While testing PIA's London location and selecting our usual London server, hosted by TreudlerGroup U.K., that server vanished from Speedtest.net's options for a few minutes. In that time, we selected a different London server, hosted by Namesco. This yielded a bizarre 180ms ping, 4.02 Mb/s download and 6.70 Mb/s upload. Aside from the strangeness of this exceeding our home ISP’s 5 Mb/s upload limit, the download number is half of what TreudlerGroup's server delivered minutes later — more proof that being able to select your server matters. If your VPN provider won't let you choose your server, at least make sure that they’ve got the performance to indicate that their auto-sensing processes are doing the job you want.
|Seattle, WA (West Coast)||Portland, OR (West Coast)|
|US West/Phoenix (West Coast)||Hood River, OR (West Coast)|
|London, UK||Miami, FL|
|Tel Aviv, Isreal (Middle East)||London, UK|
|✗||Tripoli, Libya (Middle East)|
We got lucky in that PIA offers a Seattle location. The rest of the West Coast is a bit less specific. It turned out that our selection of "US California" actually pegged to San Jose, and "US West" mapped to Phoenix. Bingo -- a match for comparison to IPVanish. We scored again with PIA's Israel region, although our IP indicated a Haifa location rather than Tel Aviv, but that's close enough.
As for performance, the numbers speak for themselves. PIA blows HMA! and IPVanish out of the water. In particular, we remain baffled by how the Phoenix region can deliver downloads over twice as fast as our FiOS performance ceiling through that FiOS connection. That is some serious VPN wizardry right there. Overall, PIA about doubles the overseas performance of IPVanish, which, combined with PIA's pricing, lays IPVanish's claims of being the best deal around to rest. IPVanish is good, but not PIA good. For this, we can live without a snazzy client interface.