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LG Gram (13-inch, touch) review: LG's ultralight, long-life laptop could use some design help

A solid, if not solid-feeling, ultraportable, the Gram makes up for some design issues with its featherweight body and double-digit battery life.

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Joshua Goldman
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Joshua Goldman

Senior Editor / Reviews

Joshua Goldman is a senior editor for CNET Reviews, covering laptops and the occasional action cam or drone and related accessories. He has been writing about and reviewing consumer technology and software since 2000.

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LG stumbled a bit with its Gram series of ultraportable laptops when it entered the US market in late 2015. The initial offerings weren't necessarily bad, but they didn't offer much beyond an ultralightweight body to compete in an already crowded category.

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7.5

LG Gram (13-inch, touch)

The Good

The unassuming LG Gram is impressively light and has a long battery life. Enough connections and ports to satisfy business users and a fingerprint reader for extra security built into the touchpad. It's available with or without a touchscreen.

The Bad

Despite many fine qualities, its appearance is pretty uninspiring and while the lightweight chassis is appreciated, the Gram feels flimsy compared to aluminum. Poorly placed web cam shoots upward at an awkward angle. USB-C port doesn't support Thunderbolt 3.

The Bottom Line

Thanks to some helpful extras, a slim, lightweight design and double-digit battery life, the LG Gram makes a fine everyday, all-day travelling companion.

Less than two years later, though, and the electronics giant has corrected course some with the line. The 2017 models -- available in 13.3-, 14- and 15.6-inch sizes -- are still remarkably light, but add in a lot of what was lacking on the earlier systems. Prices start at $1,000 for a non-touchscreen 13.3-inch Gram, but climb up to $1,700 for the 15.6-inch version with a touchscreen and an Intel Core i7-7500U processor, 16GB of memory and a 512GB SSD.

Reviewed here is the 13.3-inch model with a full HD (1,920x1,080 pixels) IPS touchscreen that comes in at $1,100 (approximately AU$1,500 or £885 in Australia and the UK, respectively). It's a fair price for what you're getting, especially when you consider its two biggest advantages: Its slim, lightweight design and a very long battery life.

LG Gram (13-inch, 2017)

Price as reviewed $1,099.99 (approx. AU$1,500, £885)
Display size/resolution 13.3-inch 1920x1080 touch display
PC CPU 2.5GHz Inel Core i5-7200U
PC Memory 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz
Graphics 128MB dedicated Intel HD Graphics 620
Storage 256GB SSD
Networking 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2
Operating system Windows 10 Home (64-bit)

Light as a feather, not stiff as a board

At just a touch more than 2 pounds (0.94 kg) and 0.6-inch thickness (15.5 mm), you can slip the 13.3-inch Gram into your bag and not even really feel it. However, while all the editors at CNET I showed it to were equally impressed with its size and weight, they also said it felt flimsy: The Gram's magnesium alloy body just doesn't have the same sturdy feel as a premium aluminum-chassis ultraportable. The lid in particular has a lot of flex to it.

Also, if standout looks matter to you, the Gram isn't going to wow you. The chassis is dark silver inside and out with the exception of the chrome LG logo on the lid and below the display. Politely put, it is unassuming and will blend into any environment, be it boardroom, classroom or cafe.

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Slim bezels and nice keyboard, but what's up with the webcam?

Sarah Tew/CNET

One positive for the design beyond its weight is the slim bezel around the screen, which means you're looking at nothing but display when you open the lid. A side effect of this, however, is LG moved the webcam to the screen's hinge so it shoots straight up your nose while also placing the camera so low that the screen has to be at a 90-degree angle to keep you entirely in the shot.

The keyboard and touchpad are also nice. Although the keys don't have a lot of travel, there's more than you might expect given the shallow keyboard deck. The keys are comfortably large, too, with two levels of backlighting available.

The touchpad is responsive without being jumpy and its software allows for a lot of fine-tuning for multitouch gestures and taps. Plus, there's a fingerprint sensor in the upper left corner of it that supports Windows Hello login. Just register your print and you can skip typing in a PIN or password by resting your fingertip on the sensor.

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LG didn't skip on ports.

Sarah Tew/CNET

As you might expect from a company that makes TVs and displays, the screen on the Gram is nice. It's sharp with very good color and excellent off-angle viewing. It gets reasonably bright, too, but you might still might struggle with some off the glare from the glossy screen. LG also includes a Reader mode setting that lets you quickly reduce blue light.

While watching TV and movies on it is good experience, listening to any sort of audio through its weak speakers is not. To be fair though, few laptops this thin have good speakers and LG built-in DTS Headphone: X processing for improved audio quality through the headphone/mic jack.

As for other ports and connections, you'll find two USB 3.0 ports (Type-A), a microSD card slot, HDMI output and a USB Type-C port that supports video out, high-speed data transfer and Ethernet via an adapter.

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The 13-inch Gram is ready for long flights.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Battery before performance

With a seventh-gen Intel Core i5-7200U processor, 8GB of memory and integrated Intel HD Graphics 620, you get enough power to get you through average computer tasks like word processing, spreadsheets and email, and it won't get bogged down if you have a dozen tabs open in Google Chrome with some other applications running in the background. Streaming video and music are no problem either, but I wouldn't recommend it for anything more than casual photo and video editing.

That said, this thing is great when it comes to battery life. On a full charge with the screen brightness at 50 percent, I had no problem getting through an entire work day, including a one-hour commute on both ends with battery to spare. On our streaming video test, the Gram hit 11 and a half hours, which puts it in the top five of laptops we've tested with the longest battery life.

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Ready to go.

Sarah Tew/CNET

When weight and battery matter most

The 13.3-inch LG Gram is a fine fit if you need to travel as light as possible for as long as possible without spending a fortune to do it. It might not be particularly sturdy or have an eye-catching design and its webcam is less than ideal, but with its sharp touch display, comfortable backlit keyboard, responsive touchpad and a fingerprint reader for extra security, the Gram makes a respectible everyday laptop for business or school work.

Multimedia Multitasking test 3.0

HP EliteBook x360 428Apple MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (13-inch) 443HP Spectre x360 512LG Gram (13-inch, 2017) 570Dell XPS 13 2-in1 734
Note: Shorter bars indicate better performance (in seconds)

Geekbench 3 (Multi-Core)

HP EliteBook x360 8854HP Spectre x360 7726Apple MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (13-inch) 7650Dell XPS 13 2-in1 6893LG Gram (13-inch, 2017) 6647
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

Streaming video playback battery drain test

HP EliteBook x360 694LG Gram (13-inch, 2017) 690Apple MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (13-inch) 607Dell XPS 13 2-in1 536HP Spectre x360 482
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance (in minutes)

System Configurations

LG Gram (13-inch, 2017) Micorsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-7200U; 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 128MB dedicated Intel HD Graphics 620; 256GB SSD
HP EliteBook x360 Microsoft Windows 10 Pro (64-bit); 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-6600U; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 128MB decicated Intel HD Graphics 620; 512GB SSD
HP Spectre x360 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.7GHz Intel Core i7-7500U; 16GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,866MHz; 128MB dedicated Intel HD Graphics 620; 512GB SSD
Dell XPS 13 2-in1 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 1.3GHz Intel Core i5-7Y75; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,866MHz; 128MB dedicated Intel HD Graphics 615; 256GB SSD
Apple MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (13-inch) Apple macOS Sierra 10.12.1; 2.9GHz Intel Core i5-6267U; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM2,133MHz; 1,536MB Intel Iris Ggraphics 550; 256GB SSD
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7.5

LG Gram (13-inch, touch)

Score Breakdown

Design 6Features 8Performance 7Battery 9