MSI Creator Z16 Hands-on Review
PC & Hardware

MSI Creator Z16 Hands-on Review

The MSI Creator Z16 is an understated laptop for creators and video editors and comes with high-end hardware.

MSI was one of the first manufacturers to announce a new series of laptops powered by Intel’s new 11th Gen H-series processors for creators and professionals. The new Creator Z16 boasts a QHD+ (2560 x 1600) 16:10 touchscreen display with thin bezels for better viewing angles and increased productivity.

Unlike MSI’s other laptops, the Creator Z16 has a subtle design that makes it ideal for work and office spaces. But don’t let the subtle looks fool you, the Creator Z16 can be paired with up to a GeForce RTX 3080 GPU, 64GB of RAM and 2TB of SSD Storage. This should help deliver smooth performance for tasks like 4K video editing and digital rendering.

Other features include per-key RGB lighting on the keyboard, a fingerprint sensor for logins, a 720p webcam, and a 90-watt-hour battery.

Specifications

CPU11th Gen Intel Core i7-11800H @ 2.30GHz (Up to 11th Gen. Intel Core i9 Processor)
RAM32GB (2 x 16GB) 3200 MHz DDR4
2 Slots, up to DDR4-3200 Max 64GB
GPUNVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 Laptop GPU 6GB GDDR6 Up to 1357MHz Boost Clock, 65W Maximum Graphics Power with Dynamic Boost.
Storage2x M.2 SSD slot (NVMe PCIe Gen4)
Display16” QHD+ (2560 x 1600), 120Hz, IPS-Level
Ports1x Micro SD 2x Type-A USB3.2 Gen2 2x Type-C (USB / DP / Thunderbolt 4) 1x Mic-in/Headphone-out combo jack
ConnectivityKiller ax Wi-Fi 6E Bluetooth v5.2
CameraIR HD type ([email protected])
Audio4x Stereo Speakers tuned by Dynaudio sound system
Battery90 Wh 4-Cell lithium-polymer battery
180W Slim adapter
Dimensions359 x 256 x 15.9 mm (14.13″ x 10.08″ x 0.63″)
Approx. 2.20 kg

The variant we’ve received is the MSI Creator Z16 A11UX

Build Quality & Ports

The Creator Z16 comes in a single color option – Lunar Grey. It features a sleek CNC-milled aluminum chassis in Lunar Grey color. The laptop measures under 16mm and is light weight at 2.2kg making it easy to carry around with you.

The laptop also undergoes MIL-STD-810G tests, a military-grade durability certification, that guarantees it reliable and durable against drops, vibrations and extreme weather.

On the left side are ports for 1x Type-A USB 3.2 Gen1, 2x Type-C and Mic-in/Headphone-out combo jack. On the right are 1x Type-A USB 3.2 Gen1, 2x Type-C and the Micro SD slot.

In terms of connectivity, there is Wi-Fi 6E powered by Intel’s latest 11th Gen H-series CPUs and is up to three times faster than WiFi 5. There is also Bluetooth 5.2 on board.

Display

MSI Creator Z16 features a 16-inch QHD+ touchscreen display with 16:10 ratio and 2560×1600 pixel resolution. The display has refresh rate of 120Hz and MSI says the display can reach up to 1000 nits of brightness. And as the Creator Z16 is meant for content creators, each laptop comes CalMAN color-calibrated by default.

The laptop also comes with MSI True Pixel technology, which offers good color reproduction and supports 100% DCI-P3 color space. The viewing angles are good both vertically and horizontally. The Mini-LED tech offers higher brightness, higher contrast ratio and better color accuracy than most other high-end laptops. The display also proved to be outstanding during both outdoor and indoor use. Colors are rich, vibrant and really pack a punch with no signs of stuttering or ghosting.

The matte screen has an anti-glare coating and the viewing angles are good both vertically and horizontally. The bezels are narrow. On the top bezel is the webcam and built-in microphones and the MSI logo at the bottom.

Keyboard & Trackpad

The Creator Z16 comes with a Mini-LED backlit per-key RGB keyboard by SteelSeries and the lighting effects can be customized using SteelSeries Engine 3.

The first row of function keys is smaller in size which allows adjusting simple things like screen brightness, keyboard lighting, fan setting, etc. There is no dedicated numpad. Typing felt good and while the backlit keyboard helps when working in dark rooms or working late.

The touchpad is wider than standard and has a fingerprint reader to the right which can be used instead of the IR camera for Windows Hello. Fingers slide smoothly on the surface and gestures are accurate and quickly recognized.

Performance & Benchmarks

Powered by the latest 11th Generation Intel Core i7-11800H processor, our review variant came with 32GB of DDR4 3200MHz RAM, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 Laptop GPU 6GB GDDR6 and 1TB M.2 SSD storage.

CPU

The i7-11800H has eight cores at a clock frequency of 2.30 GHz each reaching up to 4.60 GHz with sixteen threads, offering good multitasking performance.

MSI Creator Z16 Hands-on Review

GPU

Graphics is powered by a dedicated NVIDIA RTX 3060 GPU for laptops so far with improved raytracing and tensor cores. Built on the 8 nm process, the RTX 3060 offers 6 GB GDDR6 graphics memory with a 192 Bit memory bus and based on the GA106 core with 3840 shaders at a frequency ranging from 817 MHz to 1282 MHz (can overclock up to 1382MHz at 60W with ROG Boost).

MSI Creator Z16 Hands-on Review
MSI Creator Z16 Hands-on Review

With the new Ampere cards, there is no more Max-Q variant (the energy-efficient version specially designed for thin and portable laptops for longer battery time) but every OEM can choose to implement Max-Q technologies such as Dynamic Boost, Whisper mode etc. The same v GPU can differ in performance on different laptops based on the thermal design offered and the TGP which varies from 60 to 115 Watt.

RAM

The Creator Z16 is equipped with 32 GB of 3200Mhz DDR4 RAM. It can be further upgraded to 64GB.

STORAGE

Our review unit came with a 1TB M.2 NVMe PCIe Gen4 SSD. However, depending on the region, they may be different. The SSD offers excellent performance with read speeds of up to 6,056MB per second and write of up to 4,863MB.

MSI Creator Z16 Hands-on Review
MSI Creator Z16 Hands-on Review

BENCHMARKS

Since this was a pre-production model, we couldn’t run benchmarks on this laptop. But do check back soon for updates.

Temperature & Noise

The Creator Z16 comes with MSI’s exclusive Cooler Boost Technology for optimal thermal dissipation. With the world’s thinnest 0.1mm sharp-edged fan blade and sharing thermal design, the new Cooler Boost Trinity+ enhances the fan airflow and provides the best multi-tasking workflow.

Heat is dissipated by five heat pipes and 3 fans. With typical day-to-day tasks and using the silent profile, the noise and heat remained at very low levels. But during resource-intensive tasks such as gaming and video editing, the noise is audible and the laptop does gets warm.

Upgradeability

In terms of upgradability, there are two RAM SODIMM slots and two M.2 PCIe 3.0 slots.

Software

Most of the performance and display settings can be controlled via the MSI Creator Center. With MSI Creator Center, you can monitor and optimize your system performance, change user profiles, switch between display color modes, adjust charging preferences and more.

Battery & Audio

The MSI Creator Z16 packs a 90Whr battery and fast-charge technology. For audio, the laptop features 4x Stereo Speakers tuned by Dynaudio sound system. The sound quality is good and loud enough with hardly any distortion at high volume. But as with most gaming laptops, we recommend using a headset.

Verdict

The MSI Creator Z16 is an understated, work-oriented laptop that comes with high-end hardware.

Equipped with Intel’s Tiger Lake H processor, GeForce RTX 3060 and a QHD display, the Creator Z16 is aimed at professional creatives and video editors. The laptop is very sleek and lightweight and works as a portable work companion.

The only downside here is the price as there are competing 10th-gen Intel and Ryzen 4000 alternatives currently available for much cheaper.

8.8

MSI Creator Z16

Equipped with Intel’s Tiger Lake H processor, GeForce RTX 3060 and a QHD display, the Creator Z16 is aimed at professional creatives and video editors. The laptop is very sleek and lightweight and works as a portable work companion. The only downside here is the price as there are really some good 10th-gen Intel and Ryzen 4000 alternatives currently available for much cheaper.

THE GOOD
  • Good display
  • Great performance
  • Upgradeable RAM & SSD
  • Good number of ports
  • Minimalistic design
THE BAD
  • Gets too hot to use on the lap
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