Gaming-focused Chromebooks are in the works

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Google’s ambitions for gaming-focused Chromebooks might be close to reality. After years of teasing Steam for Chrome OS and even Nvidia demoing support for DLSS and ray tracing on Arm-based Chromebooks, references to new gaming Chromebooks have now been spotted in test versions of Chrome OS.

Google revealed two years ago that it was working on Steam support for Chromebooks, but we’ve heard very little ever since.

9to5Google reports that three codenames for potential gaming Chromebooks have been spotted, all with RGB keyboards. The publication speculates that both HP and Lenovo could be testing gaming Chromebooks, based on employee contributions to Chrome OS code. A third mysterious device, codenamed Ripple, appears to be a tablet with a detachable keyboard.

A new flag has also been discovered in Chrome OS that enables RGB keyboard support, something that’s popular on gaming laptops from Razer and many other OEMs. While the flag could just be additional support for existing USB keyboards, 9to5Google believes this Chrome OS RGB support is being added specifically for these unreleased Chromebooks. RGB keyboards are nothing without games, and Steam will be key if these gaming Chromebooks are to become a reality.

In lieu of compelling alternatives, Valve went on to announce its Steam Deck, a handheld Linux-based gaming device that starts shipping in late February. Steam Deck could contribute to making gaming on Linux far more popular than it is today, thanks in large part to Valve’s Proton tech. Proton is a compatibility layer that lets Steam run Windows games on Linux, and the list of supported games is growing.

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Proton also now supports two of the most popular anti-cheat systems, Easy Anti-Cheat (EAC) and BattlEye. Developers still need to test and confirm their games work with Proton anti-cheat support, but it could open up the Steam Deck and any potential gaming Chromebooks to popular titles like Fortnite, Apex Legends, Destiny 2, Halo Infinite, and PUBG.