Storage, Thermals, Battery Life
The one main downside to system performance is the SSD. The 256GB unit included with the Gram 13 is just a SATA Samsung PM871 drive, with performance capped around the 500 MB/s mark for sequential transfers. The best laptops like the Dell XPS 13 use an NVMe drive with performance in the GB/s range, whereas with this SATA drive you’re not getting anything like that. Considering you can’t get a configuration with more than 256GB of storage anyway, it could be worth swapping it out yourself if you are keen on the Gram’s strengths.
The Gram 13 does have an active cooler for the CPU, however we were quite impressed with it. Under the full load of a Handbrake x265 encode, the cooler is quiet, producing just 34 dBA from 50cm away. Surface temperatures are also kept in check: we recorded 43C in the upper middle of the keyboard and 36C on the underside.
One of the areas we were most interested in is battery life. With a 72 Wh battery inside the 13-inch model, the Gram 13 is loaded with more battery capacity than most competing laptops, which typically top out around the 50 to 60 Wh mark. The touchscreen included with our review unit will sip a bit more power than the base model without touch, however we were still expecting very good results from the Gram.
And across the battery tests we ran, the Gram delivered. Battery life was either at or near the top of the charts in every test, delivering some of the best results I’ve seen from the past couple of generations of laptops I’ve tested. Despite the quad-core CPU inside, the Gram even does well in battery tests that are more CPU intensive, which is great news for those that want to run power hungry workloads off the charger.