Thin and light is now a big selling point for many laptops, and if those are your top priorities for a laptop, then LG’s gram series should be a name that pops up on your radar. Since being introduced to consumers in 2015, LG has been iterating on the series constantly, adding other SKUs into the line, like a 17-inch version. The original LG gram 14 still gets some love though, and this year’s model has its own updates.
If you aren’t familiar with the gram series, it gets its name from the fact that the entire laptop weighs less than a kilogram. At exactly 999g, the LG gram 14 is up there with one of the lightest laptops that I’ve handled; only the 12-inch MacBook (0.92kg), which I have in my possession, pips that, and only just.
In fact, its weight is almost comical. Colleagues have commented that it feels like a display unit when lifting it; there’s no real robustness to the laptop. Going back to the MacBook, it has a similar weight, but you feel a sense of sturdiness when handling it; not the case with the LG gram 14.
This is mostly due to the materials used to make the device. The LG gram 14 uses magnesium alloy to encase the body, which is probably how the laptop even manages to attain that ridiculous weight, but using it also has some trade-offs. There’s noticeable flex when putting pressure down on the laptop cover, and the keyboard deck, plus the screen itself can bend reasonably easily.
It’s certainly something that people might be alarmed by, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that its durability is in question. LG’s track record with magnesium alloy on the gram series has been relatively solid through the years — attaining the MIL-STD-810G military standard certification from durability tests. My time with the device also didn’t yield any cracks or breaks when handling and transporting it. The only real issue with it is the feeling of security, which once you’ve gotten used to its build, may seem less of a problem.
We’ve gone through the weight of the laptop, but how does it look and function?
From an aesthetic standpoint, the LG gram 14 is as simple as it gets; no fancy or over-the-top designs, just a simple bare metal finish that covers the entire body and is accompanied by the gram branding at the top. A little boring perhaps for me, but I do at least appreciate that the design and finish, lend themselves to not being magnets for fingerprints.
Another feature that I also appreciate is the fact that I can open the laptop with just one hand, which in general isn’t something that laptops necessarily need, but one that has excellent benefits for unconscious convenience.
The display comes in at 14-inches, and it is fairly modern-looking as well, with thin bezels surrounding the screen, which makes it look more substantial in comparison to other laptops.
The screen uses a glossy finish, which isn’t something that I’m too fond of because of how it handles glare, but fortunately, the LG gram 14 has one of the brighter screens on a laptop, so that helps with mitigating that issue.
More importantly, the brightness helps to showcase the prowess of the IPS screen, which is admittedly quite excellent. It only has 1080p (FHD) resolution but still produces really crisp detail, with a vast range of vivid and vibrant colours on screen.
Keyboard and trackpad
Continuing further down, we have the keyboard. It has a good amount of key travel on it, so the typing experience has been reasonably satisfying – though they can feel a little spongy on first use, especially if you are used to regular desktop keyboards. It’s something you’ll get used to once you get some mileage into it.
Other features that the keyboard has is a fingerprint scanner for quick logins and backlighting for working in darker environments. Both work as intended, with fingerprint login typically working quickly and accurately when using it, with backlight shining bright enough to see the letterings on the keyboard in low lighting.
The trackpad also functions well enough as it is; it has a beautiful smooth glass surface to glide your finger through, registering the responses well and there’s a decent amount of feedback when you click at the bottom. I wish that it could be a little larger though to allow more room for your finger to travel.
Right at the sides, there’s an excellent selection of ports available to use which is great to see in a laptop unit as light as this. You’ve given two USB Type-A ports, one Thunderbolt Type-C, a Micro-SD slot along with the headphone jack and charging port.
There’s perhaps some sacrifice to the thinness of the device for including these ports. Still, it’s not by much, and I generally rate not needing additional adapters above the laptop being skinnier anyway.
There’s not much in the way of customisation for the LG gram 14; only giving you a choice between an i7 or i5 processor for Intel’s 10th Gen CPU series. You’re stuck with 8GB of memory, which could prove to be a deal-breaker depending on the type of work that you typically do.
Some of the more heavy-use applications like Handbrake take a longer time to render compared to other laptops, but the upside to that is that the fan stays relatively quiet even when on full load. The metal body conducts the heat a little too well though and will get warm if you are doing these workloads for long periods, which may feel uncomfortable to use.
If you are using the laptop solely for less intensive workloads like web-browsing or office productivity applications (Office, Excel, etc.), the specs should suffice. Ours was equipped with the i7 variant, and it performed well with no noticeable slowdown issues.
The Iris Plus Graphics that comes with the processor ensures that you can at least do some gaming, but only at a casual level. Games that are not as graphically intensive like Overwatch and CS: GO, can function well enough to play – if you configure them towards the lower settings. However, those that are on the higher end of the scale, such as Gears 5 and Doom: Eternal, are games best left for devices that can actually handle them — because the LG gram 14 is not one of them.
Another aspect that is common with ultrabooks besides their thin and light features is that they usually last relatively long, and the LG gram 14 is no exception.
It comes with a 72Wh battery, and it definitely endures; our battery tests garnered about 11 hours of use on 50% brightness before needing to charge, though it does primarily use a barrel plug to charge the device.
The LG gram 14 — despite what the flex might indicate — is a robust thin and lightweight laptop package. The offerings on hand show a compelling argument when compared to other ultrabooks on the market. It’s a shame though that its lack of customisation options might cause people to look elsewhere if they are in need for something more powerful, but it otherwise should make most of the people who purchase it a happy owner