Do VPNs Slow Down Your Gaming Sessions?

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Gaming Sessions

VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) are an excellent solution if you want to access streaming content or bypass geo-blocks on your favorite websites. But are they a good choice for gaming too?

Choosing a VPN protocol that’s fast and reliable can reduce your lag and lower your ping. But can it slow down your gaming sessions? And if it does, how can you avoid that? 

One thing you should know right from the start is that a VPN can’t improve a poor network connection. If your ISP speeds are slow, your VPN speeds will be slow.

To hide your IP address and encrypt your internet connection, a VPN will re-route your traffic through a VPN server. But what does this mean exactly? 

It’s like you’re planning a trip from Portugal to Japan, but instead of choosing a direct flight, you decide you want to book a flight with a stopover in Turkey. The best you can hope is that you’ll arrive just as quickly as with the direct flight, but there are high chances that it’ll take you a bit longer to reach your destination. 

Fortunately, in gaming, this translates to ping (measured in ms), not in hours (or even days) like traveling by plane. 

Connecting to a VPN server might slow your speeds just a bit because your internet traffic will go through 2 different servers (the ISP and the VPN server) instead of just 1 server (the ISP).

Tips to Increase Your Speeds While Gaming  

How can you be sure if your gaming sessions have slow speeds in the first place? 

Here are a few red flags you should look out for: 

  • You have high ping (anything over 100-150 ms).
  • You’re frequently disconnected from the gaming server.
  • You experience lag while gaming and randomly teleport across the map.

Is using a VPN the best solution in this case or will it only make things worse? Here’s what our tests say! 

A VPN will slow down your speeds a bit, but it won’t be a problem if you use a fast VPN protocol.

We tested games like Fortnite, Overwatch, and CS: GO with different VPN providers and 2 popular protocols: OpenVPN and WireGuard. 

With OpenVPN, we experienced 40-50% slowdowns. In some cases, we even had high ping and it took us 30+ seconds to connect to gaming servers. 

But with WireGuard, we only experienced a 20% slowdown, which makes it the best protocol for gaming. 

And we also managed to lower our ping a bit by connecting to a VPN server near the gaming server. Our traffic arrived to the gaming faster that way.

But besides just using the fastest protocol, there are other things you can try to increase your gaming speeds with a VPN:

Close All the Other Apps in the Background 

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Apps can slow down your internet speeds, making your gaming sessions less enjoyable – especially if you don’t have a lot of RAM or have limited bandwidth. So close all apps you’re not using while gaming – like browsers with 10+ tabs, Skype, and torrent clients.

Don’t Use Google Chrome 

If there was such a thing as a RAM-eating contest, Chrome would be king. And that’s because Chrome splits every extension and tab into its own process. If one of them crashes, it won’t close all open tabs. It’s normally useful – just not for your RAM or your gaming sessions. 

Firefox is a better alternative if you want to improve your speeds. 

Get Close to the Router

Large pieces of furniture, thick walls, mirrors, or any other electrical home appliances might disrupt your WiFi signal. Try to bring the device you’re gaming on as close as you can to your router so that the signal is alway strong.

Use an Ethernet Cable 

While not as convenient, ethernet is faster and more reliable than WiFi. Just get an ethernet cable (it’s pretty cheap) and hook up your gaming console, smartphone (an adapter is needed), and laptop to your router for faster, more reliable speeds. 

Are There Any Other Ways To Improve Your Speed While Gaming? 

You have Wireguard, which is the fastest protocol you can use for gaming. But what if it’s not available? Here are 2 alternatives you can try out:

Split-Tunneling 

This is a useful VPN feature that lets you choose which traffic is sent through the VPN server and which traffic will use your local network. For example, let’s say that right now you’re talking on Skype, listening to YouTube on Chrome, and gaming online. If you’re rerouting everything through the VPN server – well, that’s a lot of data. 

Split-tunneling lets you use your local network for Skype and Chrome and redirect just the gaming traffic through the VPN server. This way, the VPN has to route less data, so the speeds should be faster. In our tests, split-tunneling provided us with a 10-15% speed boost.

IKEv2/IPSec

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IKEv2/IPSec is also secure and very fast. And this protocol resists network changes, meaning it can restore dropped connections. Also, most devices support IKEv2/IPSec (PCs, routers, smartphones – you can enjoy your games on any device) and so do most VPN providers.

Conclusion

Using a VPN is a great way to enjoy your favorite games and access geo-blocked servers while keeping you safe at the same time. 

Don’t forget that there are a lot of other factors that can contribute to better internet speeds while you’re gaming: 

  • Choosing a VPN server that’s physically located near your country or city;
  • Playing on a local server;
  • Restarting your router to solve memory leaks.
  • Using a WiFi range extender if your gaming setup is too far from your router.

Are there any VPN protocols you’ve tried that improved your gaming sessions? Or any other tips that can boost your gaming speeds? Share your experience in the comments and let us know how you improved your gaming sessions! 

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