The best VPN for gaming and streaming in 2021

Get an even lower ping and unblock streaming services with a VPN

NordVPN runs on a Windows laptop, showing all the locations you can choose from

You can build the best gaming PC and boost fps, but multiplayer games are still at the whim of your internet connection. Rather than forking out for the best gaming router or threading a long Ethernet cable throughout your house to lower your ping, a VPN might be all you need to speed up your connection.

While virtual private networks are known to slightly lower download speeds, that’s not always the case. Internet service providers often throttle your speeds when you engage in bandwidth-heavy activities such as gaming, but since VPNs hide what you’re doing from prying eyes, ISPs are none the wiser when you’re connected to one. They also keep your IP address private, stopping DDoS attacks, swatting, and other nefarious things salty players on the enemy team have in mind.

Not all VPNs are built equally, however, and free versions just don’t cut it. Fortunately, you can offset the cost of the subscription by using the VPN to hunt for better deals on games that are cheaper in other regions. You’ll get more for your money if you subscribe in bulk, as a year costs less overall than the monthly subscription – and if you’re still not convinced, you can try them out for yourself, as each of our suggestions has a free trial.

Here are the best VPNs for gaming:

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NordVPN

There aren’t many VPN providers that can beat NordVPN, from the 5,300+ servers under its belt to its blazing fast download and upload speeds. On top of that, it uses an adapted WireGuard protocol that it dubs NordLynx, which encrypts your data quicker than other protocols and comes with less of a performance tax.

It’s truly a VPN you can leave running in the background on up to six devices at once, forgetting it’s on with a ping that rivals and sometimes beats your untouched connection. And with support for Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android, you can use it to protect yourself from being DDoSed in Rainbow Six Siege and relocate yourself in Pokemon Go.

Plus, if you’re quick, you can grab NordVPN’s great summer offer: not only will you get their two-year plan for a whopping 72% off the usual price, but you’ll also get an extra three months for free. Click here to find out more.

NordVPN
Locations & countries 5,352 locations in 59 countries
Services unblocked Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, YouTube
Free trial length 30 days
Simultaneous connections 6
Router support Yes
Price From $3.71 per month
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Surfshark

Surfshark is many things, but one feature stands out more than any other: unlimited connections from a single account. It’s no longer the only VPN service to let you plonk it on any and every device, but it was the first to remove the cap, leading the market in a better direction. Most others have yet to take note, making Surfshark one of the best VPNs for gaming.

Its upload speeds are just shy of NordVPN and it doesn’t quite have as many servers to choose from, but it packs incredible value for money and you’ll still maintain a lean ping. It also unblocks a range of streaming services, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, and Disney+. Check it out with its 30-day money-back guarantee.

Surfshark
Locations 3,200+ servers in 65 countries
Services unblocked Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, YouTube
Free trial length 30 days
Simultaneous connections Unlimited
Router support Yes
Price From $2.49 per month
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ExpressVPN

With a lot of countries to choose from, ExpressVPN is the best service if you’re looking to play with your friends overseas or have your eye on a regional deal that’s otherwise unavailable to you. You’ll even be able to access some games sooner, rather than waiting for the staggered rollout to reach you – much like Call of Duty: Mobile, which was available in Australia three months before anywhere else.

It’s one of the pricier services on this list, but you certainly get what you pay for with 24/7 live chat customer support and quick connections. Few others refresh their IP addresses as frequently as ExpressVPN, too, meaning you’ll pretty much always be able to unblock just about everything in most countries – including Japan. You can always cancel within the first 30 days and you’ll get your money back.

ExpressVPN
Locations 3,000+ servers in 94 countries
Services unblocked Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, YouTube
Free trial length 30 days
Simultaneous connections 5
Router support Yes
Price  From $6.67 per month
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IPVanish

Unlike most other services, IPVanish runs its own network and infrastructure, meaning there are less cogs in the chain and your privacy is pretty much guaranteed. As a gamer, you’ll benefit most from its ability to sort servers by ping, guaranteeing you the fastest connections available, although manually hunting for one can improve ping in certain games.

It’s also the only service on this list to follow in Surfshark’s footsteps by offering unlimited simultaneous connections. To sweeten the deal, IPVanish offers 250GB of SugarSync encrypted storage for new subscribers, and if you’re not satisfied, you can use the 30-day money-back guarantee to get a full refund.

IPVanish
Locations 1,600+ servers in 52 countries
Services unblocked Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, YouTube
Free trial length 30 days
Simultaneous connections Unlimited
Router support Yes
Price  From $2.62 per month
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PureVPN

PureVPN is still going strong since its 2007 debut, racking up more than 6,500 servers to choose from across 140 countries. It regularly accepts audits from third-party services, too, and was most recently certified as a no-logs VPN by KPMG in 2020, keeping your privacy under lock and key.

It’s not quite as fast as its competition, but it’s plenty quick enough for gaming and can support up to ten devices at once. The only real downside is that it doesn’t unblock Amazon Prime Video like the others on this list.

PureVPN
Locations 6,500+ servers in 140+ countries
Services unblocked Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, Hulu, YouTube
Free trial length 7 days
Simultaneous connections 10
Router support Yes, but only under PPTP and OpenVPN
Price From $3.33 per month

What is a VPN?

A virtual private network is a privacy tool that grants you anonymity by feeding your connection through an encrypted tunnel and masking your IP address with one belonging to the VPN company. This makes you appear as though you’re in another country, and allows you to unblock geo-restricted services like Google Stadia and platforms that are sometimes banned like Discord. Only the best VPNs regularly refresh IP addresses so you can continue unblocking services that endeavour to prevent this kind of spoofing, like Hulu and Netflix.

What makes the best VPN for gaming?

There are plenty of factors to consider when choosing the best VPN for gaming, but none are more important than a speedy and stable connection. All our suggestions are fast VPNs that should produce a connection that’s just as quick as when you’re disconnected.

You’ll also want lots of countries to choose from so you can find the best servers and hunt for cheaper games. And while it might not be the highest feature on your priority list, you’ll also want to ensure the service you use is private. We only suggest no-logs VPNs so you don’t leave behind a record of your activities while connected.

Can you use a VPN on PlayStation, Xbox, or Nintendo Switch?

It’s not as straightforward as downloading an application on consoles, as PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo have closed ecosystems. VPN apps are usually only available for Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and Linux.

Netgear's XR500 Nighthawk gaming router sits against a white background

You can use a VPN by wiring your console to the best gaming laptop or PC, however, and booting the software from there. Alternatively, you can use a VPN router to protect all connected devices in your household, from your smartphones and tablets to your consoles and PCs.

Is it legal to use a VPN for gaming?

VPNs are legal to use in most countries, with the only exceptions being Belarus, Iraq, and North Korea. Other countries such as China, Turkey, and Russia heavily restrict VPNs and see their use as a sign of suspicion, so use them with caution in these locations.

While VPNs are legal pretty much everywhere else, what you’re using them for might not be. It’s against the terms and conditions to unblock geo-restricted services like streaming platforms and hop servers in a videogame, but not necessarily illegal, whereas torrenting copyrighted material is against the law in most countries.

Will a VPN increase my ping?

A VPN will only increase your ping if you choose a slow service or select a server that’s far away from the one you’re playing on. There’s a chance a VPN can lower your ping by sending packets through a more direct route, but this depends where the servers are located and is all about trial and error to achieve the best outcome.

Can I use a free VPN?

No VPN is truly free. If you’re not asked for money, you’ll pay with your data instead, as most free VPN services collect and sell your information on. The reliable ones that don’t collect data instead impose bandwidth caps that aren’t suitable for gaming. All the VPNs on this list offer free trials, with no restrictions on bandwidth or server selection, so it’s worth sticking with the premium options.

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