Max buffering with VPN

If you’ve been watching Max (formerly HBO Max) with a VPN and you’re coming across slowdowns or buffering, the VPN you’re using might not be fast enough to work reliably with the streaming service.

The good news is there’s a number of fixes you can try to resolve this annoying problem.

In this article we’ll explain how you can fix Max buffering with VPN so you can continue watching all your favourite Max content without issues.

Max buffering with VPN: Fixes

Before trying to fix any issues with Max buffering with VPN, first check if your internet is fast enough.

Max needs different speeds for different video qualities:

  • Minimum Speed: At least 5 Mbps for streaming in HD quality.
  • Recommended Speed for HD Quality: 5 Mbps is typically sufficient for HD streaming, but a higher speed can provide a more consistent experience.
  • Recommended Speed for 4K UHD: If you’re streaming content in 4K Ultra High Definition, a speed of 25 Mbps or higher is recommended to ensure smooth playback without buffering.

To test your internet speed, turn off your VPN and go to a website like Speedtest by Ookla. This will tell you how fast your internet is. If it’s slower than what Max needs, you might need to talk to your internet provider.

If your internet is fast enough, then you can try these other solutions:

  1. Change to a different server

    Max buffering with VPN

    Switching to a different VPN server can often resolve Max buffering issues experienced while using a VPN. This is because some VPN servers may be overcrowded or may have slower connection speeds, which can lead to buffering.

    When you connect to a different server, especially one that is geographically closer to you or less congested, you’re likely to experience a more stable and faster connection.

  2. Change to a different protocol

    Max buffering with VPN

    Switching to a different VPN protocol can significantly improve your Max streaming experience, especially if you’re encountering buffering issues.

    Different VPN protocols offer varying balances of speed and security. For instance, protocols like OpenVPN might provide robust security but can sometimes be slower, potentially leading to buffering. On the other hand, newer protocols like WireGuard are designed for faster performance and may enhance streaming quality.

  3. Update/Restart your VPN

    Max buffering with VPN

    Updating your VPN can be an effective way to fix Max buffering issues. This simple action clears the apps memory and can resolve minor glitches that may be affecting the streaming quality.

    Restarting also allows the VPN connection to reset, potentially resolving any IP address conflicts or connectivity issues that might be causing the buffering.

  4. Restart your router

    Max buffering with VPN

    Restarting your router can be an effective way to fix Max buffering issues when using a VPN. This process, commonly known as “power cycling,” helps by clearing any existing glitches in your router’s memory that might be causing connectivity problems.
    When you restart the router, it re-establishes a fresh connection with your ISP, which can lead to a more stable and faster internet connection.

  5. Upgrade to a faster VPN

    Max buffering with VPN

    Upgrading to a faster VPN can significantly enhance your Max streaming experience, especially if you’re encountering buffering issues while using a VPN.

    From out tests we’ve found ExpressVPN is one of the best VPNs for Max as its renowned for its fast connection speeds, which is crucial for streaming high-quality content without interruptions.

    By providing higher bandwidth and more stable connections, ExpressVPN ensures that the video streams smoothly, reducing the likelihood of buffering.

    Additionally, it has a wide range of servers across different locations, allowing for a better and faster connection regardless of your geographic location. This improvement in speed and stability makes ExpressVPN an excellent choice for an uninterrupted and high-quality Max viewing experience.

The best VPNs for Max: Quicklist

ExpressVPN ($6.66/month) is the gold standard of VPNs. With servers in 94 countries and top-tier encryption protocols, it provides users the fastest and most reliable way to unblock streaming services from anywhere in the world.

NordVPN ($2.99/month) has an expansive network of 5,800+ high-speed servers in 60 countries – making it a great option for anyone looking to unblock popular streaming services, at a more mid-range price point. An excellent choice.

Private Internet Access ($2.03/month) is the “best of the rest” VPN. It stands out as a solid streaming VPN with a budget price tag. It’s not as reliable, or fast, as ExpressVPN or NordVPN. Making it a more suitable choice for a casual VPN user.

Ivacy ($1.00/month) the price is the selling point here. If you want a VPN that works with major streaming services “most of the time” and don’t mind a bit of buffering during peak periods, Ivacy is fine. But it’s nowhere near as good as ExpressVPN and NordVPN.

CyberGhost ($2.19/month) is a decent VPN option that offers user-friendly apps and a range of servers worldwide. While it may not lead the pack in all features, it provides a satisfactory balance of privacy, speed, and ease of use.

Why is Max buffering when I use a VPN?

If Max is buffering while using a VPN, there could be several reasons for this issue:

  1. VPN Server Location and Load: The distance between you and the VPN server can impact speed. If the server is far away or heavily loaded with users, it could slow down your connection.
  2. VPN Bandwidth and Speed Limits: Some VPNs limit bandwidth or have slower speeds, which can affect streaming quality. Free or budget VPN services often have such restrictions.
  3. Network Congestion: Your local network and internet service provider might be experiencing high traffic, leading to slower speeds overall, which affects streaming services like Max.
  4. Throttling by ISP: Some ISPs throttle VPN traffic, which can slow down your connection speed when using a VPN.
  5. Max’s VPN Detection: Max and other streaming services often have measures to detect and limit access over VPNs. If Max detects VPN usage, it might limit streaming quality or cause buffering issues.
  6. VPN Protocol and Encryption Overhead: The type of VPN protocol and the level of encryption can affect the speed of your connection. Higher encryption levels can slow down the connection.
  7. Device Performance: The device you’re using might have limitations in processing power, affecting its ability to handle VPN connections and stream content smoothly.
  8. VPN Configuration: Incorrect configuration of the VPN can lead to performance issues.
  9. Outdated VPN Software: Using an outdated VPN app can cause compatibility and performance issues.

Which VPNs work with Max?

ExpressVPNNordVPNPIAIvacyCyberGhost
Max
Download Speed79 Mbps71 Mbps27 Mbps31 Mbps41 Mbps
Throttling79%71%27%31%41%
Stream quality⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Price per month$6.66$3.79$2.03$1.00$2.19

How can I maximise VPN performance with Max?

To maximise VPN performance when streaming Max, you can follow these steps:

  1. Choose the Right VPN Service: Select a VPN known for high speeds and reliable connections. Premium VPNs typically offer better performance than free ones.
  2. Select a Server Close to Your Location: Choose a VPN server that is geographically closer to you. The shorter the distance data has to travel, the faster your connection will be.
  3. Opt for Servers in Max-Friendly Locations: If you’re outside the regions where Max is available, connect to a server in a country where Max is accessible, like the United States.
  4. Check Your Internet Speed: Ensure your base internet speed is fast enough for streaming Max. A speed of at least 5 Mbps for HD and 25 Mbps for 4K UHD is recommended.
  5. Use a Wired Connection: If possible, use a wired connection instead of Wi-Fi for a more stable and faster internet connection.
  6. Limit Bandwidth Usage on Other Devices: Reduce the number of devices using your network while streaming. This helps allocate more bandwidth to your streaming device.
  7. Update VPN Software: Keep your VPN software up-to-date to benefit from the latest performance improvements and security patches.
  8. Experiment with VPN Protocols: Some VPNs allow you to change protocols. Protocols like OpenVPN, IKEv2, and WireGuard can offer a good balance between speed and security.
  9. Avoid Peak Hours: Streaming during off-peak hours can improve speeds as fewer users are on the VPN server and your local network.
  10. Adjust Max Streaming Quality: If you’re still experiencing issues, try lowering the streaming quality in Max settings to reduce buffering.
  11. Restart Your Router and Devices: Occasionally, simply restarting your router and streaming device can resolve connectivity issues.
  12. Contact VPN Customer Support: If you continue to face issues, reach out to your VPN’s customer support for assistance and advice specific to their service.

The VPN services we recommend for Max

1. ExpressVPN 🥇 $6.66/month

The fastest and most reliable streaming VPN

  • Optimized for HD streaming speed
  • Wide network with 160 locations across 94 countries
  • Split tunneling feature to select apps using VPN
  • TrustedServer technology for enhanced security
  • Limited to 5 simultaneous device connections
ExpressVPN review

ExpressVPN stands out as a strong choice for streaming HBO Max due to its exceptional speed and reliability. It operates a vast network of servers in various locations, including numerous servers in the United States, which is ideal for accessing HBO Max.

ExpressVPN is known for its ability to consistently bypass geo-restrictions, making it a reliable option for users outside the regions where HBO Max is available. The VPN also offers robust security features, including high-level encryption and a no-logs policy, ensuring your online activities remain private.

Its user-friendly interface across devices and platforms further adds to its appeal, making it easy for users to connect and start streaming with minimal fuss.

Read our full ExpressVPN review.

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2. NordVPN $3.19/month

An incredibly fast and trustworthy VPN

  • Extra encryption with Double VPN
  • Over 5,500 servers in 59 countries
  • SmartPlay technology to unblock 400+ geo-restricted streaming services
  • CyberSec feature for ad and malware blocking
  • The interface can be complex for new users
NordVPN Best VPN image

NordVPN is another excellent choice for HBO Max due to its extensive server network, which includes a significant presence in the United States. This VPN is praised for its advanced security features, such as double VPN and Onion over VPN, which provide an extra layer of security for users.

NordVPN is also adept at circumventing geo-blocks, granting reliable access to HBO Max from various locations.

Additionally, NordVPN offers fast streaming speeds, which is crucial for streaming high-quality video without buffering. Its commitment to privacy, evidenced by a strict no-logs policy and strong encryption standards, ensures that your streaming activities are secure and private.

Read our full NordVPN review.

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3. Private Internet Access $2.03/month

An affordable, reliable VPN

  • Strong encryption for secure connections
  • Extensive server network enhancing connectivity
  • Built-in ad and malware blocking
  • Supports up to 10 devices simultaneously
  • Can have slower speeds
Best VPN list - PIA

Private Internet Access is a popular VPN choice for its balance of affordability and performance. PIA provides a good number of servers in the United States, which are key for accessing HBO Max.

It offers reliable speeds that can handle high-definition streaming without significant buffering. While PIA may not be as fast as ExpressVPN or NordVPN, it still delivers a satisfactory streaming experience.

Additionally, PIA is known for its strong commitment to privacy, with a strict no-logs policy and robust encryption, making it a secure option for those looking to keep their streaming habits private.

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4. Ivacy $1.00/month

A trustworthy and affordable VPN

  • Cost-effective pricing
  • Servers optimized for P2P activities
  • Strict no browsing logs policy
  • Allows up to 10 simultaneous connections
  • Smaller server network compared to others
Ivacy Best VPN image

Ivacy is a solid option for streaming HBO Max, particularly for those looking for a more budget-friendly VPN solution. It offers dedicated streaming servers, which are optimized for a smoother video streaming experience. Ivacy has servers strategically located in regions where HBO Max is available, facilitating easy access to the service.

While it might not offer the same speed as the top-tier VPNs, Ivacy still provides a decent streaming performance. Its strong encryption and commitment to user privacy are additional benefits, ensuring that your online activities are protected.

Read our full Ivacy review.

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5. CyberGhost $2.19/month

A solid VPN package

  • Large server network with streaming-optimized servers
  • Strong encryption standards for security
  • Specialized servers for streaming, torrenting, and gaming
  • Generous 45-day money-back guarantee
  • Speed performance can be mixed
CyberGhost Best VPN image

CyberGhost is a user-friendly VPN that’s well-suited for HBO Max subscribers. It has a large network of servers, including many in the United States, making it easy to find a fast and reliable connection for streaming HBO Max.

CyberGhost is known for its streaming-optimized servers, which are specifically configured to provide a smooth streaming experience. This feature is particularly useful for users who may not be as tech-savvy, as it simplifies the process of finding the right server for HBO Max.

In addition to its streaming capabilities, CyberGhost offers strong privacy protections, including a no-logs policy and high-level encryption, ensuring your streaming activity remains private.

Read our full CyberGhost review.

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(30-day money-back guarantee)

Max buffering with VPN: FAQs

Q: Why does HBO Max buffer more when I use a VPN?

Answer: Buffering on HBO Max while using a VPN can occur due to slower internet speeds caused by the VPN, or because of the distance between you and the VPN server. Ensuring a high-speed VPN server that is geographically closer can help mitigate this.

Q: Can I use any VPN to stream HBO Max?

Answer: Not all VPNs are optimal for streaming HBO Max. It’s best to choose a VPN that offers fast speeds, stable connections, and servers in locations where HBO Max is available, like the USA.

Q: How can I improve my VPN speed for HBO Max?

Answer: To enhance VPN speed, select a server close to your location, limit bandwidth usage on other devices, and consider using a wired connection instead of Wi-Fi for more stability.

Q: Does HBO Max have restrictions against using VPNs?

Answer: HBO Max, like many streaming services, may have measures to detect and restrict VPN usage. Using a reliable VPN with strong encryption and stealth features can help bypass these restrictions.

Q: What internet speed do I need to stream HBO Max over a VPN?

Answer: For streaming HBO Max over a VPN without buffering, aim for internet speeds of at least 5 Mbps for HD content and 25 Mbps for 4K UHD streaming, though higher speeds may be necessary if the VPN slows down your connection.

Patch Bowen
Patch Bowen is an accomplished technology journalist with a solid academic foundation, holding a degree from Auckland University. His expertise spans across a range of tech topics, with a notable focus on product reviews, industry trends, and the impact of technology on society. With his work featured on major New Zealand websites like Stuff.co.nz, thebit.nz, and The Press, Patch has established himself as a credible voice in technology media. His articles are known for their detailed analysis and practical insights, particularly in making complex technological concepts understandable for a broad audience. At ReviewsFire, Patch is renowned for his thorough evaluations and clear, informative writing style. He has a knack for identifying and explaining the nuances of the latest gadgets and digital trends, earning him a reputation as a trusted source for tech advice and information.

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