The best Chromebooks tend to be low-cost machines that can handle simple computing tasks, though there are some premium machines. But, one thing they’ve all had in common is basic, integrated graphics. That might change with dedicate graphics in a leaked Chromebook.
A Chromebook spotted by Chrome Unboxed and codenamed “Mushu” may fall into Intel’s Project Athena program. And, that device appears to include its own dedicated graphics processor. It’s not clear at present which chipmaker is behind the dedicated GPU, though, but AMD and Nvidia are likely candidates.
This will be a first for Chromebooks, and can deliver a new level of performance in some workloads. One possible workload is gaming.
Sensible or non-sense?
The idea of a Chromebook getting a discrete graphics processor may seem a bit out there, or at least it would have seemed that way a year ago.
Editing spreadsheets, streaming Netflix, writing up documents, and browsing the web are typical tasks for a Chromebook. What they all have in common is a lack of any need for a powerful, dedicated graphics processor. They don’t even need a very beefy CPU.
There’s still a market for powerful Chromebooks with the likes of the original Pixelbook and the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook, though. And that’s the side of the market where we could see the dedicated graphics processor show up.
Photo and video editing could benefit from an upgrade away from integrated graphics. So could gaming. Considering Valve and Google are working to bring Steam to Chromebooks, a dedicated graphics processor starts to make a lot more sense.
Existing Chromebooks, even on the premium end of the spectrum, will only be able to handle running a small number of games from the already reduced library of Steam games readily supported on Linux. That equation will change with a dedicated graphics processor. And, depending on how well Valve and Google get Steam and its library working on ChromeOS, we could be looking at our first gaming Chromebook this year. We hardly expect it will be anything close to the best gaming laptops, though.