The thinner and lighter craze has been in the air for a while now, and that with good reason. LG finally decided to join the tea party with the introduction of the LG Gram lightweight laptop to the US market, and they came in with lots of cookies.
The LG Gram boasts of being the lightest 14 Inch laptop, and also making to be lighter than most 13 inch laptops as well, and weighs almost the same as a 12” MacBook. Coming in at 2.16 lbs, the lightweight LG Gram 14 z950’s only competition is the Lenovo LaVie Z which weighs 1.89 lbs but of course has a 13” display. Achieving this feat meant taking a route not taken before by seasoned players in the industry, nonetheless a grand entrance worthy of applause.
LG GRAM 14 Review
- Is a super lightweight laptop. Is highly portable.
- Meets all the needs of a standard user performance-wise.
- Comfortable keyboard and responsive trackpad.
- Has a wide port selection. Thought would do well with at least one USB-C port.
- Fairly poor heat management.
- Has a less sturdy feel. Would do better with a tougher build.
- Keys lack backlight.
- Limited display resolution options. It would have been nice to have a QHD and QHD+ resolution options.
The LG Gram | Amazon comfortably positions itself as the lightest in its category. It definitely is a worth competitor for the premium laptop crown, but comes short on a few places being the new in the block.
DESIGN AND FEATURES
The use of Magnesium and Lithium Magnesium alloys in making laptop bodies was unheard of until the LG Gram along. Magnesium is as light as it is malleable and does not hold well under pressure. However, LG bought into magnesium’s weight and sought to toughen it up with some Lithium. The result is the secret to the Grams’ weight.
The downside that comes with the Gram 14 is the highly flexibility of its body. The top of the lid and its bottom flex quite notably, especially the bottom. The bottom feels thinner than other parts of the body, and is distorted when you slide your finger on it having applied some pressure.
While the LG Gram is a 14” laptop, it can easily pass off as a 13” one. Why? The bezels are incredibly thin. LG took a similar strategy with Dell, but with a slight twist. While Dell reduced the bezels so as to reduce the general size footprint of the Dell XPS 13, LG on the other hand reduced the bezels to make room for a 14 Inch screen.
The Gram features two bottom facing speakers and a standard keyboard. While the speakers don’t sound that great, the keyboard is quite nice. The chicklet keys are easy to type on and offer good space for movement.
LG GRAM 14 SPECS
|Processor||5th Gen Broadwell Intel Core i5-5200U (2.2 GHz, Turbo up to 2.7 GHz)|
|5th Gen Broadwell Intel Core i7-5500U (2.4 GHz, Turbo up to 3.0 GHz)|
|6th Gen Skylake Intel Core i5-6200U (2.3 GHz, Turbo up to 2.8 GHz)|
|6th Gen Skylake Intel Core i7-6500U (2.5GHz, Turbo up to 3.1 GHz)|
|Ram||8GB DDR3L 1600MHz, L3 Cache 3MB|
|Internal Storage||128 GB SSD Serial ATA3 – With Core i5 Processor|
|256 GB SSD Serial ATA3 – With Core i7 Processor|
|Display||14.0″ In-plane Switching [IPS] LCD| (1920 x 1080) FHD| 16:9 ||
|157 PPI display density |Glossy|
|Ports||HDMI |Two USB 3.0| Micro SD| Micro USB Ethernet port ||
|3.5 mm Headphone/Microphone combo|
|Connectivity||Intel Dual Band Wireless- AC 7260|802.11agn/ac, 2 X2 | Bluetooth 4.0 + LE|
|(Low Energy) | 10/100 Mb (micro-USB port with RJ45 gender)|
|Graphics||Intel HD Graphics 5500|
|OS||Windows 10 Home | 64 Bit|
|Keyboard||Standard |Chicklet | Keyboard backlight: no|
|Speakers||DTS Sound | 1.0W X 2|
|Camera||Webcam 720p HD|
|Power Supply||40w | 2 Pin|
|Battery||34.61 Wh |4495 mAh | 2 Cell Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) battery ||
|LG’s Estimate: 7.5 hours. Actual: 4 -5 hours|
|Dimensions||LWH: 325.12 x 226.06 x 12.7 (mm) or 12.8″ x 8.9″ x 0.5″(In)|
|Weight||2.16 lbs (0.98 kg)|
|Extra||Material: Magnesium & Lithium Magnesium | Narrow bezel 7.2 mm/ 0.283”|
- Buy the LG Gram 14 at Amazon
LG Gram comes with one full size HDMI port, two USB 3.0 ports, one Micro SD slot, a micro USB Ethernet port, and a 3.5 mm Headphone/microphone combo. The port selection is quite decent, and it is pleasant to know that they included a full-sized Ethernet port regardless of the space constraints. It would have however been quite nice if they included a USB C as well. This would allow better transfer speeds and sleep charging. It would also have been nice if a full-sized card reader would replace the less versatile Micro-SD card reader.
The Wi-Fi range for the LG Gram is quite alright. It brands the Intel dual band 802.11agn/ac. With the Bluetooth connectivity comes another plus. The Lowe Energy (LE) Bluetooth 4.0 module consumes less power while than the classical Bluetooth. This will come in handy in the event that you need to have Bluetooth on for extensive periods of time while on battery power.
For one, the LE Bluetooth has far shorter latency (6 ms) as compared to the ordinary Bluetooth with a latency of 100 ms. This simply means that connection and data transfer time is lessened. Further, the LE Bluetooth has a longer range of up to 150 m compared to the classic Bluetooth that has a range of 100 m.
The chicklet keyboard is quite comfortable to use, providing sufficient space between keys and has decent vertical travel. The keys are designed with a slight depression to let your fingers rest comfortably on them. As such they provide better typing experience than most notebooks of equivalent thickness. If you work heavily with numbers, you’ll be delighted to note that the LG Gram comes with a full Numeric keypad – perfect for crunching numbers.
Unfortunately, the Cinderella story doesn’t end with a happily ever after here. There is a big BUT to all this. The LG Gram comes with no backlight option – which is terrible since the market has come to expect this feature at such a price range. However, this may not be a deal breaker for someone who’s really after its many pros and is willing to bear with its faults.
The LG Gram clubs a 4” X 2.5” touchpad that’s quick and responsive, and offers excellent tactile feedback. It also supports multi-touch gestures and palm muting. While it’s not the best out there, it most certainly gets the job done right. You can however expect some skipping once in a while as is common with most Windows touchpads.
The gear shaped 1.0 Mega pixels webcam, or 720p webcam if you like, gives quite clear picture. The sound quality is equally satisfactory as well. Unlike in the Dell XPS series (13″ &15″) where the camera is placed at the bottom left bezel because of space constraints, the LG Gram’s webcam is placed at the mid of the top bezel. At least you don’t have to worry about the weird cheek and nose shots you get from Dell.
The LG Gram comes with only one screen configuration, the 1920 X 1080 pixel IPS display. As is common with IPS panels, the viewing angles are wide and the display quality crisp. The 1080p display has a pixel density of 157 PPI, which is below the Macbook with retina which stuffs in a 224 PPI and below the Dell XPS 13 with QHD+ display with . Its got a high contrast ratio of 680:1 almost like the Dell XPS 13 but below the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 carbon.
The system falls behind in color gamut as it can display only 83% of the adobe RGB gamut and 85% of the sRGB, whereas most competitors exceed 90%. If you are a content creator, the fairly narrow color range will be a problem for you. And while no other screen display resolution option is available, you might well conclude that this may not be the best machine for you.
However, the display quality is quite fine for media consumption and word processing tasks among others. It however would have been nice if the screen was touch enabled, and an option for a higher resolution displays wouldn’t hurt either.
One impressive feature that comes with the LG Gram is the build in reader modes and movie modes. These modes optimize conditions for reading or movie watching by adjusting display parameters so as to give you the best experience with minimal strain on the eyes.
The LG Gram comes in four different processor configurations, which can go for two configurations save for their generations and clock speeds. The main options are the Core-i5 and Core-i7 options. You may be a little worried as to which generation of processors to pick, whether the 5th Gen Broadwell or the 6th Gen Skylake.
The two generations are about a year apart in release and quite frankly offer little difference between them. The main difference is in their power efficiency and slightly better clock speeds in the newer generation chips. However, with the heating challenges that this lightweight laptop faces, throttling may occur which may make it a little difficult for the processor to reach its optimum performance. So don’t let the generation issue stress you out at this point.
You only get the 8GB DDR3L RAM, which is more than sufficient for your needs. For the base model that comes with a Core-i5 processor, you get the 128GB SSD. The other two options (256GB and 512GB SSD) are available only with the Core i7 processor.
The Solid State Drive Serial ATA3 Internal memory isn’t the latest in the market but delivers well regardless. One thing that is definitely deserves applause is the instant booting owing to the SSD. It only takes a few seconds to have the machine cold boot and ready to use. Read speeds on the SSD are 523MB/s while write speeds are pretty slow at 150MB/s.
While these speeds are quite alright for ordinary use, they become painfully apparent when handling heavy tasks like video editing. 1080p edits aren’t at all encouraging while 4K edits are terribly slow to say the least. Photoshop does however runs well for some light photo editing.
Our test machine is a Core-i5, 256GB machine. With such a configuration, you are well able to do all most or all the activities that you desire to on an ordinary day to say basis. The base model costs $1099, and upgrading to a better battery pack is going to cost you an extra $200 with the same overall specs.
Pumping up your internal storage from 256GB up to 512GB may cost you a cool $200, and getting the Core i7 version with the 512GB internal memory is going to cost you a cool $1699 according to the HP website as on writing this review. However, prices may be lower at third-party retailers.
One thing is for sure, HP didn’t pick on low prices to get a share of the market. The price screams premium all the way home. With that said, it is in our opinion that the Core i5 processor, 256GB option will give you the best balance between performance and cost. However, that is left to the user’s discretion and particular needs. If you need a larger internal memory, by all means pick the Core i7, 512 GB option.
The LG Gram 14’s graphics run on an Intel HD Graphics 5500 chip which is quite adequate for most users’ needs. It can comfortably support photo editing and light gaming but falls short when it comes to heavier games. With moderately demanding games like Dota 2, you will get anywhere between 25-35 Frames per second at 720p resolution and everything else on medium setting.
Less demanding games like Counter Strike clock better frame rates than this. You can hit even better frame rates at lower resolutions, but that’ll suck out all the life from the game. If you are a heavy gamer, this lightweight laptop might not be the best machine for you.
LG did an amazing job with the fan in terms of silence during operation. You barely notice the fan is on, producing below 13dB of sound even when it’s obviously straining. This feat nonetheless came at a price. While noise levels are kept down to the bare minimum, effectiveness is equally hampered. The bottom of the chassis does get really, really hot especially when gaming.
Temperatures run up to 115 F on such occasion and can be very uncomfortable if you are using the machine on the lap. In addition to the discomfort, the bigger concern lies with the throttling of the processor when temperature begins to soar beyond acceptable limits. The processor is slowed down so as to cut down on the heat it is producing and thus affecting the overall performance of the machine.
The positioning of the speakers is unique… or rather strange. They are downward facing speakers and are located on either side of the machine. Their orientation makes it a little challenging to project sounds very effectively, but they still do a good job at it regardless. The quality and quantity of sound is to a degree affected by this positioning. They however still manage to pull off quite decent sounds volume. Needless to say, the would do far better were the sound quality a little richer.
The 34.61Wh battery can last you an estimated 7.5 hours according to LG – an optimistic approximation that is. Our run down tests confirm that it can last you 4.5 hours at 65% brightness and tasks like web browsing and media streaming. Watching movies directly from the Drive will get you 5 hours into the day while gaming will last you only 2. While the battery life is decent, it falls short of its best competitors.
Note also that the charging plug is quite thin and may need extra caution to avoid it getting damaged with repeated use.
Accessories: Ethernet dongle and USB Type C to Ethernet adapter.
The LG Gram has definitely broken new ground when it comes to weight. Having already earned the “lightest laptop” title, it goes further to become a well deserving all-rounder. Its makers made sure that it never falls too far off from its best competitors at all quarters. With this said, it does have some inherent weaknesses that are quite expected.
For one, its body feels quite fragile and is subject to quite appreciable distortion when under pressure, far from the premium feel it hopes to exude. In addition to that, the display lacks color width and offers no better selection in the even one desires such.
The LG Gram 14 is most definitely a great machine that offers value for money, especially if value to you is synonymous with weight and portability. It definitely deserves a place in your short list.
- Buy the LG Gram 14 at Amazon