Review unit on loan from LG.
My review is from the perspective of a visual content creator, someone who does graphic design, digital art, edits photos and videos on a daily basis.
Here's the bottomline: the LG Gram is a light, portable and quiet laptop that excels in work that doesn't require heavy use of a graphics card. If you don't game or use 3D software for work, LG Gram is worth considering if you're in the market to get a new laptop.
Price range from US $999 for the 14-inch models to US $1799 for 17-inch model (the one I reviewed). Here in Singapore prices are from SGD $1899 to 2699 which isn't that good compared to US prices.
When I first took the laptop out of the box, I was surprised at how light it was.
These are weights for the respective models:
- 17-inch - 1.35kg
- 16-inch - 1.19kg
- 15-inch - 1.132kg
- 14-inch - 999g
This 17-inch laptop is lighter than most 13-inch laptops. It felt so unreal when I held the LG Gram in hand for the first time. It's just slightly heavier than the cardboard box it shipped in. After using it for two weeks, it still feels unreal for a 17-inch laptop to weigh so light.
The 2021 models are equipped with the 11th Gen Intel Evo processors (i3, i5, i7) with options for either Intel UHD or Intel Iris Xe Graphics. To make your laptop more future-proof, I recommend getting the Intel i5-1135G7 (quad 2.4Ghz) with 16GB RAM with Intel Iris Xe Graphics. I don't recommend this laptop for editing 4K videos, and for 1080P videos at least get the Intel i7-1165G7 (quad 2.8Ghz).
14 and 15-inch models have 1920 x 1200 resolution IPS displays. 16 and 17-inch models have 2560 x 1600 IPS displays. Visual content creators will benefit from higher resolution displays.
Here's the specification for the review unit I'm using:
- 2560 x 1600 resolution
- Intel i7-1165G7 (quad 2.8Ghz)
- Intel Iris Xe Graphics
- 16GB RAM
- Battery capacity: 80Wh
Colours on IPS LCD display look great out of the box. Viewing angles are good with minimal colour shift.
The display is glossy and very reflective. The reflections can affect what you see and the amount of reflection will depend on your light source. As long as you don't have any light source reflecting off the display, you should be fine.
This is not a touchscreen display and that's not a downside for me. I hate cleaning the display, and my tablets.
Colour accuracy is good. I measured colour support for 100% sRGB, 87% NTSC, 89% AdobeRGB, 100% P3 and a maximum brightness of 301 nits.
This is a bright and colourful display.
2560 x 1600 resolution on a 17-inch display is a good combination.
If you choose to run 2560 x 1600 at 100% scaling, UI elements will look too small. I'm using 150% scaling to enlarge the UI elements, e.g. text, icons, palettes. 2560 x 1600 has noticeably more resolution compared to 1920 x 1200 so this also makes all the visuals look more detailed and sharper.
You can still spot slight pixelation when you look close but when working from one arms length away everything looks sharp.
If you have the budget, I highly recommend getting the LG Gram with 2560 x 1600 resolution which is found on the 16 and 17-inch models.
The body is made with some magnesium-alloy material. The body will move or flex when you press hard. That and the matte textured surface makes the body feel like it's made from plastic. The display will also flex if you twist the corners. With typical usage you won't be pressing down on the body or twisting the display so it's a non-issue. I just want to illustrate the point that the body material is flexible.
I'm actually not sure how strong or durable this magnesium-alloy material is but hopefully it will hold up. The alternative is to get a laptop with solid body which are made with heavier material. The thing is, once you get used to how light LG Gram weighs, it's difficult to switch to a heavier laptop even if it means you can get a supposedly stronger body.
If you have to bring your laptop around frequently, you will appreciate a lightweight laptop.
The matte textured body does attract fingerprint and smudges easily. That to me is the real downside of this material.
The speakers are downward firing and located beneath the palm rest. You probably can't see the two speakers because the speaker grill holes are so tiny. Audio quality from the speakers is better than I expected. Volume is loud too. Audio quality is more roomy than crisp. Audio quality is not the best but it's good enough for downward firing speakers and the overall quality is already miles better than the many medicore downward firing speakers you find on laptops and tablets.
When I increased the volume the first time, I thought the audio was coming out from the keyboard and had to look around for the speakers.
One reason why the audio quality is good could be due the the huge rubber feet beneath that raises the whole laptop, basically allowing the audio to fill the whole bottom area making it seem like the audio is coming from all four edges of the laptop.
I usually do not consider laptops with downward facing speakers because I don't like the talking-you-but-not-looking-at-you feeling. I don't feel that way with these speakers.
The laptop is quite thin too at 0.7 inches (1.78cm).
Ports on the right are microSD card slot, 2x USB 3.2 Type A Gen 2, Kensington lock.
That microSD card slot is kinda useless. Who uses a digital camera that uses that card? And for those who use phones who use that card, do you remove your card to transfer photos? Manufacturers should just include a full-size SD card slot or have an extra USB A or C port.
Ports on the left are full-size HDMI, 2x USB 4 Type C Gen 2 and 3.5mm audio jack.
Selection of ports on the LG Gram is good. USB 4 transfer speeds can go up to 40 Gbps. You aren't even close to reaching that speed if you're using a Samsung T7 external SSD with 1GB/s read and write speeds. This also means you can edit 4K 60FPS videos off external drives if you want to.
The USB-C port can also be used for charging and video output. LG Gram is also able to drive external 4K displays at 60Hz smoothly. Nice.
The included charger with USB-C connector is quite compact.
The keyboard comes with a numpad.
Things I like about the keyboard are
- It's back lit
- Keys have good travel, feedback and are springy
- There's a Ctrl button on the right
- Finger-print sensor power button has almost instantaneous unlock
Overall typing experience is good.
The keyboard has some downsides though:
- The left corner of the laptop digs into my left wrist but thankfully it's not sharp
- I keep hitting the NumLock key because it's so close to Delete
- You can't use the arrow keys for Page Up and Down
- Trackpad not positioned directly beneath the Spacebar feels weird
- I've to lift my right hand higher to avoid touching the trackpad
The trackpad is large and works well. The left and right clicks have just the right amount of click. Finger gestures, e.g. switch apps or see desktop, works almost instantly.
Overall performance of the LG Gram is fast and smooth.
It's fast to startup and launch apps. Huge file saves is fast too. Internet speed with Wifi 6 is fast. There's nothing slow about performance.
When I did Youtube live streaming with it, the fans didn't even rev up. Or maybe the fans did rev up but I just could not hear them. This is a quiet performer.
In case you don't know, Youtube live streaming needs lots of processing power. And having a quiet laptop/desktop while live streaming is crucial so that your audience can't hear the fan noise. The fan noise from my old Macbook Pro 2015 and Mac Mini 2018 are just too loud.
Adobe Illustrator CC
Graphic design software all run fast and smooth.
Adobe Lightroom CC
Editing photos is a pleasant experience with the 2560 x 1600 resolution. Colours are accurate and photos look sharp and detailed.
Adobe Photoshop CC
No issues with Photoshop. Huge files are fast to save and open.
Adobe Premiere Pro
Exporting a 5min 4K video with no effects using with H265 took 2min 40s. If you want to use LG Gram as a video editing laptop, you can, at least with the Intel i7 model. Exporting videos is alright but video editing process will have drop frames with 1080P footage unless proxies are used.
Note my reflection on the glossy display.
Gaming is the only thing LG Gram is not good at.
I was only able to get 20-25 FPS at 1080P with most games I play. 20-25 FPS is just not good enough for action games.
Gaming makes the laptop real hot, especially near the function keys. But even when the laptop is so hot, the fans are not loud. I don't think the fans are doing a good job cooling the laptop while gaming so my advice is not to game on this laptop.
If you want to game, get a gaming laptop.
As mentioned at the start, the LG Gram is a light, portable and quiet laptop that excels in work that doesn't require heavy use of a graphics card. It is surprisingly light for a laptop its size and yet delivers enough power to handle most tasks with ease, except gaming.
Battery life is not bad. I got 7 hours with non-stop Zoom meeting, and 12 hours when I played Youtube videos non-stop.
And because the display has good colour accuracy, I can recommend this laptop easily to visual content creators, graphic designers, digital artists, photographers and maybe video editors who edit simple videos.
Another surprise is the audio quality for the downward firing speakers is much better than expected. I hate downward firing speakers but I don't mind this one. They are usable don't expect anything amazing from those 2W speakers though.
The downsides are the plasticky build quality with flex. I'm not fussy so I don't really mind that.
The other downside that affects me is the glossy display is just too reflective. If LG could apply some anti-reflection coating to it, or just have a matte display option, that would be great.
Pros and cons at a glance
+ Extreme portable weight is unreal for a 17-inch (and other sizes)
+ Springy keys with good typing experience
+ 1440P with 17-inch is good combination
+ Good colour accuracy
+ Good maximum brightness of 300 nits
+ Good viewing angles with minimal to no colour shift
+ Fast performance overall
+ Quiet operation under all loads
+ Audio quality from downward firing speakers quite decent
- Build quality feels plasticky but hopefully durable
- Display too reflective
- Gaming usually at 20-25 FPS
- Extremely hot when gaming
- Keep hitting the Numlock key when trying to press Backspace
- Trackpad is not located beneath the Spacebar
- Corner of palm rest digs into the left wrist
You can get the LG Gram from LG's website or from online retailers. Just make sure you get the 2021 models with the 11th gen Intel Evo processors.
Update 28 July 2021
I bought myself a secondhand LG Gram 16. I got it at a pretty good deal -- 20% off retail price here in Singapore.
LG Gram 16 has 14 hours vs 12 hours battery life when it comes to just playing Youtube video. The keyboard layout is slightly better as in the trackpad is closer to the bottom of the spacebar. Interestingly, the LG Gram 15 has the trackpad further away from the spacebar, just like LG Gram 17.
So my overall recommendation is to get LG Gram 16 for the slightly better keyboard layout and longer battery life.