5 Reasons Why MSI Claw Is the Best Handheld Gaming Device

In Short
  • The MSI Claw has steadily but surely become the best handheld gaming device in 2024.
  • There are many reasons for this, but the primary ones include the Intel Core Ultra's amazing performance, ergonomic design, and the MSI Center M.
  • The Claw puts the cherry on the cake with MSI's CoolerBoost HyperFlow, which keeps things cool while the crisp 7-inch screen is absolute bliss.

Handheld consoles have always been a bit of an enigma to me. While I can understand the appeal of carrying an entire PC with you, I am equally skeptical about their performance and ease of use in the real world. After being disappointed by my fair share of portable PCs, I decided to ditch the idea altogether. Well, that was until my co-worker handed me an MSI Claw.

Touted to be the next big thing, the MSI Claw holds a stellar mix of hardware components backed by smooth software. As I got into the habit of carrying around the Claw wherever I went, I realized that I had stopped using my gaming laptop altogether. But this change wasn’t sudden. It was a persistent mix of factors that made the MSI Claw the best handheld gaming device I have ever used. What were they? Well, let’s talk about them here.

1. Finally, a Handheld That Doesn’t Hurt

One of the biggest reasons I’ve avoided handheld consoles is that they are plain uncomfortable. While one device will be too heavy to hold, others will have sharp corners or raised edges that hurt. The MSI Claw, on the other hand, is literally built different. It packs what MSI calls a ‘user-centric‘ design.

Ergonomic Design MSI Claw
Image Courtesy: MSI

This lends the Claw a minimalist profile that does an excellent job of being comfortable while showing off its unique identity. MSI has achieved this by designing the Claw through the science of Anthropometry. Put simply, the handheld has been designed perfectly to accommodate the natural contours of the human grip.

This is not just for show, though. My experience with the Claw mirrored the company’s promises. Using the Claw turned out to be supremely ergonomic and made my experience crazy comfortable.

2. Hall Effect Joysticks

Of course, this effect carries over to the Claw’s front, too, with its ‘Hall Effect‘ joysticks and triggers that were just so much more comfortable than the competitors. MSI made the deliberate choice to add the newer Hall Effect analog sticks that are much more durable than the traditional ones found in most handhelds.

Hall effect joysticks msi
Image Courtesy: MSI

Since you’re likely someone who won’t go buying handhelds every year, having joysticks with over 5,000,000 cycles of direction is obviously a plus. However, the biggest highlight is that the MSI Claw’s hall effect joysticks and triggers will be drift-free in the long run.

Once I knew the Claw was capable of being my portable companion for a long time, I moved on to the one thing we all look for — Power.

3. Intel Core Ultra Packs the Power

Like anything else in life, a device without the proper power is useless. Fortunately, the MSI had me covered there, too. The handheld comes with Intel’s Core 7 Ultra 155H CPU, with a host of performance enhancements. Keen ones among you will know the Meteor Lake NPU is present inside, which lends AI acceleration to the handheld.

True to its advertised performance, the MSI Claw performed well. I played various games, including my favorites, Red Dead Redemption 2, Hogwarts Legacy, Forza Horizon 5, and Ghostrunner 2. The Claw consistently delivered an average of 60+ FPS without a hassle.

While this was helped by Intel XeSS and its upscaling, I didn’t notice any drop in visuals with the Claw outputting sweet eye candy from its 7-inch FHD 120Hz VRR display.

MSI Claw Display
Image Courtesy: MSI

Truth be told, I was a bit worried about running out of space on the device. Thankfully, MSI Claw’s all-in-one Thunderbolt 4 port ensured I could transfer content in and out with absolute bliss. And while I didn’t insert an SD Card, I loved the fact it had a dedicated reader, too!

Even though I use headphones most of the time, the Claw’s Hi-Res Audio 2W speakers helped boost performance even further. As someone who was fearful of handhelds disappointing me in performance, I was pleasantly surprised. But did the MSI Claw handle the heat well?

4. A Balanced Battery with Excellent Cooling

While the MSI Claw offers an excellent combination of design and performance, it needed a good battery to complete the Holy Trinity. As I sit here writing this, I am still surprised that MSI could pack a massive 53Whr battery in such an ergonomic device. The battery inside the handheld is bigger than its competitors and naturally lasts longer.

While I tend to keep my gaming sessions short, the MSI Claw sucked me into a portal of never-ending gaming. Throughout my time with the console, it lasted a little over 2 hours before I had to reach for the charger. While laptop users among you will nitpick, do remember this is effectively a portable PC.

MSI Claw Cooling
Image Courtesy: MSI

The cherry on the cake was MSI’s CoolerBoost HyperFlow, which takes the Claw’s thermal design and keeps the entire thing ice cold for hours on end. The best thing I want to point out is that the vents were perfectly positioned to keep the warm air away from my hands, which only made my sessions last that much longer. I don’t know about you, but that pretty much sealed the deal at this point.

5. MSI Center M Makes Life Easy

Windows, by itself, does a fairly decent job of fitting in every device. But when your monitor is literally 7 inches wide, it can be difficult to do everything. Of course, the company thought ahead and integrated MSI Center M, its own handheld interface inside the Claw.

The MSI Center M packed a host of features that effectively made it the go-to software for me. As someone obsessed with performance, the first thing I went to was the ‘User Scenario‘ screen, which let me choose from a selection of performance profiles to amp up my experience. There’s an intense level of customization present, with the center even letting gamers fine-tune their PL1 and PL2 limits.

MSI Center M Claw
Image Courtesy: MSI

Once I was done there, I got obsessed with the MSI Center M’s beautiful ‘Game Library‘ that placed all the titles on my device on a single screen. Furthermore, the software even has instant platform access for clients like Steam and Epic to access all your selections.

While I normally stick to the official GPU apps to monitor device temps, I wouldn’t need to rely on third party due to the Center’s ‘Quick Settings‘ OSD that let me see and set a variety of factors like my FPS, resolution, refresh rate and even the blazing fast Wi-Fi 7 all in one go!

I topped off the entire experience by setting a few macro keys for Windows and using the MSI Claw’s cute Mystic Light. Despite not being too much in the latter, the MSI Center M just made the temptation too hard to resist. I was even surprised to find out that you can now directly update your BIOS & other divers from MSI Center M without the need for a docking station

MSI Claw: Jack of All Gaming Handheld Devices?

Using the MSI Claw was like trying my hand at a new hobby. Truthfully, there was a small learning curve as I infused myself with a handheld like this. However, as soon as that passed, I started doubting my skepticism about the entire concept in the first place.

After spending hours away hiding from my editor and playing on the MSI Claw, there’s one thing for sure: I’m not parting my ways with this amazing handheld anytime soon. Having said that, what do you think about the MSI Claw? Let us know in the comments below!

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