Your next Chromebook could have Nvidia RTX graphics

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Recognition: Eric Zeman / Android Authority

  • Nvidia is working with MediaTek to bring RTX GPUs to arm-based Chrome OS and Linux PCs.
  • This could lead to Chromebooks with fast graphics.
  • There are no timeframes for shipping products.

You probably don’t think of a Chromebook as a graphics powerhouse, but that may change soon. Nvidia is working with MediaTek to develop a reference platform that brings RTX GPUs to Arm-based Chromium and Linux PCs, as well as Nvidia’s own developer kits.

The two didn’t say when they expected to include Nvidia RTX graphics in the reference design, let alone a Chromebook you can buy. However, they weren’t shy about the possible uses. Rick Tsai, CEO of MediaTek, envisioned using GPUs for “gaming, content creation” and other intensive tasks.

The implication is clear: ideally, you have an affordable, durable Chromebook with Nvidia graphics that are powerful enough to play games without relying on cloud streaming or Android apps. Most Chromium and Chrome OS-based PCs have to rely on their integrated graphics regardless of whether they use Arm or x86 chips. So this could be a big step forward. You can also edit professional videos.

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With this in mind, it is important to temper expectations. As far as MediaTek chips have advanced in recent years, it’s unlikely that a Chromebook based on any of its CPUs could compete with a traditional x86-based laptop, even with Nvidia graphics. We’d like to add that Nvidia may need to downsize its GPUs to meet cooling and battery life expectations for an arm-powered portable device.

There is also the question of software selection. There aren’t many web or Android games that can take advantage of RTX-level GPU performance, and the normally limited storage space on a Chromebook excludes locally stored media. You would still have to rely at least partially on networks and the cloud.

However, a Chromebook with an Nvidia GPU can handle more of the workload than it has in the past. This could also encourage developers to write more sophisticated web apps, while Chromebook makers may add more storage. The MediaTek partnership is an indication of how arm-based PCs might change, rather than a clear roadmap.

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