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The best VPNs for gaming in 2023

Best gaming VPN - lead

If you’re gaming online and want to access servers in different locations, you’ll need one of the best gaming VPNs

If you’re gaming online, you may want to consider using one of the best VPNs (virtual private network) for the job. Not only will using a VPN let you access servers in different countries – a great way to get more gaming in when there’s a downtime lull on your usual server – it will also help protect your privacy from any dubious actors aiming to syphon off your personal data.

As gamers ourselves, we’ve tested all of these VPNs playing games as diverse as Fortnite and Moonbreaker, as well as classics like Halo Infinite. Though you can’t escape some lag even at the best of times (more on that below), overall we’ve had some great experiences playing online games with a VPN.

So if you’re worried about the data practices of the company you’re gaming with, or you just want to increase the number or range of servers you can choose from, using a VPN is a great way to solve those problems, without any significant downside.

Best gaming VPNs: At a glance

How to choose the best gaming VPN for you

Picking the best gaming VPN was a relatively straightforward process. Using our roundup of the best VPN services as a guide, we picked the ones with the best performance and then tested them again to be sure – we’re certainly not going to let a chance to play games on company time pass us by.

However, we should note that, in this case, performance doesn’t necessarily mean the fastest VPNs. While the speed of a VPN is important for gamers, as it determines how fast data downloads and uploads, what’s arguably more important is the latency of the connection.

Latency, also known as “ping”, is a number that shows you how fast a site or service responds to input – the lower the ping, the better. This is important in any situation but for gamers it’s vital – you want your weapon to fire when you click your “fire” button, not a second later – as plenty of online matches have been lost thanks to a sudden increase in latency. If you’ve ever seen a player “hang” in-game, chances are their ping suddenly increased.

Any time you connect to a server, it’s going to affect your ping. The further away the server is, the more your ping will go up too – if you’re in the UK and connect to a server in the States, your ping will go up much higher than if you connected to a gaming server that’s just down the road. 

A good VPN will minimise this damage though, keeping your connection responsive enough to game on without lagging out. Still, if you do get fragged, you can always blame your network.

How we test gaming VPNs

The nice thing about latency is that it’s very easy to test for. When running any speed test – is our site of choice – the ping should just pop right up, together with the download and upload speeds. 

Generally speaking, with a half-decent connection and while not using a VPN you should get a ping of around five or six – any higher and you may want to have a chat with your internet service provider. Once connected to a nearby VPN server, this number will likely double, or more, even with the best VPNs. This shouldn’t be too big an issue though, as anything below 150 should be just fine for most shooters, and you can often get away with a ping of around 200 if you’re playing turn-based games.

All our picks did extremely well in our tests, giving us low pings. We mainly tested connections from the UK and Europe to the US, as well as within the continent. We realise many of our gaming readers would like to connect to Australian or Japanese servers from Europe, however, it can get tricky to find servers that still perform well, though it’s not impossible.

The best gaming VPNs you can buy in 2023

Now that you have an idea of what to look for in a gaming VPN, let’s go over our picks. We’ve tried to give a mix of providers here, with a range of abilities, prices, and ease of use, but what they all share is that they’re fast with decent latency.

1. ExpressVPN: Best gaming VPN overall

Price: £82 for 12 months + 3 months free (£5.45/mth) | Check price at ExpressVPN

Best gaming VPN - ExpressVPN

Our top pick is ExpressVPN, as it so often is in our roundups. It’s a solid contender no matter if you’re looking for the best gaming VPN, the best VPN for Netflix, or just a solid all-rounder. In our tests, it did incredibly well for ping, with a low score on most servers. Thanks to its reliability in this regard, we’ve decided to give it the number one spot.

Besides being fast and having low latency, ExpressVPN offers a very simple and user-friendly interface that boils down to two buttons: one to select a server and another that switches the VPN on or off. It also does a great job of getting you through to streaming services, as well as having top-notch security.

However, all this comes at a price: the price. At £80 per year, it’s the most expensive VPN on the market right now. Seeing as how you can get a similar VPN for much less, you may want to opt out. Still, if you have a few bob to spare, ExpressVPN is a great choice, and you get a 30-day money-back guarantee to test it out.

Read our full ExpressVPN review for details

Key specs – Independent no-logs audit: Yes; Maximum simultaneous connections: 5; 24/7 customer support: Yes; Streaming service access: Yes; Money-back guarantee: 30 days; Based in: British Virgin Islands

Check price at ExpressVPN

2. Private Internet Access: Best budget-friendly gaming VPN

Price: £65 per year (£1.80/mth) | Check price at Private Internet Access

Best gaming VPN - PIA

If you want the speeds of ExpressVPN but don’t want the price tag, then you may want to check out Private Internet Access – or PIA to their friends. It scores extremely well when it comes to speed and ping, giving us great results on almost all its servers. So it’s a superb VPN to use if you’re gaming.

What makes it even better are its low prices – it’s one of the cheapest top-shelf VPNs out there. However, some cracks appear when you judge Private Internet Access by any other measure: though it’s still a highly secure VPN, its interface is a little lacking in places, and it fairs poorly when trying to crack Netflix, let alone other streaming services. It’s not an all-rounder like ExpressVPN.

Read or full Private Internet Access review for details

Key specs – Independent no-logs audit: No; Maximum simultaneous connections: 10; 24/7 customer support: Yes; Streaming service access: Yes; Money-back guarantee: 30 days; Based in: USA

Check price at Private Internet Access

3. Windscribe: Best free gaming VPN

Price: Free, or £40 per year (£3.33/mth) | Check price at Windscribe

Best gaming VPN - Windscribe

Windscribe is another solid all-round VPN, offering a bit of everything but especially high speed and low latency. However, its main accolade for this particular roundup is that it has a very generous free plan, so if you’ve already spent all your money on games and can’t afford a subscription, then this is the VPN for you.

The way Windscribe’s free plan works is pretty simple: download the app and you get 2GB of bandwidth per month for free right off the bat. In this case, bandwidth refers to the amount of data that can flow through the VPN before you need to upgrade. 2GB is a fairly decent amount, equivalent to roughly two or three hours of online gaming. 

If you want more, then you need to sign up with an email address, which nets you 10GB for free. More than that and you’ll need to start paying. Windscribe has some flexible payment plans starting at £40, so it’s not like you’ll break the bank using this service.

Read our full Windscribe review for details

Key specs – Independent no-logs audit: Yes; Maximum simultaneous connections: Unlimited; 24/7 customer support: No; Streaming service access: Yes; Money-back guarantee: 3 days; Based in: Canada

Check price at Windscribe

4. Mozilla VPN: Most secure gaming VPN

Price: £48.62 for a year (£4 per month) | Check price at Mozilla

Best gaming VPN - Mozilla

In fourth place, we find Mozilla VPN, a great VPN that offered amazing speeds on almost every server we tested. The corresponding ping was also decent in most cases though, again, some faraway places like Japan were painful on connections originating from Europe. 

What makes Mozilla VPN truly stand apart is its reputation for privacy, which is worth its weight in gold. As a Mozilla product, you get a virtual guarantee that the VPN treats your data with the respect it deserves – bearing in mind that the company has forged a reputation as one that respects privacy, thanks to products like its Firefox browser and Thunderbird email client. Add to that a server network supplied by the excellent Mullvad VPN service and you have a winning combination.

However, it’s not a perfect service. For one thing, it’s edging a tiny bit on the pricey side. For another, we’re not huge fans of its interface – while it’s perfectly forgivable to be a bit of a plain Jane, some attention could have been given to polishing up some of its functionality.

Read our full Mozilla VPN review for details

Key specs – Independent no-logs audit: Yes; Maximum simultaneous connections: 5; 24/7 customer support: No; Streaming service access: Yes; Money-back guarantee: 30 days; Based in: California

Check price at Mozilla

5. NordVPN: Best user-friendly gaming VPN

Price: £59.76 for 2 years (£2.50/mth+VAT) | Check price at NordVPN

Best gaming VPN - NordVPN

Our final entry is NordVPN. This is a service that normally places a little better than fifth in our roundups, but we found some issues during testing that, while not game-breaking, left us unable to recommend it as wholeheartedly as usual. 

While its speeds are excellent when taken as a whole, its servers seem to have a tendency to become overpopulated with users, which then sends their performance tumbling. This affects ping most noticeably, with some servers seeing massive spikes in latency.

The trick to using NordVPN is finding a good server, which is pretty easy thanks to its excellent interface. Add some very friendly pricing and you have a solid gaming VPN, one that does a fine job of getting through to Netflix as well.

Read our full NordVPN review for details

Key specs – Independent no-logs audit: Yes; Maximum simultaneous connections: 6; 24/7 customer support: Yes; Streaming service access: Yes; Money-back guarantee: 30 days; Based in: Panama

Check price at NordVPN

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