MSI Creator 17 - Mini LED Screens Are Here!

JT JT 04 September
MSI Creator 17 - Mini LED Screens Are Here!

The Creator 17 from MSI is the first laptop with a mini LED screen, but what does this actually mean for content creators and is it worth paying for? Let’s find out in this detailed review. MSI Creator 17 - Mini LED Screens Are Here!My configuration has an 8 core Intel i7-10875H processor, Nvidia RTX 2080 Super Max-Q graphics, 32GB of memory in dual channel and 4K mini LED screen. It’s got 2.5 gigabit ethernet, WiFi 6, and a 1TB NVMe M.2 SSD for storage, but there are a number of different spec options though.

Differences are marked in red Creator 17 A10SGS Creator 17 A10SFS Creator 17 A10SF Creator 17 A10SE
CPU CPU Up to 10th Gen. Intel® Core™ i9 Processor CPU Up to 10th Gen. Intel® Core™ i9 Processor CPU Up to 10th Gen. Intel® Core™ i9 Processor CPU Up to 10th Gen. Intel® Core™ i9 Processor
OS OS Windows 10 Home
Windows 10 Pro
OS Windows 10 Home
Windows 10 Pro
OS Windows 10 Home
Windows 10 Pro
OS Windows 10 Home
Windows 10 Pro
Display Display 17.3" UHD (3840x2160), IPS-Level
17.3" FHD (1920x1080), 144Hz, IPS-Level
17.3" UHD (3840x2160), MiniLED, HDR 1000, 60Hz, IPS-Level
Display 17.3" UHD (3840x2160), IPS-Level
17.3" FHD (1920x1080), 144Hz, IPS-Level
17.3" UHD (3840x2160), MiniLED, HDR 1000, 60Hz, IPS-Level
Display 17.3" UHD (3840x2160), IPS-Level
17.3" FHD (1920x1080), 144Hz, IPS-Level
17.3" UHD (3840x2160), MiniLED, HDR 1000, 60Hz, IPS-Level
Display 17.3" UHD (3840x2160), IPS-Level
17.3" FHD (1920x1080), 144Hz, IPS-Level
17.3" UHD (3840x2160), MiniLED, HDR 1000, 60Hz, IPS-Level
Chipset Chipset Intel® HM470 Chipset Intel® HM470 Chipset Intel® HM470 Chipset Intel® HM470
Graphics Graphics NVIDIA® GeForce® RTX 2080 SUPER™ With Max-Q Design, 8GB GDDR6 Graphics NVIDIA® GeForce® RTX 2070 SUPER™ With Max-Q Design, 8GB GDDR6 Graphics NVIDIA® GeForce RTX™ 2070 With Max-Q Design, 8GB GDDR6 Graphics NVIDIA® GeForce RTX™ 2060 with 6GB GDDR6
Memory Memory Up to DDR4-3200
2 Slots
Max 64GB
Memory Up to DDR4-3200
2 Slots
Max 64GB
Memory Up to DDR4-3200
2 Slots
Max 64GB
Memory Up to DDR4-3200
2 Slots
Max 64GB
Storage Capability Storage Capability 2x M.2 SSD Combo slot (NVMe PCIe Gen3 / SATA) Storage Capability 2x M.2 SSD Combo slot (NVMe PCIe Gen3 / SATA) Storage Capability 2x M.2 SSD Combo slot (NVMe PCIe Gen3 / SATA) Storage Capability 2x M.2 SSD Combo slot (NVMe PCIe Gen3 / SATA)
Webcam Webcam IR HD type ([email protected]) Webcam IR HD type ([email protected]) Webcam IR HD type ([email protected]) Webcam IR HD type ([email protected])
Keyboard Keyboard Backlight Keyboard (Single-Color, White) Keyboard Backlight Keyboard (Single-Color, White) Keyboard Backlight Keyboard (Single-Color, White) Keyboard Backlight Keyboard (Single-Color, White)
Communication Communication 802.11 ax Wi-Fi 6 + Bluetooth v5.1 Communication 802.11 ax Wi-Fi 6 + Bluetooth v5.1 Communication 802.11 ax Wi-Fi 6 + Bluetooth v5.1 Communication 802.11 ax Wi-Fi 6 + Bluetooth v5.1
Audio Audio 2x 2W Speaker Audio 2x 2W Speaker Audio 2x 2W Speaker Audio 2x 2W Speaker
Audio Jack Audio Jack 1x Mic-in
1x Headphone-out (HiFi)
Audio Jack 1x Mic-in
1x Headphone-out (HiFi)
Audio Jack 1x Mic-in
1x Headphone-out (HiFi)
Audio Jack 1x Mic-in
1x Headphone-out (HiFi)
I/O Ports I/O Ports 1x RJ45
1x Micro SD Card Reader
1x (4K @ 60Hz) HDMI
1x Type-C (USB3.2 Gen2 / DP / Thunderbolt™3) with PD charging
3x Type-A USB3.2 Gen1
1x Type-C (USB3.2 Gen2 / DP)
I/O Ports 1x RJ45
1x Micro SD Card Reader
1x (4K @ 60Hz) HDMI
1x Type-C (USB3.2 Gen2 / DP / Thunderbolt™3) with PD charging
3x Type-A USB3.2 Gen1
1x Type-C (USB3.2 Gen2 / DP)
I/O Ports 1x RJ45
1x Micro SD Card Reader
1x (4K @ 60Hz) HDMI
1x Type-C (USB3.2 Gen2 / DP / Thunderbolt™3) with PD charging
3x Type-A USB3.2 Gen1
1x Type-C (USB3.2 Gen2 / DP)
I/O Ports 1x RJ45
1x Micro SD Card Reader
1x (4K @ 60Hz) HDMI
1x Type-C (USB3.2 Gen2 / DP / Thunderbolt™3) with PD charging
3x Type-A USB3.2 Gen1
1x Type-C (USB3.2 Gen2 / DP)
Battery Battery 4-Cell
Li-Polymer
82 Battery (Whr)
Battery 4-Cell
Li-Polymer
82 Battery (Whr)
Battery 4-Cell
Li-Polymer
82 Battery (Whr)
Battery 4-Cell
Li-Polymer
82 Battery (Whr)
AC Adapter AC Adapter 230W Slim adapter AC Adapter 230W Slim adapter AC Adapter 230W Slim adapter AC Adapter 180W Slim adapter
Dimension (WxDxH) Dimension (WxDxH) 396.1 x 259.4 x 20.25 mm Dimension (WxDxH) 396.1 x 259.4 x 20.25 mm Dimension (WxDxH) 396.1 x 259.4 x 20.25 mm Dimension (WxDxH) 396.1 x 259.4 x 20.25 mm
Weight (w/ Battery) Weight (w/ Battery) 2.4 / 2.5 (miniLED) kg Weight (w/ Battery) 2.4 / 2.5 (miniLED) kg Weight (w/ Battery) 2.4 / 2.5 (miniLED) kg Weight (w/ Battery) 2.4 / 2.5 (miniLED) kg
Color Color Space Grey Color Space Grey Color Space Grey Color Space Grey

Let’s start out with the screen, as this is the most unique part of the Creator 17. It’s available with three different 17.3” options, there’s a 1080p 144Hz option which would be better for gaming, a 4K IPS-level panel, or the 4K Mini LED panel which is what I’ve got here. Basically the way this mini LED screen works is there are 240 local dimming zones which are independently controlled instead of just one backlight, which should in theory reduce bleed, improve contrast ratio by offering deeper blacks and allow it to get brighter.

I’ve tested the mini LED screen with the Spyder 5, and got 100% of sRGB, 85% of NTSC, 88% of AdobeRGB and 96% of DCI-P3, so quite nice results for creators. MSI Creator 17 - Mini LED Screens Are Here!At full brightness, we’re looking at 983 nits, just shy of the advertised 1000 nit peak brightness, but either way still a very bright panel for a laptop, and the contrast ratio was above most others I’ve tested at 1060:1.

MSI notes that it’s DisplayHDR 1000 certified, so as a result of the high brightness, high colour gamut and local dimming zones this panel is going to offer one of the better HDR experiences in a laptop today.MSI Creator 17 - Mini LED Screens Are Here! There was no backlight bleed detected in this worst case scenario, but expect different results with the non mini LED panel options. When looking at a dark screen and moving the mouse around, I wasn’t really seeing any halo effect around the white mouse cursor, so the 240 local dimming zones appear to be doing a good job.

The laptop is made out of aluminium on the lid, interior and bottom. MSI Creator 17 - Mini LED Screens Are Here!It’s got a clean silver finish, and there are no sharp corners or edges. Despite the materials themselves feeling nice, the build quality seemed average. There was some chassis flex when pushing down hard, and although it was minor and wasn’t an issue during regular use, it would make some creaking noises when flexed a little.

MSI lists the weight as 2.5kg for the mini LED version I’ve got here, or 2.4kg for the IPS config, though mine was closer to the latter. With the 230w power brick and cables for charging the total rises to under 3.3kg.MSI Creator 17 - Mini LED Screens Are Here!It’s not too big for a 17” laptop with this level of specs inside, and the screen bezels are 8.5mm on the sides. It was possible to open the lid with one finger, however when doing this I noticed that the laptop slid around a little on my desk, and found that not much force was required to make this happen. MSI Creator 17 - Mini LED Screens Are Here!It seems to be due to the feet on the bottom which are more of a hard plastic rather than grippy material. There was some screen flex when intentionally trying to move it, despite the metal build. The hinges felt sturdy enough, however they appear to have a plastic exterior and aren’t the newer design we saw in the GS66.

The F12 key is a shortcut to flip the screen, now they’ve used this on other laptops where the screen goes the full 180 degrees back, but this one can’t quite do that, so this feature may be less useful.

The 720p camera is found above the display in the center, and it has IR for Windows Hello support which I found to work quickly. 

The keyboard was alright to type with, it didn’t feel as mushy as the engineering sample I used months ago which is good, but still it wasn’t anything special. 

It’s got white backlighting which can be adjusted between 3 levels of brightness or turned off with the F8 shortcut key, or through the creator center software, and all keys and secondary key functions are illuminated. MSI Creator 17 - Mini LED Screens Are Here!There are holes for air ventilation towards the back, and the power button is back here too in the middle. I’ve got a problem with the touchpad. Well, the precision touchpad itself worked fine, the issue is the placement. MSI has done the wider touchpads on other machines and it’s been fine, but it doesn’t work here. Usually, the touchpad needs to be centered with regards to the letter keys. As this laptop has a numpad, the touchpad should be over to the left a bit more, but instead it’s right in the middle. This means that when typing, my right palm was constantly pressing the touchpad down. Now this wasn’t actually a problem because the palm rejection ignored it, but triggering the clicks while typing got annoying and I was constantly paranoid about it. The touchpad also has a fingerprint scanner in the top left corner, and I found it to work quickly for unlocking the machine. Due to the silver finish, fingerprints and dirt don’t really show up, it looks fine here but this is after days of testing.

On the left from the back there’s an air exhaust vent, power input, 2.5 gigabit ethernet port facing the preferred way, USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A port, UHS-III Micro SD card slot, I would have preferred full size on a larger machine like this personally, and 3.5mm mic and headphone jacks.MSI Creator 17 - Mini LED Screens Are Here! On the right from the front there’s a USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-C port with display output, two USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A ports, another USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-C port with display output, however this one has Thunderbolt 3 too, HDMI 2.0 output, another air exhaust on this side too followed by Kensington lock at the back.

I confirmed that all 3 display outputs go directly to the Nvidia graphics, bypassing the Intel integrated graphics, so an external screen would boost gaming performance, and VR is possible. MSI Creator 17 - Mini LED Screens Are Here!The back just has air exhaust vents towards the corners, and the front just has a status LED towards the right and a groove in the middle to get your finger in when opening the lid. Underneath has some air intake vents towards the back. MSI Creator 17 - Mini LED Screens Are Here!The bottom panel was very easy to remove once taking out 15 phillips head screws of the same size. MSI Creator 17 - Mini LED Screens Are Here!Once inside you’ll see that the motherboard is unfortunately upside down like some of MSI’s other designs, I was hoping it would be the normal way for easier upgradeability like the new GS66. We do get access to the two storage slots and WiFi card at least, but you’ll need to do some work if you want to upgrade memory, and it’s worth noting MSI are using DDR4-2666 memory rather than the faster speeds Intel 10th gen is capable of.

The two 2w speakers are found towards the front on the left and right corners, they weren’t great, a little tinny and muffled sounding, though they were able to get quite loud at full volume, and the latencymon results were looking good.

The Creator 17 is powered by a 4 cell 82wh battery, which feels a little sad when the smaller GS66 gets the 99.9wh battery.MSI Creator 17 - Mini LED Screens Are Here! I’ve tested it with the screen brightness at 50%, which to be fair at 237 nits is still brighter than some others at high brightness, background apps disabled, and keyboard lighting off. While just watching YouTube videos, it almost lasted for 4 and a half hours, a below average result, though the result in gaming, so a GPU heavy workload, was fair compared to others.

The creator center software also lets you set the charge level too, so you can prolong battery life by not keeping it consistently at 100% charge. You’ve also got the option of Type-C charging using the Thunderbolt port, the Type-C port closer to the front doesn’t support it, but this does give you the option of travelling with a smaller power source or battery instead of the 230 watt brick, just don’t expect full performance in that scenario.

Now let’s find out how hot the Creator 17 gets and see if this causes any issues to performance. MSI Creator 17 - Mini LED Screens Are Here!The MSI Creator Center software lets you select different performance modes, which from lowest to highest are silent, balanced and high performance, and silent mode can further be broken down between silent and super silent. By default undervolting is locked, however if you press the epic MSI cheat code in BIOS (Right Shift + Right Control + Left Alt + F2) you are able to unlock this.

Thermals were tested with a 21 degree Celsius ambient room temperature.MSI Creator 17 - Mini LED Screens Are Here! Idle results down the bottom were a little warm but ok. Otherwise the worst case stress tests were done with the Aida64 CPU stress test with CPU only checked and the Heaven benchmark at max settings at the same time, so the goal is to smash both processor and graphics. The CPU was thermal throttling any time it was at 95 degrees, so in most cases, no thermal throttling on the GPU though. Only the cooling pad was able to make a difference to temperatures, where the 2080 Super Max-Q dropped by 5 degrees.

These are the clock speeds for the same tests. MSI Creator 17 - Mini LED Screens Are Here!In super silent the speeds were very low, much higher in the regular silent mode. The GPU speeds don’t change too much going up from here, but CPU clock speeds see decent improvements as we make changes. Processor clock speed doesn’t change between balanced and high performance modes in this test as thermals were the limit, which is why undervolting or using a cooling pad boost performance. MSI Creator 17 - Mini LED Screens Are Here!PL1 is set to 70 watts and was never being reached, as thermals were always the limit for the processor. Outside of supersilent, the 2080 Super Max-Q had no issues running at its 80 watt limit.

In a CPU only workload with the GPU now idle, we’re able to reach much higher power levels. MSI Creator 17 - Mini LED Screens Are Here!The 70 watt PL1 was just able to be reached with both an undervolt and cooling pad applied. MSI Creator 17 - Mini LED Screens Are Here!Despite this, it’s still running right on the 95 degree thermal throttle limit, and this was happening with high performance mode at stock too. MSI Creator 17 - Mini LED Screens Are Here!The clock speeds are alright with the modifications, but nothing too impressive at stock when compared to others tested.

Here’s how the CPU only workload Cinebench performs with these different modes. MSI Creator 17 - Mini LED Screens Are Here!As expected, the scores increase as we step up through to higher modes.

Here’s how it looks in the areas where you’ll actually touch, at idle it was a little above the usual 30 or so I typically see, just a bit warm to the touch. MSI Creator 17 - Mini LED Screens Are Here!With the stress tests running it’s now at the mid 50s in the center, not quite hot but getting there. MSI Creator 17 - Mini LED Screens Are Here!In silent mode it was similar despite the fans going a bit faster. MSI Creator 17 - Mini LED Screens Are Here!Balanced mode and high performance mode were a bit cooler now due to the faster fans. MSI Creator 17 - Mini LED Screens Are Here!At idle even in the super silent mode the fan was still audible with a tiny bit of coil whine. It wasn’t much different with the stress tests going in super silent mode, silent was a fair bit louder comparatively and it would constantly ramp up and down between 44 and 46 decibels which was a little annoying. Balanced mode wasn’t much louder but at least the fan was more consistent, and then high performance was only a little louder still. MSI definitely seems to be prioritizing quieter fan noise here, which helps explain the thermal throttling in the tests earlier, but as we’ll see next the performance is still decent.

Although the Creator 17 isn’t designed as a gaming laptop, it does sell with a 144Hz screen option and due to the hardware inside it should do well if you want to kick back at the end of the day and play some games, so let’s test it out.

In Battlefield 5 I’ve got the Creator 17 highlighted in red. MSI Creator 17 - Mini LED Screens Are Here!It’s giving a decent result as expected, despite being a laptop designed for creators it’s still got some good specs, and that translates to good gaming performance.

These are the results from Far Cry 5 with ultra settings in the built in benchmark. MSI Creator 17 - Mini LED Screens Are Here!The Creator 17 was in the same position when compared to the same laptops, again quite a good result. MSI Creator 17 - Mini LED Screens Are Here!In Shadow of the Tomb Raider it drops down a little comparatively, but yeah still on the higher side of the graph, definitely no issues running any games at all on this hardware, at least at 1080p, it would still struggle even with these specs in AAA games at 4K.

Now for the benchmarking tools. MSI Creator 17 - Mini LED Screens Are Here!I’ve used Adobe Premiere to export one of my laptop review videos at 4K, and the Creator 17 was giving me one of the better results out of the laptops I’ve tested so far. MSI Creator 17 - Mini LED Screens Are Here!I’ve also tested Premiere but with the Puget systems benchmark which also accounts for things like live playback rather than just export times, and this time higher scores are better, and the Creator 17 is more towards the middle of the pack. MSI Creator 17 - Mini LED Screens Are Here!It was doing quite well in the DaVinci Resolve test, as this is a GPU heavy workload the 2080 Super Max-Q seems to do quite well despite the 80 watt power limit. MSI Creator 17 - Mini LED Screens Are Here!Adobe Photoshop was down a little, but still a fair result, and overall the Creator 17 with these specs certainly seems capable of creator type workloads.MSI Creator 17 - Mini LED Screens Are Here! I’ve also tested SPECviewperf which tests out various professional 3D workloads.

I’ve used Crystal Disk Mark to test the storage, and the 1TB NVMe M.2 SSD was performing quite well. MSI Creator 17 - Mini LED Screens Are Here!The UHS-III MicroSD card slot was basically maxing out my card, and it sits most of the way into the machine.MSI Creator 17 - Mini LED Screens Are Here!

In the US the Creator 17 starts at $1800 USD, though no mini LED with this one. The higher specced config I’ve tested here is around double the price, though there’s a lower specced version with the mini LED screen for $500 less. Meanwhile here in Australia we’re looking at $5000 AUD for the entry level model with 2060, while the specs I’ve tested here are almost $7000, so pretty expensive to get mini LED. With all of that in mind let’s conclude by looking at the good and bad aspects of the Creator 17 laptop and see if it’s worthwhile.

The creator 17 sounds good on paper, but there are a few too many issues that would prevent me picking this machine for the price. Although the all metal build looks good, and for the most part feels solid enough, it just creaks when opening the lid or moving it around, I don’t know, it just doesn’t really come off as premium.

The center location of the touchpad results in it physically clicking down while typing, though palm rejection was good. This could be solved by moving it over to the left but I guess the middle looks more pleasing aesthetically which I assume is what they were going for. The upside down motherboard makes it more difficult than others if you want to upgrade memory, but at least the other components can be accessed easily, and the speakers weren’t good.

The battery life wasn’t amazing, but the option of Type-C charging is nice to have. The idle fan noise wasn’t pleasant and it got quite warm under load, but many of these creator orientated laptops preference lower fan noise over optimal performance. It’s not all bad though, MSI at least let us undervolt should we wish, a lot of other 10th gen laptops outright block this.

There are decent specs inside which can take on pretty much any workload and obviously the mini LED screen is next level when compared to what other screen technologies are able to offer. You don’t have flicker or burn in issues like with OLED and it’s brighter, though it’s not perfect as it is still back lit so no perfect blacks, but the extra contrast and brightness from mini LED is what makes the Creator 17 unique, so I really think it comes down to how much you want that screen, which is arguably one of the most important parts of a laptop designed for content creators. As there are not currently any other mini LED laptops available, if this is something you’re after, MSI’s Creator 17 is the only option for now.

Let me know what you thought about the MSI Creator 17 laptop down in the comments.

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