One of the core requirements of an excellent virtual private network (VPN) is unlimited bandwidth and fast speed across its network of servers. Fundamentally, every VPN reduces your internet speed to some degree. That's because encrypting your traffic and rerouting it to the VPN server before moving to your intended website puts extra steps between your device and the website.
The fastest VPNs minimize this speed loss to the point where it is unnoticeable by leveraging modern servers and robust encryption protocols. A fast VPN is crucial for lag-free gaming, buffer-free streaming, speedy torrenting and a fantastic browsing experience. However, you must understand that with all VPNs, security and privacy come before speed.
It also makes sense to consider other factors like unblocking capabilities and ease of usage when shopping for a VPN. Nevertheless, suppose you're a speed freak. In that case, this review will provide you with valuable insights into the fastest VPNs in the market.
Quick Look at the Fastest VPNs:
- Fastest Torrenting and Streaming VPN: NordVPN
- Fastest Affordable VPN: Surfshark
- Fastest Streaming VPN: CyberGhost
- Fastest Beginner’s Choice: IPVanish
- Fastest in General Use: ExpressVPN
- Overall Fastest VPN: Hide.me
The fastest VPNs deliver ultra-fast connection speed and minimize loss in speed arising from usage to the point where it is insignificant. Here’s a look at some of the fastest VPNs.
Fastest Torrenting and Streaming: NordVPN
NordVPN is one name that consistently rings a bell in the VPN market. And so it's not surprising that it is among Benzinga's fastest VPNs, having also emerged among the top picks in various categories. Besides its security and user privacy, NordVPN is renowned for delivering impressive and reliable connection speeds regardless of the server location. Tested via a U.S. server, this speed is about 760 Mbps using its proprietary WireGuard-based NordLynx protocol.
In comparison, the U.S. 2022 national average internet speed is 119.9 Mbps, according to the recent internet speed test by the HighSpeedInternet. The significance is that, in practice, any internet slowdown from NordVPN will be completely undetectable on an average line. The speed was as impressive on international connections, with a drop of between 3% to 4%. Powering this fantastic speed is the NordLynx protocol which, compared to UDP OpenVPN, delivers faster speed without compromising security or privacy. NordVPN offers various features that leverage its speed.
For instance, it can unblock 11 different Netflix libraries worldwide in 4K UHD. Its full-featured Amazon Fire TV app is the icing on the cake for those who love streaming, especially as the Smart DNS feature ensures you can unlock geo-blocked content on all your devices. NordVPN permits torrenting in 85% of its servers and delivers a low-ping, lag-free gaming experience.
Overall, it is an ultra-fast, terrific and highly secure VPN and an excellent choice for everyone. Various subscription packages are available, but the 3.69 per month two-year plan (paid in full) is a snatch. Each subscription package comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, and you can connect to six devices with one account.
Fastest Affordable VPN: Surfshark
Surfshark offers the best value for the money in all categories despite being one of the fastest VPNs. Although its OpenVPN protocol didn't deliver optimum testing speed, using the WireGuard protocol delivered speed over 790 Mbps, making it the third best in terms of speed in Benzinga's list. This speed was consistent for the local server, with an insignificant drop of 5% for the international server.
Surfshark goes the extra mile to optimize for speed by limiting servers to 40% load to avoid congestion. Surfshark's excellent international speed also makes it a VPN candidate for streaming. You can unblock and stream content in HD and 4K on almost all top streaming platforms, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+. However, its core appeal stems from its low cost and unlimited device connections.
The 24-month subscription plan, which works out at $2.05 per month ($49.20 paid fully), is possibly the best deal in the VPN market. It also comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee like its other packages. However, Surfshark doesn't support IPv6 addresses, which makes it prone to IP leaks. Furthermore, it takes Surfshark longer to initiate a connection than other VPNs on this list.
Fastest Streaming VPN: CyberGhost
CyberGhost lacks the blazing speed of Hide.me and the finesses of industrial leaders like NordVPN and ExpressVPN. Nevertheless, it is a top contender among the fastest VPNs. Using the WireGuard protocol, it delivers an impressive 850 Mbps in a test conducted on its U.S. server.
Thanks to this incredible speed and its exceptional ability to unblock and access local and international content in top streaming services, CyberGhost is one of the best VPNs for streaming or Netflix. Its 9,300 networks of servers in over 90 countries guarantee excellent connectivity. Its Smart Rule features make it possible to connect to a preferred server based on your specific need.
CyberGhost also offers excellent security and privacy features. Besides its multiple encryption protocols, it features a kill switch, leak protection, split tunneling and a no-log policy. Pricing starts at $12.99 per month. The two-year plan, however, offers the best value at $2.19 per month ($52.56 paid fully). Unlike other VPNs, CyberGhost's subscription comes with a 45-day money-back guarantee.
Fastest Beginner’s Choice: IPVanish
Once a top-ranking choice in the VPN market, increasing competition has pushed IPVanish off the ladder. Nevertheless, IPVanish offers one of the fastest speeds in the industry, topping 890 Mbps using the WireGuard protocols on the 1 Gbps line. This feature makes it the second-best on this list.
Besides its excellent speed, newbies trying out a VPN for the first time will find its interactive and highly configurable user interface appealing. The provider's knowledge center offers insightful setup guides that could be highly advantageous to such users. Although it struggles with some streaming platforms, it unblocks Netflix and YouTube, which is an excellent feat from the beginner's perspective.
Like Surfshark, IPVanish allows unlimited device connections. Pricing starts at $10.99 per month, which is below the industry average. The one-year plan works out to $3.99 ($47.88 paid fully) and is the best deal. A 30-day money-back guarantee applies for all subscription packages.
Fastest in General Use Case: ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN has always maintained its position as an industry leader in almost all categories and so has often been ranked #1 in most of Benzinga's best VPN list. However, it is not a speed merchant like Hide.me, CyberGhost and even its close competitor NordVPN. Nevertheless, ExpressVPN delivers an optimum speed to feature in this list. Its U.S. test on a 1 Gbps line using its proprietary Lightway protocol cranked up a speed of 640 Mbps, which is moderately sufficient for practically any purpose, from browsing to streaming contents in HD or even 4K without buffering or for torrenting.
While considered the best on international connections, ExpressVPN performs poorly on local connections. Besides speed, ExpressVPN knocks out other services in literally every way. It unblocks more streaming sites or Netflix libraries, offers more robust security and privacy protections and has better customer support. ExpressVPN delivers better extra features, including split tunneling, agile kill switch, WebRTC leak detector, password manager and Smart DNS.
Additionally, ExpressVPN boasts the best troubleshooting and setup libraries. It is the best overall VPN choice if you're focused on something other than raw speed. However, it is also the costliest in the industry at $12.95 per month. The most affordable price is the 15-month plan which works out to $6.67 per month.
Overall Fastest VPN: Hide.me
Hide.me hits an eye-catching 900 Mbps when tested on the U.S. server using the WireGuard protocols or its Bolt tech on a 1Gbps+ line, making it the fastest VPN overall. However, it lacks core usability features unique to Benzinga's list of best VPN providers like ExpressVPN, NordVPN and Surfshark. Therefore it is unsuitable for non-specialists. However, it's an excellent option if you're in it for the speed and can handle its complex configurations.
Numerous configuration options make for flexibility, allowing you to fine-tune your setup in a way that guarantees the best user experience for you. These options range from abundant protocols (including WireGuard and OpenVPN) to more niched configuration options encompassing port forwarding, split tunneling and protection against DNS, IP, IPv4 and IPv6 leaks. So you can decide whether to tunnel your server via IPv4 or IPv6. If this sounds too techie, that's because Hide.me is the ideal techies' dream.
Nevertheless, it offers excellent privacy features and can unblock vast streaming sites, including Netflix, Disney+ and BBC iPlayer, making it okay for the layperson. Still, suppose you're not comfortable fiddling with software and want a more straightforward experience. In that case, you can choose other options from this Benzinga's list. Hide.me's best pricing deal is the two-year plan, equivalent to $3.45 per month, paid in full. All subscription packages come with a 30-day money-back guarantee, and you can connect 10 devices with one account.
Why Do You Need a VPN When You Go Online?
You may need a VPN when going online for many reasons. Here are a few.
Data Protection on Public Wi-Fi
Public Wi-Fi at airports, coffee shops and retail stores like McDonald's are a cheap and convenient means to access the internet. However, they also offer a very convenient way for malicious actors to track your online activities and steal your data. VPN helps you hide your data, including browsing history, account passwords and banking information, from malicious actors.
Data Privacy from ISPs and Government
Malicious cyber actors are not the only ones trying to get their hands on your data. The government and your internet service providers (ISPs) are also often peeping. Basically, your ISPs can see where, when and what you browse. They can potentially collect such information and sell it to advertisers or even government agents. A VPN encrypts your traffic and protects your data from getting into an unauthorized hand.
Bypass Content Restrictions
While streaming websites frown at using VPN to stream content in a country where it isn't offered, it is not illegal (in the U.S. and many countries). Therefore, by spoofing your location, VPN provides an excellent means to bypass content restrictions without breaking the law.
By leveraging the location capability of VPNs, you can save money. How? Various business types, including subscription services and airlines, offer different prices for their services in different locations. If you research and find where services are offered at cheaper subscriptions, you can switch your location and bag a better deal using a VPN.
Remote work has come to stay. In a remote work setting, a VPN can allow team members to securely log into the company's shared network while providing data protection for files and projects.
Considerations With VPNs
Here are things to consider when shopping for a VPN.
Privacy and Logging
Most providers promise total anonymity, but the reality is that they keep some kind of data for some time, which they can potentially hand over to the government if lawfully requested. Different providers handle users' data differently. Try to research what data your providers keep and how they handle such data.
Level of Encryption
Encryption determines the security of a VPN. Strong encryption makes for better security since they're harder to break. The industry standard is 256-bit encryption. Avoid providers offering 128-bit encryption because it's less secure. You should check the available encryption protocol. More modern encryption protocols like WireGuard, IKEv2, SSTP and OpenVPN deliver more robust encryption.
VPNs generally slow down internet connection because of the extra encryption steps the data passes through. Therefore, you must look for VPNs with ultra-fast speeds to counter such a drop in network speed. A great way to do this is by leveraging the free trial providers offer to test the product. You can also check online reviews. Either way, avoid a slow VPN regardless of the purpose of usage.
Number of Network Servers
VPNs having an extensive network of servers make for an excellent user experience and convenience because you can quickly find a fast and reliable server to connect to. As a rule, avoid VPNs with less than 500 servers. You should also check the countries the servers cover. Ensure it includes your country of interest.
Available Optional Features
To get better value for your money, consider VPNs with abundant optional features like a kill switch, Smart DNS, split tunneling and dedicated IP.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I increase my VPN speed?
You can increase your VPN speed by connecting to your closest server, enabling split tunneling and connecting via different protocols.
Can a VPN increase my internet speed?
Not necessarily. Suppose you notice an increase in internet speed while using a VPN. In that case, it likely stopped your ISPs from throttling your network.
Can a VPN give me free internet?
Yes. A VPN can give you free internet by exploiting loopholes in your network connections or ISPs. These loopholes include ICMP, DNS and Host Header exploits. However, you need basic tech knowledge to use these exploits, and Benzinga doesn’t guarantee it’ll work.