With a new eighth-gen Intel processor and a few other small changes, the Gram is as impressive as it is light.
Most premium 15-inch laptops weigh in around 4 pounds, but not the LG Gram. It weighs a remarkably light 2.5 pounds (1.1 kg), and while you can certainly find other ultraportables at that weight, they don't have 15.6-inch displays.
On top of that, the 2018 LG Gram has simply great battery life, beating the 2017 model's by roughly four hours. There were some subtle additions such as a fingerprint reader and Thunderbolt 3 USB-C (in the highest-end configuration, at least), and LG moved the webcam from the laptop's hinge to above the display, making the overall package better than last year's.
The 2018 Gram models -- available in 13.3-, 14- and 15.6-inch sizes -- start at $1,000 for a non-touchscreen 13.3-inch Gram, but climb up to $2,000 for the 15.6-inch version reviewed here (approximately AU$2,600 or £1,425 in Australia and the UK, respectively) with a full-HD IPS touchscreen and an Intel Core i7-8550U processor, 16GB of memory and two, 512GB SSDs. The Gram 15 starts at $1,150, though, with components that should deliver good performance for everyday work and entertainment needs.
Basically, if you want a large screen, a long battery life and the lightest travel weight possible, this is the answer, but be prepared to pay for it. If those things aren't crucial to your needs, you might want to consider something else such as the 14-inch Lenovo Yoga 920, 15-inch HP Spectre x360, Dell XPS 15 or Microsoft Surface Book 2.
|Price as reviewed||$2,000|
|Display size/resolution||15-inch 1,920 x 1,080 touch display|
|PC CPU||1.8GHz Intel Core i7-8550U|
|PC Memory||16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz|
|Graphics||128MB dedicated Intel UHD Graphics 620|
|Storage||512GB M.2 SATA SSD (2)|
|Networking||802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 4.1|
|Operating system||Windows 10 Home (64-bit)|
When laptop manufacturers use lightweight materials, the results can be mistaken for flimsy build quality. Everyone who's picked up the Gram in our offices remarked that it feels cheap and hollow. The Gram's full-metal body is made of nano carbon magnesium that LG says is tougher than the shell of conventional laptops. To back up the sturdiness claims, LG ran it through seven military-grade durability tests including ones for shock and vibration.
That's not to say you should go throwing the Gram around. It'll stand up to a daily commute, but it's not a rugged laptop by any means. In fact, the lid has a fair amount of flex to it, so I wouldn't carry it around by just the display or put too much pressure or weight on it or go out of your way to abuse it.
Lift the lid and you're greeted with a nice, big 15.6-inch full HD touch display. It's not the brightest screen and battling reflections off the glossy screen was kind of a thing. I wouldn't plan on working in the sun. Also, while the touchscreen is plenty responsive, the combo of the thin panel and free-moving hinge results in discernable bounce when you touch it.
While watching TV and movies on it is a good experience, listening to any sort of audio through its weak speakers is not. To be fair, few laptops this thin have good speakers and LG built-in DTS Headphone: X processing for improved audio quality through the headphone/mic jack.
Other ports and connections include two USB 3.0 ports (Type-A), a microSD card slot, HDMI output and a USB 3.0 Type-C port that supports charging, video out, high-speed data transfer and Ethernet via an adapter. On the high-end configuration I tested, the USB-C port is Thunderbolt 3.
The keyboard and touchpad don't change from last year's model. The touchpad is solid: It's smooth and responsive without any jumpiness. The keyboard is decent, but if you hammer hard when typing like I do, it doesn't make for the most comfortable experience. Plus, while most of the keys are reasonably large, the Enter and Backspace are just a little too small, which led me to occasionally miss them. Not a deal-breaker, but something you might have to adjust to. On the upside, it does have two levels of backlighting available.
One thing that has changed from the 2017 Gram is the placement of the webcam. Like other laptop makers, LG slimmed its display bezels nearly out of existence, which forced it to move the webcam to below the display. In the Gram's case it wasn't just below the screen but on the actual hinge, making for some unflattering shots. This year's Gram has the webcam back up above the screen and the bezel didn't get noticeably bigger because of it.
Our laptop is LG's top-of-the-line, $2,000 configuration with an eighth-gen Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, dual 512GB SSDs and integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620 that helped push performance notably beyond what the 2017 model was capable of. That said, the components are still geared for average home and office tasks like word processing, web browsing and email, but with enough muscle to push through more demanding work assuming it's not too graphics intensive.
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. And it'll handle casual photo and video editing without choking, though for large, high-resolution images and video, you'll want something with discrete graphics.
Where the Gram is a real winner is battery life. It clocked in just shy of an amazing 14 hours on our streaming video test. By comparison, the 2017 model hit 9 hours, 42 minutes. While I didn't get quite 14 hours during more typical use, I got through a work day without reaching for a power cord.
The best things about the LG Gram 15 are its weight and battery life. Lightweight 15.6-inch laptops are a rarity to begin with, so the fact that LG is able to make one that's less than 2.5 pounds with excellent performance and even better battery life is pretty amazing. Thunderbolt 3 and the fingerprint reader are nice additions, and putting the webcam above the screen was a smart move. If you want a big-screen laptop that you won't mind carrying around all day, everyday (and can look past the meh keyboard and speakers), the Gram 15 is worth the expense.
|LG Gram 15 (2018)||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-8550U; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 128MB dedicated Intel HD Grpahics 620; 512GB SSD|
|LG Gram 15 (2017)||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.7GHz Intel Core i7-7500U; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 128MB dedicated Intel HD Grpahics 620; 512GB SSD|
|Samsung Notebook 9 (15-inch)||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.7GHz Intel Core i7-7500U; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 2GB Nvidia GeForce 940MX; 256GB SSD|
|Apple MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2017)||Apple macOS Sierra 10.12.5; 2.9GHz Intel Core i7-7820HQ; 16GB DDR3 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 4GB Radeon Pro 560 / 1,536MB Intel HD Graphics 630; 512GB SSD|
|Dell XPS 15 (2017)||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-7700HQ;16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,400MHz; 2GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050; 512GB SSD|
|HP Spectre x360 (15-inch, 2017)||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.7GHz Intel Core i7-7500U; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,400MHz; 2GB Nvidia GeForce 940MX; 512GB SSD|