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Which Chromebooks and Chrome OS devices will support Steam gaming?

Steam on Chromebooks
(Image credit: Android Central / Andrew Myrick)

Which Chromebooks and Chrome OS devices will support Steam gaming?

Best Answer: Currently, Steam Alpha is supported on a total of seven Chromebooks. Google states that current support is limited to Chromebooks with Intel Xe graphics, 11th-gen Core i5 or i7 processors, and at least 8GB of RAM.

Steam on Chrome OS has been rumored and teased for the better part of the last two years. Since then, only little tidbits have been shared about Google and Valve's plan to bring "true" gaming to Chromebooks and other Chrome OS-powered computers. 

Following the somewhat uneventful announcement during one of the Google for Games Developer Summit talks, many wondered what the requirements would be. A few days following the announcement, Google provided a bit more information as to what hardware will be needed if you want to try to play your favorite Steam games on Chromebooks. 

More power on your Chromebook

Steam on Chrome OS

(Image credit: Google)

In the Steam on Chrome OS Alpha landing page, Google provides a list of Chromebooks that are currently compatible with the program. These include some of the best Chromebooks that have been released in recent months, along with some that are not commercially available. 

However, Google also provided some indication as to what the requirements will be once Steam on Chrome OS moves out of its Alpha stage. These are the models that are currently compatible with Steam Alpha:

  • Acer Chromebook 514 (CB514-1W)
  • Acer Chromebook 515 (CB515-1W)
  • Acer Chromebook Spin 713 (CP713-3W)
  • ASUS Chromebook Flip CX5 (CX5500)
  • ASUS Chromebook CX9 (CX9400)
  • HP Pro c640 G2 Chromebook
  • Lenovo 5i-14 Chromebook

The potential problem here is that if you have one of the compatible Chromebook models, but have either the Intel Core i3 or 4GB of RAM models, you won't be able to test drive Steam Alpha. Even if your system has 8GB of RAM, you "may encounter issues in games that require 6GB of RAM or more." The limitations don't stop there; you might run into problems when trying to play games at resolutions higher than 1080p. 

And again, this is just an alpha version of Steam that requires your Chromebook to be on the Dev channel in order to even try it out. This means that not only will you have to worry about potential stability problems with Chrome OS, but those problems could cause even more of a headache if Steam Alpha is thrown into the mix.

It's just the beginning

So what does all of this mean? Well, for starters, those who have opted for low-budget Chromebooks are pretty much left in the dark for now. Even if you went for higher-powered models, it still might not be enough according to Google. It's definitely disappointing to see the limitations, but it's important to remember that this is just an Alpha program and only just became available to try out.

Google is clearly gearing up for some type of major gaming push with Chromebooks. We've also seen an experimental feature that allows for variable refresh rates on the Chrome OS 101 Dev Channel. But for the time being, your options are limited even if you wanted to test out Steam on Chromebooks. 

Andrew Myrick
Andrew Myrick

Andrew Myrick is a Senior Editor at Android Central. He enjoys everything to do with technology, including tablets, smartphones, and everything in between. Perhaps his favorite past-time is collecting different headphones, even if they all end up in the same drawer.