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MSI Claw slammed as ‘impossible to recommend’ in early review

The new MSI Claw handheld isn’t off to a great start. The handheld gaming PC, announced in January and released in early March, already set off alarm bells when MSI decided to put the handheld on sale before sending units out to reviewers. Still, a handful of YouTubers have gotten their hands on the device — and the early impressions aren’t promising.

Worse Than I Expected - MSI Claw In-Depth Review

The latest review comes from The Phawx, who says the Claw is “impossible to recommend” in his review. There are a couple of key reasons. The biggest problem, according to the review, is the Intel chipset. The Phawx demonstrates some problems with the Intel chip through Arkham Knight, which has an issue detecting Intel GPUs and requires a mod in order to launch.

In addition, the handheld has generally low performance, struggling in games like Cyberpunk 2077 and Horizon Zero Dawn at low graphics presets. The Steam Deck OLED and the Asus ROG Ally, both of which are cheaper than the MSI Claw, have notably higher performance in these titles and generally lower power consumption.

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Power consumption is a major point of contention here. The Phawx calls the idle power of the handheld “unreasonably high,” claiming that the handheld draws close to 7.5 watts when it’s idle. For comparison, you can often run light indie titles on a device like the Steam Deck OLED with only a few watts, vastly improving battery life. According to the video, you can expect four hours of battery life with the handheld completely idle and just an hour and a half under load. “This thing just wastes power for no reason,” as The Phawx puts it.

MSI Claw: Exciting and Disappointing (So Far)

We aren’t cherry-picking a review here. Retro Game Corps also posted a review of the handheld, saying that it’s “not looking that great” for the Intel chipset. The Meteor Lake processor, according to the YouTuber, “reminds me of AMD chipsets from, like, two or three generations back.”

When we checked out the device in January, the MSI Claw looked promising. Based on an Intel chipset and offering similar ergonomics to the ROG Ally, it looked like a worthy contender in the evolving world of handheld gaming PCs. It’s clear from early reviews that the device still needs a lot of work, however. Reviewers cite issues with Intel’s drivers, mainly along with high power consumption, leading to a handheld that is a clear step below the current options on the market.

We could see improvements on the software front over time. The MSI Claw itself faces other issues. Its pricing is still much higher than the competition, with the weaker Core Ultra 5 155H model coming in at the same price as the Asus ROG Ally with the Z1 Extreme. At this rate, we’ll likely need to see improvements on the software side to bring the device up to par, along with a price drop to make it competitive. We’re still waiting for an MSI Claw to show up so we can test it ourselves, and we’ll be working on a full review to see how it stacks up once it’s here.

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Jacob Roach
Senior Staff Writer, Computing
Jacob Roach is a writer covering computing and gaming at Digital Trends. After realizing Crysis wouldn't run on a laptop, he…
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