Not to be left behind by its competitors, MSI has announced its handheld PC called MSI Claw. The Intel-powered device was first unveiled at CES 2024 and is scheduled to launch sometime later this year.
MSI Claw features a stark resemblance to Asus ROG Ally, with a similar shape, button placements, and port options, but it includes some key changes to carve out its own unique signature.
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At the forefront of those changes is that the device is completely powered by the new Intel Core Ultra series processors but it also has a large battery life, better ergonomic grips, and a dual-pipe cooling design to keep the device chill during longer gaming sessions.
Key Features of the MSI Claw:
- Intel Core Ultra processor
- 7″ 1080p/120Hz IPS display with VRR
- Hall Effect triggers and joysticks
- 53Whr battery
- Thunderbolt 4 and MicroSD card support
What is the Price of the MSI Claw in UAE
While the regional pricing for the MSI Claw is not yet known, the handheld device will come in different versions with different configurations:
- Base Model ($699) – Intel Core Ultra 5 CPU, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD
- Mid-Range Model ($749) – Intel Core Ultra 7 CPU, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD
- High-End Model ($799) – Intel Core Ultra 7 CPU, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD
Should You Buy the MSI Claw?
It’s hard to gauge whether the MSI Claw will be worth the money as of right now, considering it is still under production, and we don’t have any solid numbers of its performance in games.
Another point of contention is the use of the Intel Core Ultra processors, which will feature the Intel Arc GPU architecture. While Intel has come a long way in improving the Arc GPUs to be more compatible with games and match the performance of AMD and NVIDIA GPUs for desktop PCs, it is still not as good as – at least in terms of driver support and ease of use.
Whether the case will be any different with MSI Claw remains to be seen, especially against the more established AMD chipset, which is being used on all popular handheld PC gaming consoles like the Steam Deck, Asus ROG Ally, and Lenovo Legion Go.
That said, the MSI Claw, if performance is up to speed, offers most of the expected creature comforts and features that one would expect from a modern PC handheld device. It includes a reasonably large 7″ 1080p 120Hz refresh rate IPS display, a beefy 53Whr battery pack, a standard Intel Thunderbolt 4 port so you can connect an external GPU.
There’s also a MicroSD card slot for memory expansion, RGB lighting on the joysticks, two down-firing speakers with Hi-Res Audio certification and ergonomic grips that appear to be more comfortable than the one found on the ROG Ally.
MSI Claw Specs
|Intel Core Ultra 5 & 7 Processor with Intel AI Boost
|Windows 11 Home
|7″ 1080p, 120Hz, IPS touchscreen panel
|Intel Arch Graphics
|Intel Killer BE WiFi 7, Bluetooth 5.4
|2x 2W speakers
|1x Headphone-out/Mic-in combo jack
|1x USB-C (USB, DP, Thunderbolt 4) with PD charging, 1x MicroSD card reader
|Fingerprint scanner (on the power button)
|53Whr 6-cell battery
|65W PD adapter
|294 x 117 x 21.2 mm
Intel Core Ultra Could Be a Game Changer…Maybe
MSI Claw’s big-billed feature is the use of the new Intel Meteor Lake Core Ultra processors, which features six p-cores, eight e-cores, two low-power e-cores, and Intel’s first integrated NPU “for power-efficient AI acceleration and local inference.” The company claims this will be a “game changer” for gaming, content creation or heavy multitasking, and well, at least on paper, it does appear to be a little bit faster than what AMD has offered with the other handheld models.
However, the first reports of its performance don’t exactly elicit confidence. The Verge noted stuttery gameplay with “loads of frame spikes” during their hands-on, as well as higher-than-expected energy draw at 24W-27W TDP. With the ‘Super Battery Save’ mode turned on at 15W, the handheld device seemingly struggled to play Assassin’s Creed Mirage even at its lowest setting on 720p, and averaged around 24fps “amid huge frame drops.” However, the below-average performance can be chalked up to early production units and may not be an indicator of the final model when it becomes available later in the year.
The device also has a built-in AI-powered performance mode that uses Intel’s NPU chipset to dynamically adjust the screen backlight and chip power, according to The Verge.
In terms of cooling, MSI Claw features what the company calls a “revolutionary intraflow thermal design” with a dual heatsink design that redirects parts of the airflow also to cool the internals, “keeping all components cool so you can game longer.” Again, there are no definite reports on how effective the cooling is, but at least in terms of fan noise, it seems to be quiet and smooth and only revs up when the ultra-performance mode is enabled.
Bigger Battery For Longer Play
The MSI Claw has a beefy 53Whr battery pack, which is in line with what is offered by Steam Deck OLED and Lenovo Legio GO and much bigger than what now seems like a paltry offering from Asus ROG Ally’s 40Wh battery pack.
According to The Verge, MSI says that users can expect up to two hours of battery life from demanding games, with up to four hours from less tasking titles. This is sort of as much as the Steam Deck OLED offers, but it might prove to be better than Windows-based devices.
Hall Effect And Better Grips
One of the most sought-after features for handheld PC devices, as well as regular game controllers, is the Hall Effect triggers and joysticks, which MSI has included with the Claw. Unlike traditional trigger and joystick systems, the Hall Effect is less prone to the dreaded joystick drift issue. It also provides a customizable dead zone area and a much smoother, friction-free gameplay experience.
Another aspect that MSI has worked on for the Claw is the ergonomic grips on the device. The company claims it has collected “thousands of sample data from around the world” and is designed to “fit the natural contours of your grip.” Judging from the pictures and many hands-on videos on YouTube, it appears that the grip handles on the MSI Claw are somewhere in between the gigantic handles on the Lenovo Legion Go and the almost perfectly sized grips available on the Steam Deck. It, however, is definitely an upgrade over the ROG Ally, which features skinny grip handles that many have complained to be not as comfortable after a while.
Add an External GPU with Thunderbolt 4
The MSI Claw features a standard Thunderbolt 4 port (unlike ROG Ally’s proprietary one), which should allow users to plug in external GPUs for faster performance. However, since it is Thunderbolt 4 – and not Thunderbolt 5 – it doesn’t have enough bandwidth to power GPUs like the RTX 4080 or the RTX 4090. Anything below that should be just fine and should provide a seamless way to make games run at higher visual fidelity and frame rates.
MSI Claw Alternatives
Steam Deck is the gold standard for PC handheld devices. Its biggest advantage is its popularity, which means many developers will try to natively support their games for the device (hence, earning it the ‘Steam Deck Verified’ on the Steam page).
With a 7″ 1080p display, 400 nits peak brightness and 60Hz refresh rate support, and a slightly older AMD Zen 2 chip, the Steam Deck won’t be able to match the MSI Clawn in performance – at least on paper. However, the new Steam Deck OLED version, which features a 7″ HDR OLED panel, better battery life, and some additional tweaks, could give the MSI Claw some serious competition.
The Asus ROG Ally is neck-to-neck with the MSI Claw in terms of raw performance. With an AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme Processor, 16GB LPDDR5 RAM, 512GB SSD, 7″ 1080p 120Hz refresh rate panel, and a similar two-speaker setup, the ROG Ally is extremely similar to MSI’s offering, and at a similar price point of $699. The biggest advantage the MSI Claw has over the ROG Ally is the larger battery life (53Wh vs 40Wh) and better ergonomics.
While the Lenovo Legion Go offers the same set of internals as the Asus ROG Ally, it does have some key features that give it a leg up over the MSI Claw. For one, it has a larger 8.8: WQXGA 144Hz refresh rate display and removable joysticks ala Nintendo Switch for a more comfortable playing experience or enabling couch co-op with friends and family.
Mufaddal Fakhruddin has been writing about games and technology for the past 15 years. He has lost count as to how many reviews he has written over the years, but he is sure headphone reviews make up at least 70% of that.