HP, Lenovo, Acer, and Asus are expected to be among the first companies to release gaming Chromebooks. A code change in the Chromium Gerrit suggests the vendors are working on Chrome OS devices that will support Steam.
In January 2020, Google said it would bring Steam to Chromebooks, and the plan may be starting to take shape. 9to5Google spotted a code change on Saturday showing a list of what appears to be Chromebook models that will support Steam:
When asked about the report, Acer told Ars Technica that it’d “need to defer to Google on the minimum requirements/plans for Steam on Chrome.” No other laptop maker contacted got back to us in time for publication. Google has told Ars Technica in the past that a lot of experimentation happens in the Chromium Gerrit, so things can look different by the time changes hit consumers.
That said, last month, the Chromium Gerrit also showed work on RGB keyboard support for Chromebooks, another sign that gaming Chromebooks could be coming.
Expected minimum specs
It appears Chromebooks will require some pretty beefy specs to run Steam. Currently, expected minimum specs include an Intel 11th-Gen i5 CPU and 8GB of RAM. As noted by 9to5Google, there may be other Chromebooks added to the list down the line, especially since we have yet to hear official confirmation from Google, Steam, or any laptop companies. The publication pointed to a Chromium Gerrit link showing Intel 10th-Gen and AMD CPU testing.
Interestingly, there’s no detail on Arm-based chips. Although there are no Chromebooks with dedicated Nvidia GPUs, 9to5Google noted Chromium Gerrit contributions from Nvidia employees that it said would “be used exclusively by the virtual machine that will be used by Steam.”
Nvidia has been working with MediaTek, the maker of many Arm-based SoCs found in Chromebooks, on a reference platform supporting Chromium, Nvidia SDKs, and Linux. The company has promised to bring capabilities like ray tracing and Nvidia’s DLSS to Arm-based chips and has demoed such features working on the MediaTek Kompanio 1200 chip expected to land in Chromebooks. Since we’re talking about the first Chrome OS devices with dedicated Nvidia graphics cards, we’d expect those gaming Chromebooks to command a higher price tag, too.
The Chromebook models detailed in the Chromium Gerrit are pretty pricey already. Acer’s Chromebook 515, for example, currently starts at $650, while the Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 can be found for $830 with an i5. HP’s c640 G2 Chromebook starts at $489 but goes up to $1,254 for an i5.
With Google Stadia flailing, it will be interesting to see Google’s next attempt at attracting PC gamers.
Update 2/21/2022, 4:05 p.m. ET: Added comment from Acer.