A Chromebook for local Steam gaming will need a lot of storage space

If you’ve owned a Chromebook or know enough about them you’ll be aware they have a lot less storage space than a typical Windows computer. The reason for this is that the Chromebook and Chrome OS are more geared toward the cloud.

What that means is that you can do most things on a Chromebook without installing programs. This is something else that is different from how most people use a typical computer. All this means that a Chrome OS computer comes with a lot less storage space.

However, Chrome OS continues to be worked on by the team at Google, which means it’s offering its users more functionality over time. Something that is in very early stages is the ability to play PC games locally on your Chromebook with Steam Alpha.

What is Steam Alpha

Google and Valve the corporation behind Steam have been working together closely for about two years on providing a Steam Linux App for Chrome OS. The idea behind the app is to give Chrome OS users the ability to play PC games on their Chromebook or Chromebox.

You can already play PC games on a Chromebook using services such as Nvidia GeForce Now. I use GeForce Now regularly to play my PC games on my Chromebox. It’s a great service, which allows you to stream games directly to your computer. Because you’re streaming games you need a good internet connection as all the processing power is done on Nvidia servers rather than locally on your Chromebook.

What Google and Steam have been working on will give you the ability to play PC games locally. This means you’ll install games locally on your computer and all the processing power will be done locally.

This is a mammoth task

This is why it’s currently called Steam Alpha. It essentially means it’s in very early stages. There are many reasons for this. Chrome OS has always been a lightweight operating system, which is what users love about it.

It was never created to install programs locally, as it was originally all about cloud computing. However, that has changed in the last few years with the introduction of Android Apps and Linux Apps. These apps bring a lot of functionality to your Chromebook but they need to be installed locally to work.

Steam games on Chrome OS
PC games using Steam on a Chromebook

Another thing you need when playing PC games locally is high-powered processing. This is something else that has not really been needed to make the most out of Chrome OS. You can get many tasks done on a Chromebook using a budget processor.

Something else the team needs to get over is how to take full advantage of a Chromebooks processing power whilst maintaining security. Chrome OS is one of the most secure computers you can use and applications cannot easily access its hardware because of this.

Only a select number of current Chromebooks can run Steam Alpha

Because of all this, only a select few Chromebooks currently available can use Steam Alpha. When you think about a Windows gaming PC and the specifications required. It makes complete sense that there are not yet many Chromebooks that are capable of true gaming locally.

Even the Chromebooks that are currently compatible are unlikely to be able to play really advanced PC games. I own an Asus CX5 Chromebook, which is one of the devices that is currently compatible. I’ve installed Steam Alpha and the installation went to plan.

I wasn’t able to play any type of game because some of the games I own would not work due to the processing power needed. However, I was able to install Age of Empires 2 using Steam Alpha and it worked just fine. That’s a pretty old game but it’s still amazing to think a PC game was playable locally on a Chromebook. Something that I would never have thought was possible a few years ago.

Streaming service Stadia Chrome OS
Streaming services use no local storage space on your Chromebook

You will need a lot of storage to play PC games locally

One thing I did notice was that the storage you’ll need to play PC games locally is going to be much more than most Chromebooks currently offer. My Asus CX5 comes with 256GB of storage, which is huge for a Chromebook.

Most of the current Chromebooks come with storage space that ranges from 32GB to 256GB. However, there aren’t many that you’ll find with 256GB. At the moment a Chromebook with 256GB of storage is considered a rarity.

Although you could easily install a few games with 256GB of storage. I would not consider this amount of storage space as being suitable for gaming locally on your Chromebook in the future. At the moment Steam Alpha is a work in progress, but I’m quietly confident it will be a success.

Future gaming Chromebooks will need a lot more storage space

Once we get to a stage where Steam Alpha is capable of playing many more PC games locally. This will be done with the continued development of Steam Alpha and new Chromebooks offering the specs needed for playing these games.

You will find a Chromebook with 256GB of storage will be considered an absolute minimum. To install Steam Linux Alpha you need to install Linux on your Chromebook. When you do this you’re asked how much storage you would like to allocate to Linux.

Android apps Chromebook need storage space
You still need to have enough space left over for your Android apps

Because I had 256GB of storage to play with. I decided to give 100GB of storage space to Linux. After all, you’ve got to remember you’ll still need storage space for all your other needs such as installing Android apps. When you consider Steam itself needs available storage space and games can easily need up to 50GB to be installed. You can easily see that future gaming Chromebooks will need at least 500GB of storage.


If you’re looking to buy a new Chromebook with the intention of taking advantage of what Steam Alpha will offer in the future. You’ll not only need to ensure the processor is capable and you have enough RAM.

You will seriously need to consider the amount of storage you’ll need. Sure, you could get on with 256GB, but it would limit the number of games you could install locally. It’s unlikely you would want to uninstall the games you’re playing to make space to install other games.

If you’re anything like me you’ll like to have a number of games you can play depending on how you’re feeling. Therefore, having a selection of your favorite games to choose from is something you’ll want. This is why 256GB of storage is something I would consider as being the absolute minimum. To take full advantage of local gaming on a Chromebook. You’ll most likely find that 500GB or more will be the new standard.