MSI Claw Hits Benchmark Circuit With Intel’s Meteor Lake Under Its Hood

hero msi claw gaming handheld
A couple of video creators on China's Bilibili platform have gone hands-on with the MSI Claw Windows gaming handheld and come away with mixed impressions. We don't read Chinese around here, but machine translators come up with names of "Orange Buddha Series Review" and "Please, Komine" for the two channels we're looking at today.

The Orange Buddha Series Review channel (known as "橘子佛系测评" in Chinese) seems to have both models of the Claw, featuring the Core Ultra 7 155H and the Core Ultra 5 135H. The channel compared the machines against each other, and then compared the Core Ultra 5 model against the ASUS ROG Ally with the Ryzen Z1 Extreme, justifying the comparison based on price.

Unsurprisingly, the ROG Ally comes away with a clear victory in Cyberpunk 2077 against the MSI Claw. Orange Buddha Series Review didn't seem to have many nice things to say about Claw, if machine translators are accurate; he complained about the noise level, about the heft of the machine, and about its poor performance, especially in comparison to its middling battery life. We didn't test Meteor Lake's battery life while gaming, so we can't comment on that.

The other channel, which we're calling "Please, Komine" (but which is called "拜托了小峰峰" in Chinese), compared the Core Ultra 7 155H model agains the same-spec ROG Ally unit and it unsurprisingly fared considerably better—though it still lost overall in contrast against AMD's SoC. This isn't particularly surprising given that AMD has likely put a lot more time and money into optimizing its mobile SoC power management algorithms.

Indeed, if you look at the clock rates and memory usage of the SoCs in the RTSS overlays visible in the benchmarks, it's clear that something funny is going on with the Claw; the CPU clock is considerably lower than on the Ryzen Z1 Extrmee machine despite the machine having the benefit of a higher TDP cap at 40W.

Image taken from 拜托了小峰峰 on Bilibili. (different video)

Comparing the two systems at a lower TDP cap actually widens the gap between them. While we were't impressed with the ROG Ally's low-TDP performance back when we reviewed it, recent updates have radically improved its capabilities when running with a 15W TDP, and these updates are no doubt what is putting it well ahead of the MSI Claw handheld in Shadow of the Tomb Raider here.

"Please, Komine" was considerably more positive on the Claw overall than the other channel; the reviewers praised the system's bright and high-resolution screen, its loud and clear speakers, its solid-feeling controls, and, in contrast to Orange Buddha Series Review, the fan noise. However, they also noted that the machine is very heavy in the hands, that the MSI frontend software is not ready for prime time, and that the performance is pretty bad.

Frankly, the ROG Ally and even the Steam Deck had major problems at launch. We fully expect that future software updates from both Intel and MSI will improve the Claw. Will that make it a real competitor with the Steam Deck OLED and ROG Ally? That remains to be seen. We're trying to get our hands on one to do our own testing, so stay tuned.