I’ve owned a Chromebook since they were originally released back in 2011. I have owned several Chromebooks and a Chromebox since then. I love Chromebooks and ChromeOS, but it wasn’t until I was able to play PC games on ChromeOS that I fully enjoyed the experience.
I wanted to desperately do away with my Windows PC for gaming. The cost of constantly updating a Windows PC so you can play the latest games was too much. I made the assumption that playing the type of games I enjoy would never be possible on a Chromebook. The good news is I was so wrong.
In the future, we may see more Chromebooks that have been designed for playing games locally. However, we are a long way off from that, as Steam Linux Alpha isn’t ready for a stable release just yet. Also, you would need a really powerful laptop to take advantage of playing games locally. Therefore, the best way to play your favourite games on your Chromebook is to stream them. It’s what I do on almost a daily basis, as streaming games on ChromeOS works amazingly well.
What is cloud gaming/stream gaming?
Streaming games allow you to play games, even with advanced graphics, on your Chromebook. The good news is you don’t necessarily need a powerful Chromebook to do this. This is because all of the processing power is done on servers, which is why it’s also known as cloud gaming.
When you play games locally all of the processing power takes place locally. This means you need a computer with a lot of RAM, a really fast processor, and a dedicated Graphics processor (GPU). These types of computers cost a lot of money, and there aren’t many current ChromeOS computers that offer such power.
This is why cloud gaming is perfect for ChromeOS because you can still get a great gaming experience without needing to have all the processing power locally.
Cloud gaming platforms
To stream games on your computer, you need to register with a cloud gaming platform. There are a few available such as Amazon Luna, the now-defunct Stadia, and my favourite Nvidia GeForce Now. These platforms allow you to connect to their servers, so you can play games on your Chromebook whilst the servers do all of the processing.
This means it doesn’t matter too much if your device doesn’t have much processing power. The only thing you do need is a decent internet connection. Also, I’d recommend using an external mouse because some games don’t work too well when using your laptop’s trackpad.
The reason I prefer Nvidia GeForce Now is that they are experts in the gaming field. Nvidia makes some of the best dedicated Graphics cards you’ll find on a gaming computer. When you stream games with GeForce Now you’re getting access to these graphics cards. GeForce Now also links to your Steam and Ubisoft accounts, which means you can play games you have already bought from Ubisoft or Steam.
What type of ChromeOS computer is best for cloud gaming?
The great thing about streaming games is that you don’t necessarily need a powerful laptop. I’ve played Nvidia GeForce Now games on my Asus Chromebox, Pixelbook Go, Asus CX5, and my really old budget Toshiba Chromebook 2.
Some of these devices are considered high-powered, but my Toshiba Chromebook 2 is certainly not. I used my Toshiba Chromebook 2 to stream games just before it reached its AUE date. Therefore, you don’t necessarily need a specific type of Chromebook with a lot of processing power to stream games.
However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be looking for a specific type of Chromebook if you intend to play a lot of games in the cloud. Although you can use many of the Chromebooks already available. There is definitely an advantage to streaming games on one of the three new cloud-gaming Chromebooks recently announced by Google.
Three new cloud gaming Chromebooks announced by Google
If you’re a casual gamer streaming games on your current Chromebook might be all you need. However, if you’re into your games in a big way there are huge benefits to choosing a laptop specifically designed for cloud gaming.
This is why Google has worked with Asus, Acer, and Lenovo to bring the first-ever cloud gaming Chromebooks to the world. It isn’t a gimmick, and trust me I would tell you if I thought it was. There are many good reasons why you should consider buying one of these Chromebooks if gaming is your thing.
Three things you want from a decent gaming Chromebook:
- A solid internet connection
- Ability to play games at 120 frames per second
- Excellent speakers that offer a great gaming experience
If you like action games or any type of game that has fast-moving objects you’ll definitely benefit from a Chromebook capable of 120 frames per second (fps). You’ll also enjoy your gaming experience much better if the speakers are capable of producing great sound. Another thing to consider to get the best experience is your WiFi connection. All of the three new cloud gaming Chromebooks announced by Google offer this.
120 frames per second
If you like playing action-packed games you can’t get a better experience than streaming at 120 frames per second (fps). Streaming games at such a frame rate has only recently been possible on ChromeOS.
Thanks to Nvidia, you can now subscribe to their GeForce Now high-performing subscription service, which is capable of streaming games at 120fps. This is possible because you’ll be getting access to their super powerful RTX 3080 Graphic processors.
Apart from the capability of streaming games at 120 frames per second. The GeForce Now RTX 3080 subscription also provides features such as ray tracing, which simulates lighting much better to provide super realistic lighting.
This is the most expensive subscription on Nvidia GeForce Now. You will only get the true value from using this if you have one of these latest cloud-gaming Chromebooks. I’d recommend choosing a lower subscription GeForce Now service if you’re streaming games from a regular Chromebook.
Streaming games over WiFi
When you get into the world of cloud gaming something you need to consider is your internet connection. You will need a stable and fast internet connection if you want smooth game playing. The last thing you want is buffering or for the graphics to deteriorate in quality due to an internet connection problem.
You can stream games on a standard Chromebook over WiFi and it may work just fine. However, this will depend on your WiFi and internet setup. I came across a few issues streaming games over WiFi unless I was in the same room as my router. I tend to use my Chromebox, which comes with an Ethernet port, which allows you to use a wired connection. This provides a more stable cloud gaming experience.
The good news is all of the new Cloud Gaming Chromebooks announced by Google use WiFi 6. WiFi 6 is far more stable than the versions before it and provided you have a WiFi 6 router; you should be able to play even the most demanding games over WiFi.
You need great sound for the best gaming experience
We all know that to get truly engrossed in gaming you also need good sound. If I play games on my Pixelbook Go or Asus CX5, I get a much more enjoyable experience compared to using a laptop with basic speakers. I simply can’t explain how engaged you are when the sound effects have access to decent speakers.
Many laptops don’t always come with great speakers. This can seriously impact your gaming experience. So I’d strongly recommend choosing a Chromebook with good speakers if you want to get the best from your cloud gaming.
The three new cloud gaming Chromebooks come with excellent-sounding speakers. Something that is pretty essential. If you’re not intending to upgrade your Chromebook just yet, and own a Chromebook with basic speakers; I’d recommend buying a Bluetooth speaker. A Bluetooth speaker will dramatically improve the sound quality, but it’s much better if your Chromebook already comes with great-sounding speakers.
You can already buy these Chromebooks, so if you’ve heard everything you need to know and cannot wait to get your hands on one. You can get the Acer Chromebook 516GE and the Asus Chromebook Vibe CX55 Flip at BestBuy in the USA. Also available in the USA is the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming Chromebook, which is available from Walmart. If you live in the UK you’ll most likely find these are not available, but hopefully, this should change in the future.
It’s true you can take advantage of streaming games on many different Chromebooks. You can even use some entry-level Chromebooks to stream Nividia GeForce Now games.
That being said, if you’re truly into your gaming then I’d strongly recommend looking into these latest cloud gaming Chromebooks. They offer everything you need to get the very best cloud gaming experience on ChromeOS.