30 second review
The LG Gram 16 (2022) builds on the 2021 version which was already a great laptop; its 17-inch version was shortlisted on our coveted best laptop leaderboard. LG managed to shrink it marginally although its weight went up by a smidgen. The processor is now a much faster 12th generation Intel Core CPU paired with speedy LPDDR5 memory. The storage subsystem has also been upgraded to PCIe Gen 4.0 while Windows 11 becomes the default operating system.
There’s a bunch of smaller improvements as well like an anti glare IPS display, a full HD webcam and LG Glance, a feature that could be seen as very useful, slightly confusing or borderline creepy. Pitched as a premium product, the Gram 16 still carries a relatively high price, competing head to head against the Apple MacBook Pro 16. Compared to its bigger brother, the LG Gram 17, this one has a lower price and a better battery life, making it altogether a more balanced purchase, especially as a business laptop.
Price and availability
Until the end of July 2022, the LG Gram 16 (2022) comes with a free 16-inch USB-C portable monitor, the Plus View, which complements the laptop perfectly and carries a suggested retail price of $299.99. The model that was sent to us retails for £1549.98 ($, about AU$) and comes with a Core i7, 16GB of RAM and 1TB SSD.
Other options include 8GB or 32GB of RAM, 512GB SSD and a Core i5 CPU; users can also choose between an Obsidian Black and a silver aluminum color scheme. Windows 11 Pro is also offered as a paid-for upgrade and a 2-in-1 version of the LG Gram 16 is also expected to be launched later this year.
LG Gram 16 Design
The Gram 16 seems to defy the laws of gravity thanks to its frankly unbelievable lack of heft. There seems to be a disconnect between what your hand and eyes expect when you first pull it out of its box and how it actually feels once you hold it. LG espouses the same subdued design language as other premium Asian laptop manufacturers like Fujitsu and Dynabook. A conservative approach that should sit well with its main target audiences, digital nomads and business travelers.
LG engineers went to great lengths to produce something that light and yet, a notebook that adheres to the strict MIL-STD-810g requirements. The bezel on the Gram 16 is incredibly thin on all sides which is even more impressive when you consider that it managed to fit a full HD webcam with IR capabilities and dual microphones on the top one.
Here is the LG Gram 16 (2022) configuration sent to TechRadar Pro for review:
CPU: Intel Core i7-1260P
GPU: Iris XE
RAM: 16GB LPDDR5 (dual channel)
Storage: 1TB SSD
Screen: 16-inch (2,560 x 1,600 pixels), IPS, 350 nits
Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6e, Bluetooth 5.2
Ports: 2 Type-C, 2 Type-A, microSD, headphone socket, HDMI
Size: 354.5 x 242.1 x 16.8mm
Battery: 80 WHr
Its 16-inch screen is a splendid matte display with a 2560 x 1600 pixel resolution; that is just under 4.1 million pixels and almost twice the pixel count of a full HD display. Note that the 16-inch external monitor matches the LG Gram 16 laptop perfectly; the top edge of both products align perfectly, a perfect combination for anyone looking for a programming laptop or a laptop for video editing.
The chassis is still made of magnesium-alloy through and through which makes it tough and a good heat dissipater as well. On the other hand, this material tends to be flexible which is a minor niggle in the grander scheme of things.
Despite its physical attributes, the LG Gram 16 has plenty of connectors: a full size HDMI 2.0 port, an audio connector and two Thunderbolt 4 inputs on one side. A microSD card reader and two full size USB 3.2 ports on the other side.
Given its size, it comes as no surprise that the LG Gram 16 has a full size keyboard with a numeric keypad plus a larger than normal touchpad.
Oh and one last thing. The LG Gram 16 (2022) is the lightest laptop in its category (well, the 2021 version is slightly lighter) and about 150g lighter than the LG Gram 17. That’s about the same weight as the award winning Dell XPS 13 and less than the 13-inch Apple MacBook Air; that’s jaw-droppingly spectacular.
LG Gram 16 Hardware
This is the second generation Evo Gram 16 laptop that LG has released to date; as such our model is powered by a 12-generation, 12-core/16-thread Intel Core i7-1260P. Importantly, it has a “Minimum Assured Power” of 20W and a “Maximum Turbo Power” of 64W, which the CPU reaches when it hits its maximum clock speed of 4.7GHz. There’s also 18MB of cache and an Intel Iris Xe GPU capable of driving an 8K monitor.
LG judiciously chose to pair the processor with the latest LPDDR5 memory, 16GB of it arranged in dual channel, in order to provide the 1240P with enough bandwidth to thrive.
Uniquely amongst laptops of this size and form factor, the LG Gram 16 ships with not one, but two SSD slots that are PCIe Gen4. This can be a life saver if you don’t want to swap an existing encrypted SSD that’s nearing full capacity or if a user wants to boost performance (by going to RAID-0) or reliability (by opting for RAID-1). One slot is populated by a 1TB Samsung PM9A(MZVL21T0HCLR-00B00) SSD, which has a rated sequential read/write performance of 7GBps/5.1GBps; in other words, it should be quick.
Wireless connectivity is handled by an Intel Wi-Fi 6E part, the AX211, which also supports Bluetooth 5.3 (and not 5.1 as per the spec sheet on LG’s site).
LG Gram 16 Performance
The single thread performance of the Core i7-1260P ranks amongst the best we’ve seen, matching the AMD Ryzen 9 5900H found in the Beelink GTR5, a mini PC. This means the Gram 16 will be more responsive than most other devices in its category in productivity scenarios like word processing and web surfing. Multi thread performance is outstanding considering its form factor, it matches the XMG Pro 17, a mobile workstation laptop that used a far more power hungry Core i7-10870H CPU.
Overall, the benchmark numbers point to a very, very fast laptop, even with an integrated GPU; it will not be as fast as a dedicated GPU like the RTX 3050 but should be enough for casual gaming or playing AAA-rated games at low resolutions/medium setting. The Samsung SSD proved to be a speedy one as well, hitting more than 6.3GBps and nearly 5GBps on sustained read/write in CrystalDisk Mark.
LG Gram 16 in use
The laptop was a treat to use; fast, lightweight, reasonably quiet (although you can make it totally silent but it might throttle its performance). LG states that the laptop’s display has a 350 nits brightness with a 1200:1 contrast ratio and DCI-P3 99% color gamut which is great for creatives looking for accurate color reproduction. It won’t match specialist displays but should give a close enough match for most use cases. The laptop’s screen is usable when overcast but not directly under bright sunlight as per the photos: 350 nits simply doesn’t cut it.
As for the backlit keyboard, we found it to be uninspiring but adequate. The thickness of the device meant that compromises had to be made; the key travel is shallower than on say, a business laptop where space and weight are not absolute priorities. As such it tends to be noisier and harsher which some touch typists might prefer because it provides a similar audio feedback to mechanical keyboards. The power button doubles as a fingerprint reader and remember that there is a dedicated keypad. Another criticism is the size of the keys; the enter key is smaller than the shift key and we’d personally prefer to have a keyboard with a marginally larger footprint given that there’s plenty of space around it.
The touchpad on the other hand is big (132 x 83mm) but without any physical buttons, which is the norm on thin-and-light laptops. It is responsive and we didn’t have any issues with lag or accidental palm mishaps.
Audio is handled by a Realtek chip and is supported by DTS:X Ultra technology via a bundled app. The two speakers are located on the base of the laptop and are therefore downward firing. There’s only a pair of them without a dedicated subwoofer like on the Apple MacBook Pro. LG says that the wider speaker box should produce “clear sound” and “heavier bass” but there’s only so much you can do in a compact enclosure; defying the laws of physics isn’t one.
As expected, the sound performance depends very much on who is listening and what is playing. We tried a few tracks including the grandiose “Toccata et fugue en ré mineur” and while it was crisp and without the sort of audio artifact you’d get from speakers on budget laptops, it lacked depth and presence of more audiophile-friendly laptops.
LG Gram 16 Battery life
At just over 9h40m (580 minutes) in our YouTube battery test, the LG Gram 16 tops our leaderboard. As a reminder, we play a 20 hour countdown video with Wi-Fi on, maximum brightness and disabling any power saving feature. It is an extreme case but it does mean that the laptop will perform far better in real life situations. LG quotes 13.5 hours using Bapco’s MobileMark 18 benchmark and a whopping 22.5 hours of video playback in airplane mode and with its screen set at 150nits brightness.
Its 80 Whr battery is larger than what you’d find on rival notebooks and while the Evo platform helps to keep power demands low, the 16-inch display does consume a relatively high amount of power. The LG Gram 16 consumes 0.138Whr per minute, which is higher than what the Honor MagicBook Pro (AMD) - which has a 16-inch display as well - sips (0.13Whr per minute). In other words, if the LG Gram 16 matches the power efficiency of its rival, it would last an extra 35 minutes extra. The battery is powered by a 65W Type-C Power Delivery adapter shaped as an old fashioned power brick.
Note that LG confirmed that the battery life on the LG Gram 17 will be less than on the LG Gram 16 despite them having the same specification (bar the screen size). Adding an extra inch to the screen does have a negative impact despite having the same amount of pixels.
LG Gram 16 software
The Gram 16 comes laden with unwelcomed freebies. It does have Alexa built-in which may be a boon for some. Our review sample came with an expired version of McAfee Livesafe antivirus that nagged us every single day to entice us to upgrade, despite the fact that Windows 11 comes with a perfectly usable antivirus called Microsoft Defender Antivirus.
Other applications preloaded include a trial of Microsoft 365 (formerly known as Office 365), a full working version of Laplink PC Mover Professional, a trio of Cyberlink apps (PhotoDirector, AudioDirector, PowerMediaPlayer and Power Director) plus a bunch of shortcuts to others (Spotify, Disney+, Adobe Express, Prime Video, Tiktok, Facebook and Instagram).
LG has bundled three of its own apps: Smart Assistant that allows you to tweak the Gram 16 in minute details (e.g. you can change the speed of the CPU fan), Virtoo (which allows you to connect your smartphone to your PC, similar to what Microsoft’s Your Phone does) and LG Glance that uses technology from Miramatrix. That last app is the one that got us the most excited; it follows your glance using the onboard full HD front facing camera.
It allows the laptop to know whether the user is present and you can even move active Windows across to another display amongst a host of features. It can even alert you if someone is peeping over your shoulder as it detects a second pair of irises in a bid to increase your privacy. We found it to be pretty accurate in our tests but sadly, it only works when you are connected to the mains.
Buy it if:
You are after the lightest laptop with a large screen. Nothing comes close to the LG Gram range when it comes to weight per inch and the Gram 16 strikes the right balance between battery life and screen size. Bonus points for its higher than full HD resolution and a 16:10 aspect ratio.
You want a Windows laptop with outstanding battery life. One of the very few areas where the Gram 16 can improve is its battery size; 100 Whr is the maximum allowed on airplanes and this laptop is only carrying 80. Even then the Gram 16 delivers some spectacular battery life thanks to Intel’s power sipping Evo platform.
Don’t buy it if:
You want to play graphics intensive games. The Iris Xe graphics unit that powers the Gram 16 is great for casual gaming or playing popular titles at low resolution. It will struggle should you want to push it to the laptop’s native resolution which is, let’s not forget, is almost twice as high as full HD.
You are looking for A++ after sales support. The LG Gram 16 comes with a standard 12 month warranty without any option to upgrade should your circumstances require it, for example if you’re a business user or a freelancer. Nothing to do with the laptop per se but it would be great if LG could offer an option.