A portable powerhouse that’s shockingly light

Laptop on a table next to a mug

The LG Gram 16Z90Q packs an excellent 16-inch screen into an amazingly lightweight frame. (PhotoRick Broida/Yahoo)

I’ve reviewed many laptops over the last 30 years and few have left the same impression as the LG Gram 16Z90Q. That’s because the system seems to defy logic: it’s big, with a spacious 16-inch display and a generous 80Wh battery. So when you pick it up, expect it weight. Instead, you’re holding something frighteningly light. In fact, at just 2.6 pounds, the Gram weighs less than many smaller laptops.

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

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

LG Gram 16Z90Q: design and features

I’ll admit that the Gram 16Z90Q doesn’t score many style points. Its gunmetal gray color looks a little drab, and the all-plastic exterior (necessary to achieve that amazing weight) feels nonessential. Everything about it, including the generously sized touchpad, feels industrially rectangular.

But when it’s not dressed to impress, it definitely can please. With a 12th Gen Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM and a 1TB solid state drive, the Gram runs about as fast as a modern PC. If there’s a flaw, it’s the integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics subsystem: it’s adequate for everyday computing, but falls short for high-end gaming. On the other hand, a slot is available for adding a second SSD, which is great if you end up needing more internal storage.

The anti-glare screen is a marvel and runs at a native resolution of 2560 x 1600 with an aspect ratio of 16:10. Honestly I like this better than 16:9 as it not only offers more pixels but also puts more of your workspace “front and centre”. There’s hardly any bezel around the screen, meaning it seems to stretch almost edge-to-edge (although a Full HD webcam squeezes in at the top). It’s not touchscreen, though, which is something to consider if you prefer typing to clicking.

As for typing, the Gram’s spacious backlit keyboard should please most viewers. I liked the travel and responsiveness of the keys, although I wouldn’t mind a hair’s breadth between the main keyboard and the dedicated numeric keypad. The good news is that there’s plenty of room under the keyboard to rest your palms, which would otherwise dig into the frame’s rather sharp corners.

Two black laptops

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

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

LG Gram 16Z90Q: performance

In my tests, the system ran like a rabbit, booting in seconds and loading programs just as quickly. I often measure PC performance by how quickly and smoothly a webpage responds to two-finger scrolling on the trackpad. this one rolled like butter. Similarly, I opened about a dozen tabs and hopped between them at varying distances; no noticeable drop in performance, no lags when switching tabs.

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

My only real usability complaint is with the system fan, which ranges from a little to very noisy when turned on. The good news is that LG’s Smart Assistant software lets you tweak various system settings, including fan speed (which has a “silent” mode). This utility also houses some other helpful tools, like turning the screen off automatically when you walk away and a reading mode that aims to reduce eye strain.

Regarding the aforementioned 80Wh battery, which is larger than most, LG promises between 13 and 20 hours of runtime depending on activity. While I didn’t have the tools to run a full suite of battery tests, the results I’ve seen elsewhere have found the system to be exceptionally durable. For example, you should expect 9 to 14 hours of video playback depending on certain variables (screen brightness, streaming vs. local files, etc.).

LG Gram 16Z90Q: Should You Buy It?

It all adds up to a really great laptop that’s one of the best I’ve tried lately. Its premium price 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 worth buying.

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