Top 5 Best Antiviruses for Gamers

Eric C.
BY: Eric C.
Posted: September 12, 2018

No matter what you use your personal computer for, virus protection should be high on your priority list and gaming is no exception. Not only do PC gamers spend more time online, but their favorite hobby can also put them at risk from various malware and exploits.

  • Even popular video game titles and storefronts like Steam can harbor viruses and crypto mining programs.
  • Untrusted websites for downloading game mods can contain Trojans and malware.
  • Malware can slow down your system and negatively impact your framerates.
  • Viruses might eat into your CPU and RAM usage and clog your network, causing micro-stutters in-game and increasing your ping in online multiplayer matches.

There are dozens of online game retailers, like GameBillet, Chrono.gg, Fanatical, and Itch.io. While these sites are trusted, it’s still important to have antivirus software and online payment protection enabled. Antivirus software will not only improve your gaming experience but also protect your personal information from cyber thieves.

What You Want

You need an antivirus that is compatible with Windows. Regardless of what operating system you prefer, Windows 10 offers the best compatibility with the widest range of PC games today.

Next, the antivirus needs to be unobtrusive so that it protects from malware attacks while preventing annoying interruptions during gameplay:

  • No pop-ups
  • Low system impact when idle and preferably no updates or scans during gameplay
  • The ability to keep the PC secure and running at its best

After all, you don’t want a system scan to slow down your machine while you’re in the middle of an intense swordfight or a pop-up indicating new updates as you attempt a headshot.

When we talk about an “antivirus for gamers,” we usually mean a dedicated gaming mode in the settings menu, but certain options out there offer even more than that. Here are the best ones in our opinion:

Avira

Avira is one of the most popular and customizable anti-malware options for Windows. Greatly improved with its 2018 redesign, the antivirus provides a lower system impact and a better, more user-friendly interface.

Why Is It Good for Gamers?

While the “game mode” is only available through the paid Pro version, the upgrade also includes:

  • Suspends notifications while a game is running
  • Quiets down the antivirus and firewall
  • Postpones definition updates until after the game finishes
  • Full protection re-enabled in the settings after a gaming session

Any Other Features?

According to AV-Test, Avira detected and removed 99.7% of tested threats with very few false positives and little system impact. We recommend not using the “high” detection level setting as it results in more false positives than usual.

Other features include:

  • Ransomware detection
  • Phishing protection
  • Built-in VPN
  • System optimization tools
  • Password manager
  • Automatic software updater

See Avira Deals >>>


Bitdefender

Bitdefender is one of the best AV titles for Windows. With fast scanning, excellent virus detection rates, and little system impact, it’s enough for most users despite its lack of more advanced features.

Why Is It Good for Gamers?

Bitdefender features three separate modes: work mode, movie mode, and gaming. Gaming mode uses modified protection settings to reduce system impact while still maintaining protection. The mode automatically activates when it detects a full-screen game is running. Essentially, gaming mode will:

  • Disable alerts, pop-ups, notifications, and the Search Advisor
  • Delay scheduled scans and automatic updates
  • Automatically switch back to regular operation after the game exits

Moreover, the SafePay feature protects you from fraud when buying games from third-party sites. The transaction is done through a unique browser window with protection against keyloggers and hackers looking for your payment information.

Any Other Features?

While the feature set isn’t too advanced (zero-day attack protection isn’t included, for example), users will still enjoy various other services such as:

  • Phishing protection
  • Automatic scanning
  • Vulnerability detector for out-of-date software and missing Windows updates
  • Password manager
  • File shredder
  • Banking protection

See BitDefender Deals >>>


BullGuard

BullGuard is the first antivirus to focus on a dedicated gaming mode. The company has even sponsored gaming events and taken direct feedback from gamers themselves.

Why Is It Good for Gamers?

As mentioned, BullGuard offers a Game Mode which includes:

  • Automatically activates profiles for individual games once they launch
  • Suppresses pop-ups and the firewall
  • Features pre-installed profiles for well-known games
  • Minimizes impact on game performance

Any Other Features?

One of BullGuard’s top selling points is customer service. Many users have praised the technical support, and you also get strong protection against spyware, rootkits, and Trojans. The program also works with multiple versions of Windows.

See Bullguard Deals >>>


Panda

Panda might not be as customizable as the competition, but its game mode is excellent. The antivirus is also the most beginner-friendly option we’ve tested, with an easy-to-use interface.

Why Is It Good for Gamers?

Panda’s gaming mode functions similarly to other titles. By reducing CPU and RAM usage during gaming sessions, your framerates and experience improve. However, it also offers:

  • Automatic switching to gaming mode whenever a game is launched
  • Rescue USB creation (if a virus causes your machine to boot improperly, a rescue USB allows it to boot and cleans out problematic malware)
  • Fraud protection against dangerous online purchases in case you buy from untrusted sites by accident

Any Other Features?

Panda certainly has a lot to offer. With this program, expect to also find:

  • Real-time protection
  • USB stick scanning and cleaning
  • Process monitoring for suspicious processes
  • Hotspot Shield-provided VPN service

See Panda Deals >>>


Webroot

Webroot doesn’t have a dedicated “Game Mode.” Instead, the company offers a separate version of its antivirus for gamers.

Why Is It Good for Gamers?

The gamer version of Webroot takes up only 5 MB of RAM when idle and uses less than 15% of your CPU while scanning. On top of that, it offers:

  • System optimizer that detects any performance issues in real-time
  • Drive space optimizer that removes unnecessary files, freeing up space for larger games
  • Extremely fast scanning that executes in a matter of seconds

Any Other Features?

Webroot installation was very quick and its vast array of features include:

  • Secure browsing
  • Anti-phishing
  • Webcam protection
  • Network monitoring for incoming and outgoing traffic
  • Erasing your browser history and cache over time

The developers are so confident that they’re offering a 14-day free trial and a 70-day refund policy. There’s no risk in trying out Webroot for gamers.

One caveat is that it’s fully cloud-based—it only works properly when connected to the Internet–but that won’t be a problem for most gamers.

See Webroot Deals >>>

About the Author

Eric C.
Eric C.

Eric is a professional copywriter with over 7 years of experience writing on marketing and tech topics. In recent years, he has focused heavily on the rapidly developing security, fintech, and cryptocurrency industries.