How to Install Steam on a Chromebook Steam on ChromeOS is in beta, but with the right Chromebook, you can play PC games from the Steam store.

By Dasblog

How to Install Steam on a Chromebook
                        Steam on ChromeOS is in beta, but with the right Chromebook, you can play PC games from the Steam store.

One of the biggest knocks against Chromebooks is that they’re no good for gaming. There are Android games, but not all of them work. You can use a cloud gaming service such as Xbox Cloud Gaming
and Nvidia GeForce Now, but that generally requires a subscription. But Google’s been working on a bigger solution with help from game-maker Valve.

Earlier this year, the two released an alpha version of Valve’s Steam game store to try on Chromebooks through the ChromeOS Dev channel. It has now moved out of the instability of the Dev channel and into the ChromeOS Beta channel, with support for more devices, more games and an improved user experience.     

With the beta release, support was added for devices with AMD Ryzen 5000 C-series and Intel 12th-gen Core CPUs. Minimum CPU requirements were also lowered to include Core i3 and Ryzen 3 processors and 8GB of RAM. Google still recommends an i5 or Ryzen 5 and 16GB of RAM for the best experience. There are now 20 Chromebook models officially supported for Steam on ChromeOS. 

  • Acer Chromebook 514 (CB514-1W)
  • Acer Chromebook 515 (CB515-1W)
  • Acer Chromebook 516 GE
  • Acer Chromebook Spin 514 (CP514-3H, CP514-3HH, CP514-3WH)
  • Acer Chromebook Spin 713 (CP713-3W)
  • Acer Chromebook Spin 714 (CP714-1WN)
  • Acer Chromebook Vero 514
  • Asus Chromebook CX9 (CX9400)
  • Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 (CX5500)
  • Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 (CX5601)
  • Asus Chromebook Vibe CX55 Flip
  • Framework Laptop Chromebook Edition
  • HP Elite c640 14-inch G3 Chromebook
  • HP Elite c645 G2 Chromebook
  • HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook
  • HP Pro c640 G2 Chromebook
  • Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming Chromebook 16
  • Lenovo 5i-14 Chromebook
  • Lenovo Flex 5i Chromebook 14
  • Lenovo ThinkPad C14
Steam running on an Acer Spin 713

Hundreds of PC games are now supported through Steam on ChromeOS.

Josh Goldman/CNET

If you have one of these Chromebooks, you can access the beta-quality version of Steam on ChromeOS. You’ll have to switch to the Beta channel which is a snap to do. Open the settings menu on your Chromebook and search for “Channels” at the top of the window. Click on Channels and select Beta. The Chromebook will start to download the beta version of ChromeOS. Once the update is downloaded and installed, you’ll then need to restart the Chromebook and it will be in the Beta channel (ChromeOS 108 or later). You’re now just two steps away from getting Steam.

  1. Open a browser window and navigate to chrome://flags 
  2. Search for #borealis-enabled and set it to Enabled
  3. Open the ChromeOS launcher (click the button in the lower-left corner of the screen)
  4. Search for “Steam” and select the app when it appears in the results
  5. Follow the setup process to install Steam and sign into your account

Google has the full install instructions on the forums. You’ll also find a list of known issues as well as all of the games currently supported. It’s a surprisingly long list, including Portal 2, Dota 2, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Stardew Valley, Terraria, Hades, Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition. 

When available, Chrome OS will run the Linux version of games. Other games use Steam Play’s compatibility tool called Proton. It’s also used for the Steam Deck handheld gaming device. The gameplay is actually fairly smooth on the Acer Chromebook 713 I tested with, paired with the excellent Steelseries Stratus Plus Bluetooth controller for Chromebooks and Android. 

If you’re shopping for a Chromebook right now and thinking you might want to use Steam once it’s finished and ready for the public, you’ll want to keep the system requirements listed above in mind. Also, make sure you get enough storage to hold your games. Chromebooks typically don’t have high-capacity storage drives but Steam support might force that to change. 

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