Why the Steam Deck and Steam could be a big deal for Chrome OS

Introduction

Steam can already be installed in Linux mode of Chrome OS today:

sudo apt install steam

However, only a few games run stably, and among them are primarily only games that don’t have great graphics.

That’s supposed to change with the official project Borealis. The implementation is supposed to be based on the graphics interface Proton.

Now there is a first alpha version of it.

Gaming on Chrome OS | Image: Google
Gaming on Chrome OS | Image: Google

Steam Alpha

On 3/15/2022, Google’s Chromebook Community Manager Alisha announced the following great news on the Chromebook Help page:

...
As you may have already heard, our team is working with Valve to bring Steam to Chrome OS. We are very excited to share that we’ll be landing an early, alpha-quality version of Steam on Chrome OS in the Dev channel for a small set of Chromebooks coming soon. Please come back to the forum for more information!
...

Alisha on behalf of Chrome OS

You can find the original text here: Link.

If you want to get to know more about the topic, you can watch the Google for Games Developer Summit 2022 keynote about it:

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The link leads directly to the part where the topic is being reported.

Supported Chromebooks

According to 9to5Google, only owners of current Chromebooks with processors like an eleventh-generation Intel Core i3 and Core i5 with at least 7 GB of RAM will be able to try out the soon-to-be-released alpha version of Steam.

These include Acer’s Chromebook 514 (CB514-1H), Chromebook 515, and Chromebook Spin 713 (CP713-3W), for example. The Chromebook Flip CX5 (CX5500) and ASUS Chromebook CX9 (CX9400). And the Pro c640 G2 Chromebook from HP. All these devices are not exactly cheap.

The Steam Deck from Valve

Shortly before this announcement, Valve also launched their new Steam Deck gaming console [steamdeck.com] in certain countries. The console is based on Steam OS, a Linux distribution developed by Valve.

The Steam Deck | Image: Valve
The Steam Deck | Image: Valve

Some of Steam’s game catalog games are already available and partly optimized for the console. Valve shows which games are supported here: steamdeck.com. Among them is, for example, the hyped Elden Ring. [Baindai Namco]

Verified games for the Steam Deck | Screenshot: cyldx.com
Verified games for the Steam Deck | Screenshot: cyldx.com

Inside the console is an APU (AMD’s term for combining a CPU and a graphics card in one chip). It is based on the Zen 2 CPU and RDNA 2 GPU architecture. The unit’s performance is roughly comparable to a CPU from AMD’s Ryzen 3000 series for desktop PCs, and this was introduced in 2019. In other words, the console doesn’t have the performance of a current, fully souped-up gaming PC in a desktop chassis. That’s also understandable due to the small size of the console.

Chromebooks similarly powerful as the Steam Deck

The Chromebooks verified by Google for the Steam Alpha have an Intel graphics unit integrated into the processors. This way, they should have similar, if not better, performance.

Now, I’m speculating a bit: when Steam comes, you should be able to at least play the same games on Chromebooks as on the Steam Deck. 🙂

The more AAA games [Wikipedia] – top titles – are made available on Chrome OS via this, the more appeal this should have with people.

With newer Chromebooks based on Intel’s 12th or even 13th generation, graphics performance should increase again and allow more games on Chrome OS.

Also suitable for video and image editing on Chrome OS?

Perhaps other software vendors will take notice, with more powerful Chromebooks finding more buyers (here for gaming).

Chrome Unboxed has already gotten the Video editor Lightworks running on a fast Chromebook in Linux mode. If Davinci Resolve could run on Chromebooks, that would be awesome. I prefer to don’t even dream about the native Adobe Creative Cloud Desktop Suite.

Davinci Resolve is also available for Linux | Screenshot: cyldx.com
Davinci Resolve is also available for Linux | Screenshot: cyldx.com

All of this could be based on the Vulkan interface. Who knows what the future will bring!

That’s a great development, or what do you think? 😉


Words in italics may be registered trademarks or companies! Examples: Google, YouTube, and Android. Or they are technical terms from the IT world, which are described in various locations in the blog.

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Marcel aka Ravolos

Hey! 😀 I started this blog in 2018. Fitting the blog, I want to describe myself as a true “Google Sheep,” incredibly addicted to travel and open-minded. I've been traveling the world as a digital nomad since October 2021, creating digital content on Chrome OS, travel, and mobile work.

Marcel aka Ravolos has 47 posts and counting. See all posts by Marcel aka Ravolos

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