How to Watch HBO Max Anywhere in 2 Minutes [2020 Update]

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HBO Max is finally here! Who can’t wait to get sucked in to HBO Max Originals and every episode of Friends, Game of Thrones, and The Big Bang Theory?

But HBO Max is only available to streamers in the US.

What do you do if you’re outside of the US? The solution is simple: a VPN – software that lets you mask your location and virtually transfer it to anywhere in the world. With a VPN, you can make your location look like you’re in the US, so you can stream HBO Max from wherever you are.

I’ve tested 300 VPNs to find the best ones with guaranteed unblocking powers, super-fast speeds, and of course, advanced security features. I even have a way you can try any of my VPN recommendations for FREE.

How to Watch HBO Max from Anywhere in Under 2 Minutes

  1. Choose a good streaming VPN. My top pick is NordVPN for its super-fast speeds and consistent unblocking powers.
  2. Connect to a US server.
  3. Head over to HBO Max and sign up or log in. You need a US credit card or HBO gift card to subscribe.

Start Streaming HBO Max Now!

NOTE: If you’re already signed up for HBO NOW, you’ll automatically be upgraded to HBO Max at no additional cost.

Why You Need a VPN to Watch HBO Max

Due to licensing restrictions and company interests, HBO Max geoblocks its service, so only users with a US IP address can access its content. Try to connect to HBO Max with a non-US IP address and an error message confirms your access is blocked.

HBO Max error message when trying to connect outside the US.

With a premium VPN, you can connect to a US server. The VPN replaces your real IP address with a US one. This tricks HBO Max into believing you’re in the US and lets you stream from its library. It’s simple, legal, and gives you instant access, hiding your location from your ISP. It also blocks ISP tracking, many cyber attacks, and data thieves.

The Best VPNs for Watching HBO Max – Full Analysis (June 2020 Update)

To reliably connect to HBO Max every time, you need a VPN that can beat geoblocks and anti-VPN technology. After thorough research, I’ve chosen the five best VPNs for watching HBO Max.

TIP: If your US server is blocked from accessing HBO Max, disconnect and try another to be assigned a new IP address and overcome the problem. My selection of premium VPNs have plenty of US servers for great IP address variety.

1. NordVPN – Best for Streaming HBO Max

NordVPN Devices
  • 5,700+ servers worldwide, 1,800+ US servers
  • Beats geoblocks with SmartPlay DNS
  • Lightning-fast speeds and unlimited bandwidth
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • 24/7 live chat
  • Works with: HBO Max, Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Shudder, and more
  • Compatible with: Windows, Android, iOS, macOS, routers, Linux, browsers

NordVPN is the ultimate all-around VPN. It’s reliable, fast, and has the power to break through geoblocks, so you can watch your favorite HBO shows from anywhere.

With more than 1,800 servers in the US alone, NordVPN is an excellent choice for watching HBO Max wherever you are. Such a large network means you’re unlikely to come across an overloaded server or be stopped by anti-VPN technology. If you do encounter a block, just switch to another server in the same location. It took me about 15 seconds to switch servers during my tests.

Explore NordVPN’s huge US network and discover just how much content it can unblock, with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

NordVPN’s unblocking power is boosted by SmartPlay DNS, which automatically sends your traffic through a server guaranteed to fly past HBO Max’s geoblocks. The tech is built-in, so you don’t have to do anything to activate it. I was able to connect and start streaming within three minutes.

NordVPN is one of the fastest VPNs I’ve tested. When I connected to a US server my speed dropped by 14%, but at 53.12 Mbps, I didn’t notice the difference. There was no lag, no buffering, and no frozen pixels.

Connection Ping Download Speed Upload Speed
Starting speed UK server 13 ms 61.67 Mbps 18.25 Mbps
Quick connect US server 85 ms 53.12 Mbps 17.45 Mbps

You have to look pretty hard to find a device that the NordVPN app doesn’t support. Plus, it’s easy to install it on your router to cover all your devices at once, even if they don’t support VPNs. I found its 24/7 live chat extremely useful, and you can find easy-to-understand troubleshooting and installation guides on its website.

Your NordVPN account supports six simultaneous connections, so you and your family members can enjoy HBO Max at the same time.

Want to know more? Explore our NordVPN review to see the full results of our research and testing.

Limited time offer: Save big on your subscription

Stream HBO Max with NordVPN!

2. ExpressVPN – Fast VPN for Streaming HBO Max

  • 3,000+ servers in 90+ countries, 20+ US server locations
  • Super-fast speeds and unlimited bandwidth
  • Built-in speed test
  • Expert 24/7 live chat
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Works with: HBO Max, Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, Sling TV, ITV Hub
  • Compatible with: Windows, macOS, Android, Linux, iOS, routers, browsers

ExpressVPN is often top of my list when it comes to US streaming, and it’s not hard to see why. With its super-fast speeds and superb unblocking abilities, you can get your fix of Rick and Morty in vibrant HD within minutes.

ExpressVPN has an impressive US server network, with servers spread across 20+ locations. All three US servers I tested were able to sail past HBO Max’s geoblocks with ease.

Using the built-in speed test for Mac and Windows devices, I connected to the fastest US server. I experienced blazing speeds of 55.14 Mbps, which is much more than the 5 Mbps needed for HD streaming, and just a fraction lower than my starting speed.

Even when using Quick Connect to get a US IP address, my download speed dropped by just under 11%. The speed loss wasn’t at all noticeable and the quality of my HD stream remained unchanged. I double-checked my speeds with two third-party speed tests and the results were consistent with ExpressVPN’s measurement.

Connection Ping Download Speed Upload Speed
Starting speed UK server 13 ms 61.67 Mbps 18.25 Mbps
Quick connect US server 86 ms 55.14 Mbps 17.41 Mbps

While streaming Game of Thrones, I didn’t experience any lag or buffering. There was no sign of frozen pixels, even during a busy battle scene. The picture was crystal clear; I could see every ounce of anguish in Jon Snow’s eyes.

Test out ExpressVPN’s speed for yourself with a 30-day money-back guarantee. You can get a full refund if you cancel during the guarantee term, no questions asked.

You can connect five devices at once across a wide range of operating systems. I connected my smartphone, tablet, and laptop at the same time and didn’t experience a dip in streaming performance. Thanks to unlimited bandwidth, there were no dropped connections and my whole family could stream HBO Max at their own pace, hassle-free.

ExpressVPN’s MediaStreamer feature is great for streaming HBO Max on devices that don’t usually support VPNs, like game consoles. I tested it out on my Samsung Smart TV using one of ExpressVPN’s helpful tutorials and was streaming Friends in minutes. MediaStreamer doesn’t encrypt your data, though, so it’s best to use the regular VPN app if you can.

There are many more helpful tutorials on the ExpressVPN website, and the 24/7 live chat support team were extremely friendly and helpful.

Want to know more? Explore our ExpressVPN review to see the full results of our research and testing.

Limited time offer: Save big on your subscription

Stream HBO Max with ExpressVPN!

3. Surfshark – Excellent Value for Large Families

Surfshark devices
  • 1,700+ global servers, 20+ US server locations
  • Great network speeds and unlimited bandwidth
  • Quick Connect for easy startup
  • 24/7 live chat support
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Works with: HBO Max, Hulu, Sky Go, BBC iPlayer, Netflix, ITV Hub, Amazon Prime Video
  • Compatible with: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux, routers, browsers

Fast and reliable, Surfshark offers the rare bonus of unlimited simultaneous device connections. This is why it’s my top recommendation for large households of streaming fans. You can connect as many devices as you need with just one subscription.

I used the Quick Connect feature to automatically connect to the fastest US server for HBO Max. Once connected, I ran a speed test before I started streaming to check if it is fast enough to avoid buffering.

It ran at 55.12 Mbps download with 100 ms ping, which is more than sufficient for HD streaming. With speeds only 11% lower than my starting speeds, I didn’t encounter any lag or buffering while streaming The Big Bang Theory.

Connection Ping Download Speed Upload Speed
Starting speed UK server 13 ms 61.67 Mbps 18.25 Mbps
Quick connect US server 100 ms 55.12 Mbps 17.24 Mbps

Plus, unlimited bandwidth allows for serious binge-watching without dropped connections or long load times between episodes.

HBO Max’s geoblocks are no match for Surfshark’s US servers. I was able to access the streaming platform with the 14 high-speed servers I tested from the 20+ US locations.

Surfshark’s 24/7 live chat support is friendly and helpful. They provided a speedy response to my questions about server locations. They also guided me through installing the VPN on my router, step-by-step. You can try Surfshark risk-free with its 30-day money-back guarantee.

Want to know more? Explore our Surfshark review to see the full results of our research and testing.

Limited time offer: Save big on your subscription

Stream HBO Max with Surfshark!

4. CyberGhost – Great VPN for First-time Users

CyberGhost Devices
  • 6,500+ global servers in 90 countries, 1,000+ US servers
  • Great network speeds and unlimited bandwidth
  • Optimized streaming servers
  • Email and live chat support
  • 45-day money-back guarantee
  • Works with: HBO Max, BBC iPlayer, Sling TV, Amazon Prime Video, ESPN+, Netflix
  • Compatible with: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux, browsers, routers

Of all the VPNs I’ve tested, CyberGhost is the easiest to use. That’s why I regularly recommend it for beginners. Its apps are intuitive to use, and I had it set up in less than five minutes.

CyberGhost labels its streaming-optimized servers with the service they’re best at unblocking. All I needed to do was type “HBO Max” into the search field, it directed me to the best server for me.

When I tested it, my download speed hit 15.81 Mbps. It was slower than the other VPNs on this list, but it still provided a crisp, sharp picture and no lag when watching South Park.

Thanks to unlimited bandwidth, I managed to stream several episodes back-to-back without interruption.

Connection Ping Download Speed Upload Speed
Starting speed UK server 13 ms 61.67 Mbps 18.25 Mbps
HBO Optimized US server 82 ms 15.81 Mbps 17.67 Mbps

Its specialty servers beat HBO Max’s geoblocks every time. But if you’re struggling to connect to an optimized server, CyberGhost has 1,000+ US servers that can bypass geoblocks. I found that they all provide comparable speeds that are good enough for HD streaming.

CyberGhost supports up to seven simultaneous connections. If you install it on your VPN-compatible router, you can use it with every device on your network. I shared my CyberGhost account with my entire household. Even when we were all connected at the same time, we were able to stream at high speeds, hassle-free.

You can try out the beginner-friendly VPN for yourself and see if it’s the service for you with its 45-day money-back guarantee. That’s plenty of time to investigate its features, plus CyberGhost’s live chat support team is happy to talk you through any additional help you might need.

Want to know more? Explore our CyberGhost review to see the full results of our research and testing.

Limited time offer: Save big on your subscription

Stream HBO Max with CyberGhost!

5. PrivateVPN – Small But Reliable Server Network

privatevpn devices
  • 150+ servers, including 14 US servers
  • Designated streaming servers
  • Unlimited bandwidth and good streaming speeds
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Email and live chat support
  • Works with: HBO NOW, Hulu, Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+
  • Works with: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux, Kodi, routers

PrivateVPN is a great budget-friendly VPN, offering fast speeds and great unblocking powers at a low price.

Its US network is smaller than those of my other top recommendations, but I skipped past HBO Max’s geoblocks with each server I tried. There’s even a designated HBO server.

You can put the unblocking abilities of PrivateVPN to the test with a 30-day money-back guarantee. Just be sure you stay under 100 GB of data, which is the limit to get a refund.

That’s enough for around 30 hours of streaming – you can watch the entire Rick and Morty collection and then some. Once the money-back guarantee is up, your PrivateVPN subscription includes unlimited data and bandwidth.

Its US servers’ speeds varied during my test, particularly at peak times where the speeds dropped down to less than 25 Mbps. This is likely due to the small number of US servers being clogged with users.

However, when I tested the designated HBO server, I enjoyed smooth streaming with speeds of just over 48 Mbps. It dropped by only 20% during busy periods. I found it is fast enough to avoid buffering and lag.

Connection Ping Download Speed Upload Speed
Starting speed UK server 13 ms 61.67 Mbps 18.25 Mbps
HBO Optimized US server 128 ms 48.40 Mbps 17.65 Mbps

You can connect six devices at once with PrivateVPN. So, you can keep your whole family entertained with their favorite shows on their own devices while you stream.

PrivateVPN supports most major devices and operating systems. I found the apps very simple to use. It’s easy to get started, and navigation is intuitive. You don’t need to spend a lot of time setting up; you can start streaming right away.

Live chat support is only available during business hours in Sweden, but when it is open, you get a quick response. If you need help outside live chat hours, email support is available. I received a helpful response within 24 hours of sending an email. There’s also a large selection of guides and FAQs on its website.

Want to know more? Explore our PrivateVPN review to see the full results of our research and testing.

Limited time offer: Save big on your subscription

Stream HBO Max with PrivateVPN!

FAQs

❔ What else can a VPN do?

Being able to access geo-restricted streaming sites from anywhere is a major perk of premium VPN, but there are many other benefits a quality VPN provides, including:

  • Top-shelf security features, including unbreakable military-grade encryption.
  • Anonymous surfing and streaming, even in countries with online surveillance and harsh censorship laws.
  • Freedom to connect to unsecured public WiFi networks safe in the knowledge your sensitive data is protected.
  • Built-in ad and malware blockers.
  • The ability to bypass local network congestion and ISP throttling for faster speeds.

We show you everything you need to know in our VPN guide for newbies.

🛑 Why can’t I access HBO Max with my VPN?

Sometimes, HBO’s anti-VPN software matches your IP address with a known VPN IP. This is rare when you’re using a premium VPN because it refreshes its IPs routinely to avoid detection.

But don’t worry; it’s easy to fix. Simply disconnect from your VPN and reconnect on a different US server. You’ll be assigned a new IP address that isn’t blocked.

My colleague shows you how to bypass VPN blocks in our step-by-step guide.

🐌 Will my VPN impact my streaming speeds?

Not if you use a premium VPN. Low-quality and free VPNs have small server networks that are clogged with users, which drastically reduces your streaming speeds.

All of the VPNs I recommend are fast enough to stream in high definition without any lag or buffering.

Concerned about speeds? We’ve tested all the top VPNs to find the 10 fastest services in 2020.

🆓 Should I use a free VPN to stream HBO Max?

There are very few free VPNs that have the power to overcome HBO Max’s geoblocks. 

Most free VPNs are limited, too: they restrict your data, bandwidth, server access, and speeds. This makes for a terrible, slow streaming session.

Plus, they often monetize their services through ads and selling your personal data to third parties.

It’s not worth risking your privacy when you can use a money-back guarantee to try a premium VPN for free. 

Bottom Line

You can watch HBO Max from anywhere by using a top-notch VPN like NordVPN to overcome geoblocks.

I put each of my VPN recommendations through rigorous testing to ensure that they can beat HBO Max’s geoblocks with speeds that are fast enough for smooth, HD streaming. You can test all of them for free using their money-back guarantees.

Stream HBO Max Now!

To summarize, the best VPNs for HBO Max are…

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