Steam on Chromebooks enters beta and adds AMD support


It’s been almost three years since Chromebook users have word that Steam support is coming to ChromeOS. We’re not quite there yet, but today Google announced that it’s ready to enter beta testing.

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

AMD Support

The Steam alpha on ChromeOS not only required an Intel processor, but also an 11th Gen Intel Core i5 chip with Intel’s Iris Xe graphics. The beta release supports the latest 12th Gen Intel chips and extends support to Team Red. Alcorn said the beta supports AMD’s Ryzen 5000 C-Series processors.

Google’s beta also reduces spec requirements to an i3 processor in the case of Intel-based Chromebooks, while AMD Chromebooks require a Ryzen 3 chip or higher.

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

However, Alcorn said an i5 or Ryzen 5 and 16GB are still recommended “for the best experience”. In fact, some supported games only works with 16 GB of memory. As with any local game, the more powerful your 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. Below is the full list of supported devices shared by Alcorn. Unsurprisingly, they include the high refresh rate (up to 144 Hz) Cloud Gaming Chromebooks announced last month.

Google has published instructions for install Steam on ChromeOS beta.

Other improvements

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

Some of the updates relate to storage management.

“We previously managed storage based on a game’s reported install size on Steam. However, this prevented games that download content from outside of Steam from being able to access the storage they needed,” Alcorn said. “Our completely reworked solution uses disk sparse and ballooning 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 remain does not work with Proton with this beta. And some Proton games will try to render the image offscreen when windowed.

DirectX 12 and Vulkan games, meanwhile, now have reduced CPU overhead. This is aimed at increasing battery life when gaming, although PC gamers are used to needing a power source for serious gaming.

And as more high-end Chromebooks over $1,000 continue to come out, Google is also working to make ChromeOS better support 1440p and 4K displays. Previously, laptops with these resolutions saw “significant performance hit even when the game itself was running at a much lower resolution,” Alcorn explained. Google would have optimized the display pipeline when scaling, so it will be an issue for fewer games.

Steam on Chromebooks always does not support external monitorsyet.

Google’s announcement brings Chromebook users one step closer to a full-fledged Steam experience. Once there is general availability (Google hasn’t indicated when that might be), we can expect to see Chromebook releases that challenge ChromeOS’ reputation as a low-cost alternative to other operating systems, the best use cases of which are web browsing, for children, or as a secondary device.

We’re still waiting for news on Chromebooks with Nvidia RTX graphics cards, which have the potential to push Chromebooks even further from its core computing reputation. Last year, Nvidia announced that it was working with SoC maker MediaTek to create a reference platform that supports Chromium and Nvidia SDKs, as well as Linux. Nvidia shared a demobut no concrete release date has been shared.

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