The Best Antivirus for Gaming PCs – Top Picks for Gaming Antiviruses

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The best antivirus for a gaming PC needs to protect you not only from viruses and malware but also from DDoS attacks, phishing, doxxing, keyloggers, and cyber threats on multiplayer servers – and it has to accomplish all of this without slowing down your PC or impacting your games’ performance.

In this guide, we review the best gaming PC antivirus solutions, looking at their pros and cons, pricing, usability, and performance impact. We’ve also explored their game-specific features to help you choose the very best antivirus for gamers.

The Best Antivirus for Gaming PC Users

Editors' Choice

TotalAV – Superb antivirus software for complete, real-time protection

TotalAV – Superb antivirus software for complete, real-time protection

  • Starting From $19.00/year
9.6
5 Stars
VISIT SITE

Norton – PC antivirus with a virus protection promise

Norton – PC antivirus with a virus protection promise

  • Starting From $29.99/year
9.3
4.5 Stars
VISIT SITE

NordVPN Threat Protection – Antivirus Software with a global VPN network

NordVPN Threat Protection – Antivirus Software with a global VPN network

  • Starting From $53.87/year (2-year plan)
9.0
4.5 Stars
VISIT SITE

Surfshark Antivirus – Great value antivirus protection with a VPN

Surfshark Antivirus – Great value antivirus protection with a VPN

  • Starting From $37.57/year (2-year plan)
9.5
4.5 Stars
VISIT SITE

Trend Micro – AI-led antivirus for small business owners

Trend Micro – AI-led antivirus for small business owners

  • Starting From $19.95/year
9.1
4.5 Stars
VISIT SITE

ESET – Best antivirus for servers

ESET – Best antivirus for servers

  • Starting From $39.99/year
8.7
4.5 Stars
VISIT SITE

Intego – Beginner friendly antivirus solution for macOS users

Intego – Beginner friendly antivirus solution for macOS users

  • Starting From $39.99/year
8.6
4.5 Stars
VISIT SITE

Avast – Free Antivirus Software With Smart Scan Functionality

Avast – Free Antivirus Software With Smart Scan Functionality

  • Starting From $35.88/year
8.6
4.5 Stars
VISIT SITE

The Best Antivirus Software for Gaming PCs at a Glance

  1. TotalAV – Best antivirus for gamers for system optimization tools
  2. Norton – Best gaming antivirus with a dedicated gaming mode
  3. Surfshark Antivirus – Best lightweight antivirus and VPN combo for gaming PCs
  4. NordVPN Threat Protection – Excellent gaming antivirus with a leading global VPN
  5. Trend Micro – Best gaming antivirus for families
  6. ESET – Best premium option with an automatic gamer mode
  7. Intego Best antivirus solution for gaming on Mac
  8. Avast Best free antivirus for a gaming PC

    The Best Gaming Antiviruses in 2024 Reviewed

    Here are our in-depth reviews of the best antivirus programs for gaming PC users in 2024 to keep your gaming PC protected:

    1. TotalAV – Best Antivirus for Gamers with System Tune-Up Tools

    A logo of TotalAV

    Starting Price $19/year
    Antivirus Testing Results Protection: 5.5/6, Performance: 5.5/6, Usability: 6/6
    Max Devices 8
    Free Trial Free scan
    Money-Back Guarantee 30 days
    Why We Picked It

    TotalAV has excellent features for gaming PCs. It can analyze your PC in real time and defend against the latest online threats. It also has optimization tools to boost performance and reduce CPU usage. This frees up resources, resulting in the best gaming experience possible.

    Features

    TotalAV can ensure protection against malware and other online threats thanks to features like WebShield. The software scans downloads, installs, and .exe files and eliminates threats before they can cause harm.

    TotalAV’s Silent Mode is extremely useful and blocks notifications during gaming sessions to enhance the gaming experience. Other features include an unlimited data VPN, which enables you to find the best gaming servers regardless of your location.

    You also get access to Total Password, which allows you to save your gaming logins in a secure vault locked behind AES-256 encryption. With all these features available at an affordable starting price, it’s easy to see why TotalAV is among the best antivirus software solutions on the market.

    Pricing

    TotalAV offers three plans. Antivirus Pro, the most affordable option, includes system tune-up tools and a web shield extension. Internet Security, at $39 for the first year, provides a safe browsing VPN, while Total Security, at $49/year, includes Total AdBlock and a secure password manager.

    TotalAV Antivirus Pro $19/year
    TotalAV Internet Security $39/year
    TotalAV Total Security $49/year
    Who It's Best For

    TotalAV is loaded with advanced security features and is very affordable with its first-year pricing, making it a top choice for protecting gaming PCs.

    It also has minimal impact on system resources, and many rate it as the best PC gaming antivirus.

    Pros

    • Silent Mode enhances gaming session
    • Great test results with minimal impact on performance
    • Optimization tools reduce CPU load
    • Built-in ad-blocker and VPN
    • Great value for money with first-year discount

    Cons

    • Expensive renewal price
    • No VPN with starter plan
    TotalAV
    9.6
    Review

    2. Norton – Best Gaming Antivirus with a Dedicated Gaming Mode

    A logo of Norton

    Starting Price $29.99/year (annual)
    Antivirus Testing Results Protection: 6/6, Performance: 6/6, Usability: 6/6
    Max Devices Unlimited
    Free Trial 30 days
    Money-Back Guarantee 60 days
    Why We Picked It

    Norton is a well-known antivirus solution that’s received top marks in independent lab tests. It’s also equipped with Norton Go – its Game Optimizer – and is a dedicated gaming antivirus designed to maximize gaming performance.

    Features

    Norton provides a range of features tailored for gamers. The Game Optimizer minimizes non-essential notifications and detects when you’re in full-screen mode, and Norton will then only display critical alerts.

    Meanwhile, its real-time protection defends against threats, including phishing attacks and security flaws in games and websites.

    The PC SafeCam feature helps prevent hackers from accessing your webcam. Norton immediately notifies you if someone is trying to access your webcam and will block the attempt.

    The dark web monitoring feature, meanwhile, will alert you if your gamer tag, username, or email address has been compromised and leaked online.

    In addition, there’s a strong set of parental control tools available, which is great for families. These can support healthy gaming habits by managing gaming time and preventing access to inappropriate content.

    Norton also comes equipped with a secure VPN, which can stop you from being targeted with DDoS attacks by hiding your location so malicious actors won’t know where to attack. What’s more, the plan includes 50GB of cloud backup storage to ensure your most important files are kept safe.

    Pricing

    Norton 360 for Gamers costs $44.99 for the first year and covers three devices. It’s slightly more expensive than the competition, but unlike other plans, it’s a dedicated gaming antivirus.

    Other plans start at $29.99/year, with Norton Antivirus Plus, and offer Norton’s virus protection promise. This means that if they can’t remove malicious software from your system, they’ll refund you in full.

    Norton 360 for Gamers $44.99/year
    Norton AntiVirus Plus $29.99/year
    Norton 360 Standard $39.99/year
    Norton 360 Deluxe $49.99/year
    Norton 360 with LifeLock Select $99.99/year
    Norton 360 with LifeLock Advantage $191.88/year
    Norton 360 with LifeLock Ultimate Plus $299.88/year
    Who It's Best For

    Norton 360 for Gamers is ideal for serious gamers who want to protect their machines with a dedicated gaming solution. Many also cite it as the best antivirus for gaming PCs on Reddit.

    Standard plans are also a great option, though, and come with lots of flexibility in terms of pricing and features with support scaling to an unlimited number of devices.

    Pros

    • Dedicated gaming antivirus with a game optimizer
    • Excellent malware detection and removal rates
    • VPN, dark web monitoring, and SafeCam for privacy
    • Cloud backups included
    • Strong parental control features for families

    Cons

    • Gaming plan is slightly more expensive
    • Gaming mode isn’t part of standard packages
    Norton
    9.3
    Review

    3. Surfshark Antivirus – Best Antivirus and VPN Combo for Gaming PCs

    A logo of Surfshark VPN

    Starting Price $36.32/year (two years)
    Antivirus Testing Results Protection: 4.5/6, Performance: 4.5/6, Usability: 6/6
    Max Devices 5
    Free Trial 7 days for VPN
    Money-Back Guarantee 30 days
    Why We Picked It

    Surfshark is an outstanding VPN provider that offers a lightweight antivirus with its packages, which works silently in the background. Its VPN offers excellent speeds and a large server fleet and is capable of fending off DDoS attacks.

    Features

    Surfshark provides an excellent VPN and a full antivirus product that can scan your device, unlike NordVPN’s offering. Surfshark boasts solid virus detection rates, ensuring the removal of malware. It also provides real-time protection with minimal impact on system performance, making it ideal for gaming.

    Surfshark’s VPN, meanwhile, has over 3,200 servers. They’re great for gaming and provide fast connection speeds that are perfect for online multiplayer games. The VPN provides excellent security and enables you to pick from server locations around the world. You also get unlimited bandwidth and can hook up an unlimited number of devices.

    For gamers who stream, Surfshark offers webcam protection to prevent unauthorized access. There’s also data breach monitoring, alerting you if your details have appeared online so you can secure your accounts.

    Lastly, Surfshark’s top-tier Incogni features help users remove their data from company databases. This allows you to dodge marketers and better protect your online privacy.

    Pricing

    Surfshark offers three plans. The Starter plan includes the VPN but not the antivirus. Upgrading to Surfshark One gets you antivirus features like real-time protection and malware removal, and if you want the additional data removal features, you’ll need to opt for One+, which costs $4.29/month.

    24 months + 2 free 12 months + 2 free 1 month
    Surfshark One $2.69/month $3.19/month $15.95/month
    Surfshark One+ $4.29/month $5.09/month $17.95/month
    Who It's Best For

    This all-in-one lightweight security solution is an excellent pick for those looking for a powerful VPN for online multiplayer games. It’s reasonably priced and comes with a great set of security features.

    Pros

    • Minimal impact on system performance
    • Fast VPN with over 3,200 servers
    • Real-time data breach monitoring
    • Great privacy tools

    Cons

    • Antivirus only protects five devices
    • Antivirus not included in starter plan
    Surfshark Antivirus
    9.5
    Review

    4. NordVPN Threat Protection – Best Gaming Antivirus with a Global VPN

    An image of NordVPN's logo on a white background.

    Starting Price $53.87/year (two years)
    Antivirus Testing Results No lab tests available
    Max Devices 10
    Free Trial 7-day trial on Android and iOS
    Money-Back Guarantee 30 days
    Why We Picked It

    Nord is one of the best VPN providers around. However, it also has an excellent threat detection system called NordVPN Threat Protection. This swiftly removes threats before they can interact with your system and comes with comprehensive weekly reports detailing blocked threats.

    Features

    While NordVPN Threat Protection doesn’t have a dedicated gaming mode like Norton, it compensates with robust functionality to ensure a safe gaming environment.

    The Web Protection feature blocks ads, trackers, and malware and scans downloads and web pages for viruses. There’s also a double-extension detector to ensure that nothing is missed.

    For Windows users, there’s also an App Vulnerability Scanning feature. This can find vulnerabilities in your apps and will prompt you to update them as needed.

    One of the key benefits of Nord, of course, is its VPN service, which offers fast connections, excellent security, and a huge global network of 6,300+ servers in over 110 countries.

    The package also includes a password manager and a data breach scanner, keeping your login information safe and letting you know if your details have been exposed online.

    Pricing

    Nord Threat Protect is bundled with Nord VPN’s Plus package, which costs $3.99/month on a two-year subscription. The Ultimate package, priced at $5.99/month, offers additional benefits such as 1TB of cloud storage, identity theft recovery, and cyber extortion protection.

    24 months + 3 free 12 months + 3 free 1 month
    NordVPN Plus $3.99/month $5.49/month $13.99/month
    NordVPN Ultimate $5.99/month $7.49/month $15.99/month
    Who It's Best For

    Nord Threat Protect is perfect for those looking for a high-speed VPN connection with added security features. While the product may have limited scanning options, it’s a great first line of defense for web protection.

    Pros

    • World-class VPN for complete online privacy
    • Great web and download protection
    • Protection from online trackers and intrusive ads
    • Comprehensive weekly reports

    Cons

    • No gaming mode
    • Can’t scan files on device
    NordVPN Threat Protection
    9.0
    Review

    5. Trend Micro – Best Gaming Antivirus for Families

    Starting Price $19.95/year
    Antivirus Testing Results Protection: 6/6, Performance: 6/6, Usability: 6/6
    Max Devices 10
    Free Trial 30 days
    Money-Back Guarantee 30 days
    Why We Picked It

    Trend Micro stands out for its AI-powered system, which continuously learns about new cyber threats to provide robust protection while gaming. It’s also got a Mute Mode, which prevents notifications from disrupting your gaming sessions.

    Its support for ten devices and parental control features, meanwhile, make it a great gaming antivirus for families.

    Features

    Trend Micro offers solid malware protection. It provides machine learning technology coupled with traditional signature-based scanning using a malware database and gets full marks in independent lab tests. This means it’ll catch just about any malware without slowing down your PC.

    For gamers, Trend Micro offers optimization tools to streamline system performance. Its PC Health checkup tool frees up space and manages startup programs for quicker system booting.

    The Mute Mode, meanwhile, stops notifications from interrupting your gameplay and adjusts system settings to prioritize gaming performance.

    Trend Micro also prioritizes privacy protection, guarding against potential breaches and unauthorized data access with its social media scanner and web protection features.

    Parental controls for regulating children’s gaming habits are available with the first upgrade, and you can protect up to ten devices, making it a great pick for families.

    Pricing

    Trend Micro’s cheapest plan, Antivirus+, costs $19.95 for the first year and covers one PC. Internet Security, priced at $39.95/year, covers three PCs and includes system optimization tools.

    The Maximum Security and Premium Security plans, priced at $49.95/year and $54.95/year, include a password manager, a VPN, dark web monitoring, and mobile support and coverage for up to ten devices.

    Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security $19.95/year
    Trend Micro Internet Security $39.95/year
    Trend Micro Maximum Security $49.95/year
    Trend Micro Premium Security Suite $54.95/year
    Who It's Best For

    Trend Micro’s user-friendly interface makes it an excellent choice for beginners, and the device support and parental controls make it great for families.

    It’s also well suited for users with mid-tier gaming PCs, as its optimization tools deliver noticeable performance improvements.

    Pros

    • Clean, simple, and easy to use
    • Mute Mode
    • Top marks in lab tests
    • Noticeable impact on system performance
    • Offers ransomware, phishing, and online scam protection

    Cons

    • Mute Mode needs to be manually enabled
    • Higher prices on renewal
    Trend Micro
    9.1
    Review

    6. ESET – Best Premium Antivirus with an Automatic Gamer Mode

    ESET Antivirus Logo

    Starting Price $34.99/year
    Antivirus Testing Results Protection: 6/6, Performance: 6/6, Usability: 6/6
    Max Devices 25
    Free Trial 30 days
    Money-Back Guarantee 30 days
    Why We Picked It

    ESET offers a dedicated gamer mode, which blocks notifications and reduces CPU usage, resulting in an enhanced gaming experience with minimal lag. And unlike competitors, like Trend Micro’s Mute Mode, ESET’s gamer mode works automatically.

    Features

    ESET’s antivirus uses machine learning to identify the latest threats, ensuring robust defenses. It offers real-time protection, system scans, and download monitoring, ensuring threats are stopped before they can interact with your device.

    Numerous customization settings are available, allowing you to adjust performance and exclude gaming applications and directories from scans so trusted applications aren’t interrupted. It’s also a lightweight antivirus that minimizes system resource usage.

    The security suite also includes anti-phishing features, flagging potentially malicious websites that may attempt to steal information, and a ransomware shield, which stops bad actors from locking your data.

    For an extra layer of protection, you can use the Secure Data feature to encrypt your files and sensitive details, like gaming account logins.

    Pricing

    ESET offers plans ranging from $34.99 to $125.99 annually. All plans include Gamer Mode, with the Ultimate plan featuring identity theft protection, dark web monitoring, and an unlimited data VPN.

    1 device 5 devices
    ESET Essential $34.99/year $48.99/year
    ESET Premium $41.99/year $55.99/year
    ESET Ultimate n/a $125.99/year
    Who It's Best For

    ESET is a premium antivirus solution with advanced features and customization options. It’s great for tech-savvy users who prioritize comprehensive protection and performance optimization. That said, Gamer Mode is enabled automatically, making it even easier to use than competing options.

    Pros

    • Dedicated gaming mode
    • Numerous customization options
    • Payment protection tools and VPN available
    • Lightweight antivirus with minimal impact on gaming

    Cons

    • Slight learning curve to interface
    • VPN and dark web monitoring require expensive upgrade
    Eset
    8.7
    Review

    7. Intego – Best Antivirus for Gaming on Mac

    Starting Price $37.50/year (two years)
    Antivirus Testing Results Protection: 5.5/6, Performance: 5/6, Usability: 6/6
    Max Devices 5
    Free Trial 30 days
    Money-Back Guarantee 30 days
    Why We Picked It

    Intego comes with an advanced firewall and has been designed specifically for Mac users, offering uncompromising performance for gamers using Macs. This powerful antivirus solution also has excellent parental control features, offering in-depth management of your child’s gaming activities.

    Features

    Intego’s VirusBarrier malware scanner includes essential features like virus scanning, real-time coverage, and comprehensive threat detection. You get near-perfect protection against online threats.

    The NetBarrier firewall monitors incoming and outgoing traffic, prevents unauthorized access, and protects against network attacks.

    The Mac Washing Machine is a system optimization tool that frees up disk space by removing duplicate files and optimizing system performance for a smoother gaming experience.

    The parental control features, meanwhile, offer advanced functionality like keystroke tracking, screenshot recording, and even an anti-predator monitor that alerts parents to inappropriate communications.

    This is a must-have feature for online gaming for kids. It also allows you to block connections to specific services you might deem inappropriate.

    Pricing

    Intego offers plans for Mac and Windows machines, ranging from $39.99 to $89.99 per year for Mac users and $39.99 to $69.99 for Windows users, providing online protection tailored to each platform’s needs. You can also get multi-year plans at a slight discount.

    1 year, 1 device 2 years, 1 device 1 year, 3 devices 2 years, 3 devices 1 year, 5 devices 2 years, 5 devices
    Mac Internet Security X9 $39.99/year $37.50/year $54.99/year $50/year $69.99/year $62.50/year
    Mac Premium Bundle X9 $69.99/year $65/year $94.99/year $87.50/year $119.99/year $110/year
    Mac Premium Bundle + VPN $89.99/year $75/year $114.99/year $97.50/year $139.99/year $120/year
    Who It's Best For

    Intego is designed specifically for Mac users and offers comprehensive antivirus protection for Mac gamers. Its Mac-centric design makes it an ideal choice for Mac users seeking robust security, and it’s a great pick for parents.

    Pros

    • Advanced firewall
    • Excellent parental control features
    • Intuitive UI
    • Best macOS antivirus for gamers
    • Can scan connected iOS devices for malware

    Cons

    • No dedicated gaming mode
    • Windows app has fewer features than Mac version
    Intego
    8.6
    Review

    8. Avast – Best Free Antivirus Software for Gaming PCs

    Starting Price $35.88/year
    Antivirus Testing Results Protection: 6/6, Performance: 6/6, Usability: 6/6
    Max Devices 30
    Free Trial Free plan and 30-day trial
    Money-Back Guarantee 30 days
    Why We Picked It

    Avast is the best free antivirus solution for gaming PCs. It offers well-rounded protection and has received top marks in independent lab tests. It’ll protect your gaming PC from all known threats without hogging resources or impacting your gaming sessions.

    Features

    A standout Avast feature is its Game Mode. This has been designed to enhance gaming experiences by minimizing interruptions from notifications and background processes and ensuring resources are dedicated to delivering smooth gameplay.

    You can also expect robust antivirus protection from malware and viruses, of course. Avast’s engine monitors your system in real time for suspicious activity. This helps keep your gaming PC secure without compromising performance.

    Avast also offers additional features that can benefit gaming PC users.

    The Network Inspector helps ensure the security of your network connection, which is essential for online gaming, and the password manager can help keep your gaming accounts secure by generating and storing strong, unique passwords for each account.

    Pricing

    Avast offers a free-forever plan that’s easy to download and use, with the Avast One package including antivirus tools and a limited VPN.

    Premium plans start at $2.99/month, but for the most comprehensive coverage, we recommend going for the Antivirus Premium Security package, which costs $49.99/year for one device or $69.99/year for ten. Notably, the Avast One Family Gold plan lets you protect up to 30 devices.

    Avast Free Antivirus Free
    Avast One Silver Individual (for security, privacy, or performance) $35.88/year per module
    Avast One Silver Family (for security, privacy, or performance) – 30 devices $59.88/year per module
    Avast Premium Security – 1 device $49.99/year
    Avast Premium Security – 10 devices $69.99/year
    Avast Ultimate Security – 1 device $49.99/year
    Avast Ultimate Security – 10 devices $69.99/year
    Avast One Gold Individual $83.88/year
    Avast One Gold Family – 30 devices $131.88/year
    Who It's Best For

    Avast is a great choice for gamers on a budget, thanks to its free plan. It’s also good for those who want a complete antivirus solution with options for a range of extra features.

    Pros

    • Dedicated gaming mode
    • Free-forever plan
    • Top scores in independent lab tests
    • Provides an extra layer of security against ransomware

    Cons

    • Premium plans are relatively expensive
    • Has suffered security issues in the past
    Avast
    8.6
    Review

    The Best Gaming PC Antivirus Options Compared

    Here’s a quick reference table so you can see how the different antivirus solutions we’ve reviewed compare.

    Whether you’re considering McAfee gamer security, the Bitdefender Internet Security, or the best antivirus for gaming PCs, according to Reddit, this comparison table will help you find the best gaming antivirus for PC for your needs.

    Antivirus Starting Price Antivirus Testing Results Max Devices Free Trial Money-Back Guarantee
    TotalAV $19/year (annual) Protection: 5.5/6, Performance: 5.5/6, Usability: 6/6 8 Free scan 30 days
    Norton $29.99/year (annual) Protection: 6/6, Performance: 6/6, Usability: 6/6 Unlimited 30 days 60 days
    NordVPN Threat Protection $53.87/year (two years) No lab tests available 10 7-day trial on Android and iOS 30 days
    Surfshark Antivirus $36.32/year (two years) Protection: 4.5/6, Performance: 4.5/6, Usability: 6/6 5 7-day trial for VPN 30 days
    Trend Micro $19.95/year (annual) Protection: 6/6, Performance: 6/6, Usability: 6/6 10 30 days 30 days
    ESET $34.99/year (annual) Protection: 6/6, Performance: 6/6, Usability: 6/6 25 30 days 30 days
    Intego $37.50/year (two years) Protection: 5.5/6, Performance: 5/6, Usability: 6/6 5 30 days 30 days
    Avast $35.88/year (annual) Protection: 6/6, Performance: 6/6, Usability: 6/6 30 Free plan and 30-day trial 30 days
    Methodology

    How We Review And Test Antivirus Software

    15 Antiviruses Tested

    20 Datapoints Measured

    300+ Hours Testing

    500+ User Reviews Read

    We base our recommendations on first-hand experience and in-depth testing. All the Antivirus products we suggest, have been tested based on the following criteria:

    • Core Security Features: We make sure that the antivirus software is fully equipped with features like real-time protection, scanning, a firewall, web protection, and more.
    • Malware Detection Rates: We test malware detection rates ourselves by running both in-depth and quick scans on our devices. Additionally, we check independent lab tests.
    • Compatibility: We check which devices and operating systems the antivirus software is compatible with. Often, different-looking dashboards and slightly different packages of features may be available.
    • Performance Impact: A reliable and functional antivirus should not slow down your device significantly. So, we examine our device performance with and without the antivirus running.
    • Customer Experience: Alongside our own experience, we are curious to know what real users have to say regarding the services. So, we’ve scoured the web for feedback on each of our tested antiviruses.
    • Value for Money: We always consider value for money and how much each product is offering for the set price point.

    Do I Need an Antivirus for My Gaming PC?

    Does a gaming PC need antivirus? The short answer is that you need an antivirus for any PC that’s connected to the internet.

    Whether you’re torrenting games, movies, and shows, playing on multiplayer servers, or browsing the web and reading emails, your gaming PC is an easy target for hackers and cybercriminals if you don’t have sufficient protection.

    Clicking on the wrong link could lead to downloading a keylogger on your device. Tracking your data could then enable hackers to access your Amazon and Steam accounts, for example, or even to access your bank accounts.

    Malware and viruses can also disrupt your system, corrupt your files, and make your device inoperable – potentially meaning you’ll need to reset or junk your device.

    That’s why it’s vital to ensure your gaming PC is protected by a strong antivirus. It’s always a good idea to have protection in place for your system.

    The Biggest Risks for Gamers

    Any device connected to the internet is exposed to a wide range of potential threats. Here are some of them – and they’re just a few of the reasons to get antivirus software for your gaming PC.

    • Malware infection – If you regularly download software and files outside of official app stores, you may be exposed to malware. The very least that it will do is to slow down your machine and steal your bandwidth.
    • Identity theft and account hacking – Most PC gamers will have a range of online accounts, and many of these will have payment information saved on them. Having a machine that’s vulnerable to malware could lead to your accounts being hacked, your bank account being drained, and even your identity being stolen.
    • Doxxing – Malicious actors will sometimes harass streamers and everyday gamers by publishing their information online or even swatting them and sending armed police to their homes. Blocking trackers, malware, and spyware and hiding your location with a VPN is a good way to protect yourself from threats like these.
    • Phishing – If you receive a persuasive or surprising email, it can be easy to click on a link and land on a malicious domain or accidentally download a malware-infected file. If you have a handful of gaming accounts, it can be that much easier to be exposed.
    • Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacksThese attacks see malicious individuals attempting to overwhelm servers or IPs with fake traffic so they’re effectively taken offline. They can be a major challenge for popular streamers when fighting off trolls.

    What Features Will the Best Antivirus for Gamers Offer?

    In addition to protecting you from viruses and malware, you should look at each product’s usability and its impact on your PC’s performance.

    An antivirus will consume some of your PC’s resources and processing power to protect you from threats. That’s why your best option is an antivirus with a game mode that manages resource allocation and stops it from running full scans, so games run smoothly while the antivirus works in the background.

    Here’s a breakdown of some of the key features to consider before making a purchase, whether you’re looking for the best antivirus software for a gaming laptop or a high-end desktop machine:

    Gaming performanceMalware detectionReal-time protectionScanning downloads and sitesWhitelistingExtra features

    Gaming performance optimization – The best antivirus solutions for gaming come with built-in performance optimization and game boosters, which ensure the antivirus doesn’t hog your CPU.

    Malware detection rates – If you want the best virus protection for gaming PCs, you need to look for antiviruses that offer near 100% malware detection rates. You want to be absolutely sure the antivirus you opt for can detect, quarantine, and remove any unwanted files on your PC.

    Real-time threat protection – You need to stay protected from threats while gaming, whether facing dubious links on Discord servers, viruses embedded in downloads, or network attacks. Given this, it’s important to have real-time protection in place, scanning your system and new files.

    Screening files and websites – The best antivirus software for gamers will alert you if you attempt to download a file that may contain harmful code.

    Some antivirus solutions even offer a sandbox mode, where files are scanned against a library of known threats before they reach your gaming PC.

    Whitelisting – If you’re alt-tabbing and playing music on YouTube or browsing the web between games, it’s a good idea to whitelist the sites you trust so the antivirus doesn’t need to actively scan them each time you access them.

    VPNs and Password Managers – The best antivirus PC users can find will come with a range of extra security features. Password managers are invaluable for ensuring you have strong, unique passwords in place for all your accounts, for example.

    Having a VPN, meanwhile, gives you an extra layer of security and protects you from individuals who may want to track your identity or dox you.

    What’s the Best Free Antivirus for a Gaming PC?

    Avast is the best free gaming antivirus on our list. It has top scores in lab tests and offers 100% malware protection even with its free plan. It also provides protection against ransomware and can scan your WiFi network connection for vulnerabilities.

    That said, you’re still much better off with a paid plan. The main reason is that free plans often lack core features gamers need.

    With Avast’s free antivirus plan, you’ll be missing out on payment protection features, a firewall, system optimization tools, and a VPN.

    Because of this, we recommend investing in a paid antivirus subscription from a provider like TotalAV or Surfshark to ensure complete protection for your device. These services won’t hog your PC’s resources or negatively impact your PC’s gaming performance but will keep you safe and secure.

    How to Choose the Best Gaming Antivirus

    Here’s a breakdown of the key parameters to consider when looking for the best gaming antivirus software:

    UsabilityProtectionGame-Specific FeaturesGaming Performance ImpactCustomer ExperiencePrice

    Usability

    A good antivirus for a gaming PC should be easy to use and offer the option to manage settings like real-time protection and the VPN. Ideally, it should also automatically enable Gaming Mode whenever you fire up a game.

    Support for different devices is also important, whether you’re looking for mobile security, browser extensions, or the best antivirus for Chromebook.

    Protection

    The level of security is key since you want to ensure that you’re protected from all kinds of cyber threats, including malware, viruses, ransomware, and more.

    The best virus protection for a gaming PC should ideally include a strong firewall, a secure password vault, webcam security features, payment protection, a world-class VPN, and protection against phishing, DDoS attacks, and doxxing.

    If you need full server protection, check out our guide to the best antiviruses for servers.

    Game-Specific Features

    At the very least, a gaming antivirus should offer a Silent Mode or a Gaming Mode. This helps ensure your gaming sessions go without interruptions, so you can focus on the game instead of having to deal with pop-ups and notifications.

    That said, the best gaming PC antivirus should also offer game optimization features, automatic software updates, and PC cleanup tools.

    This ensures your PC’s resources are focused on your gaming, resulting in better overall performance.

    Impact on Gaming Performance

    Even the best antivirus software for gaming will consume some system resources. While in silent or gaming mode, a good antivirus shouldn’t hog too much of your RAM or CPU usage, but you may feel an impact if you have an older PC or laptop.

    On newer, more powerful rigs, you should hardly notice the antivirus. Nevertheless, the best gaming PC antivirus shouldn’t have a significant impact on performance.

    If CPU usage is a concern or if you have low RAM, we recommend an antivirus with game optimizer features, which will also be an essential feature for the best antivirus for gaming laptop users.

    Customer Experience

    When testing products, we always consider the full customer experience. While vendors that offer tutorials and online guides are preferred, gaming antivirus providers with live chat and phone support are even better and can help you get past issues.

    We also look at user feedback on platforms like Trustpilot to get a sense of the full customer journey and the community’s satisfaction with a product. In addition to this, we have a dedicated guide to the best antiviruses, according to Reddit.

    Price

    What’s more important than the price tags for gaming antivirus products are the gaming-specific features and the level of protection available with different pricing plans.

    When comparing different options, make sure you’re comparing them based on the value for money they deliver rather than just looking for the cheapest gaming antivirus. A free gaming antivirus isn’t worth your time if it won’t protect you, after all.

    How to Protect Your Gaming Computer from Viruses

    Protecting your gaming PC from malware is important for keeping your system running smoothly, as well as for safeguarding your personal data.

    • Getting antivirus software and running regular scans is the first step, and you should make sure to keep your operating system and software – including web browsers and gaming clients – patched and up to date.
    • When downloading games and software, stick to trusted sources to avoid potential threats. For Windows users, enabling User Account Control can help prevent unauthorized installations and maintain system integrity.
    • Using a password manager makes it easier to protect your accounts with strong, unique passwords.
    • Employing an ad blocker can limit your exposure to adware and potentially malicious ads and stop them from infiltrating your system.
    • By educating yourself about common online threats like phishing scams and ransomware, you can learn to recognize and avoid potential dangers.
    • Regularly backing up important files and game saves to an external storage device or cloud service can also assist in recovery from infections and system failures.
    • For stronger defenses, consider using a VPN while gaming online to encrypt your traffic and anonymize your location. Also, try to avoid unsecured public WiFi networks.
    • Lastly, monitor your computer’s performance for signs of infection, such as slowdowns or unexpected crashes. By following these steps, you can ensure a safe gaming environment.

    How to Set Up an Antivirus With Gaming Mode

    Many antivirus solutions come with a gaming mode that blocks notifications during gameplay and ensures a smoother gaming experience by reducing CPU usage and minimizing non-essential background processes. Here’s how to get started with the TotalAV gaming mode.

    1. Get a TotalAV account

      Go to TotalAV and click on Buy Now. Enter your payment details and click on Purchase & Agree to buy a subscription.

      <strong>Get a TotalAV account</strong>
    2. Download TotalAV

      Once you’ve purchased TotalAV, you’ll be prompted to download the application.

    3. Install TotalAV

      When the download is complete, you can install the application. Follow the steps in the install wizard to complete the process.

      <strong>Install TotalAV</strong>
    4. Run your first scan

      Once the installation is complete, you can run your first scan to ensure your PC hasn’t been infected with malware.

      <strong>Run your first scan</strong>
    5. Go to Settings to find Silent Mode

      To find Silent Mode, open TotalAV and click on Settings at the bottom of the toolbar.

      <strong>Go to Settings to find Silent Mode</strong>
    6. Activate Silent Mode

      Navigate to Notification Options. You’ll see a menu with options where you can activate the Silent Mode when fullscreen toggle. You’ll now be able to game without interruptions.

      <strong>Activate Silent Mode</strong>

    FAQs

    What is the best antivirus for your gaming PC?

    Will an antivirus improve gaming performance?

    Is Windows Defender enough for gaming?

    Does running an antivirus reduce FPS?

    Which is the fastest gaming antivirus?

    What is the best antivirus for a Windows 10 gaming PC?

    Do I need to keep an antivirus on while gaming?

    How do I protect my gaming PC?

    References

    1. Understanding denial-of-service attacks (Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency)
    2. Protecting yourself against doxxing (N.C. Department of Information Technology)
    3. AV-Comparatives test results (AV-Comparatives)
    4. Windows antivirus home testing results (AV-Test)
    Justin Van Gent
    Technology Writer
    Justin Van Gent
    Technology Writer

    With a background in telecommunications and renewable energy, and having studied engineering and web design, Justin’s technical expertise shines through with his content. He has written pieces spanning numerous tech verticals for Techopedia and The Tech Report, but he specializes in VPN, antivirus, and hosting content. His pieces are known for their accuracy and insight and for delivering informative content for Techopedia's audience.