Steam is without question the best gaming platform for the PC, but if you're looking for a reliable VPN to work with it, the sheer number of options can be confusing.
In this guide I've been tested all the most “popular” providers to see which works best with Steam.
If you're a gamer and a PC gamer in particular then you'll know how vital every ‘ms' is on your ping. Especially if you're an FPS gamer or play any game that requires you to react quickly to the action.
Using a VPN is going to add latency to your gaming experience, this goes without saying. However, by choosing the correct VPN, you can be sure this is kept to such a minimum that it will barely make a difference to your reaction time.
It may even improve your gaming by sending your data down faster routes or avoid slow bottlenecks to the server you're playing on.
I've been testing a whole host of VPN providers with games on Steam such as PUGB, COD, CS:GO and a whole host of different MMORPG's to find out which VPN is the best for Steam gaming.
Keep scrolling to discover who came out on top.
Top 7 Steam VPN services
For gaming on Steam or any other system such as Origin, you should definitely check out ExpressVPN.
I found them to be one of the fastest VPN providers with the most reliable connections. When gaming this is absolutely critical because the last thing you want is your connection dropping mid-game.
With well over 90 countries on offer, ExpressVPN will even allow you to connect to servers around the world and play in different regions. You can also unblock and play games restricted to specific regions or activate games early.
I found their no-nonsense Windows and Mac apps to be simple to use, allowing you to get connected quickly and easily and forget about it.
This lets you get on with the job of gaming without being bogged down. There are also mobile apps and an app for the Amazon Fire TV Stick if you want to take a break from gaming.
Our #1 Recommendation for Steam
30-day money back guarantee
IPVanish has been in the VPN game for a long time, which means they've definitely locked down a good service.
They're the ideal solution for gaming having previously had close links between their prior-parent company managing some of Steam's network. While they're not owned by the same company anymore, it means the technicians have a good understanding of Steam's network.
The service has extended their money back guarantee to 30 days, so you've got a whole month of gaming to see if they live up to your expectations.
What's most impressive is you can use one account on an unlimited number of devices. This allows you to protect your Steam gaming plus other computers, tablets, phones, Fire TVs and more.
NordVPN have been expanding a lot over the past few years which has led them to have well over 5,000 individual VPN servers. If you're looking for a server that isn't overcrowded to give you that speed advantage when gaming then NordVPN is it.
Their apps are some of the easiest to use I've seen with the best interface. Just click to connect, minimise it and get your frag on.
I dislike the fact NordVPN add VAT for EU customers although that's somewhat unavoidable on their behalf. This adds to the price and you won't find that from some of the other leading services.
There is, however, a huge 30-day money back guarantee to give you time to test the service without risk.
4. Cyberghost VPN
CyberGhost VPN is another provider that has expanded rapidly in recent years catapulting them into being one of the leading VPN services for multiple purposes.
I really like their apps because they have specific sections depending on what you want to do. Want to unblock movies? They've got a section, want to torrent? They've got a section.
While they don't have a dedicated gaming option, you can select a country and even a specific server individually. If you find one server that works great for Steam then you can continue to connect there in future.
In an industry first, CyberGhost VPN has a 45 day money back guarantee allowing you to test the service for over a month and a half which gives you plenty of time to see it working with Steam and decide if it works for you or not.
If you want something a bit different from the norm, then VPN.ac is where you should look.
They don't have quite the server numbers that the other providers have, which means they won't be suitable for everyone. You'll need to check out their server locations first to see if that matches with your gaming habits.
If they do though you'll find an excellent little VPN service that is lesser known than other providers. What this means is you'll find their servers are less congested than some other providers giving you better speeds.
Although VPN.ac is considered a “small” provider, their service is anything but.
For gaming, you'll get better latency shaving ms off your ping and excellent security provisions. Not only is it a great VPN for Steam gaming but it'll also protect your privacy at the same time.
Next, there is Surfshark, which is another excellent choice when it comes to speed.
This VPN is fast enough for HD streaming, which means that it will definitely be good enough for gaming via Steam. It offers an extensive server network, with more than 1,700 servers in 63 different countries.
This is fewer servers than some of the earlier providers but they are a relative newcomer, so it is to be expected.
Apps are available for all major devices including your Steam gaming platforms like Windows and Mac.
One of their standout features is the ability to use it on an unlimited number of devices. So aside from protecting your gaming, you can unblock Netflix, stay secure online and much more on any device type.
Lastly, there is VyprVPN, a service that offers a large server network that spans throughout 70 different countries.
In total it features more than 200,000 individual IP addresses, so you will always be able to unblock whatever you need, in most parts of the world.
This is ideal for gaming because it means there is unlikely to be many users using the same IP Address and you can sneakily avoid most in-game IP bans.
VyprVPN is also lightning fast, and one of the best ways of combating internet censorship. It is more than capable of unblocking Steam and allowing you to play whatever game you want.
There's the industry standard 30-day money back guarantee available so like the other services you can try it without any risk.
What to consider when choosing a VPN for Steam
Choosing a VPN for any purpose is difficult enough but when you throw in the Steam factor, it's made even more challenging.
Essential features to consider when choosing a VPN for Steam gaming are:
- Server Locations
- Ping impact
Everything to do with multiplayer gaming rests on speed. Choose a slow provider and you'll be plagued with a poor connection that will result in more deaths or more delayed reactions to the game.
For this reason, it's critical you choose a provider with fast speeds and a lengthy money-back guarantee such as ExpressVPN or NordVPN.
You'll be able to check how their speeds impact your Steam gaming over a long period of time and if you're unhappy with the result then get a refund.
Why use a VPN with Steam?
There are several good reasons why you might want to consider using a VPN while playing games via Steam, such as:
1. Mask your IP Address
When you play online games or do anything else online your IP address can be visible to both, servers and sometimes even other players.
This does not only expose you, but it also makes you vulnerable to DDoS attacks, which are often targeted at gamers forcing you offline. Pretty annoying when you're on a winning streak!
The best way to protect yourself is to use a VPN. This will hide your real IP address, and use the one tied to a server owned by the VPN service.
If anyone tries to target you, they will target the VPN's server, instead. This will leave you connected without issues.
2. Unlock games early
Despite the fact that buying games cheaper by connecting to different regions can, in fact, get you banned, this is not the case when it comes to unlocking games in different regions early.
This is extremely useful, especially when it comes to new releases.
Many new releases will emerge in New Zealand first, while elsewhere in the world, they can be late by 24 hours, or maybe even more.
You can get ahead of others and enjoy a game an entire day before most other people get to play it in your country by activating early using a VPN.
3. Improve route/ping
VPN is also a great method of improving your internet connection if you have issues between you and Steam, or you and the game's server.
Of course, you may know that VPN does, in fact, slow down your internet a bit, due to the fact that it is encrypting all of your traffic in real-time.
However, it can also stabilise your connection, eliminate throttling, and make your game run much smoother. It is definitely worth trying out if you have technical issues with Steam.
4. Stay secure outside Steam
Lastly, VPNs are likely one of the best security, privacy, and anonymity tools that exist right now. They can do wonders to protect you outside of Steam, as well.
For example, gamers often tend to connect for voice comms and alike while playing on apps outside of Steam.
This makes communication easier, and it makes it more fun to play with your friends.
However, it also exposes you, and it might even allow some third party to grab your IP Address and again force you offline.
Use a VPN to protect all of your traffic and your IP address completely.
Can I get banned for using a VPN with Steam?
As a matter of fact, no.
The first thing that we should point out is that VPNs are entirely legal technology, and apart from a handful of countries, like China or Russia, you are perfectly free to use them anywhere in the world.
As for using them with Steam, you can do so without problems, as well.
Steam does not prohibit the use of VPNs, and you can use them for operating Steam or playing games.
Steam did warn, however, that this might affect your gameplay or even the Steam client. But, there is no guarantee that it will actually happen,
Lastly, if you try to purchase games while you have VPN active, you might reach games that are not available in your area.
However, Steam noted that this would, in fact, be a violation of its terms, which is a good enough reason to ban you, if you get caught doing so.
So if you're trying to be sneaky and buy games from cheaper regions, don't be surprised if the game gets revoked or you lose access to your entire Steam account.
Do Free VPNs for Steam work?
Free VPNs sound like a tempting offer, but most of them are very likely to fail you.
If for nothing else, you should avoid them because they are extremely slow and overcrowded, with only a handful of servers and poor security features.
All of this will make your speed severely reduced, and if you end up playing FPS games where your reaction is critical, you won't have such a great time.
However, free VPNs are also bad for you.
They often record your data and sell it to the highest bidder, which may also include hackers or the government. Not to mention that there is a fair chance that they are set up by hackers themselves to steal your data in real-time.
In fact, as recently as 2020, seven ‘free' VPN services were found to have open logs available for anyone to access.
Will VPN use affect my Steam gaming?
It's the million dollar question and one that a lousy guide will answer “no”.
The truth is any VPN is going to introduce some speed loss but by choosing the correct VPN, you can minimise that speed impact.
A VPN can in specific circumstances actually improve your gameplay.
If you suffer from poor routing, then it's possible by sending your data via a different route that you get an improved connection to the server you're playing on.
If you play Steam games which find you a victim of DDOS attacks, then a VPN will mask your IP Address when gaming to ensure no one can discover your true IP. This is especially useful when using VOIP services.
Above I've rounded up my top seven VPN services for use with Steam.
There are somewhere in the region of 500 commercial VPN providers and the quality of them varies. I tested the seven above with all kinds of Steam games from PUBG to WoW and CS to L4D plus everything else in between.
My recommendation is you should use ExpressVPN but others like NordVPN, CyberGhost VPN and the other listed all make great choices.
Now all you have to do is sign up and enjoy VPN protected Steam gaming.
What's your reason for using a VPN when gaming? I would love to know so why not post in the comments section below?
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