Don't buy the MSI Claw! A new handheld gaming device is on the way

MSI Claw
This is an image of a Fallout edition of the original MSI Claw rather than the MSI Claw 8 AI Plus, as no official images are available of the MSI Claw 8 AI Plus yet. (Image credit: MSI)

The MSI Claw 8 AI Plus succeeds the MSI Claw and seems better in every way that counts.

MSI unveiled its latest handheld gaming device on Monday with The Verge detailing exclusive information about the MSI Claw 8 AI Plus' better processor, larger screen, improved battery, and other enhancements.

This comes only three months after the original Claw launched in March, and with some of the improvements we're expecting here, it's just another reason to avoid the original Claw.

I wrote the MSI Claw review and I noted its dreadful game performance, terrible design (especially in the bumpers), software issues, and uncomfortable heat. No, I'm not fond of it.

The company released BIOS updates on the hardware to improve performance, and while April's update did yield impressive results, the update launched in May didn't do much to get it into a competitive position when compared to other gaming handhelds.

Here's what the new MSI Claw 8 AI Plus offers.

Everything confirmed about the MSI Claw 8 AI Plus

The MSI Claw 8 AI Plus is confirmed to upgrade to Intel Core Ultra (Lunar Lake) processors, an 8-inch, FHD, 120Hz display, and an 80Wh battery. While we have no official images of its design, Digital Trends took some photos.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 MSI Claw 8 AI PlusAsus ROG Ally XLenovo Legion Go Lite (Rumored)
PriceN/A$799N/A (Cheaper than $699)
Display8-inch, FHD 120Hz7-inch, FHD 120HzN/A
StorageN/A1TB 4.0 NVMe™ M.2 SSD (2280)N/A
CPUIntel Core Ultra (Lunar Lake)AMD Ryzen Z1 ExtremeAMD Ryzen Z1
DimensionsN/A11.02 x 4.37 x 0.97 ~ 1.45 inchesN/A
WeightN/A1.49 lbsN/A

It'll also feature a second USB-C port with Thunderbolt 4 compatibility, alongside improvements to the "tactile feel of the LB/RB buttons." I noted this problem in my review, specifically claiming the bumpers are "terrible," so it's exciting to see how much different it feels to use.

The "MSI Claw 8 AI Plus" might be a mouthful of a name, especially because this is only the second iteration of the Claw, so putting an "8" in the name can be confusing. But it refers to its upgrade to an 8-inch screen, mirroring how laptops will include their screen size in the product name.

While the MSI Claw 8 AI Plus is making necessary improvements, it needs to go above and beyond to solidify itself as a reasonable option in the sea of superior gaming handheld devices.

The MSI Claw 8 AI Plus NEEDS to get competitive

Revealing the MSI Claw 8 AI Plus only three months after the launch of the original is a bold move, but the company doesn't have much of a choice.

Asus ROG Ally X

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Asus revealed the ROG Ally X on Sunday, with it set to launch in July. The Claw already had trouble competing against the original Ally, so for Asus' new-and-improved version to come so soon spells disaster if the company plans to stay competitive.

This is alongside rumors brewing about Lenovo Legion Go Lite, and while it is seemingly going to use the weaker AMD Ryzen Z1 rather than the Z1 Extreme, it'll likely be far more affordable and a great alternative when compared to the MSI Claw.

However, the MSI Claw 8 AI Plus offers a massive advantage over the Asus ROG Ally X: A new processor. While the Asus ROG Ally X is making huge improvements by offering 24GB of RAM, an 80Wh battery, 1TB of SSD storage, and physical improvements to the device, its AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme processor is staying the same.

Lenovo Legion Go

(Image credit: Future)

If Lunar Lake's performance is fantastic enough to outperform the AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme, and if the Claw 8 AI Plus launches this year, MSI could have its moment in the spotlight. The Lenovo Legion Go Lite certainly won't outperform it with its lesser Z1 processor, so it could make the Claw a stronger handheld gaming device until the next proper Ally or Legion Go are launched.

On the other hand, the world of handheld gaming PCs is only getting more and more complex as additional hardware is being unveiled. Zotac, a popular graphics card manufacturer, just unveiled a new AMD-powered gaming handheld called the Zotac Zone

The MSI Claw 8 AI Plus isn't even the first Lunar Lake handheld, either. Weibu revealed the GP10 in May, and during Intel's Computex keynote, a mysterious new Lunar Lake-powered handheld gaming device from Inventec is at the bottom left corner. This is a space that's getting more and more packed by the minute, meaning companies need to take bolder action to remain competitive. 

The Claw will experience a tough uphill battle to fight in the coming years, but it would be great to see the Claw 8 AI Plus exceed all expectations and deliver superior performance with improved ergonomics and enhanced design. Until then, this is even more reason to avoid purchasing an MSI Claw.

Momo Tabari
Contributing Writer

Self-described art critic and unabashedly pretentious, Momo finds joy in impassioned ramblings about her closeness to video games. She has a bachelor’s degree in Journalism & Media Studies from Brooklyn College and five years of experience in entertainment journalism. Momo is a stalwart defender of the importance found in subjectivity and spends most days overwhelmed with excitement for the past, present and future of gaming. When she isn't writing or playing Dark Souls, she can be found eating chicken fettuccine alfredo and watching anime.