There’s no mistaking what the MSI Creator Z17 represents. This an Intel-based laptop that clearly acknowledges the elephant in the room and says “I think we can do better”. I’ve never seen a laptop take on the MacBook quite so brazenly as the MSI Creator Z17, and in truth, bar a few elements that will be hard to ignore, it almost gets there.
The creator part of the name is there to explain that if you want to be using the Adobe suite of tools such as Photoshop, Premiere Pro, or even After Effects, it can manage, or even excel. Hell, the model shipped to me was so powerful you could do all three at once, and it can eat a Premiere Pro render alive. Equipped with NVIDIA 3080Ti, you can probably guess how powerful it is before we get deep into the woods. Throw in a 17 inch touch-screen display, 32GB of RAM, and a very high end processor, and this machine is custom made for anyone who takes content creation seriously, with a digital pen on offer, which means it is also iPad or tablet-adjacent, attempting to offer everything in one.
And there’s a cost attached with that, a big one. You might be able to get this particular model for under three thousand UK pounds, but we are in the middle of deal-season. The RRP, however, is over £4000. I understand this is clearly designed for professionals, but even then, that is a very high asking price, and one that, when competing against Apple’s M1 and M2 chip MacBooks, is steep even compared to the famously expensive Apple brand.
For that price (perhaps as you’d expect) there’s a generous sized mouse trackpad which is one of the best I’ve ever seen on a laptop. Likewise, while I’ll never promote the use of a laptop keyboard, the MSI Creator Z17 has a good one, and it’s fully laden with LEDs, if you like that sort of thing, and customisable with it. The screen is an absolute beauty to behold, offering a crisp 2560×1600 QHD image which makes any games you try on it absolutely sing. Trying a aesthetically stylised game like Evil West, it absolutely pops off the screen and looks as though it’s how you feel the developer intended it to.
While I tested the usual fare, I spent upwards of 15-20 hours playing Marvel’s Midnight Suns at 1440p, and the performance was superb. However, it was during longer sessions of gaming I noticed the Creator M17 would get quite hot. I appreciate this isn’t an MSI issue, but laptops don’t seem to be addressing this, and I feel that if I spent the best part of four grand on a device, I’d really like to use that laptop as, well, a laptop… on my lap. As it is, perhaps I’m being unfair, as a cushion became my heat barrier, and it saved me turning the heating on for a few evenings.
Connectivity isn’t really much these days, and it’s one area where a MacBook can’t quite keep up. Two USB-C ports is a great option (though one is the charging cable port), and there’s nothing “missing” as such, though there also isn’t a plethora of ports. Like with any laptop, a good multi-use USB-based dongle will do you well, here. The on-board sound is pretty good as well, while we’re talking stock inclusions, and the WiFi and Bluetooth also worked a treat.
As we’re a gaming website first and foremost, it’s worth noting that I did encounter performance issues when running off the battery power. At first I thought it was a bug with a pre-release build of a game, but when I plugged in the power, it resolved the issues almost immediately. It’s clear that the battery is struggling pushing higher resolutions and frame rates, though I’m also not sure it’s a deal-breaker, since most people spending this kind of money on a device likely aren’t playing Sackboy on a train or something. Plugged in, I was satisfied with the performance, though not the heat that came off the device.
Battery wise, you won’t be disappointed with it unless you try to play high resolution games. For creation, web-browsing, playback, etc, it will give you a decent amount of hours (around3-4), but again, not close that of a MacBook. That said, bar it being ever so slightly awkward to open up, it’s a very well made piece of kit. It has a sturdy and robust appearance, and aside the LEDs, it doesn’t “look” expensive, and again, is clearly inspired by it’s non-PC market leading counterpart.
What’s very clear after spending a few weeks with the MSI Creator Z17 is that it’s a well produced, lovely laptop to be caretaker for. However, for the price, it’s worth shopping around a bit. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t want to say goodbye to it, but there’s still room for improvement with the Creator series. I’d like a true 4K screen and a slightly better battery life if I’m honest, and there are other (equally expensive, I should add) laptops out there that do the hybrid touch-screen functionality better, such as the Asus ROG Flow series (though that itself has issues to improve).
The MSI Creator Z17 is a great bit of kit, aimed at the high end market at trying to push in on the MacBook dominance of the modern era, and to an extent it’s successful. A high price point will put many off, but the fact it’s also a gaming PC will counter the concerns, and let’s face it, you are getting a 3080Ti for that money, which is a large part of the deal. There are cheaper Creator Z17 models out there, with lower end components, so I’d say check them out, and see what suits your needs best. That said, you won’t be disappointed with the Z17 any way you look at it, assuming that price point isn’t a problem.
Pretty much future proof
An "all in one" device
A genuinely well made device
Battery is only "okay"
Gets very warm