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Gaming on Chromebooks: A Good Idea or a Bad Joke?
Chromebooks are laptops that run on Google’s Chrome OS, a lightweight operating system that mainly relies on web-based applications and cloud storage. They are popular among students, educators, and casual users who need a cheap and easy way to access the internet and perform basic tasks.
But what about gaming? Can Chromebooks be used for gaming? The answer is not so simple. Chromebooks have some advantages and disadvantages when it comes to gaming, and depending on your preferences and expectations, they may or may not suit your needs. Let’s take a look at some of the factors that affect Chromebooks’ gaming performance and compatibility.
Pros of Using Chromebooks for Gaming
- Price: Chromebooks are generally cheaper than Windows or Mac laptops, which means you can save some money if you are on a tight budget. You can find decent Chromebooks for under $300, while most gaming laptops cost over $1000.
- Portability: Chromebooks are also lighter and thinner than most gaming laptops, which makes them easier to carry around and use anywhere. They also have long battery life, so you don’t have to worry about running out of juice in the middle of a game.
- Cloud Gaming: One of the best ways to play games on a Chromebook is to use cloud gaming services, such as XBox Cloud Gaming and GeForce Now. These services allow you to stream games from powerful servers to your Chromebook via the internet, without requiring any installation or storage space. You can play high-end games that would otherwise be impossible to run on a Chromebook, as long as you have a stable and fast internet connection.
- Android Games: Another option for gaming on a Chromebook is to use the Google Play Store, which offers thousands of Android games that you can download and play on your device. Some of these games are optimized for Chrome OS, while others may require some tweaking or compatibility mode. You can also use a controller or a keyboard and mouse to enhance your gaming experience.
Cons of Using Chromebooks for Gaming
- Hardware Limitations: The biggest drawback of using Chromebooks for gaming is their hardware limitations. Most Chromebooks have low-end processors, graphics cards, RAM, and storage space, which means they cannot run demanding games smoothly or at all. Even if you use cloud gaming services, you may still encounter lag, stuttering, or low resolution due to your device’s specs.
- Software Restrictions: Another issue with using Chromebooks for gaming is their software restrictions. Chrome OS is not compatible with most PC games that are designed for Windows or Mac operating systems. You cannot install Steam, Epic Games Store, or other popular gaming platforms on your Chromebook. You may be able to use Linux apps or emulators to run some PC games, but this requires some technical skills and may result in poor performance or compatibility issues.
- Game Selection: Finally, using Chromebooks for gaming may limit your game selection. While there are many Android games available on the Google Play Store, they may not be as diverse or satisfying as PC games. You may also miss out on some exclusive titles that are only available on Windows or Mac platforms. Cloud gaming services offer more variety and quality, but they also depend on the availability and pricing of the games in their libraries.
Can I upgrade my Chromebook’s hardware to improve its gaming performance?
No, most Chromebooks do not allow you to upgrade their hardware components, such as the processor, graphics card, RAM, or storage space. They are designed to be simple and affordable devices that do not require much maintenance or customization.
Can I use an external monitor or TV to play games on my Chromebook?
Yes, you can connect your Chromebook to an external monitor or TV using an HDMI cable or a USB-C adapter. This may improve your gaming experience by providing a larger screen size and resolution. However, it will not improve your device’s performance or compatibility with games.
Can I install Windows on a Chromebook?
Generally, no. While you might find some hacks online that allow you to install Windows on some Chromebook models, it typically requires opening up your Chromebook and disabling the system protections that keep ChromeOS secure. You would also need to purchase a Windows license and find the drivers (if they exist) for your Chromebook’s hardware.
What about Chromebooks specifically for gaming?
We recently reviewed the ASUS 15.6″ Chromebook for gaming. While it features some upper-end hardware, it is still intended mainly for cloud gaming. ChromeOS does not allow you to install things like Steam or Epic Games Store, but you can install some Android games.
Chromebooks are not the best devices for gaming, but they are not completely useless either. They have some pros and cons that you should consider before buying or using one for gaming. If you are looking for a cheap and portable device that can run some Android games or stream some cloud games, then a Chromebook may be a good option for you. But if you are looking for a powerful and versatile device that can run most PC games natively or with high quality, then a Chromebook may not be the best choice for you. Ultimately, it depends on your personal preferences and expectations.