Video: Pixel Slate gaming demo in Steam, with GPU and without on Chrome OS 76

I mentioned earlier this month that a new flag in Chrome OS 76 would make it easier to enable GPU acceleration for Linux on a Chromebook. That’s great because I’ve never gotten it to work with the command line method.

My Dev Channel Pixel Slate was updated to Chrome OS 76 earlier today so I tested the flag and it works. I’m not sure if it will enable GPU acceleration to every Chromebook that supports Linux, but I know the Pixel Slate specifically has this function, as do several Chromebooks and Chromeboxes.

So what do you get when you enable GPU acceleration? I did a quick video of the game Portal on Steam before and after turning on the GPU. The difference is very obvious: Without the GPU doing some work, even an old game like this is unplayable.

After enabling GPU acceleration it’s far better; not what I’d call fantastic but what do you expect with an integrated GPU running a game inside of a Linux container which is inside a virtual machine? 😉

I’m glad to see the GPU functionality but I likely won’t use it for gaming. My hope is that I’ll see some improved performance with app design and layout in Android Studio. Ideally, it would be nice to see a virtual device emulator there for app testing as well.

Project Stadia is where I’m pinning my gaming hope on a Chromebook: It will matter far less if your Chromebook has a good GPU while your connection speed will be far more important.

About the author

Kevin C. Tofel has covered technology since 2004. He's used ChromeOS since Google debuted the CR-48 in 2010, reviewing dozens of Chromebooks since then. He worked for Google's Chrome Enterprise team from 2016 to 2017, supporting the launch of Android app support. In his free time, he uses Chromebooks to learn software engineering at Launch School. In 2019, Kevin joined the CS Curriculum Committee at his local community college.

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