Three of the biggest PC makers are redefining gaming with Chromebooks

Three of the biggest PC makers are redefining gaming with Chromebooks

Google's banner showcasing the first gaming Chromebooks

Google

Chromebooks probably aren’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a gaming device. Casual browser gaming aside, these ultra-portable devices have been mostly relegated to serving as all-purpose tools and inexpensive for students, workers, or the casual couch browser looking to shop online.

One of the main reasons for this is the fact that most Chromebooks, until now, have been built with relatively modest processors, no discrete GPUs (graphics cards) and few, if any, features that lent themselves. in the game. But, all that is about to change.

With a combination of some of the most impressive hardware ever made for a Chromebook and the core integration of some of the most popular cloud-based gaming services, this first wave of gaming laptops is poised to define a whole new category of products designed to let you play your favorite games on the go. Let’s review each of these first-wave devices, including entries from Acer, Asus, and Lenovo.

More: How Microsoft and Samsung could finally bring cloud gaming to the mainstream

Acer Chromebook 516GE

A famous man using an Acer Chromebook 516 GE

Look at him! He’s so excited he doesn’t even realize his headphones aren’t plugged into the Chromebook’s clearly empty headphone port.

Acer

Processor options

Intel Core i5-1240p at 1.7 GHz or Intel Core i7-1260p at 2.1 GHz

RAM

8 GB or 16 GB DDR4

Storage

128 GB or 256 GB NVME disk

Display

16-inch 2560×1600 IPS panel with 120Hz refresh rate

Chart

Intel Iris Xe

Battery life

65Wh Li-ion battery. Rated up to 9 hours

Weights and dimensions

3.75 pounds | 14.04 (W) x 9.83 (D) x 0.84 (H) inches

Ports

2 x USB Type-C 3.2 Gen 2, 1 x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1, HDMI, Ethernet, headphone/microphone port

Connectivity

2.5G Ethernet, Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2


Acer is a well-known brand among PC gamers for its Predator-branded peripherals, Nitro gaming laptops, and more. It comes out of the gate into the gaming Chromebook market with hardware that would fit perfectly at home with the rest of the Nitro-branded laptops while including enough ports to put your average MacBook to shame.

With a display that offers a fast 120Hz refresh rate, a choice between Intel’s Core i5 or i7 processors, and Intel’s Iris Xe graphics, this portable gaming machine should be more than capable of handling the thousands of NVIDIA’s GeForce NOW titles, Xbox Cloud Gaming, and Amazon Luna (all supported out of the box) can take a look.

Despite all the hardware and diverse cloud gaming support, the base Chromebook 516 GE model is expected to debut at just $649.99 in the US (October) and EUR999 in EMEA (December) . Pricing and configurations vary by region, so be sure to keep an eye out for your local online and physical retailers when this model arrives in your area.

More: Best gaming laptop deals right now

Asus Chromebook Vibe CX55 Flip

Asus Chromebook Flip CX55 played by someone lying on a sofa

While I can’t necessarily recommend using touchscreen controls for competitive racing titles, it certainly looks relaxed.

Asus

Processor options

3.0 GHz Intel Core i3-1115G4, 2.4 GHz Intel Core i5-1135G7 or 2.8 GHz Intel Core i7-1165G7

RAM

8 GB or 16 GB DDR4

Storage

128 GB, 256 GB or 512 GB NVME drive

Display

15.6-inch 1920 x 1080 IPS touchscreen operating at 144Hz

Chart

Intel Iris Xe

Battery life

57Wh Li-ion battery. Rated up to 10 hours

Weights and dimensions

4.3 pounds | 14.08 (W) x 9.48 (D) x 0.73 (H) inches

Ports

2 x USB Type-C 3.2 Gen 2, 1 x USB-A 3.2 Gen 2, HDMI, headphone/microphone port, microSD card slot

Connectivity

WiFi 6, Bluetooth 5.0


Asus’ first dive into this new world of gaming Chromebooks comes as part of the company’s Flip line. That means it includes this range’s trademark touchscreen which can be rotated almost 360 degrees for a more tablet-like experience. This should be ideal for games that rely on touchscreen input, or simply for using the device in one of the Flip line’s tent-like orientations for media consumption.

Hardware-wise, the processor selection for the Asus model is the oldest of the first three units, with Asus opting for 11th Gen Core i3/i5/i7 processors. That said, all three still support Intel Iris Xe graphics and should be more than capable of handling games on any of the three aforementioned cloud gaming services, which it also supports.

A few of the specs of this device are among the lowest of the three. But it’s the champion in one area: refresh rate. That’s thanks to its 144Hz panel (the other two Chromebooks max out at 120Hz). It’s also a great option if you’re considering trying Amazon’s Luna service or Nvidia’s GeForce Now deal, as it comes with three months free of both, plus a free Steelseries Rival 3 gaming mouse.

More: Microsoft explains why it’s all about games

Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming Chromebook

Deion Sanders and others huddled around a Lenovo gaming Chromebook on a desk

Launch your game AND manage your football empire, all with one device!

Lenovo

Processor options

1.2 GHz Intel Core 13-1235U or 1.3 GHz Intel Core i5

RAM

8 GB DDR4

Storage

256 GB or 512 GB NVME disk

Display

16-inch 2560×1600 IPS panel running at 120Hz

Chart

Intel Iris Xe

Battery life

71Wh Li-ion battery. Rated up to 11 a.m.

Weights and dimensions

4 books | 14.03 (W) x 9.96 (D) x 0.79 (H) inches

Ports

2 x USB Type-C 3.2 Gen 2, 2 x USB-A 3.2 Gen 2, HDMI, headphone/microphone port, microSD card slot

Connectivity

WiFi 6E, Bluetooth 5.0


Lenovo comes to the table with what could probably be described as the middle competitor in terms of hardware. The IdeaPad Gaming Chromebook includes 12 Gen Intel Core i3 and i5 options, but it doesn’t offer an i7 option like the Acer model above. However, these slightly less powerful processors allow it to achieve the longest rated battery life of the three models at 11 hours. Surprisingly, the 71 Wh battery that also makes this possible doesn’t result in it being the heaviest unit of the three.

Like the other two companies, Lenovo expects its gaming Chromebook to work extremely well with cloud-based gaming services from Nvidia, Amazon, and Microsoft, whether you’re playing with a tethered gamepad or using the built-in RGB keyboard and mouse. This keyboard is clearly a major focus for Lenovo, which touted its “anti-ghosting feature and 1.5mm key travel for a more responsive and intuitive typing experience” in its press release.

While it may lack the multitude of ports of the Acer model, and its singular 8GB RAM configuration may seem a little limited to some, it has the right specs to balance it all out for the right gamer. Lenovo’s IdeaPad Gaming Chromebook is expected to be available in October, with an MSRP of $599.

More: Best gaming laptops: Top rigs for gaming on the go

At the end of the line

As an entirely new product category, gaming Chromebooks remain somewhat unknown. We’ll know a lot more when we get our hands on the first ZDNET models and do some testing. However, we can already say that the success or failure of this new form factor will entirely depend on how the connected cloud services perform in real practice. If makers like this trio can leverage subscription-based offerings from Amazon, Microsoft, and Nvidia to create engaging gaming experiences that can truly match locally installed titles played on much more expensive gaming PCs, they almost certainly should. have huge success on their hands.

However, if cloud-based services, user logins, or Chromebook hardware don’t meet the high standards that PC gamers tend to have for their gaming hardware, the entire product category could struggle up to 100%. until all defects are corrected. We can only wait and see how it goes.

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