MSI Creator Z16 assessment: Skinny is not the whole lot

MSI’s Creator Z16 is one in all a brand new cadre of “Creator” laptops which were popping up over the previous two years from historically gaming-oriented corporations. They take the sort of specs you may see in a gaming laptop computer and cram them right into a slim chassis that appears like one thing one may convey to the boardroom.

Whilst you can definitely use the Z16 for gaming—it has an RTX 3060 discrete GPU and a heavy-duty “Cooler Increase” cooling system—it additionally has a extra refined look than MSI’s gaming laptops, a silver one. With – grey end, barely seen dragon brand and MacBook-esque rounded corners. There is a 16:10 QHD+ display with a 120Hz refresh price (my most popular side ratio for productiveness units). It comes with Home windows 10 Professional. And the video conferencing options — audio system, particularly — are a stable improve from what I would typically count on to see on a gaming laptop computer. The system would make an awesome multimedia machine.

Sadly, it does not value like a multimedia machine—it prices like a workstation. This makes it a usually good laptop computer which is an odd place for the worth. That is lower than the worth of the flagship laptops on this area. My check unit (the most affordable listed on MSI’s web site, although I’ve discovered some low-cost SKUs floating round at different retailers) has a Core i7-11800H, a GeForce RTX 3060 GPU, a 2560 x 1600 contact show, 32GB of RAM . and 1 TB of storage for $2,599.99 (at the moment listed at $2,349.99 for what MSI claims is a restricted time).

A comparable Dell XPS 17 (with a bigger display, however with a decrease decision) has the identical MSRP, and a 16-inch MacBook Professional with comparable RAM and storage is $500 extra, at $3,099. However the Z16 is definitely nonetheless an costly laptop computer—a Gigabyte Aero 15 with the identical specs goes for a number of hundred much less at Walmart (although it is offered on the market as of this writing)—one at Greatest Purchase for $1,899. There is a 16GB mannequin that you might simply improve). And it comes with a number of flaws that are not attribute of laptops of that worth caliber. Whereas I can see this product with an viewers, those that can spend extra completely ought to.

Viewed from behind, the MSI Creator Z16 sits half-open on a wooden table.

4.85 kilos, 0.63 inches thick.

Very first thing to concentrate on: it is laptop computer loud, Z16 followers instantly fired up Cinebench, and so they went trucking alongside all through the benchmark run. The noise wasn’t heard from over the subsequent room, nevertheless it was definitely loud sufficient to be distracting as a result of I used to be working on the similar desk.

MSI has rolled out quite a lot of the brand new cooling system, which is claimed to have “the world’s thinnest 0.11mm sharp-edged fan blade.” These followers weren’t in a position to deal with the facility of those specs, even with the excessive efficiency profile chosen in MSI’s Management Middle (which optimizes the Z16’s energy restrict and cooling conduct for heavy workloads). (This Management Middle, by the way in which, has been a lot simpler to make use of than iterations used on earlier MSI laptops, so props to MSI for that.) The Z16’s 30-minute Cinebench rating was lower than 10 minutes . Cinebench scores, and the CPU was persistently hitting 95°C all through benchmarks. Mainly, this wasn’t a MacBook situation the place the Z16 took no matter it threw at it with out breaking a sweat—it was working onerous.

That warmth wasn’t as a lot of an issue on our real-world Premiere Professional 4K export check, which the Z16 accomplished in three minutes and 9 seconds. That is a aggressive rating and quicker than nearly each Home windows laptop computer I’ve examined. However the Z16 solely received 769 on the Puget Methods benchmark for the Premiere Professional, which exams stay playback and export efficiency. The Aero 15 simply beat it.

Temperatures had been extra manageable in the course of the Geekbench suite and, particularly, Compute Benchmark, which leverages the GPU greater than the CPU. The Geekbench Compute was, curiously, additionally the one check that the MacBook Professional mannequin did not blow the Z16 out of the water.

Total, whereas the Z16 is not fully prime of its class, you are getting some actual graphics energy – and positively greater than you’d count on from a thinner and lighter big-screen gadget. It seems like a compelling package deal – however earlier than we discuss battery life.

The MSI Creator Z16 speaker as seen from above.

There’s an audio jack for plugging peripherals, in addition to 4 2W stereo audio system.

Battery life is dangerous. Even with the Z16’s battery saver profile on and the keyboard backlighting and GPU off, I used to be nonetheless getting 5 hours of steady work at medium brightness—a mean of 4 and a half hours. And my workload is nothing near what this laptop is able to—I used to be principally leaping between a dozen-ish Chrome tabs and sometimes working Zoom calls overtop. In case you are searching for one thing extra demanding on the battery then you need to positively count on much less.

The Z16 is not as reasonable as a transportable laptop computer with this battery capability. We would not essentially count on a laptop computer on this class to final all day, however the result’s disappointing even larger-screen opponents. I commonly received between seven and eight hours out of my final Dell XPS 17 assessment. And, in fact, the extra highly effective 16-inch MacBook Professionals additionally final at the least twice as lengthy. We’re not in an period the place heavy energy means lowering the battery lifetime of the gadget, even for thinner and lighter merchandise.

MSI Creator Z16 Benchmark

Benchmark rating
Benchmark rating
Cinebench R23 Multi 10350
Cinebench R23 Single 1437
Cinebench R23 Multi Looped 30 Minutes 9991
Geekbench 5.3 CPU Multi 8613
Geekbench 5.3 CPU Single 1555
Geekbench 5.3 OpenCL / Compute 89287

Efficiency apart, the Z16 is usually a nicely constructed and good trying gadget. It is fairly skinny, simply 0.63 inches thick. It is sturdy with a snug end—a step up from the MSI units I’ve reviewed earlier than on the subject of high quality construct. The show, particularly, is beautiful, and the 120Hz refresh price makes scrolling a really clean expertise. The small print are clear—I had no drawback sifting by a batch of pictures for some gentle enhancing. I additionally respect that there is a row of useful sizzling keys on the fitting aspect of the keyboard, which is a little more handy to entry than the perform row.

The fingerprint sensor of the MSI Creator Z16.

You’ll be able to log in with fingerprint or facial recognition.

However the greatest nice shock for me was the audio system. There are 4 of them, and so they sound nice, simply reaching the quantity of a good exterior speaker. I might hear each bass notes and quiet midrange tones I would not usually hear from laptop computer audio. Do you know that there is some pretty, refined concord in Harry Kinds’ first refrain? it is falling, I did not hear it till I first heard it on the Creator Z16.

These options, once more, make the Z16 a stable machine for productiveness and leisure. However they might not be as necessary to the Z16’s audience as a few of its shortcomings. And there are some dings which might be stunning to see in a tool at this worth level.

Webcam close up of MSI Creator 16.

There’s a kill change for the digicam, though I favor the bodily shutter.

For one, whereas the port choice must be high-quality for normal use (two Thunderbolt 4, two USB 3.2 Gen 2 Kind-A, a microSD reader, and a headphone jack, along with DC-in for the barrel charger), there’s No HDMI. This may be inconvenient for many who want some exterior show or pill for his or her work – which is at the least part of the Z16’s skilled audience.

I additionally had a horrible time with the keyboard on my unit. The spacebar would not register each time my proper thumb tapped – my coworkers can attest that I used to be consistently sending Slack messages with lacking areas. MSI did not have a substitute unit out there to ship me, however says it is not a difficulty they’ve heard of earlier than. Nonetheless, the truth that I received a unit with this situation makes me somewhat involved concerning the sturdiness of the keys.

There’s additionally no 4K display possibility. There are additionally some upgradability points – teardowns have proven that the RAM is a complete bullet because of the placement of the motherboard. And – most frustratingly to me – there’s bloatware. I used to be getting antivirus nagware popups as quickly as I opened the factor, and I needed to shut all my tabs and reboot the unit to uninstall it. I complain once I see this type of factor on $1,000 units. It is unacceptable for MSI to ship a $2,600 laptop computer with crapware pre-installed on them—the equal of Hulu shoveling commercials on individuals shelling out for his or her highest subscription tier. Although it won’t have an effect on your expertise in the long term when you uninstall it instantly, it nonetheless leaves a bitter style in my mouth.

The MSI Creator Z16's keyboard, seen from above.

It is a MiniLED per-key RGB keyboard by SteelSeries.

In the end, the strongest argument in favor of shopping for the Creator Z16 is the facility it packs into such a slim and engaging chassis. Many workstations of this measurement, together with the Aero 15 and XPS 17, are fairly thick – and the MacBook, which is equally skinny, can be fairly costly.

However I am undecided the argument is robust sufficient. Battery life, particularly, is a major compromise for anybody who desires to make use of it for prolonged intervals of time away from their desk. And given the various different issues I’ve with this gadget, that are nearly unattainable in such a premium tier, I feel majority of Those that are married at this worth level and do not thoughts poor battery life may have a greater time with the Aero, which we would count on to ship comparable efficiency, however with higher port choice and higher restore (albeit in a clunkier one). ) Chassis) for even much less cash. These searching for a general-purpose multimedia machine and do not want the Z16’s energy in any respect, can count on higher battery life and a extra premium expertise from the XPS 17. And people who can spend extra money will get large enhancements on all fronts from the MacBook Professional. That does not make it a foul gadget, nevertheless it does imply it is principally geared in the direction of these for whom thinness is a prime precedence.

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