MSI’s new laptops take aim at the 16-inch MacBook Pro

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MSI has announced a number of gaming and creator laptops that include Intel’s brand-new Tiger Lake H processors. The models will be available for purchase on May 16th.

MSI is best known for its high-end gaming laptops, but the company has made a few attempts to diversify its portfolio over the past few years. The manufacturer made a play for deep-pocketed professionals with its Summit Series business line last year, and it also sells some lower-priced models tailored to content creators. The new Creator Z16 is its first attempt to enter the market of premium content-creation machines, targeting customers that MSI bluntly calls “MacBook Pro users.”

There are two Creator Z16 models, with the base model priced at $2,599. Both come with a 120Hz 16:10 touch display with QHD+ resolution, which MSI says will cover 100 percent of the DCI-P3 color gamut. The 16:10 aspect ratio may be a bonus for on-the-go designers and artists since it provides more vertical workspace than traditional 16:9 gaming laptops do. Inside, both models come with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 and 32GB of RAM. You can then select 1TB or 2TB of storage, and either a Core i7-11800H or a Core i9-11900H.

Those on a tighter budget may prefer the Creator M16, which is a lighter-weight version of the Z16. This model also includes a QHD+ display, but its chips max out at a GeForce RTX 3050 Ti and a Core i7. Pricing on that one is still to be announced. The Creator 17, which includes a Mini LED display, has also been bumped up to the new chips (up to a Core i9 and a GeForce RTX 3080).

The MSI GF76 Katana and GF66 Katana, closed, stacked on top of each other, seen from above, in black and white colors respectively. Swords, katanas, and other weapons surround them on the floor.
These are the GF76 Katana and GF66 Katana, starting at $1,149 and $999, respectively.
Image: MSI

Aside from the specs, MSI emphasized that its build quality has improved. Representatives told me the Creator Z16 would display the company’s “best build quality ever.”

Alongside its creator models, MSI has specced up a number of its premium gaming rigs. The high-end GE76 and GE66 Raider now have 11th Gen Intel processors up to a Core i9 (paired with graphics up to an RTX 3080) and a 240Hz QHD screen option, as do the GS76 and GS66 Stealth. The GP76 and GP66 Leopard, as well as the GL76 and GL66 Pulse (which are sequels to the GL Leopard line), also have the new chips up to a Core i7.

Closer to the budget end of the market, MSI has released two new entry-level gaming lines, dubbed “Katana” and “Sword.” The company says they feature a brand-new design inspired by the work of Japanese illustrator Tsuyoshi Nagano. (Sword models are white and Katana models are black; the Sword can also currently only be configured with 8GB of RAM while all Katana models have 16GB.) Katana models start at $999, and Sword models start at $1,099.

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