It’s only been a few weeks since Google announced it was shutting down its cloud gaming service Stadia next year. And now the company has a new cloud gaming announcement: it is launching Chromebooks tailored for cloud gaming, made by various manufacturers.
The search giant has also partnered with cloud gaming services such as Nvidia GeForce Now, Microsoft Xbox Cloud Gaming and Amazon Luna to bring major titles to users. In addition, the company has partnered with accessory manufacturers such as Acer, Corsair, HyperX, Lenovo and SteelSeries to create “Works with Chromebook”-certified peripherals for these devices.
This first set of Chromebooks for cloud gaming from Acer, Asus and Lenovo has many gaming-related features. These include high-resolution displays with refresh rates of 120 Hz and above, Wi-Fi 6 or 6E compatibility, high-quality audio and RGB keyboards with anti-ghosting (a feature that accurately records all keystrokes, even when you press multiple keys at once ). once).
To make these gaming Chromebooks attractive to a wider audience, the first set of devices costs between $399 and $799. Depending on the pricing, these laptops use Intel’s processor, from Core i3 to Core i7. Here is a brief overview of the specifications of the three launch models.
Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming Chromebook
Display: 16-inch WQXGA display (2560 x 1500) with 120 Hz refresh rate Processor: 12th Gen Intel Core i3/i5 RAM: 8 GB RAM Storage: 256 GB/512 GB SSD; 128 GB eMMC Audio: 4 x 2 W speakers with Waves Audio Connectivity: 2×2 Intel Wi-Fi 6E; Bluetooth 5 ports: 2 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C; 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type A; 1x HDMI 2.0; 1x audio combo jack; 1 x microSD card reader Battery: 71 Wh
Acer Chromebook 516 GE
Display: 16-inch WQXGA display (2560 x 1500) with 120 Hz refresh rate Processor: 12th Gen Intel Core/i5 RAM: 8 GB RAM Storage: 256 GB SSD Audio: DTS audio; quad force anti-vibration stereo Connectivity: 2×2 Intel Wi-Fi 6E; Bluetooth 5.2 Ports: 2 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C; 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type A; 1x HDMI 2.0; 1x audio combo jack; 1 x microSD card reader Battery: 65 Wh
Asus Chromebook Vibe CX55 Flip
Display: 15.6-inch FullHD (1920 x 1080) IPS touchscreen with 144Hz refresh rate Processor: 11th Gen Intel Core i3/i5/i7 RAM: 8GB/16GB RAM Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB SSD Audio: 2x Harman/Kardon certified speakers Connectivity: 2×2 Wi-Fi 6; Bluetooth 5 Ports: 2 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C; 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type A; 1x HDMI 2.1; 1x audio combo jack; 1 x Ethernet RJ-45 port Battery: 57 Wh
At this time, Google does not have a set of requirements or certifications for Chromebooks for cloud gaming. So we don’t know if future devices must meet certain specifications to be included in this program, but Google will push future devices with screens with a high refresh rate and at least a good Wi-Fi connection.
However, the company said all three launch devices have been independently tested by GameBench to ensure they have a consistent and smooth gaming experience at 120 frames per second with less than 85ms latency. All of these devices will go on sale sometime in October.
The supported accessories from Acer, Corsair, HyperX, Lenovo and SteelSeries include headsets, mice and controllers.
Gaming and software
To bring cloud gaming to these three launch devices, Google has partnered with Microsoft, Nvidia and Amazon to support their cloud gaming services Xbox Cloud Gaming, GeForce Now and Luna with the highest quality. During the briefing, the company said they would have liked to have Stadia on the list (sad comments only).
On these gaming Chromebooks, you can use GeForce Now’s top-performing RTX 3080, which supports resolutions up to 1600p, frame rates up to 120 frames per second, and features like ray tracing for a rich visual experience. The GeForce Now comes pre-installed on the launch devices, and buyers get a free three-month RTX 3080 subscription.
This subscription grants access to games such as Cyberpunk 2077 and Control with free-to-play games such as Fortnite, Genshin Impact, and League of Legends.
Xbox Cloud Gaming works on these devices through an installable web app. This brings titles like Forza Horizon 5, Deathloop, Flight Simulator and Gears 5 – accessible through the Xbox Game Pass subscription.
US-based buyers will also get a three-month subscription to Amazon’s Luna gaming service, which includes titles such as Devil May Cry 5, Resident Evil 2 and 3, and Sonic Mania.
The Chrome OS team is also introducing a new feature for these new Chromebooks that allows users to find GeForce Now and Google Play titles directly from the search bar accessible via the All button in the lower left corner. The company plans to add more services to the search function in the future. These laptops also have a feature that lets you quickly jump to Slack to reply to an important message and pin a cloud gaming service to the taskbar for quick access.
It also specified that this game search feature is limited to gaming Chromebooks at the moment, but doesn’t rule out bringing it to non-gaming Chromebooks. So we’ll have to wait and see.
The road ahead of us
In the briefing, executives from Google and its partner organizations for the program often said these machines could be useful for causal gamers — people who may not invest the time and money in buying a console or building a gaming rig. The company said these machines are for people who can spare a few minutes to a few hours a day for gaming, while also being useful as everyday work machines.
Google also recognizes the fact that Chromebooks are largely known as affordable machines for work and education — and not really built for gaming. It has tried to bring some sort of gaming experience to all Chromebooks with support for platforms like Steam and testing keyboard controls for Android games. But it doesn’t come close to a console or a gaming rig experience.
“As we launch the first Chromebooks designed for cloud gaming, we understand that Chromebooks today are not necessarily known as gaming laptops. Many people know our devices best for productivity (work, school, documents, presentations, and spreadsheets) or online. streaming (movies, television and music videos),” John Maletis, VP of Chrome OS Product, Engineering and UX, said in a statement. .
Since this launch was announced days after the closure of Stadia, many people will rightly question the program’s potential cognitively. Obviously, Google likes to be a platform for others to build on. In this program, Google only has the role of distributor of Chrome OS. Laptop manufacturers build the hardware, third-party cloud services bring the games, and accessory makers make the peripherals.
The idea of a work-and-play hybrid machine is appealing. For laptop manufacturers, it reaches a casual gamer audience with relatively cheaper machines from gaming laptops; for gaming services, it’s about reaching more screens; and for Google, it provides a platform to promote gaming. There is a growing interest in creating hardware geared towards cloud gaming. Microsoft promised to make something last year and Logitech released a cloud gaming handheld last month. So Google somehow wants to make its presence felt.
But the entire ecosystem of manufacturers, cloud gaming providers and Chrome OS features needs to have a consistent experience to attract customers. Since it is powered by Google, it is difficult to be sure of the program’s shelf life.