The LG Gram 15Z980-A.AAS7U1 may not have the most luxurious metallic build that will give it a premium feel like most ultraportables in the same class, but it does stand out as a fast, full featured and long-lasting laptop
PROS: Awesomely thin and lightweight. All-day battery life. Versatile port selection for a thin system.
CONS: Screen resolution maxes at 1080p
The LG Gram 15Z980-A.AAS7U1 $1,299.00 at Amazon combines the strengths and portability of this year’s 13-inch Gram, and makes up with a larger screen as part of LG’s portfolio of ultraportable laptops. It weighs just over 2 pounds, but packs enough processing power thanks to a eighth-generation Core i7 processor and has more storage than most machines in its class. To that, add almost 15 hours of battery life and what you have in your hands is a stunningly fast, lightweight laptop that will compliment your executive lifestyle.
At first, LG made an attempt at ultra-lightness with the 13-inch Gram, but it came out as a rather flimsy, but with the Gram 15 they seem to have gotten it right. It weighs just 2.4 pounds and measures 0.7 by 14.1 by 9 inches (HWD), which is ultimately light and compact for a 15-inch notebook. The light profile is attributed to the nano carbon-and-magnesium-alloy material used in making the body, which is way lighter than most metal alternatives, but better than plastic. Even as LG focused in making a portable 14-incher, we still have notebooks in the same category, with more premium-feeling bodies, so it doesn’t feel like the premium laptop you’re paying for.
The keyboard features adjustable backlighting –which is a good thing. However, they do feel flimsy especially when compared with its main rivals in this price range. Apparently, they’re not bad –they respond and function well– but the plastic used in construction feels low quality, as opposed to the excellent keyboards found on ultraportables like the XPS 13 and HP Spectre X360. As for the touchpad, it’s well-placed and responsive and so are the speakers that produce enough sound to fill a small room at full volume.
Display and Ports
LG inherited into the gram 14 the same screen they had in the gram 13. It’s a 1080p touch display with great picture quality, delivering vibrant colors and strong brightness. It is a glossy screen, though it doesn’t have a reflection problem and the In-Plane Switching (IPS) panel lets you view the screen from far back without distortions. It does look good, but it doesn’t compare well with laptops in the same price range that feature more superior resolutions, such as the HP Spectre x360 (4K) and the Dell XPS 13 (3,200 by 1,800). In fact, even the 12-inch Blade Stealth offers a QHD display (2,560 by 1,440), thus the gram 14 remains deficient of a sharper resolution and better digital screen accuracy, which is somewhat disappointing.
Even with the slim profile, LG cramped in a few useful ports and doesn’t go the 2016 Apple MacBook way with only a USB-C port. The gram 14 boasts a full array of connectors, including a USB-C port, two USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI port, a micro SD slot and a headphone jack. Internet connectivity comes via 802.11ac with Bluetooth 4.2. For storage, there’s a 256GB M.2 SSD, which does not only guarantee speedy loading, but also matches the storage space you get on competitors like the XPS 13, Blade Stealth an even the HP Spectre 13.
Powering the Gram 15 is an Intel 8th Generation i7-8550U with integrated Intel HD Graphics 620 and 8GB system memory. This is a notable improvement from its 13-inch counterpart’s Intel Core i3, which does count for a lot, especially improved processing power. With an eighth-generation Core i7 processor, the gram 15 is powerful enough to cruise through everyday productivity and business tasks like calculating multiple spreadsheets, seamless word processing, and even video conferencing.
If you put it side-by-side with similarly priced notebooks, both the Dell XPS 9570 and Blade Stealth do perform slightly better, while the HP Spectre 13 will pull about even. Even with that, it still tricky to compare performance output here since all these laptops have different resolution screens –higher resolutions have been known to pull down scores. The Gram 15 having a 1080p resolution, and so being the lowest in resolution, it does take the honors, albeit with a few pauses.
For ultraportables that use integrated graphics, 3D rendering and gaming is always a wash as opposed dedicated cards found in gaming systems and some workstations. With its Intel HD 620 the gram’s performance on most games is just below par, can’t go beyond 20 frames per second at 720p (don’t even bother in full HD), so you won’t be doing any serious gaming on this notebook. If you must play, you’d try less demanding 2D games, which should run okay, but for most modern games, you’ll have to look at something like the GIGABYTE Aero 15X v8-BK4K4P, for gaming.
Ultraportables are always strong on battery life, and the gram 14 tends to perfect on that. It will give you anything around 15 hours 27 minutes, which is a major improvement from the gram 13’s 12 hours 29 minutes, and better than the Dell XPS 13 (10: 34), Razer Stealth (9:17), and HP Spectre 13 (8: 15). Again, higher resolution screen not only play a part in eating into resources, but also draining the battery, so it is encouraging that the gram 14 will have enough juice to see you through a full day of work or travel.
The Bottom Line
The LG Gram 15Z980-A.AAS7U1 may not have the most luxurious metallic build that will give it a premium feel like most ultraportables in the same class, but it does stand out as a fast, full featured and long-lasting laptop. It is interesting to see how LG finally crafted an incredibly thin laptop into a miniature pearl that weighs barely two pounds, and affirms the ultraportable status despite its 15-inch screen. The screen looks gorgeous, it manages extra storage and offers extended battery life. If all you need is a lightweight notebook that gets stuff done, then the gram is a good option.