After hearing the praises of LG's gram lineup for years, I finally got to review the LG gram 15 for 2020, and I thought it was a great laptop with design choices that make it fantastic for portability. It did come with some sacrifices to performance compared to its similarly-equipped peers, but it was more than fast enough for most office and school work, and it had great battery life to boot.
But what better laptop to outdo the gram 15 than the gram 16? Yes, LG has come back with its annual refresh for the gram family, and every device now comes with a 16:10 aspect ratio for the display, which was previously exclusive to the 17-inch model. With the taller screen, the middle size option now has a 16-inch display, which is why it's called gram 16 instead of gram 15.
The gram 14 has also changed to the taller aspect ratio, but it still has the same pixel density. The gram 16, on the other hand, now comes with a WQXGA panel. It's just a very big upgrade from last year, and I can tell you right away that it's an awesome device. Let's get into the review.
|CPU||Intel Core i7-1165G7 (1.30GHz/3.90GHz)|
|GPU||Intel Iris Xe Graphics|
355.9 x 243.4 x 16.8mm (14.01 x 9.58 x 0.66 inches); 1190g (2.62lbs)
|Display||16 inches, 2560x1600, IPS LCD, 99% DCI-P3|
|Storage||512GB M.2 SSD|
|RAM||16GB LPDDR4x 4266MHz|
|Ports||(2) USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A
(2) Thunderbolt 4
MicroSD card reader
3.5mm combo audio
Kensington lock port
|Battery||80Wh four-cell lithium-ion (up to 22 hours)|
|Color||Obsidian Black (as reviewed), Quartz Silver|
|OS||Windows 10 Home|
|Price||$1,399 (256GB of storage)/$1,699 (1TB)|
Design and ports
There are two key aspects that LG always focuses on with the design of its gram laptops. Lightness and durability. gram laptops have long met military standards for durability with a MIL-STD-810G rating, and that's the same this year. To achieve that durability while still being light, LG uses a magnesium alloy for the laptop's body, and while some may prefer the feeling of aluminum, I actually quite like it. The body has a matte coating that feels really nice to the touch, too.
I have to reiterate how light this thing is. This 16-inch laptop is significantly lighter than the MagicBook 14 I reviewed a few weeks ago, and it never ceases to amaze me how easy it is to pick up and carry anywhere. And despite that, you can easily open the lid with just one finger, more so than any other laptop I've tried. It's just awesome overall.
You also don't have to make a ton of sacrifices to get that lightness. On the left side, you still get two Thunderbolt 4 ports, HDMI, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. You might be disappointed that both Thunderbolt ports are on the same side, since that may limit your ability to connect to a display and/or power outlet in a specific position, but it's still awesome to have two of them.
On the right side, you get two USB Type-A 3.2 Gen 2 ports, a microSD card reader, and Kensington lock port to dock the laptop at an office or something if you're worried about it getting stolen.
Once you open it up, the keyboard deck looks pretty clean. You can see that it has a numpad and a fingerprint sensor built into the power button. Last year, there was a small round button inside a rectangle, but this year, the whole rectangle is a fingerprint reader. The fingerprint sensor can also remember your fingerprint when you press the power button so it can log you in right away. We'll get into more detail on the keyboard and trackpad in their respective section, though.
The display portion has minimal bezels all around, but it does fit a 720p webcam in the top bezel, where it should be.
The underside of the gram 16 is where the speakers are and not much else. This panel is the only flaw I can point out in this laptop as it tends to flex very easily and it almost feels like paper. You can see this in my hands-on video above at the 4:56 mark. I've reached out to LG to see if this may be a faulty unit or part of the design and will update this when I hear back.
Suffice it to say, I'm in love with the overall design of this laptop. The lightness alone is incredible, but the fact that you still get a fully capable machine as well is just amazing.
Display and sound
The display is one of the key upgrades on the LG gram 16 compared to its predecessor, and it's also the best laptop display I've ever used. I say that objectively because it's the first time I'm using a laptop with a resolution higher than Full HD. In this case, the resolution is WQXGA, or 2560 by 1600, which means it also has a 16:10 aspect ratio. The taller display is part of the reason why it's now a 16-inch panel instead of a 15-inch one, and it's awesome.
In every laptop I've reviewed so far, I end up saying Full HD resolution and the 16:9 aspect ratio are fine, but this laptop has spoiled me, and it'll be hard to go back. While Full HD is still sharp enough in my opinion, having the added resolution means the display scaling can make UI elements smaller, thus fitting more information on the screen. Pair that with the taller aspect ratio, and you can see a lot more of whatever you're doing, be it reading an article or scrolling through Twitter.
It also looks really good. Colors from the display are super vibrant and lively, and it's just pleasant to look at. The potential downside to that is that LG is using a glossy and somewhat sticky-feeling plastic cover for the screen. It's not a touchscreen so the feeling shouldn't really be a problem, but the glossy finish means you get a lot of reflections if you're working under direct sunlight.
As mentioned above, the speakers on the LG gram 16 are on its underside, which is not an ideal placement. I don't think it ruins the experience though, and the speakers still get fairly loud and sound pretty good, just nothing mind-blowing.
As for the webcam, it's also pretty good. After reviewing a few too many Honor laptops, I'm just happy to finally review a laptop with proper webcam placement so that I can actually make video calls with it. The actual quality of the camera isn't the best, even if it is HD, but it's serviceable, and the built-in microphones are at least great for calls without having to use a headset.
Keyboard and trackpad
The gram 16 keeps raking in the praise as we take a look at the keyboard. I've found the typing experience on this laptop to be very comfortable, with all keys offering a solid amount of travel and overall feel. They all feel very stable and high quality, and there's really not a lot I can say. I will point out that I'm glad LG has done away with the orange accents from last year's model. I was fine with it, but this just feels cleaner.
It's also not very often that I get to review a laptop with a full number pad, and I'm glad LG is making good use of the available space - while also being surprised at how much extra stuff we can get with such a light laptop. I don't use the number pad that often, but sometimes it's just more convenient when I open the calculator app to run some numbers quickly.
As for the trackpad, it's nothing short of great to me. This is quite possibly the largest trackpad I've ever used, especially in terms of height, and it's just awesome. I love all the space it gives me to work with, and it makes it really easy to use all the gestures enabled by the Precision drivers, which are also here.
It feels quite nice and smooth to the touch, too, which is something I didn't like as much on last year's model. I've seen some people point out they'd prefer having separate buttons at the bottom of the trackpad, but I prefer this style by far.
Performance, battery life, and software
Last year, when I reviewed the gram 15, I noted that the performance was a little below what I would have expected from the processors inside. But while I was disappointed last year, I was fully prepared for slightly worse performance this year on account of this thing being so light. But it turns out I didn't need to, because this year, the gram 16 isn't really worse than other laptops with the same processor.
The LG gram 16 has almost always been snappy for me for day-to-day use, which is what it's really meant for. It's something you can easily take to school or into the office, and it handles those kinds of tasks really well, I've rarely felt like I had to wait for it. The only exception to that is a very specific scenario: watching videos in the myTube app for Windows 10, which take a couple of extra seconds to load for some reason.
Let's take a look at some benchmarks first. I should note that PCMark 8 has stopped working, since it hasn't been supported since January. I ran the benchmarks but it never let me see the results, so we'll be looking at the tests I could see results for.
LG gram 16
|MagicBook 14 (2021)
Intel Core i7-1165G7
|PCMark 10 Extended||4,747||-||4,378||-||-|
|3DMark Time Spy||1,790||-||1,467||-||-|
|Cinebench||1,369 / 4,375||-||1,507 / 4,976||1,518 / 4,929||1,540 / 5,181|
|GeekBench||1,552 / 5,448||-||1,512 / 5,041||1,361 / 4,119||1,230 / 4,428|
Across the board, benchmark scores are actually above many other laptops with similar specs, with the exception of Cinebench. Being that this is one of the more intensive benchmarks, I believe this may be where thermal constraints play a bigger role, but otherwise, the gram 16 performs fantastically. The SSD in the device is also pretty fast, with sequential reads at just under 3400MB/s, while sequential writes are just under 3000MB/s.
Where the gram 16 really shines, though, is battery life. How LG fits an 80Wh battery into something this light is beyond me, but I'm not complaining at all. This thing easily lasts me all day, much longer than any other laptop I've reviewed. Typically, when testing the battery life in my laptop reviews, I never plug them into my monitor, I only use the laptop's screen to avoid draining the battery too fast. I mostly did that here, too, but even on a day where I did plug it into a monitor for two hours, took video calls on Teams for at least another hour, and worked through a normal workday, the gram 16 wouldn't die. It's baffling to me that it lasts this long even with a high-resolution display like this. If you couldn't already tell, I'm in love with this laptop.
As for software, obviously the gram 16 runs Windows 10, but LG packs quite a few apps that can be considered bloatware with it. There are a few things you'd expect, like the LG Control Center for changing certain power and display settings, the Update Center for updates, and the Easy Guide and Troubleshooting apps. You also get a bunch of apps by CyberLink like PowerDirector and PhotoDirector, and the McAfee antivirus, all things I quickly uninstalled from my machine.
One app that I think is interesting is Virtoo by LG, which lets you connect your phone to your PC, not too differently from Microsoft's Your Phone app. You can view and manage notifications, take calls, send messages, and see photos and videos from your phone on your PC. It also lets you mirror your phone's screen, and that makes it a bit more useful, since the Your Phone app only lets you do this with some Samsung phones. As long as you can install the Virtoo by LG app on your phone, this stuff should all work, which I appreciate. I did run into some issues because the Android app kept crashing for me, but when it worked, it was pretty cool.
I've said this multiple times at this point, but I am absolutely in love with the LG gram 16. It does everything so well that even where it's not as great, I can easily forgive it. The display is beautiful, sharp, and fits a lot more content than I'm used to, the trackpad is huge and has Precision drivers, and the keyboard is comfortable and even includes a number pad as an extra bonus.
You also get plenty of ports for connectivity, very good performance for day-to-day tasks, and outstanding battery life. All of this comes in a package so light that I can't help but wonder what kind of magic tricks LG is pulling here.
It's not a 100% perfect device, and if I had to point out some flaws, I'd say the placement of the speakers and the overall image quality of the webcam could be better, but those feel like minor blemishes in an otherwise stellar package. I'd also love a touch screen, but that's a matter of form factor, and LG does offer a gram 16 2-in-1 in some markets (but not Portugal, sadly).
It's impossible for me to not love this laptop, and it has absolutely earned one of the highest ratings I've ever given in a review. While I couldn't find this specific storage and RAM configuration for sale, you can get it with 1TB of storage from LG's website for $1,699, or come down to 256GB for $1,399. It's absolutely worth your time and money.
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