MSI Claw update promises a massive performance boost — here are the results of our testing

MSI Claw
(Image credit: Laptop Mag / Claire Tabari)

The MSI Claw, a machine I said no one should buy in my review, has received a BIOS update that MSI claims could boost framerate by up to 43.5%. When testing the device originally, it performed significantly worse in our gaming tests compared to the Asus ROG Ally and Lenovo Legion Go. It would be an impressive comeback story if the device makes a significant performance leap.

However, this isn't the first time an update for the Claw promised improvements to its gaming prowess, as we received many of these in the testing phase and it still ended in the unbelievably underpowered device we're using now.

We ran three games on the MSI Claw before and after the update to test its performance. These are Elden Ring, Doom Eternal, and Helldivers 2. But let's establish a solid control: Elden Ring on the ROG Ally managed between 50 and 60 fps on High graphics. Helldivers 2 maintained 40 to 45 fps on Low graphics. And Doom Eternal stayed around 60 to 70 fps on High graphics. This information is vital because we don't just want to see if the MSI Claw improves with this update, but whether it does enough to catch up to competitors.

MSI Claw game performance before its update

Playing Elden Ring with graphics set to high was barely playable, so I swapped it to low and managed 20-30 fps while running around Limgrave. It still stuttered frequently and I experienced massive slowdowns, like I did during my review.

I launched Doom Eternal and tried to boost the graphics to Ultra but due to a failure to allocate video memory, the game crashed. The Claw has 8GB of VRAM and Ultra only takes 5,247MB (with Doom Eternal listing the device's capacity at 6,819MB), so this should have worked. Regardless, I dropped it down to High and continued testing. In comparison, the ROG Ally had no issue going up to Ultra Nightmare graphics settings without having allocation issues.

MSI Claw

(Image credit: Laptop Mag / Claire Tabari)

I began the Cultist Base mission and saw little to no consistency in framerate, with it jumping anywhere between 20 and 60 fps while running around. But as soon as I'd get into gunfights with demons (and especially when using explosives), it will freeze and drop below 10fps with massive stutters. This is especially damning for a game from 2019 that's famous for running great on most hardware.

Launching Helldivers 2 yielded 20 fps just on the ship with graphics set to Medium. Putting it down to Low helped a little, with it maintaining 30 fps when standing still. But it drops between 10 and 20 fps when running around the ship. It also frequently stutters and freezes for seconds at a time when interacting with anything, as the Hell Pod caused the game to freeze for ten seconds.

But finally, I launched down, with the game freezing every half second while watching the Hell Pod drop onto a planet. Running around maintained around 30 fps, but once again, doing anything would cause massive stutters and drops. When fighting my first Automaton, I unloaded a series of shotgun shells into its chest as the game chugged along showcasing disjointed frames of the encounter until the enemy suddenly collapsed on its side. It's practically unplayable in this state.

MSI Claw game performance after its update

To download the MSI Claw's latest BIOS, simply go to the device's Drivers and Downloads page. Download BIOS version E1T41IMS.106 released on 04/16/2024 onto the claw. Extract the folder and run FLASHWIN as administrator. Windows might block the process, but if it does, select More Info and click Allow.

I launched Elden Ring with graphics set to low and noticed significant improvements. The constant stuttering I experienced in my initial tests were entirely gone, with the performance staying anywhere between 30 and 35 fps as I ran around Limgrave, fought soldiers, and got mauled by bats.

MSI Claw

(Image credit: Laptop Mag / Claire Tabari)

Even with Elden Ring's graphics set to High, the Claw did not stutter, although it occasionally dropped beneath 30fps. This performance is miles better than our initial tests, as it's at least playable without stutter. But the Ally still demolishes it, achieving near double the framerate on the same graphics.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
GameMSI Claw (before update)MSI Claw (after update)Asus ROG Ally
Elden Ring20-30 fps, constant stutter (Low)30-35 fps, no stutter (Low)50-60 fps, no stutter (High)
Doom Eternal30-50 fps, constant stutter (High)40-50fps, no stutter (High)60-70 fps, no stutter (High)
Helldivers 220-30fps, constant stutter (Low)30-40 fps, minimal stutter (Low)40-45 fps, no stutter (Low)

I moved on to Doom Eternal and upped the settings to Ultra, but it once again had an issue allocating memory. I returned to Cultist Base on High settings and saw the framerate jumping anywhere between 30 and 60 fps. It was mostly consistent nestled between 40 and 50 while battling enemies, and once again, I experienced no stutters.

Helldivers 2 is also far more stable, maintaining 30 fps on Low in the ship with fewer stutters. It will still have a second-long freeze every once in a while, but it's night and day when compared to before, as interacting with the Hell Pods and Galactic War Map doesn't cause a massive slowdown.

MSI Claw

(Image credit: Laptop Mag / Claire Tabari)

I launched onto a planet and fought through tons of Automatons without issue, the performance hitting anywhere between 30-35 fps without any slowdowns. It would drop a bit below 30 fps when there are many enemies on screen at a time, but again, this is a significant improvement.

Our verdict on the MSI Claw's update

The latest MSI Claw update undeniably boosts performance, addressing major stuttering issues and improving framerate. However, it still hasn't closed the gap with its more affordable competitors, so if you already have an MSI Claw rush out and download this update immediately, but it's not enough for us to suggest buying one over the Asus ROG Ally or Lenovo Legion Go.

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.