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Google Announces Chromebooks Built for Cloud Gaming

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Google has announced a raft of Chromebooks from companies like Lenovo and Acer that focus on something new: gaming. Google’s cloud-based operating system gained limited support for Steam earlier this year, but the hardware isn’t powerful enough to run AAA titles. That’s why the new laptops are optimized for cloud gaming services like GeForce Now, Amazon Luna, and Xbox Game Pass. Conspicuously absent is Google’s recently canceled Stadia.

Technically, any Chromebook should be able to connect to these cloud gaming services, which don’t require speedy hardware on the client side. However, the new Intel-powered models have several optimizations and features that make them more appealing to gamers on the go, including RGB keyboards with anti-ghosting, better speakers than the average Chromebook, and high-refresh displays.

The new models are the Acer Chromebook 516 GE, the ASUS Chromebook Vibe CX55 Flip, and the Ideapad Gaming Chromebook from Lenovo. The Acer and Lenovo units have RGB keyboards, something we saw pop up in the Chrome OS open-source project some months ago. The Asus Chromebook doesn’t have RGB, but it does have the highest refresh rate at 144Hz, but at just 1080p; the other two top out at 120Hz and 2560 × 1600. The Asus model only has Wi-Fi 6, but the other two have 6E, which means faster speeds on supported networks. Not all the listings are live yet, but pricing appears to be between $600 and $700.

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Google says that all gaming Chromebooks will come with a three-month trial of Amazon Luna+ and Nvidia GeForce Now (RTX 3080 tier). It also worked with Nvidia to ensure the devices are optimized for the maximum 210 FPS mode in GeForce Now. On the Microsoft side, there will be a special installable web app for Chromebooks that plugs into the system search. So, you can just start typing the game you want to play, and then launch it from the menu.

In an alternate reality, these devices would probably be promoting Google’s Stadia cloud gaming service, but we live in a timeline where Google canned that service. After less than three years, Google announced that it was winding down Stadia with the goal of shuttering it entirely in January 2023. Thankfully, Google is offering refunds for all Stadia purchases. These new gaming-optimized Chromebooks are an interesting angle on cloud gaming, but they wouldn’t have been enough to change Stadia’s fate. Still, they might give the likes of Nvidia and Microsoft a little boost now that Google is out of consumer cloud gaming.

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