Roku offers one of the simplest ways to stream entertainment, but some content may be geo-restricted. You’ll need a VPN, and ExpressVPN is the best VPN for Roku.
The VPN provider has SmartDNS (called MediaStreamer), unblocks geo-restricted streaming platforms like Hulu from anywhere, and offers the fastest speeds to stream 4K content.
But ExpressVPN isn’t the only option.
So, if you’re undecided about the right VPN to pair with your brand new Roku stick, you’ve come to the right place!
Top 3 VPNs for Roku (November, 2023)
Surfshark is the most affordable VPN compatible with most routers. It offers SmartDNS and has 3000+ servers for unblocking restricted content from anywhere i. The connection speeds are fast enough to handle 4K streaming.
ExpressVPN is compatible with several routers with an easy setup. It also offers MediaStreamer for smart TVs, fast speeds for streaming 4K content on Roku, and unblocks any streaming platform from anywhere.
NordVPN works with a vast number of routers and offers SmartDNS for users with incompatible routers. It also provides 5500+ servers to unblock Prime Video, Hulu, HBO, and other geo-restricted platforms on Roku.
Roku devices come in various shapes and can be used to stream movies, TV shows, music, and more. However, you’ll need a VPN since Roku can’t access geo-locked content on its own.
Ready to know how the best Roku VPNs performed? Read on.
Streaming on Roku Has Never Been Easier. Here Are the Top VPNs for Roku at a Glance
Are you itching to get started on The Sandman or Lord of The Rings: Rings of Power? Here’s a quick look at the 5 VPNs perfect for streaming any content on Roku TV.
- ExpressVPN – Fastest VPN for Streaming on Roku.
- Surfshark – Most Affordable VPN for Roku.
- NordVPN – Most Compatible With a Large Router Selection.
- CyberGhost – Largest Streaming Dedicated Server Network.
- Private Internet Access – Easiest Router Installation for Roku.
A critical criteria for this list is connection speeds. For all the tests, I used base internet speeds of 30Mbps. I’ll break down the performance in detail as we move along.
Top VPNs for Streaming HD Content on Roku
Since VPNs don’t have native apps for Roku, you must use VPN-compatible routers, SmartDNS, or create an encrypted hotspot network. I’ll dive into detail on how to get this done and more.
ExpressVPN - Fastest VPN for Streaming on Roku
Router Compatibility & Setup
ExpressVPN is compatible with standard routers like Asus RT-AC87U and Linksys EA6200 used in most homes. Additionally, some routers come with ExpressVPN preinstalled. Simply plug it in and connect your Roku stick!
But some models like D-Link, Netduma, Sabai, Tomato, TP-Link, and Xiaomi require complex manual configurations that may be too much for a newbie. As a precaution against this, ensure your physical or virtual router uses the latest firmware.
Don’t sweat if you have a router that’s incompatible with ExpressVPN.
You can use its Smart DNS (MediaStreamer) configurations with Roku on your Smart TV to unblock all streaming platforms.
MediaStreamer tricks streaming platforms into believing your Roku device is inside the unrestricted region. However, MediaStreamer is not a VPN.
So, it doesn’t change your IP address or encrypt your connection.
The upside is that you get faster speeds with the full unblocking capabilities of a VPN.
ExpressVPN has over 3000 servers in 94 countries to unblock content anywhere. I tested this by unblocking Prime Video on my Roku to stream House of the Dragon on HBO via a US server. (Still angry, though, at how Game of Thrones ended).
However, the VPN’s server network is noticeably smaller than NordVPN’s and CyberGhost’s. Even so, that didn’t affect my experience.
Since ExpressVPN has been upgrading its servers from 1Gbps to 10Gbps, the relatively small number wouldn’t matter much, even when the server is crowded.
Apple TV+, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, HBO, Hulu, Netflix, Showtime, Sling TV, Pandora Radio, Qobuz, Spotify, etc.
ExpressVPN gave average speeds of 29 Mbps, the fastest on this list.
This was enough to stream 4K content on every platform I unblocked on my Roku app. A combination of fast servers and the Lightway protocol did the trick for me.
Another handy bit I found helpful was the in-built speed test feature (on PC) that ranks servers from the fastest to the slowest.
The test took about 5 minutes but once done, all I had to do was connect to the fastest server at the top.
Unfortunately, ExpressVPN is the most expensive VPN providers I reviewed.
The good news is that we offer amazing discounts with a 30-day money-back guarantee. But you better hurry before the juicy deals run out.
Surfshark - Most Affordable VPN for Roku
Router Compatibility & Setup
Like ExpressVPN, you can have a router like InvizBox, Synology, and Asus with Surfshark preinstalled. Or, you can also manually configure a third-party router like Linksys, Sabai, Mikrotik, Tomato, and Netduma for your Roku device.
Knowing whether your router is compatible with this VPN service is easy. Simply Google-search your router model and check the specifications.
A good number of routers that run OpenVPN are compatible with Surfshark, so be on the lookout for that.
The lack of a VPN-enabled router isn’t the end of your Roku-streaming dreams since Surfshark also features a handy Smart DNS feature.
However, the setup is a little more complicated than MediaStreamer but doable if you have the instructions and the patience.
Smart DNS changes the DNS settings and address on the device you’re linking Roku with to Surfshark’s DNS server addresses in the US.
These new addresses grants you access to geo-restricted content.
And again, the SmartDNS feature doesn’t change your IP addresses; it only alters the DNS address. So, the data between your device and your Roku won’t be encrypted.
But it’s a worthwhile sacrifice considering the incredible streaming speeds and content unblocking you get in exchange.
Surfshark offers over 3200 servers in 99 countries.
That’s slightly more than ExpressVPN but falls short of NordVPN and CyberGhost on server counts alone.
However, unblocking streaming platforms through Roku was easy.
Using a US server, I unblocked the Netflix channel on Roku to watch The Sandman, which, in my opinion, is Netflix’s best production since Stranger Things. I also hopped on Spotify to catch the new Jay-Z verse on GOD DID, where he reminds us he’s a billionaire with a hot wife and Basquiat paintings.
Okay Jay-Z. Jeez.
To keep up with growing user demands, Surfshark has been upgrading its VPN servers from 1 Gbps ports to 10 Gbps ports to ensure fast speeds on these servers, no matter how many users connect.
Apple TV+, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, Netflix, DAZN, Sling TV, Pandora Radio, Qobuz, Spotify, etc.
Surfshark offers unlimited bandwidth, which is good news if you’ve always been a victim of ISP speed throttling. I averaged 28 Mbps, second-fastest after ExpressVPN. That handled all the 4K shows and movies I tested on my Roku streaming stick without hiccups.
For the best speeds, use the nearest servers. The closer the server is geographically to you, the better the connection.
You can also switch to WireGuard, which is the fastest Surfshark protocol. Alternatively, the IKEv2 protocol is also capable of good speeds and is worth a shot.
Like ExpressVPN, you can do a speed test (Windows only) to determine the fastest servers before you start streaming via the Roku app.
It’ll take about 5 minutes of your time though.
Regards price, Surfshark is one of the cheapest VPN services, the complete opposite of ExpressVPN. It offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, and you can save more with these fantastic deals.
NordVPN - Most Compatible With a Large Router Selection
Router Compatibility & Setup
NordVPN has the richest selection of VPN-compatible routers on this list.
You can use the VPN on Netduma, Netgear, Asus, Linksys, MikroTik, Peplink, Edge Router, and Ubiquiti. It’s also compatible with router firmware like Tomato, Sabai, DD-WRT, OpenWRT, Padavan, etc.
Like other alternatives, you can use routers that have NordVPN already installed or manually do it yourself. Likewise, you can check flashrouters.com for more VPN-compatible options that’ll work with your Roku device.
NordVPN has a SmartDNS feature to access restricted streaming platforms via your Roku app if you don’t have a VPN-compatible router.
However, it may not work with all streaming sites, but it’s good for Smart TVs.
Some notable streaming sites that work with SmartPlay include ABC Go, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus, Fox, and HBO Now (all from the US region). Furthermore, setting up SmartPlay may be a little complicated for new users but once running, you can enjoy fast streaming speeds without the burden of encryption.
With over 5,000 servers in 59 countries, getting around geo-restrictions on Roku should be easier than Surfshark and ExpressVPN.
However, ExpressVPN (94 countries) and Surfshark (99 countries) have the advantage of unblocking content from more countries/locations.
To test NordVPN, I unblocked DisneyPlus to rewatch the adventures of Captain Jack Sparrow navigating the treacherous Caribbean seas, a classic. The VPN service also gave me access to music streaming sites like Pandora Radio, Apple Music, and iHeartRadio.
Apple TV+, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, Netflix, DAZN, Sling TV, Pandora Radio, Qobuz, iHeartRadio, Tidal, Spotify, etc.
I got 25 Mbps on average with NordVPN, which was enough to handle 4K shows, movies and hi-res music. The secret behind this includes the ultra-fast servers and Nordlynx protocol to bypass ISP speed throttling.
Furthermore, you can bump the speeds by choosing a server closest to your physical location. That shouldn’t be a problem considering NordVPN’s extensive network.
Lastly, NordVPN is fairly priced but still costlier than Surfshark.
Combining the 30-day money-back guarantee and these fantastic discounts, you can shave off a few dollars and invest the rest on proper Roku hardware.
CyberGhost - Largest Streaming Dedicated Server Network
Router Compatibility & Setup
There are CyberGhost-compatible routers like Netgear, Linksys, and Asus that come ready to use with any Roku device. If you already have a router without that level of support, manual configuration is your other option.
The manual setup may be too sophisticated for new users.
So, you’ll find a quick tutorial to set up CyberGhost on a router in the video below.
CyberGhost also has a FlashRouter app to control all your router connections. Since every device connected to the router is encrypted, switching streaming from one device to another shouldn’t be hard, as long as they’re compatible with Roku.
CyberGhost also offers SmartDNS for people with regular routers that don’t support the direct installation of VPNs.
Like the other VPN options, this SmartDNS feature can’t change your IP address and doesn’t offer encryption. You’ll be exposed to some threats, but you’ll enjoy fast streaming speeds and steller unblocking capabilities on your Roku stick; a fair trade in my books.
CyberGhost has the largest server network, with over 8,800 servers.
It goes a step further by offering streaming dedicated servers optimized for speedy content unblocking.
So, you don’t have to waste time conducting speed tests to find the correct server. Simply tap on the streaming column, and you’re good to take your Roku stick for a spin.
For the test, I unblocked Netflix and streamed Rick and Morty without lag.
I also watched a rerun of the Manchester United vs. Arsenal English highlights on beIN Sports with great success.
Apple TV+, Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, Netflix US, Eurosport, Hotstar, Sling TV, Pandora Radio, Qobuz, iHeartRadio, Tidal, Spotify, Crunchyroll, Showtime, etc.
CyberGhost averaged speeds of 26 Mbps, making it faster than NordVPN and Private Internet Access. It also handled 4K and live streaming without lags, impressing me further since these streams are susceptible to buffering.
To get the best Roku speeds, ensure you’re using the streaming-dedicated servers on CyberGhost. Also, choose one closest to you and set the VPN to its fastest protocol, IKEv2.
The VPN client is fairly priced, almost falling within the same range as Surfshark. Plus, CyberGhost is the only VPN with a 45-day money-back guarantee.
Add these great subscription deals, and you can get it for way less.
Private Internet Access - Easiest Router Installation for Roku
Router Compatibility & Setup
Private Internet Access is compatible with several standard routers, but the selection isn’t as comprehensive as NordVPN offers.
Notable brands that work with PIA include Linksys, Netgear, and Asus.
But like other alternatives, you can manually configure it. Check flashrouters.com to see if your model has VPN support.
Additionally, you can control your router with a FlashRouter app for the best experience when streaming with Roku.
PIA offers a SmartDNS feature that’ll be handy to avoid manually configuring your physical router for VPN use. This extends to TV boxes too, making it ideal for Roku connections.
Like other alternatives, this SmartDNS feature doesn’t encrypt your connections or change your IP address. On the upside, you can easily bypass geo-restrictions and stream your shows, movies, and music on Roku fast.
You can unblock streaming platforms from anywhere with PIA, thanks to a rich server network spread out in 84 locations.
These servers have a minimum of 10Gbps connection ports, so crowded servers won’t greatly impact your streaming speeds.
Of particular interest is the availability of several servers in the US.
I used one in New York to unblock the Food Network to watch Americans add cheese to everything. We really love our cheese, don’t we?
Private Internet Access Unblocks:
Apple TV+, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, Netflix US, Eurosport, Sling TV, Pandora Radio, Ruutu, Qobuz, iHeartRadio, Tidal, Spotify, Crunchyroll US, etc.
PIA averaged 24 Mbps, the slowest on this list. But this was decent enough for HD streaming of movies and TV shows. PIA also utilizes the WireGuard protocol, which is faster than OpenVPN and preferred for streaming Roku content.
Moreover, there are no bandwidth limitations or data caps.
So, you can stream through your Roku app without worrying about speed throttling from your internet service provider.
Luckily, Private Internet Access is cheap and offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. Furthermore, you can take advantage of these fantastic deals while they last.
How to Set Up Roku With a VPN?
You can set up Roku with a VPN using three main methods.
VPN Router Method
- Subscribe to ExpressVPN.
- Install ExpressVPN on a compatible router.
- Connect your smart TV/other devices to the router.
- Plug your Roku stick into the TV or computer.
- Start streaming without restrictions.
VPN SmartDNS Method
- Subscribe to ExpressVPN and open the main website.
- Go to the “DNS Setting” tab near the top right of your Dashboard. Click “Register my IP address”.
- Click on “Set Up Devices“. You’ll see MediaStreamer. Click on it and take note of the DNS servers on the page’s right side.
- Go to Network settings on your computer (For me it’s Mac). Tap on Advanced and go to DNS. Alternatively, search the word “DNS” and tap on the first result.
- Click on the + sign and paste in the DNS server address from the MediaStreamer section. Click Apply to finish. You’re now set.
Sharing VPN Connection Over Wi-Fi Method
- Connect your laptop to your regular router.
- Install ExpressVPN on your laptop and launch the app.
- Create a WiFi hotspot with your laptop to share your encrypted traffic with the device you intend to use the Roku stick with.
- Allow the other device to connect to that new Wi-Fi hotspot. You can now stream anything you want.
Can I Use a Free VPN With Roku?
You can use a free VPN with Roku, but the experience won’t be smooth.
Free VPNs allow speed throttling, have limited unblocking capabilities and poor server selection. So, you won’t access some streaming services.
Streaming on Roku with a VPN isn’t illegal. However, by bypassing restricted streaming platforms, you’ll be breaking copyright laws.
So, always use a premium VPN like ExpressVPN with solid privacy features to anonymize yourself while unblocking content streams on Roku.
Roku works outside the US and anywhere globally. However, the content you’ll have access to depends on your physical location.
Thus, the only way to access streaming platforms exclusive to the US when traveling is via a premium VPN with US servers.
Roku is a handy tool that grants you access to unlimited movies, TV shows, sports, music and other content. To get the most out of it, you need a VPN, and ExpressVPN remains my top recommendation.
It has the speeds to handle 4K streaming, an extensive server network for unblocking restricted content, and is compatible with some routers.
For those that will stick with ExpressVPN, remember to grab these exclusive discounts!