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

By Kenny Yeo - 10 Mar 2019

Performance Analysis & Conclusion

Ok, so how do they perform?

Since the gram 13 only comes in a single configuration with a Core i5-8250U processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD, that’s the one we are testing. As for the gram 14 and 15, we are testing the more powerful Core i7 variants, which also have 8GB of RAM and 512GB SSDs. Key comparisons will be against last year’s gram 14 as well as the latest Dell XPS 13 and HP Spectre notebooks.

In summary, the new gram notebooks, thanks to their newer faster processors, were mostly faster than last year’s gram 14. This is especially apparent on graphics workloads. However, they were noticeably slower than the XPS 13, which is also powered by the same 8th generation Core processor. This is likely due to the fact that the new gram notebooks are still using single-channel memory. As our past experience tells us, single-channel memory has a rather significant adverse impact on performance. This is especially evident on graphics workloads where the XPS 13 was significantly faster.

If you want to study their performance in greater detail, scroll down to see the performance charts.

Here is the list of benchmarks used:

  • PCMark 10
  • PCMark 8
  • 3DMark
  • Far Cry 2
  • Tomb Raider

 

What about battery life and portability?

Portability is a bit of a mixed bag. Usually, a newer processor would mean better efficiency, but it could be that these new quad-core parts from Intel are actually more power hungry. However, it is important to note that our battery test is quite intensive as it cycles through productivity tasks as well as GPU-intensive creative tasks and light gaming. As the charts below show, power consumption is up across all three models. So despite being outfitted with larger batteries, battery life for all three models are all shorter than the gram 14 from last year. Nevertheless, battery life is still miles better than the competition.

 

Is it worth upgrading if you have last year’s gram?

This is last year's model, but I doubt you would have known if I didn't tell you.

No. Last year’s gram models are still great notebooks. You don’t lose much in terms of performance and you get a much longer battery life, especially with last year’s gram 14. Unless some of the new features are really important to you, like the repositioned webcam and fingerprint scanner, I say stick to your 2017 gram notebooks and save your coin for other stuff.

 

How does it compare to other ultraportables like the Dell XPS 13?

If performance is a priority, the Dell XPS 13 is worth a close look.

The latest XPS 13 from Dell is possibly the most well-rounded ultraportable we have reviewed thus far. It is pricier than the gram by a fair bit but you do get substantially better performance and more features (Windows Hello support, Thunderbolt 3 ports, etc.). The gram notebooks combat with their lightweight construction, longer battery lives, full-sized USB/HDMI ports and more accessible price tag. Both are great options and it really boils down to your preferences and priorities. If a long battery life is important to you, the gram may be a better bet even if it isn’t as powerful (you won't notice the difference in your standard office work). However, if performance is more important and you can afford it, the XPS 13 is a great pick.

 

Any other final thoughts?

The latest gram notebooks don't offer much improvements over its predecessors, but they are still ideal for anyone who needs a lightweight companion.

On a whole, the new gram notebooks are largely similar to last year’s models. You gain some performance, but you also lose some in battery life. New features such as the fingerprint scanner are nice to have, but not really enticing enough to make users want to upgrade. The repositioned webcam is a thoughtful touch, though. As I mentioned earlier, if you already have last year’s gram, hold off from upgrading this year.

For new buyers, however, the gram is an attractive proposition. It isn’t the most affordable ultraportable around, but they are reasonably priced - in fact similar to last year's gram models, but you get better hardware from the 2018 edition. Plus, the configurations that they come in gives buyers greater freedom to choose. For the gram 14 and 15 models, the only differentiator is the processor, both SKUs come with the same 8GB of RAM and 512GB SSD. Personally, I would go for the Core i5 model since the difference in performance (between the Core i7-8550U and Core i5-8250U) isn’t all that great and I still get a generous 512GB SSD.

In closing, much like its predecessors, the new gram notebooks, with its light weight and long battery lives, are ideal for anyone who spends a lot of time running around, or anyone who just wants an ultra-light notebook.

Final Ratings

Click here for detailed score breakdown

LG gram 14

Click here for detailed score breakdown

LG gram 15

Click here for detailed score breakdown

 

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