Steam on Chromebooks enters beta and adds AMD support

The Google

It’s been nearly three years since Chromebook users received word that Steam support was coming to ChromeOS. We’re still not quite there yet, but today Google announced that it’s ready to go into beta testing.

In a blog post, Google Product Manager Zach Alcorn announced that Steam on Chromebooks is available as a beta with ChromeOS 108.0.5359.24 and later. Steam entered ChromeOS alpha in March, and Alcorn said the updates announced today are based on “thousands of gameplay reports.”

AMD Support

Steam on ChromeOS alpha requires not only an Intel CPU, but an 11th generation Intel Core i5 chip with Intel Iris Xe graphics. The beta version supports the latest 12th generation Intel chipsets and extends support to Team Red. Alcorn said the beta version supports AMD’s Ryzen 5000 C-Series processors.

Google’s beta also lowers the specification requirement for an i3 CPU in the case of Intel-based Chromebooks, while AMD Chromebooks require a Ryzen 3 chip or higher.

The RAM requirement has also been reduced from 16GB of RAM to 8GB.

However, Alcorn said it’s still recommended to use an i5 or Ryzen 5 and 16GB “for the best experience.” In fact, some supported games will only work with 16GB of memory. As with any local game, the more powerful the machine, the better performance you can expect.

Chromebooks that support Steam . testing

With these updated requirements, the number of Chromebooks that can test Steam has tripled. Here is the full list of supported devices shared by Alcorn. Unsurprisingly, they include the high refresh rate (up to 144Hz) Chromebooks for cloud gaming that were announced last month.

Google has published instructions for installing Steam on the ChromeOS beta.

Other improvements

Google’s Alcorn said the Steam beta comes with performance improvements and support for 50 new games, with the promise of even more.

Some updates about storage management.

“Previously, we managed storage based on the reported install size of a game on Steam. However, this prevented games that download content from outside of Steam from accessing the storage they needed,” Alcorn said. “Our completely reworked solution uses a sparse and bloated disk and has additional benefits, such as improved file access performance for Proton games.”

Speaking of Proton, it should be noted that BattlEye and Easy Anti-Cheat anti-cheat software still do not work with Proton with this beta version. Some Proton games will attempt to display the image off the screen when framed.

Meanwhile, DirectX 12 and Vulkan games have now reduced the CPU load. This is meant to increase battery life when playing games, although PC gamers are used to needing a power supply for serious games.

And as more Chromebooks worth over $1,000 continue to emerge, Google is also making ChromeOS better support 1440p and 4K displays. Previously, laptops with this resolution, Alcorn explained, “achieved remarkable performance even when the game itself was running at a much lower resolution.” Google allegedly improved the rendering path when scaling, so this will be an issue for fewer games.

Steam on Chromebooks still doesn’t support external monitors.

Google’s announcement brings Chromebook users closer to a full Steam experience. Once there’s general availability (Google hasn’t indicated when that might happen), we can expect to see Chromebook versions that challenge ChromeOS’ reputation as a lower-priced alternative to other operating systems, which are best used cases for kids’ web browsing, or as a secondary device.

We’re still waiting to talk about Chromebooks with Nvidia RTX graphics, which has the potential to push Chromebooks beyond their core computing reputation. Last year, Nvidia announced it was working with SoC company MediaTek to create a reference platform that supports Chromium and Nvidia SDKs, in addition to Linux. Nvidia shared a demo, but there was no exact release date shared.

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