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Norton 360 for Gamers 2023 review

Norton_Vertical_logoWith over three decades in the antivirus industry, Norton has solidified its reputation as a trusted brand, safeguarding over 50 million users globally. In this review, we’ll dissect Norton 360 for Gamers, one of Norton’s latest offerings, to answer some burning questions:

  • What kind of protection does Norton 360 for Gamers offer?
  • Will it impact my device’s performance?
  • Is it beginner-friendly?
  • What are the pricing options?

Beyond these key points, we’ll delve into the customer support landscape, explore the security features that could give you a gaming edge, and give you a user interface tour. I’ve also run a series of tests to determine whether this internet security software is a keeper or a pass.

If you’re crunched for time, don’t worry – I’ve got a quick summary below.

Norton 360 for Gamers summary

Pros:

  • Includes the entire feature set of Norton 360 Deluxe
  • Game without interruptions thanks to optimization notifications
  • Gamertags are monitored for traces on the dark web

Cons:

  • The price per device is higher than Norton 360 Deluxe
  • There’s no setting for game optimization notifications

Norton 360 for Gamers plans and pricing

Norton typically offers its users a range of plans to choose from depending on their internet security protection requirements. However, for gamers, there’s only one option to choose from, which I’ve detailed below.Norton 360 for Gamers pricing

Norton 360 for Gamers

If you’re a gamer, your only option is the Norton 360 for Gamers suite. As standard, it includes the following features:

  • Game optimizer
  • Notification Optimizer
  • Dark Web Monitoring
  • 50GB PC Cloud Backup
  • Full-screen Detection Mode
  • Password Manager
  • PC Safecam
  • Parental control
  • Norton Crypto
  • Secure VPN
  • Smart firewall for PC
  • Real-Time Threat Protection
  • Virus Protection Promise

The price to cover up to 3 PCs, Mac, smartphones, or tablets is $44.99 for the first year of your subscription. After this, the cost reverts to $99.99.

Norton 360 Deluxe – the non-gamer option

To ensure you’re getting the level of protection you need, I wanted to ensure you have another option available. Norton 360 for Gamers includes all the features of Norton 360 Deluxe plus several tools for hardcore gamers.

Norton 360 Deluxe includes the following features:

  • Dark Web Monitoring
  • 50GB PC Cloud Backup
  • Password Manager
  • PC Safecam
  • Parental control
  • Secure VPN
  • Smart firewall for PC
  • Real-Time Threat Protection
  • Virus Protection Promise

Norton 360 Deluxe comes in at $49.99 for 12 months for new subscribers and then renews at $104.99. While this price is higher than Norton 360 for Gamers, it protects up to five devices, whereas Norton 360 for Gamers only protects three.

If you don’t need the added gaming features and need to protect more than three devices, Norton 360 Deluxe would be the wiser choice.

Compatibility

Because Norton 360 for Gamers uses an indistinguishable app from Norton 360 Deluxe, gamers will benefit from compatibility on the same platforms. This includes support for Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS.

Windows:

  • Microsoft Windows 10 (all versions)
  • Microsoft Windows 8/8.1 (all versions). Some protection features are not available in Windows 8 Start screen browsers.
  • Microsoft Windows 7 (all versions) with Service Pack 1 (SP 1) or later.

MacOS:

  • Current and previous two versions of Mac OS.
  • Features not supported: Norton Cloud Backup, Norton Parental Control, Norton SafeCam.

Android™ Operating Systems

  • Android 6.0 or later. Must have Google Play app installed.

iOS Operating Systems:

  • Compatible with the previous two versions of iOS.

Effectiveness against malware

While gamers are often more concerned with DDoS attacks and theft of their gamer tags/accounts, Norton 360 for gamers includes on-demand and real-time malware scanning.Norton 360 for Gamers device security

For context, on-demand scanning searches your system for threats that have been introduced via offline methods such as an external network drive. In contrast, real-time protection actively scans your system for threats downloaded from the web.

To see how Norton 360 for gamers performed, I ran two tests using inert and live malware samples.

Real-time scanning

I obtained my first set of malware samples from the European Institute for Computer Antivirus Research (EICAR), which provides files that simulate a malware infection without causing any damage to your system. Files from the EICAR are commonly used to benchmark antivirus software to test its detection performance. To begin, I enabled Norton 360 For Gamers’ real-time scanning to see if it would detect the malware samples when I downloaded them from the web.nortoneicar1(1)

The table below shows the results:

No valueNorton 360 for Gamers
Websitenorton.com
Eicar Sample 1Blocked
Eicar Sample 2Blocked
Eicar Sample 3Blocked
Eicar Sample 4Blocked
Best deal (per month)$3.74
SAVE 55% on an annual plan

Norton blocked all instances of malware obtained from the EICAR during real-time scanning.

Next, I took things a step further, using three live malware samples consisting of zipped executables which contained adware and two trojans.

I downloaded the live samples from the web, leaving real-time protection enabled. You can see how it performed below:

No valueNorton 360 for Gamers
Websitenorton.com
Live Sample 1 (Adware)Blocked
Live Sample 2 (Trojan)Blocked
Live Sample 3 (Trojan)Blocked
Best deal (per month)$3.74
SAVE 55% on an annual plan

Norton performed excellently, blocking all three of the live samples as soon as they finished downloading to my system.nortonlivesample1(2)

On-demand scanning

While Norton achieved a 100% detection rate during real-time scanning, I wanted to see if it lived up to the same standard during on-demand scanning. A good rule of thumb to keep your system protected is to perform scans periodically, though Norton’s products often scan your system automatically at different intervals.

Firstly, I wanted to understand how long Norton’s full system scan would take and how many files it would scan.

The deep scan took around two hours to complete, scanning over 2 million of my system files. While I find this figure super thorough, you can see how Norton compares to its closest competitor below.

No valueNorton 360 for GamersBitdefender
Websitenorton.comBitdefender.com
Full Scan Time (minutes)121110
Number of scanned objects1,420,2764200000
Best deal (per month)$3.74
SAVE 55% on an annual plan
$4.16
Get 50% OFF!

As you can see, Norton 360 for Gamers didn’t quite stack up to Bitdefender’s scan, which scanned around four times as many files in half the time as Norton.

However, to ensure Norton 360 for Gamers is given a fair trial, you can see how other providers performed during full scans in the table below:

No valueKasperskyNorton 360 for GamersESETAvastMcAfee
Websitekaspersky.comnorton.comeset.comavast.commcafee.com
Full Scan Time (minutes)2271216860223
Number of scanned objects21000001,420,276930,0001870000785000
Best deal (per month)$2.49
GET 70% OFF
$3.74
SAVE 55% on an annual plan
$4.99
Save 25% with a 2 year subscription
$2.10
GET 66% off 2 year plans
$3.33
SAVE $80 on a 2 year plan - 5 devices

Out of each provider listed, Norton lands at a central point in its scan length and the number of files scanned. It outperforms Norton and Kaspersky for scan time and comes in around average for the number of files scanned.

AV-Comparatives tests

To ensure my review of Norton 360 for Gamers is fair and my tests weren’t merely a fluke, I like to compare my research to a world-leading test lab.

AV-Comparatives provides a series of yearly tests to rank the best antivirus providers from the worst. It runs real-world protection tests, which look for threats introduced via an online download, and a malware protection test which scans for infections obtained offline.

As Norton 360 for gamers uses the same malware engine as Norton 360 deluxe, I’ll use this for my benchmarking.

The Real-world protection Test from February-May 2022 is the most recent test available. In it, Norton achieved a 100% protection rate, blocking all 725 of the test malware cases. However, it produced 50 false positives (the lower, the better), which was a little concerning.

AV Comparatives Real world Protection Test Feb 2022
Source: AV-Comparatives

March 2022 is the latest malware protection test, where Norton achieved a 100% protection rate, putting it in the top cluster of antivirus providers alongside Panda Security.

Impact on system resources

To ensure Norton 360 for Gamers didn’t strain my system, I recorded how it performed during quick scans, background scans, and complete system scanning.

Quick scan

Norton 360 for gamers offers a quick scan function that uses smart technology to scan areas of your system where threats hide most often.

I ran this scan, and you can see how it impacted my PC performance versus the software running in the background without a scan.

No valueNorton 360 for Gamers
Websitenorton.com
Control CPU Utliization % (no scan)14
Control Memory Utilization % (no scan)72
Control Disk Utilization (seconds) (no scan)13
Quick Scan Time (seconds)171
Quick Scan Memory Utilization %76
Quick Scan Disk Utilization %41
Best deal (per month)$3.74
SAVE 55% on an annual plan

The quick scan was lengthier than other providers I’ve tested, lasting three minutes. Notably, the scan didn’t put much strain on my PC, clocking 37% CPU load, which only increased by 23% versus background scanning. Positively, the scan also had an insignificant impact on my system memory, racking up a meager 4% during a quick scan.

Full scan

Next, I recorded the impact on my system when running a full scan.

No valueAVGNorton 360 for Gamers
Websiteavg.comnorton.com
Full Scan CPU Utilization %3584
Full Scan Memory Utilization %7575
Full Scan Disk Utilization (seconds)381381
Control CPU Utliization % (no scan)1414
Control Memory Utilization % (no scan)7272
Control Disk Utilization (seconds) (no scan)1313
Best deal (per month)$6.49
Save 53% on the annual plan - 10 devices
$3.74
SAVE 55% on an annual plan

The full scan took around two hours to complete, causing a 70% increase in CPU usage and up to 84% when running Age of Empires via the Steam client. These figures are worth considering if you’re running more resource-heavy games like Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy.

Fortunately, Norton’s impact on system memory was practically the same for full scans as it was for quick scanning, essentially non-existent.

The table below gives you some context on how Norton compares to its competitors:

While Norton’s results show it’s heavier on resources than most, its RAM usage is among the best performers.

Additional features

As Norton 360 for Gamers is geared toward players that take gaming seriously, I wanted to include a breakdown of some of the most notable features below.

Norton Dark Web Monitoring for gamer tags and personal information

As a gamer, you put tons of hours into gameplay, unlocking achievements, and making new friends online, so your gamer tag is super valuable to you. Unfortunately, cybercriminals seek to steal gamer tags and personal information to sell on the dark web.Norton 360 for Gamers dark web monitoring

Norton’s dark web monitor searches various sources online to see if your gamer tag has been listed anywhere without your consent. If it has, you’ll be alerted right away.Norton 360 for Gamers gamertag monitor

Game optimizer

Nobody wants to experience lag or performance issues during a lengthy gaming session, which is often the case when antivirus programs run adjacent to your games. While you might be tempted to disable your protection for a smoother gameplay experience, it’d be more beneficial to experience great performance without compromising security – meet Game Optimizer. This feature works with multi-core PCs to reduce performance interruptions while gaming without decreasing your online security.Norton 360 for Gamers game optimization

Full-Screen Detection Mode

This feature is marketed for Norton 360 for Gamers, but it’s essentially the same as the silent mode for Norton 360 Deluxe. This feature detects when you’re playing a game through platforms like Steam, Epic Games Launcher, EA Origin, or UPlay. If it identifies your gaming session, it silences all but critical security alerts.

Notification Optimizer

How annoying is it when you’re about to win a team deathmatch in CoD, only to be bothered by a useless notification? That’s why Norton created Notification Optimizer. This feature only works on PC, but if enabled and you’re playing a game, it’ll only alert you if you’re under attack or your license is expiring. In other words, you’ll enjoy distraction-free gaming unless it’s something urgent.

Usability

Norton 360 for Gamers looks similar to Norton 360 Deluxe, a great application that caters to entry-level users and experts alike. Let me break it down if you’re yet to experience Norton 360 for Gamers’ dashboard.Norton 360 for Gamers dashboard

You have a list of the most popular features on the main screen, consisting of the following:

  • Device Security opens up the Norton 360 Deluxe security screen, consisting of tools to scan your device for malware, protect your online browsing activities, performance tweaks, and online backup settings.
  • Game Optimizer, as we explained earlier, allows you to adjust settings to get the best performance out of your games while Norton does its thing in the background.
  • Dark Web monitoring, when clicked, opens a browser window that lets you add an email address, Gamertags, and more to ensure they’re not being sold online.
  • Secure VPN lets you connect to the fastest server automatically, or you can select from a specific region. There are also lots of useful extras listed under VPN settings.
  • Cloud Backup lets you choose which files and folders you need backing up within your 50 GB backup allocation.
  • Password Manager opens a password vault to store your passwords and generates secure passwords on your behalf.
  • Parental Controls let you tweak settings related to internet usage for the rest of your family, including content filters and screen time limits.

A new feature I never saw when testing in Norton 360 Deluxe is the left-hand dropdown, providing easy access to pages that explain how to request a refund and other popular support topics.Norton 360 for Gamers account dropdown

While some may find Norton 360 for Gamers overwhelming, beginners will likely get their heads around the layout quickly. The dashboard doesn’t offer much customization for advanced users, which may disappoint some.

Norton’s customer support

Having support available when things go wrong, like frequent crashing during games while scans run in the background or drops in framerates, you’ll want to ensure someone is around to help.

Fortunately, Norton 360 for Gamers includes:

  • 24/7 live chat support.
  • Live community forums where answers to many issues are available.
  • A knowledge base.
  • Product tutorials.

Norton Customer Support page

I tested out Norton’s 60-day money-back guarantee by getting in contact via live chat. The support agent refunded my subscription within minutes, and it was in my bank the next day.

Best Alternatives to Norton

Norton 360 for Gamers serves a particular purpose that many antivirus providers haven’t locked down yet. Yes, it’s an antivirus and internet security suite at its core, but the added gaming features will appeal to a more narrow audience. Below are some alternatives to Norton 360 for Gamers:

McAfee Gamer Security: Like Norton, McAfee is a massive name in the PC gaming world. It offers similar features to Norton that mutes notifications and optimizes your system so that gaming prioritizes resources. It requires very little user input and tweaks settings for you.

Bitdefender: While Bitdefender isn’t a gaming security option, it is a great solution to uninterrupted gaming without compromising security. When you install Bitdefender, Autopilot mode kicks in to monitor your usage patterns and optimizes resources automatically. Bitdefender has a low impact on resources anyway, so you’ll almost certainly guarantee a great experience while using it with gaming.

Webroot SecureAnywhere for Gamers: One of the biggest reasons to use Webroot for gaming is because of its low usage on RAM at around 5MB when idle. Webroot uses approximately 15% CPU and under 50MB of RAM with lightning-fast scan technology during scans. Webroot runs subtly in the background and has over 100 exportable options for gamers to tweak to ensure the software impact on their games is unnoticeable.

Norton 360 for Gamers verdict

For gamers, Norton 360 for Gamers checks all the essential boxes. It boasts top-tier malware detection, validated by leading test labs, and differentiates itself from Norton 360 Deluxe with unique features like game optimization and notification optimization. While some might argue that Norton 360 Deluxe’s 5-device limit offers more flexibility, my focus is primarily on gaming with a single device, making Norton 360 for Gamers the more tailored choice.

Norton continues its tradition of rolling out attractive first-year discounts for newcomers. The customer support is nothing short of excellent, and the user interface resonates well with the gaming community. Best of all, most features are automated, so you can install the software and jump right back into your game without missing a beat.