I’ve always been doubtful when it comes to serious local gaming on Chrome OS. Although we’ve come a long way with the Steam Linux App. The one thing that made me think serious local gaming on Chrome OS wasn’t possible was due to the processing power Chromebooks provide.
You can have the latest eleventh-generation Intel i5 Quad-Core processor, which offers lightning-fast performance. However, true gaming needs more power than this, you need a dedicated graphics card. I’ve addressed this issue before about needing a dedicated graphics card for gaming on Chrome OS.
The good news is, we may see Chromebooks in the future come with a dedicated graphics card (GPU). There are two manufacturers that lead the way when it comes to graphic cards, which are Nvidia and AMD. According to Chromeunboxed Nvidia is the GPU we’ll start seeing in some future Chromebooks.
Steam Linux Alpha
You can already play some games using the Steam Linux App. You’ll have to own one of the select few Chromebooks that are powerful enough. Providing you’ve got the right Chromebook you can install Steam Linux Alpha.
It’s currently in beta, so you shouldn’t expect all games to work without any issues. I’ve used Steam Linux Alpha a few times on my Asus CX5 Chromebook. Some older games that don’t take advantage of the latest technology when it comes to graphics worked without too many issues.
When it came to more advanced games. Even if I was able to install them, they simply didn’t run and would usually crash when loading. Although there may have been other issues why these did not work. The main reason is that they need a dedicated graphics card to run.
Advanced games need a Dedicated Graphics card
Even when we get to a stage where Steam Linux Alpha is fully developed. There will still be a huge number of games that will not work. This is why it’s great news that we will possibly start seeing future Chromebooks with a dedicated Nvidia Graphics card.
Once the Linux App is out of beta and you can buy a Chromebook that has a dedicated graphics card. There will be nothing stopping you from playing PC games locally, which essentially means Chromebooks will be just as good as a Microsoft Windows PC for local gaming.
This will remove one of the reasons why some people are still put off switching to Chrome OS. The other issue about the AUE date when using Chrome OS will not be a problem in the future. Therefore, I think we are nearly at a stage where Chrome OS has no limitations, and this will hopefully encourage more people to make the switch.
Local gaming Chromebooks will be expensive
This is all great news but we also need to look at what this will actually mean. Firstly, do not expect to find a Chromebook with a dedicated graphics card for under £1,000/$1,000. In fact, you’ll most likely find they’ll cost even more than this.
One of the main reasons why gaming laptops are expensive is because you have to pay for all that processing power. You not only need to ensure the Chromebook has a super-fast processor. A gaming laptop needs plenty of RAM, 8GB being an absolute minimum and the dedicated graphics card will bump up the cost as well.
This is why you’ll find Windows PC gaming laptops that can easily set you back £1,500/$1,500. There simply isn’t a way of getting around it. If you want to play advanced PC games locally you need to spend a decent amount of money.
Gaming laptops are noisy
If you’ve used one of the latest Chromebooks that come with a powerful processor. You’ll already be aware that they are noisier due to the processor. The processors used in Chromebooks like the Acer 713 and Asus CX5 Chromebook are so powerful they need fans to keep them at the right temperature.
Add a dedicated graphics card into the mix and you’ll be dealing with an ever-noisier laptop. This is because you’ll have the fans from the processor and the fans from the dedicated graphics card kicking in at the same time.
This is one of the reasons why I decided to go back a step and buy a Pixelbook Go. Although I liked the Acer 713 and my current Asus CX5. The noise and heat the fans create put me off a little. You can find out more about this by reading why the latest powerful Chromebooks are not for everyone.
An alternative option for gaming on Chrome OS
Although I’m excited about the future of local gaming on Chrome OS. I’m also aware not everyone is going to want to spend the amount of money you’ll have to pay for a gaming Chromebook. Add to that the noise you’ll get from the fans is another reason that might put people off.
The good news is you don’t need to own a Chromebook that is powerful enough for local gaming. You can already play PC games on your Chrome OS computer with Nvidia GeForce Now. I play all of my favourite games on my Chromebox using Nvidia GeForce Now. The gaming experience is fantastic, and it works much better than using my Windows gaming desktop PC.
Nvidia GeForce Now streams games to your device, so all of the processing power is done in the cloud. Therefore, you can play PC games that require a dedicated graphics card by streaming games on services such as GeForce Now or Stadia.
The only issue you may have when streaming games is your internet connection. To play advanced games you’ll need a fast and reliable internet connection. You may even notice that streaming games via WiFi can cause lagging issues or make some games unusable. Connecting to the internet with an Ethernet cable will help with this, which you’ll find on most Chromeboxes. However, not many Chromebooks currently come with an Ethernet port.
I’m really happy to see that Chrome OS continues to move forward. The ability to play powerful PC games locally on your Chromebook is just around the corner.
At the moment though, if you want to play PC games on your Chromebook. I’d recommend using a streaming service such as Nvidia GeForce Now or Stadia. Providing you’ve got a decent internet connection you’ll be very impressed with how these work on Chrome OS.
A couple of years from now and we’ll most likely be nearer to what is needed for true local PC gaming. How that will look, and how much it will set you back in terms of money remains to be seen.