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Do you need a VPN for gaming? The best benefits, tips and tricks

Verified by Nick Jones

The gaming world is experiencing exponential growth, with estimates predicting the number of gamers to reach an astonishing 3.1 billion by 2027. This rapid expansion further emphasises the pressing need for robust security and privacy measures in online gaming.

And this is where virtual private networks (VPNs) come into play. It safeguards your online privacy and significantly improves your gaming experience. It also lowers ping times, bypasses geolocation restrictions, and protects against DDoS attacks. However, choosing the right VPN requires careful consideration. 

Gamers can enhance their online gaming experience by using VPNs. VPNs provide security for data, improve connection speeds, and allow access to geo-restricted games. This article will provide information on the top-performing VPNs for gaming, including NordVPN, Surfshark, and Cyberghost. If you are a gamer looking to improve your security and performance, this guide is tailored for you.

Need for a VPN in gaming

Our experts thoroughly researched scenarios where VPNs are particularly useful for gaming. Note that using a VPN neither violates any gaming terms and conditions nor provides an unfair competitive advantage. 

The primary purpose of a gaming VPN is to enhance online security and extend the reach of gaming experiences beyond regional boundaries. Think of it as a tool for optimisation and protection rather than cheating.

Here’s why you should use a gaming VPN while playing.

Reduced lag and improved ping times

In online gaming, latency can often turn the tide of battle. If you experience interruptions while playing games online, using a VPN can be a game changer. Just opposite to the common consideration that it slows down data transmission and causes latency, a VPN can connect you to a server closer to the game’s server, reducing ping times. 

Eliminated unreasonable bans

Unfortunately, gaming companies often resort to IP bans to penalise rule violations. In some instances, players have reported being banned unfairly. A VPN can come in handy here, providing a new IP address to bypass these bans and get you back into the game. 

Unlocked forbidden games

The UK imposes bans on certain games that depict excessive violence or sexual content in a realistic manner. A VPN can help bypass these barriers by connecting you to a server where the game isn’t banned. This way, you can enjoy unrestricted access to your favourite games.

Does VPN affect gaming performance?

While a VPN can potentially affect gaming performance, the impact largely depends on various factors, such as server distance and congestion. Connecting to a remote or congested VPN server might slow your connection and increase latency. 

However, if you choose a VPN server close to your game’s server, a VPN can often enhance your connection speed. Thus, selecting a high-quality VPN provider with multiple fast servers and lightweight protocols can reduce negative effects and enhance gaming performance. We’ll revisit the topic of best VPNs for gaming later in this guide, so stay tuned.

How to use VPN for gaming

Setting up and using a VPN for gaming is a straightforward process. Just follow the steps below.

Step 1: Install your gaming VPN

Begin by downloading and installing your VPN. For this guide, we’ll take NordVPN as an example, and we’ll walk you through the whole process step by step. NordVPN is a good choice among gamers due to its robust network and optimised gaming features.

Step 2: Select the most suitable protocol 

After logging into, navigate to the settings by clicking the gear icon. Here, you’ll be able to switch protocols. NordVPN offers multiple protocols, including NordLynx (a new-gen technology built on WireGuard offering high-speed and improved security), IKEv2/IPSec, and OpenVPN.

gaming vpn step by step

To change your protocol, go to the Connection section in the settings menu.

gaming vpn step by step

Click on the current protocol, and select your preferred one from the dropdown menu. Note that each protocol offers different levels of speed, security, and stability. However, we recommend using OpenVPN for gaming due to its optimal balance of speed and security.

gaming vpn step by step

Finally, reconnect to your VPN to activate the new protocol.

Step 3: Connect to a server

Use the Quick Connect option. This function lets the VPN automatically select the most optimal server for speed and low latency, which enhances your gaming experience.

gaming vpn step by step

Moreover, it protects you against DDoS (Distributed Denial-of-Service) attacks. If you ever find yourself targeted, switch to a different VPN server to effectively sidestep the assault.

However, if you want to connect to a server in a specific country, choose the server option with the lowest latency. Typically, VPNs display the latency alongside the VPN options for your convenience. 

Locate the country of interest on the in-app map and click on the corresponding pin to establish a connection. This will help you access geo-restricted games or servers.

gaming vpn step by step

If you’re having trouble finding a specific location, just use the search bar. 

gaming vpn step by step

Step 4: Optimise VPN for gaming

  • Try to game during off-peak hours. VPN servers can get congested during peak usage times, which can lead to increased latency.
  • Make sure your VPN client is always up to date. VPN providers often release updates that can enhance performance and security. 
  • any unnecessary apps while gaming to ensure maximum bandwidth for your game.
  • Use wired connection instead of WiFi. This can improve speed and reduce latency when gaming.

Benefits of gaming with VPN

Let’s look at some specific benefits a VPN offers for gaming and how they are used by prominent gamers.

Advantages of using a VPN for gaming

A gaming VPN protects you from DDoS attacks

The availability of DDoS software has made it easy for attackers to flood your connection with excessive data, causing disruptions in your gaming experience. 

A gaming VPN plays a crucial role in mitigating such attacks. It hides your IP address to prevent potential attackers from targeting your connection.

You can safely use public WiFi networks while playing

Public WiFi often lacks proper security, which makes you vulnerable to threats, such as unencrypted networks, WiFi sniffing, Man-in-the-Middle attacks, and malware infiltration.

Using a good gaming VPN can shield you from these threats. Premium VPNs use advanced encryption technologies to encrypt your data. This makes it unreadable to anyone trying to get access without authorisation. Even if a hacker manages to intercept your data, they won’t be able to decipher it, which ensures a secure gaming session on public WiFi.

A gaming VPN overcomes geographical restrictions 

Geoblocking is a common practice in online gaming, often frustrating gamers who wish to connect with their friends across different regions or access games unavailable in their area. The use of a VPN allows you to bypass such restrictions. 

A VPN enables you to connect to any gaming server worldwide by assigning you an IP address from a different region. This broadens your gaming horizons and lets you play with friends across the globe so you can experience new releases ahead of your regional schedule.

It unlocks early access 

When new games are released at different times in different parts of the world, it can decrease the anticipation for the game. A gaming VPN comes to the rescue, enabling you to circumvent these geographical limitations. By connecting to a server in a region where the game has already launched, you can start playing immediately, regardless of location.

Choosing a gaming VPN

Choosing the appropriate VPN for gaming is an important decision that can affect how you enjoy gaming.  

Key factors for gaming VPN selection

Here are important criteria to keep in mind:

Server network 

The best gaming VPNs provide a wide range of servers around the globe. A vast server network gives you more options to connect to a server near your game server, reducing latency. It also offers flexibility to bypass geo-restrictions on certain games or servers.

Speed

In the world of gaming, speed is everything. Look for a VPN that offers high-speed connections and unlimited bandwidth. Testimonials, reviews, and free trials can help you gauge a VPN’s performance.

Security features

Look for VPNs with robust security features, including strong encryption and kill switch functionality. These protect your data and maintain your connection even if the VPN service temporarily drops.

Customer support

Prompt and effective customer support is essential, especially for urgent connectivity issues. Look for VPN providers with 24/7 customer service via various channels like live chat, email, or phone.

Usability 

The VPN should have an intuitive and user-friendly interface. You don’t want to waste precious gaming time figuring out complex settings.

It’s important to consider these factors when choosing a VPN to improve your gaming experience and safeguard your online security. 

Good gaming VPNs in 2023 and beyond

Let’s look at some top-tier gaming VPNs for enhanced security, speed, and network access.

NordVPN: A secure choice with the largest game server network and robust privacy features. NordVPN’s top-notch content-unblocking capabilities let you game and stream from anywhere. Coupled with high speeds and strong security, this makes it an exceptional choice for gaming at approximately £2.69/month.

Surfshark: A budget-friendly pick allowing unlimited device connections without compromising speed. Subscriptions start as low as £1.84 per month, making it an excellent value-for-money option.

CyberGhost: User-friendly with dedicated servers for gaming. This affordable VPN provides excellent speed with a wide server fleet at just £1.85/month.

PureVPN: A cost-effective VPN offering extensive features, including access to over 6500 servers in 78 countries. It provides great connection speeds at rates as low as £1.85/month.

Proton VPN: Exceptional for DDoS prevention, it offers an extensive server list, a built-in VPN accelerator, and advanced split tunnelling. Subscriptions start at £4.33/month.

ExpressVPN: A leading choice for online gaming offering superior security features, efficient speed, and an array of additional features for £5.56/month.

IPVanish: The quickest gaming VPN offering fast connections, a large server network, and user-friendly apps for £2.59/month.

Now, we’ll explore in more detail our top three picks.

Top gaming VPN providers

We will briefly review each of the top three VPNs for gaming and highlight their key features, so you can better understand what makes them a viable option for gamers. You’ll also find a handy comparison table to help you decide your winner. 

NordVPN: Best overall 

NordVPN shines as a robust choice for gaming VPNs, offering an extensive network of over 5,500 servers across 60 countries. Powered by secure protocols like IKEv2/IPsec, OpenVPN, and the WireGuard-based NordLynx, it blends high-level performance with stringent encryption.

The provider further ensures safety with a strong no-log policy, independently audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers AG Switzerland and Deloitte. In terms of gaming, the expansive server network and high speeds contribute to reduced lag and enhanced performance.

Surfshark – Best-value gaming VPN

Surfshark is a powerful VPN with over 3,200 servers across 100 countries. It also allows unlimited simultaneous connections. 

Its robust security features, including AES-256 encryption, GPS spoofing, and Camouflage Mode, ensure maximum gaming privacy. Surfshark has RAM-only servers, which offer impressive speeds of up to 10Gbps. This, combined with the WireGuard, IKEv2, and OpenVPN protocols, promises optimal gaming performance. 

Surfshark maintains a strict no-log policy independently verified by Deloitte, which further enhances user privacy and security.

CyberGhost – Best gaming VPN

CyberGhost offers impressive features for gamers, with over 9,000 RAM-only servers in 91 countries. It supports OpenVPN, IKEv2, and WireGuard protocols, ensuring fast, secure gaming experiences. 

Unique features like Automatic wifi protection, ID Guard, and Smart Rules provide robust security, while the independently verified no-log policy further safeguards user privacy. 

Though headquartered in Romania, which had pending discussions on data retention laws, CyberGhost firmly maintains its privacy-first approach. With robust encryption and security, along with optimised speed and security features, CyberGhost emerges as a reliable VPN for gamers.

Best gaming VPN providers: An overview

NordVPN Surfshark CyberGhost
Cheapest price £2.69 £1.84 £1.85
No. of servers 5,500+ 3,200+ 9,000+
No. of countries 60 100 91
No. devices supported 6 Unlimited 7
PC app
Router support
PS5 app
PS4 app
Xbox Series X/S app
Xbox One app
Switch app

Takeaways: Do you need a VPN for gaming?

We highly recommend using a VPN for gaming. It: 

  • Safeguards your online privacy
  • Minimises lag and ping times
  • Bypasses geolocation restrictions 
  • Protects you from DDoS attacks and bandwidth throttling 

Whether you’re a pro player or just starting out, using a VPN can significantly improve your gaming experience.

We highly recommend NordVPN, Surfshark, and CyberGhost as top-notch choices catering to varied gaming needs. Remember, a safer and better gaming experience is just a VPN away.

Frequently Asked Questions

The impact of a VPN on gaming can vary. Factors such as the distance to the VPN server and traffic load can influence performance. If you connect to a far-off or overcrowded server, you might experience slower speeds and higher latency. Conversely, selecting a VPN server near your game’s server could boost your connection speed.

The best VPNs for gaming that we highly recommend are: 

  • NordVPN – Best overall
  • Surfshark – Best-value gaming VPN
  • CyberGhost – Best gaming VPN

Each one provides a unique balance of speed, security, and server locations that can enhance your gaming experience significantly.

Yes, a VPN can bypass region restrictions in games. If you connect to a server where the game is available using a VPN, it can hide your location and make the game server believe that you are accessing it from a region with no restrictions. As a result, you can play games unavailable in your present location

Round up of today’s best VPN deals
NordVPN 2 year £2.49 /Month
£2.49 /Month
Surfshark 24 month £1.69 /Month
£1.69 /Month
ExpressVPN 12 month £6.80 /Month
£6.80 /Month
CyberGhost 2 year £1.92 /Month
£1.92 /Month
Proton 2 year £3.85 /Month
£3.85 /Month
PIA 2 year £1.69 /Month
£1.69 /Month
Atlas 2 year £1.34 /Month
£1.34 /Month
PrivadoVPN 2 year £1.48 /Month
£1.48 /Month
Windscribe 12 month £4.54 /Month
£4.54 /Month
IPVanish 2 year £2.09 /Month
£2.09 /Month

Mariana is an experienced technology writer specialising in web and internet technology. She writes about cyber security, including VPN; web development; and software engineering. She has been writing since 2006 and held a position of English lecturer at Technical University of Varna in Bulgaria until 2022, working in a variety of educational fields.

For the Independent Advisor, Mariana writes about the usefulness of VPNs and how people can protect themselves and their data online.

Nick Jones

Editor in Chief

Nick Jones is a highly experienced consumer journalist and editor, who has been writing and producing content for print and online media for over 25 years.

He has worked at some of the UK’s leading publishers including Future Publishing, Highbury Entertainment, and Imagine Publishing, with publications as diverse as Homebuilding & Renovating, TechRadar, and Creative Bloq, writing and editing content for audiences whose interests include history, computing, gaming, films, and science. He’s also produced a number of podcasts in the technology, science, gaming, and true crime genres.

Nick has also enjoyed a highly successful career in content marketing, working in a variety of topics such as health, technology, and finance, with market-leading global companies including Cisco, Pfizer, Santander, and Virgin Media.

Now the Editor-in-Chief of the Independent Advisor, Nick is involved in all aspects of the site’s content, where his expertise in finance, technology, and home products informs every article that’s published on-site. He takes a hands-on approach with our VPN content, penning a number of the articles himself, and verifying that everything we publish in this topic is accurate.

Whatever the area of interest he’s worked in, Nick has always been a consumer champion, helping people find the best deals and give them the information they need to make an informed buying decision.