Chromebooks may have gotten their start as simple, usually cheap laptops with an operating system based around the web browser. But Chrome OS has gotten a lot more powerful in recent years, with support for running Android and Linux apps as well as web apps.

You can even use a Chromebook for gaming thanks to cloud gaming services like Stadia and GeForce Now.  And Google has been working to add native support for the Steam game client to Chromebooks for quite a while. Now, in what might be the most obvious (and gaudy) signs that gaming Chromebooks are on the way, Google has added support for keyboards with RGB lighting to Chrome OS.

Razer Blade Stealth RGB backlit keyboard (Liliputing / 2018)

As spotted by 9to5Google, a recent code commit will allow Chrome OS to take full advantage of backlit keyboards with RGB lighting. There’s support for per-key lighting effects as well as adjusting the brightness of all keys at once.

It looks like the feature is still designed for developer testing purposes only, but that makes sense since there aren’t any Chromebooks available with RGB backlit keyboards… yet.

While building support for RGB lighting into Chrome OS could theoretically be about allowing users to plug in third-party keyboards, 9to5Google reports that the feature seems to be tied to at least three specific unreleased devices, suggesting that some upcoming Chromebooks will have backlit keyboards with RGB lighting.

At least two appear to be Chrome OS devices feature 12th-gen Intel “Alder Lake” processors, while the third is a detachable keyboard that could possibly be used with next-gen 2-in-1 tablets.

A few years ago it might have seemed strange to think of Chrome OS as a platform for gaming. But not only are there now multiple cloud-based game streaming services that allow you to play games on low-end hardware, but Valve has done a lot of work to bring support for gaming to Linux (including support for playing many Windows PC games) ahead of the February 28 ship date of the Steam Deck handheld gaming PC running the Arch Linux-based Steam OS.

Chrome OS is based on Linux and already has support for running many native Linux applications. With support for Steam gaming on the way, new Chromebooks with fast processors (and maybe discrete graphics) expected soon, and now the RGB keyboards that are so often associated with gaming laptops, maybe that will change.

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  1. No, I think it takes a bit more than RGB lighting for a “device” to be a “gaming device”.
    And “gaming chromebook” in particular just sounds wrong.