The LG Gram 16 is cheaper, better than the MacBook Air M2 — fight me

LG isn’t the biggest name in laptops, but the company is quietly amassing a brilliant ultraportable lineup, and following my review of the LG Gram 16, I found myself thinking that Apple’s MacBook Air M2 comes up short in several key areas against the upstart.

After a hit-or-miss track record in previous years, LG is firing on all cylinders lately with the LG Gram 17 (2023) delivering a similarly masterful performance to its 16-inch counterpart that earned it 4.5 stars and an Editor’s Choice award. The only reason it isn’t in the 16’s place is that it’s 3 pounds and about $1,800, making it heavier and pricier than the M2 Air — but don’t sleep on that awesome ultraportable either.

Now let’s be clear — this isn’t a clean sweep for the Gram 16. The MacBook Air M2 is also an excellent laptop, but if you are in the market for a thin-and-light laptop and don’t love the idea of macOS nor a smaller screen, the LG Gram 16 is a compelling alternative to Apple’s ultraportable. Or, you can wait for the rumored 15-inch MacBook Air. 

Here’s a closer look at both laptops to help you decide if the LG Gram 16’s victories over the MacBook Air M2 make it the better choice for you.

(Image credit: Future)Which MacBook Air M2 am I comparing to the LG Gram 16? 

We are pitting the upper mid-tier models that we reviewed for both laptops. Here’s a full breakdown of the specs for each laptop.  

Swipe to scroll horizontallyHeader Cell – Column 0 LG Gram 16MacBook Air M2CPUIntel Core i7-1260PM2 8-core chipRAM16GB16GBGraphicsIntel Iris Xe10-Core integrated GPUStorage1TB SSD512GB SSDDisplay16-inch, 2560 x1600 IPS13.6-inch Retina XDR display (2560 x 1664)Ports2 Thunderbolt 4, HDMI 2.0, 2 USB 3.2, a headphone jack, and a MicroSD card slot2 Thunderbolt 3 and a headphone jackWeight2.5 pounds2.7 poundsDimensions14 x 9.5 x 0.66 inches12 x 8.5 x 0.44 inches

At the time of writing, this LG Gram 16 is available for $1,236 on Amazon (opens in new tab), while the MacBook Air M2 configuration is $1,699 on Amazon (opens in new tab). At full retail, the difference isn’t as pronounced; our Gram 16 configuration is $1,699 and the Air M2 is $1,899. However, don’t pay that much for either — there are always laptop deals to be found.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s dive into three ways the LG Gram 16 is better than the MacBook Air M2.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag) The LG Gram 16 is lighter than Air (M2) 

Steve Jobs pulling the original MacBook Air out of an envelope is an iconic moment in laptop history. And while the Air remains one of the thinnest laptops around at 0.44 inches, it’s far from the lightest. The LG Gram 16 at just 2.5 pounds weighs 0.2 pounds less than the MacBook Air M2.

Now sure, 0.2 pounds isn’t much, but the gulf between the two feels significantly larger when you factor in that the LG Gram 16’s display is 2.4 inches larger than the Air M2 and it features a full keyboard with a number pad. This comes down to a question of priorities. You probably won’t really notice the 0.2 pounds in your laptop bag either way. but you’ll definitely notice how much more luxurious a 16-inch display feels whether you are watching content or working.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)LG Gram 16 can keep you dongle-free in 2023 

While Apple finally brought back a legitimate collection of ports on the MacBook Pro lineup, the MacBook Air M2 remains a spartan port experience with just a pair of Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports and a headphone jack. You can buy a docking station or a USB-C hub to rectify the problem, but that’s one more thing in your bag to remember (and more weight).

Simply enjoy the freedom of the dongleless existence made possible by the Gram 16. Need an HDMI 2.0 port for a presentation or to output video to a TV? The Gram 16 has you covered. Legacy devices with USB Type-A? Gram 16 has two USB 3.2 Type-A ports. No need for a microSD card reader — the Gram 16 has that built right in. As a cherry on top, the Gram 16 offers a pair of Thunderbolt 4 ports and a headphone jack to match the Air M2’s offerings.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)The LG Gram 16’s display is more vivid and colorful than the MacBook Air’s panel 

Going by the marketing, you would assume that virtually every laptop display covers 100% of the DCI-P3 color gamut, but we do the testing and that simply isn’t true. There’s a pretty wide range of results even within premium laptops and while Apple does a solid job with color accuracy, it doesn’t come close to exposing you to the full range of hues.

The LG Gram 16, on the other hand, may as well be a Skittles commercial because you can virtually taste the rainbow of colors coming off this thing. If your laptop does even occasional double-duty as your TV, you are going to love the experience of watching content on the Gram 16. While I could lavish further praise on it, here are the cold hard numbers to show you just how thoroughly the Gram 16 owns the Air in this category. <strong> sRGB</strong>

Swipe to scroll horizontallyHeader Cell – Column 0 LG Gram 16MacBook Air (M2) sRGB167%107% DCI-P3118%76%

A 60% advantage in sRGB and 42% in DCI-P3 is massive any way you slice it. The MacBook Air M2 may as well be in black and white, OK too far, but safe to say that no one could look at these two displays side-by-side and not be more drawn to the Gram 16’s vibrant panel.

However, it’s worth noting that if you are doing creative work on your laptop, the Air M2 does have an advantage in its color accuracy. The Air delivers a 0.2 Delta-E score (lower is better) while the Gram 16 comes in at 0.29. Apple also wins the brightness battle, too, at 489 nits to 332 nits. If you are frequently working in sunny environments that’s enough of a difference to worry about, but the anti-glare coating on the Gram 16 does a solid job, so anything short of direct sunlight isn’t an issue.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)Bottom line  

I didn’t even get into some of the real shockers as two categories that do tip in the Air M2’s favor are much closer than you might expect. The Gram 16 hit 13 hours and 8 minutes in our battery life testing, which is behind the Air M2 (14:06), but an outstanding result that makes this basically a non-factor. 

Performance was similar with the Air M2 delivering an excellent 8,919 in our Geekbench 5.4 testing compared to 8,431 for the Gram 16. It’s a win for Apple, but not by a margin that would make a meaningful difference in typical daily tasks. If you are looking for a laptop that can do part-time duty for content creation, then by all means, the Air M2 is the right choice. It’s our pick for the best video editing laptop for entry-level content creators, but anything shy of that, and the Gram 16 is more than powerful enough.

If you want an ultraportable laptop that doesn’t sacrifice display size, battery life, nor performance, the LG Gram 16 is one of the best on the market, and for many users, a better choice than the MacBook Air M2.

Today’s best LG Gram 16 (16Z90Q) deals

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