MSI Claw vs Asus ROG Ally – has MSI beaten Asus?

MSI's new handheld looks like a ROG Ally equal

MSI Claw vs Asus ROG Ally - has MSI beaten Asus? Image shows the MSI Claw and the ROG Ally with a red VS sign, on a green blue gradient background.

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CES 2024 gave MSI the perfect platform to launch its portable gaming PC, and here we’re comparing it to one of its most dominant rivals – let’s look at the MSI Claw vs the Asus ROG Ally. In the rapidly growing niche of handheld gaming PCs, there are currently three real standouts: the Valve Steam Deck, the Lenovo Legion Go, and of course, the ROG Ally. Keen to get itself included as part of this lineup, MSI has released its own take on the handheld PC, the MSI Claw.

It’s already been getting quite a bit of attention, but how will the Claw compare to the tried and trusted Asus ROG Ally? In this article, we’ll explore the specifications, features, and pricing of both devices to determine which one offers a superior gaming experience on paper.

MSI Claw vs Asus ROG Ally specs

SpecificationsMSI ClawAsus ROG Ally
DesignSleek and modern design with hall effect thumbsticks and rear triggersFuturistic design with illuminated sticks and RGB flavoring on ABXY buttons
Display7-inch full HD LCD panel with 120Hz refresh rate7-inch full HD LCD panel with 120Hz refresh rate
Dimensions294 x 117 x 21.2mm28.0 x 11.1 x 2.12 ~ 3.24 cm
Weight675 g608 g
CPUIntel Core Ultra 5 or Core Ultra 7 processor with integrated Arc graphicsAMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme processor
GraphicsIntel Arc GraphicsAMD RDNA 3
Memory16GB LPDDR5-6400 RAM16GB LPDDR5
StorageUp to 1TB (MicroSD slot)512GB
OSWindows 11Windows 11
ConnectivityBluetooth 5.4, Wi-Fi 7Bluetooth 5.2, Wi-Fi 6E
Battery Life53wHr battery capacity49.5wHr battery capacity
PriceThe base model is priced at $699, Core Ultra 7 variant is priced at $799$599 for the base model
MSI Claw vs Asus ROG Ally specs comparison table

MSI Claw vs Asus ROG Ally features

Design and size

When it comes to design, you could say that MSI was inspired by the ROG Ally for design cues for the physical form and dimensions of the Claw, with the two handhelds looking almost identical. Both devices feature a 7-inch 120 Hz VRR screen with thick bezels and a similar layout with a D-Pad, two thumbsticks, and ABXY buttons that feature RGB lighting for a futuristic look. The Claw features hall effect thumbsticks and rear triggers that offer a distinct advantage over the Ally – immunity to stick drift. It’s also the heavier of the two, at 675 grams over the ROG Ally’s 608 grams, perhaps due to its chunkier ergonomic grips offering a deeper hold.

Despite their slight physical differences, the MSI Claw is on the whole pretty identical to the ROG Ally, except it comes in black rather than the iconic white of Asus’s flagship handheld. With their similar form, MSI plans to have the advantage over its rival by claiming that the back of the device also has a cooling system that’s 50% larger than the likes of the Asus ROG Ally.

Display quality

The display is a crucial aspect of any gaming device, and the MSI Claw and the Asus ROG Ally deliver impressive visual experiences. Both devices sport a 7-inch full HD LCD panel with a 120Hz refresh rate, providing smooth and immersive gameplay. In comparison, the Asus ROG Ally takes a slight lead with its brighter screen and higher contrast, offering more vibrant visuals. However, MSI’s leverage of Hall Effect triggers and joysticks might mean you get enhanced microscopic precision, but in terms of a full verdict, we’ll have to wait until the MSI Claw has been tested comprehensively on a wide variety of games to see how it compares to the ROG Ally in the real world.

Processing power and performance

The Asus ROG Ally is equipped with an AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme  8 cores and 16 thread processor paired with 16GB of RAM, offering impressive optimization and raw performance for demanding games. The MSI Claw, on the other hand, takes a different approach by utilizing Intel’s new Core Ultra 5 or Core Ultra 7 processor with integrated Arc graphics. While Intel’s graphics capabilities have yet to be benchmarked against AMD’s offering, the MSI Claw shows promise for delivering exceptional gaming performance. The integration of these Intel guts also grants the Claw access to Thunderbolt 4, expanding its potential for external graphics and display options.

Both devices run the Windows 11 operating system natively, giving you access to the entire Xbox and PC gaming ecosystems, including Xbox Game Pass and the Epic Games Store, whilst also being able to act as entry-level desktop replacements when docked to an external monitor.

Battery life

When choosing between the MSI Claw and Asus ROG Ally, battery life is a crucial factor to consider. The MSI Claw boasts a larger battery capacity at 53wHr, and MSI boldly claims that its power lasts 50% longer than the market average. However, there is a bit of a general lack of trust in Intel when it comes to battery efficiency, so we’ll have to wait and see if it’s able to prove this claim correct: real-world battery tests will provide a more accurate assessment once we see the full launch.

The Asus ROG Ally follows closely with a 49.5wHr battery, offering similar overall battery life despite the difference in capacity. It’s important to note that the exact battery life of the MSI Claw is still unknown, but with its Intel processor’s power efficiency, it is expected to provide an overall comparable experience to the Asus ROG Ally.

MSI Claw vs Asus ROG Ally price

The MSI Claw was announced in January at CES 2024, and while there’s not a universally confirmed launch date, we now know that the Claw is launching on the 20th of March in the UK. So, we can now make an estimated guess of seeing the device roll out in early April.

In terms of pricing, the three configurations of the Claw have different but not greatly varying prices. The cheapest Core Ultra 5 and 512GB storage model costs $699. The higher-end models, equipped with the powerful Core Ultra 7 processor, come in at $749 for 512GB and $799 for 1TB storage.

On the other hand, the Asus ROG Ally has a lower price point of $599 for its base 512GB model. So, if price is a major concern for you, going for the Asus ROG Ally might save you a few hundred dollars since it’s less expensive compared to the MSI Claw.

Is MSI Claw better than the Asus ROG Ally?

The MSI Claw has made quite the entrance to the handheld PC market, already being compared to the established market favorites – including the Asus ROG Ally. Clearly, both devices offer an exceptional experience with their powerful hardware and innovative features, with the main differences coming down to the internal hardware. The MSI Claw is one of the few handhelds to come set with an Intel Meteor Lake chip, and while this looks promising on paper, we’ll have to wait for real-world benchmarks to see if it can over-power the Z1 Extreme found in the ROG Ally.

So, the Claw comes in not so much as an upgrade to the ROG Ally, but as an alternative worth considering if you haven’t already invested in a portable gaming PC. Ultimately, the choice between either handheld device depends on your individual preferences and budget constraints, as the Claw is currently the more expensive of the two.

Marla writes across a wide range of topics across PC Guide, including AI, PC hardware, and news on the latest tech releases. She's a passionate writer that's interested in the future of technology.