So, you want to play some CS:GO on your Chromebook.
You’re in the right place.
In this tutorial, I’m going to try to quickly get you set up with a copy of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive on your Chromebook.
It’s pretty easy to do and should be relatively straightforward.
If you have any problems during the guide, just leave a comment and I’ll get back to you ASAP.
Sound good? Let’s roll.
Last updated: 1/12/21. Updated for accuracy.
Hardware system requirements – Can your Chromebook run CS:GO?
To get your trigger finger trigger-happy, here’s a video showing off what you’ll have when you’re done with this tutorial (credits to Dave Bennett for the video):
As with any game, there are always hardware requirements to make sure the game runs smoothly.
After all, why would you want to install CS:GO on your Chromebook only to have it lag, stutter, and give you 2 FPS? It’s unplayable.
The first thing you need to make sure you have is a Chromebook that has an Intel processor. This is fairly easy to check. Just look for the following information:
- An Intel sticker on the Chromebook
- An Intel logo on the bottom panel sticker
If you can’t find out what processor your laptop has, you can easily just look up your Chromebook model number online and look at the processor specs on a retailer’s website.
And if you’re really not sure, then do the following:
Step 1: Launch Chrome Browser
Step 2: Type in “chrome://system” in the URL bar and hit Enter
Step 3: Press “CTRL + F” and type in “cpu” and hit Enter
Step 4: Look for your CPU and verify that it’s an Intel-based processor
All you need is an Intel CPU and some RAM
The majority of Chromebooks have Intel CPUs (such as Celeron, i3, i5, m3, Core, etc.) so you should be okay.
If you want to be able to play games like WoW, Minecraft, Roblox, RuneScape, and run Steam, you’ll need an Intel-powered Chromebook.
Besides the CPU, you’ll also need 4GB of RAM. You could get away with 2GB, but you’ll probably get some serious performance issues. You can always adjust the settings to optimize the FPS though, so give it a try anyway.
And lastly, you’ll need enough space to install the game. At the time of this writing, CS:GO takes up about 6-8GB of space (people say different things), so make sure you have enough free space on your Chromebook’s SSD to install it. If you don’t, you can install the game to external storage and play it from there.
If you don’t have enough space on your Chromebook and you don’t have external storage, you can either make space by deleting your unnecessary files or buy Chromebook-compatible external storage. You can use an external hard drive, thumb drive, or even an SD card depending on what your laptop accepts.
Most newer devices should be able to match all the required specs easily.
How to install CS:GO on your Chromebook
Okay, so now that we have the hardware requirements out of the way, we can get to the actual guide.
This is where the fun starts.
Here’s an overview of what we’ll be doing:
- Backing up your stuff
- Enabling Developer Mode
- Download Crouton
- Installing Linux
- Installing Steam
- Installing CS:GO
Sound good? Ready to get started? Good. Let’s go.
Step 1: Back up your data
This entire process involves Powerwashing your Chromebook.
Doing this will automatically delete everything on your device and restore it back to factory conditions. There’s no way around this and it’s a necessary step, so be sure to back up your data before proceeding.
Everything will be wiped, including:
- Files in your “Downloads” folder
- Files in any custom folders and directories you’ve created
- Your Chromebook settings
- Apps you’ve downloaded from the Chrome Web Store or Google Play Store
- Any other customizations you’ve done
Everything in your Google Account will be safe, however. This means your Google Drive, Gmail, and all account settings will be untouched. This data is stored on Google’s servers- not your Chromebook.
You can back up all your stuff to external storage media, like an external hard drive or thumb drive.
When you’re ready, read this tutorial on how to back up your Chromebook. It’s an easy and complete guide on how to do it since I’m far too lazy to retype it all here. Go there and follow the steps. Then come back here when you’re done. Feel free to skim through it and only use the relevant sections.
Okay, so you’ve backed up your stuff, right? There’s no going back now. Let’s proceed.
Step 2: Enable Developer Mode
This is the step that’ll wipe your Chromebook.
Developer Mode is necessary to install Steam, which will be used to install and play CS:GO.
Enabling Dev Mode is easy with just a few keyboard shortcuts and I’ve written an easy and complete guide to turning on Developer Mode.
Like the previous step, go ahead and follow the steps in that guide and then come back here when you’re done.
After Developer Mode is enabled, we’re ready to install Linux. You’re halfway there!
Step 3: Get Crouton
Crouton is a handy little file that makes installing Linux on Chrome OS a lot easier.
You can download it here.
I strongly recommend you at least skim over the FAQ page as it contains a lot of important information about installing Linux. It’s an easy read even if you have no idea what you’re doing. Keep this page handy.
Another page you may want to refer to is the Crouton troubleshooting page. This contains a detailed process that I recommend you to follow exactly if you can’t get Linux installed. Refer to this page if you get stuck in Step 4.
So now that you have Crouton downloaded, we can go ahead and install Linux.
Step 4: Install Linux
Linux is a free and open-source kernel that we’ll be using to install Steam and eventually Counter-Strike.
(Isn’t it awesome that pretty much everything you ever need comes in the form of open-source?)
Here’s an interesting fact: Chrome OS was built with Linux!
Linux is secure, safe, and easy to use once you get used to it. It’s like learning how to use a Mac when you’ve been using Windows, or vice versa. Linux is no exception. If you ever get stuck, just do a search online. There are tons of Linux tutorials online that can solve nearly any issue you’re having trouble with.
And if you really can’t figure out a solution, post a comment here and I’ll try to help you out!
We’ll be using Xfce
We’ll be installing the Linux Ubuntu LTS with the Xfce desktop environment.
With Crouton, you can easily change what Linux distro you want to install. There are dozens of them that all vary in performance, functionality, features, etc. The desktop environment can also be customized to be something super flashy with lots of animations and effects to something extremely bare-bones and lightweight for performance. Xfce is the latter.
I figure that the majority of Chromebooks have basic hardware and a lightweight desktop environment would be the best bet so you can get a better FPS in-game.
Why waste system resources on having a pretty and fancy desktop when your game will lag and stutter?
Use that limited RAM and CPU power for the game’s performance instead. But of course, the choice is yours. If you want a different desktop environment, there are many to choose from. Perhaps you have a thing for flashy animations. Or you want a modern-looking Linux desktop. Or you have a strong Chromebook that can handle anything.
If you want to customize your installation, add touchscreen support, change the default browser, change the desktop environment, or do whatever else, check out this complete guide on installing Linux.
If you’re okay with just installing the basic version of Linux, then proceed.
Here’s how to install Linux:
Launch the command prompt in Chrome OS by pressing “CTRL + ALT + T.”
After you get the command prompt, type the following commands (with no quotes):
“shell” and hit Enter.
“sudo sh ~/Downloads/crouton -t xfce” and hit Enter.
That’s it. Crouton will now automatically install Linux in the background. This may take a while, so go look up some CS:GO strats or watch some killer videos, like this one:
After it’s done installing, launch Linux by typing the following command:
“sudo startxfce4” and hit Enter.
You’ll be booted into Linux, where you’ll go ahead and install Steam.
Getting an error?
If you’re getting an error that reads something like:
“Can’t open /home/chronos/user/downloads/crouton”
It probably means you’re either not in Developer Mode, there’s an error in the command, or it’s saved in the wrong directory.
Here’s how to fix it:
Double-check that you’re in Developer Mode. Chrome OS won’t let you launch Crouton without being in Developer Mode as a security measure. You can check if Developer Mode is on like this:
- Launch the command prompt (press “CTRL + ALT + T”).
- Type “shell” and hit Enter.
If you get an error that reads “ERROR: unknown command: shell” it means that Dev Mode is off and needs to be enabled. Do a Powerwash and start over at Step 2.
If the command works, then make sure the Crouton command you input is typed exactly as shown:
“sudo sh ~/Downloads/crouton -t xfce”
Remember, casing matters.
If that still doesn’t work, it means you have Crouton saved in another directory. Move it to the “Downloads” folder, or change the code to match the folder you saved it in.
And lastly, if all else fails, use this guide to fix it. Follow the steps exactly.
Step 5: Install Steam
Now that you’re done installing Linux, get familiar with your brand new environment.
You can play around with it, install programs and apps, and customers all the settings and features of it- later =].
Right now, let’s install Steam so we can get CS going. How does that sound?
As you may know, CS:GO is supported by Steam and also runs on Linux. Thus, the easiest way is to get the game through Steam. Steam is also relatively easy to install and I already have a tutorial on how to install Steam on a Chromebook you can refer to.
Again, go through the tutorial and come back here when you’re done.
If you have any questions, post them here in the comments section and I’ll get back to you ASAP. Skim through it and skip over the parts you’ve already done in this tutorial. If you’re confused, leave a comment. But it’s pretty straightforward.
At this point, you should be done installing Steam on Linux on Chromebook. Now we can proceed to the final step- installing Global Offensive!
Step 6: Install CS:GO
Just launch Steam. Log into your account if you haven’t already. Find the game in your library and install it.
If you don’t have enough space on your Chromebook, it won’t work. You’ll have to install the game on an external storage device. You can choose where to install it when Steam prompts you.
If you don’t know how, you can refer to this WoW installation tutorial and look for the section about specifying a different location to install games in Steam. It’s written for World of Warcraft, but the Steam install location applies to any game.
Or you can check this Steam help page out for directions.
After it’s done installing, the last thing to do is to play CS:GO. I don’t think you need any special instructions on this step =].
(Just click “Play!”)
Congratulations, you’ve successfully installed CS:GO on your Chromebook!
Optimizing the game
Since Chromebooks aren’t inherently powerful gaming laptops, you’ll need to adjust the in-game graphics settings for best performance.
Here are some things you can do to get a better FPS:
- Turn the resolution to 1366 x 768 or lower
- Turn the display mode to “windowed”
- Turn shader detail to “low”
- Turn effect detail to “low”
- Turn model/texture detail to “low”
- Enable multicore rendering
- Turn multisampling anti-aliasing to “none”
- Turn FXAA anti-aliasing off
- Turn motion blur off
- Turn v-sync off
- Turn global shadow quality to “very low”
- Turn texture filtering mode to “bilinear”
With these settings (or even lower), you should be able to play somewhat competitive and not have the game look too bad. I’m running an older Chromebook and I average around 27-34 FPS depending on what’s happening during the game. It’s not ideal, but it’s definitely playable.
If you have a beefy Chromebook you bought just for gaming, you can feel free to turn the settings up to your wishes.
Screwed up? Do a Powerwash.
If you screwed up somewhere and you can’t figure out how to fix the issue, you can easily start over and have your Chromebook reset all the bugs and errors by doing a Powerwash.
This will restore to back to factory settings like how it was when you first bought it (or after you enabled Developer Mode).
If you think you broke something or bricked it, a Powerwash is always a good choice. Since you already backed up all your stuff (you did, right?), you have nothing to lose and you’ll start over with a clean slate.
Are you now playing Counter-Strike: Global Offensive on your Chromebook?
That’s it. You’re all set.
If you have any questions, just leave a comment and I’ll get back to you ASAP.
If you found this guide to be helpful, let me know as well =]. And consider telling a clanmate about it. Then y’all can dominate the map as a clan…on their Chromebooks.
Thanks for reading.