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CheckMag | MSI Claw 2: 4 things that need to be changed for the Claw successor

Shiny marketing images are cheap - a Claw 2 will need to deliver, and it'll need to find a niche to have a chance of succeeding. (Image: MSI)
Shiny marketing images are cheap - a Claw 2 will need to deliver, and it'll need to find a niche to have a chance of succeeding. (Image: MSI)
The MSI Claw’s debut in the gaming handheld market has been underwhelming, to say the least. With a design that echoes its competitors and a user experience that fails to impress, it’s clear that MSI has significant ground to cover if it hopes to compete effectively.

Of course, the performance and stability inconsistencies from Intel's Meteor Lake CPUs were largely outside of MSI's hands, but chasing the ROG Ally's design only highlighted those flaws and left the Claw lacking any distinctive reason to pick it instead. Any future models of the Claw need to start off by playing to its strengths - or at the very least, least not undermining them - so that once software fixes are done they'll go into a device that actually brings something to market worth looking at.

1: Respect its customers

One big thing sets MSI apart from its big competitors in the handheld space: it's a company focused on gaming hardware. People know the company for Stealth or Titan laptops, Tomahawk motherboards, Suprim graphics cards, rather than more mainstream computing products like Asus or Lenovo's home laptop lines. So there's no need for silly hyperbole like the "Ergo-Gaming Science of Comfort" on marketing; no need to obfuscate power settings in MSI Center M with opaque "User Scenarios" and their silly names.

An MSI handheld should draw customers a bit more discerning than the average Nintendo Switch buyer - giving enthusiasts and power users the usual dumb-down-hype-up routine is nonsensical at best and condescending at worst. 

2: Improve I/O

This one's a familiar enough gripe. All of the handhelds on the market today have a frustratingly minimalist port selection, and the Claw is no exception. This isn't much of an issue while using a handheld for gaming on the go, but for absolutely any other use case this becomes a major obstacle as even with dongles you'll have input devices, adapters and accessories all elbowing each other on that Thunderbolt 4 connection.

A high-quality powered dock like (like Razer's, available on Amazon) can help, but more ports would still be a welcome addition - especially if the next Claw is looking to...

GPD's G1 graphics dock remains rather awkward and expensive - but a brand with MSI's scale and momentum could see much more interest in a more polished product. (Image: Notebookcheck)
GPD's G1 graphics dock remains rather awkward and expensive - but a brand with MSI's scale and momentum could see much more interest in a more polished product. (Image: Notebookcheck)

3: Embrace the docked life

If we're talking about playing to the Claws strengths - well, that Intel CPU and its excellent single-core boost performance make an external graphics solution a rather enticing, if ambitious, proposition. Intel's more seamless compatibility with Thunderbolt is a big feature disparity compared to the Ryzen competition's patchy USB 4 support. MSI is more than familiar with handling GPUs in both full-sized add-in-boards and compact laptops, and leveraging this expertise to provide an all-in-one solution that's more elegant than GPD's G1 and isn't proprietary like Asus's XG Mobile would be fantastic.

And, with a decent GPU, it could go some way to justifying the Claw's buy-in price; $799 might be expensive just for handhold gaming, but if a dock that cost half as much again allows you to do away with a mainstream gaming laptop, that could be real attractive. 

4: Tweak minimum power limits

This one might seem a bit odd given the last point was all about maxing out power with a graphics dock, but its minimum power cap of 20W in Super Battery mode leaves a lot to be desired too. Some gamers might be happy to only run 2D indie games but want to do so for a long flight or bus journey.

As it stands the Claw just doesn't work for this, chewing through its power pack in just a couple of hours. And though it seems oddly specific, for a particular few this could make a huge difference.

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> Expert Reviews and News on Laptops, Smartphones and Tech Innovations > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2024 05 > MSI Claw 2: 4 things that need to be changed for the Claw successor
Matthew Lee, 2024-05-30 (Update: 2024-05-30)