LG gram 15
When you think about a full-size 15in laptop, the word portability doesn’t spring to mind, but LG has sought to change that with its latest incarnation of the gram 15, now with the seventh-generation Intel Kaby Lake processors for 2017.
LG sells two versions of its laptop, priced £1,679 for the Core i5 model (15Z970-U.AAS5U1) and a whopping £2,099 for the Core i7 (15Z970-A. AAS7U1). Each runs Windows 10 Home 64-bit. While that might still be cheaper than the latest MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, which fetches £2,699, the excellent Dell XPS 15 with similar specs costs £1,599.
Like a lot of the laptops we’ve seen this year, the design remains the same as its predecessor since only the processor has been updated.
As its name suggests, the gram 15 is all about weight. It’s somewhat surprising that this laptop, despite offering a 15.6in screen, weighs only 1080g. Not quite under the 1kg mark but at just over, it’s around half the weight of the XPS 15.
This is achieved by it being slightly thinner at 15mm, compared to the Dell’s 18mm, but mainly due to the metal alloy body, which LG says is made from ‘advanced nano carbon with magnesium’. It’s doesn’t feel like metal to the touch, much more like plastic, but the laptop is so light that we don’t mind. The screen is flimsy and bends very easily, though the material appears to be scratch resistant.
The XPS 15 might look and feel more premium, but if you’re looking for a 15in laptop that won’t bog you down, then you won’t find anything lighter than the gram 15.
This LG is also around the same size as the Dell thanks to a very slim bezel around the screen – just 5.5mm at the sides – making it not only good to look at but feel like a smaller laptop. It’s a good idea to integrate the webcam into the hinge below the screen, though the angle of the camera doesn’t always work with how you want the screen; and you can’t adjust them independently.
The gram 15 has plenty to offer in terms of connectivity, starting off with full-size HDMI, a USB 2.0 socket and two USB 3.0 ports. It also has USB-C, which is both reversible and offers high-speed data transfer, though thankfully isn’t used to charge the device.
The Type-C port is also used to gain Ethernet connectivity as an RJ45 adaptor is included in the box. To round things off
there’s a microSD card slot, 3.5mm headphone port with DTS Headphone X processing and a Kensington Security slot.
Keyboard and trackpad
Most 15in laptops squeeze in a numberpad onto the side of the keyboard and the gram 15 is no exception. While this will be handy for some, it creates problems elsewhere: the main issue being that it shifts the main keyboard to the left and typing off-centre isn’t particularly comfortable. It also means some frequently-used keys, such as backspace and Enter, are smaller than they perhaps would be otherwise.
The keyboard is backlit, which we’d expect at this price. There are two levels of brightness to choose from, though this doesn’t make up for its other shortcomings. The keyboard, for example, took some time to learn in order to touch type due to the layout. Travel and responsiveness is average and nothing to write home about.
As for the trackpad, it’s a decent size and responsive. We found it easy to use with Windows 10 gestures as well as in general use. It’s not especially quiet for press clicks though, and requires a little bit of force towards the top.
When it comes to the screen we’ve already mentioned that it’s fullsize 15.6in, which is impressive considering the overall size of the device. It’s a pretty standard Full HD resolution (1920x1080) and uses IPS technology.
You might struggle with reflections at times, but that’s an issue with most laptops and the gram 15 has a crisp and colourful display. However, the brightness goes to 257cd/m2, which is fine for indoor use but not so great outside or in bright conditions.
The Core i7 gram 15 also offers touchscreen technology and although we didn’t find ourselves using it much, it may prove a boon for some. That said, the screen wobbles when using touch input.
As we touched upon earlier, the main reason for this year’s edition of the LG gram 15 is an update to the latest seventh-generation of Intel processors. So the laptop either has a Kaby Lake Core i5-7200U with a base clock of 2.5GHz or a Core i7-7500U, which is a little faster at 2.7GHz. Both are dual-core chips with four threads.
The former is paired with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, while the Core i7 model that we tested comes with 16GB and a 512GB SSD.
In terms of benchmarks, the LG scored a middling 2148 in PCMark 8 and due to the chip being dual-core, scores of 5308 and 4880 in Geekbench 3 and 4 respectively (multi-core test).
That doesn’t look great compared to the Dell, which recorded scores of 2810 and 14,049 in PCMark 8 and Geekbench 4 respectively, but this is because the HQ CPU in LG’s rival is quad-core. It’s worth keeping in mind that the 7500U processor used here is designed for lighter tasks and built for efficiency leading to better battery life.
There’s no dedicated graphics card, so you’ll be relying on the integrated Intel HD Graphics 620 instead. A score of 1760 in the 3DMark Sky Diver benchmark isn’t very good, but this laptop isn’t designed to run games.
You’d hope that a laptop designed to be extremely portable would offer great battery life, too. However, with LG keeping weight to a minimum, it could have added a tiny battery. Thankfully, that’s not the case.
It might not be as big as some of its rivals, but LG has managed to put a 60Wh battery inside the gram 15. This is a little larger than the XPS 15. LG claims it offers up to 12- and-half hours of power. In our benchmark test where we loop a 720p video at a screen brightness of 120cd/m2 (60 percent in this case), it lasted an impressive 12 hours exactly.
For comparison, the Dell, with a 56Wh battery, lasted six hours and 24 minutes. Opt for the Core i5 model of the gram 15 and LG claims you’ll get up to 15 hours.
The gram 15 does what it’s designed to do extremely well. It handles Windows 10 and undemanding apps with ease and lasts for ages away from the mains. It does all this while packing a 15in screen into a chassis that weighs just over 1kg. That’s seriously impressive, but it comes at a price that’s hard to stomach. You should check out the Dell XPS 15 which has more impressive specs for a lower price, but it does weigh twice as much.