Installing a quality antivirus suite should be the first step for any serious gamer. Hackers consistently target the passionate gaming community with specialized malware, phishing scams, and DDoS attacks designed to infect devices, steal accounts, and disrupt online play.
In this guide, we’ll compare the top antivirus programs for gaming PCs based on independent lab tests assessing both security protection and system performance impact. We’ll also provide recommendations for choosing the right antivirus for your specific budget and needs as a gamer.
Why Gamers Face Increased Malware Threats
Gamers spend more time online exposed to risks than typical users. Multiplayer gaming opens your network to random players worldwide, including potentially unscrupulous ones. Downloading game files, mods, and maps also leads to more malware exposure than general web surfing.
Hackers have shifted their focus aggressively toward the lucrative gaming industry in recent years. Symantec reports gaming-related malware attacks increased a massive 400% from 2018 to 2019. Of all messages with malicious email attachments, a full 22% targeted online gamers.
The most common threats gaming PCs face include:
- Malware infected game downloads – Hackers inject malware into game installers or mods downloaded from questionable sites. Once installed, the malware can destroy your system, mine cryptocurrency, or make your device part of a botnet.
- Phishing scams – Fake gaming sites and messages try to trick you into entering credentials, downloading malware, or transferring gaming assets. 71% of online gamers report being attacked.
- Ransomware attacks – Malware that encrypts your files until you pay a ransom. Gaming files and save files are destroyed.
- DDoS attacks – Bombarding game servers with traffic to lag or crash them. This disrupts online play for financial gain or just trolling.
- Remote access – Malware like spyware or a Remote Access Trojan gives hackers complete control over your machine for any nefarious purpose.
Without protection, a malware infection can completely hijack your system. But avoiding threats means more than just installing a basic antivirus program. You need one with robust security tailored to gaming.
Comparing the Top Antivirus Options for Gaming
Gaming puts increased demands on antivirus software. It needs to provide robust protection without slowing game performance. Poorly optimized antivirus can hog resources and cause fps drops during gameplay.
We compared top antivirus programs based on independent lab tests assessing both security protection and performance impact:
|Antivirus||Price||Platforms||Malware Detection||Performance Impact||Gaming Features|
|Bitdefender Antivirus||$24.99/yr||Windows, Mac, iOS, Android||★★★★★||★★★★☆||Game modes, silent mode, system optimization|
|Kaspersky Antivirus||$29.99/yr||Windows, Mac, iOS, Android||★★★★★||★★★★☆||Gaming mode|
|Norton 360||$99.99/yr||Windows, Mac, iOS, Android||★★★★☆||★★★☆☆||Minimal impact during scans|
|McAfee Total Protection||$119.99/yr||Windows, Mac, iOS, Android||★★★★★||★★★☆☆||Game boosting modes|
|Avast Free Antivirus||Free||Windows, Mac||★★★☆☆||★★★☆☆||Gaming mode|
Malware detection rates come from AV-Test results assessing each program‘s ability to detect zero-day threats and widespread malware. Performance impact indicates how much system resources are consumed based on benchmarks while active scanning.
Bitdefender earns top scores for providing rock solid malware protection with minimal fps dips or gameplay disruption. It‘s the best premium option. Avast Free offers decent protection for free. Norton 360 and McAfee also have stellar security but are resource hogs.
Key Features for Gaming-Focused Antivirus
For smooth online and multiplayer action, gamer-friendly antivirus needs more than just good malware detection. You need features tailored to gaming including:
- Game modes – Temporarily halts non-essential background tasks like scans and updates that sap CPU and GPU resources needed for gameplay.
- Silent modes – Disables all notifications and unnecessary processes with one click so gameplay is uninterrupted. Great for streaming.
- Smart resource allocation – Optimizes CPU cores and RAM so maximum power is available for the game rather than antivirus.
- High-speed low-impact scans – Quick system scans timed not to disrupt your game.
- Phishing site blocking – Prevents fake gaming and cheat sites from infecting your system with malware.
- Webcam protection – Blocks hackers from accessing your webcam and spying on you.
- Firewall and network protection – Prevents unauthorized network access and blocks potential DDoS attacks.
Prioritizing gaming activities while maintaining security gives you the best of both worlds.
Why Bitdefender is Our Top Pick for Gaming Protection
For the winning combination of ironclad security and gaming performance, we recommend Bitdefender Antivirus as the best antivirus for gaming PCs and laptops.
It earns perfect scores from AV-Test for malware protection. Features like game mode, silent mode, and Active Threat Control provide optimized security that won‘t slow you down. And its lightweight performance impact leaves CPU power for your game instead of antivirus scans.
Other key advantages for gamers include:
- Protects Windows, Mac, iOS and Android devices with a single subscription.
- Phishing site prevention blocks fake gaming and cheat sites.
- Ransomware protection recover files damaged by malicious encryption.
- Additional firewall, webcam protection, and network monitoring tools available.
- Affordable pricing starting at just $24.99 per year.
With Bitdefender Antivirus you get robust all-around protection focused on your gaming needs. No more fps drops or lag from your antivirus. Just smooth uninterrupted gameplay.
Choosing the Right Antivirus for Your Gaming Setup
While Bitdefender is a great solution for most gamers, you may prefer an alternative antivirus based on your budget, platform, family situation, or other factors:
- Mac gaming – Bitdefender, Kaspersky, Norton, and McAfee all fully support Mac.
- On a budget – Avast Free provides decent protection with no cost.
- Family protection – Norton, McAfee, and Kaspersky have full parental control suites.
- Mobile gaming – Look for Android and iOS support. Bitdefender covers all platforms.
Make sure to check for gaming-specific features like game modes, device optimization, silent modes, and limited passive scanning. And see if your favorite games and apps are covered with tailored profiles that automatically tune the antivirus security around your usage.
The right antivirus keeps your gaming malware-free without disrupting your play. Take the time to choose one tailored to your needs and you can game safely.