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LG Gram 15 (2018) review: Shockingly light, mind-blowing battery life

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MSRP: $1,999.99
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The Good The LG Gram 15 is amazingly light for a 15.6-inch laptop and has incredible battery life. Thunderbolt 3 and a fingerprint reader built into the power button are nice additions to last year's model.

The Bad Despite LG's durability claims, the laptop does feel flimsy, particularly the lid. Thunderbolt 3 is only available on the priciest model. You'll likely need to adjust to the keyboard layout.

The Bottom Line If lightweight, all-day battery life and a large screen size are your top must-haves for your next laptop, the LG Gram 15 is worth the expense.

8.0 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 8
  • Performance 8
  • Battery 9

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 92015-inch HP Spectre x360Dell XPS 15 or Microsoft Surface Book 2.

02-lg-gram-15-2018

The Gram 15 is light, but also thin at 0.7 inch (17.7 mm).

Sarah Tew/CNET

LG Gram 15 (2018)

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)

Kicking the tires

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. 

10-lg-gram-15-2018

It can be charged with an external battery pack via its USB-C port. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

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. 

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