Steam for Chromebooks is here. Well, sort of, anyway. Launched in an official Alpha capacity back in late March, the long awaited ‘Borealis’ project has finally arrived and is quite impressive for an Alpha build. Games run pretty smoothly for devices utilizing non-dedicated graphics cards and after a few technical setup steps, the whole thing feels very thought-out and thorough. Sure, there are bugs that still need a bit of squashing, but we’ve been able to play some games in our Steam library with better results than we’ve ever seen on a Chromebook, and that’s exciting.
We initially covered the original announcement of Steam on Chromebooks and we even showed it off in a video not long after. We realized, however, that we’d yet to make a simple, straightforward guide on how to get this up and running on supported devices, so we wanted to put that out there for anyone looking. Below, you can watch through the video and get Steam games running on your supported Chromebook with relative ease. You’ll need to be sure your device is on the current list, however, so let’s check that out first.
Steam on Chromebooks – supported devices
- Acer Chromebook 514 (CB514-1W)
- Acer Chromebook 515 (CB515-1W)
- Acer Chromebook Spin 713 (CP713-3W)
- ASUS Chromebook Flip CX5 (CX5500)
- ASUS Chromebook CX9 (CX9400)
- HP Pro c640 G2 Chromebook
- Lenovo 5i-14 Chromebook
Keep in mind, these devices all have multiple variations, and you’ll need at least an 11th-gen Core i5 or higher to get Steam installed. This is due to the superior Iris Xe GPU that is part of the 11th-gen Core i5 and Core i7 SoCs inside the Chromebooks listed above. Trying this with variations that have Pentium, Celeron or Core i3 processors simply won’t work.
Now that you have that all settled, the process for getting up and running is relatively simple. You simply need to follow these steps:
- On your supported Chromebook, switch to Dev channel. (This is Dev channel, not Dev Mode)
- After updating, navigate to chrome://flags#borealis-enabled and set the value to
- After restarting, open a crosh terminal with CTRL+ALT+T
- Type (or copy/paste) insert_coin volteer-JOlkth573FBLGa and hit enter
- Follow the pop-up setup wizard to install Steam
- Log in with your Steam account, download some games, and get playing
Please note that to switch to Dev Channel, you simply need to head to Settings > About Chrome OS > Additional details > Change channel and then select Developer Channel. Your Chromebook will download the new version and prompt a restart when ready. No data should be lost in this transition, but the move back to the Stable Channel if/when you decide to return will require a full wipe of your device, clearing all local data.
Once you are updated, get the flag switched on and take the mandatory restart. Open the Crosh terminal as described above and either type in the command listed above or copy/paste it. To paste in the Crosh terminal, you simply need to right-click the mouse to drop in your copied content. Hit enter and just follow the prompts and you’ll have a brand new Steam install in just a few minutes.
Once this is all done, you’ll have the same Steam experience you get on Windows, MacOS or Linux. Sign in and you can begin downloading games you’d like to try. Proton (the compatibility layer to allow Windows games to run on Linux) can be enabled, too, so you can head to the settings in Steam and enable it with the following steps:
- In the top left corner of the Steam client, select “Steam”
- Select “Settings”
- Select “Steam Play”
- Check “Enable Steam Play for all other titles”
- Select a version – Recommended: Proton Experimental
We hope this gets you up and running if you have one of the eligible Chromebooks on the list. That list will expand for sure, but for now, the ChromeOS team can use all the feedback you can give. We’re hopeful that we’ll see this land in a Beta state in the coming months and that by this time next year, Steam for ChromeOS is a standard part of the equation. We get there even faster if those of you out there who have an eligible Chromebook give this a spin. So, do your part and go play some games!