Steam is the biggest platform for PC gaming, and it turns out you can install Steam on your Chromebook too. Even if your Chromebook doesn’t have the raw hardware power needed to play the latest games, many indies available on Steam should be playable on weaker hardware – and even if they aren’t, you aren’t out of options!
In addition to installing Steam to run compatible games on your Chromebook, we help you set up the Steam Link app for streaming games from your PC to your Chromebook. As long as network conditions are right, this will allow by far the best performance and visuals when gaming on a Chromebook.
If you’re looking to install the full Steam App on your Chromebook and not just Steam Link, you’ll need to verify whether your device supports Linux (Beta) for Chromebooks. If you got your Chromebook after 2019, it is very likely that it supports Linux.
If you plan on using the Steam Link method, your Chromebook can likely run Android applications – unless you got it before 2016.
Installing Steam Link Android App on Chromebook
The most obvious way to get Steam games playing on your Chromebook is to stream them through the Steam Link Android app.
First, you’ll need to head to your Settings app and enable “Install apps and games from Google Play on your Chromebook” in the “Google Play Store” section.
Now that you have Android apps enabled, all you’ll need to do is download and launch the Steam Link app.
Once launched, it will automatically scan for PCs on your network running Steam. Select yours – mine was named “Lockheart.” You’ll want to connect your Chromebook to your host PC by entering the four-digit code on your PC that will appear in the Steam Link app. In my case, this code was 1716.
Then, if you have a Remote Play pin set already, you’ll need to enter it.
After the automatic network test, verify that your controller is listed as connected to your Steam Link app. As long as you’ve properly synced your controller via Bluetooth or plugged it in through a compatible USB cable, you should be fine.
After signing in, there are just a few more steps to be mindful of before proceeding. Even if you have especially large hands and a touchscreen Chromebook, chances are you don’t want to use the default touch controls. Instead, you’ll want to sync a compatible Xbox controller via Bluetooth or by plugging it in via USB.
We’ve tested our Chromebook with both Bluetooth and USB-A/USB-C connection methods across our Xbox Elite Series 2 and Xbox One controllers. Like with Android, any Xbox controller from the 360 and onward, barring the wireless 360 controller, should work.
I’ve connected my controller, and I’m already in the game! I might as well click “Start Playing…”
I have Switch Emulation from my PC on a Chromebook … that’s a little trippy. Maybe we’ll talk about that more some day soon.
If you’re experiencing lag in Steam Link, despite good network results, chances are high you’re using a lower-end Chromebook. To correct this, click the Settings gear in the top-right corner of the Steam Link main menu.
Now that you’re in Settings, go to Network and change Streaming Settings. Change Video to “Fast,” and you should be good to go. Doing this and disabling HDR on your PC should greatly increase streaming performance on any Chromebook.
Installing Steam For Linux
Installing Linux (Beta)
Obviously, to install Steam for Linux, you need to have the Linux app model enabled on Chromebook. If you have not done so, follow the tutorial here to enable Linux app mode on your Chromebook.
Once you have successfully implemented the requirements, you are now ready to install Steam on your Chromebook. In order to do this, you will have to follow these steps.
1. From your Chromebook, press Ctrl + Alt + T. This shortcut sequence will properly launch a Linux Terminal without searching for it.
2. Enter the following commands:
Once the final command has been executed, you will need to press Y for Yes to complete the requested install.
During this process, you will also be prompted to accept the Steam system license agreement. Do this by navigating down to “I Agree” and pressing Enter.
3. To launch Steam, run a simple command:
Once the Steam client is launched, you will be able to install Steam Linux games on your Chromebook. You have to make sure your Chromebook (particularly the Linux partition) has enough storage space, though, as a lot of games have sizes in the tens of GB.
Also, we have not tested every single game out there to see which games work and which don’t.
Whether you’re running a full Steam For Linux setup or just using Steam Link to stream games from a more powerful PC, we hope this guide helped you take your Chromebook gaming experience to the next level. If you’re looking for more great gaming experiences on your Chromebook, be sure to check out our collection of the best games you can play in Chrome for Android – they work in Chrome OS with controller support, too!
If you have any lingering questions or are having any issues, comment below and let us know.
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