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Witcher 3 on Chromebooks doesn't currently use Nvidia GPUs

Chromebooks with Nvidia GPUs get the chopping block too

This isn’t turning out to be a good week if you’re a Chromebook hardware fan. Previously planned Chromebooks with Nvidia GPUs are no longer in the works. This follows Monday’s news that Qualcomm Gen 3 Snapdragon 7c Chromebooks were canceled.

Indeed, a reader comment from the Snapdragon post pointed out the Google code that explains, in no uncertain terms, that several ChromeOS baseboards have been canceled. I did a little more research and all three of those boards share one common feature. They all were designed to support Nvidia GPUs.

Here’s the code commit message:

Clean house on some dead boards

Herobrine, Hades, and Agah are all cancelled. The infra (overlays,
builders, etc) have already been shut down for them. Delete.

Agah, Hades, and Herobrine all have, or had, the following attribute in their build files, clearly indicating these would be Chromebooks with Nvidia GPUs.

Chromebooks with Nvidia GPUs were in the works

This cancellation applies to any specific Chromebook models expected to use the board as well. So the Cora and Zeus devices found by 9to5 Google back in May aren’t coming to market. I double-checked both of those device names and they were to use the Hades board.

I’m extremely disappointed to hear this. More so than the lack of ARM Chromebooks on a newer Snapdragon chip.

Why? Because after testing Steam on a Chromebook with integrated Iris Xe graphics, I’m feeling underwhelmed.

Steam gaming on Chromebooks doesn't run AAA titles well
Integrated graphics arent enough for Shadow of the Tomb Raider

For a compelling game experience, integrated GPUs don’t cut it unless you don’t mind playing older games. And considering my last two PC game purchases have been Diablo IV and Baldur’s Gate 3 in the past several weeks, I do mind playing older games.

I really expected Chromebooks with Nvidia GPUs to address my Steam gaming concerns. I know it would have because I’ve been playing my two recently purchased games on a laptop with an old Nvidia RTX 3050 Ti GPU.

And it works astoundingly well even if the performance doesn’t compare to a full desktop GPU.

I can play Baldur’s Gate 3 with High graphics quality settings and max out the 60 frames per second that my laptop screen can push. Sure, there are some drops to between 35 and 40 fps every so often but it really doesn’t impact the gameplay.

Chromebooks with Nvidia GPUs would complement laptops with the same capabilities.
Baldurs Gate 3 running on a laptop with Nvidia RTX 3050 Ti

Perhaps the Chromebook X platform will address my concerns here. It’s far too early to say, although I don’t think the big push for those devices will be for gaming. Another option might be devices with discrete AMD GPUs, or at least more modern ones. The Ryzen APUs in current Chromebooks aren’t that powerful, at least not from a gaming standpoint.

Let’s hope bad things don’t come in threes this week and that news of canceled Chromebook projects stops after just two.

author avatar
Kevin C. Tofel

6 thoughts on “Chromebooks with Nvidia GPUs get the chopping block too

    1. I think like stadia Google’s commitment to Steam will ultimately fail. This cancellation of Nvidia GPU Chromebooks is a sign it has started.

  1. Probably, “gaming chromebooks” (gachros) will be better and cheaper with AMD apus.
    And if the Steam Deck can cost 400 USD, “gachros” can be under 600 USD with 1Tb NVMe gen3 (cheaper than gen 4 and good enough).
    A price that would not give Intel+Nvidia, Intel+Intel, or AMD any chance to compete.
    And those “gachros” hardware would also be great for Steam OS, and any other GNU/Linux, with the great feature that is to have an open source uefi firmware in terms of security and privacy, and not only after the two years Chrome OS last.

  2. Many people get angry when I say this but it doesn’t matter how powerful hardware they put in a Chromebook, until Google doesn’t stop using VM’s to run Desktop softwares, the apps won’t run as good as their native counterparts.

    Install a game in the so called Gaming Chromebook (Intel 12 gen with Xe graphics) and install the same game with similar or even older hardware on a different OS, the performance will have huge difference.

    Even apps installed on Crostini showed weird bugs over the years which are not present in other Linux distro’s. Like Mouse appearing flipped, lag and jank in app performance, many Linux apps which work on older hardware don’t want work properly in Chromebook, have to back and forth files between Linux and ChromeOS file system, have to give separate permission to hardwares to access Linux. The way Google implemented sound and video routing to Crostini is not ideal for professionals because there will always be slight delay.

    They should at least do what Intel’s Clear Linux OS does and put Flatpak in base OS for Linux app installation. Crostini could be a optional option if someone needs a classic Deb file (doubt it). Flatpak apps are already containerized and secure. Installing them inside Crostini makes them slower because now there are two Nested containers.

    And if Google wants Steam on ChromeOS then they will just have to make them native, there is no alternative of it if they wand best performance. If they ship their current solution every gaming channel will roast them and it will tarnish reputation if high end Chromebooks even more. Gamers want the best bang for the buck and also easy modding. Both are impossible with Borealis VM.

    1. I strongly disagree.
      A big point of Chromebooks is that Google guarantees that they can not be hacked. No viruses, no ransomware, period.
      And everything that Google does with ChromeOS is in line with that. Before they add a new feature, they ask themselves: How can we implement this feature securely? What is the worst that can happen and how can we prevent it?
      Containers do not provide adequate isolation from the rest of the OS, the 400+ syscalls of the Linux kernel is a huge attack surface.
      The only other OS that comes near ChromeOS (and even surpasses it) in terms of security is QubesOS. Hint: QubesOS security architecture is built entirely on virtual machines.

      1. Sure, then they should just stop all their high end Chromebooks efforts. “Gaming Chromebooks” that can’t play actual games are just scam if they don’t change their current model.
        They are losing Enterprise market, they are even losing schools because they don’t provide standard BIOS and school can’t install other OS’s after they reach their EOL. It’s Google choice whether they will keep their paranoid security structure and keep general public away or loosen up a bit and attract more power users.

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