An incredibly light portable powerhouse

An incredibly light portable powerhouse

An incredibly light portable powerhouse

Laptop on a table next to a cup

The LG Gram 16Z90Q packs a superb 16-inch screen in an incredibly lightweight bezel. (Photo: Rick Broida / Yahoo)

I have tested many laptops over the past 30 years and few have made the same impression as the LG Gram 16Z90Q. That’s because the system seems to defy logic – it’s large, with a large 16-inch display and a generous 80 Wh battery, so when you pick it up you expect weight. Instead, you find yourself holding something incredibly light. In fact, at just 2.6 pounds, the Gram weighs less than many smaller laptops.

For example, the popular Apple MacBook Air and Dell XPS 13 weigh 2.8 and 2.9 pounds respectively, but they have 13 inch screens. The 16-inch jump might not seem like much, but it offers a lot more room for things like spreadsheets, photo editing, and multi-window workflows.

But is that enough to justify the Gram’s not-so-light $ 1,700 price tag (currently $ 1,500 on Amazon)? Short answer: if you can swing it, this is an awesome laptop that should keep you up and running for years.

LG Gram 16Z90Q: Design and features

I have to admit that the Gram 16Z90Q doesn’t score a ton of style points. Its steel gray color looks a bit dull and the all-plastic exterior (needed to achieve that extraordinary weight) looks flimsy. Everything, including the generously sized touchpad, looks industrially rectangular.

But if he’s not dressed to impress, he’s definitely fueled for pleasure. With a 12th Generation Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM and a 1TB solid state drive, the Gram runs at the speed of a modern PC. If there’s one flaw, it’s the integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics subsystem – it’s large for everyday computing, but insufficient for games like the high-end ones. On the other hand, there is a slot available to add a second SSD – great if you end up needing more internal storage.

The anti-glare screen is a marvel, with a 2,560 x 1,600 native resolution with a 16:10 aspect ratio. I honestly like 16: 9 better, as not only does it offer more pixels, but it also puts more “front and center” working space. There is hardly any bezel around the screen, meaning it appears to extend almost edge-to-edge (despite pressing a Full HD webcam at the top). It’s not a touchscreen, however, something to consider if you’d rather tap rather than click.

As for typing, the Gram’s spacious backlit keyboard should please most audiences. I liked the travel and responsiveness of the keys, although I wouldn’t have minded a bit of extra space between the main keyboard and the dedicated numeric keypad. The good news is that there’s plenty of space under the keyboard to rest your palms, which would otherwise cut through the rather sharp corners of the chassis.

Two black laptops

It’s a pretty impressive engineering feat for a 16-inch laptop to be so thin and so light. (Photo: LG)

The Gram also boasts an extremely large touchpad, with a smooth and responsive surface. This is great for things like two-finger swiping, where a smaller pad can feel bordering. There are no physical buttons, however, so you have to press the pad itself for left and right mouse clicks.

LG Gram 16Z90Q: performance

In my tests, the system worked like a rabbit, booting up in seconds and loading programs just as quickly. I often rate PC performance based on how quickly and smoothly a web page responds to two-finger swiping on the trackpad; this flowed like butter. Similarly, I opened a dozen tabs and jumped from one to the other at varying intervals; no performance hits to speak of, no delay in card switching.

Despite relying on a pair of downward-facing speakers, which would normally translate to somewhat muted audio, the Gram delivered decent audio. There is little bass to speak of, although this is true of most laptops and I suspect most users will be much happier with headphones. But if you’re just jumping on a Zoom call or listening to a short YouTube video, the built-in speakers aren’t bad at all.

My only real gripe about usability is the system fan, which ranges from a bit to very loud when it turns on. The good news is that LG’s Smart Assistant software allows you to tweak various system settings, including the fan speed (which has a “silent” mode). This utility is also home to other useful tools, such as automatic screen shutdown when you walk away and a reader mode designed to reduce eye strain.

As for the aforementioned 80 Wh battery, which is larger than most, LG promises 13 to 20 hours of battery life depending on activity. While I didn’t have the tools to run a full range of battery tests, the results I’ve seen elsewhere point to the system as being decidedly long-lasting. For example, you should expect 9 to 14 hours of video playback depending on certain variables (screen brightness, streaming versus local files, etc.).

LG Gram 16Z90Q: Should You Buy It?

All of this adds up to a truly great laptop that is one of the best I’ve tried in recent memory. Its premium pricing might put it out of reach for some buyers, but if you want a larger-than-average screen in a lighter-than-average system, the LG Gram 16Z90Q is well worth the splurge.

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