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LG Gram 16 review: The Superleggera laptop

Alun Taylor
20 Jul 2022
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
1,549
inc VAT

LG’s ultra-light 16in machine gets 12th gen Intel power and a mild makeover

Pros 
Incredibly light
Good battery life
Nice keyboard and touchpad
Cons 
A bit bendy
Hard to access the spare SSD slot
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If you spend enough time travelling with a laptop a day will come when, as you stride purposefully along the two-mile concourse to Gate 728 in some identikit modern airport with your backpack straps digging into your shoulder, you’ll think: “Why the hell didn’t I buy a lighter laptop?”

Buying lighter usually means buying smaller, but not everyone is happy using a 13.3in notebook to shave a few hundred grams from their luggage. That’s why LG has cooked up the Gram 16, a fully fledged 16in laptop that weighs less than 1.2kg. I’ve bought sandwiches at airports that weigh more than that. Of course, the knack in building a super-light large-screen laptop is making sure it doesn’t have the structural integrity of said sandwich.

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LG Gram 16 review: What you need to know

At the risk of stating the obvious, the latest Gram 16 doesn’t feel as solid as the likes of the Huawei MateBook 16s – which has a similar specification display but is almost twice as heavy – or the Apple MacBook Air, but you have to treat it pretty brutally to notice the difference so don’t discount it on the grounds of imagined fragility.

Despite it being a super-light laptop, LG has still managed to pack the Gram 16 with all the features you’d expect to find on a much heavier full-sized machine, including a numeric keypad, a good selection of ports, decent battery life and enough processing power to get through the vast majority of productivity tasks at a gallop.

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LG Gram 16 review: Price and competition

Configuration tested: Intel Core-i7 1260P CPU, Intel Iris Xe GPU, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD, 16in 2,560 x 1,600 IPS non-touchscreen. Price: £1,549


All the weight reduction has come at a price: £1,549 is quite stiff for what is at the end of the day a basic laptop, albeit one that weighs as little as Nadine Dorries’ brain. If you want to save a few quid then you can pick up a Gram 16 with a Core i5 processor for £1,349. At the time of writing both models come with a free LG 16in ViewPlus portable display, which has a list price of £299.

If you fancy something with rather more heft and power, Huawei’s new MateBook 16s has a lot going for it, including a lovely 3:2 2.5K 16in touchscreen and a Core i7-12700H processor. The impressive build quality does come at the expense of weight, though; at just shy of 2kg it’s almost twice as heavy as the LG, although at £1,299 it’s also £250 cheaper.

Think of a super-compact light laptop and most people’s thoughts will drift towards the MacBook Air, and rightly so. As we said in our review, why buy anything else? It’s a lovely little machine and a powerful one, too. However, the M1 model is 100g heavier than the Gram and the new M2, although lighter, only matches the Gram’s heft, despite it only having a 13.3in display.

That display, however, is very high quality as is the rest of the machine. You also get a fanless and, thus, silent laptop with extremely impressive battery life. With prices starting at just £999 it’s very good value for an Apple device.

Samsung’s Galaxy Book2 Pro offers some direct competition thanks to an even more impressive all-up weight of just 1.1kg. Even the Galaxy Book2 Pro 360, which is the fully convertible version, only weighs 1.4kg in 15.6in form.

For £1,599 you get the same Core i7-1260P CPU processor as the LG Gram 16 but also a very nice Full HD OLED touchscreen complete with a Samsung S Pen stylus. The conventional Book2 Pro may only have a 256GB SSD (with space for a second) and a Core i5-1240P chip but at £1,099 it’s considerably cheaper than the new LG.

LG Gram 16 review: Design, build quality & features

The body of the Gram 16 is made from magnesium while the lid is plastic. That’s great for weight reduction but not so great for resistance to twisting. Grab the sides and apply serious torque and the base will flex and creak while the lid warps alarmingly. Of course, while reviewers do things like this, owners generally do not. There’s also a noticeable amount of flex when you press the middle of the keyboard.

Despite the flexing, overall there’s nothing to suggest the Gram 16 won’t survive the rough and tumble of everyday use. Indeed, it’s rated MIL-STD 810G-tested against shock, extreme temperature, dust and – rather esoterically – salt fog ingress.

LG deserves a pat on the head for giving the Gram 16 a full suite of ports, with an HDMI 2.1 video output, two USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 and two Thunderbolt 4 ports (the latter both also support DisplayPort 1.4 and PowerDelivery), as well as a 3.5mm audio jack, microSD card reader and a Kensington lock slot. Wireless communications are supplied by the ever-reliable Intel AX211 card, which supports the latest Wi-Fi 6E standard and Bluetooth 5.1. The whole system carries Intel’s Evo seal of approval.

Removing the delicate bottom panel to access the laptop’s innards is not the easiest job in the world. It involves prying off two rubber feet and four glued-on covers before you can remove the screws, then – very, very carefully – teasing off the panel. Once inside, you can add a second M.2 2280 SSD, but everything else is fixed in place. Given how delicate you need to be to get the back off I think a small access hatch would have been a useful feature.

At 355 x 242 x 17mm, the 2022 LG Gram 16 is the same size as the 2021 model and, again, it’s available in a rather uninspiring choice of black or grey. The keyboard deck of my review machine was besmirched by an unsightly “Alexa Built-in” sticker but both it, and the application, are easily enough removed.

LG Gram 16 review: Keyboard, touchpad and webcam

The above-mentioned flex aside, the keyboard works well. The keys themselves have a firm and positive action and a decent amount of travel, while the bright, two-stage backlight means you can keep working when the lights go out. The numeric keypad is an obvious benefit to anyone who does serious number crunching.

The touchpad is altogether excellent thanks to its large size (132 x 83mm), tactile surface and positive click-action. It’s one of the best touchpads I’ve come across in quite some time.

In all ways, the new 1080p webcam beats the 720p affair installed in the 2021 Gram 16. The new webcam generates a very crisp image with good colour registration and an impressive lack of noise in low-light environments. It’s good to see the likes of LG and Huawei recognising the need for decent-quality webcams in this era of increased remote and hybrid working.

The Gram 16 also comes preloaded with a software suite called LG Glance, a pretty comprehensive bundle of webcam-based security enhancements. It uses the camera to recognise when you’re not in front of your laptop, blurring the display for privacy, and it can even warn you when someone is looking over your shoulder. The new webcam also supports Windows Hello IR facial recognition; alas, LG has, at the same time, removed the fingerprint reader that was built into the power button of the 2021 model.

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LG Gram 16 review: Display and audio

Technically the Gram 16’s 16:10 2,560 x 1,600 display is well up to par, with healthy coverage of all three major colour spaces (143% of sRGB, 98.5% of Adobe RGB and 101.3% of DCI-P3), a maximum brightness level of 386cd/m² and a solid contrast ratio of 1,300:1.

For everyday use, the Gram 16’s panel works just fine, too: it’s crisp and clear and the matte finish does a terrific job of keeping reflections at bay. The maximum refresh rate is only a basic 60Hz, but that’s really nothing to moan about.

With no external speaker grilles, I wasn’t expecting great things from the Gram 16’s 2 x 1.5W sound system, despite the DTS:X Ultra certification, but I was pleasantly surprised with that, too.

There turned out to be an acceptable amount of volume (84dB average at 1m from a pink noise source and 87dB peak from a music source at the same distance) and even a reasonable amount of bass, certainly more than the old 2021 model produced. Balance and definition are good, too. I really was genuinely surprised by the quality of the sound that the LG Gram 16 (2022) produces.

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LG Gram 16 review: Performance and battery life

This is only the second time we’ve encountered Intel’s new Core i7 1260P processor here at Expert Reviews. It’s a 28W Alder Lake CPU designed for use in ultra-light laptops and has 12 cores, four for performance jobs and eight for low-power tasks. With two cores fewer than the Core i7-12700H and reduced power consumption, I expected the 1260P to give a fair bit away to its more powerful brethren, and I was right.

The new LG Gram 16 scored 195 points in our in-house multimedia benchmarks, which may not sound like much when compared with the Core i7-12700H-powered Huawei MateBook 16s’ 366, but it’s still far more than the 118 that the 2021 LG Gram 16 scored. It’s also exactly the same score that we got from the Samsung Galaxy Book2 Pro 360, which has the same CPU.

In real terms that means that, while the Gram 16 can chew through productivity tasks with alacrity, it’s still limited when it comes to more intensive tasks or even fairly undemanding gaming. Case in point: the Huawei MateBook 16s played the 2016 Doom reboot perfectly well at 1,920 x 1,080, while getting similar mid-40s frame rates from the LG necessitated a drop to 1,280 x 720.

Where the Core i7-1260P claws back some bragging rights is in efficiency. Our usual battery test, where we run a video in VLC with the screen set to 170cd/m² in Airplane mode, didn’t kill the battery until it reached the 12hr 25min mark. That’s more than half an hour better than the 2021 model, which uses the same 80Wh battery. It’s still 45 minutes shy of the Samsung Galaxy Book2 Pro 360, mind. Either way, the LG Gram 16’s performance is pretty good.

It isn’t the quietest of laptops, the fans spinning up under even moderate stress to keep things cool, but the 1TB Samsung SSD proved impressively fast, recording sequential read and write speeds of 5,042MB/sec and 3,682MB/sec.

LG Gram 16 review: Verdict

If weight, or rather the lack of it, is your premier concern, then no laptop on the market can deliver as much screen and performance for the same number of grams.

The only fly in the ointment is the rather high price. Otherwise, LG really has done a very, very good job of building a proper large-screen, lightweight laptop with decent performance, a full-sized keyboard, a great sound system and a generous selection of ports. It’s an achievement too easy to get blasé about.

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