How to Choose The Best Antivirus for Gaming
Why Gamers Hate Antivirus
Ever since video games began to outperform Hollywood movies 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 totally, addictively immersive. Gamers are completely absorbed by the game they are playing, the experience overriding every one of their senses. That is, of course, until some annoying notification pops up on the screen and totally breaks through the trance and destroys the illusion.
This intrusion is frustrating, to say the least, absolutely curtailing the amazing sensory experience that gaming software brands spend millions creating. This is correct no matter what kind of notification appears, but one type is particularly notorious in the field of interruptions. Antivirus software gets a bad rap for intrusive notifications, warnings, scheduled restarts, and clunky updates that make games drag and graphics go glitchy. It’s for this reason that so many gamers avoid it like Custer’s Revenge. But, turning off your antivirus software can obviously cause untold disasters if something nasty burrows into your system – and besides the danger you are bringing to your PC and privacy, it’s not necessary. 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 as much as the next player, check out the best antivirus software that offers this ingenious solution to game time disturbances.
What is Gaming Mode?
Gaming Mode (or Game Mode, or Gamer Mode, depending on the software) is a very handy tool that allows you to continue keeping your computer protected as usual, 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 software like McAfee will simply turn off notifications or pop ups for the remainder of your game play, while others such as Webroot are more involved and feature-rich.
And, while you get to postpone dealing with any potential malware issues until you’re ready to stop gaming, your computer is not left wide open in the meantime. Your core antivirus and firewalls are still ticking along quietly in the background, protecting you against malevolent invaders of the viral variety (although they can’t do much about the ones in the game you’re playing!).
You just have to 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. You’ll thank us later.
Where to Find Gaming Mode
You’re unlikely to find Gaming Mode amongst your bog-standard free antivirus offerings, but several of the better, premium internet security suites have realized that hardcore gamers make up a big part of their target market. These guys 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 have 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 like BullGuard and Bitdefender.
Regardless of the name, most work in roughly the same way. Here's the funny thing, though: hardly any antivirus vendors actually advertise that they offer a Gamer Mode! Exactly why this is, we can’t say, but our guess is that turning on this feature permanently would weaken their antivirus protection, overall.
As such, they don’t want to be seen to actively encourage any behavior that undermines your security and could earn them criticism if you never turn it off, and something eventually slips through the net. Whatever the circumstance may be, check out the best antivirus software in the industry for keeping your computers safe and giving you the opportunity to indulge in your favorite pastime uninterrupted.
Using Antivirus for Gaming on Different Systems
An important side note, not all antivirus software is built the same way, and they won’t all work with 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 work with so you aren’t stuck with a great product that is useless for your device.
For example, while Webroot and Bullguard are known as some of the best PC antivirus software options, Norton by Symantec and McAfee will give you value for your money and unwavering protection on your 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 better gaming experiences.
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
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. BullGuard and Avira are two top antivirus software options that make their Gaming Modes relatively easy to find and switch on. In fact, BullGuard can automatically recognize when you’re playing your favorite games and powers down, saving you the hassle of switching it on and off.
Avira is well-loved because it offers a solid product for free. With 400 million downloads, it’s obvious that Avira is not an inferior option. Its paid version is even more resilient, however, and a lot of gamers are prone to choosing this option for optimal gaming performance because the Game Mode is not available in the free version. Well worth the competitively priced package, you’ll find this antivirus offers great features you can utilize for gaming including:
- Multiple device compatibility; Mac, Android, and iOS devices
- Dedicated Game Mode with silent scans, update freezes, and basic protection running in the background
- Secure payment channels
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 you even having to go through the process of setting up individual profiles.
While this is enough to sell Bullguard for almost any gamer out there, here are a few more reasons you are going to enjoy this antivirus software option for gaming:
- Smooth installation, great for anyone without any technical know-how
- Great tech support, even comes in multiple languages
- Social media protection
Norton, not only receives full marks on our tests, but it has been tested by independent labs and earned just as impressive scores. The amount of features this software provides is astronomical, 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. Some of the Game Mode features that you’ll appreciate are:
- Super-fast quick system scans (30 seconds, one of the best in the business)
- Silent firewall, antispyware, and antivirus running in the background even while you play without compromising game efficiency
- Full screen auto-detect, so Game Mode turns on automatically when you put the device onto full screen mode (i.e., while playing a game)
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. What’s more, the Game Mode from McAfee includes perks like:
- Unlimited licenses for multi-device protection across the board
- Two-way personal firewall for maximum protection
- Outstanding protection even on Game Mode
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. Additionally, gamers will get a lot out of features like:
- Clean user interface for easy maneuvering and settings
- Excellent pricing for the industry
- WiFi detector built in
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 the antivirus software at all times.