Sun. Jun 4th, 2023

The Acer Chromebook 516 GE is Acer’s first gaming Chromebook.Photograph: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

It’s been some time since I’ve been on a Chromebook. I used to be a devoted person of the Google Pixelbook when it launched. Its 2-in-1 kind issue match my life surprisingly properly, and I even turned it right into a podcasting machine on the go. However then the laptop computer began getting older out, and I wanted one thing that would deal with video and photograph enhancing in a manner that Chrome OS couldn’t. I additionally needed to play video games on it. The Pixelbook grew to become redundant as soon as I upgraded my laptop to a Home windows-based Dell XPS 15, and it’s been amassing mud ever since.

Now, now we have gaming Chromebooks, a phrase I by no means thought I’d be typing out. These are completely different from the gaming laptops you’re used to from manufacturers like Razer or Alienware—they don’t even have the facility of my Dell XPS 15. As an alternative, they’ve specs tuned to launch video games from the cloud. The advantage of all that is it makes the general ChromeOS expertise really feel extra premium for a fraction of what I paid for the Home windows-based XPS.

The Acer Chromebook 516 GE is likely one of the three fashions that Google has trotted out on this newest marketing campaign. The GE stands for “Gaming Version,” and it refers to Chromebooks which have screens with excessive refresh charges, latest era Intel processors, and distinctive gamer-y touches like RGB-lighted keyboards. The Chromebook 516 GE has all these issues, making it an awesome all-purpose laptop computer. I’m notably struck by how gentle and simple it’s to cart round—I miss that a part of having a Chromebook. That is my first expertise with cloud gaming on ChromeOS exterior of Stadia (RIP). Some options felt just like the Home windows gaming expertise I’m used to, however there have been cases after I remembered ChromeOS additionally has limitations.

Acer Chromebook 516 GE

Acer’s gaming Chromebook is a wonderful bundle for anybody wanting a beefy ChromeOS machine. However its gaming capabilities are restricted to the cloud.

Acer Chromebook 516 GE

Acer’s gaming Chromebook is a wonderful bundle for anybody wanting a beefy ChromeOS machine. However its gaming capabilities are restricted to the cloud.

What’s it?

A gaming-focused Chromebook




Strong Chromebook efficiency, 120Hz show, sufficient ports for work or play


Battery life could possibly be so a lot better, nonetheless want a mouse over the built-in trackpad

Meet the gaming Chromebook

The Acer Chromebook 516 GE is a 16-inch laptop computer weighing barely lower than 4 kilos. It’s not dense like my Dell, so it feels simpler to tote round one-handed. It has a 2560 x 1600 decision show, although it’s not a touchscreen like most Chromebooks. As an alternative, you get a show with a 120Hz refresh charge, handy if you happen to’re subscribed to a cloud service like Nvidia GeForce Now or Xbox Sport Go, which helps you to stream video games at excessive refresh charges. For those who’re pondering of getting one in every of these Gaming Version machines, nabbing a subscription to one in every of these companies is one thing you’ll need to think about, particularly since you’re not going to hit these body charges domestically.

G/O Media could get a fee

Inside, the Chromebook 516 GE runs on the Intel Core-i5-1240P, which is a mid-range Alder Lake-P sequence processor. The chip is paired with Intel Iris Xe built-in graphics and 8GB of RAM, sufficient to broadcast the sport from the cloud. The Chromebook 516 GE is simply obtainable with 256GB of house, and also you’ll really feel its limitations if you happen to incessantly cope with massive picture and video recordsdata and like to do all of it offline. There’s a 16GB variant of the Chromebook 516 GE with extra cupboard space coming to market quickly.

The fitting aspect of the Chromebook 516 GE has an HDMI port, a USB-A port, and a USB-C port.Photograph: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

The left aspect of the Chromebook 516 GE has an ethernet port, a charging port, and a headphone jack. Photograph: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

Acer’s Chromebook 516 GE has loads of ports, which is all the time a wonderful addition to a Chromebook—the Pixelbook solely had two USB-C ports, so I needed to Frankenstein it with dongles each time I wanted it to podcast. On the 516 GE, there’s a USB-A 3.2 port, HDMI port, and USB-C port for charging on one aspect, and on the opposite aspect is a further USB-A port, one other USB-C port, and an Ethernet plug-in, which is critically needed for cloud gaming. There’s additionally a 3.5mm audio jack and assist for Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2.

The Acer Chromebook 516 GE is the comparatively “no frills” alternative of the Gaming Version units that Google launched final 12 months. The opposite fashions embrace the Lenovo Ideapad Gaming Chromebook with related specs and the Asus Chromebook Vibe CX55 Flip, a convertible mannequin with a show with a excessive refresh charge of 144Hz. All three laptops are across the $600 mark.

What it’s like enjoying video games on a Chromebook?

The Chromebook 516 GE may be paired with any suitable Bluetooth controller to play cloud video games. Photograph: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

Simply because it is a gaming laptop computer doesn’t imply it performs like a gaming laptop computer. The built-in graphics are merely there to assist the apps sustain with the graphics the cloud is rendering for you. Within the case of Nvidia GeForce Now, there was an RTX 4080 graphics card in a distant server farm working the copy of Management that I booted as much as check the Chromebook’s capability to deal with ray-tracing.

Reader: it did nice, and it’s as a result of the Chromebook needed to do little or no besides ship my inputs to the cloud and present me video of the sport. You’ll have to pay $20/month for GeForce Now’s highest tier. You may also endure fan noise, however paired with a SteelSeries Stratus+, it felt as native as enjoying a console on a small display screen (the display screen is way smaller than any TV I’d play on). Additionally, GeForce Now works with my Steam library, so I may play by the primary hour of Half-Life 2 like I used to be again in my faculty bed room, avoiding schoolwork on my laptop computer.

I used the Chromebook 516 GE to play video games on a number of platforms. Along with Nvidia GeForce Now, I performed by Xbox Sport Go, Amazon Luna, and Steam, which went into beta on Chromebook just a few weeks after this laptop computer launched. On Xbox Sport Go, I hopped into Disney’s Dreamlight Valley to play the character I began on the Nintendo Change model of the identical sport. It’s nearly surreal that I’m so simply in a position to bounce into the sport between two platforms.

Video games may be launched natively from ChromeOS’s app drawer. Photograph: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

Steam was the shopper I had essentially the most hassle establishing, however solely as a result of it took me some time to determine there was a particular possibility I needed to allow in order that video games wouldn’t launch in a set decision. Additionally, it’s technically nonetheless in beta, so it’s not a finalized expertise. I adopted all of the directions I discovered on-line, and it was a comparatively easy course of to get it put in. It requires switching ChromeOS into developer mode and toggling on Chrome flags, developer-centric options you’ll be able to allow to check this out by yourself. I then found out I needed to allow one other flag known as borealis pressure double scale so Steam video games may show adequately on ChromeOS.

I attempted downloading Sid Meier’s Civilization VI and Shadow of the Tomb Raider to run their respective benchmarks out of curiosity. I managed to get a marketing campaign in Civilization VI began, sufficient that I used to be nearly curious to lookup a information to determine easy methods to play the sport. However after I tried the built-in benchmark, the Chromebook crashed, and I needed to pressure restart. On the heavier aspect, Shadow of the Tomb Raider didn’t transcend the splash display screen. I attempted working that benchmark, and every time, the Chromebook 516 GE would shut down and pressure a restart.

For my closing trick, I downloaded Far Cry 5 and Complete Warfare: Warhammer II to see if they might take. That’s after I remembered the Chromebook 516 GE solely has 256GB of cupboard space. Far Cry 5 is almost 67 GB when domestically downloaded, whereas the latter is 57 GB. Once I tried downloading anything, the Chromebook was out of house. Relatively than clear up some house and look forward to the downloads, I figured you’d get the thought by now: don’t count on this factor to run even informal trendy video games domestically.

I did play older video games utilizing Steam on the Chromebook 516 GE. Stardew Valley runs nice, as do older titles like Torchlight II. The Chromebook could have built-in graphics, however they’re higher than something from round 15 years in the past. I additionally performed by the start of 2013’s Tomb Raider reboot whereas the body charge hovered between 30-35 fps.

It’s nonetheless a Chromebook

The Chromebook 516 GE is emblazoned with Chromebook markings. Photograph: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

Now that we’ve established you may get some gaming carried out on the Chromebook 516 GE, let’s speak about getting work carried out. I wrote just a few end-of-the-year articles on this machine earlier than all of the CES hype, and located the keyboard particularly snug, however solely after I had lobbed off my claws. Acer’s keycaps, specifically, are skinny sufficient that I couldn’t inform if my nail was on the chassis or the important thing, which made typing somewhat irritating. I managed about 110 phrases per minute after chopping my nails.

The Chromebook 516 GE has a neat RGB backlit keyboard. Photograph: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

I discussed earlier that a few of these Chromebook gaming laptops have RGB backlights—that is a kind of fashions. I really like having the ability to change the lights on the Chromebook immediately from the settings panel with out having to obtain some third-party keyboard suite. Even after I wasn’t enjoying a sport, it was good to have rainbow keys whereas I used to be typing away at an article. Acer even outlines the WASD keys, so that you’re prepared and ready for gaming with a mouse and keyboard.

My solely different annoyance was the small arrow keys. When on a laptop computer, I depend on them for scrolling by net pages. The trackpad additionally looks like one thing I’d discover on a less expensive Chromebook. It’s not essentially the most fluid, particularly when making an attempt one thing exact, and I usually felt just like the pointer may overshoot at any time. I discovered any excuse to make use of a Bluetooth mouse to regulate the gadget.

Wants higher battery

The Chromebook 516 GE is gentle and transportable, however don’t go away the charger behind. Photograph: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

The Chromebook 516 GE is ok for getting work carried out. It’s gentle sufficient to cart round in a backpack all day and the ample quantity of ports—for a Chromebook, anyway—helps get varied use out of the machine. There’s even HDMI out as a way to tether an exterior monitor. I may see this Chromebook serving as a cloud gaming hub for a dorm room, the best way a streaming dongle does for the TV in the lounge.

However I’d warning leaving with no charger in tow. Acer guarantees 9 hours on battery, however the Chromebook 516 GE lasted a mere six hours in our inner battery rundown check. We check by looping a YouTube video with the display screen brightness set to about 200 nits. There are correct gaming laptops with worse battery life, however on the planet of ChromeOS, it’s not sufficient to depart with no backup energy scenario. On the very least, the Chromebook 516 GE is a quick charger. I obtained it as much as 100% in about 90 minutes.

One other reasonably priced option to get into gaming

It’s good to know you’ll be able to run a sport on ChromeOS. However don’t attempt working a latest one. Photograph: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

The Acer Chromebook 516 GE isn’t going to take you to the esports enviornment, nevertheless it makes an enormous archive of cloud based mostly PC-based gaming obtainable at an accessible value level. This laptop computer may also do properly with indie video games, that are simply as partaking because the titles popping out from main sport publishers, and infrequently much less useful resource intensive.

At $650, it’s $300 costlier than different Cloud gaming options just like the Logitech G Cloud, nevertheless it additionally supplies you with a full laptop computer. For a devoted gaming machine, you would possibly need to look to both the G Cloud or one thing just like the Steam Deck, relying in your wants, however it is a good entry degree possibility in an identical value level for somebody who moonlights as a gamer.

On the productiveness aspect, the Chromebook 516 GE is a nice Chromebook for day-to-day use. The keyboard is snug for lengthy bouts of typing, and ChromeOS has improved since Google launched extra methods to sync up the software program with an Android smartphone. However that is removed from a gaming laptop computer like within the Home windows world. If something, not less than Chromebook producers have discovered a option to “beef up” the programs with out rising the value level, as Chromebooks are nonetheless thought of secondary machines relatively than main ones.

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