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Light as air: The LG gram 13, 14, and 15 (2018) review

By Kenny Yeo - 14 Jul 2018,8:02pm

What's new?

Note: This article was first published on 7th July 2018.

Light as air

LG has updated its gram notebooks with the latest 8th generation Intel Core processors.

LG updated its gram lineup of notebooks last year just before CES 2018 with the latest 8th generation Core processors. It took them a while but LG finally launched the notebooks here in May. And now that we have had the chance to handle and test the notebooks in our labs, here’s our verdict on LG’s latest.

 

What’s not new?

Since the new gram notebooks are largely similar to last year’s models, let’s start by highlighting a couple of important things that are unchanged.

The design is unchanged, which is probably a good thing since it means the new gram notebooks still sport full-size USB Type-A ports.

Design - Yup, as you can see, the new gram notebooks are identical in terms of design. Their dimensions are unchanged too.

The keyboard flexes especially if you type purposefully.

Materials - The gram notebooks still have what LG calls ‘Nano Carbon Magnesium’ alloy chassis - a blend of magnesium and carbon fiber. Unfortunately, this also means that chassis flex is still present. This is just the nature of the alloy and doesn't mean that the notebook isn't strong. In fact, as you will find out later, the new gram actually meets MIL-STD-810G standards of ruggedness and can withstand up to 200kg of pressure.

Ports - The selection of ports are also largely unchanged, except for one particular SKU which we will talk about later. This makes the gram one of the few ultraportables currently on sale to come with full-size USB Type-A ports. The downside, of course, is that the gram is thicker than its rivals. However, it makes up for that with its low weight.

 

What’s new?

Processors - The gram notebooks have all been updated to feature Intel’s newest 8th generation quad-core Core processors. The gram 13 will only come with the Core i5-8250U while the gram 14 and 15 will come in two SKUs, one with the Core i5-8250U and the other with the Core i7-8550U. Here are all the various SKUs available.

LG gram SKUs
LG gram 13
Processor Memory Storage Price
Intel Core i5-8250U 8GB 512GB SSD S$1,999
LG gram 14
Processor Memory Storage Price
Intel Core i5-8250U 8GB 512GB SSD S$1,999
Intel Core i7-8550U 8GB 512GB SSD S$2,399
LG gram 15
Processor Memory Storage Price
Intel Core i5-8250U 8GB 512GB SSD S$2,099
Intel Core i7-8550U 8GB 512GB SSD S$2,599

 

Battery - All models get larger batteries. In the gram 13, the battery capacity is now 72Wh, up from just 34.6Wh. The gram 14 and gram 15 both now have 72Wh batteries as well, up from 60Wh.

Weight - Unfortunately, the substantially larger battery of the gram 13 means it has put on weight. As a result, the gram 13 now weighs 965g - that's 125g more than last year’s model. It is still a remarkably light notebook, but this year’s model does not invoke the same sense of wonderment as last year’s. At just 840g, last year’s gram 13 was incredibly, almost ridiculously, light. The weights of the gram 14 and gram 15 are mostly unchanged at 995g and 1,095g respectively.

The power button doubles up as a fingerprint scanner for fast and secure logins.

Fingerprint scanner - The power button doubles up as a fingerprint scanner and can log users in very quickly. However, Windows Hello isn't supported.

Thunderbolt 3 - This only applies to the gram 15 with Core i7 processor. That particular SKU is the only one that comes with a Thunderbolt 3 port. Yes, it’s an odd choice and we don’t buy LG’s explanation that only buyers of that particular notebook will likely need a super fast interface. If you are going to have a USB-C port, it might as well be Thunderbolt 3.

Webcam - The webcam has been repositioned to the top of the display. No more unflattering video angles. Hooray!

The gram notebooks may be as light as a feather but they were designed to be rugged.

MIL-STD 810G - A common criticism of the gram notebooks is that they feel somewhat flimsy. But that’s inherent to the materials used. They are in fact very strong. To prove their point, the new gram notebooks meet the MILD-STD810G standards of ruggedness. It is dust, shock, temperature, and pressure resistant. Most impressively, it can withstand up to 20Gs of shock and 200kg of pressure. If you still find it difficult to stomach how a super thin and light notebook can still be that robust, this live demo should instill the confidence you seek:-

Touchscreen - Last year gram notebooks have no touchscreen. Now, the gram 13 will come with touchscreen capability, but only the gram 13. The gram 14 and 15 will still come with regular displays so don’t be poking around on their screens.

The gram 14 only comes in 'dark silver.'

Colors - The gram 13 and 15 will only be available in white, while the gram 14 will come in ‘dark silver’, which is really just a fancy way of saying grey. Personally, I very much prefer the dark silver finish on the gram 14 since the white finish on the gram 13 and 15 is far too striking for my tastes and stains could be a concern. Your mileage may vary, of course.

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