It’s been two years since Google dreamed that PC gaming would come to Chromebooks. We’re yet to hear when we’ll be able to frag Chrome OS, but we now know that work is underway to bring RGB backlit keyboards to the OS. And since RGB and gaming go hand in hand, these keyboards could make their way into potential Chromebooks with Nvidia RTX graphics cards.
In April, Nvidia announced it was partnering with MediaTek, which makes the SoCs in many Chromebooks, to create a reference platform that supports Chromium and Nvidia SDKs, as well as Linux. In a press release, the GPU maker pledged to bring together RTX graphics cards and Arm-based chips to bring ray tracing “to a new class of laptops.” In 2021, Nvidia demonstrated RTX on a MediaTek Kompanio 1200, a chip that MediaTek says will be in “some of the biggest Chromebook brands”.
The news came more than a year after Google announced it was in the process of bringing Steam to Chromebooks. It doesn’t matter if the laptops have RTX graphics if there aren’t any PC games worth playing on them. Since then, there hasn’t been much news about RTX or Steam support. But at least we know we’re working on another component to make gaming on Chromebooks something: RGB.
9to5Google spotted a new feature flag in the Chromium on Wednesday that Gerrit said to “enable support for RGB keyboards on supported devices”. And the flag looks like it will do more than just slap a colorful keyboard on a Chromebook. It includes per-key color programming and the ability to create your own colors by playing with red, green, and blue values. Currently, developers are testing the RGB features through an internal command, 9to5Google noted.
Three codenamed devices are associated with the RGB keyboard feature flag. Two are laptops that use Intel’s 12th-generation Alder Lake CPUs, and one is from ODM Quanta, which partners with companies like HP. The third product, 9to5Google said, appears to be a detachable keyboard.
This news isn’t as revealing as an update on Steam support or RTX on Arm would be, but it renews hope that developers are still thinking about PC gaming on Chromebooks.