Design and Features
Boasting more than 2,000 servers across over 140 countries, PureVPN can help you connect to tunnels through the internet on six out of the seven continents. Giving users the ability to connect up to 10 devices simultaneously, PureVPN supports Windows, Mac OS, Android, and iOS through various apps, as well as Chrome and Firefox through extensions, and hardware including routers, Android TV, and Amazon Fire TV devices.
A major selling point for PureVPN (like some of its competitors) is that it’s based in Hong Kong, so therefore out of the jurisdiction of the “five eyes.” This should, in theory, provide cover if you were to use this service for nefarious reasons, but China’s recent announcement of it exerting more control over the territory throws that benefit into question.
Testing the VPN using its Mac OS app also proved to be similarly complicated. Featuring a simple, straightforward, one-button interface, you’d expect to click “connect” and be on your way to getting protection, but that’s unfortunately not what we experienced. Instead, when we clicked the button, the VPN whirred to life but eventually stalled out, unable to make a complete connection to its service – its status read “looking for your new Location” and didn’t allow us to access the internet until it was otherwise disconnected.
Fortunately the “Live Chat” button on PureVPN’s website provided prompt, knowledgeable, and helpful support and eventually got us online, though not in an ideal way. The company’s representative had us open the app’s settings and change from its automatic mode, which selects from among several VPN protocols, to L2TP, a highly secure but ultimately slower protocol. In trying out the other protocols listed in PureVPN’s preferences, some (IPSEC, L2TP) worked, while others (SSTP, TCP, UDP) repeated the same “Looking for your new Location” issue.
That’s a shame, because PureVPN has one of the user-friendliest interfaces going among the VPNs we tested. Hard to see, a “change mode” link in the top left corner of the app gives users the ability to customize their PureVPN usage with just a click, providing options titled “Stream” (for watching video online), “internet Freedom” (for accessing websites that are blocked in your region), “Security/Privacy” (designed to keep data encrypted and safe), “File Sharing” (self-explanatory there), and “Dedicated IP” (likewise). But these shortcuts didn’t work as we’d hope, since several of the PureVPN protocols that support them weren’t connecting for us.
Knowing that many of PureVPN’s protocols weren’t working, we connected through L2TP to put the service to the test and determine if it would be the best VPN for gaming, for streaming video through Netflix, or just simply for keeping internet usage private while not slowing it down significantly. Our initial speed tests alone told us it wasn’t going to meet the challenge – PureVPN was the slowest VPN we tested in 2020.
Our speed tests were conducted using SpeedOf.Me. Using the website, we took an average of PureVPN’s download and upload speeds in the afternoon and evening, comparing it to the average speed of our internet connection without using a VPN, as well as competing VPNs to determine which service was the fastest VPN of 2020. In both the afternoon and evening, PureVPN’s download performance was the slowest of any VPN we tested, and cut the speed of our internet connection by 75% or more. As it applied to uploads, PureVPN’s speeds weren’t nearly as bad – in the evening, it scored second-fastest among the VPNs we tested. But that hardly made it worth recommending.
To check PureVPN’s performance as a gaming VPN, we used ping testing on several popular online multiplayer games – Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Fortnite, and League of Legends – and played the titles to see what the scores meant in-game. Results varied depending on which title we were testing, but overall the results were underwhelming, whether they were taken in the afternoon or evening. Without a VPN, the average ping response for Fortnite was 21ms and 20ms in the afternoon and evening, respectively. With PureVPN it was 80ms in the afternoon and 172ms in the evening. League of Legends saw a less dramatic increase, but was still more than 25ms slower, on average. Counter-Strike was even less responsive than Fortnite while using PureVPN, though that’s just by the numbers.
But by the pixels, Counter-Strike mostly performed well, though it suffered stutters and hiccups that may have led to us getting shot up a time or two. The game was playable and enjoyable but not ideal, and we wouldn’t recommend using PureVPN to play it. The experience of playing Fortnite while using PureVPN was even worse, especially at the start of the match when the game lurched in fits and spurts, leaving us exposed right from the drop, as the game hung for what was maybe a half second at a time, but felt like eons. League of Legends suffered no such stutters, making the VPN worth its weight in gold, despite its difficulties.
Surprisingly, Netflix streamed crisply and clearly using PureVPN, though we did struggle to connect to the service a few times. But once we were in, the fast, furious scenes of Netflix’s action movie Extraction streamed like they were on the silver screen, with no buffering, blurring, or motion artifacts, whatsoever. It was a pleasant surprise after such a bumpy ride.
Offering a 7-day, $0.99 trial, PureVPN has several different pricing options, each giving users the ability to get a money-back guarantee after 31 days. A one-month PureVPN subscription costs $10.95. To get the cost down to $5.82 per month, users will have to sign up for a year-long PureVPN subscription that runs $69.95. The best deal, bringing the price down to $3.33 per month, is the $79.95 two-year PureVPN subscription. The service also gives users the ability to add features such as port-forwarding, dedicated IP addresses, and DDos protection, onto the service for additional fees.