MSI Claw A1M will deliver on VRR display

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MSI is dancing around technicalities with its display claims for the Claw handheld gaming PC. (Image source: NotebookcheckReviews on YouTube)MSI is dancing around technicalities with its display claims for the Claw handheld gaming PC. (Image source: NotebookcheckReviews on YouTube)

There has been some confusion about whether the MSI Claw A1M will deliver on its VRR promises, but the company has offered corrections, confirming that the gaming handheld will in fact sport VRR support.

Editor’s note: The original version of this article claimed that the MSI Claw A1M would not feature a variable refresh rate display. MSI has since corrected comments it made to The Verge, confirming that the Claw will feature true VRR capabilities. 

It hasn’t yet been confirmed what sort of refresh rate range the MSI Claw will ship with, but it will likely be something similar to the ROG Ally’s 48 Hz–120 Hz range. Comparing the specifications of the Claw and the Asus ROG Ally, it seems as though the two devices use the exact same panel — they have the same size, brightness, refresh rate, and colour reproduction on paper. Generally, the ROG Ally’s display has been a highlight of the device, so sharing hardware in this regard is good news.

While the jury is out on whether the CPU and iGPU in the MSI Claw will be the right choice for the delicate balance of performance and battery life, the hall-effect controls, promising display, and large battery bode well for MSI’s future in handheld Windows gaming PCs. News of pricing on the MSI Claw also recently broke, pointing to a very competitive device, indeed.

When news broke that MSI was planning to launch a handheld Windows gaming PC later in 2024, one of the highlights of the MSI Claw was the supposed inclusion of a variable refresh rate (VRR) display to smooth out hitches in gameplay that might come from using the Intel Arc 8-Core iGPU in the Core Ultra 7 155H.

Now, according to a report by The Verge, MSI has confirmed that it means “variable” in the more literal sense — that it can be changed. Instead of an adaptive refresh rate, as offered by AMD’s FreeSync or Nvidia’s G-Sync, the MSI Claw A1M will allow users to select between a number of refresh rate options, similar to the Steam Deck and Steam Deck OLED.

Gamers will be able to switch between 48 Hz, 60 Hz, and 120 Hz on the MSI Claw. That’s a fair spread of the refresh rates you’ll be able to hit on the gaming handheld, depending on the game. However, it’s a far cry from the smooth, tear-free experience afforded by real variable refresh rate tech, as found in the Asus ROG Ally ($599.99 with the AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme at Best Buy).

MSI, however, apparently argues that the Claw does feature variable refresh rate, somewhat mincing words to seemingly make the device seem more capable. The Asus ROG Ally, which is the only handheld gaming PC currently on the market with true variable refresh rate tech, is able to modulate its display’s refresh rate smoothly between 48 Hz and 120 Hz.

That’s not to say that the MSI Claw is dead on arrival because of the lack of true variable refresh rate. The non-granular, manual “variable” refresh rate option MSI and Valve have gone for works well with workarounds, like frame rate limiters, to get the smoothest possible gaming experience. Things like Intel’s XeSS, Nvidia DLSS, and AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution also work for hitting frame rate targets when the display is not capable of slowing itself down and speeding itself up to match the GPU’s performance.

If you’re after a gaming handheld, check out the supersized Lenovo Legion Go on Amazon.

Julian van der MerweJulian van der Merwe – Magazine & Specialist News Writer – 563 articles published on Notebookcheck since 2022

My interest in tech started in high school, rooting and flashing my Motorola Defy, but I really fell down the rabbit hole when I realised I could overclock the i7 930 in my Gigabyte pre-built PC. This tinkering addiction eventually lead me to study product design in university. I think tech should improve the lives of the people using it, no matter the field. I like to read and write about laptops, smartphones, software and trends in technology.

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