What is WARP?
Cloudflare WARP for PC (currently in Beta) is essentially using wireguard to route your traffic through Cloudflare’s network. This is similar to VPNs that you’re probably used to, but different in two distinct ways: it does not change your location, and it serves your real IP to client websites (not meant to hide your IP).
What it does (or claims to do) is: improve routing / networking, and encrypt your traffic so that your ISP can not snoop around / censor you.
WARP is free – but a paid offering called WARP+ adds Argo for better routing and faster speeds. I’ll be testing WARP+ only today, and not the free offering. Cloudflare’s aim is to make WARP+ cost you around the same as a Big Mac a month where you live. That’s 19.99QR/m here in Qatar. So, is WARP+ worth the cost of a Big Mac, or are you better off getting yourself a guilty salt and grease explosion instead?
Does it work?
The short answer is… kinda. As I explained previously, they make two claims: better routing/networking, and avoiding ISP censors / encrypting traffic. I can only validate one of the two.
Cloudflare WARP does indeed bypass ISP censors (keep in mind that websites will still know your IP and location). But the latency/routing claims don’t add up. This is likely because Cloudflare WARP decides to use Singapore (SIN) as a colocation center whenever WARP is activated. If you disable WARP and only use 126.96.36.199 DNS services, you’re routing to the Doha, Qatar (DOH) colocation center.
For testing, I’ll be using the Beta desktop client on a Windows 10 machine. The results/behaviors are identical to those I got on an Android smartphone with the 188.8.131.52 app.
This choice of using Singapore (SIN) adds a tremendous amount of latency and a sizeable speed penalty.
The baseline Ooredoo connection is 500Mbps down and 125Mbps up (250Mbps with 125Mbps reserved for IPTV) .
Here is a speed comparison using speedtest.net.
The results are replicated when using fast.net from Netflix.
You can guess what the latency test will tell us at this point, no? We’ll do it anyway.
Why Singapore? Cloudflare has Doha presence!
Good point. When not using WARP, Cloudflare delivers great latency (1ms!) and excellent speeds when serving content from it’s Doha PoP. I’m unsure as to why Singapore (SIN) is selected instead of any other PoP if the Doha one is somehow not usable for this purpose. Even Tel Aviv would probably perform better. I emailed and asked, but received no answer. So it is what it is. If you’re curious, mobile testing gives the same results and identical behavior.
So, Big Mac or WARP+?
Big Mac! You’re better off using your own self-hosted VPS to act as a VPN. You’ll be getting the option of appearing to be elsewhere in the world, and your origin IP will be masked. WARP+ delivers zero benefits (at least here in Qatar) compared to any other provider I tested, including third party paid VPNs that perform much better.
TL:DR; If you live in Qatar (and I suspect anywhere in the gulf), then WARP+ will be slow and will increase your latency compared to any paid VPN provider or self-hosted solution. Avoid for the time being. 🙂