LG gram 15 review

LG’s ultra-light 15-inch laptop returns

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Our Verdict

The LG gram 15 carries out the firm’s legacy of ultra-light, large-screen laptops with style and impressive engineering. However, there are other, more versatile options out there that do more for less and are just as stylish.

For

  • Excellent lightweight design
  • Incredible touchscreen
  • Awesome battery life
  • Speedy fingerprint reader

Against

  • Pricey for what’s inside
  • Tinny speakers

When LG first launched its ultra-light LG gram line of laptops back in 2016, we were hugely impressed that the firm had created a 15-inch laptop that was no heavier than a 13-inch model. It was an incredible sight to behold (and hold).

However, in 2018, the value prospect of a featherlight 15-inch laptop with a seriously premium price and few other features has lost of bit of its luster. That is, in the face of laptops that may not be as light, but bring forth far more power and versatility for the same amount of cash or less.

If you truly crave a 15-inch laptop screen experience from a device that you’ll barely feel in your backpack, then the LG gram 15 is an excellent bet. Just know that there are other, more versatile options out there that do more for less.

LG gram 15

Spec Sheet

Here is the LG gram 15 Z980 configuration sent to TechRadar for review:

CPU: 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-8550U (quad-core, 8MB cache, up to 4.0GHz with Turbo Boost)
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620
RAM: 16GB DDR4 (2,400MHz; 8GB x 2)
Screen: 15.6-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) IPS multi-touch LCD
Storage: 1TB SSD (M.2 SATA; 512GB x 2)
Ports: 1 x USB-C; 3 x USB 3.0; 1 x HDMI; RJ-45 Ethernet (via USB-C dongle); microSD slot; headphone jack
Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi (2 x 2); Bluetooth 4.1
Camera: HD webcam (720p)
Weight: 2.41 pounds (1kg)
Size: 14.1 x 9 x 0.7 inches (35.8 x 22.9 x 1.8cm)

Price and availability

LG has just one, single configuration of the 15-inch LG gram, which will either please you for its simplicity or infuriate for its lack of choice you may be used to. The laptop goes for $,1999 (about £1,499, AU$2,639) and includes everything seen in the sidebar, plus some features worth digging into.

There is also a 14-inch version of the 2018 LG gram available, which has the same processor and half as much memory and storage inside. Luckily, it retains all other features of the 15-incher, including the fingerprint reader and 1080p touchscreen for 22% less cash at just $1,549 (about £1,159, AU$2,049). (It also has one fewer USB 3.0 port.)

Honestly, the 14-inch version may be a far better deal, losing just 1.6 inches of screen space on the diagonal for still-ample storage and a just-fine amount of memory. However, either price is a lot to ask of a laptop with an only Full HD screen and no dedicated graphics.

Just look at the Huawei MateBook X Pro, a 14-inch laptop with dedicated Nvidia MX150 graphics connected to that very same Intel chip, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD for less than either LG gram model at $1,499 (about £1,119, AU$1,999).

Meanwhile, the latest Dell XPS 15 at $1,499 (about £1,119, AU$1,999) nets you a stronger H-series, 8th-generation Intel Core i7 processor, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti graphics that outclass either aforementioned laptop. Plus, Dell’s high-end notebook features just as much RAM and an 1TB SSD ends up undercutting the LG gram 15 by 100 bucks or quid.

At that point, whether you should buy the LG gram 15 weighs heavily on how important a mega-light 15-inch laptop is to you, as it’s beset on either side by arguably stronger options.

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Design

Not much has changed about the LG gram 15 design since we’ve last reviewed the laptop. The nano-carbon magnesium frame is still present, albeit now clad in a deeper, tarnished bronze color on the lid and base. 

Of course, the laptop is incredibly light still, otherwise it would have to change its name. There is a lot to be said for having a laptop of this size feel like essentially nothing in your backpack.

The gram’s keyboard remains spacious, punchy and deep in travel – it feels substantial and comfortable despite the lightness you may otherwise associate with weakness. As for the touchpad, it’s just fine. It tracks well and offers a satisfying click when pressed, but perhaps it could be a bit larger.

For such a light device with razor-thin bezels, LG has also managed to include several ports – not to mention a webcam in the space where it should remain on all laptops: above the screen. The webcam is serviceable but rather pixelated for a 720p resolution.

LG gram 15

Display

Naturally, just beneath that tiny webcam is the star of the show: the 15.6-inch, 1080p IPS touchscreen. This display is straight up gorgeous, making all sorts of movies and photos look fantastic.

LG employs incredibly thin bezels to fit such a screen inside a 14-inch wide frame, so it’s laudable that the firm manages the proper webcam position. While the screen isn’t very wide on the horizontal, it’s viewing angles certainly are.

However, the display could be a bit brighter when maxed out – either that or a matte display coating to avoid sun glare. At least the touch response is spot-on, and the single hinge is fantastic for putting up just the right amount of resistance under our fingers.