart DNS functionality, for easier compatibility with gaming consoles like PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.

With thousands of worldwide servers and anonymous IP addresses, 24/7 live customer support and long money-back guarantees, you can game online with piece of mind using any of these gaming VPNs.

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

5 Best VPNs for Online 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

    85Mbps 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, 5,394 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

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

    87Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    90 countries, 6,400+ 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 review.

4. Surfshark

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

    $2.21/mo over 27 months

    See all plans

  • Top Speedi

    85Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    66 countries

  • 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 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

    $2.19/mo over 3 years

    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 2020.

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.

VPNs for Gaming FAQs

What is a VPN?

Diagram showing how users connect to the internet using a VPN

How you connect to the internet using a VPN.

A virtual private network (VPN) is software that encrypts your web traffic and creates a secure connection between your device and the website you’re visiting, or the application you’re opening.

When you run a VPN, your internet connection is routed via a VPN server that assigns you an anonymous IP address. Your true IP location is therefore masked and not visible to websites or apps.

This means a VPN is ideal for gamers who want to access online games early by connecting to other countries. A VPN also provides an extra layer of protection against ISP connection throttling (for heavy gamers), or against DDoS attacks.

Keep reading to learn all the benefits of using a VPN while gaming online.

Do I Really Need a VPN for Gaming?

There are a number of issues associated with gaming online without a VPN. Below are the five main reasons for using a VPN when playing video games online:

1Protection against DDoS attacks

If you’re into competitive online gaming and e-sports, using a VPN can protect you against DDoS attacks by masking your true IP address. This makes it virtually impossible for wannabe hackers to cut off your internet connection and ruin your chances of winning.

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.

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.

How to Install a VPN on Games Consoles

There are several ways to use a VPN with a gaming console, such as a PlayStation, Xbox or Nintendo Switch. We recommend one of the 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.

If you want to know more about methods #2 and #3, We’ve created entire guides dedicated to VPN routers and VPN router setup.

For a step-by-step tutorial on how to set up a VPN on PlayStation, read our in-depth guide to NordVPN and PS4.

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.

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 fast speeds. We’ve taken all this into account when we selected the best VPNs for gaming in November 2020.

Currently, the VPN services with the average lowest ping times according to our Speed Test Tool are Hotspot Shield and IPvanish with 1ms and 2ms repectively on a New York to New York connection.

What's the Best Free VPN for Gaming?

Many of us want to protect ourselves when we are gaming. That’s sensible as you decrease the risk of DDoS attacks. More than that, you can prevent throttling from your ISP. 

However, bear in mind: when it comes to free VPNs, they present serious limitations to the gamer.

Free VPNs often feature minimal server lists and serious data caps. Worse than that, free VPNs often just don’t cut it when it comes to privacy and security. Some are actually more dangerous than not using one at all

Therefore, we highly recommend a paid VPN for the best online gaming experience. However, if you’ve never used a VPN before and want to try one first then see our guides to the best free VPNs, or alternatively our best VPN free trials.

Right now, the best free VPN for gaming is ProtonVPN, primarily because it’s the only trusted VPN that doesn’t have a monthly cap.

What's the Best Gaming VPN for PC?

Illustration of Microsoft Windows laptop computer and desktop computerIf you’re a PC gamer then we have good news. All five VPNs we recommend in this guide have native VPN clients for Windows PCs. What’s more, they all performed very well on our test Lenovo laptops.

Whether you’re playing Fortnite, World of Warcraft, League of Legends, or any other video game online, all the VPNs from our above list will 

ExpressVPN has the most user-friendly VPN for Windows, and is also our top choice VPN for gaming. We also have a guide for the overall best VPNs for Windows PCs that’s worth checking out if you spend a lot of time on your PC.

What's the Best Gaming VPN for Mac?

As with Windows, all of our VPN recommendations above have custom apps for macOS devices.

There are some Mac-exclusive games that you may enjoy playing like European War or Sky Gamblers. The Mac-friendly VPNs on our list are great options for those of you who enjoy these games.

ExpressVPN provides the simplest and most attractive VPN app for Mac, but Private Internet Access and CyberGhost are strong contenders too. 

Best VPN for Xbox One, PS4 & Nintendo Switch

Xbox One

You can easily use a top gaming VPN on your PlayStation, your Xbox, or your Nintendo Switch. As we listed above, there are several ways to set up a VPN on a games console.

All of the VPNs we recommend in this guide are compatible with either Smart DNS support or router installation. simply need to consider which of these VPNs is best for your needs before using it with your games console.

Because Smart DNS functionality is very important, we advise any games console gamer to use either ExpressVPN, NordVPN, CyberGhost or Surfshark.

Best Gaming VPN in China

Illustration Depicting a VPN Circumventing the Great Firewall of ChinaChina puts a lot of restrictions on the web. It’s unsurprising, therefore, that it doesn’t like the idea of Chinese gamers talking and communicating through online video games. 

A VPN bypasses geo-restrictions and undermines what’s called the Great Firewall of China – or the good ones do, at least. 

ExpressVPN is best at beating online censorship in China, which is also why it’s our choice of best VPN for China.

Should I Use a VPN on Fortnite?

Fortnite LogoIf you’re a gamer, you’ve heard of Fortnite. It’s a cultural phenomenon. Fortnite Battle Royale attracted 125 million players in its first 12 months and now has a steady 250 million players playing per year.

But Fortnite’s popularity has lead to some problems.

We undertook research that showed as many as 50% of unofficial Fortnite apps available are loaded with spyware, adware or malware. In other words, they are designed to monitor, track and spy. 

Fortnite has proven to be a privacy and security nightmare. 

It even suffered a data leak due to a login flaw and was a target of a data-stealing malware campaign.

Naturally, we think you should use a VPN when playing Fortnite. It adds layers of security and privacy otherwise not available. It protects you against malware and will go some way to protecting you against these scams, and we also strongly advise you only ever download the game from the official Fortnite website. 

More than this, Fortnite is susceptible to getting banned. It has been banned in China, Jordan and Iraq. Even in the UK, Prince Harry expressed his desire to see the game banned.  

To regain access to Fortnite within censored countries and protect yourself in case your country is next, we recommend ExpressVPN – a reliable service at bypassing censorship and keeping its users secure.

Best Gaming VPN for Steam

Steam is a platform buying, downloading and playing games on PC, Mac, and Linux. Some users wonder whether you can use a VPN with Steam.

This is because Steam has strict download limitations determined by geo-restrictions, just like movies and TV shows on Netflix.

Some users want a gaming VPN to access content otherwise restricted to them. It can also allows you to access content launched earlier in other countries. 

Many report no problems when using a VPN with Steam. The problem is using a VPN is against the Steam Subscriber Agreement – we’ve screenshot the relevant part here:

Using a VPN runs the risk of having your account terminated. We don’t recommend it, and if you do so then it’s at your own risk.

Best Gaming VPN for PUBG

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, popularly known as PUBG, is an almost equally popular online game. In Japan, it is the most popular video game in the country, while the majority of its market sales come from China.

When it comes to PUBG, a VPN is particularly useful. That’s because PUBG has been banned in some countries, including Iraq, Jordan and Nepal as well as parts of India and Indonesia. 

A VPN empowers you to play any online video game you want by bypassing any national or regional online censorship. ExpressVPN is the best VPN at circumventing online censorship, and it’s your best bet if you want a VPN that can work all over the world.

Best Gaming VPN for Overwatch

Overwatch LogoOverwatch is one of the most popular FPS (first-person shooter) video games, and many of our gamer visitors ask: is it worth getting a VPN to play Overwatch?

It’s not uncommon for internet service providers (ISPs) to throttle internet bandwidth when they detect overly extensive data usage. This causes a gamer grief by causing slower internet connections.

Luckily, a VPN can circumvent ISP throttling, since ISPs can’t see what a VPN user is doing online. That means that your ISP won’t know that you’re playing Overwatch online.

Like with all other online video games, ExpressVPN is the best VPN for Overwatch. It’s very fast across the 90 countries it covers, and it comes with outstanding security to protect against DDoS attacks, which is a real advantage for competitive gamers. 

Best Gaming VPN for Mobile Legends

Mobile Legends: Bang Bang is a mobile battle arena game that’s particularly popular in Asia. It was the most-downloaded game on the iPhone in 2017 and there are even competitive tournaments held.

With competitive games when the stakes are high, the risk of DDoS attacks is increased. But not when you have a VPN, which helps protect against this. 

It’s important to note that a VPN is almost sure to increase your ping, sometimes called latency. This leads to lag, which can ruin any online game. 

A small increase isn’t a cause for concern, but just bear in mind that you want a gaming VPN to increase your ping as little as possible. 

In this case, we’d say the best VPN for a game like Mobile Legends is ExpressVPN – it has a low latency across global locations and very fast speeds. 

The mobile app is also very nice and comes with all the same features as the desktop version. ExpressVPN is the perfect VPN for Mobile Legends.

Best VPN for The Elder Scrolls Online (ESO)

The Elder Scrolls OnlineThe Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) is an online multiplayer game, originally released for PC and Mac followed by consoles a year later. It currently has 2.5 million monthly active players. 

Among those 2.5 million playing ESO, many want to access geo-restricted content. Mostly, though, they want to protect their privacy and secure themselves online. 

When you enter the fantasy world of Tamriel, you want to know that your information and privacy remains secure in the real world.

Many question whether the benefits of a VPN is worth it, considering the likelihood of an increasing ping score. However, ESO players report positive results when playing with a VPN, as you can see:

Screenshot of ESO Gamers Response to Using a VPN

Some even report a decrease in ping from their usual average:

Screenshot of ESO Player Response to Using a VPN

We recommend a VPN least likely to add to your ping when playing ESO, like ExpressVPN, IPVanish, or PrivateVPN. 

It has been reported that ESO have servers in Texas, Maryland, and Frankfurt. ExpressVPN has servers in or near all of these locations, making it ideally suited to use when playing ESO. 

It also happens to be our #1 VPN, featuring very fast speeds and reliable connections – great for gamers. 

We have seen at least one testimony suggest that CyberGhost is not a good VPN for ESO, so be cautious if you were interested in this VPN for this purpose. 

It’s definitely worth scrolling up and checking out our list to see which one best suits your Elder Scrolls needs.

About the Author

  • 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