MSI Claw vs Steam Deck – a worthy contender?

Can the newer MSI Claw take on the widely-popular Steam Deck?
Updated: Mar 18, 2024 5:13 pm

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Table of Contents
Table of Contents

We’ve already passed by the MSI Claw release date, so it’s about time we compared MSI Claw vs Steam Deck to help you figure out which one of these you should go for. While we’re at it, we’ll also be comparing against the newer OLED Steam Deck, which received a couple of buffs aside from the new OLED panel.
MSI are one of the latest manufacturers to enter the handheld gaming PC market, with many others trying to offer strong competition to the popular Steam Deck. You can expect to see better specs and performance in many regards, but can it top the Deck? We’ll be comparing on specs, design, performance, and price to help gauge the value for money.

MSI Claw

MSI Claw vs Steam Deck specs
SpecificationMSI ClawSteam Deck LCDSteam Deck OLEDCPUIntel Core Ultra 5 / Intel Core Ultra 7Zen 2, 4 cores / 16 threadsZen 2, 4 cores / 16 threadsGPUIntel Arc graphicsRNDA 2RNDA 2MemoryUp to 32GB LPDDR5 (16GB standard)16GB LPDDR516GB LPDDR5Storage512GB / 1TB NVMe SSD & microSD card slot64GB / 256GB / 512GB & microSD card slot512GB / 1TB NVMe SSD & microSD card slotScreen size7″7″7.4″Resolution1920 x 10801280 x 8001280 x 800Refresh rate120Hz60Hz90HzBattery53Whr40Whr / 2-8 hours50Whr / 3-12 hoursWi-Fi specWi-Fi 7Wi-Fi 5Wi-Fi 6EOperating SystemWindows 11SteamOSSteamOSSource: MSI and Steam Deck
Looking at the specs, you’ll see that the MSI Claw packs a punch. Although it doesn’t feature an OLED panel, it has an IPS-level touchscreen which isn’t too shabby at all. The display is better in terms of resolution and refresh rate than both Deck models. With the Claw, you get full HD visuals which is a decent upgrade, even when viewed on a smaller 7″ screen. It also fits in a larger battery to compensate that advertises up to two hours of gaming at maximum load.
It’s a similar story as far as storage and memory goes, leaving the CPU and GPU as a couple of the biggest differences. Previous handhelds such as the ASUS ROG Ally and Lenovo Legion Go have opted for an AMD APU solution just like the Steam Deck, while the MSI Claw is the first appearance of Intel hardware as an alternative.
MSI Claw vs Steam Deck design

The Steam Deck sort of set the template for what a PC gaming handheld should look like, but the two do differ in terms of design. Firstly, we can take a look at the difference in dimensions (W x D x H):

MSI Claw dimensions: 294mm x 117mm x 21.2mm
Steam Deck dimensions: 298mm x 117mm x 49mm
Steam Deck OLED dimensions: 298mm x 117mm x 49mm

The Claw actually reports in as slimmer than Steam’s versions, though the difference in weight is not overly noticeable. Moving on to the button layout, the Deck has a symmetrical thumbstick layout, whereas the Claw is asymmetrical, which you may find more comfortable. MSI’s handheld also misses out on trackpads compared to the Deck.
There are two back buttons on the MSI Claw, which are more tactile than the Deck’s four back buttons and useful for macros – not too dissimilar from paddles like we see on a the best controllers for PC. Lastly, the MSI Claw also has much more of a ‘gamer’ aesthetic that’s in line with their gaming laptops.
MSI Claw vs Steam Deck performance
Moving on to performance now, and the MSI Claw has its work cut out as it targets a full HD (1080p) resolution up to 120Hz rather than the Steam Deck’s more modest 800p at 60/90Hz. Valve have a whole site for Steam Deck verified games to give you a clear view of what it can run to varying levels.
As for the MSI Claw, we came across this testing video that gave us an early look. It looks to outperform the Steam Deck, but falls behind alternatives such as the ROG Ally. The resource-hogging Windows 11 also makes it drain battery more quickly than the Steam Deck, making it less suitable for use while on the move. The Intel hardware (particularly integrated Arc graphics) aren’t quite as optimized as the tried-and-tested AMD chip, but driver improvements will only close the gap over time.
MSI Claw vs Steam Deck price
The MSI Claw is the pricier option at launch, and we don’t expect that to change any time soon. The Steam Deck has a number of models to choose from, and since it’s been on the market much longer, the price has already been revised to accommodate the newer OLED model.

Steam Deck LCD 256GB – $399
Steam Deck OLED 512GB OLED – $549
Steam Deck OLED 1TB OLED – $649

Aside from the models above, you may also be able to get the now-phased-out 64GB and 512GB LCD models, which sell for $349 and $449 respectively. This is only while stocks last though, and have more or less sold out at the time of writing, depending on region.

MSI Claw – Intel Core Ultra 5 – 512GB – $699
MSI Claw – Intel Core Ultra 7 – 512GB – $749
MSI Claw – Intel Core Ultra 7 – 1TB – $799

Should I buy the MSI Claw or Steam Deck?
The Steam Deck offers much better value for money at the moment in our eyes. It’s still our go-to option in terms of gaming PC handhelds, even if the Claw does offer some improvements such as resolution and refresh rate. The better battery life and lightweight operating system makes us favor the Deck. However, if you really prefer a Windows system, then the Claw is a solid option. Plus, if you’re primarily using it docked, then the MSI Claw is the better performer.
With the introduction of the OLED model as well, the Deck definitely remains relevant. Stunning OLED visuals and crisp colors are supreme, and it’s something contenders miss out on. Especially if you don’t want to fork out a ton of a cash for the best OLED gaming monitor instead.
Can I dock the MSI Claw or Steam Deck?
Yes, you can dock either of these handhelds. That means hooking them up to an external display and effectively using them as a miniature gaming PC – that’s what they are after all. Do note however that neither comes with a dock as standard, so you’ll have to buy one separately.
The MSI Claw is based on Windows 11, so it offers a more familiar user interface to many people, and a wider range of compatibility compared to Valve’s Steam Deck, which runs on their Linux-based Steam OS.

Final word
We’ve still got a little bit to learn in terms of exact performance metrics, but this is what we know so far in regards to comparing MSI Claw vs Steam Deck. The introduction of an OLED model for the Steam Deck makes it a winner for many, and we’d rather match up the Claw to other Windows handhelds such as the Ally and Legion Go.
Anyone interested in what MSI has to offer here should check out our dedicated where to buy MSI Claw page, covering multiple retailers in various regions.

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