The MSI Creator 15 is a hardy laptop boasting impressive performance and hybrid use for work and play. It’ll blister through every task but make such a loud fuss in the process you’ll wonder if you’re doing something wrong. While the Creator 15 rockets through games and has consistently crisp visuals, its fans are also constantly whirring. If you’re particularly sensitive to laptop noise, you’ll want to avoid this machine.
Depending on what you’re planning to use it for, you’ll need to be okay with a light whir (for everyday tasks), a slightly annoying whir for average gameplay (Fall Guys) and a tornado twister of noise for higher-specced games (The Witcher III, Shadow of the Tomb Raider and more).
It’s also ridiculously heavy (2.1 kilograms), to the point where you won’t want to move it around at all. Sacrificing portability and comfort for great performance comes at a hefty cost for the MSI Creator 15.
MSI Creator 15: Specs
The review unit provided to Kotaku Australia housed the following specs:
- CPU: 10th Gen Intel Core i7-10875H @ 2.30 GHz
- GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 w/ 6GB GDDR6
- RAM: 16GB DDR4-2666
- Display: 15.6″ FHD (1920 x 1080) touchscreen
This version of the MSI Creator 15 goes for $3,999 at retail.
The MSI Creator 15 is best used as a stationary desktop computer. It’s bulky, heavy and runs fairly hot so you won’t want to use it on a lap or away from a surface. Even when set up properly, you’ll have to contend with the laptop’s overly enthusiastic fans as you work. You can adjust settings to reduce overall fan noise, but it’s never completely silent. No matter what task you’re attempting, it’ll whizz away happily in the background.
Outside of this minor annoyance (solved with the use of headphones), the MSI Creator 15 runs like a dream. It’s got a very zippy processor, everyday tasks are a breeze and it’ll tackle the latest games with enthusiasm. Performance is consistently smooth and snappy and it’s a great gaming machine.
If you’re looking at purchasing it for your next gaming adventure, you will need to consider other issues like portability, though. As mentioned, the MSI Creator 15 is deceptively heavy despite its slimline design. At 2.1 kilograms, it’s not a very portable laptop and is best used as a desk-based work and gaming machine. It also tends to run hot so keep it on a surface where air can escape.
It’s not all bad news though. The laptop is backed by an excellent, crisp touchscreen with vivid colours and minimal bezel around the screen. In my notes, I wrote “screen hot” (Paris Hilton ‘hot’, not ‘hot’ hot) and that rings true. It’s a gorgeous screen and one I was immediately impressed by. It might be my favourite feature of the whole laptop and the best laptop screen I’ve seen yet.
As a whole, the design of the MSI Creator 15 is also impeccable. It’s slim, very classy and features a nice gunmetal grey chassis that doesn’t stain easily.
The Creator 15 does have a few quirks, though.
The key placement on the MSI Creator 15 is weird. Rather than the traditional keyboard layout, the Creator 15 chooses a unique set-up replacing the delete key with the PrtSc key. It means every time you want to go back or delete an item, you’ll end up pressing the wrong key without fail. The key placement doesn’t feel natural and for a writer, it’s a horrible task re-learning where every key is located.
Here’s how the keyboard looks:
For the most part it’s fairly standard, but once you start looking for the insert and delete buttons, it goes a bit wonky. It’s a neat enough layout, but in practicality it’s difficult to adapt to.
The other quirk needs to be addressed head-on because it’s a feature taking over modern laptops.
USB-C: The Elephant In The Room
USB-C hasn’t reached mainstream status yet. In fact, most devices still require a standard USB-A connection from headsets to microphones, cameras and beyond. If you’re a modern PC manufacturer, you clearly don’t care about this — because the humble USB port is in danger of total extinction.
The MSI Creator 15 has one USB-A port.
As a “creator” you need a minimum of three USB ports, sometimes more. Essentials include a USB slots for a headset or Bluetooth receiver, an additional webcam, an external microphone and/or a stream deck. Modern iterations of these devices haven’t switched to USB-C standards, so it’s baffling to have only a single standard USB port on this laptop. There are two USB-C ports, but neither will be particularly helpful for most punters.
Sure, you can purchase a separate USB hub, but why should you have to pay extra for a feature that should come standard? USBs aren’t dead yet and it would be nice if laptops could stop pretending otherwise. This was a major flaw for the laptop, and one that seriously hampered my everyday use.
Now, onto the good stuff. The MSI Creator 15 performed solidly during rigorous benchmarks for its Intel Core i7-10875H/GeForce RTX 2060 combo. These tests were conducted using the laptop’s ‘best performance’ setting. Shadow of the Tomb Raider was optimised for ‘Highest’ settings with Ultra texture quality. Likewise, Far Cry 5 was benchmarked at ‘Ultra’ settings as reccomended by in-game optimisation.
In terms of performance, it settles above the Lenovo Legion 5 I reviewed in August ($1,899) and below the HP Omen X 2S I reviewed earlier in the year ($4,699). Impressively, its performance in the FPS tests is only a couple of steps behind the HP Omen X 2S (Intel Core i7-9750H/GeForce RTX 2080), which costs $700 more — 118 FPS on Forza Horizon 4 vs. 120.3 FPS. There is a marked difference in other tests, with Far Cry 5 and Shadow of the Tomb Raider both performing less impressively on the MSI Creator 15 than the Omen. Still, impressive scores all around and great for the next generation of gaming.
Should you buy it?
At its price point, the MSI Creator 15 is a hefty gaming investment. $3,999 will net you a blistering CPU/GPU combo capable of pulling off smooth and impressive performance for the latest and greatest games. Alongside that, you’ll get one of the nicer displays on the market and a great machine for your everyday needs. You will have to contend with the laptop’s wheezing fans and impressive bulk, though. Both features are very unwieldy and negatively impact the overall experience of the laptop. (The USB situation is also confounding, but not particularly remarkable in the current market.)
If you want impressive performance, you’ll need to make sacrifices — but the MSI Creator 15’s fans felt particularly obnoxious and hard to ignore even at their lowest settings. If noise is a major concern for you, you’ll want to look at higher specced laptops which may not struggle as much, but if you mainly used headphones you’ll leap over this machine’s biggest hurdle.
Consider how you work before investing in the MSI Creator 15. You’ll need to weigh up whether the sacrifice is worth it.