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    The MSI Claw really made me speechless !

    No one should purchase an MSI Claw. It’s not technically broken: the first 7-inch Intel Core Ultra mobile gaming PC does not frequently crash or malfunction. However, the Claw falls so far short of the competition that it is virtually dead upon arrival.

    In almost every way, the $750 MSI Claw feels like a subpar copy of the Asus ROG Ally – only it costs more, not less! If you go with a Steam Deck OLED, you can have a considerably better experience while saving hundreds of dollars.

    I spent weeks looking for a silver lining. In the end, I only found three minor ways the Claw outperforms the competition.

    I did not begin my MSI Claw quest by running benchmarks. My expectations were already low, so I started with a simple test: making the Claw my daily vehicle for the less-intensive games I’d been playing on other handhelds. I booted up the PC port of Studio Ghibli’s Ni No Kuni, Dave the Diver, and Fallout New Vegas, a game that is nearly 14 years old.

    All of them work flawlessly on a $549 Steam Deck OLED. No one ran smoothly on the $749 MSI Claw. They would stutter or hitch, even if the system said they were at 60fps or more, and despite a 48-120Hz variable refresh rate screen, which should have smoothed things out. The Claw would also drop frames while the Deck remained stable and initially offered fewer frames.

    So I set up some more repeatable benchmarks. How awful could the Intel Core Ultra 155H be when compared to competitors? Here is a peek:

    MSI Claw benchmarks

    Game and power modeSteam Deck OLEDMSI Claw 155HAsus ROG Ally Z1ELenovo Legion Go
    AC Valhalla, 15-watt TDP58N/A5548
    ~20-watt TDPN/A41N/A69
    ~25-watt TDPN/A5173N/A
    ~30-watt TDPN/A547576
    On AC power58507579
    Cyberpunk 2077, 15-watt TDP50N/A4040
    ~20-watt TDPN/A27N/A57
    ~25-watt TDPN/A3561N/A
    ~30-watt TDPN/A386364
    On AC power50426366
    Dirt Rally, 15-watt TDP66N/A7174
    ~20-watt TDPN/A63N/A89
    ~25-watt TDPN/A8089N/A
    ~30-watt TDPN/A819599
    On AC power668195100
    DX: Mankind Divided, 15-watt TDP71N/A5763
    ~20-watt TDPN/A37N/A84
    ~25-watt TDPN/A3879N/A
    ~30-watt TDPN/A408191
    On AC power71568191
    Returnal, 15-watt TDP26N/A3031
    ~20-watt TDPN/A31N/A37
    ~25-watt TDPN/A3633N/A
    ~30-watt TDPN/A383340
    On AC power26383341
    Shadow of the Tomb Raider, 15-watt TDP60N/A5153
    ~20-watt TDPN/A32N/A72
    ~25-watt TDPN/A3769N/A
    ~30-watt TDPN/A377279
    On AC power60457282

    Tested at 720p low, save Dirt Rally at 720p ultra, using each handheld’s various power modes.

    In case your jaw hasn’t dropped now, let me summarize: the less priced Steam Deck OLED outperformed the MSI Claw in terms of power and performance.

    With the Claw set to maximum power and hooked into a wall for a turbo boost, it ran several games slower than my Steam Deck on battery power alone. Can you picture paying $200 more to play games like Shadow of the Tomb Raider at 45 fps rather than 60 fps — and only when connected into the wall?

    In comparison to Windows gaming handhelds, the Claw performed poorly: the competitive Asus ROG Ally and Lenovo Legion Go provided anything from 10% to more than double the performance depending on the game and power mode.

    The functional quick access menu is one of the handheld’s very few bright spots.

    There was one positive spot: Returnal, one of the most demanding PC games I tried, performed better on the Claw than the Deck or Ally. However, it is not yet playable. When I sat down to play an hour of Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Cyberpunk 2077, I also found them unplayable. Both are playable on the Steam Deck, ROG Ally, and Lenovo Legion Go with the same (low) settings, so the Claw has no justification for delivering a choppy mess.

    I also ran 3DMark Time Spy and Fire Strike to see if MSI had mistakenly shipped me a lemon, but my Claw scored significantly higher than MSI’s internal benchmark. And, yes, I did these benchmarks with the most recent Intel graphics driver, which was expected to bring significant improvements, rather than the one that came with the Claw.

    One USB-C port and micro SD slot, next to the fingerprint reader power button.

    At the very least, the Claw’s battery life appears to be comparable to that of its Windows counterparts. MSI gave it a 53-watt-hour battery pack, which is marginally larger than Legion Go but noticeably larger than Ally, and I got about 1.5 hours playing Shadow of the Tomb Raider on a single charge. I got 2 hours and 25 minutes of Fallout New Vegas and a maximum playtime of 4 hours and 19 minutes in Balatro, one of the easiest games I’ve ever played on a handheld. (My first run lasted 3.25 hours; I added an hour by switching to Super Battery mode and severely dimming the screen.)

    But when compared to the Steam Deck OLED, which can easily last twice as long in Balatro and allows Lara Croft to raid tombs for over two hours, it’s not terrific — and I’m not sure how MSI can justify declaring the Claw “lasts 50 percent longer” than the average handheld in its marketing campaigns.

    The backs of the ROG Ally and the MSI Claw show differences and similarities.

    It is worth noting that MSI placed a lot of care into the Claw’s user interface. While the hardware may resemble a low-cost Batman version of Asus’ ROG Ally, with the same exact button layout and most of the same curves, it can feel a little better in your hands. I like its wider grips, more solid face buttons, and Hall effect joysticks and triggers for durability. The Claw, like the Ally, has some of the greatest speakers on a gaming handheld, and it’s augmented with surprisingly good Nahimic virtual surround sound, which generated wonderfully all-around-me echoes as I attempted to navigate tombs.

    I wish MSI hadn’t used a stiffer yet sloppier D-pad or put so many superfluous spikes to its vents, which have repeatedly prevented me from finding the charging port in a dark bedroom. The rumble from the Claw is also unpleasant. At least MSI allows you to turn it off!

    But the main thing I’d like to turn off is Windows.

    The fronts of the ROG Ally and MSI Claw show almost identical curves and layouts.

    It’s been about a year since Asus debuted the ROG Ally, and more than two years since the Steam Deck, yet Microsoft has done nothing to make its operating system more user-friendly for gamepad-operated screens. I could easily copy and paste my criticisms from the ROG Ally review. I encountered the same issues summoning virtual keyboards and playing games, which typically only work on a Steam Deck despite and/or because of its Linux roots.

    And I experienced very similar sleep troubles as I did with the Lenovo Legion Go: I just cannot trust this portable not to wake up when I set it down or drop it into a bag. Only in this case, it’s slightly worse because the MSI Center application has a tendency to hang upon waking from sleep, occasionally blocking my gamepad inputs until I restart it.

    MSI Center M, the company’s quick launch software.

    While MSI Center hides critical functionality like remappable controllers, I appreciate that it includes launchers for every major PC game platform, has a plethora of useful Quick Access shortcuts that work right out of the box (such as a button that turns off RGB lighting), and is relatively quick. The Deck, Ally, and Legion Go all had buggy, sluggish interfaces at debut.

    Today, however, all of them are significantly more feature-rich and allow you to install updates immediately — whereas the Claw still requires you to visit to MSI’s website and manually download critical parts or wait for Windows Update to deliver the goods.

    The Steam Deck against the MSI Claw. Although the Deck’s joysticks are higher and have greater grip underneath, they are nearly the same thickness./ The Verge

    The MSI Claw is hardly the worst mobile gaming PC I’ve ever used. Years ago, I experimented with handhelds that didn’t even warrant a review; they were so poorly designed and narrowly marketed that I didn’t feel the need to warn you. However, companies such as Best Buy carry the MSI Claw, which is the worst buy among the current generation of competing handhelds.

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