The MSI Claw, unveiled at CES 2024, is yet another handheld gaming PC, joining the likes of the Lenovo Legion Go and Asus ROG Ally. What do they all have in common? They’re rivals to the ever-so-popular Valve Steam Deck.
The question is, can MSI snatch Valve’s throne? If the Claw’s selling points (e.g., advanced AI and top-notch ergonomics) are true, it may actually make the Steam Deck sweat.
MSI Claw may have Steam Deck shaking in its boots
MSI boasts that the Claw is the first handheld gaming device to be powered with an Intel Core Ultra processor, the same chipset found in today’s new wave of AI laptops (e.g., Dell XPS 13 and the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon).
While this is fine for what the Steam Deck is — a handheld capable of running most demanding games at low-to-medium settings — its performance may pale in comparison to the MSI Claw. (We won’t know for sure until we test it in the Mashable lab.)
That being said, let’s dive into the three features that make it a worthy competitor for the Steam Deck.
1. Advanced AI
The Claw taps into its processor’s Intel XeSS technology, which leverages advanced AI upscaling algorithms to significantly increase the frames per second (FPS) for “exceptionally smooth and immersive gameplay,” according to MSI.
If this is true, the Claw should play triple-A games seamlessly and efficiently on the MSI handheld gaming PC.
2. Matching battery life?
The Claw has a battery capacity of 53Whr. The Steam Deck, on the other hand, has a battery capacity of 40Whr.
However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the Claw can outlast the Steam Deck on a charge. Other aspects, including the power efficiency of a chipset, can affect a handheld gaming console’s battery life prowess.
We’ll have to review it in the Mashable lab to know for sure, but MSI was quite transparent, claiming that the Claw lasts two hours on a charge “under full workload conditions.” This battery life rating is similar to the Steam Deck, according to my own anecdotal experience with the device.
A two-hour battery life may not necessarily beat the Steam Deck, but if they both share energy efficiency, the decision for consumers about which handheld gaming PC to get may be more difficult.
3. It could potentially have a better display
On paper, the Claw has the better display.
Sure, they share the same panel size of 7 inches (the Steam Deck OLED has a 7.4-inch screen), but the Claw bests the Steam Deck in terms of refresh rate (120Hz vs. 60Hz) and resolution (1920 x 1080 vs. 1280 x 800).
4. It may be cooler
The Steam Deck’s thermal performance is genius. While I’m playing on it, the concentration of heat is somewhere in the center of the back chassis — away from where my fingers normally rest.
The question is, can the Claw beat this? According to MSI, the Claw has optimal cooling, allowing users to enjoy the handheld gaming PC without dealing with overheating.
5. It’s likely more ergonomic
One complaint many Steam Deck users have is that the Valve handheld device is too heavy at 1.48 pounds (the Steam Deck OLED is slightly lighter, at 1.41 pounds). The Claw is slightly heavier at 1.49 pounds. However, this doesn’t mean that the Claw is more unwieldy. MSI claims that “it has achieved the optimal balance between grip and weight.”
Again, we’ll have to test it ourselves to know for sure. Stay tuned for our hands-on review of the MSI Claw from Mashable’s Alex Perry.