5 Best Free VPNs for Gaming in 2024: Fast Speeds, Low Ping
- Best Free VPNs for Gaming — Full Analysis (Updated 2024)
- ExpressVPN — Overall Best VPN for Gaming With Fast Speeds and Low Ping
- CyberGhost — Gaming-Optimized Servers to Easily Find the Best Available Connection
- Proton VPN — Truly Free VPN With No Data Cap for Uninterrupted Gaming
- Avira Phantom VPN — Unlimited Connections to Game on Any Device
- hide.me — Customizable Security to Optimize Your Connection for Gaming
- Quick Comparison Table: Best Free Gaming VPNs
- Tips on Choosing the Best Free VPNs for Gaming
- Expert Tip: Dangers of Free VPNs for Gaming
- FAQs on the Best Free VPNs for Gaming
- Get the Best Free VPN for Gaming Today
A free gaming VPN seems like a great idea, but you can rarely achieve low enough ping (or fast enough speeds) using one. Most have congested servers that actually increase your ping, while others have data caps that don’t even cover an hour of online gaming. That’s not to say that you can’t find a good free VPN for gaming – simply that they’re hard to find.
After testing 45+ free VPNs, my team and I found a few good options for gaming. These have good speeds that maintain gaming performance, plus robust security to keep you safe. You won’t escape restrictions, but the limits that exist won’t interrupt your gaming as much as some other free VPNs. If you don’t want any restrictions, it’s best to use a low-cost premium VPN instead.
I recommend ExpressVPN for gaming because it delivers fast speeds and consistently low ping without limitations. Plus, it has a worldwide server network and strong security features, so you can safely play region-locked games from anywhere. While it’s not totally free, it comes with a legit money-back guarantee, so if you’re not impressed you can get a full refund within 30 days.
Short on Time? Here Are the Best Free VPNs for Gaming in 2024
- Editor's ChoiceExpressVPN
Best overall VPN with fast speeds and unlimited data. Try it risk-free for 30 days.70% of our readers choose ExpressVPN
Gaming-optimized servers prevent lag with low ping connections. Try it risk-free.
- Proton VPN
Free gaming VPN with no data caps (but server overcrowding can increase lag).
- Avira Phantom VPN
Free VPN for gaming with unlimited device connections (but a 1GB/month data cap).
Free VPN with settings to optimize gaming connections (but it doesn’t work on routers).
Best Free VPNs for Gaming — Full Analysis (Updated 2024)
Tested February 2024 Try Risk-Free for 30 Days
|Lowest ping of all the VPNs I tested
|3,000+ servers in 105 countries
|30-day money-back guarantee
ExpressVPN remains my top choice for gaming because it consistently delivers low ping and fast speeds. During my tests on its nearby UK servers, I recorded a ping rate of 11ms and an average download speed of 121Mbps (a speed drop of only 5% from my baseline connection). This is miles better than the results I had using free VPNs — I didn’t experience any lag while playing Fortnite on my Android phone.
It’s not just nearby servers that performed well in my tests. Even when I connected to its long-distance New York server, the ping remained below 78ms. In comparison, a similar connection with a free VPN typically has a ping of more than 150ms. This meant I could choose from more server locations without worrying whether it would impact my gaming session.
ExpressVPN’s excellent gaming performance is largely thanks to its Lightway protocol. This proprietary protocol is optimized for fast speeds and stable connections. Plus, it consumes less battery, so you can play mobile games for longer. It’s also available on ExpressVPN’s router app, so you’ll get the same great speeds whether you’re playing on a console or desktop.
Even though ExpressVPN isn’t 100% free, it comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. This means you can try it risk-free and get a full refund if it’s not for you. Plus, you also get 3 months of service completely free when you sign up for its annual plan.
- Large server network. This means you can access region-locked games and find easy lobbies without running into overcrowded servers. The entire network supports P2P, so you won’t have any problem connecting with other gamers in P2P games like Super Smash Bros.
- Built-in speed test tool. You can use this to see each server’s latency, so you can easily find a low-ping connection for gaming. Generally, you will get the lowest ping on the server closest to your physical location.
- Port forwarding. This feature allows you to easily host games and invite friends to play with you. Set it up on your router and create a specific path for incoming traffic on a particular port so your friends can easily connect.
- Strong security. ExpressVPN offers military-grade encryption and IP/DNS leak protection to protect your gaming sessions from DDoS attacks. I tested 7 of its servers for leaks and never found any.
|Dedicated gaming servers optimized for fast speeds
|11,683+ servers in 100 countries
|45-day money-back guarantee
What sets CyberGhost apart from free (and paid!) VPNs is its gaming-optimized servers. This makes it super easy to choose the ideal connection for gaming, as these servers are designed to deliver fast speeds and low ping. Plus, thanks to its extensive network, I didn't experience any server congestion – something I can’t say for free VPNs.
During my tests on its UK and German gaming servers, I received a ping rate of only 19ms, and a speed drop of only 6%. I didn’t experience any lag while playing CoD: Mobile on my Android phone. Its long-distance connections can be slow (I had a 21% drop compared to ExpressVPN’s 9%), but as long as you’ve got a fast baseline connection, it’s barely noticeable.
CyberGhost is also a safe choice for gamers because of its built-in NAT firewall and strong security features. The NAT firewall ensures that only the data you’ve requested can reach your device, so you’re protected from DDoS attacks and malicious files. Plus, it protects your gaming sessions with strong encryption and IP/DNS leak protection.
While it’s also not completely free, it’s backed by a generous money-back guarantee of up to 45 days. This means you can take CyberGhost for a test run without any financial risk. Just ask for a refund if you’re not impressed.
- Router support. CyberGhost is also compatible with tons of routers, so you can use it with your gaming consoles. It doesn’t have a dedicated router app like ExpressVPN, so you have to set it up manually. However, I found the setup instructions for this on CyberGhost’s website.
- Massive server network. CyberGhost has an extensive server network, providing speedy and uncrowded connections. You can always find speedy nearby connections for seamless gaming and access geo-restricted games with ease.
- WireGuard support. WireGuard offers fast speeds without compromising security, which makes it suitable for gaming. During my tests, I found WireGuard to be faster than the popular OpenVPN, with slightly better ping rates and download speeds.
|No data restrictions even with the free plan
|Multiple servers in 3 countries
|Free forever plan
Proton VPN is the only truly free VPN on this list that offers unlimited data. Most free VPNs provide somewhere between 500MB to 10GB per month, which isn’t much considering a 1-hour session of CS:GO may use up to 260MB of data per hour. With unlimited data, you can play battle royale games like Apex Legends, Fortnite, and Valorant without interruptions.
Its short-distance servers are well-suited for fast-paced online games. However, the free version only offers servers in 3 locations (the US, Netherlands, and Japan). As a test, I used the US-FREE#11 server and recorded speeds of 95 Mbps (an 8% drop) and a ping of 22 ms, which allowed me to play Apex Legends without issues.
My biggest issue with Proton VPN is that most of its free servers can become overcrowded during peak hours. I couldn’t play any of the free Japan servers because there was too much lag, both due to the server load and because it was a long-distance connection. However, I was always able to find servers with less load for better performance.
That’s because Proton VPN displays the load on each server so you can start gaming straight away without having to hop around servers to find the best connection.
- Robust security. Proton VPN uses robust military-grade encryption and leak protection to protect you from DDoS attacks. And similar to CyberGhost, it also supports WireGuard.
- Split-tunneling. This lets you choose which apps or websites use the VPN connection and which ones don't. This is perfect for gaming since you can exclude non-gaming apps from the VPN to improve your connection speed.
|Unlimited simultaneous device connections
|1,400+ servers in 37 countries on mobile; 1 on desktop
|500MB/month (1GB if you sign up with your email address)
|Free forever plan
Avira Phantom VPN allows unlimited device connections, which is rare for free VPNs. This means you can play on any device without interrupting an existing active connection. During my tests, I connected my Android phone, iPad, and 3 other devices to a nearby server and never experienced any issues. My speeds remained consistent, and the ping never rose above 42ms.
Avira Phantom’s free apps for Windows and macOS only let you connect to your “Nearest Location”, so you should always have low ping. On the other hand, its Android and iOS apps give you full access to its entire network, so you have more freedom if you use this VPN for gaming on mobile. Unfortunately, you can’t use this VPN on your router or gaming consoles.
In addition, you only get 500MB of monthly data (or 1GB if you register using an email), which makes it unsuitable for fast-paced online games. However, it’s enough for slow-paced or turn-based games (like Hearthstone).
- Easy to use. Avira Phantom VPN is super easy to set up and use. You don’t even need to create an account to start using the VPN. Just download the app, connect to a server, and you’re all set.
- Protection against DDoS attacks. All the apps come with AES 256-bit encryption and leak protection to secure your gaming sessions. However, the free version doesn't have a kill switch.
|Customizable security to tailor your connection as per your needs
|Multiple servers in 8 locations
|Free forever plan
The reason I love hide.me is that it lets you customize your connection depending on your gaming needs. For example, you can choose between a variety of VPN protocols, including OpenVPN, IKEv2, and SSTP. IKEv2 is great for speed, IPv6 reduced my ping, and SSTP allowed me to play games on restrictive networks.
You get access to 8 server locations with the free plan. When I tested its nearby Germany and Netherlands servers, I received an average ping of 29ms. I could play Free Fire on my Android phone without any lag.
The free version gives you 10GB of data, which is more generous than most free VPNs. You can play Minecraft (which can use up to 200MB/hr) for about 50 hours with this much data. However, you can’t use hide.me on your router to bypass this restriction or protect your gaming consoles.
- Auto-Connect. This automatically connects you to a VPN server when you join a network. You don’t have to enable it manually every time you game.
- No registration required. Similar to Avira Phantom VPN, you don’t need to sign up for the service to use it. This means you can effectively bypass the 1 device connection limit and use hide.me on your mobile and desktop devices.
Quick Comparison Table: Best Free Gaming VPNs
The table below compares the features every gamer should be concerned about when looking for a gaming VPN.
I've outlined the essential aspects of each VPN, including its usual speed, permitted data usage, and standard latency. A higher number of server locations enhances the chance of achieving better speeds due to reduced congestion. Furthermore, this means easier access to bot lobbies in countries where certain games may not be well-known.
Setting a VPN up on a router is the best way to connect your console to a VPN. So if you want a VPN on your PlayStation, Xbox, or Nintendo, that’s a must.
Tips on Choosing the Best Free VPNs for Gaming
I used the following criteria to rank the best free VPNs for gaming. These features all gave me a great experience while I was playing multiplayer games while connected to a VPN, so I recommend taking them into account when making your choice:
- Risk-free. All the VPNs listed here are either 100% free, or come with reliable money-back guarantees that I personally tested, so there's no financial risk to using them.
- Low ping and fast speeds. This ensures smooth gameplay and quick downloads. I prioritized VPNs that can deliver a ping rate of less than 60 ms on nearby servers. Plus, I only featured VPNs that had less than 40% speed loss on local servers.
- Numerous servers. This reduces the likelihood of running into overcrowded servers. I looked for VPNs that have a range of server locations so you can find options close to your physical location. This ensures that you’ll have a speedy and low-latency connection.
- Sufficient data allowance. The amount of data a game uses can range from <1MB/hour to >300MB/hr. The VPNs I’ve shortlisted offer a monthly data limit of 1 GB or more which will cover hours of gaming.
- Router support. Not many free VPNs will offer this, but it’s the best way to connect your game console to a VPN. I made sure to include a few VPNs that offer free router support.
- Strong security. This is important for preventing cyberattacks on shared gaming servers. All these free VPNs have standard security (military-grade encryption and leak protection) to keep you protected from DoS attacks. All of them are trusted providers who won’t sell your data to third parties for a profit, either.
Expert Tip: Dangers of Free VPNs for Gaming
Although the free VPNs mentioned in this list are secure, the majority of them carry inherent safety risks. The most dependable and risk-free method for online gaming is to opt for a budget-friendly VPN that offers a money-back guarantee. Below are some of the hazards you should be aware of when using free VPNs:
- Plenty of free VPNs have weak security. Many free services don’t offer critical security features, such as an automatic kill switch and dedicated IP/DNS leak protection that can protect you against DDoS attacks. They simply don’t have the funds or resources to keep up with the latest security measures.
- There are free VPNs that contain malware and viruses. I recommend scanning the downloaded executable with an anti-malware software file before installing any free app on your machine. It might contain spyware that will put your gaming account (and entire device) at risk. On top of that, plenty of free VPNs are ad-supported, which is annoying when it interrupts your gameplay.
Free VPNs to Avoid
These VPNs put your privacy at risk and aren’t safe for gaming:
- Betternet VPN — A study conducted by CSIRO found that Betternet’s app is full of malware. Furthermore, its Android app installs more than 10 third-party tracking libraries, which puts your privacy at risk.
- TouchVPN — This service is only a proxy that doesn’t have the same level of security a VPN does. It is also known to store your browsing activity and share it with third parties to create targeted ads.
- Other free VPNs to avoid — Turbo VPN, CrossVPN, sFly Network Booster, OKVPN, EasyVPN, Hoxx VPN, Archie VPN, Hat VPN, Private Pipe VPN, Tuxler VPN, GO VPN, Hexatech, Faceless.me, FinchVPN, VPN One Click, Fast Secure Payment.
FAQs on the Best Free VPNs for Gaming
What’s the best free VPN for gaming on PC and Android?
Every VPN on this list works well for gaming on PC and Android. However, all of the truly free VPNs on this list come with some sort of limitation, so it really depends on what you want to use the gaming VPN for.
For example, some have data limitations that mean you’ll only be able to play a few hours of data-hungry games like Fortnite or Minecraft a month. Others can’t be installed on routers, so you can’t protect your gaming consoles.
If you don’t want any restrictions, your best option is to choose a low-cost premium VPN. It’s worth the few dollars a month not to have to face the limitations you do with free VPNs. Most of them come with reliable money-back guarantees, too, so there’s no financial risk in trying them out.
Will a free gaming VPN lower my ping?
Not typically, but it is possible in some circumstances. For example, you can experience high latency if your ISP’s network is congested. However, a VPN can lower the ping by re-routing your traffic through a less-congested and more direct route to the game server.
A VPN adds an extra “stop” to the route your data travels to reach its destination. So, in most cases, using a VPN will increase your ping slightly. All the VPNs listed have low ping on local servers to minimize this additional lag when you’re gaming.
However, there are some ways to improve your VPN’s ping.
- Connect to a VPN server close to your actual location. The shorter the distance, the lower your ping generally is. Long-distance connections will almost always give you high ping.
- Choose a server with a low user load. The more users connected to a server, the more data has to make it through, so fewer users = lower ping.
- Use a lightweight security protocol. During my ping tests, each VPN I tried gave me a lower ping with a protocol like WireGuard in comparison to OpenVPN.
Can I use a free VPN with Steam?
Yes, you can use a free VPN with Steam, but it goes against Valve's Steam Subscriber Agreement. The company reserves the right to terminate your account if they detect that you are using a VPN. However, I haven't heard of any reports of bans just because someone used a VPN to play games securely.
However, using a VPN to access geo-restricted games or take advantage of regional pricing is taken more seriously by Steam. If detected, Steam may take action against your account.
Is there a free VPN with servers in India?
Yes, but I don’t recommend using a free VPN with physical servers in India. Due to recent government regulations requiring VPN companies to log user data, most VPNs no longer offer physical servers in India to protect user privacy.
But if you want an Indian IP address, I recommend using a premium VPN. Our top recommended providers don’t operate physical servers in India, but they do offer virtual servers for the country. This means you can connect to India for gaming while still maintaining your online privacy.
Will a free VPN work with games like Valorant or PUBG?
Yes, but most have data caps that limit how long you can play. For data-intensive games, it’s always a better idea to go for a low-cost premium VPN with unlimited data and bandwidth.
Valorant, for example, uses up to 400MB of data per hour, and most free VPNs offer between 1GB and 10GB of monthly data. At most, you’d be able to play for 25 hours per month (with 10GB). That might be enough if you’re a casual gamer. For hardcore gamers, a free VPN just won’t cut it.
PUBG uses up to 50MB of data per hour. As long as the free VPN has servers close to your actual location (for low enough ping), even with 1GB of data per month, you’d only get 20 hours of gameplay.
Can I use a free VPN to play games from other countries?
Yes, and I recommend using a VPN with a large server network to give you more locations to choose from. Simply connect to a server in the country where the game is available, create an account, and start playing.
Just keep in mind that you may need a payment method that was registered in the country where you purchase the game. In addition, using a VPN to access geo-restricted games or regional pricing on storefronts like Steam is often against the platform’s terms of service. So, your account may be at risk.
Get the Best Free VPN for Gaming Today
A free VPN can definitely improve your gaming experience but with limitations. All the free VPNs I shortlisted are safe to use and will protect you on shared gaming servers from DoS attacks. However, the biggest limitations I found are restrictive data caps and too few servers.
That’s why I will always recommend a low-cost premium VPN like ExpressVPN instead. You get fast speeds, low ping, unlimited data, and a large server network. It’s even backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can test ExpressVPN risk-free. If you aren’t impressed, it’s easy to get a full refund.
To summarize, the best gaming VPNs with money-back guarantees are…
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