I got my hands on the MSI Claw x Fallout, but there's an MSI handheld I want even more

MSI Claw x Fallout handheld gaming PC at the Computex show floor
(Image credit: Future)

Handheld gaming PCs are having a moment this year. Between the Asus ROG Ally X and the MSI Claw 8 AI+, we're as excited as ever about the emergent category.

Of course, we will have to wait for the Claw 8 AI+, but MSI has a different handheld that’s grabbed our attention.

MSI brought two new versions of its Claw handheld gaming PC to Computex in Taipei: The Intel Lunar Lake-powered Claw 8 AI+ and the Claw x Fallout edition.

Handheld gaming PCs have taken off since the Steam Deck was first announced in 2022, with more companies taking a stab at the hybrid hardware. Between the Steam Deck, Asus ROG Ally, Lenovo Legion Go, and MSI Claw we’ve seen plenty of things that work and things that don’t when it comes to this new gaming form factor. 

Of course, all of these handheld gaming PCs are reminiscent of Nintendo's hybrid game console the Switch and Switch OLED and going back even further, the Switch bares a resemblance to a more modern Sega Game Gear. 

So while the handheld realm is new space for computer manufacturers, gaming handhelds have been popular for decades now, and for good reason.

So how do the Claw x Fallout and Claw 8 AI+ stack up?

MSI Claw x Fallout

MSI Claw x Fallout handheld gaming PC at the Computex show floor

(Image credit: Future)

The MSI Claw x Fallout is, for now, just a concept. An MSI rep told Laptop Mag this week on the Computex expo floor that the company is still working on getting Fallout units into production, so we can't tell you when you'll see it arrive on the virtual or physical shelves of your favorite retailer.

While MSI hasn't determined if a full-release model will go into production, I hope it does. I’m not the biggest Fallout fan out there, but the game series is having a massive renaissance now thanks to the TV series on Amazon Prime Video. So if there was ever a time for a Fallout-themed Claw, it’s now.

Of course, this is just a Fallout skin on the current MSI Claw, so nothing is really new here. We had some troubles with the Claw when we reviewed it back in March, but following multiple updates it has improved and the demo units on the floor performed well. 

MSI Claw x Fallout handheld gaming PC, a look at the Pipboy design on the back

(Image credit: Future)

On the one hand, they are demo units with only Fallout 4 loaded on them. But, as anyone who has been to a trade show can tell you, demo units get handled constantly and can run into spectacular troubles, so the fact I could back out of the game, poke around in the MSI Center UI, play with the quick settings, and get back to gaming in Fallout is a point in the Claw’s favor.

The handheld is still receiving plenty of driver updates from Intel to improve performance and gaming optimization so it is constantly getting better. As the only handheld using an Intel Core Ultra Meteor Lake processor and an integrated Arc GPU, these growing pains are expected, or at least understandable. But that does mean it’s perhaps not the best product for someone who wants a handheld that just works out of the box. For that, the Steam Deck and Switch are definitely the best options. Even our beloved Asus ROG Ally and Lenovo Legion Go take some getting used to and some custom button-mapping tweaks to get everything working right.

MSI Claw 8 AI+

MSI Claw 8 AI+ handheld gaming PC concept under glass at the Computex show floor

(Image credit: Future)

Of course the Claw x Fallout edition was slightly overshadowed at the booth by the looming figure of the Claw 8 AI+. Announced and showcased alongside one another, the Claw 8 AI+ was the handheld most people were interested in. And I can’t say I wasn’t the same.

The Claw 8 AI+ is still in the development phase, so the version at Computex was a prototype model shown under a glass display case. Chatting with reps from MSI at the Computex booth, they seem confident that it is almost ready. But the full production version may look slightly different than the one on the floor. It will have a second Thunderbolt 4 USB Type-C port so you can both power the device and connect any accessories. MSI has also added a larger 80 WHr (watt-hour) battery to the Claw 8 AI+ compared to the current Claw’s 53Whr battery.

The Claw 8 AI+’s biggest changes will be the Intel Core Ultra Lunar Lake series processor and 8-inch 120 Hz FHD (1,920 x 1,080) IPS display. MSI has also redesigned the bumpers, triggers, and joysticks. The Claw 8 AI+ also features a new “Cooler Boost Hyperflow” cooling system for decreased thermal throttling. 

Because it is a Lunar Lake product, the earliest it could be in your hands is Q4 2024. (So sometime between October and December.) 

If Intel’s claims about Lunar Lake’s power efficiency and hardware acceleration are true, the Claw 8 AI+ could be the best-performing handheld out there —  though the Asus ROG Ally X is coming soon to claim that spot as well. So we’ll have to wait to see how both fare in our lab benchmarks and hands-on testing to make a final call. But after talking with reps from MSI and Intel about the Claw 8 AI+, I can say I am rather hopeful.


MSI Claw x Fallout handheld gaming PC, closeup of the RGB lighting and rust effect near the joysticks

(Image credit: Future)

We’re excited to see what MSI can do with the Claw 8 AI+, leveraging the new Intel Lunar Lake chipset and a redesign based on feedback from the original Claw launch including redesigned bumpers. 

This could very well put the Claw 8 AI+ on our list of Best gaming handhelds. And while it isn’t a redesign, the MSI Claw x Fallout edition is incredibly compelling even with the flaws of the base Claw in mind.

While the Claw x Fallout is not currently planned for a commercial launch, if enough people are interested in it, MSI could very well put it into production. If that ends up happening, you could possibly see it hit the shelves as early as Q3 of this year.

The Claw 8 AI+ does not have a confirmed release date or price-point yet but it will likely release sometime in Q4 2024.

The current MSI Claw is available now starting at $699.


MSI paid for travel and accommodations for Computex Tapei. The company did not see the contents of this article before publication.


Madeline Ricchiuto
Staff Writer

A former lab gremlin for Tom's Guide, Laptop Mag, Tom's Hardware, and Tech Radar; Madeline has escaped the labs to join Laptop Mag as a Staff Writer. With over a decade of experience writing about tech and gaming, she may actually know a thing or two. Sometimes. When she isn't writing about the latest laptops and AI software, Madeline likes to throw herself into the ocean as a PADI scuba diving instructor and underwater photography enthusiast.