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MSI’s Creator Z16 is finally the MacBook Pro competitor we’ve been waiting for

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MSI has announced a new laptop in its Creator line, the Z16 — and it is unabashedly a MacBook Pro alternative. It’s a 16-inch creator-focused laptop with a silver chassis, black keys, and aluminum unibody chassis. It even matches the screen size (16-inch), resolution (2500 x 1600), and aspect ratio (16:10) with the MacBook Pro 16-inch.

But there’s also quite a lot about the Creator Z16 that might make it an attractive alternative to the 16-inch MacBook Pro.

First off, that 16-inch panel has a 120Hz refresh rate. Higher refresh rates have been exclusive to gaming laptops so far, and a feature Apple has resisted bring to its Macs. The higher refresh rate’s most obvious application is gaming, but it’s also a quality-of-life feature that makes simple tasks like scrolling and animation much smoother.

It also offers a wider selection of ports, including USB-A, two Thunderbolt 4, and a Micro SD card slot.

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The MSI Creator Z16 looks like it has the performance chops to match the design. It has been updated with the new 11th-generation Intel H-series processors, which are eight-core, 45-watt processors. They’re akin to what the current MacBook Pro 16-inch currently uses, though they should be a bit faster with the optimizations Intel has made over the past couple of years. MSI is offering either the Core i7-11800H or the Core i9-11900H.

The MSI Creator Z16 also comes with an Nvidia RTX 3060 graphics card with the new Nvidia Studio drivers. We’ve seen some impressive results from these graphics cards in gaming laptops in the past few months, but now Nvidia has brought them to professional laptops with a focus on content creators. With Dynamic Boost turned on, they can be delivered up to 60 watts of power. If you rely on Adobe Premiere Pro, these new graphics and drivers should be a boon to your workflow.

Will they outperform the current AMD Radeon options in the MacBook Pro 16-inch though? Or, more importantly, the M1X or M2 that eventually come its successor? We’ll have to wait and see. We’re also seeing this update come to popular options such as the Dell XPS 17.

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MSI will have two configurations for sale. Both models come with 32GB of RAM, with the possibility of expanding yourself up to 64GB. The $2,599 configuration comes with 1TB of NVMe SSD storage, while the $2,999 model has 2TB of storage.

Beyond performance, the Creator Z16 features thin bezels, a touchscreen, and the ability to open the screen completely flat at 180 degrees. It even includes per-key RGB backlighting, a rather unique feature for a non-gaming laptop.

The Creator Z16 is 0.64 inches thick and weighs around 5.07 pounds.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

The Creator Z16 is only the tip of the iceberg for new laptops from MSI. The company has also announced updates to its wide range of gaming laptops, bumping nearly every model up to Intel’s 11th-gen chips. The 17-inch GS76 Stealth has been updated to match the all-black design of the GS66 Stealth, while the chunkier GE76 Raider now offers up to the Core i9 and 1440p 240Hz displays.

MSI also highlighted its new cheaper gaming laptops, the Pulse GL66 and Katana GF. These designs support the new RTX 3050 Ti and RTX 3050 graphics, as well as Intel’s 11th-gen processors. MSI even offers a stark white version of the GF, known as the Sword series.

The new devices will be available in starting June.

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Luke Larsen
Senior Editor, Computing
Luke Larsen is the Senior editor of computing, managing all content covering laptops, monitors, PC hardware, Macs, and more.
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