Windows Central Choice Award

LG isn't the first company I think of when I think "laptop," and the gram (the lowercase g is intentional and stressed by LG) is honestly the first I've had a chance to get acquainted with. Available in three sizes — 13, 14, and 15 inches — the updated Z980 series is thinner, lighter, and packs a bigger battery than ever before.

The gram is aimed at the business person who wants something they can slip into a briefcase or shoulder bag without taking up too much room, yet that can handle a day's work without breaking a sweat. I'm reviewing here the 15.6-inch LG gram 15Z980, which is the top-of-the-line configuration.

About this review

LG provided Windows Central with the new gram 15Z980. This specific configuration has an eighth-generation Intel Core i7-8550U processor (CPU), 16GB of DDR4 RAM, and dual 512GB SATA solid-state drives (SSD). This specific configuration costs about $2,000, though there are a few other configurations available for less. According to LG, the gram Z980 line is expected to be made available February 2018. An Amazon listing exists for anyone who wants to purchase the laptop now and wait for the official release date.

See at Amazon

LG gram 15Z980 hardware and specs

LG gram 15 review

Category XX
Processor Eighth-generation
Intel Core i7-8550U (up to 4.0GHz)
RAM 16GB DDR4-2400MHz (2x 8GB)
Storage 1TB SATA SSD (2x 512GB)
Display 15.6-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080)
IPS, touch, glossy
Graphics Intel UHD Graphics 620
Ports Three USB-A 3.0
USB-C Thunderbolt 3
HDMI 1.4
microSD card reader
3.5mm audio jack
Audio Dual 1.5W speakers
Wireless Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265
802.11ac (2 x 2)
Bluetooth 4.1
Camera Front-facing 720p
Keyboard Backlit with number pad
Touchpad Precision
Biometrics Fingerprint reader for Windows Hello
Battery Four-cell 72WHr
Weight 2.41 pounds (1,095g)
Dimensions 14.1 in x 9 in x 0.7 in
(358.14mm x 228.6 mm x 17.78 mm)
OS Windows 10 Home

LG gram 15Z980 design

LG gram 15 review

Nearly everyone who sees the LG gram has the same reaction I did when I unboxed it, which was marveling at how thin it looks while sitting flat, before lifting it and noting its weight. LG makes a point of showing the weight at 1,095 grams (2.41 pounds), and the lowercase g in gram that's insisted on is all part of its marketing strategy. LG is not pulling any tricks here; this is the lightest and thinnest 15-inch laptops I've ever laid my hands on.

Made from a nanocarbon mixed with magnesium, the body has minimal flex to it when trying to bend it with two hands. At first, it seems like the package might be a bit off balance, but then you test opening the lid with one hand and it works flawlessly. The single, wide hinge is sturdy enough to keep the display in place, even on a bumpy ride, yet it's entirely smooth.

LG gram 15 review

Once the display is open, the amount flex in the lid is sort of alarming. It's very thin and grabbing either corner to adjust the tilt seems dangerous. Other laptop lids feel far sturdier, but they're also far heavier. That's the payoff. To no doubt help quell some of the fears, LG has put the gram through seven MIL-STD 810G tests — the same tests Lenovo's ThinkPad line goes through — for shock, pressure, temperature, dust, and vibration.

Many laptop manufacturers will use a thin chassis as an excuse to omit ports, but not here. You're getting three USB-A 3.0, HDMI 1.4, USB-C Thunderbolt 3, and a microSD card reader. They're not jammed together, which can sometimes cause an issue if you're using multiple ports at once. The Thunderbolt 3 port is using four PCIe lanes, so you could technically take advantage of an external GPU if you wanted to turn this laptop into a gaming machine.

On the bottom of the device are rubber feet that keep the bottom from getting scratched. They do make the device seem a bit thicker when sitting flat, but you'd have a slippery PC in front of you if they weren't there. Also on the bottom are dual speakers that suffer from the same issue of most down-firing sound: your lap is going to be a muffler. Otherwise, the sound is decent even at high volume, but don't try to play DJ without something larger as a backup.

LG gram 15Z980 display

LG gram 15 review

There is very little chin below the 15.6-inch, 1080p touch display, and around the entire thing is minimal bezel. Because of the screen's proximity to the hinge, it makes the entire laptop seem wider than usual, though in reality, it's a trick caused by less depth.

Instead of having glass reach edge to edge like most touchscreen laptops, the bezel is raised ever so slightly, plus there's a thin ring raised even higher to keep the screen from touching the keys when closed. It's not something you'd usually do, but you can pick at the sides and it doesn't seem completely fastened to the rest of the lid. Hearing the loose plastic lift and snap back cheapens the whole thing.

LG gram 15 review

The screen gets bright enough to not give off much glare in sunlight despite the glossy finish, and testing color accuracy saw 100 percent sRGB and 76 percent Adobe RGB, both excellent results that you can see in everyday use. The webcam is back to sitting above the screen, and it offers a decent quality picture for video conferencing.

LG gram 15Z980 keyboard and touchpad

LG gram 15 review

The wider look of the laptop because of the depth is exaggerated by the full keyboard with number pad. All keys have three levels of backlight, and key travel is ample enough that I don't mind using it for a full day of typing. The palm rest and deck around the keys is a single height, giving it a nice clean look when open. Instead of putting another hole in the body, a fingerprint reader that works with Windows Hello is inside the power button, located in the top-right corner.

Because of the number pad, the keyboard is set to the left of center. Coming from a laptop with a centered keyboard, this did take about three or four days to really get used to, but nothing major. For anyone working with numbers, the extra keys on the right will make a huge difference.

LG gram 15 review

I enjoy a large touchpad, especially on a 15-inch device, and while this one isn't exactly small, it appears from the outside that it could be bigger. Still, it tracks without flaw and has a smooth surface, especially once it's been worked in a bit.

LG gram 15Z980 performance

LG gram 15 review

The LG gram's slim body hides a decent amount of hardware inside, including a big 72WHr battery. It takes about three hours to fully charge, and if you use the laptop at a standard brightness and without pushing the performance, you can expect between 12 and 13 hours of life from a single charge. You shouldn't have to worry about lugging the 65W charger with you when heading into the office, and you won't be stuck looking for an outlet on a long train ride of flight.

As for other performance, the quad-core Intel CPU coupled with 16GB of RAM can handle pretty much any everyday tasks you give it, and though it doesn't have a discrete GPU, it'll still take care of your lighter games when you have some downtime.

CPU

Geekbench 4.0 benchmarks (higher is better)

Device CPU Single core Multi core
LG gram 15 i7-8550U 5,033 12,906
Samsung Notebook 9 Pro 15 i7-7500U 4,431 8,669
Lenovo Yoga 720 15 i7-7700HQ 3,784 10,255
HP Spectre x360 15 i7-7500U 4,098 8,022
Dell XPS 13 (9360) i7-8550U 4,690 14,334
Dell XPS 13 (9360) i7-6560U 4,120 7,829
Surface Book 2 13 i7-8650U 4,862 14,694
Surface Laptop i5-7200U 3,725 7,523
HP EliteBook x360 G2 i7-7600U 4,496 8,435
Samsung Notebook 9 15 Ext i7-7500U 4,316 8,320
Lenovo X1 Carbon i5-7300U 4,139 8,311
HP Spectre 13 i7-7500U 4,100 7,469

You're getting here quad-core goodness from the eighth-generation Intel CPU. There's not much to complain about here, and in testing, it kept up with others laptops with similar hardware.

GPU

Geekbench 4.0 OpenCL (higher is better)

Device Compute score
LG gram 15 22,334
Samsung Notebook 9 Pro 15 19,769
Lenovo Yoga 720 15 13,727
Dell XPS 13 (NEW) 22,555
Surface Laptop 19,256
HP Spectre x360 15 28,868
Samsung Notebook 9 15 Ext 23,207
HP EliteBook x360 G2 21,512
Lenovo X1 Carbon 20,932
Dell XPS 13 (OLD) 19,410
Surface Book HD520 18,197
Dell Latitude 7280 17,827

Integrated with the CPU is Intel's UHD Graphics 620, a rename of the aging HD Graphics. Don't expect to get into any heavy video editing or gaming, but it can handle itself for lighter stuff you'll encounter on a more regular basis.

PCMark

PCMark (Home Conventional 3.0)

Device Score
LG gram 15 3,395
Samsung Notebook 9 Pro 15 3,542
Lenovo Yoga 720 15 2,993
Dell XPS 13 i7 3,280
Surface Book 2 13 3,341
Surface Laptop Core i5 2,494
Samsung Notebook 9 15 Ext 2,998
Lenovo X1 Carbon Core i5 2,965
HP EliteBook x360 G2 2,916
Dell Latitude 7280 2,829
HP Spectre x360 15 2,472

The PCMark Home Conventional test measures how well the hardware in a laptop works together to accomplish usual tasks. The gram scored very well here, and the performance is evident as soon as you sit down and begin using it.

SSD

CrystalDiskMark (higher is better)

Device Read Write
LG gram 15 554.1 MB/s 449.6 MB/s
Samsung Notebook 9 Pro 15 549.9 MB/s 519.3 MB/s
Dell XPS 13 (NEW) 1,368 MB/s 847 MB/s
Dell XPS 13 (OLD) 1,287 MB/s 794 MB/s
Surface Book 2 13 1,411 MB/s 1,202 MB/s
Surface Laptop 423 MB/s 237 MB/s
Lenovo X1 Carbon 1,518 MB/s 1,188 MB/s
Samsung Notebook 9 Ext 1,365 MB/s 1,213 MB/s
HP EliteBook x360 G2 1,129 MB/s 916 MB/s
HP Spectre x360 15 1,128 MB/s 862 MB/s

LG has actually split the SSD into two 512GB pieces to make them easier to upgrade, but they're both using a SATA interface. These are relatively slow read and write speeds, especially from a laptop that costs this much. Though SATA speeds are likely enough for a majority of people, a PCIe interface would make a huge difference.

LG gram 15Z980 review: Conclusion

LG gram 15 review

The gram Z980 comes in three sizes, with the smaller models understandably costing less than the 15-inch version. You won't get anything for under $1,000, at least not now when they're gearing up to officially launch, but at least they don't cost upwards of $2,000 like the one I have here. Yes, this is a lot to pay for a laptop. It's undeniably well-designed, the battery life is excellent, and the touch display is nice to look at, but the lack of discrete GPU and PCIe SSD should count for something.

Though you might not get something quite as thin or quite as light, you can certainly find something similar for hundreds less that include extra graphics processing power. And yet, for those who want a premium productivity machine that's about as mobile as a 15-inch device gets, the gram 15Z980 can't be ignored. If you have the dough to drop, you'd be mistaken to not keep this one near the top of the list.

Note: To coincide with the new gram's release, LG's Instagram account is running a campaign. Check out @lggram_global for a chance to win a free device.

See at Amazon

Pros:

  • Great port selection.
  • Thin and light is an understatement.
  • Superb battery life.
  • Great touch display
  • Full keyboard with numpad.

Cons:

  • Flexy lid and plastic bezel.
  • Slow SATA SSD.
  • Expensive.

Outstanding

4.5/5