MSI’s Claw is the Intel-powered Windows competitor to Valve’s Steam Deck

MSI’s Claw is the Intel-powered Windows competitor to Valve’s Steam Deck

MSI is the latest PC manufacturer to try to take on Valve’s Steam Deck with the Claw, a new Windows-based game that it announced at CES. The Claw is powered by the new Intel Meteor Lake Core Ultra processor announced last month and can be equipped with up to an Intel Core Ultra 7 155H, according to MSI’s press release. At CES 2024, MSI tells us it plans to ship three models priced between $699 and $799 when they arrive in the first half of the year — with the base tier shipping with a Core Ultra 5 and 512GB of storage.

We’ll have a full hands-on from CES soon: We just got a hands-on on the mobile device and are writing up impressions now.

Although Valve didn’t invent the gaming laptop form factor, its release of the Steam Deck in early 2022 was followed by a wave of releases from major manufacturers. We’ve seen Asus launch the ROG Ally, Lenovo come out with the Legion Go, and even Logitech dabbles in the streaming-focused G Cloud.

MSI has a few different pitches that make their Claw worth paying attention to. It’s powered by a new Intel processor, which supports Intel’s XeSS upscaling technology in compatible titles. MSI claims that this processor allows the laptop to play “AAA titles effortlessly.” Then there’s the 53Wh battery, which MSI claims is the largest in its class and offers up to two hours of battery life under full load as well as a cooling system with vents that are 50 percent larger than its competitors.

Despite its name, which makes me think of any number of uncomfortable hand positions, MSI says the Claw is optimized for comfort during long gaming sessions. At 675g, it’s slightly heavier than the original Steam Deck at 294mm wide, 117mm long and 21.2mm thick. MSI says it’s equipped with tactile buttons and Hall effect triggers, which, with a little luck, should prove durable in the long run. It also has a Hall effect joystick, hopefully avoiding any drift in the future.

The Claw has a 7-inch, 120Hz IPS display with 1080p resolution and a typical brightness of 500 nits, which is similar to the screen you’ll find on the Asus ROG Ally, and MSI tells us it should feature a variable refresh rate as well. The display falls between Valve’s 800p Steam Deck resolution and the larger 1,600p display on the Lenovo Legion Go, though it lacks the OLED display of the more recent Steam Deck revision.

Other specs include 16GB of RAM and up to 1TB of PCIe M.2 storage – and the $799 model comes with that. On the top of the device is a microSD slot for adding more storage, a Thunderbolt 4 port, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a power button with a fingerprint sensor. The laptop also has macro buttons that you can record different functions to, and there’s RGB lighting around each of its thumbsticks – just like Asus’ ROG Ally.

As for software, the Claw runs Windows 11 with MSI’s own MSI Center M software on top to provide shortcuts to your games and game libraries. In addition to the PC titles, MSI advertises that Claw can run Android games via App Player (although it’s worth noting that people have gotten similar emulators running on other Windows mobile devices).

If the recent influx of portable gaming devices has taught us anything, it’s that the form factor of gaming laptops is full of endless trade-offs between power, battery life, portability, specs, and of course, price. We’ll need to wait to see if MSI has found the right balance.

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