LG Gram Review
A large, high-quality screen in a genuinely portable package makes the LG Gram a hit
WINDOWS 10 ULTRAPORTABLE
EVEN THE FINEST big-screened laptops can look and feel like bulky beasts, at least next to their 13in counterparts. Take the Dell XPS 15 2-in-1, for example: it’s an excellent convertible, but at 2kg it’s far from ideal for lugging on the daily commute.
The 1.1kg LG Gram, however, would appear to buck this trend. This conventional clamshell-style laptop, finally available in the UK months after launching abroad, is almost half the weight of Dell’s 2-in-1 but still comes packed with a Full HD, touch-enabled 15.6in display, plus high-end internals including an Intel Core i7-8550U processor.
MAKING LIGHT WORK
Simply put, no other 15.6in laptop is this portable, and that is gloriously apparent when carrying it around in a bag. Build quality has taken a hit in the process: the Gram is built with a tough-sounding ‘nano carbon magnesium’ alloy but feels rather flimsy in the hand, and the lid in particular is capable of bending to an almost uncomfortable degree. Still, that’s about the only caveat worth mentioning.
Indeed, the selection of ports hasn’t suffered. On the left edge is a Thunderbolt 3-powered USB Type-C port, along with an HDMI output, a full-size USB2 port and a DC charging connector. Two USB3 ports sit next to each other on the right-hand side, along with a microSD card reader and a 3.5mm headset jack. Helpfully, LG also includes an Ethernet-to-Type-C adaptor in the box, so you can still have the reliability of a wired connection even though there’s no room for a dedicated Ethernet port.
The Gram’s backlit full-sized chiclet-style keyboard is well spaced across the width of the laptop, with a dedicated number pad on the right. The typing action is crisp and consistent across the keyboard, but individual keys were a bit too small for our tastes.
The large, glass- topped trackpad’s surface is nice and smooth, as well as being perfectly responsive. It performs Windows 10’s laundry list of multitouch gestures without breaking a sweat.
The Gram’s massive screen might be its greatest strength. Measuring 15.6in from corner to corner – with skinny bezels on all four edges – the touch-enabled panel is terrific, capable of covering 96.9% of the sRGB colour gamut. In layman’s terms, that means colour performance is on a par with what you’d expect from a professional desktop monitor.
Brightness isn’t bad, either. Our colorimeter measured the display reaching 308cd/m2 at maximum brightness, which is more than adequate for most lighting conditions.
The screen resolution of 1,920×1,080 translates to a pixel density of 141ppi, so everything is perfectly sharp, and the contrast ratio of 1,029:1 is a good result, too.
Sound isn’t quite so impressive. Laptop speakers are never going to be the last word in hi-fi, but the downward-facing stereo speakers here are particularly limited, with nothing at all in the way of lower-mid or bass response, and unavoidable tinniness at high volumes. This makes it very unpleasant to listen to music or watch videos, driving you to hook up some headphones fast.
Running the show is Intel’s quad-core, eight-thread Core i7-8550U processor, clocked at 1.8GHz and capable of boosted clock speeds up to 4GHz. The Gram performed decently in our 4K application benchmarks, scoring 113 in the image test, 75 in the video test and 60 in the multitasking test, for an overall score of 74.
That’s fine for a laptop this slim and light, and we had no issues when tackling heavy- duty applications such as Adobe Photoshop. However, it’s far from the most powerful 15.6in laptop out there; the XPS 15 2-in-1, for instance, powered its way to an overall score of 127 with its Core i5-8305G. A Core i5 outpacing a Core i7 might sound strange, but the former does have the same number of threads while also being clocked at a higher 2.8GHz.
That said, the Gram performs respectably, and you can even play games on it, provided you don’t turn up the graphical quality too high. We managed to get 35fps out of Dirt Showdown, running at the native resolution with the Medium quality preset.
THE LONG WAY
Storage speeds are slightly disappointing.
The 1TB M.2 SATA SSD produced sequential read and write speeds of 499MB/s and 427MB/s in the AS SSD benchmark; these are good results for a SATA-based drive, to be sure, but most laptops around this price use much faster PCI-E SSDs.
Thankfully, it’s a better story when it comes to battery life. In our video rundown test, with the display set to 170cd/m2 and airplane mode engaged, the Gram managed an impressive 11h 23m before needing a recharge. That handily beats the XPS 15 2-in-1, and just slips ahead of the 15in Microsoft Surface Book 2 (Shopper 365) as well.
It isn’t faultless, but the Gram is a worthy large-screened ultraportable, giving you all the advantages of the form factor without the back-wrecking weight. Nothing else provides the same mix of display quality, battery life and record-setting portability, so on those grounds the Gram is a success.
PROCESSOR Quad-core 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-8550U •
RAM 16GB • DIMENSIONS 358x229x17.7mm • WEIGHT 1.1kg • SCREEN SIZE 15.6in • SCREEN RESOLUTION 1,920×1,080 • GRAPHICS ADAPTOR Intel UHD Graphics 620 • TOTAL STORAGE 1TB SSD • OPERATING SYSTEM Windows 10 Home • PART CODE 15Z980-R.AAS9U1
Battery life 11h23m