Chromebooks started as low-cost machines that relied on the cloud to do everything. Little by little, more powerful processors and faster storage have made their way into these machines, and now Chromebook makers may be gearing up to give them more gaming cred with RGB keyboards. There’s only one reason to do this: Steam-enabled gaming Chromebooks are on the horizon.
Google has been talking about bringing Steam to Chrome OS for the last few years, but the so-called “Borealis” project has yet to bear fruit. However, the groundwork is there. Google controls Chromebook platform hardware much more stringently than it does on the Android side. Some recent boards like Volteer have enough power via Intel’s Iris Xe Graphics to play some simple games and even AAA titles on low settings.
The newest wrinkle is alleged support for RGB keyboards in Chrome. RGB has become synonymous with gaming — almost every gaming component and peripheral these days has enough LEDs to be confused with a flying saucer. According to 9to5Google, the open source Chromium project recently added a flag for RGB keyboards. When enabled, the feature will allow gamers to change the color of each key and cycle through multiple effects. That means there will probably be a GUI of some sort, but it’s not available in any public versions of Chrome OS yet.
The code points to several RGB Chromebooks, two of which are codenamed Vell and Taniks, based on the 12th Gen Intel Alder Lake CPUs. 9t05 speculates these are HP and Lenovo gaming laptops, respectively. There may also be some support for detachable RGB keyboards. A device called Ripple in the open source code appears to be removable — it might be an accessory or simply the keyboard for a 2-in-1 device.
It’s not a sure thing Steam will launch on these RGB-equipped Chromebooks, but it seems like a safe bet. When Steam does finally launch, it’s not going to be the same experience as it is on Windows. Chrome OS is essentially Linux, and many popular games are Windows-only. Still, it’ll be better than playing Android games on your Chromebook. Currently, about 80% of the top 100 Steam games run on Linux, thanks no doubt to Valve’s efforts to make Steam OS a thing. Now, Valve is on the verge of releasing the Steam Deck, which also runs Linux.
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