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Chromebooks with 10th Gen Intel processors could soon gain Steam support

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook
Samsung Galaxy Chromebook (Image credit: Andrew Martonik / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google is preparing to add Steam gaming support to select Chromebooks.
  • As confirmed by Google at CES earlier this year, Steam gaming support on Chrome OS will be based on Linux.
  • Initially, at least, Steam gaming support will only be available on Chromebooks powered by 10th Generation Intel processors.

Earlier this year, a Google executive confirmed that the company was working to bring Steam gaming support to Chrome OS. The folks at 9to5Google have now come up with a new report that sheds more light on exactly how Chrome OS will run Steam and the Chromebooks that will be the first to support it.

The publication says it has been tracking a new project codenamed "Borealis" within the Chrome open-source code for a few weeks now. As per their report, Borealis is based on Ubuntu and comes pre-installed with a copy of Steam. On the other hand, "Crostini" which is the name of the project that allows Chrome OS to run Linux apps, is based on Debian. A recent code change in the Chromium Gerrit seems to suggest Google is testing Steam support as "hatch-Borealis," where "Hatch" happens to be the codename for Chromebooks that feature Intel's 10th Generation processors.

Going by the code change, it looks like the first Chromebooks to get Steam gaming support would be devices like the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook, ASUS Chromebook Flip C436, and the Lenovo Flex 5. It is possible that Google will be adding Steam support for the upcoming crop of AMD Ryzen-based Chromebooks as well, which will be more than capable of providing a decent gaming experience.

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Babu Mohan
Babu Mohan
2 Comments
  • " As per their report, Borealis is based on Ubuntu and comes pre-installed with a copy of Steam.
    On the other hand, "Crostini" which is the name of the project that allows Chrome OS to run Linux apps, is based on Debian." Debian is the "base" Linux distro.
    Ubuntu, while technically not a fork of Debian, is based on it and 99% compatible with it.
    ChromeOS is based on Gentoo Linux, and while Gentoo Linux is its own distro, it also comes from a common source and is 99% compatible with Debian and Ubuntu.
    SteamOS meanwhile is also based on Debian. So ... you have been able to install Steam on ChromeOS for some time. It isn't "download from the app store" easy, but I have seen very simple guides on how to do so on the Internet since at least 2016 when the first guides for running scripts to convert ChromeOS to full Debian popped up. But the issue is: why? Running Steam is (mostly) pointless unless you have a discrete GPU. So even $1000+ Chromebooks with i5/i7 processors and 8/16 GB of RAM won't be able to play anything on Steam beyond 10+ year old games and mobile titles. So you would be better off using the Steam Link Android app - or even better Chrome Remote Desktop! (which Google still stubbornly refuses to provide to Android TV) - to stream your Steam games from your gaming PC. Finally ... when Google FINALLY provides Linux support for ChromeOS on Qualcomm SOCs later this year or next, we are going to see a huge shift towards ARM-based Chromebooks anyway. The Qualcomm 875 will cost $130 where an Intel i7 costs $300-$400 commercial ... and it doesn't come with 5G. The time to take gaming seriously enough to provide "official" support for what was already baked into the OS and could have been done with a few minor tweaks could have been done years ago.
  • Also, don't limit it to "Chromebooks". Chromeboxes are still a thing, no? So something like this: https://www.amazon.com/ASUS-I5-8250U-8G-128SSD-CHROMEBOX/dp/B087F2J3D4/?... but with an AMD Radeon RX (or barring that a Thunderbolt over USB Type C port that can be used to connect an eGPU) might be a worthwhile purchase.