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LG Gram 16 Laptop Review Can the Lightest 16" Laptop Around Punch Above its Weight?

 Companies like Apple, Lenovo, and Dell probably thought they had the ultraportable market sewn up until machines like the LG Gram 16 changed the game with a tempting mix of impressive speed and delicate design. The latest version of the Gram refines its successful formula with nips, tucks and one of Intel's new low-power processors. Elsewhere it retains the range's good looks and satisfying keyboard.

The LG Gram 16 we've reviewed costs $1,450 though you can shave $150 off that price if you're happy enough with a Core i5 processor.

Those figures compare well with rival machines, although the competitive situation is a little strange when considering the Gram 16: think about other mid-sized notebooks and you can think about the likes of the Dell XPS 15, MacBook Pro 16 or ThinkPad X1 Extreme, but the Gram's lightweight status also brings it into conflict with the smaller MacBook Air, XPS 13 Plus or Surface Laptop range.

Features and Design

When you refer to a laptop's weight in its name, you've got to pretty confident that the machine will deliver when it hits the scales -- and the LG Gram 16 passes the test with flying colors.

The Gram 16 weighs 2.6 pounds. Picking up this laptop is almost disarming, you'd never expect a 16" notebook to feel so light in the hand. Slip the LG into your bag and you won't really notice it's there, and you can carry it around the office without breaking a sweat.

That figure is even more impressive when you think about the other 15.6" and 16" notebooks that might tempt you instead. The MacBook Pro 16 weighs 4.7 pounds, and the Dell XPS 15 starts at 4.22 pounds, so the Gram is miles lighter. LG's laptop even weighs a little less than the latest MacBook Air and XPS 13 Plus.

That weight is the headline maker, and it immediately raises questions about build quality -- and hands-on time with the Gram doesn't entirely diminish those concerns.

Grip the corners of the screen and it's easy to twist the panel, and the base is easy to move and flex. Indeed, the entire bottom section feels hollow. It's a stark contrast when lined up against the solid metal used by Apple and Dell's heavier designs.

Despite that, the LG Gram 16 should survive commuting, office life and long work days. LG's laptop has been fully tested and certified to MIL-STD-810G protocols, which means it can withstand vibrations, shocks, drops, different temperatures and pressure levels, and even dust ingress.

The Gram's other dimensions are decent, too. At 17mm thick it's on-par with the MacBook Pro 16 and slimmer than the XPS 15, and it's hardly beyond the smaller Apple and Dell notebooks. It's 356 mm wide, which is the same as the MacBook Pro -- so it won't take up any extra space on your desk.

LG's design does impress beyond these measurements. The Gram's body uses magnesium alloy, and it's a good-looking notebook: dark, smart and subtle, with shining logos and slim screen bezels. The lighter metal on Apple's devices and Dell's carbon fiber stand out more, but the Gram is competitive.

The Display (and +view)

The LG Gram's IPS screen uses a 16:10 aspect ratio, which is becoming an increasingly popular option -- you'll find the same shape on competing notebooks. That's no surprise given that the extra vertical space makes web browsing and Office-based tasks easier.

The Gram's 2,560 x 1,600 resolution is fine: ample for everyday workloads and high enough to make photos, films and casual games look crisp. That said, it's not a 4K screen and there's no option to configure it with one.

Testing reveals that the Gram's display is good rather than great. A brightness level of 368 nits is good for indoor use, but not strong enough for all outdoor situations, where bright sunlight will make it hard to see. Dell's default 1080p panel on the XPS line and the MacBook Pro's Mini LED both hit 500 nits.

The contrast ratio of 1,227:1 is a good enough result for an IPS panel, and it means you get vibrant colors and decent depth. However, the MacBook Pro's Mini LED is better in this regard, too, so darker areas look deeper and there's more punch throughout.

The Gram's Delta E of 3.33 is another reasonable figure, but not particularly brilliant -- it means color accuracy could certainly be better. And while this display renders a great 99.8% and 97.3% of the sRGB and DCI-P3, the MacBook Pro does that, too, and the Dell XPS 15 handles Adobe RGB if you fork out for its OLED screen.

The LG Gram 16 doesn't have a bad display. The aspect ratio and resolution mean you have crisp imagery and a decent amount of desktop space, and it does a reasonable job with colors -- they're not perfect, but the Gram can easily handle everyday computing and modest creative tasks without leading users astray. In terms of everyday use, it's fine.

That said, its brightness level restricts it from working well in some outdoor situations, and you'll find better quality elsewhere.

The smaller Apple MacBook Air outpaces the Gram for brightness and it has a slightly higher resolution. The Dell XPS 13 Plus comes with a 1,920 x 1,200 screen by default, but that screen also hits 500 nits and the laptop can be equipped with 4K OLED hardware if you pay extra.

Ultimately, the Gram's display is better suited to everyday computing and workloads rather than hard-nosed creative work.

If that ticks your boxes, then it's worth considering the LG +view. It's a portable monitor that uses the same 2,560 x 1,600 IPS internals as the Gram, and it sits inside a sleek, folding folio case that aligns perfectly with your laptop. It weighs 2.1 pounds and it's 8.3mm thin, so it's easy to carry alongside your notebook, and it has USB-C ports on either side for easy connectivity and positioning.

It works with the Gram and other non-LG notebooks, and it's a simple way to bring dual-display functionality to your laptop. Quality levels are fine: a bright point of 351 nits, Delta E of 3.02 and contrast ratio of 1,210:1 barely differ from the main laptop display.

The +view costs $349 as a standalone product, but LG regularly bundles the +view display for free if you buy an LG Gram laptop -- if you're interested it's worth finding out if that deal is available.

Input and Connectivity

The LG Gram is a slim and lightweight laptop, but you wouldn't know that from hands-on time with the keyboard. There's a surprising amount of travel beneath those buttons, and that movement contributes to a typing action that's fast and comfortable.

The hollow and flexible chassis does mean that there's more movement here than on the solid Apple and Dell frames, and the buttons on those laptops also offer a crisper and more solid experience -- the Gram's buttons are on the light side of the typing spectrum.

Still, that won't be a dealbreaker for anyone bar the keenest typists. Similarly, you'll soon become familiar with the single-height Return key even if that's not preferable at first. The keyboard impresses in other areas: it's got a numberpad -- something you won't find on any rival -- and the power button is flat so you won't hit it accidentally.

The F4 button is a "secure key" that shuts down the microphone and webcam, and the keyboard has a white backlight.

The trackpad has full gesture support, a huge, smooth surface and responsive buttons. It's absolutely fine for everyday use.

The LG serves up two full-size USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports alongside a microSD card slot on right-hand edge, and two Thunderbolt 4 sockets that take responsibility for DisplayPort 1.4 and 15W of power delivery on the left-hand side. The Gram has an HDMI 2.0 output and one headphone jack. Bear in mind that you'll need one of those Thunderbolt connections to charge the notebook.

A pair of full-size USB ports is two more than you'll find on any competitor, although other rigs do go further with extra Thunderbolt connectivity and the full-size SD card slot that'll be mandatory for some creatives.

A 1080p webcam that supports Windows Hello for biometric sign-in is included, and it's a decent bit of imaging kit: sharp and crisp, with accurate colors and AI-powered face tracking. It locks the laptop if you leave and blurs the screen when other people look at your machine.

Internally, the Gram's connectivity includes dual-band 802.11ax 6E wireless and Bluetooth 5.1, and this rig improves security with TPM 2.1.

There's lots to like here, but there are some missing features, too. There's no wired internet, for instance, and no fingerprint reader. The Gram has limited options for upgrading: the base is easy to pop off and there's a second SSD slot, but the memory is soldered down.

The Gram's audio output is muddy in the mid-range and has a tinny top-end, so the speakers are only suitable for casual listening. Still, those will be acceptable compromises for many people, especially if you prize having a lighter laptop instead of using a card reader or accessing the internals.

Performance

Intel's new Core i7-1260P is built for thin and light laptops like the Gram, and so it shrinks much of Chipzilla's CPU innovations into 7nm silicon. The i7-1260P combines a 4-core, 8-thread P core layout with an 8-core, 8-thread E core, with the former peaking at 4.7GHz and the latter at 3.4GHz. In this laptop, the i7 CPU runs at its default 28W TDP.

This slimline Core i7 chip includes Iris Xe graphics with 96 execution units at a peak speed of 1.4GHz. We've already done a deep dive into the chip: here's our verdict on the Intel Core i7-1260P and chief rival, the AMD Ryzen 7 6800U.

LG has paired the i7-1260P with 16GB of dual-channel 5200 MHz DDR5 and a 1TB Samsung PM9A1 SSD with reliably impressive read and write speeds of 6,950 MB/s and 4,479 MB/sec.

The i7-1260P is a reasonable processor for everyday computing, but it can't keep up with many of its competitors and in this laptop it rarely runs at its full potential.

In Cinebench R23, for instance, the Gram delivered single- and multi-core benchmark results of 1,260 and 5,972, but our review rig returned scores of 1,714 and 8,871 -- and that was with DDR4 memory. During single- and multi-core stress tests the LG's processor only momentarily pulled 28W before settling to figures between 15W and 21W.

Those results don't just lag behind the scores we observed in our review of the CPU -- they sit behind rival parts, too. The Apple M2 chip inside the MacBook Air mirrored the unrestricted i7-1260P, so it's faster than the LG, and it'll likely be even more capable when it arrives in the MacBook Pro. The MacBook's current M1 parts are much faster, too.

The Dell XPS 15 uses Core i5-12500H and i7-12700H processors that come from a different class of chip and offer much faster performance. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the i7-1260P inside the Dell XPS 13 Plus runs the CPU at full speed and therefore delivers more pace.

The pattern repeated in other, trickier tests. The LG's 7-Zip compression and decompression results of 27.694 MB/s and 451.92 MB/s lag behind the unfettered i7-1260P and Apple's hardware. Its PCMark 10 applications score of 10,034 doesn't represent quite as large a decline, but it still doesn't live up to the CPU's full potential.

Indeed, the Gram's only bright spot came in the Excel benchmark, where it completed the test run in 9.355s. That score is undoubtedly aided by the Gram's reliance on DDR5 memory than the DDR4, but that score easily beats Apple's silicon and is only outpaced by the powerful i7-12700H.

Given that we've observed the Gram delivering brief full-power bursts before settling down at lower TDPs, it's no surprise that its best result came in such a short test. It's also no shock that it's going to be a better performer in single-threaded scenarios.

A deeper dive into the processor explains the results. In multi-core tests the i7-1260P's modest power demands saw its P-core clock speeds peak at just 1.9GHz, and in a single-core test the fastest P-cores only hit 3.5GHz. Those figures are a long way short of what the chip can achieve.

These results don't sound too positive, but they're not a disaster. As we'll see, they contribute to excellent thermal and battery performance. There's still easily enough power here for everyday computing, from running Office apps and media tools simultaneously to deploying a dozen different browser tabs. It'll tackle basic photo editing, too. But the CPU's performance restrictions do mean that it'll struggle with tough content creation tasks and other high-end utilities.

Don't expect any real gaming power here either. In Rainbow Six Siege and Gears 5 we saw averages of 33fps and 19fps, short of the integrated GPU's review performance and behind every other laptop mentioned here. You'll be able to play casual games and that's it.

Thermals and Battery Life

So the Gram 16 doesn't make full use of the i7-1260P. That's bad for performance, but great when it comes to thermals. When you use the Gram to run low-end tasks and everyday apps, it's virtually silent -- you'll be hard-pressed to hear any noise from this machine even with your ear against the casing.

Sound levels aren't much worse during tougher workloads. Even tricky single- and multi-core stress tests only saw the Gram produce tiny, consistent levels of fan noise. If you're sitting in silence the aural output can be heard, but it's never loud, and a tiny bit of music or office chatter will drown it out. None of the Gram's rivals are bad in this regard, but they're definitely louder.

In a multi-core test, the Gram's processor ran at 92 degrees, and in a single-core benchmark its P-Cores peaked at 91 degrees. Those are pretty high for a low-power Core i7 processor, and go some way to explaining this thin, light laptop's energetic throttling. Impressively, though, hardly any of that heat made its way to the exterior panels, which means the Gram is always comfortable to use.

The 80Wh battery does a tremendous job, too. When tasked with everyday work applications the Gram lasted for 10 hours and 32 minutes with the display at full brightness and a mammoth 15 hours and 42 minutes with the screen brightness halved -- so, either way, you're going to get a full working day from this notebook.

The news is even better if you want to use the Gram for media playback or other less-intensive tasks: it played a movie for 21 hours with the display at half brightness and still managed 18 hours with the screen ramped up to its maximum backlight strength.

This is the sort of battery life we'd expect from the MacBook Air, so the Gram is in good company. It easily exceeds both XPS notebooks.

Who Is It For?

The LG Gram 16 is a laptop with a clearly intended market. It's incredibly light, it has great battery life, and it supplies solid mainstream features, a good keyboard, and a reasonable display. It's powerful enough to handle everyday workloads.

Conversely, the Gram is not designed to be a performance powerhouse and its processor is configured for longevity rather than topping performance. Other notebooks also have superior speakers, connectivity, and screens, albeit in larger, heavier enclosures or at higher prices.

The LG Gram 16 we reviewed with its Core i7 processor, 16GB of memory and 1TB SSD costs $1,450 on Amazon, which is cheaper than the $1,699 listed on LG's own website.

It's much cheaper than the MacBook Pro, which starts at $2,499. Meanwhile, the MacBook Air is priced more competitively and comes with a faster M2 processor, but you get less RAM, less storage and the display is smaller, so they are both very portable but not entirely comparable.

An equivalent Dell XPS 15 costs $1,849 and offers loads of extra processing power (or $2,149 if you add the OLED screen). That's a far more capable laptop for creatives, but it's not quite designed for the same kind of user. If you replicate the LG's spec on the smaller XPS 13 Plus, it costs $1,499.

LG also produces a version of this laptop with a Core i5-1240P processor, 16GB RAM and a 512GB SSD for $1,299. That specification can handle modest workloads, but it's even better value if you don't need to run demanding tasks.

There are clear conclusions when lining the LG up against all its rivals. With the Gram, you'll get great battery life inside a lighter chassis, but at the expense of processing power and pure screen quality. If you want a featherlight, long-lasting laptop with a big screen and enough power for normal workloads, the LG Gram 16 is very good.



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