MSI Claw Gaming Handheld With Intel Inside Takes A Swipe At ROG Ally And Steam Deck

MSI Claw gaming handheld on a colorful background.
Move over ROG Ally and Steam Deck because MSI is coming to ‘Claw’ out a portion of the handheld PC gaming segment. Announced at CES, MSI’s handheld, called the Claw, eschews AMD’s custom silicon for an Intel Core Ultra 155H or Core Ultra 7 165H processor based on Meteor Lake with integrated Arc graphics. MSI is pitching it as the first handheld with Meteor Lake inside, though that will depend on when it lands on store shelves (notably, both Emdoor and One-Netbook announced handhelds with Meteor Lake inside).

Whether it ends up being first or not, it’s interesting that a major hardware outfit is sticking a Core Ultra CPU inside its handheld, when the vast majority of these types of systems have gone with AMD’s silicon. Does it make sense to do so, though?

Angled render of MSI's Claw gaming handheld on a gray gradient background.

Time will tell, though Meteor Lake’s iGPU is no slouch. It’s partly the reason why, in our Meteor Lake review last month (by way of a pre-production MSI Prestige 16 AI Evo gaming laptop), we included benchmark comparisons to ASUS’s ROG Ally. This was a point of consternation to some of the commenters on that piece who (A) ignored or overlooked that these were supplemental comparisons (we also compared the system to other laptops in the same class) and (B) underestimated how impressive it is that Meteor Lake’s Arc graphics can hang with custom silicon designed for gaming handhelds.

The caveat is that laptops, in theory, offers more cooling potential than a handheld. As such, we’re curious to see how MSI’s Claw stacks up against the Steam Deck and especially the ROG Ally. That said, make no mistake, Intel is fully on board with its Meteor Lake silicon ending up in gaming handhelds rather than being exclusive to laptops.

Rear view of MSI's Claw gaming handheld.

“We’re proud to partner with MSI to deliver unparalleled experiences for users around the globe. The new MSI Claw is an exciting new gaming handheld powered by an Intel Core Ultra processor that provides an unparalleled gaming experience to be enjoyed anywhere, anytime,” Michelle Johnston Holthaus, Executive Vice President and GM, Client Computing Group, Intel, said in a statement.

Beyond the CPU and GPU horsepower on tap, the Claw features a 7-inch “IPS-level” display with a 1920x1080 resolution, 120Hz refresh rate, 500 nits brightness, and a wide color gamut (100% of the sRGB color space).

Exploded view of MSI's Claw gaming handheld.

Other specs include 16GB of LPDDR5-6400 dual-channel memory, an M.2 2230 NVMe SSD slot, Killer Wi-Fi 7 and Bluetooth 5.4 wireless connectivity, a pair of 2W speakers, a 6-axis IMU vibration motor, a Thunderbolt 4 port (supports DisplayPort, USB-C, and PD 3.0 charging), a microSD card reader, a 3.5mm audio combo jack, a power button with a fingerprint sensor, and a 6-cell battery (52Whr) that MSI says is good for 2 hours under a full workload. It runs Windows 11.

MSI lists the weight at 675 grams, which is a little heavier than its primary competition, including the ROG Ally, Lenovo Legion Go, and Steam Deck.

Beyond the actual performance of the Claw, the big question is pricing. While not mentioned in the press release, word from CES is that the Claw will be offered in three configurations, including a $699 model with a Core Ultra 5 155H and 512GB of storage, a $749 model with a Core Ultra 7 165H and 512GB of storage, and a $799 SKU with a Core Ultra 7 165H and 1TB of storage.

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