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This $3,600 laptop is a feature away from being my dream machine

The MSI Creator Z17 HX Studio is a super-powerful laptop tailor-made for creative professionals and content creators alike. However, a design decision holds it back from being truly great.
Written by Taylor Clemons, Staff Writer
Overhead shot of an MSI Creator Z17 HX Studio laptop and MSI Pen 2 stylus. The screen shows an open Photoshop project
Taylor Clemons/ZDNET

The MSI Creator Z17 HX Studio is a laptop that has been designed from the ground up to be the ultimate creation machine. With a 17-inch display, up to 2TB of storage, 64GB of RAM, as well as a 13th gen Intel Core i9 processor, and GeForce RTX 4070 graphics card, you'll have all the power, performance, and storage you need to create everything from script and story drafts to graphics and videos. 

Also: The best laptops you can buy: Does anything beat Apple's new 15-inch MacBook Air?

It even comes packaged with an MSI Pen 2 for more precise control over programs like Photoshop and Krita. But for all of its raw power and fine polish, the decision to not make the Creator Z17 HX Studio a 2-in-1 laptop holds it back from being the closest thing we'll get to a MacBook killer for content creators and creative professionals.

View at B&H Photo

While I desperately wish this was a true 2-in-1 laptop, the Creator Z17 HX Studio does fold flat to make it easier to use digital art programs. But in order to use them without having to hover over your keyboard to draw, you'll have to go into your display settings and flip the entire desktop upside down. And it's not a huge deal to switch back and forth as needed, it's just a much less intuitive process than simply flipping the screen back to engage Tablet Mode. 

Also: Best 2-in-1 laptops right now

Other than the lack of a 360-degree hinge, this laptop is an absolutely impressive machine. Between the Intel Core i9-13950HX CPU and Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 graphics card, you'll be able to render everything from digital paintings and photos to 4K video files and 3D Blender models. The model I was sent to test was built with 64GB of RAM, which is more than enough to handle editing and rendering a typical 10-minute YouTube Video or finished digital painting. 

The 17-inch screen gives you plenty of visual real estate for viewing images and photos as well as scrubbing through raw video files. It's also great for working in audio programs like Audacity, where you may need more space for viewing multiple instrument or vocal tracks. 

Also: The best 17-inch laptops: Windows edition

With the MSI Pen 2, working in Photoshop, Lightroom, and GIMP to sketch, draw, and edit photos was a breeze; especially once I figured out how to flip the desktop. And the coolest thing about the stylus is that it can also write on paper. The nib is made of graphite, and while it does actually write on paper, it's very faint. It's good enough for jotting down quick notes in a client meeting or something in your desk calendar, but I wouldn't use it to write a letter or anything. The stylus also comes with extra nibs, so you can replace them quickly and easily if they wear down or break.

Close-up of the MSI Creator Z17 HX Studio keyboard, MSI Pen 2 stylus, and notebook.
Taylor Clemons/ZDNET

The battery is also excellent, considering the power-hungry components it's built with. You can play around with battery settings to favor either performance or power efficiency; there are also more advanced power settings you can adjust, such as sleep timer settings and a battery-saver mode. 

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You can either manually enable the battery-saver mode or set it to automatically kick in when your laptop's power reaches a certain percentage (20% by default). Letting you manually enable the battery-saver mode is a great option for extending battery life when a wall outlet isn't available for charging, like on flights to events or on the floor at conventions. By tweaking the power settings, I was able to squeeze about 6 hours out of the battery.

All of this power and performance comes at a cost. The MSI Creator Z17 HX Studio will set you back about $3,599. But with premium-grade components and plenty of room for user upgrades later on, it's a worthwhile investment for established content creators and creative professionals looking to upgrade their work rig.

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