Hearts sink as MSI Claw A1M is pricier than Asus ROG Ally

A discount is needed ASAP.

A cat playing with an MSI Claw gaming handheld.

MSI has unveiled pricing for its upcoming Claw gaming handheld featuring Intel’s latest Core Ultra processors. With an initial pricing a bit higher than its competitors, the Claw may have a hard time attracting players.

While MSI will offer the Claw with two different CPUs, Core Ultra 5 135H or Ultra 155H, they’re fairly similar. It’s not like AMD’s Ryzen Z1 and Z1 Extreme, where there’s a huge uplift using the latter. Since MSI has made the Claw’s $699 MSRP identical to the top-tier Asus ROG Ally featuring the Z1 Extreme, it gives you a rough idea of what performance to expect. Sadly, MSI doesn’t acknowledge that its rival now falls below these price points with frequent discounts.

Currently, MSI has the following models planned:

  • Core Ultra 7 155H with 16GB of DDR5 and 1TB SSD for $799.99
  • Core Ultra 7 155H with 16GB of DDR5 and 512GB SSD for $749.99
  • Core Ultra 5 135H with 16GB of DDR5 and 512GB SSD for $699.99
MSI Claw handheld back.

Looking at ETA Prime’s review of the OneXPlayer X1, which houses a fairly similar Core Ultra 135H that only lacks a couple of P-cores, we can expect the Claw to deliver from 50fps to 60fps in Spider-Man Remastered at 1200p low settings with XeSS set to balanced, and near 60fps in Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart at 1200p low settings.

Intel should have used some of the silicon space taken by the E-cores to increase the iGPU Xe core count. Most games can run just fine on 6-P-cores, while the LP-E-cores handle any background tasks. The opposite is also fine if the 8-E-cores are capable of running games instead of the P-cores. Furthermore, even if we dismiss a potential iGPU upgrade, removing some cores from the equation will leave more power and thermal headroom for the remaining CPU and GPU cores to clock higher.

MSI Claw handheld side.

That said, we must wait for proper reviews to see how the MSI Claw stacks against its competitors, be it the ROG Ally or the Steam Deck. We may be heading for a nice surprise. What is sure is that power tuning will play a major role in squeezing maximum performance out of this handheld.