MSI Claw Hands-on… or should I say… Claws-on?
As a huge fan of portable gaming, I was thrilled to get some hands-on time with the newly announced MSI Claw gaming handheld at CES 2024. This new device aims to deliver desktop-caliber performance in a handheld form factor, and my first impressions are very positive overall. Let me walk you through my experience spending a few hours gaming on the Claw.
Right away, the Claw makes an excellent first impression with its clean, angular black design and solid, sturdy feel. It’s chunkier than a phone but still comfortable to hold thanks to the ergonomic grips and smart shape. When compared to the ROG Ally, it seems that that MSi Claw is just about the same size and build. Build quality is top-notch, feeling extremely premium in the hands. The matte black finish resists fingerprints too. Overall, it feels like a premium piece of tech that can withstand life on the go.
Fantastic Display, but it does not seem to support VRR
The standout feature is definitely the bright, beautiful 7-inch 1080p touchscreen. Image quality is excellent with crisp details, vibrant colors, and great viewing angles. It looks fantastic both for games and video. The 120Hz refresh rate keeps everything silky smooth and responsive to touch. Games really come alive on this gorgeous display that’s perfect for portable play.
The only downside is it does not support VRR (Variable Refresh Rate) unlike the ROG Ally. VRR helps in achieve consistent frame rate on certain games while putting performance caps to conserve battery.
Intel Core Ultra is promissing
Under the hood, the Intel Core Ultra processor and Xe graphics deliver power far beyond what I expected from a handheld system. Games run very smoothly indeed with high, steady framerates that live up to MSI’s claims. The fan spins up noticeably during intense gaming sessions, but runs quietly and keeps the Claw cool. The HyperFlow cooling seems extremely capable of taming the powerful silicon inside.
I spent most of my time with the Claw playing native Windows games like Assassin’s Creed: Mirage and Forza Horizon 5 at the venue. Both run flawlessly at close to max settings, which is mind-blowing for a handheld. According to MSI, they managed to play Forza Horizon 5 for 2 hours at 25W TDP. Xbox game streaming works perfectly through the built-in app. Android games also run smoothly via the clever MSI App Player software. There’s tons of flexibility for playing your library on the go. For what it’s worth, the MSI App Player looks like a combination of what ROG and Lenovo have achieved on the Ally and Legion Go.
The Claw feels like it strikes a nice balance between high performance and reasonable portability. At 675g it’s substantially heavier than a phone, but quite comfortable for a full Windows 11 gaming PC you can easily toss in a bag. The large 53Wh battery delivers almost 2 hours of demanding gameplay, which is impressive given the power inside. Of course, less intensive games will last much longer on a charge. While I still could not give my full review on its battery performance at the venue, the promise of Intel Core Ultra 7 processor 155H is to have a good blend of good performance at low TDP. While this performs better than the Ryzen Z1 Extreme or not remains to be known when we publish our full review very soon.
Other Features and its overall design – a black ROG Ally?
There’s lots of handy design touches too, like the Thunderbolt 4 port for quick data and external displays, the microSD slot for expanded storage, and the MSI Center software for configuring everything. The speakers deliver decent audio for a handheld device. And I love the clever fingerprint reader built right into the power button. Looking at it, it definitely shares a lot of similarities to the ROG Ally, but in black color way. Now, would it suffer the same microSD slot issue because its super close to the fans? That is something that remains to be known, although we confirmed from MSI that the MSI Claw is built entirely different, and its thermal design is a first of its kind.
Check out our specs comparison between the MSI Claw and ASUS ROG Ally here.
My First Impressions
After my first few hours of gaming on the MSI Claw, I’m seriously impressed. This thing delivers a genuine desktop-like gaming experience in a creatively designed portable package. From the gorgeous display to the immense power inside, it’s a very compelling product that offers new levels of performance for serious mobile gamers. I can’t wait to spend more time pushing the Claw to its limits when it launches later this year. It’s a major leap forward for handheld PCs and an exciting option for players who want desktop-caliber games anywhere.
Is it coming to the Philippines? I certainly hope so. In my years of covering CES 2024, MSI always brings most – if not all – of their laptops (and now, gaming handheld) to the Philippines.
Now, how about my price prediction? Let’s set it at PhP45,999, for now. Given that this one is running on Intel processors, it might also jump up to PhP49,999 to PhP54,999.
Yes, however MSI Philippines has not yet confirmed the exact date and price as of this writing. In the USA, we were informed by MSI that it will be sold for:
- $699 – 512GB, 16GB RAM, Intel Core Ultra 5 processor
- $745 – 512GB, 16GB RAM, Intel Core Ultra 7 processor
- $799 – 1TB, 16GB RAM, Intel Core Ultra 7 processor
MSI Claw Specifications:
|Up to Intel® CoreTM Ultra 7 processor 155H
|Windows 11 Home (MSI recommends Windows 11 Pro for business.) Windows 11 Pro
|LPDDR5 onboard, 16GB, dual channel
|7″ FHD (1920 x 1080), 120 Hz Refresh Rate, Touch Screen, 120 Hz Refresh Rate, 100% sRGB(Typical), 500nits(Typical), IPS-Level panel
|Intel® Arc Graphics
|1 x NVMe M.2 2230 SSD by PCIe Gen 4 x4
|6-Axis IMU Vibration Motor
|Intel® KillerTM Wi-Fi 7 BE1750, Bluetooth v5.4
|2 × 2W Speakers / 1× Audio combo jack / Hi-Res Audio ready
|1 x ThunderboltTM 4 / DP/ USB Type-C (w/ PD 3.0 Charging), 1 x microSD Card Reader, 1 x Audio combo jack, 1x Power button with Finger Print Sensor
|6-Cell, Li-Polymer, 53Whr / 65W USB Type-C PD 3.0
|294 (W) x 117(D) x 21.2(H) mm
Giancarlo Viterbo is a Filipino Technology Journalist, blogger and Editor of gadgetpilipinas.net, He is also a Geek, Dad and a Husband. He knows a lot about washing the dishes, doing some errands and following instructions from his boss on his day job. Follow him on twitter: @gianviterbo and @gadgetpilipinas.