MSI bares Claw gaming handheld

MSI Claw CES 2024
Pictured: MSI Claw gaming handheld
// MSI ditches AMD for its take on the Steam Deck
Fergus Halliday
Jan 09, 2024
Icon Time To Read3 min read

Published on January 09, 2024

MSI is looking to scratch out a new niche for itself, unveiling its rival to handheld PCs like Valve’s Steam Deck at CES 2024.

Announced at CES 2024, the new MSI Claw is a handheld gaming PC built around a 7-inch IPS touch display with FHD resolution and a 120Hz refresh rate. Under the hood, the machine arrives with 16GB of dual-channel RAM, and a 53Whr battery. There’s a single NVMe M.2 SSD storage slot, though the exact onboard capacity is to be determined.

At 675g, the MSI Claw is only a couple dozen grams from being able to call itself as light as the Steam Deck. Nevertheless, the most interesting detail here is that the handheld runs on Intel’s new Core Ultra silicon rather than the AMD Ryzen mobile chips that can be found in most of the competition. From Ayaneo to ASUS, the biggest names in the conversation around the Steam Deck and its alternatives have opted for AMD over Intel. It’s unclear how this bet will ultimately pan out, but it’s certainly a novel wrinkle.

According to MSI, the MSI Claw is the first gaming handheld in the world to feature Intel’s new Core Ultra processors.

Intel's executive vice president and general manager for the company's client computer group Michelle Johnston Holtaus said that the company was excited to work with MSI on the device.

“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," she said.

Despite that significant tweak to the internals of the piece, the final product looks very much how you’d expect. At a glance, it’s got more in common with the ASUS ROG Ally than the Lenovo Legion Go. That said, it comes wrapped in the matte black aesthetics that feel pulled right from Valve’s playbook. Of course, the fact that the MSI Claw runs on Windows 11 rather than SteamOS should put any confusion to rest fairly quickly.

The handheld also comes preloaded with MSI’s Center M Game Launcher and App Player, which makes it easy to sideload Android games and launch right into games with minimal fuss. That’s not a different promise from what the likes of Lenovo and Ayaneo are offering, but the devil is in the details as to whether MSI can execute the concept more compellingly.

Microsoft might have made some steps to make the Windows-powered gaming handheld experience a little better, but that user experience remains one of the biggest areas where these would-be Steam Deck-killers tend to fall short. Other bells and whistles here include a set of 2W speakers, a MicroSD card reader, a power button with an integrated fingerprint reader and a Thunderbolt 4-grade USB-C port that’s used for fast charging and video-out.

According to MSI, its gaming handheld can offer 2-hours of battery life at peak performance.

While the gains seen in Intel’s new Core Ultra processors and XeSS tech are key drivers for this, the other half of the equation here is that the Claw incorporates a more streamlined version of the Cooler Boost thermal management found in MSI laptops, called Hyperflow that's been custom built by the form-factor.

“The intraflow thermal design optimizes airflow to cool internal components, ensuring top gaming performance,” the company said in a statement.
MSI Claw gaming handheld

MSI's executive vice president for its notebook business unit Eric Kuo said that the entry of the MSI Claw into the gaming handheld space promises was a move motivated by a desire to do better.

“In our commitment to enhancing the gaming experience for our users, we aim to address market pain points and dedicate efforts to the handheld space. We have fine-tuned specific designs tailored exclusively for gamers, debuting our very first handheld, Claw, which redefines the standards in the handheld market," he said.

No word yet on Australian pricing and availability for the MSI Claw but expect to hear more soon. An MSI spokesperson recommended those looking to get in early keep an eye on the official website.

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Fergus Halliday
Written by
Fergus Halliday
Fergus Halliday is a journalist and editor for He’s written about technology, telecommunications, gaming and more for over a decade. He got his start writing in high school and began his full-time career as the Editor of PC World Australia. Fergus has made the MCV 30 Under 30 list, been a finalist for seven categories at the IT Journalism Awards and won Most Controversial Writer at the 2022 Consensus Awards. He has been published in Gizmodo, Kotaku, GamesHub, Press Start, Screen Rant, Superjump, Nestegg and more.

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