MSI Creator Z16P review: Creators yes, gamers no

MSI Creator Z16P

MSRP $4,299.00

“The MSI Creator Z16P is a incredible performer, as long as you steer clear of gaming.”


  • Excellent productivity and inventive performance
  • Solid construct quality
  • Modern attractiveness
  • Great keyboard and touchpad
  • Excellent display


  • Expensive
  • Poor gaming performance

Laptops designed for creative professionals have turn into extremely popular over the past several years. Every manufacturer has a line or two geared toward creative work, none more so than MSI with its aptly named Creator series. The corporate recently updated the Creator Z16 that we reviewed last 12 months with the Creator Z16P, improving the thermal design and upgrading to Intel’s Twelfth-gen CPUs.

I reviewed the top-end configuration that’s $4,299 with a Core i9-12900H, an Nvidia RTX 3080 Ti, and a 16-inch 16:10 QHD+ (2,560 x 1,600) IPS display. Those are some serious components that promise excellent content creation performance, and the Creator Z16P lived as much as its promise. It’s a well-built and attractive laptop that, while very expensive, competes strongly against other large creator workstations — as long as you steer clear of gaming.


MSI Creator Z16P front view showing display and keyboard deck.Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The Creator Z16P is a solidly built laptop constructed of CNC-machined aluminum. There’s no flexing, bending, or twisting within the lid, keyboard deck, or chassis. The Creator Z16 was equally well built, putting MSI’s premier creator’s laptops in good company with the perfect you’ll find, including the Dell XPS 15 and XPS 17 and Apple MacBook Pro 16. MSI subjected the Creator Z16P to MIL-STD-810G testing for durability, which Lenovo also does with its ThinkPad line and provides some additional confidence.

Aesthetically, the Creator Z16P subtly betrays MSI’s gaming laptop roots. Its dark gray color scheme and overall lines are conservative enough, with only a subdued MSI logo on the lid providing an ornamental accent. But open the lid, and also you’ll see per-key RGB lighting on the SteelSeries keyboard that’s incongruent with a laptop intended for productivity and inventive work. Plus, there are aggressive vents along all sides that you just normally see on gaming machines. Even so, it’s a beautiful look, if a bit daring. The XPS 15, XPS 17, and MacBook Pro 16 are more businesslike by comparison.

The Creator Z16P has small bezels around the perimeters and top of its 16:10 16-inch display, with a rather larger chin than you’ll find on the XPS 15. It’s an identical to the Creator Z16 in width and depth, however it’s thicker at 0.75 inches versus 0.64 inches and heavier at 5.27 kilos versus 5.07 kilos.

That’s accounted for by an upgraded thermal design. The Prestige Z16P is inside fractions of an inch in width and depth of the Lenovo ThinkPad x1 Extreme Gen 4, one other 16-inch performance laptop, which is thinner at 0.70 inches and significantly lighter at 3.99 kilos. Overall, the Creator Z16P is a big laptop that you just won’t need to lug around any greater than you could.

Ports and connectivity

MSI Creator Z16P left side showing ports and vents.

msi creator z16p review right view

Connectivity is slightly limited for such a big laptop, with two USB-C ports, (one with Thunderbolt 4 support), a USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 port, a 3.5mm audio jack, and a full-size SD card reader. Power is provided by a proprietary connector and a 240-watt power supply.

There’s no HDMI port, which you frequently find on larger machines, and only one Thunderbolt 4 port is disappointing.

Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2 provide up-to-date wireless connectivity.


MSI Creator Z16P rear view showing lid and logo.Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The Creator Z16P might be configured with one in all several 45-watt Intel Twelfth-gen CPUs, and my review unit was equipped with the Core i9-12900H. That’s a 14-core (six Performance and eight Efficient), 20-thread CPU running at as much as 5.0GHz. Paired with that was an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti, with Nvidia’s Studio drivers geared toward providing the very best performance and reliability in a number of creative, engineering, and scientific applications. On paper, the Creator Z16P needs to be a speedy laptop indeed.

My benchmarks confirmed it. The Creator Z16P scored the very best amongst our comparison group in Geekbench 5 when set in each balanced and performance modes using the MSI Center Pro utility that gives precise control over thermals. For essentially the most part, the utility had less impact than I’ve seen in other MSI laptops, however it wasn’t since the laptop’s thermal design limited its ceiling — I noticed just some minor throttling in performance mode. One difference between this model and the previous Creator Z16 is the introduction of a vapor chamber cooler providing 76% more cooling area and fans that provide 65% more airflow. Overall, the thermal system did its job.

In our Handbrake test that encodes a 420MB video as H.265, the Creator Z16P was again the fastest, including beating the MSI GE76 Raider gaming laptop that’s thicker and has even higher thermals. The one synthetic benchmark where the Creator Z16P didn’t take first place was Cinebench R23, and here it was just barely behind the GE76 Raider.

While the MSI Center Pro performance tuning utility didn’t have much impact in most of our benchmarks, there was an enormous difference within the Pugetbench Premiere Pro benchmark that runs in a live version of Adobe’s Premiere Pro. The GPU heavily influences this benchmark, and the Creator Z16P needs to be a top performer. In balanced mode, though, the laptop was slow at just 717. That’s behind every other machine in our comparison group. When switched to performance mode, nonetheless, the Creator Z16P hit 1,042, which is the fourth-highest laptop rating we’ve recorded behind the MSI GE76 Raider (1,120), the MacBook Pro 16 with the M1 Max CPU (1,167), and the Gigabyte Aero 16 (1,115). Each Intel machines had Core i9 CPUs and RTX 3080 Ti GPUs.

The Creator Z16P is a seriously fast laptop that competes strongly with other machines in its class, including the MacBook Pro 16. MSI provides plenty of control over thermal performance via the MSI Center Pro app, including a mode that runs the fans at full blast. You can too activate a Smart Auto setting that detects the running apps and mechanically switches between modes. When you’re in search of a laptop that gives top performance for demanding productivity and inventive workflows, the Prestige Z16P needs to be high in your list.

(single / multi)
Cinebench R23
(single / multi)
Premiere Pro
MSI Creator Z16P
(Core i9-12900H)
Bal: 1,769 / 14,034
Perf: 1,835 / 14,051
Bal: 71
Perf: 69
Bal: 1,844 / 15,047
Perf: 1,837 / 16,084
Bal: 717
Perf: 1,042
MSI Creator Z16
(Core i7-11800H)
Bal: 1,540 / 7,625
Perf: N/A
Bal: 103
Perf: N/A
Bal: 1,444 / 9,615
Perf: N/A
Dell XPS 17 9720
(Core i7-12700H)
Bal: 1,712 / 13,176
Perf: 1,747 / 13,239
Bal: 74
Perf: 71
Bal: 1,778 / 12,696
Perf: 1,779 / 14,086
Bal: 771
Perf: 853
Apple MacBook Pro 16
(Apple M1 Pro)
Bal: 1,773 / 12,605
Perf: N/A
Bal: 95
Perf: N/A
Bal: 1,531 / 12,343
Perf: N/A
Bal: 977
Perf: N/A
Razer Blade 17
(Core i7-12800H)
Bal: 1,808 / 11,843
Perf: N/A
Bal: 73
Perf: N/A
Bal: 1,697 / 13,218
Perf: N/A
Bal: 969
Perf: N/A
MSI Creator Z17
(Core i7-12700H)
Bal: 1,744 / 11,750
Perf: 1,741 / 13,523
Bal: 88
Perf: 70
Bal: 1,805 / 11,266
Perf: 1,819 / 15,754
Bal: 897
Perf: 984
MSI GE76 Raider
(Core i9-129000HK)
Bal: 1,855 / 13,428
Perf: N/A
Bal: 72
Perf: N/A
Bal: 1,872 / 16,388
Perf: N/A
Bal: 1,120
Perf: N/A
LG Gram 16 2-in-1
(Core i7-1260P)
Bal: 1,682 / 9,035
Perf: 1,686 / 9,479
Bal: 137
Perf: 113
Bal: 1,524 / 6,314
Perf: 1,663 / 8,396


MSI Creator Z16P rear view showing vents.Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The Nvidia RTX Studio drivers don’t provide the perfect gaming performance in comparison with Nvidia’s standard drivers. As well as, MSI set a TGP for the RTX 3080 Ti of 90 watts, in comparison with its maximum of 150 watts. You possibly can see this immediately within the 3DMark Time Spy test, where the Creator Z16P fell behind the opposite laptops with the RTX 3080 Ti. As well as, despite all frame-limiting settings turned off within the system and within the games, frame rates were locked at 60 frames per second (fps). I reached out to MSI to resolve the situation and will not give you an answer.

So, the Creator Z16P didn’t do well in our gaming benchmarks. First, Civilization VI wouldn’t go higher than 60 fps regardless of what settings I applied, a situation that I discovered applied across the board. In Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, it managed just 55 (fps) at 1080p and ultra high graphics, which is lower than the MSI Creator Z17 with an RTX 3070 Ti. Its performance was also very inconsistent on this benchmark, hitting just 33 fps at 1440p and high graphics and 43 fps at ultra high. In Cyberpunk 2077, the Creator Z16P managed just 30 fps at 1080p and ultra graphics. Again, the laptop was inconsistent, hitting the identical 30 fps at medium graphics but then managing 41 fps at 1440p and ultra graphics.

Briefly, gaming on the Creator Z16P was an actual disappointment. The display’s fast 165Hz refresh rate is totally wasted, and one can only hope that there have been issues with the drivers on my review unit that MSI might find a way to deal with.

Assassin’s Creed
Ultra High)
Civilization VI
(1080p Ultra)
1200p Epic)
Time Spy
MSI Creator Z16P
(RTX 3080 Ti)
55 fps 30 fps 60 fps 60 fps Bal: 9,251
Perf: 10,054
MSI Creator Z16
(RTX 3060)
50 fps N/A 92 fps 56 fps Bal: 6,322
Perf: N/A
Dell XPS 17 9720
(RTX 3060)
23 fps 45 fps 111 fps 111 fps Bal: 6,757
Perf: 6,958
MSI Creator Z17
(RTX 3070 Ti)
60 fps 61 fps N/A 85 fps Bal: 8,763
Perf: 9,263
Razer Blade 17
(RTX 3080 Ti)
83 fps 52 fps 193 fps 104 fps Bal: 12,634
Perf: N/A
MSI GE76 Raider
(RTX 3080 Ti)
93 fps N/A 169 fps N/A Bal: 12,421
Perf: N/A

Display and audio

MSI Creator Z16P front view showing display.Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

There’s only one display option with the MSI Creator Z16P, and it’s a 16-inch 16:10 QHD+ (2,560 x 1,600) IPS touch display running at 165Hz. During my testing, the display was extremely brilliant with dynamic colours that weren’t blown out or oversaturated. Blacks were true enough that text popped on a white background. It was an enjoyable display.

Once I applied my colorimeter, I discovered a panel just on the verge of being excellent. Brightness was high at 461 nits, well above our 300-nit standard, and the contrast was 990:1, just under our preferred 1,000:1 threshold. Colours were wider than average at 100% of sRGB and 89% of AdobeRGB, with an accuracy of DeltaE 0.89 (lower than 1.0 is taken into account excellent). The Dell XPS 17‘s IPS display is significantly higher across the board, however the Creator Z16P’s display matched the opposite IPS panels in our comparison group.

After all, OLED displays are also superior, as with the Dell XPS 15. The MacBook Pro 16’s mini-LED display had higher contrast but not much wider colours and it was less accurate. Note that the contrast difference between the OLED display and the MacBook’s is as a result of a difference in colorimeters used to check them; they each provide equally inky blacks.

The one thing holding the display back from being an optimal selection for creators is the AdobeRGB gamut. Typically, we wish to see this number within the 90s. Nonetheless, it’s still ok for all but essentially the most demanding professionals, and it’s a step up from the display on the Creator Z16.

Contrast sRGB gamut AdobeRGB gamut Accuracy DeltaE
(lower is healthier)
MSI Creator Z16P
461 990:1 100% 89% 0.89
MSI Creator Z16
382 800:1 92% 71% 1.28
Dell XPS 17 9720
543 1,870:1 100% 100% 0.58
Dell XPS 15 9520
391 28,130:1 100% 96% 0.42
Apple MacBook Pro 16
475 475,200:1 100% 90% 1.04
Razer Blade 17
313 890:1 100% 90% 0.84
MSI Creator Z17
355 840:1 100% 87% 1.35

4 speakers, two downward-firing on the underside of the chassis and two upward-firing above the keyboard, put out significant volume. It’s enough to fill a medium-sized room, and the standard was good, with clear mids and highs and a touch of bass. You won’t need a pair of headphones for music and Netflix binging.

Keyboard, touchpad, and webcam

MSI Creator Z16P top down view showing keyboard, touchpad, and pen.Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The per-key RGB lighting on the keyboard is fun but unnecessary. Fortunately, that’s not this keyboard’s defining feature. Moderately, the keyboard has excellent spacing and nicely sized keycaps, with light and precise switches featuring a crisp bottoming motion. It’s nearly as good because the keyboard on laptops just like the Dell XPS 17, which is high praise.

The touchpad is nicely sized and significantly larger than its predecessor, with a smooth surface that supports Microsoft Precision touchpad drivers and the whole repertoire of Windows 11 multitouch gestures. The clicks are quiet and assured, a drastic improvement over the Creator Z16’s loud and stiff buttons.

The display can also be touch-enabled, providing one other convenient solution to control the operating system. Oddly enough for a clamshell laptop, there’s support for an lively pen that’s included within the box. It not only supports Windows 11 inking but provides a distant mode via Bluetooth for controlling presentations.

Windows 11 Hello passwordless login is provided by each an infrared camera with facial recognition and a fingerprint reader on the palm rest. In my testing, each methods were fast and reliable.

Finally, the webcam is a Full HD version, which was great to see. Video quality was excellent in each brilliant and low lighting conditions, making the Creator Z16P a fantastic machine for videoconferencing.

Battery life

MSI Creator Z16P side view showing lid, ports, and vents.Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The Prestige Z16P has 90 watt-hours of battery capability, which is a good amount for a laptop with a big, high-resolution display and fast components. But it surely’s no guarantee of great battery life, which we didn’t see within the Creator Z16 with the identical size battery and a slower CPU.

In our web-browsing test that cycles through some popular and complicated web sites, the Prestige Z16P managed just 4.75 hours, the form of rating we normally see with gaming laptops. The Dell XPS 17 lasted almost three hours longer. In our video test that loops a neighborhood 1080p movie trailer, the MSI hit 5.5 hours, one other low rating that the XPS 17 beat handily. Finally, within the PCMark 10 Applications battery test that’s the perfect indication of productivity battery life, the Prestige Z16P shut down at around 5.5 hours,

After all, the standout here is the Apple MacBook Pro 16, which thoroughly trounced its Windows competition despite being roughly as fast. The Prestige Z16P was embarrassed by the MacBook’s longevity.

The Prestige Z16P isn’t a highly portable workstation. Do any form of intensive creative work, and also you’ll probably run out of juice in a few hours. The ability brick is large and heavy, so plan accordingly.

Web browsing Video PCMark 10
MSI Creator Z16P
(Core i9-12900H)
4 hours, 42 minutes 5 hours, 24 minutes 5 hours, 37 minutes
MSI Creator Z16
(Core i7-11800H)
5 hours, 20 minutes 8 hours, 12 minutes N/A
Dell XPS 17 9720
(Core i7-12700H)
7 hours, 36 minutes 13 hours, 5 minutes 7 hours, 3 minutes
Dell XPS 15 9520
(Core i7-12700H)
9 hours, 38 minutes 12 hours, 40 minutes 11 hours, 14 minutes
MSI Creator Z17
(Core i7-12700H)
4 hours, 23 minutes 4 hours, 32 minutes N/A
Razer Blade 17
(Core i7-12800H)
3 hours, 11 minutes 3 hours, 41 minutes N/A
Apple MacBook Pro 16
(Apple M1 Pro)
18 hours, 35 minutes 23 hours, 11 minutes N/A

Price and configurations

The MSI Creator Z16P is available in 4 costly configurations. The entry-level model is $2,899 with a Core i7-12700H, 16GB of DDR5 RAM, a 1TB PCIe 4.0 SSD, and an Nvidia RTX 3070 Ti. On the high end was my review unit, which costs $4,299 and includes the Core i9-12900H, 64GB of DDR5 RAM, a 2TB PCIe 4.0 SSD, and an RTX 3080 Ti.

Our take

The MSI Creator Z16P is one in all the faster Windows machines you possibly can buy for creative work, and its display is sweet enough for all but essentially the most demanding creators. It’s also a really expensive laptop, meaning it’s an investment best made by those that need the utmost in performance and don’t want to modify to MacOS.

Gamers should definitely look elsewhere, though, since the Creator Z16P severely underperformed on this area. I’m undecided if it was a driver or hardware problem, however the laptop simply didn’t live as much as its potential.

Are there any alternatives?

There are several great laptops with larger displays geared toward the creative market. One is the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme, with a fifth-generation on the way in which with Intel Twelfth-gen CPUs. It’s a solid machine with similar specifications and a cheaper price.

Two options should you’re willing to go slightly smaller or slightly larger are the Dell XPS 15 and 17. Each also offer Core i9 CPUs, but their GPUs aren’t as powerful. They’re more portable, nonetheless, and cheaper, making them great options for those whose creative tasks are a bit less demanding.

But possibly essentially the most compelling competitor is the Apple MacBook Pro 16. When configured with its Apple M1 Max CPU, it’s as fast because the Creator X16P and around the identical price. Its display is healthier, and also you won’t discover a machine with a higher-quality construct.

How long will it last?

The MSI Creator Z16P is well-built, and that’s a superb thing given how expensive it’s. The components are up thus far and will keep you creating content for a few years. MSI offers one 12 months of accidental damage protection with a limit of 1 claim per laptop. Otherwise, the industry-standard single 12 months of warranty protection is disappointing at these prices.

Must you buy it?

Yes, should you’re a creator who demands essentially the most performance. When you’re a gamer, though, you’ll want to contemplate a unique machine.

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