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MSI Claw reviews are brutal, Steam Deck has nothing to worry about

The MSI Claw has been tested and found wanting, with the Intel handheld gaming PC struggling against the competition from Valve and Asus.

An MSI Claw, flexing two small arm muscles, and a sweat drop atop its chassis

The MSI Claw has been available to purchase for a few weeks now, with no reviews of the handheld gaming PC being published prior to, or on the day of, its launch. However, with the Claw now in the hands of reviewers, it’s sadly become all too clear that it’s anything but a worthy rival to the Valve Steam Deck.

Competition for the title of best handheld gaming PC is fierce, with the Steam Deck OLED setting a high bar for all would-be challengers to meet. The MSI Claw looked to be a potentially welcome maverick, with its Intel silicon, containing an Arc A-series GPU and Meteor Lake CPU cores, but its specs and other problems leave much to be desired.

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One of the most in-depth and damning assessments of the MSI Claw comes from YouTuber The Phawx, who describes the handheld as, “literally impossible to recommend.” Digesting their analysis of battery life, performance, and other problems affecting the Claw, it’s hard to argue with their conclusion.

Benchmarks reveal that while the MSI Claw’s Intel Core Ultra 7 155H chip can hold its own against the ROG Ally and Steam Deck OLED, its showing is far less impressive once you look past frame rates. The Phawx notes that in Doom Eternal, the Claw needed an additional 10W to match the performance of Valve’s handheld, while the Ally managed to compete with 3-4W less. Every watt matters on a handheld when it comes to battery life, and the Claw’s Intel chip simply can’t compete with the AMD chips inside the Deck and Ally.

This performance becomes all the more problematic when you consider that both the ROG Ally ($699.99) and Steam Deck ($399.99) are much cheaper than the Claw ($749.99), leaving the MSI handheld feeling massively overpriced.

Tom’s Guide shares similarly negative sentiments about the handheld, with its review running with the title: “I wanted to like the MSI Claw — and then I tested it.” Ouch. As the device finds its way into more hands, from purchasers and press alike, these few critical voices look likely to become a chorus.

As ever, it feels like the only replacement for the Steam Deck will be a proper successor from Valve itself. Thankfully, the Steam Deck 2 release date shouldn’t be too much further away now, particularly given the increased level of competition now faced by the original device.