Nathan Landale

The Technology for The Next Generation

The best VPN for gaming in 2024: Expert tested and reviewed
Computer, Gadget & Technology

The best VPN for gaming in 2024: Expert tested and reviewed

Virtual private networks (VPNs) can be invaluable tools for gamers. While few VPNs promote themselves as gamer-first solutions, the top VPNs offer a host of benefits for an affordable price — rapid server speeds, stable connections, a variety of location options, kill switches, and, of course, the ability to mask your IP address and improve your security.

First and foremost, you’ll want to find a VPN that will not impact your gaming experience. The best gaming VPNs will offer a service without lags or ping issues, and will hide your real location from other players who might think it’s funny to launch DDoS attacks or stream snipe — although keep in mind that VPN use may clash with game terms of service. 

Also: The best VPNs for iPhone and iPad: Expert tested

What is the best gaming VPN right now?

Our pick for the best gaming VPN overall is ExpressVPN, followed closely by NordVPN. ExpressVPN’s speed and stability are consistent, and it performs well with low speed loss during intense online gaming sessions.    

Along with other ZDNET authors, I have been testing VPN software for years. Many of us are keen gamers, and we understand what matters most when we analyze VPN responses to online gaming and streams. We’ve researched and compared dozens of VPNs, and when it comes to gaming and streaming, we focus on speed, stability, ping rates, and security. 

Below, you will find our top recommendations for gaming-ready VPNs in 2024.

The best VPNs for gaming in 2024

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Best gaming VPN overall

ExpressVPN is an extremely popular VPN with an exceptionally large global network of servers, along with support for a massive list of devices and platforms. ExpressVPN is fast, and during testing, speed loss was recorded as between 6% and 16%. Due to its consistently good speeds and ping speeds, we consider this one of the best VPNs for gaming purposes. 

Furthermore, ExpressVPN is extremely easy to use and would suit a beginner or experienced user. Either choose the VPN’s smart server or your preferred location and press connect. In addition, this VPN has a kill switch that will protect your privacy should your connection unexpectedly drop.

ExpressVPN’s logging policy is clear in that it doesn’t keep track of a user’s browsing history, destinations, or IP addresses. However, it logs some information it claims is necessary for troubleshooting and technical support. 

Regarding pricing, you can opt for a one-year connection for $6.67/month (three months free), six months for $9.99/month, or one month of access for $12.95.

AlsoOur ExpressVPN review

ExpressVPN features: Simultaneous Connections: Up to 8 devices | Kill Switch: Yes | Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux, Chromebooks (see the full list here) | Logging: No browsing logs, some connection logs | Countries: 105 | Trial/Money-back guarantee: 30 days


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Best gaming VPN for speed

NordVPN is one of the fastest VPNs ZDNET has tested, which makes it a top VPN for all purposes including gaming — especially with recent improvements to its server network and the number of simultaneous connections you can have under one account.

In our most recent tests, NordVPN only reduced speeds by around 7% – 32%, and it maintained fast connection times with solid ping speeds. The speed and performance of NordVPN all helped push it to second place in our best VPNs for gaming list, and the only reason this is not the top contender is that ExpressVPN performed marginally better when I was playing high-resource games.

NordVPN offers a lot beyond just a basic VPN. Not only is it good for gaming, but it supports P2P file sharing, and has a Double VPN feature that adds a second layer of encryption to your connection. Additional features are also available to purchase, including a data breach scanner, password manager, dedicated IP address, and encrypted cloud storage. 

Plans begin at $3.69/month on a two-year plan, with three months of free access. You can try out the service risk-free for 30 days and get a full refund during that time if it’s not a good fit for you.

Also: Our NordVPN review

NordVPN features: Simultaneous Connections: 10 | Kill Switch: Yes | Platforms: Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Android TV, Chrome, Firefox | Logging: None, except billing data | Countries: 111 | Servers: 6200+ | Trial/MBG: 30 day


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Best gaming VPN for value

Surfshark VPN is a great deal at just over two bucks a month for a two-year subscription. It remains one of our favorite options, providing value for money and reasonable service. You also get unlimited connections, so a single plan can cover every compatible device you have. 

Surfshark is secure, but its performance can lag behind other VPNs in the market, which doesn’t make it the best choice for intense gaming sessions where speed and responsiveness are key. In ZDNET’s recent tests, it reduced speeds by between 2% and 65%. It did have fast connections and reasonable ping speeds, so it’s worth trying out for yourself. You may find that this VPN is still adequate for your needs for the price point.

Surfshark’s plans start at only $2.19/month on a two-year plan and are consistently affordable. As a bonus, three months of free access will be added to the length of your contract. Surfshark also has a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you’ll have a month to test it.

Also: Surfshark VPN review: Unlimited connections make it a solid value pick

Surfshark VPN features: Simultaneous ConnectionsUnlimited | Kill Switch: Yes | Platforms: Windows, MacOS, Linux, iOS, Android, Fire TV, Firefox, Android TV | Logging: None, except billing data | Countries: 100 | Servers: 3,200+ | Trial/MBG: 30 day


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Private Internet Access

Best gaming VPN for unlimited devices

Private Internet Access is an excellent option if you need a long-term gaming VPN able to support multiple devices at the same time. Because it is open source, Private Internet Access’s code is available for examination, making it a great option for security and transparency. There is also a strict no-logs policy.

There are a range of additional features available, including an email breach monitor, but what we really like about Private Internet Access as a gaming VPN is found under server selection — each server displays latency, which gives you an understanding of what servers are best for your gaming session. 

Review: Private Internet Access

However, as a potential downside, speed loss ranged from 3% to 57% in our latest tests. Despite this, connections are quick, and the worst speed loss was recorded in far-flung servers, which is understandable.

Private Internet Access offers a range of plans, including a two-year subscription for $2.19/month. If you want to try out the VPN for a shorter time period, you can sign up for $7.50 for six months — or you can spend $11.99 for a month of access. The best deal is the two-year subscription, as you are also given free access for two months. 

Private Internet Access VPN features: Simultaneous ConnectionsUnlimited | Kill Switch: Yes | Platforms: Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Linux, smart TVs, gaming consoles | Logging: No-logs policy | Countries: 91, 140 locations | Trial/MBG: 30 days


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Best gaming VPN for configuration

There’s no denying that the IPVanish user interface is bland and boring at best (albeit user-friendly), but its strength lies in its configurable nature. 

If you want to fully customize your VPN for gaming, IPVanish might be the best option. You can select between a wide range of options and configurations, including the active protocol you want to use — such as Wireguard or IPSec — setting up OpenVPN ports, enabling leak protection, and more. You can also filter servers based on locations and latency.

These features can be valuable when you’re gaming as they allow you to choose the optimal server based on your location and needs. During recent speed tests, however, IPVanish did lag behind many competitors. 

Review: IPVanish: A VPN with a wealth of options

IPVanish offers a discounted plan for $2.19 monthly if you commit to two years. This increases to $2.79/month for a yearly plan and $10.99 for one month. Three months of free access are added to one- and two-year plans.

IPVanish VPN features: Servers: 2,000+, 75+ locations | Simultaneous connections: Unlimited | Kill switch: Yes | Platforms: Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Fire TV, Android TV, Chrome, Apple TV | Logging: No activity logs | Money-back guarantee: 30 days


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Best VPN for gaming


Countries/Server locations

Simultaneous connections


$6.67/mo w/1-year plan + 3 free months




$3.69/mo w/2-year plan + 3 free months




$2.19/mo w/2-year plan + 3 free months



Private Internet Access

$2.19/mo w/2-year plan + 2 free months




$2.19/mo w/2-year plan + 3 free months



A gaming VPN service creates an encrypted tunnel between the device you are gaming on and the internet. Gaming-ready VPNs offer enhanced security and the option to disguise your IP address, which is especially important if you are concerned about stream sniping or DoS attacks. If your internet service provider employs activity-based speed and traffic throttling, a VPN may also help you bypass such restrictions as the ISP won’t be able to see what you are doing. 

VPNs give you a level of security and privacy, but there are downsides to using a VPN while you’re gaming. VPNs, by their nature, will often reduce speeds by up to 20% — and potentially far more when you connect to far-away servers — as they encrypt and reroute traffic. These extra steps can also impact your latency, ping, and response rates, which can make all the difference if you are involved in competitive gaming. 

Unless you are a consistent target of internet trolls trying to track you down through your IP address, I don’t think it is worth purchasing a VPN purely for gaming purposes. Typically, a gaming VPN will only protect your privacy on devices with native support — such as PCs and mobile devices — and if you want to implement a VPN on console, you will likely need a router with inbuilt VPN support or you will have to configure your existing router, which can be a complicated process. 

However, if you plan to use a VPN to also protect your day-to-day activities, for streaming purposes, and for travel, I would still recommend signing up for one. A VPN is able to give you blanket security coverage, reducing the likelihood of being tracked online and giving you the option to shift to different locations, which can be useful for many purposes.

Also: The best travel VPNs

How to use a VPN for gaming on your PC or console


Charlie Osborne | ZDNET

Using a VPN for PC or mobile gaming starts with the download of your favorite VPN. When you have downloaded your software, run through the installer. For this example, I am installing IPVanish on a Windows-based Lenovo laptop. You may need to provide permission for the installation software to finish.


Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

And that’s it! You must then sign in using your VPN account credentials or a device authorization code. Your VPN will now be active, and you can select the country server you want, change any further settings, and more. When your VPN is active and you start up your online game, your connection will be protected. 


Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

The same installation principles apply when you play a game on your smartphone. Simply head over to Google Play or Apple’s App Store, download your VPN app, follow the installation process, and connect.

Setting up a VPN for your gaming console, however, is not as straightforward. The easiest way is to use a VPN-enabled router that ensures blanket VPN coverage across all of your devices. Some routers will offer inbuilt VPN support, and others you will have to configure manually, depending on the VPN service you are subscribed to and your router model. Alternatively, you can force your console to share the internet connection of a PC running your favorite VPN. 

If the second option appeals to you, connect both devices via an Ethernet cable, head into PC network settings, ensure you are connecting via Ethernet, and allow other devices to share the PC connection. You will also need to change the favored internet connection in your gaming console’s settings. 

A gaming VPN should be secure and have the performance necessary to handle the demands of online gaming. As a baseline, every VPN on our best VPNs for gaming list needs to have reasonable speeds, a lack of gaming lag, and decent ping results.

Many providers recommended in this list have been subject to in-depth testing and reviews by members of our ZDNET team. We’ve been talking about other VPNs for years, spoken with their management and their users, and developed a generally favorable impression.

ZDNET tests VPN services from multiple locations, but we can’t test them from all locations. Every home, every community, every local ISP, and every nation has a different infrastructure. 

We analyzed the best VPNs for gaming below using the following criteria that were most important in helping you make an informed decision:

  • Performance: Our top VPNs must have a minimum level of performance. After all, there’s no point in using a VPN while streaming if your connection continually drops or lags, making gaming impossible.
  • Router support: Many VPNs are complicated regarding setting up a VPN to blanket cover all of your devices through a router. However, considering that consoles do not natively support VPN apps, we highlighted the best options for VPN usage beyond a PC or mobile device.
  • Security: There’s no point using a VPN unless its security protocols and encryption levels are up to scratch. We also ensured the development team behind each recommended VPN cared about making security improvements over time and patching reported bugs.
  • Kill switch: A kill switch prevents you from having an unprotected connection. It is an important feature for a VPN, as it protects by preventing a return to a default Wi-Fi connection should your internet connection unexpectedly drop.
  • Geoblocks and streaming: We know VPNs can be key to accessing local content and services while you’re away from home. We ensured that our top recommendations performed well in these factors and are unlikely to slow down your connection while you are streaming. 
  • Platforms: What systems and devices can you run the VPN on? Our VPN recommendations, naturally, have to offer easy-to-use and intuitive mobile apps. 
  • Countries & servers: In how many different countries does the VPN have servers? This can include physical and virtual servers and whether or not there are enough — at least 50 or so — to provide variety.
  • Trial length & price: Each VPN we recommend has a solid money-back guarantee and many will offer mobile users a seven-day trial. 

For a more extensive breakdown, check out our comprehensive VPN testing methodology page.

Choosing the best gaming VPN for you will involve hands-on testing. All of the VPNs on this list have 30-day money-back guarantees, so you’ll be able to test out the service for a month and get a full refund if the performance isn’t what you hoped it would be.

Choose this VPN for gaming…

If you want…


The best gaming VPN overall. ExpressVPN provides consistent, rapid speeds and offers a variety of server locations. 


Top-tier speed and reliability. NordVPN is less expensive than ExpressVPN and only marginally fell behind in high-resource gaming.


The most affordable option. While Surfshark doesn’t offer the best speeds, you can connect as many devices as you like and the price point is attractive. 

Private Internet Access

An open source, long-term gaming VPN. PIA offers users unlimited connections at an excellent price point and is open source, improving security and transparency.


A configurable gaming VPN. IPVanish supports various protocols, including Wireguard, and gives users the option to extensively customize their VPN experience.

When you are selecting your new gaming VPN, you need to consider the following factors:

  • Cost: You need to consider the overall cost of your new VPN plan. Try to take advantage of promotions, but ignore countdown timers — they typically are just marketing tools. While top-notch VPNs can cost upwards of $10/month, many are available for only a few dollars. Many VPN providers will also give users a free seven-day mobile trial. We recommend that free VPNs be avoided — with a few exceptions — as they may sell your data or bombard you with adverts.
  • Simultaneous connections: If you’re paying for a VPN suitable for your PC or gaming console, you might still want to use it across multiple devices, such as on a smartphone. We recommend you sign up for a plan with support for at least six devices. Thankfully, many paid VPN plans now offer at least this, or unlimited connections. 
  • Streaming: If you intend to use your gaming VPN to stream content on Twitch, for example, ensure that the VPN can accommodate your favorite services. You will need a fast connection that is unlikely to drop halfway through your latest gaming session.
  • Contract length: You also need to decide how long you want a VPN. A two-year term tends to secure the best prices, but other options are available. After you’ve made a selection, you typically have a 30-day money-back guarantee. 
  • Apps and extensions: When selecting a VPN, you might want to try out its accompanying mobile apps and extensions to ensure you’re getting the most out of your subscription. Some VPNs, for example, have great desktop software but lack in the mobile app department, which may not be as intuitive or easy to use. 

Also: The best VPN free trials

Frequently Asked Questions

We recommend Surfshark as one of the most consistently affordable VPNs for gaming, as it suits a variety of budgets and will not throttle you based on data usage. However, while the price point is excellent, Surfshark doesn’t always match the speeds of the top VPNs in the market today. 

Alternatively, you could try Windscribe’s free plan, which is great regarding server choice and speed. The downside is that you are limited to 2GB/month unless you agree to various initiatives, such as signing up with your email address.

The answer to this question will typically depend on the best speeds you can achieve. If you aren’t concerned about your server location, I recommend trying your VPN’s ‘smart’ or automatic connection function first, as it will usually find a server close to you, improving latency and the speed available. However, if you want to appear from a different country, examine your VPN’s available servers and try to find the ‘fastest’ server recommendation.

VPNs use different protocols to manage data transfers between your device and VPN servers. 

Wireguard is the best option for gaming VPNs, as this protocol generally offers the best speed, with stringent levels of cryptographic protection to keep your connection private. Many of today’s best VPNs support this protocol.

Internet speed, often called “bandwidth,” is the speed at which data can be transferred over the Internet. If you’re downloading or uploading a big file, you want lots of bandwidth. 

Ping time is how fast you can send out a request and receive an answer. It’s the round-trip response time, and it’s very sensitive to distance and hops. When watching a video, you want to get all that video information down to your machine, but once it starts to transmit, it’s usually running a good, steady flow. 

Ping time, however, is how long it takes after you pull the trigger in a game for it to know you pulled the trigger. If the game thinks you squeezed off a shot half a second after you did, the results could be radically different — and this can be significant, especially for people who game more than casually.

Ping is the travel time between two points, so the ping you might see listed in VPN reviews may not mean much to you. Your two points and the reviewer’s two points will always be different. This is one reason why we haven’t listed ping speeds for these VPNs. It’s more important for you to measure the ping from where you are to where you’re connecting.

VPNs give you a level of security and privacy. They can protect you against distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, which could compromise your connection, and a VPN allows you to connect to servers in different locations, but it’s also about more than gaming. 

VPNs protect gaming consoles in the same way they protect your other devices, but unlike simply connecting via a PC or mobile device, using a VPN connection with your PlayStation 5 or Xbox can involve a more complicated setup. Gaming consoles don’t support native VPN apps, but you can still get the protections, location spoofing, and anonymity of a VPN.

The key is running your VPN client on a router or sharing the internet connection of a PC and bridging your VPN connection. Most VPN vendors have guides that show you how to set this up. 

If you’re trying to download an online game early, such as when release times are locked to specific regions — or you want to take advantage of location-based sales and promotions — it might work if you connect to your VPN before you log in to the platform. 

However, a note of caution: such as in the case of Steam, it may monitor your account for ‘consistency’ in your location history and may take a dim view of such activities, as using a VPN for these purposes is “strictly against the Steam Terms of Service and may result in restrictions on your Steam account.”

Separately, some games are geo-restricted and are unavailable in other countries. You could use a VPN to access them, but you might be shouldering the same risks of account suspension or deletion.

While we can’t showcase every worthy gaming VPN on the market, we wanted to mention some great alternatives if our top VPNs do not completely suit your needs. 

View at WindscribeView at CyberGhostView at ProtonVPN

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