Google is trying to make Chromebooks built for cloud gaming

One a part of Google could have given up on cloud gaming, with Stadia set to be discontinued in a number of months. However on the ChromeOS staff, there’s an entire new initiative to try to push again on the entire “you’ll be able to’t recreation on a Chromebook” factor. At this time, Google — together with a handful of {hardware} and software program companions — are asserting what it calls “the world’s first laptops constructed for cloud gaming.” 

Stripping again the hyperbole, what does this imply in observe? In spite of everything, the entire level of cloud gaming is that you just don’t want superpowered {hardware} to get pleasure from high-quality video games — many current Chromebooks can run cloud gaming companies simply superb. That stated, the brand new laptops introduced right now are fairly a bit totally different than your common Chromebook. 

At a excessive stage, Google says that it centered on a handful of {hardware} options to distinguish these laptops, together with giant shows with excessive refresh charges, keyboards with anti-ghosting tech (and RBG keyboards in some circumstances), WiFi 6/6E playing cards and usually excessive specs.

Three new laptops from ASUS, Acer and Lenovo

Acer Chromebook 516 GE


ASUS, Acer and Lenovo all introduced new computer systems right now as a part of this push. First, the Acer Chromebook 516 GE encompasses a 16-inch IPS display screen with a 2,560 x 1,600 decision and 120Hz refresh fee, together with an RBG anti-ghosting keyboard and Twelfth-gen Intel processors (as much as a Core i7). It’s additionally outfitted with a gigabit ethernet port, two USB-C ports, a USB-A port and HDMI. Lastly, it has DTS audio by way of two upward-facing audio system and two extra downward-facing audio system on the underside of the laptop computer. Acer will supply numerous configurations, however the first shall be at Greatest Purchase this month for $650 — it’ll embrace a Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage by way of its NVMe SSD.

ASUS’ providing is a little bit totally different — the Chromebook Vibe CX55 Flip has a 15.6-inch show that maxes out at 1080p, but it surely’s a touchscreen and it has an excellent greater 144Hz refresh fee. Because the identify suggests, the CX55 can flip round into “pill” and “tent” modes, like many different ASUS Chromebooks. It doesn’t have RGB lighting on the keyboard, but it surely does have a somewhat distinctive orange trim, together with across the essential WASD keys; it additionally has 1.4mm of journey.

                               ASUS Chromebook Vibe CX55 Flip

Specs-wise, the CX55 makes use of Eleventh-generation Intel processors; you may get it with an i3, i5 or i7. The i3 mannequin is paired with Intel UHD graphics, whereas the i5 and i7 fashions use Intel’s Iris X graphics. It’ll have both 8GB or 16GB of RAM and as much as 512GB of storage. Unsurprisingly, the CX55 additionally has two USB-C ports in addition to USB-A and HDMI ports. The laptop computer will come out this month as properly, and Google stated in a briefing that pricing would begin at $399 — we don’t know what specs that features, but it surely’s in all probability secure to imagine it’s the i3 mannequin. 

Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming Chromebook


Lenovo’s IdeaPad Gaming Chromebook has a good bit in frequent with Acer’s machine. It has a 16-inch show with a 2,560 x 1,600 decision and 120Hz refresh fee in addition to an RGB, anti-ghosting keyboard with 1.5mm of journey. Processors embrace Twelfth-generation Intel Core i3 or Core i5 choices, plus 8GB of RAM and as much as 512GB of storage (the bottom configuration begins with 128GB). The port choice is a little more restricted — it solely gives two USB-C ports, one USB-A port and a MicroSD slot. Like the opposite two laptops, the IdeaPad Gaming Chromebook will launch this month; it begins at $599.

Software program, gaming companies and peripheral partnerships

Cloud gaming titles banner


Naturally, software program and recreation entry is probably simply as essential because the {hardware} right here. As such, Google has partnerships with NVIDIA, Amazon and Microsoft to make sure its units work with GeForce Now, Luna and Xbox Recreation Go out of the field. The NVIDIA partnership might be probably the most vital, as the corporate is bringing GeForce Now’s high-performance RTX 3080 tier to Chromebooks for the primary time — this implies video games will play in as much as 1600p decision at 120 fps with ray tracing enabled (assuming the sport helps these specs, in fact). NVIDIA additionally made a progressive net app (PWA) so you’ll be able to snigger straight into GeForce Now out of your Chromebook’s dock or launcher. 

Microsoft additionally made a PWA for Recreation Go, however all the pieces works the identical as operating Recreation Go on a PC — assuming you may have an Xbox Recreation Go Final subscription, you’ll be able to stream any Recreation Go title to your Chromebook. Equally, an Amazon Luna subscription provides you entry to a rotating choice of over 100 video games. 

Google can also be optimizing ChromeOS to make straight launching video games simpler. While you hit the “all the pieces” search button in your Chromebook, you’ll be able to simply sort in the secret you wish to play and launch it straight, as if it had been natively put in. For starters, it will solely work with the GeForce Now catalog (in addition to apps on Google Play), however Google says it desires so as to add this search characteristic for different companies as properly. 

To guarantee that anybody trying out these Chromebooks can begin taking part in instantly, Lenovo, Acer and ASUS are all together with a three-month subscription to GeForce Now RTX 3080 tier in addition to three months of Amazon Luna+. The ASUS choice additionally features a free SteelSeries Rival 3 gaming mouse, as properly.

Talking of mice, Google additionally partnered with corporations like SteelSeries, Corsair and HyperX (in addition to Lenovo and Acer) to ensure their gaming-focused peripherals work with Chromebooks. This consists of ensuring these peripherals can have their settings fine-tuned in ChromeOS, in some circumstances by way of PWAs. 

Do gaming Chromebooks have a shot?

It’s honest to marvel how a lot traction Google’s newest initiative will get. Chromebooks have discovered a whole lot of success in training and (to a lesser extent) enterprise settings, however the concept of a full-fledged push to get folks gaming on a Chromebook is a reasonably main shift. That stated, I’m impressed by the pricing on these fashions — there aren’t a whole lot of Chromebooks with giant, high-resolution screens with excessive refresh charges. Usually talking, it sounds such as you get a whole lot of bang in your buck with these fashions in comparison with another premium ChromeOS units. Naturally, these laptops are an enormous larger and heavier than the usual 13-inch Chromebook, however that’s a tradeoff which may work for some folks.

Google can also be placing an enormous promoting and consciousness push being this technique, and it’s not tied to a single product like Stadia. On condition that Google is being service-agnostic, these laptops ought to present an excellent cloud gaming expertise for the foreseeable future, even when Google doesn’t keep on with its cloud gaming push long run. And with different initiatives like Steam for ChromeOS shifting ahead (Google stated it ought to enter beta quickly), it is honest to say the corporate appears centered on eradicating the longstanding notion that you may’t play video games on a Chromebook.

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