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Lifewire / Jeremy Laukkonen
Fantastic battery life
Doesn’t feel sturdy
Held back by integrated graphics
Cramped numeric keypad
The LG Gram 15 is an astoundingly light laptop that packs a surprisingly large screen, incredibly long battery life, and an elegant, minimalist design.
The LG Gram 15 is the latest entry in LG’s line of ultralight laptops. It sports a full HD touchscreen, a speedy processor, and battery life that has to be experienced to be believed. All this comes in a surprisingly light package that’s so durable it managed to stand up to military-grade MIL-STD-810G testing.
Specifications don’t always tell the full story, so we recently took an LG Gram 15 for an extended spin around the office, at home, and on the road. We tested things like how long the battery really lasts, how well it performs basic and advanced productivity tasks, how the display works in various conditions, and more.
When you pick up the LG Gram 15 for the first time, it’s impossible to ignore how light it is. Even after a couple weeks with this little powerhouse, we’re still struck by how insubstantial it feels. Despite packing a 15.6-inch screen, this little guy weighs less than a lot of 13-inch laptops we’ve tested.
It fits easily in most small bags and backpacks, and in a pinch, it’s light enough to carry with just two fingers.
With a frame (including the bezel) that’s about 14 inches wide, the LG Gram 15 is bigger than most ultraportables, but it’s so light that we didn’t really mind. It fits easily in most small bags and backpacks, and in a pinch, it’s light enough to carry with just two fingers.
Once you get past how incredibly light the LG Gram is, the design is fairly basic and minimalist. From the wedge-shaped profile, to the dark gray color, and even the lowercase logo, nothing about this laptop really stands out. If you’re looking for a laptop that you can use in the office and take on the road, that’s a good thing.
In addition to being light, the LG Gram also feels a little flimsy and hollow. LG claims that the full-metal body is actually stronger and more durable than most laptops, owing to what they call “nano carbon magnesium construction”, but there’s enough flex in the lid that we’re not completely sold on that idea.
Despite the light and slim form factor, it still manages to pack an almost complete set of ports and jacks.
Despite the light and slim form factor, it still manages to pack an almost complete set of ports and jacks. On one side, you’ll find a power jack, a USB 3.0 port, an HDMI port, and a USB-C port. The other features a microSD card reader, audio jack, and two more USB 3.0 ports. The body is simply too thin for an Ethernet jack, but you’ll find a USB-C to Ethernet adapter packed in the box.
The LG Gram 15 comes with Windows 10 Home edition preinstalled, so the setup process is quick and easy. With Cortana’s help, you’ll be all set up and ready to go in just a few minutes. LG does include a decent amount of bloatware that some users will want to do away with as part of the setup process, but there’s nothing too onerous or difficult.
The LG Gram 15, despite the deceptively small form factor, does indeed conceal a 15.6-inch 1080p IPS touchscreen within its thin clamshell frame. The bezels are exceptionally thin, a necessity in packing such a large screen into such a small package, and the screen is excellent. The colors are rich and bold, the contrast is excellent, viewing angles are wide, and it’s bright enough to use in most environments.
The touchscreen is responsive, and we didn’t have any trouble manipulating windows, icons, or websites with touch controls. The glossy screen isn’t quite as slick as we’d like to see in a touchscreen though, so you might find your finger catching from time to time as you click and drag.
The touchscreen is responsive, and we didn’t have any trouble manipulating windows, icons, or websites with touch controls.
While the display is bright enough for most environments, we found it to be a bit too dim in anything even approaching full sunlight. The glossy screen doesn’t help there, either, as it catches the light easily, suffers from glare, and is extremely reflective.
The LG Gram 15 packs an 8th generation Intel Core i7-8550U CPU running at 1.8 GHz, which is excellent, but its reliance on the Intel UHD Graphics 620 chip pumps the brakes on its overall abilities. We found that it handles basic tasks, like word processing, web browsing, and light image editing, without any problems.
When we ran the PCMark bench test, the results lined up with what we saw during hands-on testing. The LG Gram 15 notched an overall score of 3,218, with scores of 6,618 in the essentials category, 5,159 in productivity, and 2,626 in digital content creation.
Breaking those numbers down further, the LG Gram 15 is highly competent and basic productivity tasks like word processing and spreadsheet manipulation, it handles video conferencing with flying colors, and apps load up lightning fast. The LG Gram is also capable of basic image editing, and light video editing, but that’s about it. If you need to do any real work in video editing and rendering, or anything else that’s GPU intensive, the LG Gram will struggle.
Even though the LG Gram really isn’t meant for gaming, we also ran some gaming benchmarks from GFXBench. We ran the Car Chase benchmark first, and it managed a fairly low 24 frames per second (fps). It did better at the T-Rex benchmark, managing 84fps, which indicates that it’s capable of running older games that aren’t terribly demanding.
As a real torture test, we loaded up Monster Hunter World, and that only confirmed the idea that this laptop isn’t made for gaming. We set it to windowed mode, reduced the settings to low, cut the resolution down to 720p, and still only managed about 18fps.
The backlit keyboard with nicely spaced keys, nearly full-sized numeric pad, centrally located touchpad, and responsive touchscreen make the LG Gram 15 a joy to work with both in and out of the office. The keyboard is comfortable, with decent key travel and response, and you’ll even find a fingerprint sensor built right into the power button.
With all those great design features, we really put the LG Gram 15 to work, using it primarily for tasks like word processing, email, web browsing, listening to music, and some light image editing. It came through all of these with flying colors.
Far from our expectations of poor battery life, the LG Gram blew past a lot bigger, heavier competitors.
As we already addressed in the previous section, the integrated graphics and limited RAM aren’t ideal for heavy image and video editing. So if you really need to do tasks like those when you’re out of the office, the LG Gram might not be what you’re looking for. There are plenty of bigger, heavier machines with dedicated graphics cards that handle photo and video editing better.
Unsurprisingly, it’s hard to fit decent speakers into a laptop that’s as small and lightweight as the LG Gram 15. Compared to other, larger, laptops in its class, sound quality is somewhat lacking. It’s loud enough to fill a small room, but the bottom-firing speakers leave a lot to be desired. The sound is somewhat muffled due to the speakers firing down instead of up, and it’s especially tinny at higher volumes. We could make out dialog and vocals just fine, but sound effects and music just don’t sound that great.
The LG Gram 15 comes with an 802.11ac wireless chip, which is capable of connecting to both 5GHz and 2.4GHz Wi-Fi networks. When connected to our 5GHz network, we clocked it at a speedy 243Mbps down and 59.75Mbps up, on a wired connection that provided about 300Mbps down.
There is no Ethernet port, but that’s not an oversight. The case just isn’t thick enough to accommodate one. A lot of thinner laptops get around that limitation with a low profile port, but the LG Gram 15 is too thin for that as well. LG does provide an adapter that you can plug into the USB-C port, so you can count on using a USB-C device, or a wired Ethernet connection, but not both at the same time.
Despite an exceptionally thin bezel, the LG Gram 15 still manages to conceal a 720p webcam above the display. This marks an improvement over previous models, which placed the camera in the hinge, but the hardware itself still isn’t anything to write home about. It’s good enough for basic video chat and video conferencing, but anything that requires a lot of fine detail is out of the question.
When a laptop is this small and light, we’ve learned to temper expectations in terms of battery life. With the LG Gram 15, we were pleasantly surprised. Far from our expectations of poor battery life, the LG Gram blew past a lot bigger, heavier competitors. With light usage, including web browsing and even some video, we found the battery to last over 14 hours. Heavy usage, like video editing and multitasking with multiple apps open at once, cuts that down somewhat, but the LG Gram 15 still punches far beyond its weight class in terms of battery life.
The LG Gram 15 comes with Windows 10 Home preinstalled, along with an assortment of bloatware and software from LG. You’ll find half a dozen games, like Candy Crush Saga and Farmville 2, installed, along with social media apps like LinkedIn, and productivity apps like PowerDirector and PhotoDirector.
You usually have to pick and choose from features like a lightweight frame, long battery life, great performance, and a big display, but the LG Gram 15 comes very close to having it all.
LG also provides a number of its own apps, including LG Control Center, LG Easy Guide, LG Troubleshooting, and the LG Help Center. Most users can safely ignore or do away with these apps, but they’re useful in helping inexperienced users get the most out of the Gram.
The LG Gram has an MSRP of $1,549.99, so it clearly isn’t a budget laptop. At that price, it’s actually a little on the expensive side when you look at the actual components that are included, but that price is pretty clearly attached to the work and materials that it took to create such a remarkably light and compact laptop. You can find more powerful laptops at a similar price point, but you’ll have trouble finding one that’s this small and light with a 15.6-inch 1080p IPS touchscreen.
You usually have to pick and choose from features like a lightweight frame, long battery life, great performance, and a big display, but the LG Gram 15 comes very close to having it all. If you want a laptop that’s this light, performs this well, and has a screen this big, you won’t find any competition worth looking at.
If you only need a few of those things, or performance is more important than weight and portability, then things start to get real.
One close competitor, the Huawei MateBook X Pro, has the same CPU paired with a discrete NVIDIA GPU, so it’s better at tasks like video editing and gaming. The MateBook X Pro also has a sharper display, but it tips the scales at an extra half a pound versus the LG Gram 15. Still, at an MSRP of $1,499, it’s a bit more affordable while offering better performance.
The Dell XPS 15 is another competitor worth looking at, with an i7-8750H CPU and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050Ti GPU. It’s a far more capable machine and has an MSRP of just $1,399, but it doesn’t have a touch screen and weighs almost two times more than the LG Gram 15.
The HP Spectre x360 15t is even heavier, at about 4.81 pounds, and has a frame that’s so much bigger than the LG Gram 15 that it’s hard to believe they have the same display size. With its much larger size, it also includes an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050Ti and a 4K touchscreen display. The Spectre is priced at $1,549, just like the LG Gram.
This is the lightweight 15-inch laptop to own.
If you’re looking for a lightweight 15-inch laptop that you can carry around all day and get work done wherever you find yourself, the LG Gram 15 is hard to beat. For anyone who is primarily concerned about the size and weight of their laptop, this is the right choice. It’s not powerful enough for really intensive video editing or gaming, but that’s the tradeoff for a 15-inch laptop that’s as light as a lot of 13-inch laptops.
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