Choosing a VPN for gaming is tough. While using a VPN for daily purposes, you may not look for extraordinary features. However, when it comes to online gaming, you have to be careful. This is one of the rarest and exact points where your expectations reach the highest point.
As a hardcore online gamer for many years, I know what you need when it comes to choosing the best VPN for online games. And in this article, I will help you make the right decision.
By picking one of my recommendations, you will not only get speed but also the lowest ping rates; diversity of servers, stable online gaming experience, and the ability to bypass gaming restrictions in your country.
A quick look at the best VPN providers for online games
|Dota 2||Europe West - Ping||Europe East - Ping||Russia - Ping|
|No VPN||55 ms||61 ms||75 ms|
|1. SurfShark||55 ms||63 ms||70 ms|
|2. UltraVPN||56 ms||66 ms||73 ms|
|3. ExpressVPN||72 ms||77 ms||88 ms|
|4. StrongVPN||70 ms||78 ms||86 ms|
|5. FastestVPN||70 ms||77 ms||85 ms|
How I picked the best gaming VPNs?
While I was doing my research, I focused on 5 important topics. You can regard these topics as critical features to look for.
Worldwide server coverage
Our primary goal is to get the best performance from a VPN service. The key to the perfect gaming experience is worldwide server coverage. Depending on your location and the game you want to play, a gaming VPN must have servers all around the world, especially closer to your location.
Fast and stable servers
Right after connecting to the VPN server, the second thing to look for is high-speed performance and stability. No player wants to lose connection in the middle of the game or experience high ping rates. We do need the lowest ping rates possible!
Different encryption types
You may need a VPN service to bypass the restriction by your government or ISP. In most cases, OpenVPN will do the job. Yet, in case OpenVPN is blocked, you may look for other encryption options. That is why I listed VPN providers supporting different types of protocols.
Smart device compatibility
Online gaming on your smart devices is getting popular. Just like the desktop, and laptop clients, a quality gaming VPN should also have bug-free, stable VPN apps for mobile devices, and gaming consoles.
Good price/performance ratio
If you are free to play the type of guy, you may not like this part. Just do not freak. I made sure that you do not spend a fortune on the providers. I will also mention why you should pay for a VPN provider as well.
5 Best VPN providers for online games
According to our checklist above, I tested several VPN providers with Dota 2.
Right before connecting to a VPN server, please check the ping rates of the three servers of Dota 2 below.
The primary goal was to get ping rates closer to non-encrypted values. Unfortunately, only a few of the VPN providers managed to offer a smooth online gaming experience with low ping rates. Others failed so badly that ping rates peaked at 200+.
Our concern is the best ones and here they are…
Contrary to being a new player in the market, Surfshark outperforms its competitors. Currently, the company offers 3000+ VPN servers in more than 60 countries and covers all continents around the world.
Apart from the number of locations, we also do need fast and stable servers.
I ran the SurfShark gaming performance test with Luxembourg servers and played Dota 2 on the “Europe West” server.
Interestingly, SurfShark helped me keep a VPN-free connection speed even when I was connected to the VPN servers. Here are the ping results:
- “Europe West”: VPN 55 ms (+0 ping increase)
- “Europe East”: VPN 61 ms, with VPN 63 ms ( + 2 ping increase)
- “Russia”: VPN 70 ( -5 ms ping improvement)
During the game, there were not any ping spikes or disconnection issues either.
I had this amazing performance with the OpenVPN protocol. In case you have censorship issues, you may also use the IKev2 protocol with the “No-Border” feature activated. This will grant you bypass filters easily.
Moreover, as SurfShark offers 256-bit AES encryption by default, you will not experience any performance issues.
Similar to the PC version, you can also enjoy SurfShark on your smart devices. Both OpenVPN and IKev2 protocols are also available on mobile to give you a smooth gaming experience.
What is more interesting is you can have all these opportunities starting from 2.49$/month and use the service with unlimited devices simultaneously.
- 3000+ servers in 60+ countries
- Blazing fast and stable performance.
- Ping improvements
- OpenVPN and IKev2 protocols
- Also available for Xbox, PS
- Best price/performance ration 2.49$/month
- Cannot see server crowdedness on mobile devices
- Unplanned maninatance on servers
UltraVPN is another VPN provider you can enjoy the lowest ping rates when playing online games. Currently, the company offers thousands of VPN servers in more than 60 countries. UltraVPN covers all continents and keeps on adding new locations.
I wanted to give the same shots to all VPN providers. Yet, UltraVPN does not have a server in Luxembourg. That is why I had to choose the Germany server instead. Below you can see the results.
Even if the Germany server was a little bit away from the “Europe West” Dota 2 server, I was able to get amazing ping results with UltraVPN.
- “Europe West”: 56 ms ( +1 ms increase)
- “Europe East”: 66 ms ( +5 ms increase)
- “Russia”: 73 ms ( – 2 ms improvement)
With the ping rates given, you will not notice the VPN connection when playing online games. Furthermore, as the UltraVPN is a new provider in the market, their servers are not crowded. This is another huge bonus helping us get the lowest ping rates possible.
Currently, UltraVPN offers two different protocols: OpenVPN, IKev2 with 256-bit encryption. While we can get decent speed and stability, unfortunately, it is pretty hard to bypass censors with UltraVPN as they do not offer any obfuscation with their servers.
In other words, if your connection blocks your gaming platform, UltraVPN is not for you.
You can have all of these features starting from 2.25€/month and use UltraVPN with up to 15 of your devices simultaneously.
- Fast and stable servers
- Low ping rates
- Reasonable pricing
- Not recommended for restricted connections
- The price goes up on the next billing circle.
ExpressVPN is one of the best VPN providers in the market. Because of its no-log policy and extreme speed performance, it places the top rankings in our articles. Yet now, it ranks 3rd. Here are the reasons for that.
First of all, ExpressVPN offers VPN services in 94 different countries. Such huge coverage makes ExpressVPN one of the best choice for gamers. However, the ping rates push the service ranking backward.
Despite huge coverage, ExpressVPN offers poorer ping performance with its Luxembourg server. According to my Dota 2 experience, here are the ping results:
- “Europe West”: 72 ms ( +17 ms increase)
- “Europe East”: 77 ms ( +16 ms increase)
- “Russia”: 88 ms ( +13 ms increase)
At first glance, ExpressVPN cannot keep up with SurfShark and UltraVPN. However, the game was still playable and I did not have any ping spikes or poor gaming experience.
Thanks to ExpressVPN’s super stable servers, you can enjoy long or short term games without disconnection fear.
You may ponder why ping rates are greater than the previous VPN providers, right? The reason is ExpressVPN offers high-end military-grade encryption (OpenVPN, IKev2, L2TP, Lightway) on all of its servers. This both slows down the internet connection and increase ping rates.
While such a feature offers better security for your game account, it also increases latency. However, the increase is not even noticeable as I can still get the green light from Dota 2 servers.
Similar to desktop software, you can also enjoy all ExpressVPN features on your Android and iOS devices. Keep in mind that, you can make use of only OpenVPN protocol on your smart devices. Moreover, the minimalist VPN app does its job quite well and it gets updated frequently.
As for the pricing, I am pretty sure that players will not love this part. You can use ExpressVPN simultaneously for up to 5 devices and the service starts from 6.67$/month. This makes ExpressVPN one of the most expensive providers on our list.
- 90+ countries
- 4 different protocols
- Obfuscated servers to bypass censorship
- Super fast and stable servers with playable ping rates
- Pricy VPN service
- Strong encryption increases ping rates
If it was last year, I would not recommend StrongVPN. However, the company improved its service and expanded server coverage that I had to place them on the list.
First of all, StrongVPN roots come from reliablehosting.com company and their team is professional when it comes to server management.
Currently, StrongVPN offers dedicated VPN servers in 35 different countries. While the Americas, Europe, and Asia are well covered. I cannot say the same for the Middle East and Africa. If you are an online gamer located in latter areas, StrongVPN is not for you.
Besides the small coverage issues, our second concern is the ping rates. Similar to the other Dota 2 ping test, I also connected to StrongVPN Luxembourg servers. Below you can see the ping results…
StongVPN’s 256-bit encryption increased the ping rates on all servers with an acceptable rate.
- “Europe West”: 70 ms ( +15 ms increase)
- “Europe East”: 78 ms ( +17 ms increase)
- “Russia”: 86 ms ( +11 ms increase)
During the game, there was no ping spikes or lag issues.
Along with high-performance rates, StrongVPN also offers 6 different protocols. Furthermore, the unique OpenVPN “Scramble” feature will help us bypass any censorship in dorms or other restricted areas.
You can use all of these performances and features in your smart devices as well. Thanks to 12 simultaneous connections, you can enjoy your favorite online games on all of your smart devices starting from 2.91$/month.
- Decent ping and speed performance
- 6 different protocols
- A perfect solution for filtered connections with the “Scramble” feature
- Simultaneous connection up to 12 devices
- Limited country coverage
- Not recommended for Xbox and PS users
FastestVPN is one of the cheapest and fastest VPN solutions for online gamers. Currently, the company covers more than 40 countries around the world. Despite having fewer servers than its competitors, you will love the price/performance ratio for sure.
Like any other test, I also connected to the Luxembourg server to test Dota 2 pings.
FastestVPN provided gaming performance similar to StrongVPN servers.
- “Europe West”: 70 ms ( +15 ms increase)
- “Europe East”: 77 ms ( +16 ms increase)
- “Russia”: 85 ms ( +10 ms increase)
The ping rates are at the playable level. These ping values will grant you a smooth and lag-free gaming experience. According to my 45 min Dota 2 game, I had no lag or ping spike issue. During all games, the FastestVPN Luxembourg server offered a fast and stable connection.
Furthermore, I got this amazing gaming experience with the OpenVPN protocol. If OpenVPN is blocked by your ISP, you can also go for L2TP and SSTP protocols. Yet, as such protocols will encrypt your data at a greater level, it is very likely that you will have poorer ping results.
Lastly, FastestVPN offers smart device friendly apps too. You can use the service for up to 10 devices simultaneously. What is more fascinating is you can purchase FastestVPN starting from 1.1$/month.
- 10 simultaneous connections
- Stable and fast servers, low ping rates
- Cheapest gaming VPN in the market
- The server coverage could be better
- Desktop software may crash from time to time
How to choose the right VPN server for gaming
I assume that you picked a VPN service depending on your budget and needs. Now, it is time to choose the right VPN server for gaming.
First of all, your VPN provider will ask you to choose the closest server to your location. This is only a good idea when your connection is not throttled or the game server is in your country. Otherwise, you will have a terrible gaming experience.
Let me explain this with an example.
I am in Turkey and I want to play Dota 2. When I connect to a VPN server in Turkey, here are the ping results…
Also, remember the ping results when connected to the Luxembourg server…
We can conclude that choosing the closest VPN server will not help us get better ping rates.
So, how can we choose the best and fastest server for a greater gaming experience?
Simply follow these steps:
- Choose a VPN server that is close to the game server (The best choice would be a VPN server between your and game server location.)
- Make sure the preferred VPN server is located in a country that has quality internet infrastructure.
- Living in a restricted country? Prefer a VPN server outside of your country, yet close the game server.
These quick steps will enhance your online gaming experience drastically and help you get the best performance out of your VPN service.
What is a gaming VPN good for?
You may ask yourself if you do need a VPN when playing online games, right? To answer that question, you can simply take a look at the use cases of the gaming VPNs below.
If any of these cases catch up with yours, then you should use a VPN.
Secure your game account
A reliable VPN service will encrypt your data and pass it to the destination through a secure tunnel.
In other words, all account information will be encrypted and reach game servers within a secure tunnel. That way, no user data will be exposed to hackers or third parties.
Reduce Ping rates
Just as seen above, by using a VPN service, I was able to reduce 75 Ms “Russia” server ping to 70 ms. This is not a drastic change yet if you have a restricted or throttled internet connection, a VPN will surely grant you a better ping value.
Find cheap deals
Purchase power varies drastically in different countries. That is why gaming platforms like Steam, Origin, Epic games, etc… offer different pricing plans for each country.
If you are buying games from a European country, you will see the prices in Euros. However, if you do buy the games from Russia, Turkey, China, or Argentina, you will see local currencies with a better deal.
Let’s say that you want to buy a game from Epic games. If you have a German IP address, you will see the prices below.
However, if you use a VPN and connect to a Turkish server, then you will see another pricing model.
So what is the catch here?
Well, taking the game “Down in Bermuda” as an example… If you buy it with German IP, you have to pay 15.99€, or you can use a VPN, connect to the Turkey server and buy the game for 33₺ which converts to 3.65€.
Bypass censorship in dorms, government workplaces, etc…
In dorms or in your office, you may come across internet filters preventing you from playing your favorite online games. In this case, a VPN can be a handy solution. You can simply bypass such filters by connecting to a VPN server. However, your dorm or workplace may try to crack down on your VPN connection. In such cases, try to change your VPN protocol or your VPN provider.
Bypass IP bans
It is very likely that players may get banned from the game because of cheating, hacking or botting. Your game provider may take one step further and block your IP address as well. In this case, you can use a VPN service to change your IP address and keep on playing your favorite games.
Unblock geo-restricted servers
A game publisher may have the game license for specific countries. If your country is not on the serving list, then you cannot play that game. Yet, by changing your IP address to the licensed country, you can easily bypass the geo-restricted game server issue.
For example, you are in the USA but want to play Mobile Legends with Brazillian people, then just connect to the Brazil server of your VPN service and change your IP address. This will grant you a new location and the ability to match with the Brazillian localies.
Free gaming VPNs with low ping?
Players might not like to spend some cash. However, I would tell you that it was not a good idea. There is no free VPN service in the market without any limitations.
In most cases, you will be limited with speed, bandwidth, number of countries, etc. As these are the most critical VPN features while gaming, I strongly suggest you stick to premium services.
Still not convinced?
Check my free VPN test for Dota 2 below.
I got these ping results from one of the Windscribe Europe servers. Unfortunately, it was impossible for me to play Dota 2 with 282 ms ping rates.
Do not forget! 100-110 is the limit. If your VPN provider cannot offer you better results, simply change to another one. Otherwise, you will have a terrible gaming experience. This will also let your teammates down.
Summing up the best gaming VPNs
In this article, I have listed the top 5 gaming VPNs according to my Dota 2 experience. To decide the winners, I dug into details such as the number of the servers, country coverage; stability and ping performance; protocol types; smart device compatibility, and price/performance ratio.
Such analysis helped me choose the winners! The best VPNs for gaming are SurfShark followed by UltraVPN, ExpressVPN, StrongVPN, and FastestVPN. These providers will grant you a seamless gaming experience as well as ping improvement on some game servers.
Last but not least, I depicted the importance of using a VPN server while gaming. VPNs will help you secure your account, block DDOS attacks to your IP, bypass government workspace and dorm filters, access blocked servers, overcome IP bans and get better deals from other countries.
In short, a VPN service is necessary for gamers.
My favorite VPN is SurfShark. What is yours?
You cannot imagine how it feels living in a country where censorship peaks to the top level. That is why I decided to start VPNxD to fight for true online freedom not for my homeland but for all world. On VPNxD, I am responsible both for reviews and “how-to-do” articles.