REVIEW: MSI Prestige P65 Creator, A Laptop With Desktop Performance (And Portability)
The MSI Prestige P65 Creator is a 15.6-inch laptop geared towards creative professionals and content creators.
With clear ambitions to siphon off customers from Apple’s Macbook Pro devices popular amongst aesthetics-focused customers, the P65 also packs in the power to rival even some desktop workstations.
The question remains on whether you’d be better off opting against one of these desktop workstations however.
Like all good laptops should, the P65 features a sturdy metal enclosure and unobtrusive narrow bezels.
Branding is limited to a discreet MSI logo beneath the screen and on the outer case, and a subtle engraving below the keyboard.
The fan grilles along either side of the machine show off an edgy tessellated design.
It’s certainly easy to look at, providing some relief for creative types fed up with the garish maximalism of the high-powered machines geared towards gamers but often adopted by creatives.
Where too many laptops fall is on their trackpads, but MSI has managed to avoid this sticking point, providing an extra-wide and silky-smooth pad that makes productivity improving gesture controls actually useable.
The fingerprint scanner built-in to the top left corner of the pad is mostly accurate, though occasionally takes a couple goes to register, likely due to its small size and rectangular shape.
One downside of the extra wide trackpad is it can too often be inadvertently activated by a resting wrist when typing with the keyboard.
This is particularly annoying when you’re using it to say… write a review, and are forever ctrl + Z’ing after accidentally selecting and deleting passages of text.
The keyboard itself also has an odd layout that takes a little getting used to.
No doubt for space saving purposes, many of the keys are of varying size, and their sizing and positioning have been determined seemingly at random.
MSI could take some tips from Apple’s MacBook keyboards (the older ones that actually work that is) and relegate lesser used keys (PageUp, PageDown, PrintScreen, etc) to secondary function on the F-keys.
Opting for less than full-size arrow keys would also be worthy of consideration.
The keys themselves are responsive and tactile once you learn how to reliably hit the right ones.
Given the target market for the P65, a cleaner typography might have been in order, rather than opting for ones from the gaming laptop parts bin.
A 180-degree hinge comes in handy for those using the P65 in a desktop environment.
With the appropriate vertical mount it would fit quite nicely next to a larger external monitor, and includes plenty of ports to push the argument, including a now rare full-size HDMI port.
The P65 skates in under two kilograms, which is neither light not heavy. But weight is hardly the issue with the P65’s portability.
MSI claims the P65 is capable of 8 hours on battery. This is optimistic at best.
Using it just to write and browse with Google Chrome returned around 5 hours, and putting it in battery saver mode turned up the screen brightness and made it drain faster.
Editing 4K video in DaVinci Resolve dealt another significant but more understandable blow to the battery.
The powerful P65’s 9th gen Intel i9 and Nvidia GTX2070 graphics more than handled the high-resolution files and some mild colour correcting tasks, so at least it’s able to fulfil that part of its mission.
Ableton Live presented no hiccups either.
With some software optimisation in the MSI Creator Centre, combined with 32GB of RAM and 1TB solid state storage, the P65 is capable of handling pretty much whatever you want to throw at it.
Still, it’s easy to build a powerful computer capable of handling big tasks, but when it’s in the form of a laptop it’s a reasonable expectation for it to be actually portable.
With such a strained battery life, it’s hard to argue the P65 really is.
The clunky external power supply doesn’t help matters.
While the P65 is sleek and stylish, the bundled charger is your typical ugly black brick.
The Surry Hills cafes where you’d expect the P65 to receive most of its out of office deployment would probably chase you out the door if you tried plugging it in at one.
Like the keyboard, this seems like another area where MSI has looked to save a few dollars in the design department.
It shows… and it’s not a good look.
The P65’s optional 4K screen does alleviate a little eye strain, but it also seems like the prime suspect for the poor battery life.
In a 15-inch laptop, even one aimed at designers and photographers, its doubtful this high a resolution is even necessary.
Given accurate colour reproduction is a bigger focus (which the P65 manages well with its True Colour Technology), I’d wager most users would settle for a QHD screen if it meant a better battery life.
Obviously, a laptop with this much power is not going to be cheap, but it’s somewhat surprising just how not cheap the P65 is.
At a price of A$5199, the P65 is over a grand more expensive than the (admittedly lower-specced) 15-inch Macbook Pro whose lunch it’s trying to eat.
It means it’s also going to face significant competition as more Nvidia Studio laptops become available, including the much-heralded Acer Concept D series.
There’s no doubt you get a lot for the money, but it’s hard to say if it’s enough.
The battery life and portability issue is a particularly big hurdle, given a similarly specced desktop can be had for around half as much, and the P65 feels like it needs to be plugged in just as often.
You’re not going to feel ripped off if you buy the MSI by any means, at the end of the day it will really be about personal preference and usage more than anything else.
If you take price out of the equation, you get a more than capable computer that is able to perform incredibly demanding tasks with little issue, even if it might not be as portable as you want it to be.
The Prestige P65 Creator is a decent solution for designers and creatives looking for desktop level power in a laptop form-factor.
On the desktop is where the laptop excels though, and portability is restricted by a poor battery life.
For the occasional out-of-office excursion this presents little issue, but the Creative Digital Nomad looking for a device with the stamina to hotdesk through a rotating trail of inner-city cafes will likely be left wanting.
A number of slightly less powerful devices offer significantly better battery life and the money saved can be put towards the exorbitant cost of renting office space.
Many coffee shops now expect up to two cups per hour before revealing the WiFi password.