MSI Claw is set to arrive next month, but UK shoppers can pre-order the Steam Deck rival now

MSI Claw in hands with gameplay on screen
(Image credit: MSI)

The MSI Claw release date has finally been revealed, as a new UK pre-order page says it’ll arrive on March 20. While we’re still waiting for reservation pages to pop up for the US and other countries, now’s your chance to order the Steam Deck rival if you happen to be living in the United Kingdom.

Starting at $699.99 / £699.99, the MSI Claw enters the best gaming handheld ring with a pretty steep price tag. However, unlike the Steam Deck OLED or even the Asus ROG Ally, this new portable PC comes armed with Intel Arc graphics, making it the first system of its kind to not use some sort of AMD APU. That in itself could appeal to players looking to experiment with on the go performance, but we’ll be to fill you in on its capabilities once we get our hands on one for review. 

Of course, If you’re unwilling to wait until then, and you’re in the UK, you’ll be able to swing over to Currys right now and pre-order an MSI Claw. The tech retailer currently has both the Intel Core Ultra 5 135H and Ultra 7 155H models listed for £699.99 and £799.99 respectively, with the latter maxing out specs with a 1TB SSD. The cheaper version comes with a smaller 512GB drive, but you’ll end up with an 120Hz display, 16GB RAM, and 53Whr battery regardless of your choice.

MSI Claw (512GB, Intel Ultra 5) £699.99 at Currys

MSI Claw (512GB, Intel Ultra 5) | £699.99 at Currys
The base model of the Claw comes is armed with the same 120Hz screen and 16GB RAM, but features an Ultra 5 APU and smaller 512GB SSD at its core. You'll ultimately end up with less performance compared to the flagship model, so keep that in mind if you're fussy about frame rates.

Buy it if: 

✅ You want to balance price and specs
✅ You plan on using a microSD card
✅ Your library consists of indies and classics

Don't buy it if: 

❌ You've got a big Steam library
❌ You want to boost fps further at 1080p

MSI Claw (1TB, Intel Ultra 7)£799.99 at Currys

MSI Claw (1TB, Intel Ultra 7) | £799.99 at Currys
Unlike the base Claw, MSI's top end handheld matches the Steam Deck OLED with a 1TB, while also featuring a faster Ultra 7 chip. We'll have to pit it against other portables before knowing how much of a difference the more expensive processor makes, but it'll provide more performance headroom than the base model.

Buy it if: 

✅ You'd pay more for maximum performance
✅ You've got a chonky Steam library
✅ You're looking to play the latest games

Don't buy it if: 

❌ You'd rather use an microSD than SSD
❌ You're only planning on playing indies

As mentioned above, MSI Claw pre-orders are scheduled to ship on March 20, 2024, meaning this should be the handheld's release date. However, it's worth noting that these dates can shift and change, so there's always a chance it could be pushed to a different date.

Should you pre-order the MSI Claw?

Just like the Asus ROG Ally, the MSI Claw is a handheld that targets high end performance. In theory, the portable’s Ultra 5 155H chipset should enable players to boost fps in new releases when using its built-in 1080p display, while older PC games will look noticeably smoother thanks to the screen’s 120Hz refresh rate. 

However, there are a few inherent caveats to consider before picking up an MSI Claw. For starters, Intel Arc graphics are relatively fresh on the scene, and while performance could improve over time, early benchmarks suggest it’ll struggle against the ROG Ally at launch. That’s a bummer considering you can currently grab Asus’ handheld for £549 (or $599 if you’re in the US), and enjoy similar specs attached to a tried and tested experience.

That said, the MSI Claw has a few perks on its side that could be worth considering over the competition. For example, it uses hall effect joysticks that are effectively immune to stick drift, something that’s normally reserved for more premium options like the Ayaneo 2S. There’s also a chance that MSI’s cooling system will prove to be super efficient and effective when under load, meaning it could end up producing better results than the ROG Ally and Steam Deck.

Looking for a beefier machine? Check out the best gaming laptops and best gaming PCs for a selection of powerhouse rigs. Alternatively, take a peek at the best Steam Deck dock and turn Valve's handheld into a hybrid.

Phil Hayton
Hardware Editor

I’ve been messing around with PCs, video game consoles, and tech since before I could speak. Don’t get me wrong, I kickstarted my relationship with technology by jamming a Hot Wheels double-decker bus into my parent’s VCR, but we all have to start somewhere. I even somehow managed to become a walking, talking buyer’s guide at my teenage supermarket job, which helped me accept my career fate. So, rather than try to realise my musician dreams, or see out my University degree, I started running my own retro pop culture site and writing about video games and tech for the likes of TechRadar, The Daily Star, and the BBC before eventually ending up with a job covering graphics card shenanigans at PCGamesN. Now, I’m your friendly neighbourhood Hardware Editor at GamesRadar, and it’s my job to make sure you can kick butt in all your favourite games using the best gaming hardware, whether you’re a sucker for handhelds like the Steam Deck and Nintendo Switch or a hardcore gaming PC enthusiast.