In this article, I give you my MSI Creator 17 review with specs included. Company MSI is mostly known for gaming laptops. They have been doing mobile workstations (a fancy name for laptops) that do creative stuff for a while now. So, if this looks a little familiar as you look around it (more images below), well that’s because it really is reminiscent of their GE75 Raider, a 17-inch relatively slim and light gaming laptop.
But, other than the silver paint job to make it look more businessy with no blingy red accents and no RGB keyboard (just a white background keyboard) we have something really interesting here which is a 4K mini LED display, one of the first in a laptop.
So yeah, we’ve seen this from gaming laptop companies before. Razer, MSI, ASUS come up with a mobile workstation or laptop for creators that’s pretty heavily based on a gaming laptop and that’s not necessarily a bad approach. If you want a device without the bling, without the traditional kind of black and red look all that sort of thing.
Often we see them switch over to Nvidia Quadro graphics instead of the usual G-force RTX graphics that we see in a gaming laptop. And for everyday home creator kind of person making videos and even for folks like me, casual editors, Nvidia GeForce graphics are absolutely fun. We don’t need Quadro, that is more for the more corporate kind of folks. For example at Disney, I’m sure they use a lot of Quadro workstations but it’s perfectly fine too for most people.
That said, there’s not a whole lot different from the Raiders so you can also consider that. But, the most important and different thing is that mini LED display which everybody’s getting excited about. And it’s supposed to be a very attractive technology in terms of getting very bright and also having a very wide color gamut.
So, MSI has a couple of different options for displays. I do have the one with mini LED which is a 4K matte display. All their options are matte non-touch by the way. So, this one claims full P3 color gamut which is typically used for cinema but to my eye the default P3 they have (they have two P3 profiles that they offer in terms of software calibration) it’s really closer to more like an adobe RGB profile.
But anyway, that’s what they claim on specs as well as a 1000 nit of brightness. And this has 240 zones of local dimming which is something if you’ve shopped for TVs you’re familiar with where it can dim different zones to try to affect more of a contrast. So, the dark areas look darker, that sort of thing. So that’s a pretty neat technology.
If you want to start with the base model of this it’s just a full hd 300 knit 144 hertz display which is obviously geared more towards gaming types who just want a gaming laptop that doesn’t look all blingy gamery. And for those of you who are more into just the photo editing and maybe not the video editing and the hdr kind of work there’s a 4k ips full adobe rgb display option.
So you’ve got a couple there. So let’s talk about the display first because it might be why you’re here as well. Uh i think part of what hurts here is msi’s color calibration software. They have five different presets adobe rgb p3 a modified p3 that it ships with srgb you name it. It’s not really very good.
None of the profiles when we test it with our colorimeter really come up as being anything close to color accurate. So that hurts a little bit. I mean i personally if it was my machine they’ve got a custom option and you can play with that and you can actually improve it too.
Warm it up a little bit which it needs to correct the gamma which is a little bit too high by default. But i would probably just try to set it to its complete default and use my own colorimeter to calibrate if i’m doing professional work with this thing which probably might be one of the reasons why you’re buying it.
And if you’re just buying it for prettier looking content well then that’s fine you can use the preset profiles and if they look good to your eye you can be happy with them. They say a thousand knits we measured almost 900 nits. So yes it is freaking bright it really is.
But the flip side here is unlike oled displays which have perfect blacks or even a really high quality ips display they can have very low blacks the black level on this is really high. And you can see the metrics on screen. Again measured with their default factory calibration profile.
So it’s not going to be as shocking as oled in terms of the contrast and dark scenes are not going to look as dark as they might you get the idea. If you’re editing hdr video it might throw you off a little bit so you might want to do your own calibration.
You could use windows hdr but you know windows hdr is still kind of a work in progress and often makes all the colors look kind of wonky and it’s a lot of work to get them back to the way they should be. But that would be an option as well. So it’s a nice display colors do pop.
Contrast looks pretty good mostly thanks to how bright it gets. And if you’re not running it at max brightness because who would it. Almost 900 is right. And then the contrast calms down a little bit looks a little bit better and it’s a very pleasing display.
But i’m not a hundred percent sold on it on this machine yet. So beyond the display how about it right. Performance here is you get a pretty high spec core a7. It’s the eight-core intel 10th gen i7 cpu. And your choice of nvidia rtx 2060 rtx 2070 max q rtx 2070 super max q are our model which is the top of the line and it has rtx 2080 super max q graphics inside.
So the price runs anywhere from 1799 to 35.99 for our high end model. So if you go with that full hd display just rtx 2060 16 gigs of ram then you’re looking at you know the much more affordable price tag. And then you’ve got the ips 4k sitting somewhere in the upper half of the the price range but not as expensive as ours.
Those are good metrics right there. And for our top of line models we have 32 gigs of ddr4 26 66 megahertz ram. There are two ram slots here so 64 would be the max. You get a fast m.2 nvme ssd. There are actually two slots here. So that’s good performance specs right there.
And performance is gonna depend on what you’re doing with it as ever. This is not tuned like the raider like a gaming laptop let’s put it that way. In terms of the cooling in terms of the cpu temperatures it hits and the throttling and all that sort of thing if you’re going to be trying to do cyberpunk 2077 with this sure yes.
You’ll be able to play it but probably not as well as a purpose-built gaming laptop because the thermals are getting in the way here. It gets a little toasty folks. But if you’re using it for pro apps creator kind of purposes if you’re doing 4k video editing in premiere i ran into no problems.
I didn’t see it thermal throttling even when exporting 4k video. I mean if you’re doing crazy number of audio channels and all that sort of thing getting seriously pro about it like for tv or movie studios then you probably could get this thing throttling.
But if you’re doing blender renders that sort of thing yeah i can handle that just fine. But if you’re buying this because you want a game to i still might lean towards the raider for example instead and getting a little bit better thermal headroom going on that.
In terms of portability though it’s pretty impressive. 5.29 pounds which is 2.4 kilograms and under an inch thick for a 17 inch powerful laptop that’s pretty impressive. So it’s an easy carry. The power brick is a 230 watt power brick and it’s pretty slim it’s not so huge for this class of machines.
So that certainly stands in its favor compared to some of the really big honking gaming laptops that are on the market. Connectivity is pretty good too. We have a thunderbolt 3 port on this and we also have a usb c port which does support charging.
In those going to be really slow because usbc max is at 100 watts and obviously the ships with the 230 watt charger that’s better than nothing. You’ve got usb a ports on board you’ve got both headphone and mic jack on board and they support high-res audio.
Msi does a good job with those usually and that’s a nice thing to have especially for content creators. Micro sd card slot is uhs class three so it’s fast. Yes not a full size card but these days i can live with it that’s fine. We got ethernet we have hdmi 2.0 so yes you can connect a 4k display at 60 hertz on this. So not too bad.
The ports are concentrated kind of in the middle of both sides which might be a little bit annoying if you’re using an external mouse. Might get in the way of your hands a little bit the power jack also plugs in there but at least it’s a right angle.
The speakers on this are two by two watts and they’re okay. They’re not amazing but they’re not hideous either. They’re kind of run-of-the-mill medium quality. The keyboard on this i find it pretty pleasant. It’s not so different from the feel of the latest well ge75 raider.
The keys feel fairly crisp. Maybe not as springy and as lively as the raider but feels fine. Again it’s white back lighting multi-stage there are no rgb color light shows going on. And we have a very large glass track bed and it feels silky it feels kind of nice it behaves very well.
The battery is 82 watt hour which is decent. It’s not that different from the razer blade 15 for example in terms of battery capacity. Obviously battery life is really going to depend on what you’re doing with this and which display you go for.
If you’re going for either of the 4k displays but particularly that mini led display where you might be tempted to drive that brightness up. That would certainly tank the the battery run times on this. If you go with the full hd in an rtx 2060 things will look better.
For our tests we do mixed productivity and some streaming videos. So that means your word your excel your slack your netflix streaming that sort of thing at 150 nits of brightness. Which given the range of this machine is not very bright but it’s good enough for indoor low-light use.
And i was getting about four and a half hours for run times on that so yeah. It does have nvidia optimus on board by the way. So you do have switchable graphics and that means that it was running on integrated graphics for those tests.
One touch that i actually like is you can use msi’s creator software which is basically a repurposing of their dragon center software for well more creator types. And you can switch to dedicated graphics only. Why does that matter.
When you’re playing games and sometimes even doing other things you’ll notice that you get a bit better performance when it’s set to dedicated only mode for whatever reason that might be for them. There is no g-sync on board for the built-in panels here.
To take off the bottom cover. By the way aluminum all around on the cover of this laptop top and bottom. 15 phillips head screws no less than that. And one of them is hidden under the factory seal sticker so remember to get that one. And then it comes off pretty easily.
Start from the front edge and pry it off there’s no obnoxious plastic clips making it inordinately difficult. Obviously we got plenty of ventilation going on over here. And these are the grates on each side for the stereo speakers that are down firing.
And the underside looks like so. And here’s our interior. And we can see we have a lot of this kind of mylar heat shield stuff going on. But you do have access to the battery without messing with that. By the way i did not tear that up somebody else did tear that up. This is our m.2 boot ssd it comes with a 2 terabyte for this high-end 359 dollar skew.
Second m.2 slot here compatible with nvme and sata drives. And obviously the fans are left open for cooling. And we’ve got the three fans which is their cooler boost trinity plus design. And the good news and the bad news.
So after we pulled off that plastic covering here a little bit bigger view of the motherboard or better view. There’s our intel wi-fi six card ax201. So that is accessible but as you can see just like msi’s stealth laptops from a go this is an inverted motherboard.
So if you want to get to the heatsinks to replace the heatsinks and cpu and gpu on this you’re going to have to remove the motherboard to gain access to them. We do have the three fans here and we’ve got intakes and exhausts rear and sides which is a good thing something that they do with their gaming laptops.
Their cooler boost trinity or trinity plus solution which has three fans total. So you got two here you got one here so both your cpu and your gpu stay cool. And they have seven heat pipes if we could only see them without pulling out the motherboard.
Which is a pretty good darn amount of cooling. As you might guess given the fact that some of the component heat the heat sinks are facing upward the keyboard gets warm but not that bad really. But the bottom in this area which is where the most heat generation would happen does get pretty toasty when you’re pushing it hard.
So you know you probably don’t want to put on your lap if you’re doing a heavy duty 3d render but for normal use temperatures are fine. So that’s the MSI creator 17. So you’ve got a couple options here. Anything from the full hd and 144 hertz for gamers all the way up to the 4k displays at 60 hertz and less for gamers but for that wide gamut for creator type.
So you’ve got powerful fairly powerful graphics on board here. Granted some of them are the max q versions. But still i mean nobody’s going to sneeze in RTX 2080 super max q are they. And a good upgrade ability. The the one thing that i’d like to have seen done better is that mini led display. Particularly the contrast level and the color calibration from the factory on it. It’s not oled yet but it’ll be good to see what the future has in store.
MSI Creator 17