• Image: Anthony McKee
    Image: Anthony McKee

Review: The MSI Creator 16 Studio A13VE – a powerful portable workhorse

While photographers and videographers would like to believe that most powerful PC computers are designed specifically for their needs, it's interesting to note that most of the highest spec PC computers have been designed to appease the insanely huge market of 1.8-billion computer-gamers.

In photography and video post-production – building previews, resizing, rendering, denoising, constructing HDR images, multi-shot panoramic images, and of course exporting work are all things you want to happen as quickly as possible. But if it happens slowly, you just accept it and wait, or even go take a coffee break.

In the gaming world, a slow computer means the 'real time' consequences of a game being unplayable (chugs) or having to turn the 'graphics down' by restricting effects, shading, textures and frame rates so you can actually play the game. And this is the reason gaming rigs, or even gaming laptops are inherently powerful with exceptional graphics abilities.

This leads us to the Taiwanese manufacturer MSI. Since 1986, they have grown a great reputation for making excellent laptops and computer hardware designed specifically for gamers. In recent times they have adapted some of their top-tier equipment into a line of affordable laptops for creatives, and if you prefer working in the PC environment, they are one of the best brands to look for.

So – could the MSI Prestige 16 Studio be one of the ultimate photographer / gamer laptops currently on the market? Let's find out.

Image: Anthony McKee
Image: Anthony McKee

The exterior and what's under the hood

The MSI Prestige 16 Studio laptops are a range of 16-inch machines atheistically tuned to the creative market. Rather than the bold stylings and multi-coloured keyboard lights that we often see on gaming computers, the MSI Prestige 16 Studio laptop (A13VE) we tested has a discreet “Urban Silver” metal casing that is decidedly uncluttered by comparison to many PC laptops.

At the heart of this particular laptop we are reviewing is a 13th generation Intel Core i7-13700H 2.4GHz processor coupled with an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4060 Laptop GPU. This combo is capable of handling all your imaging demands while also letting you to play all of the latest games. Memory includes 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM (operating at 4800MHz) and a 512-Gigabyte NVMe PCIe Gen4 SSD drive.

The display

The first thing you notice when opening this laptop, is the glossy 16-inch QHD (2560 x 1600) 16:10 ratio display with a rather brisk refresh rate of 165-Hz. So the higher the refresh rate, the smoother display image – which of course is great for gaming. The trade-off here is battery life, which if you are using this laptop for intensive video work would be around 6–7 hours.  If you were going to use the laptop for general use such as Lightroom, web browsing or word docs etc, you can change the refresh rate to 60-Hz to get more battery life. You may think that is slow, but it is very normal rate found on most stand-alone, high-end non-gaming monitors.

Normally I would be averse to a glossy display, particularly if I’m working in bright conditions with the screen facing a bright light source such as a window (unlikely I know), but to its advantage, this version of the 16 Studio uses a miniLED display that is considerably brighter than most OLED displays.

In standard SDR mode the display can provide up to 500 nits of brightness while in HDR mode this is extended out to 1000 nits, which makes this screen one of the brighter laptop screens on the market. Between the glossy display and the miniLEDs, images and video on the screen appear bright and crisp and the overall colour is very accurate and objects look 'true to colour'. The display is factory calibrated to support 100% of the sRGB and 100% of the DCI-P3 colour gamut with a Delta-E of less than 2. 

Image: Anthony McKee
Image: Anthony McKee

The keyboard and trackpad

Unlike many PC laptops, the keyboard panel on the 16 Studio is very clean and fuss-free, and it offers the bonus benefit of a numeric keypad for those who like to work the numbers. I found this great for being able to quickly key in my usual adjustment values in Lightroom and Photoshop via the side pad. The keyboard has a white backlight that can be set to three different brightness levels or simply turned off. Beneath the keyboard is the generously sized trackpad, measuring 130mm x 83mm. This large size ensures you can make fine brush stroke movements and any other movements rather easily.

Extra security

To the right of the trackpad is a small fingerprint scanner that can be used to add another layer of security to the laptop, or if you prefer to use facial recognition, a Windows Hello IR just above the display will also allow you to unlock laptop. Yet another security feature is that the 1080p webcam can be easily turned off if required by simply flicking a small switch on the left side of the laptop (great idea).

The ports

Located on the left-hand side of the laptop is the DC power input and two USB 3.2 Type-C ports (including one with PD charging). On the right side is an audio combo jack, a USB 3.2 Type A Jack and a HDMI 2.1 input that can supports monitors at 8K/60Hz or 4K/120Hz. There is also a microSD card reader slot on the right side, and while I would prefer to have an SD slot instead, this card reader is useful if you are frequently working with drones and Go-Pros.

Image: Anthony McKee
Image: Anthony McKee

The Build

The overall build of the laptop is very good and despite its slim and modest 2.1kg weight – it has a solid feel to it. When opened in the usual desktop position the actual back of the display panel sits slightly deeper than the bottom the laptop. This helps with the airflow under and through the machine. Two small fans help manage the thermals within the laptop, and for the most part they are unnoticeable unless you are really working the CPU hard.

One quirky but cool feature of this display is that it can open up 180 degrees so that both the keyboard and display are lying flat. This can make it easier to physically show the screen to a team at a meeting, but the real bonus is if you have a suitable laptop stand, and an external keyboard – this will allow you to have the screen sitting at a good height when working on your desk.

Keeping the Studio 16 working while you are on the road is an 82 watt hour battery that can deliver about 6-7 hours worth of usage every day, at the mid level brightness settings at the aforementioned 165 Hz, but longer if you lower the refresh rate to 60 Hz. The laptop is also supplied with a 150watt adaptor.

The wrap up

Overall, the MSI Prestige 16 Studio performed very well in our tests, and while it is not the most expensive nor fastest laptop on the market, it is more than capable of making easy work of most Lightroom, Photoshop and general video editing – and it all looks amazing on the beautiful miniLED display.

So could this be a great laptop that suits both photography AND gaming? Well there is definitely a tonne of photographers who love gaming – and PC / Windows is THE platform that completely dominates the gaming world (Mac gaming is so under supported and limited it's a joke). So not only does this laptop loan itself to being a workhorse computer for all your photo and video post-production needs, it also allows you to play all the latest games with aplomb.  

Finally, in a marketplace where you can quite literally spend anything from $1,100 to $11,000 on a 16-inch laptop, the Prestige 16” Studio sits in a nice sub $2,000 sweet spot, delivering very good performance in a tidy package that wont break the bank.

MSI Creator 16 Studio A13VE – specs

System: Windows 11 Home
Processor: Intel® Core™ i7-11800H
CPU Speed: 2.4-5.4 GHz
Memory: 16GB LPDDR5-4800 (up to 32GB)
Storage: 512GB M.2 SSD (NVMe PCIe Gen4)
Display: 16” QHD+ (2560x1600), MiniLED, 165Hz, IPS-Level
Connectivity: 802.11 ax Wi-Fi 6E + Bluetooth v5.3
USB Ports: 2 USB3.2 TypeC (one with PD Charging), 1 USB Type A,
Other Ports: HDMI 2.1 (8K @ 60Hz / 4K @ 120Hz) and Micro SD slot.
Audio: 2 x 2 Watt speakers and a 3.5mm headphone jack
Security: Fingerprint Scanner, Discrete Trusted Platform Module 2.0, Webcam Lock
Battery: 4 Cell / 82 Watt/hour,
AC Adaptor: 150 Watt
Dimensions: 358 x 258 x 17mm
Weight: 2.1 Kg
Price: $1999 recommended retail

For full specs and more, visit the MSI Creator 16 Studio A13VE homepage. 
Or visit the MSI AU website.