Living with Game Streaming: Google Stadia + Chromebook (Premium)

In Living with Game Streaming: Google Stadia (Premium), I noted that I had tested Stadia, Google’s game streaming service, using several different configurations. This is true, but something had been gnawing at me since posting that article, until I finally realized what it was: I hadn’t tested one important Stadia configuration. And as it turns out, this is the best one yet.

That configuration? A Chromebook with the Stadia controller. As is the case on Windows or any other desktop system, you can access Stadia via the Chrome web browser that’s central to the Chrome OS experience, and you link the controller---wirelessly or via a USB cable---in the same ways as well. The difference? Unlike with Windows, the combination of a Chromebook and a Stadia controller provided my best-ever Stadia experience from a lag/latency perspective.

You may recall that I specifically called out a major fight sequence early on in DOOM Eternal in which you battle dozens of demons in a large, complex, and multi-level room. Here, I saw some serious lag/latency issues, even in what I had previously determined was the best Stadia configuration (Chromecast Ultra with a wireless Stadia controller), and I had died repeatedly trying to clear it out, only to later breeze through this same room on the Xbox Series X version of the game.

With this in mind, I fired up Stadia on the HP Elite c1030 Chromebook Enterprise I’m now testing, using it with a wired Stadia controller. As with the Xbox, I made it through this room on the first pass, with health to spare, and noted that the lag/latency issues I’d previously experienced were gone. So I continued playing the game to be sure. And yes, this configuration really works well.

I also tested some other Stadia titles, including some I’d not played before, like GYLT, a fun puzzle-adventure game that is exclusive to Google’s game streaming service. This particular game doesn’t offer the same frenetic action as does DOOM, of course, but controller precision was notable, and I now feel like I’ve overcome my own remaining hurdle with Stadia. Before, there was a small caveat to my recommendation, but now I feel like this service can really work.

Granted, not everyone has a Chromebook, let alone one they can use for gaming. And of course, the appeal of Stadia, as with any cloud-based game streaming service, is that you can play anywhere, with whatever hardware configuration you prefer. I will keep experimenting with Stadia---I want to at least finish GYLT---and see if I can duplicate this success elsewhere.

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