MSI issues new Claw BIOS update, claims to outperform ROG Ally in top 100 most popular Steam games

MSI has been hard at work tuning its new Claw handheld gaming PC. The device maker has published another BIOS update for the Claw in under a month that improves performance by up to 30%. Performance has improved to the point where MSI states its Claw handheld is now capable of outperforming the Ryzen Z1 powered ROG Ally in most of the top 100 most popular Steam titles played right now, though we’ll want to see that in some independent testing.

MSI showed off a performance graph of all the games it tested with the new BIOS update. Game selection features Hogwarts Legacy, Forza Horizon 5, Sreet Fight 6, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, NBA 2K24, FC24, Palworld, Sons of the Forest, PUBG, Dead Island 2, Manor Lord, 7 Days to Die, Helldivers 2, Fortnite, Stray, and Naraka: Bladepoint.

By far, Forza Horizon 5 saw the most noteworthy improvements from the new BIOS update, featuring a 30% performance lead over MSI’s previous BIOS revision from May of this year. Other games that got huge improvements were Fortnite, Sons of the Forest, and Helldivers 2, which saw anywhere between a 28% and 20% performance boost, respectively. The remaining titles that saw double-digit percentage improvements were Hogwarts Legacy, FC24, NBA 2K24, and Manor Lord, which saw anywhere between an 11% to 15% performance improvement. The rest saw single-digit improvements anywhere between 5% and 9.6% respectively.

MSI also took a jab at Asus’ ROG Ally with the Claw’s new improvements. According to another slide from MSI, the MSI Claw outperforms the ROG Ally in nearly 90% of the top 100 most popular Steam games played right now. On average the MSI Claw is purportedly 26% faster on average in this Steam-based metric compared to the Asus ROG Ally. Frustratingly, MSI did not disclose which version of the ROG Ally it benchmarked (the vanilla ROG Ally or the Extreme version with the Ryzen Z1 Extreme chip).

The Claw’s performance issues have been a problem since its debut. When the handheld came out several months ago, it was criticized by early reviewers for its underwhelming performance. This problem was attributed to optimization issues with Intel’s Meteor Lake processors, which MSI chose to go with instead of AMD’s handheld-optimized Ryzen Z1 chips. This decision did make the MSI Claw the world’s first handheld gaming PC to utilize Meteor Lake processors but at the cost of immaturity issues with the new platform.

Not only was the performance terrible at launch, but power efficiency fared even worse, which is arguably the most important attribute in a handheld machine. An early review of the handheld reported that tuning the machine to 20 watts and 15 watts resulted in substantial performance losses, to the point where the Ryzen Z1 Extreme in Asus’s competing ROG Ally was twice as fast as the Meteor Lake part at these lower power levels.

Thankfully, it appears the Claw’s performance struggles are over, pending independent validation. The new BIOS is now available for download through the MSI website or the MSI Center M app for Claw owners to install.