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10 Best Antiviruses for PC Gaming in 2023 — With Game Boosters

Updated on: September 22, 2023
Fact Checked by Katarina Glamoslija
Raven Wu Raven Wu
Updated on: September 22, 2023

Short on time? Here’s the best gaming antivirus in 2023:

  • 🥇 Norton: Excellent antivirus with a game booster that significantly improves CPU performance. It has 100% malware detection rates, comes with a wide range of extras, including advanced web protection and parental controls, and backs all purchases with a generous 60-day money-back guarantee.

I tested all of the popular antiviruses for security, performance, and pricing — I wanted to find the ones that provide excellent anti-malware protection, don’t slow down a PC during high-performance gaming, and offer a good value for all types of gamers.

I ran the tests on my budget gaming rig, which includes a 1 TB Intel SSD, Ryzen 3 3300X CPU, and Nvidia GTX 1660 Super GPU. I’m mostly playing Apex Legends and Destiny 2: Beyond Light these days, so I tested each product by using low, medium, and high graphics settings with each game.

Most of the top-tier antivirus programs have some kind of gaming mode in their internet security packages, but typical gaming modes only suspend virus scans and notifications so your gaming experience isn’t interrupted by notifications and CPU-intensive scanning. This is pretty useful, but there are some additional tools that the best antiviruses use to improve performance for PC gamers, such as:

  • Cloud-based scanning — Runs scans from “the cloud”, preventing your antivirus from hogging CPU and keeping it free for games.
  • Game boosters — Reallocates background processes so that your CPU can focus on running games. Actually makes your computer run faster.
  • Device cleaning — Removes junk files, cached files, and background processes to free up space. This also frees up RAM and memory to improve system performance.

I only found a few good gaming antiviruses that provide some combination of these performance-optimizing features, which you’ll find in the list below. My top pick is Norton 360 for Gamers, which has perfect malware detection rates, powerful performance-boosting features, and tons of other features on top.


Quick summary of the best antiviruses for PC gaming in 2023:

🥇1. Norton — Best Overall Antivirus for PC Gaming

🥇1. Norton — Best Overall Antivirus for PC Gaming

Norton 360 for Gamers is by far the best PC gaming antivirus I’ve tested. It provides one of the best anti-malware engines on the market, comprehensive web protection, and some really cool perks for gamers. It flagged down 100% of the malware that I threw at it (Norton is ranked #1 for best antivirus in 2023), and it didn’t have any effect on my frame rate, load times, or RAM usage during gaming.

I was also really impressed with Norton’s game booster and performance optimizer (Norton GO) that’s only offered with Norton 360 for Gamers. Norton GO automatically detects when you’re gaming and suspends background processes, delays virus scans, and optimizes processing power. And it works exactly as promised — while playing Destiny 2 and Apex Legends, I was able to increase my graphics settings without experiencing any slowdown whatsoever!

🥇1. Norton — Best Overall Antivirus for PC Gaming

I’m also a huge fan of Norton’s dark web monitoring feature — it scans breach databases and dark web forums to make sure your financial information, passwords, emails, and even your gamertag haven’t been leaked to hackers.

If your kids are into gaming, Norton’s parental controls are some of the best on the market — they let you monitor and schedule usage, set limits on devices or even specific apps, and block sensitive online content to help keep your kids safe. I used Norton to ensure that my daughter was focused on her lessons during school hours, unlocking all of her games only after dinner on school nights. It’s not quite as good as having a dedicated parental control app like Qustodio, but it’s great for monitoring your kids’ video gaming time.

Other features included in this plan that gamers will appreciate include:

  • Secure VPN — Norton’s VPN is one of the best antivirus-bundled VPNs on the market: it’ll keep you safe from a DDoS attack by hiding your IP address, plus it can unlock major streaming platforms, block annoying ads as you browse the web, and much more.
  • Notification optimization — reduces the number of notifications to just the most important ones, providing you with a more immersive gaming experience.
  • Webcam protection — Norton will notify you if anyone tries to access your webcam without your permission and help you block them.
  • Cloud backup — gives you 50 GB of cloud space to store your game clips online.
  • Password manager — secures your game and other accounts by helping you create strong passwords and lets you store your credentials and sensitive information in an encrypted vault.

Overall, Norton 360 for Gamers is a great choice for gamers who want to keep their devices (up to 3 PC, Mac, iOS, or Android devices) as secure as possible without diminishing CPU performance — and at $44.99 / year, it’s a pretty good value.

Norton 360 Deluxe is also an excellent option for gaming. It includes all of the same features as Norton 360 for Gamers except the ability to suppress notifications and monitor the dark web for gamertags, and it provides coverage for up to 5 devices instead of just 3 for the exact same price.

Norton - 56% off
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Bottom Line:

Norton 360 for Gamers is the best internet security suite for PC gaming on the market — its antivirus engine detected all of my test malware and its game booster feature noticeably improved my system performance during gameplay. And with great family protections, dark web monitoring, and a lot of other useful features, Norton is one of the most full-featured programs on this list. All of Norton’s plans come with a 60-day money-back guarantee.

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Read the full Norton review >

🥈2. Bitdefender — Lightweight Scanner With an Automatic Gaming Mode

🥈2. Bitdefender — Lightweight Scanner With an Automatic Gaming Mode

Bitdefender is also an excellent choice for PC gaming. It doesn’t provide a game booster, but it has a cloud-based malware engine and useful system tune-up tools, plus some nice extras like a VPN and parental controls.

It offers one of the most powerful anti-malware scanners on the market, returning 100% malware detection rates in my testing. The scanner uses a combination of signature-based scanning, advanced heuristics, and machine learning to detect virtually all threats — and because all the scanning is performed in the cloud, Bitdefender will barely slow your system down, even during full system scans.

Bitdefender’s scanner also uses its proprietary Photon technology to speed up scans. This tech works by adapting to each specific PC configuration over time, figuring out which processes need monitoring and which do not. As a result, there are fewer files that need ongoing monitoring, and less system resources are used to keep an eye on entirely safe programs, allowing the scanner to focus all of its attention on potentially harmful files without slowing down your system.

Bitdefender also includes an automatic gaming mode — it detects when your device enters full screen mode and automatically suspends scans and notifications. While Bitdefender’s gaming mode is good, I really wish it also included a game booster, like Norton does.

I also really like Bitdefender’s device optimization tools. Its OneClick Optimizer is super simple to use and can remove junk files, detect out-of-date software, and get a slower device running significantly faster.

Streamers will also appreciate Bitdefender’s microphone and webcam protections, which offer real-time detection and removal of any unknown applications that attempt to access your device — Bitdefender was successful at blocking several popular eavesdropping malware files during my testing.

🥈2. Bitdefender — Lightweight Scanner With an Automatic Gaming Mode

Starting at just $14.99 / year, all of Bitdefender’s plans are affordable, but parents will want to check out Bitdefender Internet Security ($32.99 / year) or Bitdefender Total Security ($35.99 / year), which also include Bitdefender’s excellent parental controls. Users who also want a really good antivirus-bundled VPN should take a look at Bitdefender Premium Security ($49.99 / year) — it’s the only plan to include the unlimited-data VPN (the other plans limit you to 200 MB per device per day).

Bitdefender Total Security - 64% off
Get Bitdefender Total Security for up to 5 devices for only $35.99!

Bottom Line:

Bitdefender provides lightweight antivirus protection that won’t slow down a gaming computer. In my testing, Bitdefender automatically suspended scans and notifications whenever I was gaming, and its powerful real-time malware detection kept my device safe without affecting my framerate at all. All of Bitdefender’s plans are feature-rich, affordable, and backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee.


Read the full Bitdefender review >

🥉3. TotalAV — Fast Scanner & Best System Tune-Up Tools for Gamers

🥉3. TotalAV — Fast Scanner & Best System Tune-Up Tools for Gamers

TotalAV provides a number of features that are really helpful for PC and Mac gamers. Like Bitdefender, TotalAV’s lightweight scanner offloads computation to the cloud to provide a 99.6% malware detection rating without slowing down your device during scans.

TotalAV also offers an excellent suite of system tune-up tools, including junk file removal, startup booster, browser file cleanup, duplicate file scanner, and a handy application uninstaller. In my testing, TotalAV was able to find and remove more junk files than any other system tune-up tool.

Unfortunately, TotalAV doesn’t have a game booster like Norton, or the ability to suspend scans and block notifications while gaming in full screen like Bitdefender. That said, during my testing, I was able to play AAA games like Elden Ring on the highest graphics settings with zero slowdown thanks to TotalAV’s cloud-based scanner.

I like TotalAV’s WebShield too, which protects you from phishing scams and provides basic data breach alerts. Another one of its features is Safe Search, which will flag all potentially harmful websites in your search results, while Quiet Mode will mute all in-browser notifications.

Total AdBlock is not the best ad blocker I’ve used, but it does a decent job blocking most ads, including in-play video ads. It’s also customizable, allowing you to whitelist certain websites whose advertisements you don’t mind seeing.

TotalAV is my favorite antivirus with a VPN in 2023, providing encrypted browsing on dozens of servers around the globe, a kill switch for secure torrenting, great streaming support, and fast connection speeds.

🥉3. TotalAV — Fast Scanner & Best System Tune-Up Tools for Gamers

Gamers can pick up TotalAV at a really low cost with the new Antivirus for Gamers bundle, which offers all of TotalAV’s features on up to 3 Windows, macOS, Android, or iOS devices for just $19.00 / year.

TotalAV - 84% off
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Bottom Line:

TotalAV is a lightweight antivirus with near-perfect malware detection ratings and an excellent system tune-up suite. It detected 99.6% of the malware in my testing, and its system tune-up features helped me optimize my startup, get rid of junk files, and clean up my cached browser files. I’m also a big fan of TotalAV’s fast VPN, which is comparable to some standalone VPN apps. TotalAV offers a 30-day money-back guarantee with all of its plans.


Read the full TotalAV review here>

4. McAfee — Best Parental Controls for Gamers

4. McAfee — Best Parental Controls for Gamers

McAfee Total Protection is a full-featured internet security suite with an advanced antivirus scanner. Its anti-malware engine performed really well in my standard series of tests, catching 100% of the malware files I placed on my gaming PC.

McAfee also comes with comprehensive parental controls. The controls provide content filtering, device usage limits, and even device tracking for mobile users. During testing, I was able to easily set time limits on my test PC’s internet time and block specific apps and games. The only downside is that they don’t work with macOS, so if your kids like to game on a Mac computer, you should check out Bitdefender or use McAfee alongside a standalone parental control app like Qustodio.

4. McAfee — Best Parental Controls for Gamers

Its secure firewall is also really good for gamers — it was able to detect a wide variety of network attacks during my testing, and I could also set rules that allowed the games on my device and friends on my network to connect online.

But unlike Norton, McAfee doesn’t have a gaming mode or a game booster. While this isn’t ideal, the good news is that you can easily schedule scans to avoid having gaming interrupted.

Starting at $39.99 / year, McAfee’s Total Protection plans offer a really good value — there are several plans to choose from, including plans for individuals and families. Both options allow you to cover up to 5 or an unlimited number of devices (select countries only) and include features such as web protection, a firewall, a secure VPN, and identity monitoring.

Bottom Line:

McAfee Total Protection has excellent extra features, including parental controls and a smart firewall. It’s easy to schedule scans with McAfee’s intuitive interface, and parents will appreciate the ability to monitor, block, and schedule app usage, internet access, and device activity. McAfee is really reasonably priced, and there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee on all plans.

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5. Kaspersky — Most Extra Features for Gaming

5. Kaspersky — Most Extra Features for Gaming

Kaspersky has everything I expect to see in a premium antivirus suite for gamers — it has a good anti-malware scanner, an automatic game mode, and a variety of internet security protections.

I like that Kaspersky’s gaming mode turns on automatically in full-screen mode, suspending notifications and scans. However, Kaspersky’s gaming mode doesn’t offer the same level of customization and performance optimization as Norton.

Kaspersky also comes with additional features like:

  • Online shopping and banking protection.
  • Password manager.
  • VPN.
  • Parental controls.
  • PC clean-up tools.

I really like the PC cleanup tools Kaspersky offers. For example, it has PC Speed-Up, which finds registry issues or unused files that you can fix or remove respectively, Quick Startup, which lets you see the apps that are booted when your computer starts up and to disable them for faster startups, and a hard drive health monitor, which informs you of the condition of your hard drive and alerts you to any issues.

5. Kaspersky — Most Extra Features for Gaming

Priced at $41.99 / year, Kaspersky Standard is a decent choice for gamers, but if you’re after a VPN, password manager, and parental controls, it’s worth considering Kaspersky Premium. It covers up to 20 devices for $81.99 / year and, like all Kaspersky plans, it comes with a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.

Bottom Line:

Kaspersky is a comprehensive antivirus suite with a built-in gaming mode. Kaspersky’s gaming mode doesn’t have a lot of features, but it gets the job done. Kaspersky also has a variety of useful extra features, including online shopping and banking protection, a password manager, a VPN, and system clean-up tools. Plus, all Kaspersky purchases have a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.

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6. Malwarebytes — Minimal Antivirus for PC Gamers on a Budget

6. Malwarebytes — Minimal Antivirus for PC Gamers on a Budget

Malwarebytes provides advanced anti-malware protection, good web protections, and an optional VPN for a low price. But it lacks a lot of the additional features that the other programs on this list have — it doesn’t have a game booster, parental controls, or a firewall. However, for users who are looking for a decent antivirus program that won’t take up too much CPU space, Malwarebytes is an ok option.

In my tests, Malwarebytes scored a 95% malware detection rating (Norton and Bitdefender scored 100%), and it also blocked most of the unsafe and phishing websites I tried opening. Malwarebytes also automatically recognizes when your system is in full screen mode, delaying all scans and notifications while you’re gaming or watching videos.

6. Malwarebytes — Minimal Antivirus for PC Gamers on a Budget

Malwarebytes’s Privacy VPN is basic but decent — it offers 500+ servers in 40+ countries, uses the WireGuard protocol and military-grade encryption, and it has a kill switch and a strict no-logs policy. It offers good speeds for browsing but it’s not as fast as the top standalone VPNs, so if you’re relying on a VPN connection for Valorant or any other region-locked gameplay, it may not be good enough for you.

Malwarebytes Premium ($44.99 / year) is a good low-budget option for gamers, but users who also want a fast VPN for secure web browsing should take a look at Malwarebytes Premium + Privacy VPN ($99.99 / year).

Bottom Line:

Malwarebytes offers a low-impact anti-malware program with good malware detection rates and affordable pricing. During my tests, Malwarebytes detected 95% of my test malware and blocked nearly all phishing websites. Malwarebytes also comes with an automatic gaming mode, and users can upgrade to get a pretty fast VPN as well. All of Malwarebytes’s plans include a generous 60-day money-back guarantee.


Read the full Malwarebytes review >

7. Avira — Cloud-Based With a Good Free Plan

7. Avira — Cloud-Based With a Good Free Plan

Avira is a secure, cloud-based antivirus with perfect malware detection and a good free plan. It had no trouble identifying the wide variety of malware files I put on my test PC, including ransomware, trojans, spyware, keyloggers, rootkits, and more. I also like how lightweight its antivirus scanner is — I didn’t notice any slowdowns on my device, even during a full system scan. Most antiviruses have some impact on device speed during full scans.

7. Avira — Cloud-Based With a Good Free Plan

It also has a game booster, which improved my CPU’s performance by closing background apps and optimizing network settings. But I still think Norton has a better gaming booster because it also allowed me to increase my graphical settings without suffering any framerate drops.

Avira’s free plan doesn’t come with gamer-specific features, but it’s still a good free antivirus plan for PCs. It provides tons of customization options, includes ransomware protection, and comes with other features like:

  • Safe browsing and shopping extension.
  • System tune-up tools.
  • VPN (500 MB monthly limit).
  • Password manager.

I was really impressed with Avira’s safe browsing and shopping extension — it blocked annoying ads from YouTube, eliminated web trackers, and even recommended deals for products I was shopping for — including games and gaming accessories.

I recommend most gamers check out Avira Prime, which adds the game booster, a VPN with unlimited data, multi-device coverage, and password and online account breach monitoring for $59.99 / year.

Bottom Line:

Avira’s cloud-based malware scanner is great for PC gaming — it barely takes up any CPU power while still providing 100% malware protection for your devices. It also comes with a really good game booster that increases CPU performance. Avira’s free plan doesn’t include gaming features, but it still comes with an excellent ad-blocking web extension and good system tune-up tools. Users looking for a VPN with unlimited data, multi-device coverage, and a game booster should upgrade to Avira Prime, which also comes with a 60-day money-back guarantee.

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Read the full Avira review >

8. Panda — Good for Ease of Use

8. Panda — Good for Ease of Use

Panda is an intuitive and easy-to-use antivirus with a solid gaming mode and good web security protections. Its cloud-based virus scanner turned up every piece of malware I tested against it, including tricky rootkits and ransomware files, and it didn’t slow me down too much during a heated bout of Apex Legends.

I also like how simple it is to schedule scans. You can easily configure the scan frequency, the day of the week and time of day when it should run, and whether it should scan the entire PC or only critical areas.

8. Panda — Good for Ease of Use

Panda’s gaming mode activated whenever I entered full screen, suspending scans and notifications to avoid slowing down my CPU. However, I was a bit disappointed to learn that Panda’s gaming mode didn’t improve PC performance during gaming (Norton has a game booster that does that).

Panda has several plans to choose from, and they’re all affordable. Panda Essential ($19.20 / year) has an antivirus scanner and a VPN, Panda Advanced ($22.80 / year) also includes ransomware protection and parental controls, and Panda Complete ($30.10 / year) adds system clean-up tools and a password manager.

Bottom Line:

Panda has cloud-based scanning that won’t slow down gameplay and an automatic gaming mode that starts up when a game starts running. It’s a decent choice for non-technical users looking for a simple antivirus, coming with extras like a VPN, a password manager, and parental controls. You can try out Panda with a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.

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9. Webroot — Simple & Lightweight Antivirus

9. Webroot — Simple & Lightweight Antivirus

Webroot is a good product for gamers looking to economize disk space. It’s significantly smaller than any other antivirus on the market — you only install about 4 MB of data on your computer, and the rest of the program is hosted on the cloud.

I was impressed with Webroot’s antivirus engine, which scanned all of my files in a matter of minutes without having an impact on my PC — most competitors take as long as a couple of hours to perform a full system scan.

9. Webroot — Simple & Lightweight Antivirus

Webroot is super lightweight. The program barely affected my CPU and RAM usage while I was playing Destiny 2. I also like that it has an advanced setting that reduces the amount of resources it uses if it detects that you’re gaming, watching videos, or using other intensive applications. But for improving gaming performance, I still prefer Norton.

Priced at $23.99 / year, Webroot’s plan for gamers also comes with a range of useful extras — it protects your webcam from malware hijacking, has good network protections, and comes with a system optimizer that automatically clears up your background files to free up RAM.

Bottom Line:

Webroot is a simple and lightweight antivirus that hardly takes up any disk space. It won’t directly improve your computer’s performance when gaming, but it’s designed to stay in the background, so it won’t slow down your gaming sessions either. You can try out Webroot with a generous 70-day money-back guarantee.

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10. Trend Micro — Decent Virus Protection With a Manual Mute Mode

10. Trend Micro — Decent Virus Protection With a Manual Mute Mode

Trend Micro detected the majority of malware samples I downloaded to my PC, but its detection rates weren’t as good as premium competitors like Norton and Bitdefender. On the other hand, Trend Micro’s anti-phishing protection is on par with the best antiviruses — it detected scam sites and exploit attacks more accurately than Chrome or Firefox in all of my tests.

10. Trend Micro — Decent Virus Protection With a Manual Mute Mode

I also like Trend Micro’s Mute Mode, but I found it frustrating that I had to click through a few different submenus to access and activate this mode — most of the competitors on this list automatically detect when you’re gaming and immediately activate their gaming modes.

Trend Micro isn’t my top choice for gamers, but I still think its internet security suites are a good value for both individuals and families — and they’re cheaper than most other products, with prices starting at just $19.95 / year.

Bottom Line:

Trend Micro is a good antivirus program with helpful extra features, including a Mute Mode that pauses scans and notifications. Trend Micro’s malware scanner detected the vast majority of malware samples during my testing, and its Mute Mode worked well during gameplay — but the Mute Mode needs to be manually activated. All of Trend Micro’s plans have a 30-day money-back guarantee.

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Read the full Trend Micro review >

Comparison of the Best Antiviruses for PC Gaming

Antivirus Starting Price Gaming Mode Increases CPU Speed During Gaming System Cleanup Tools Cloud-Based Scanner Parental Controls
1.🥇Norton $44.99 / year ✅ (with game booster)
2.🥈Bitdefender $14.99 / year
3.🥉TotalAV $19.00 / year
4. McAfee $39.99 / year
5. Kaspersky $41.99 / year
6. Malwarebytes $44.99 / year
7. Avira $59.99 / year ✅ (with game booster)
8. Panda $19.20 / year
9. Webroot $23.99 / year
10. Trend Micro $39.95 / year

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Why Do I Need an Antivirus for Gaming?

Cybercriminals can target gamers in a number of ways. For example, phishing links are often circulated in in-game messaging systems or in malicious emails coming from hackers posing as game admins in an attempt to gain your login details or payment information. Cybercriminals can also trick gamers into downloading shady game files that actually contain keyloggers or other malware. And sometimes, even genuine games can be exploited by third parties with malicious intentions.

Protecting yourself from malware isn’t the only reason to get an antivirus for gaming. Good gaming antiviruses (like Norton) can even boost your device performance through features like game boosters and system tune-up tools — all while minimizing their impact on your gameplay by suspending scans and notifications when you’re in game or by using cloud-based scanners. Just make sure you pick the right antivirus, since not all gaming antiviruses include all of these features.

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How to Choose the Best Antivirus for Gaming in 2023

  • Find an antivirus with a good anti-malware engine. It goes without saying that a good gaming antivirus should have close to 100% malware detection rates. Ideally, it should use heuristic detection and machine learning (like Norton and Bitdefender) to catch malware that doesn’t yet exist in any malware database.
  • Make sure the antivirus provides great web security. Gamers can be targeted by hackers through deceptive links designed to extract account or payment information. Due to that, an antivirus with strong anti-phishing capabilities and a secure browsing feature is a must.
  • Get a lighweight antivirus. An antivirus is the best way to protect your device from malicious threats, but it should’t affect your gaming. All antiviruses on my list use minimal RAM and CPU, and a good number of them (like Bitdefender and TotalAV) come equipped with cloud-based scanners, ensuring zero lag even during extensive system scans.
  • Look for gamer-specific features. A good gaming antivirus should include specific features to enhance your device’s performance while gaming and/or minimize interruptions. Norton has both a game booster, which increases your CPU’s speed while gaming by suspending unnecessary background processes and optimizing processing power, and a gamer mode, which suspends scans and notifications, so you’re never taken out of the game at a crucial moment.
  • Pick an antivirus that’s easy to use. All the antiviruses on this list are easy to use (even for users who aren’t too tech-savvy) — they come with intuitive layouts, helpful submenus, and responsive and helpful tech support.
  • Choose a product that provides good value. You want an antivirus that offers a good balance between cost and value, covering multiple devices with a single subscription and including extra features like webcam protection, system tune-up tools, dark web monitoring, password managers, VPNs, and parental controls. Also look for antiviruses that have money-back guarantees, which let you try the product risk-free and get a full refund if you aren’t happy with the results.

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Top Brands That Didn’t Make The Cut

  • Sophos. Sophos offers a good internet security suite which has high malware detection rates, doesn’t cause slowdown during scans, and is very easy to use. However, Sophos doesn’t have a gaming mode or game booster, so it’s not a good choice for gamers.
  • ESET. ESET has a powerful malware scanner and some of the most advanced diagnostics tools on the market. However, it falls flat in terms of user-friendliness — many of its features are poorly explained and difficult to use. Its additional features are also pretty lacking, and its system cleanup features are especially disappointing.
  • Intego. Intego’s antivirus for Macs is one of the best in 2023, and it even has excellent system tune-up tools for Mac gamers. However, I’m not a big fan of Intego’s antivirus for Windows, and the vast majority of gamers are on Windows in 2023.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the best antivirus for PC gaming?

Norton 360 for Gamers is the best antivirus for gaming. It has perfect malware detection rates, good anti-phishing protection, and includes tons of gamer-specific features like a game booster, which optimizes your computer’s performance for gaming, and a gaming mode, which suspends virus scans and suppresses notifications while you’re gaming. Norton can even scan the dark web for your gamertag to see if your account or personal information has been leaked.

Will an antivirus affect my gaming?

Most antiviruses affect gameplay, yes. Virus scans are notorious for their high CPU load, and pop-up notifications may jump on screen at bad moments. This can cause noticeable lag and other performance glitches.

But the best gaming antiviruses won’t affect gameplay at all. These antiviruses have one or more features that keep your antivirus software and games running smoothly together, including:

  • Gaming mode. Suspends virus scans and notifications while you’re gaming.
  • Game booster. Reallocates background processes to free up your CPU processor for gaming.
  • Cloud-based scanner. Doesn’t use your CPU to run scans, limiting system strain during routine scans.
  • System optimization. Cleans out junk files, speeds up bootup, and increases RAM and memory availability.

Antiviruses like Norton will actually increase your CPU performance with their game booster features. Other products on my list have automatic gaming modes and cloud-based scanners, so you won’t have to worry about a headshot being interrupted by a security notification!

Can I just turn off my antivirus while my games are open?

You can, but hackers are expecting you to do this — gamers are a huge target for cyber attacks because of their reputation for connecting to the internet without protection.

However, there are many gaming-optimized antivirus options on the market today that won’t slow down your PC, so there’s no reason why you should ever turn off your antivirus, even during intense gameplay. And some antiviruses like Norton 360 for Gamers even provide specialized game boosters that actually improve your PC performance during gameplay.

Are all gaming modes in antivirus software the same?

No, not really. Many of the top-tier antivirus programs now include a “game mode” which will suspend notifications and scans while you’re in full screen mode. But then there are some — like Norton — which will boost your PC’s performance and actually increase your frame rate and CPU processing power.

Is there a free antivirus that offers a gaming mode?

No, I wasn’t able to find a good free antivirus with a gaming mode. While some free antiviruses like Avira are pretty good, I still recommend getting an affordable paid antivirus that comes with a gaming mode or game booster — like Norton.

Best Antiviruses for PC Gaming in 2023 — Final Score:

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About the Author
Raven Wu
Raven Wu
Updated on: September 22, 2023

About the Author

Raven Wu is a freelance writer, editor, and translator. He is a strong advocate of internet freedom and is very passionate about technology, and he’s honed his craft by researching and writing about a variety of other topics including education, literature, health, pop culture, and games. Outside of work, he's an amateur novelist and history enthusiast who enjoys hard games, spicy food, and thinking way too hard about everything.