How to Choose The Best Antivirus for Gaming

BySarah PritzkerDec. 24, 2018
Best antivirus for gaming
Many gamers don’t use internet security out of fear it will slow down their game. Here’s how to use antivirus gaming modes to stay safe online - without hurting your gaming experience.

Why Gamers Hate Antivirus 

Ever since the video game industry began to outperform Hollywood nearly a decade ago, there has been serious investment – and serious creativity – pouring into the industry. Today, the best games have complex narratives, amazing graphics, and are addictively immersive. Gamers become absorbed by the games while playing, the experience overriding all 5 senses. That is, of course, until some annoying notification pops up on the screen and totally disrupts your game.

This intrusion is frustrating, to say the least. Antivirus software gets a bad rap for intrusive notifications, warnings, scheduled restarts, and clunky updates that make games drag and graphics glitchy. It’s for this reason that so many gamers avoid antivirus software. But, turning off your antivirus software can cause untold disasters if a virus burrows into your system.

There is actually a very simple solution to this problem, and it's called Gaming Mode. If you're a serious gamer, who doesn't enjoy interruptions, use one of the best antivirus software that offer this ingenious solution to game time disturbances.

The Best of the Best

To save you trawling through the small print, here are some of the best internet security suites that offer a Gaming Mode:

1. BullGuard

  • Simple installation

  • Great tech support

  • Social media protection

Bullguard is a great option for protecting your PCs, particularly in Windows 7. While it’s more of a no-frills option (with a nice low price to match), BullGuard does offer solid protection along with spam filters, a clean user interface, and easy installation.

What we like best about BullGuard's antivirus for gaming is the gaming profile option. This allows you to create different gaming profiles, so the system notices when you are playing your top games and switches off certain functionality automatically. It’ll even reduce system processes to give you maximum gaming efficiency (so those graphics look crisp and at their best). What’s more, BullGuard comes with 20 of the most popular games already programmed into the system, so the software will recognize and tailor your experience instantly without even having to go through the process of setting up individual profiles.

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2. Norton

  • Super-fast quick system scans

  • Silent firewall, antispyware, and antivirus running in the background

  • Full screen auto-detect

Norton has been tested by independent labs and earned impressive scores. The amount of features this software provides is too many to count, and it could take you a long time to find their Game Mode within the mix, so we’ll give you a heads up. Norton’s gaming protection is called Silent Mode, so look for this while browsing the features to get things set up right away.

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3. McAfee

  • Unlimited licenses for multi-device protection

  • Two-way personal firewall

  • Outstanding protection even on Game Mode

McAfee really doesn't need any selling, being one of the most renowned names in the antivirus software industry, a position it has held for years. McAfee works with Macs and PCs, giving it an obvious edge over other, single-OS software options, and it does all this for a decent price to boot. 

McAfee McAfee Buy Now

4. Panda

  • Clean user interface

  • Excellent pricing for the industry

  • WiFi detector built in

Panda is not a well-known company, which is surprising, considering the fact that it is actually behind the scenes in a lot of technological advancements that we use all the time. It brought us important developments like behavioral monitoring and cloud scanning, and now the same brains have developed an excellent antivirus software option that protects computers and keeps gamers happy at the same time. The smooth setup process (not even a reboot required), automatic application control which blocks for unknown processes, and whole slew of additional features makes Panda an enticing option. 

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What is Gaming Mode?

Gaming Mode (or Game Mode, or Gamer Mode, depending on the software) is a tool that, when active, continues protecting your computer as usual, but without the antivirus software interfering with your game play. It works by temporarily quieting alerts, updates, and notifications while you're playing, and then grouping them together for when you're done. These are then presented as a complete list, all in one go. Some antivirus softwares, like McAfee will simply turn off notifications or pop ups for the remainder of your game play, while others are more involved at points throughout the game.

And, while you get to postpone dealing with any potential malware issues until you’re ready to stop gaming, your computer is not left unprotected in the meantime. Your core antivirus and firewalls continue to tick along quietly in the background, protecting you against viral invaders of the viral variety.

Just remember to switch Gaming Mode on before you start – and off once you’re finished – to let the full suite of security capabilities work their magic. Oh, and do take a minute to install any delayed updates when you get a chance. Your game will be happy you did.

Where to Find Gaming Mode

You’re unlikely to find Gaming Mode amongst free antivirus softwares, but several of the better, premium internet security suites realize that hardcore gamers make up a big part of their target market. They offer some form of gaming mode as standard in their Pro versions, although some call it names like "Silent Mode" instead. 

The paid versions obviously offer a lot more flexibility, functionality, and benefit, so gamers who are really looking to get the most out of their gaming experience should take advantage of top name brands known for their gaming qualities, such as BullGuard and Bitdefender.

Regardless of the name, most work in roughly the same way. 

Using Antivirus for Gaming on Different Systems

An important side note, not all antivirus softwares work on every device. When browsing for your ideal gaming antivirus solution, be sure to look up the specs to see which devices and operating systems the software support so you aren’t stuck with a great product that is useless for your device.

For example, while Bullguard is known as some of the best PC antivirus software options, Norton and McAfee offers protection on Mac devices. Windows 10 even has its own Game Mode built in, improving performance on some, but not all devices, by dedicating more GPU cycles to the game play. This is far from simple or conclusive, though, so gamers should still opt for a dedicated antivirus if they want to ensure a better gaming experience.

What are the Most Important Features to Look for in an Antivirus for Gamers?

Since there are so many choices, it can get confusing when you're looking for the best antivirus for gamers. There are a lot of good features available, but the most important factors to look out for are:

  • Notification and popup suppression
  • Behind the scenes protection that doesn’t drain your power (low footprint)
  • Firewall protection even during Game Mode
  • Updates paused and scheduled for later
  • Limiting background processes
  • Full screen mode detection is also a perk, but not a requirement
  • Easy-to-use interface
  • Good tech support

One quick note of caution. If you do turn on Game Mode manually, make sure to turn it off when you are finished playing, so your computers and devices stay protected from serious threats and viruses. Many antivirus software will detect when you finish playing and do this automatically for you, while others offer gamers a handy keyboard shortcut so you can toggle Game Mode on and off with ease. Regardless of the method, make sure your device is protected with the maximum strength of antivirus software at all times.