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MSI CLAW Core Ultra 5 135H handheld games console hands on

MSI CLAW Core Ultra 5 135H handheld games console hands on

MSI CLAW Core Ultra 5 135H handheld games console

MSI has released their new CLAW handheld aimed at bringing PC gaming performance to a portable form factor. ETA Prime has been able to test out the performance of the new handheld games console firsthand, providing gamers with more insight into what they can expect from the new handheld games console. The CLAW comes in two variants – one powered by an Intel Core i5-13500H processor and the other with a higher-end Core i7-13700H. In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at the more affordable Core i5 model and evaluate its design, features, performance and overall value proposition.

The MSI CLAW features an ergonomic design that feels comfortable to hold for extended gaming sessions. With a premium build quality, the device has an unmistakable MSI aesthetic. It sports a 7-inch 1080p IPS display with a 120Hz refresh rate, providing crisp visuals and smooth motion for gaming. The screen has good viewing angles, though not quite on par with OLED panels like the Steam Deck’s.

MSI CLAW Core Ultra 5 135H

In terms of controls, the CLAW has responsive Hall effect analog sticks, clicky ABXY buttons, shoulder buttons, and rear paddles that can be customized. However, some reviewers found the d-pad to be overly springy and not as satisfying to use. The device includes a USB-C port with Thunderbolt 4 support, a microSD card slot for storage expansion, and a headphone jack.

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Games Console Performance and Benchmarks

The Core i5-13500H powering the MSI CLAW is a 12-core, 18-thread processor with 4 performance cores and 8 efficiency cores. It has a max boost clock of 4.6GHz on the performance cores. The chip is paired with an Intel Arc A-series integrated GPU featuring 8 Xe cores clocked up to 2.2GHz.

In benchmarks like Geekbench 6 and 3DMark, the i5 model traded blows with the i7 variant, with the i5 sometimes coming out ahead despite its lower core count and frequencies. This suggests that the 40W power budget is the main limiting factor and having fewer cores to feed can be advantageous in some scenarios.

Real-world gaming tests painted a similar picture. In titles like Spider-Man Remastered, the CLAW struggled to maintain a steady 60fps even at 900p low settings. Older and less demanding games like Skyrim and Helldivers fared better. Interestingly, in CPU-intensive games like Cyberpunk 2077, the i5 model outperformed the i7 version by a few frames per second on average, likely due to having more thermal and power headroom for the CPU cores.

Specifications and Features

MSI includes a useful Control Center application to manage the CLAW’s performance, lighting, audio and other settings. An AI performance mode can dynamically adjust power and fan curves based on the game or application. There are also several fixed performance profiles to choose from. The device supports up to 65W fast charging over USB-C, but this needs to be enabled in the BIOS. By default, it charges at a slower 40W rate. The 53Wh battery should provide decent endurance for a handheld gaming PC.


  • Intel Core i5-13500H
  • 12 cores (4 performance cores up to 4.6 GHz, 8 efficiency cores up to 3.6 GHz)
  • 18 threads


  • Intel Arc A-Series integrated GPU
  • 8 Xe cores up to 2.2 GHz
  • RAM: 16GB LPDDR5 running at 6,400 MT/s


  • 7-inch IPS panel
  • 1920×1080 resolution (1080p)
  • 120Hz refresh rate


  • Upgradeable 2230 M.2 SSD
  • MicroSD card slot for expansion


  • Wi-Fi 7
  • Bluetooth 5.4
  • USB-C port with Thunderbolt 4 support
  • 3.5mm audio jack


  • 53 watt-hour capacity
  • Supports up to 65W fast charging (needs BIOS setting change, default is 40W)


  • Hall effect analog sticks
  • ABXY buttons
  • D-pad
  • Shoulder buttons and linear triggers
  • Programmable rear buttons


  • Front-facing 2-watt stereo speakers
  • Operating System: Windows 11


  • Similar in size to the ROG Ally, smaller than the Steam Deck

The MSI CLAW Core Ultra 5 135H is a well-built handheld gaming console that brings solid performance to a portable form factor. While it doesn’t quite match competitors like the Steam Deck or ROG Ally in gaming performance or battery life, it has a more premium fit and finish. The Core i5 model represents a good value, delivering performance that comes close to the pricier i7 variant in most scenarios. However, the CLAW’s overall performance and efficiency still have room for improvement through future driver and firmware updates.

If you’re in the market for a sleek Windows handheld with good build quality and don’t mind tweaking settings for the optimal experience in each game, the MSI CLAW i5 is definitely worth considering. But if maximum performance and battery life are higher priorities, devices like the Steam Deck or ROG Ally may be better options for now.

Image Credit : ETA Prime

Filed Under: Gaming News, Top News

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