I tried the MSI Claw – first thoughts on the Steam Deck rival with a difference

Behold the claw

MSI Claw
(Image credit: Future)

Toy Story jokes aside, the MSI Claw is not a toy. The company's PC gaming handheld is for serious gamers who just happen to want to seriously game in bed. 

As the creators of some of the best gaming laptops, we were obviously excited to try the company's first gaming handled, joining the likes of the Steam Deck, Lenovo Legion Go and Asus ROG Ally

Interestingly it is the only one of these devices to use an Intel processor. The Claw A1M comes in two variants, with the choice of either an Intel Core Ultra 5 or Intel Core Ultra 7, the new 14th-generation processors designed to work seamlessly with AI. 

The Claw is also unique in that it features the biggest battery of any such device (With a 53Whr capacity) but that still will only get you a couple of hours of play with more demanding titles. But with the device now out (and exclusively at Currys) what did we make of our first experience? 

MSI Claw

(Image credit: Future)

First of all, the positives. One of my biggest concerns with these handhelds is how hot they might get and I'm happy to report that I had no such issue with the Claw. It features Coolerboost Hyperflow Technology with plenty of vents on the rear of the device that never makes it uncomfortable to touch. Similarly, it remained pretty quiet even when pushed. 

Ergonomically speaking, it's good news too. Made largely of plastic, it's much lighter than it looks and wasn't uncomfortable to hold. I would however be a bit worried if I had smaller hands as it is quite a bulky device. The buttons are suitably 'clicky' although personally, I would like the B and A buttons to be swapped around (to match the Switch). The triggers on top of the handheld are definitely on the softer side but I appreciated that. 

MSI Claw

(Image credit: Future)

Performance-wise, it was a mixed bag. Playing Elden Ring on 'High' settings I could get an impressively 30 FPS, while the Resident Evil 4 Remake could even hold a near-constant 60FPS. Assassin's Creed: Mirage was arguably a step too far, on medium graphics it was a stable and beautiful game, but pushing it to high caused it to stutter and crash regularly. For the £799 price tag, I think that's fair enough.

On the price, that does put it right at the top of the handheld market, but you do get 1TB of storage and 16GB of RAM which is not to be sniffed at. I would say that compared to the Steam Deck and ROG Ally it does feel cheaper than its competitors when it comes to form factor, but it's by no means an ugly device. The menus and menu buttons were a touch unintuitive but I'm sure it's just a matter of adjusting.

I'm excited for PC gaming to become more convenient and portable, and what I've tried of the Claw so far suggests it's another worthy contender. 

Andy Sansom
Staff Writer

Andy is T3's Tech Staff Writer, covering all things technology, including his biggest passions such as gaming, AI, phones, and basically anything cool and expensive he can get his hands on. If he had to save one possession from a fire it would be his PlayStation 5. He previously worked for Tom’s Guide - where he got paid to play with ChatGPT every day. When it comes to streaming, Andy will have his headphones glued in whilst watching something that will make him laugh. He studied Creative Writing at university, but also enjoys supporting his favourite football team (Liverpool), watching F1, teaching himself guitar, and spending time with his dog.