Photo of the LG Gram (left) and Microsoft Surface Laptop 3

For the past several years, the LG Gram has sat at or near the top of our laptop ratings, offering consumers a strong combination of performance and portability. For those who need a thin and light Windows laptop, and don’t want to think too hard about it, the Gram has always been a strong pick.

And while the 2020 Gram, which was released just a few weeks ago, does quite well in our ratings, there’s at least one other laptop that Gram shoppers might be interested in as we head into the second half of the year. 

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The Microsoft Surface Laptop 3, released toward the tail end of 2019, ticks many of the same boxes as the LG Gram: It’s thin, it’s light, and it packs enough power to easily handle everything from Adobe Photoshop to Zoom.

These are high-end, expensive laptops. And while you won’t go wrong with either one if you need a powerhouse machine, there are enough differences between the two (especially at 15 inches, where there’s more daylight between them) to warrant a head-to-head comparison. 

Here’s how they measure up. 

Vitals

LG Gram
Part of what makes the LG Gram 15 (2020) so interesting is that it crams truly top-tier specs into a body that weighs hardly anything—or, more specifically, 2.5 pounds—and yet still has enough battery capacity to last some 15 hours on a single charge. That number drops to 8 hours when you’re really pushing it by, say, watching high-resolution video, but still: A full day’s work is well within reach with the Gram.

This is the 15-inch version (though LG also makes 13-, 14-, and 17-inch versions), and our model has an Intel Core i7 processor, 16 gigabytes of memory, and two separate 512GB solid-state drives, which are faster and more reliable than their older, traditional hard-drive counterparts.

LG lets you customize the specs of the Gram, so you could, say, add an even faster processor or buy more (or less) storage, so there’s some flexibility here.

Microsoft Surface Laptop 3
Like the Gram, the Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 (15-inch) is a touch-screen notebook. Also like the Gram, the Surface Laptop 3 packs good specs into a thin and light body.

Our model has a quad-core AMD Ryzen 5 processor, 8GB of memory, and 256GB of solid-state storage. Ryzen might not be familiar to you, but it’s AMD’s line of high-end processors. You can expect as much as 10 hours of battery life.

There’s also a smaller 13-inch version of this laptop available, and you can also configure the various specs (such as storage and memory) to your liking. 

Quick Take

LG Gram 15 (2020)

Price: $2,000

Portability
Performance
Display
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Performance

At 15 inches, the biggest difference that might make a difference in terms of performance would be that the Surface Laptop uses an AMD processor while the Gram uses an Intel processor. In practice, however, our testers found performance to be very good for both models. Frankly, there’s very little between these two laptops in terms of pure performance.

Even if you customized the specs of both laptops to be less powerful than our specific models, both the LG Gram and Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 are more than capable of handling typical workloads in Microsoft Office, Google Chrome, Slack, and other staples of home-office life. Both are solid in this regard.

So we can just about call it a draw. 

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Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 (15-inch)

Price: $1,500

Portability
Performance
Display
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Portability

Now this is where things get interesting. The LG Gram weighs just 2.5 pounds—that’s almost hard to believe in a 15-inch laptop. Add 15-hour battery life and you’re looking at a highly portable laptop that you can easily take to the local outdoor café (or merely the backyard) without thinking twice.

The Surface Laptop 3 is no slouch here, either, but is less impressive. It weighs 3.4 pounds. That’s lightweight for the average 15-inch laptop but pales in comparison to the Gram. And its battery can last a little more than 10 hours on a single charge.

The Surface puts up respectable numbers, but the Gram is the clear winner in terms of portability.

Versatility

With three USB-A ports and one USB-C port, the Gram allows you to easily connect accessories such as a mouse, a printer, and a little USB-powered desk fan without the hassle of needing a dongle. There’s a built-in HDMI port to easily connect an external monitor.

The Surface Laptop has only has one USB-A port and one USB-C port, which means you’re likely to need a dongle if you plan on connecting many accessories at the same time. But if you don’t have that many accessories, it’s not a big deal. There’s no built-in HDMI port, either, which may be a hassle for some people but a nonissue for others.

Both models have built-in webcams, of course, but the Surface’s webcam is compatible with Windows Hello facial recognition. That’s a handy feature that allows you to log in to the laptop by looking at the webcam instead of typing in your password.

Taking all that together, we have to give the nod to the Gram.

Display

Our testers liked the Gram’s Full HD (aka 1080p) display, calling its colors mostly accurate and noting that it has wide viewing angles, which makes it easier for more than one person to look at the screen at the same time. It’s a touch screen, too, so you can use your fingers to zip through photo galleries or merely poke around the web.

The display is one area where the Surface excels. First, its display is a higher resolution (2496x1664), which lets you fit more content on the screen at the same time, whether that’s lines in a Word document or tweets in your browser. Second, our testers felt that colors were more vibrant and accurate here than in the Gram, making the Surface a better pick if you intend to watch a lot of streaming video on your laptop.

The Surface’s display can also get very bright, making it easier to use the laptop outdoors—on your deck or in the park. And like the Gram, it’s also a touch screen.

The Surface is the clearer winner here.

The Winner

While both the LG Gram and Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 are very good laptops, we’re giving the edge to the Gram.

Both laptops can be configured to have roughly the same raw specs, so in terms of performance they’re pretty much the same. But there’s more to a laptop than performance.

The Gram is just so light, and its battery so impressive, that it has to take the top spot. The Surface Laptop has plenty going for it, too, including its better display and webcam, but if a laptop is meant to be carried from point A to point B without worrying about reaching for a power outlet, the Gram is the better bet, even if they’re roughly the same price when configured similarly.

So while there is no wrong choice here, the Gram is just that much better where it counts most to give it the nod.