No graphics card? No problem! Google is taking aim at gamers on a budget with its new streaming-friendly Chromebook line-up, which borrows hardware from high-end machines and runs an optimised version of ChromeOS.
ChromeOS already plays nicely with Amazon Luna and Nvidia GeForce Now, but both will now come backed into the operating system, along with Xbox Cloud Gaming. Nvidia is also bringing an all-new streaming tier, good for 1600p resolution and 120fps refresh rates (up from 1080p60 on existing Chromebooks today). Notably absent is Google Stadia – the irony of Google launching a cloud gaming initiative barely a week after axing its own service is particularly juicy.
Google has optimised the OS for cloud streaming, with game support baked into the launcher. Now searching for a specific title will let you jump straight into playing, no matter what service it’s on. On a decent internet connection, Google reckons players will have 60ms of end-to-end latency, which should be a close match to playing on a console locally, and that performance should be that much more consistent than today’s current crop of non-optimised Chromebooks.
Lenovo, Acer and Asus will be first out the gate with high resolution, high refresh rate laptops that’ll make the most out of that extra streaming quality. Wi-Fi 6E support should make for more consistent streaming, and of course they’ll be packing RGB backlit keyboards for that all-important gamer aesthetic.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming Chromebook has a 16in, 2560×1600 IPS display with 120Hz refresh rate, and can be equipped with either an Intel Core i3-1215U or Core i5-1235U CPU. Both have Intel Iris Xe graphics, come with 8GB of RAM, a battery good for up to 11 hours of use between top-ups and a choice of 128, 256 or 512GB of built-in storage.
Asus’s offering, the Chromebook Vibe CX55 Flip, has a smaller 15.6in, 1080p display but pushes refresh rates even higher to 144Hz. It’s also a convertible, for when you’d rather kick back and watch something rather than get your game on. It’ll land with a choice of 11th-gen Intel i3, i5 and i7 CPUs, as much as 16GB of RAM.
All three models will be launching in the US later this month, with prices ranging from $399 to $799 – a serious discount compared to a dedicated gaming laptop. Customers will also get three months of GeForce Now and Luna+ membership for free.