Full-featured, reliable, and fast.
Editor’s Note: Due to the popularity and interest in our last VPN roundup, we’re reviewing five more VPNs this week to see which of them is the best, and have expanded out speed and ping tests. For a beginner’s guide on what a VPN is and why you should care, read our introductory article Everything You Need to Know About VPN.
PureVPN earns points for its clean design, useful options, and plentiful features. It wasn’t the fastest VPN we tested, but it was a close second, warranting a closer look from anyone looking for a strong combination of speed and usability. It also offers servers in an impressive number of countries, features multiple security protocols, and supports up to five simultaneous devices. It’s a well-rounded VPN, but VyprVPN edged it out in pure performance tests.
PureVPN costs $10.95 a month if you pay month-to-month but can be had a steep discount if you sign up for two years. Its two-year plan costs only $2.95 a month, while a six-month plan costs $8.95 a month. All three plans offer a seven-day, money-back guarantee so you can try the service risk-free. The plans also support up to five simultaneous connections. Payment options include credit card, PayPal, Bitcoin and the ability to pay anonymously with a gift card from Starbucks, Target and other major retailers. PureVPN has apps for Windows, MacOS, and Linux as well as Android and iOS devices. I used the Windows app for my tests.
When you first launch PureVPN, it asks you to select a mode. There are five: Stream, Internet Freedom, Security/Privacy, File Sharing, Remote/ Dedicated IP. For gaming, PureVPN suggests you select Stream mode. After selecting your mode, you can select a server by location or by purpose. Purposes are based around the idea of getting faster streaming for a specific service such as Netflix, HBO, or ESPN. Netflix is blocked on many VPNs, but that’s not the case with PureVPN. Netflix was blocked when I selected a server by location, but I was able to stream Netflix when I choose it as my intended purpose. If you select a server by location, you can browse by continent, country, or city. You can also sort by fastest ping, which I did to run my speed tests.
PureVPN is truly global, and has servers on every continent except Antarctica. Overall it offers 750 servers in 141 countries, which is by far the most countries of any VPN we’ve tested. After you connect to a server, however, PureVPN doesn’t always tell you the exact location of the server, which many users might like to know for future use. On some connections, it displayed me being connected to a server in Piscataway, for example, but other times it showed only that I was connected to a server in the United States. You cannot mark certain servers as favorites either as you can with TigerVPN and VyprVPN, which is useful if you find a fast connection you want to use again and again.
PureVPN offers a host of useful features and VPN protocols. It features a kill switch that shuts down your Internet connection if the VPN gets disconnected, and also offers split tunneling, which lets you select which apps go through the VPN and which use your actual IP. PureVPN supports a wide range of VPN protocols including PPTP, L2TP, SSTP, IKEv2, OpenVPN, and StealthVPN. Its app helpfully gives a speed and security rating of each to help you choose, and you can refer to this informative protocol comparison table on the PureVPN website. Lastly, PureVPN’s policy states it does not log your Internet activity.
Routing your Web traffic through a server adds a detour that can slow down the speed of your network connection, but in some circumstances it can actually improve your ping by connecting you to a fast server close to the gaming server. Your mileage will inevitably vary, depending on your location and the location of the gaming server to which you are connected.
To test the performance of PureVPN, I ran SpeedOf.Me tests to measure download and upload speeds and also played League of Legends, Overwatch, and Team Fortress 2 to check the VPN’s effect on my ping in real-world multiplayer gaming. Because the speed of your Internet connection fluctuates throughout the day, I ran each test twice — once in the afternoon and another time in the evening.
For the tests, I sorted by ping and picked the fastest server. I live in southern New Hampshire; PureVPN reported my connection as being in Piscataway for some tests and only “United States” for others.
On SpeedOf.Me, PureVPN had the second-fastest download speeds on both the afternoon and evening tests. It finished well behind VyprVPN but well ahead of the others. It finished fourth on upload speeds, but the results for upload speed were tightly grouped, making the relative results less of a concern.
Next, I ran three games in the afternoon to see if PureVPN could improve my ping. On League of Legends, my ping on the game’s Americas server was so good (40ms) that I choose instead to connect to its “EU Nordic and East” server where my ping was higher to see if PureVPN could improve upon it. It could not, but the game didn’t feel any slower. PureVPN did, however, improve my ping on both Overwatch tests, though not as much as some of the other services. Again, the difference in latency was imperceptible in gameplay. Last up was Team Fortress 2, were I had a very low ping of 30ms that PureVPN was able to stay close to, losing only 3ms for still very responsive action during this FPS game.
Next, I ran the three games again in the evening to see how my ping was affected. The results were similar to the afternoon tests, but PureVPN was unable to improve the ping on the Overwatch tests this time around. Again, the differences in ping were so slight that the games didn’t feel any slower or less responsive. Overall, PureVPN finished in the middle of the pack on our ping tests.
Lastly, PureVPN proved itself to be stable. It was quick to connect and connected on every attempt I made. It also never dropped a connection.
PureVPN offers three payment plans. The price of month-to-month plan of $10.95 a month is average — you may save a buck a month or pay a buck a month more on other services. Its two-year plan offers one of the lowest monthly charges that we’ve encountered for a high-quality VPN, however, at only $2.95 a month. It’s a great price.