The first “gaming Chromebooks” began to hit the streets last fall, with models from Asus, Acer, and Lenovo featuring high-end specs (by Chromebook standards) and features like RGB backlit keyboards. But those Chromebooks were primarily designed for light gaming or cloud gaming, because they lacked something we’ve come to expect from gaming PCs: discrete graphics.
It looked like that might change this year when code was spotted indicating that Chromebooks with NVIDIA graphics were on the way. But About Chromebooks reports that it looks like all of those Chromebooks with NVIDIA graphics have been canceled, with Google code commits referring to the motherboard boards those laptops would have been based on as “dead boards.” And those aren’t the only Chromebooks we’d been expecting that appear to have been canceled.
Earlier this week Chrome Unboxed reported that Chromebooks featuring Qualcomm Snapdragon 7+ C3 processors had also been killed off before they were ever released. That’s disappointing, as the Qualcomm’s updated chip for mid-range devices would have brought serious performance gains over models with 1st-gen Snapdragon 7c chips, with up to 60% faster CPU performance and up to a 70% boost in GPU performance.
To be fair, it’s worth pointing out that no company ever actually announced plans to bring a Chromebook with NVIDIA graphics or Snapdragon 7c Gen 3 processors to market. It’s just that ChromeOS is based on the open source ChromiumOS project, and that means that folks often find mention of upcoming hardware in publicly available code commits.
And that means that as companies begin working on new Chromebook hardware, folks who peruse the code often get a sneak peek at upcoming hardware. It also means that sometimes they get a sneak peek at hardware that’s being tested internally, but which will never actually see the light of day.
That’s what seems to have happened here: some Chromebook sleuths discovered that hardware and software developers were working on devices with new features that were cancelled before they were ever publicly announced. If it hadn’t been for clues in the publicly available code, we never would have known about them in the first place.
It’s still a little disappointing to see that after putting time and effort into making Chromebooks viable gaming devices (with support for Steam gaming, among other things), there’s currently no evidence at all that any models with discrete GPUs are on the horizon.