LG Gram (2022) Review: Still The Best Non-Gaming Laptop?
Want a 17in laptop that weighs less than 3lbs (1,350g)? Well, we’re a few generations down the line of LG’s highly successful Gram range of super-light laptops and the latest version is equipped with all the latest tech from Intel 12th Gen processors, PCIe 4.0 SSDs, DDR5 memory and IPS displays. This review is of the LG Gram 16, with 14inch and 17inch models also available.
If you’re new to the Gram lineup, it’s their unique selling points are ultra light weight and also 16:10 aspect ratio screens rather than the usual 16:9. This gives you more vertical space to work with. For example, the 16 and 17inch models offer 2,560 x 1,600 resolutions , rather than 2,560 x 1,440 you’ll get on standard 16:9 displays.
Current Bestbuy pricing has the 17inch model at $1,799 (£1,649) with a 1TB SSD and 16GB RAM, the 16in model with that hardware for $1,699 (£1,549) and the 14 inch model with a Core i5 CPU, 8GB RAM and 512GB SSD for $1,499 ($1,199. In addition, LG is offering its new +view portable display for free with new Gram laptops.
Weight and new Nvidia graphics
Above you can see the specifications for the three sizes available. The 14inch weighs less than a kilogram – just 2.2lbs, while the 16 and 17inch models weigh 2.64lbs (1,199g) and 2.98lbs 1,350g respectively. A second row of weights for the larger models are there for the first new addition to the Gram this year – the option of Nvidia RTX 2050 graphics instead of the standard Intel Iris Xe – which sees a small weight gain.
The weight really is a huge selling point. If you find anything much over 3lbs resulting in aching shoulders if you’re hauling it around in a rucksack, you’re not alone and this is often a reason people opt for smaller, lighter models. The LG Gram 16 still holds its own against rivals such as Samsung’s Galaxy Book Ion, which is the same weight but has a smaller screen, but Intel’s Project Athena, now called Evo, has boosted thin and light laptop specifications to the point that the Gram 16 doesn’t offer the weight savings it once did.
The 17inch model is where it’s at, though, with similar models, such as Dell’s XPS 17, weighing in at nearly 5lbs (2.21kg) – nearly 2lbs/1kg more. It’s with this larger model that the Gram still holds on to its niche, with other 17 inch models aiming more at the desktop replacement market and not being designed to be particularly portable, whereas that’s the Gram’s forte. In addition to Nvidia graphics, there’s also 16inch and 14inch 2-in-1 models this time.
Intel 12th Gen CPU performance
Intel’s 12th Gen CPUs are used this time around, with the flagship Core i7-1260P and its four performance cores and eight efficient cores, present in both 16 and 17inch models, offering 12 cores in total and clock speeds up to 4.7GHz. This was hit regularly in lightly-threaded workloads, but in multi-threaded workloads the CPU would quickly top 90°C and throttle back to 2GHz on the processor’s performance cores and 1,800MHz on its efficient cores.
Compared to the 2021 and 2020 models, performance is off the chart in multi-threaded workloads, with Cinebench R20 seeing double the performance even compared to the 2021 model.
It returned a score of 8,134 in the newer Cinebench R23’s multi-threaded test. If you’re coming from a two year old laptop with something like a low power 10th Gen Core i5 CPU, you’ll see a huge performance boost, with those CPUs hitting anywhere between 2,000 and 3,000 in the same test and Core i7’s a little more. However, it’s roughly equivalent to a desktop Core i5-10600K or Ryzen 5 3600 and no match for a modern desktop Core i5 such as the 12400F.
This is reasonable for content creation and certainly much faster than similar CPUs from 10th or 11th Gen ranges, but if you’re working with software that has GPU acceleration such as Adobe Premiere Pro you’d be well-advised to opt for the Nvidia graphics to improve performance and reduce export times.
The single-threaded performance above was far better, though, easily outpacing the older desktop CPUs, matching AMD’s Ryzen 5 5600X and coming close to matching the Core i5-12400F too, so lightly-threaded workloads are certainly on-par with modern desktop performance.
Inside the laptop are a pair of PCIe 4.0 NVMe M.2 SSD slots, with one occupied with either 1TB, 512GB or 256GB SSDs in the form of a Samsung PM9A1 out of the box, but the second slot being easily accessible for adding a second.
Performance was typical of a PCIe 4.0 SSD, hitting over 6,000MB/sec on read and nearly 5000MB/sec on write speeds. The SSD did hit 78°C during this test, which might explain why these results are each around 500MB/sec slower than the SSD’s claimed speeds.
With 2TB being reasonably affordable these days, dropping in more capacity is useful, perhaps to house a Dropbox folder, video or photo library, while keeping the included SSD for Windows and programs.
Keyboard and touchpad
The keyboard is glorious, with more depth and feedback from the chiclet keys than most other slim laptops, making it very pleasant to type on for long periods and allowing you to get used to it quickly, although it is a little louder to use as a result. The keys are backlit and you get a numberpad too, which is important for dealing with spreadsheets or entering large sets of numbers.
The touchpad is large, smooth, friction-free and the only real issue is that it’s size means switching from lower right to lower left corners for your right and left mouse clicks isn’t particularly easy, although you do get used to it. The edges of the laptop are also quite sharp so you’ll need to make sure your wrists don’t rest on it.
Ports and features
There are two Type-C Thunderbolt 4 ports on the left side of the laptop, both of which can be used to charge it, plus a headphone jack and HDMI output. The other side offers a micro SD slot and two USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports.
There’s no Ethernet port so you’ll either need to use a USB or Thunderbolt hub that has one or make use of the 802.11ax WiFi with WiFi 6E support to access the Internet.
The webcam now supports IR and is full HD, with the ability to scan your face for Windows security to save using pins or passwords. This worked swiftly and there were no hiccups over the few dozen times it was used, plus new software supplied with the laptop gives it various security features, such as warning you if someone is looking over your shoulder at your screen or locking the laptop when you stand up. In addition, LG has cut some of the usual bloatware and streamlined its own utilities, although you’ll still be hit with a barrage of McAffee antivirus notifications as this comes pre-installed.
The 16inch IPS display is bright and vibrant and uses an anti-glare rather than glossy screen, while the 2-in-1 models use touch displays. Brightness was excellent at 356 nits and thanks to the anti-glare display, viewing outdoors is possible in all except direct sunlight. However, there’s no outdoor mode, which some competitors have, which boosts the brightness for more comfortable viewing outdoors on sunny days.
The 80Wh battery is the same size as the previous 16 and 17inch models, while the Nivida graphics options see this rise to 90Wh so it wasn’t surprising to see the battery life return a similarly impressive 14.5 hours streaming a video over WiFi with the screen at low brightness and on the power saver profile. You’ll see more than this if you’re just typing offline.
The pick of the line-up is still LG’s 17inch Gram laptop, which offers unmatched weight and screen real-estate for the less popular 17inch screen size and is ultimately the one you’d want with you for those days or weeks working away from home. Paired with the +view portable monitor which comes with the latest Gram’s for free, and you have the optimal setup for away-from-home working in a package that would fit inside your average rucksack.
Even better is the inclusion of Nvidia graphics as an option, which anyone dealing with GPU-accelerated software should be aiming for, although we can’t comment of battery life or performance since that’s not the model we looked at here.
The Gram 16 is essentially the same size as a slim 15inch laptop, but with slightly more screen space and more vertical pixels, but with Intel’s Evo platform galvanising the thin, light and powerful laptop market, there’s now some stiff competition that weighs the same and has similar features, so it’s maybe less unique.
However, coming equipped with LGs +view monitor for free means that if you’re serious about working away from home (or even working at home if you don’t have the space for a desktop) then if you have other options for a similar price, the Gram 16 could be very attractive if you’d make use of the second screen.
Overall, then, the Gram 17 is the one to go for as it weighs just a little more than the 16inch model, has a bigger screen and ultimately doesn’t cost much more.