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Home News LG Gram 14 2-in-1 (2020) review: More than just a light laptop

LG Gram 14 2-in-1 (2020) review: More than just a light laptop

LG Gram 14 2-in-1 (2020)

Score Details

DT Recommended Product

“The LG Gram 14 2-in-1 is a supremely light laptop, but it has more going than just that.”

  • Solid productivity performance
  • Extremely lightweight
  • Generally good input options
  • Strong connectivity
  • Expensive
  • Performance dropped of a bit from the previous generation

MSRP $1,600.00

As you can tell by the name, LG’s Gram laptops are focused on weight — specifically, being extremely lightweight. While thin and light laptops have gotten a lot thinner and lighter, the LG Gram line has managed to maintain its place as including some of the lightest laptops you can buy.

LG just updated its Gram 14 2-in-1, which weighs just 2.52 pounds. That’s insanely light, despite having all the high-end specs you expect in a $1,600 laptop. But is there more to this laptop than just its light weight?

Design

The Gram 14 weights 2.52 pounds, which is definitely on the low end of the scale for 14-inch 2-in-1 laptops. Consider a direct competitor, the Lenovo Yoga C940, that weights 3.04 pounds — a half-pound difference that you can notice when holding them in each hand. Even a smaller 2-in-1, the HP Spectre x360 13, is heavier at 2.88 pounds. Simply put, the Gram 14 achieves its goal of being a noticeably lighter alternative.

Much of that has to do with the choice of materials, specifically the magnesium alloy that makes up the laptop’s chassis. That metal manages to keep things light while still relatively robust, although I did note some bending in the lid and some keyboard flex. The Gram 14 feels like it’s made of plastic. That’s not a bad thing in and of itself, but it hurts when you consider the $1,600 price tag.

Despite its light weight, the Gram 14 isn’t the thinnest laptop around.

Once you get past that mental hurdle, though, you begin to appreciate how LG managed to make the laptop both light and solid enough that you won’t be worried about its ability to take some abuse.

Despite its weight, the Gram 14 isn’t the thinnest laptop around, though, at 0.70 inches. The Yoga C940 is thinner at 0.57 inches and the HP Spectre x360 13 at 0.67 inches. And you’ll be glad for that extra thickness because as we’ll learn, it aids in improved connectivity and battery capacity.

In terms of aesthetics, the Gram 14 can best be described as “handsome.” It’s an attractive dark silver color (it also comes in white) with a bold white Gram logo on the lid and a keyboard font that curiously adds to the design. There’s nothing here that’s going to draw a lot of attention, but I like the look. I would choose it over Lenovo’s equally conservative but blander Yoga aesthetic. HP’s Spectre line remains the most extravagant, of course, and the Gram 14 doesn’t come close to matching it.

Connectivity is impressive for such a thin and light laptop. There’s a USB-C port with Thunderbolt 3 support (and upgrade from the previous model that lacked this useful connection), a full-size HDMI port, two USB-A 3.1 ports, and a microSD card reader. Wireless connectivity is provided by Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5, keeping the laptop up to speed with the latest wireless tech.

Performance

When I reviewed the 2019 version of the Gram 14, it was a strong performer for its class of CPU. That’s fallen off a bit this time around.

In the synthetic Geekbench 4, for example, the 2019 version with its eighth-generation Core i7-8565U scored 5,013 in the single-core test and 15,496 in the multi-core test. The new Gram 14 with its quad-core Intel Core i7-10510U scored 5,244 and 14,789, respectively, dropping off on the multi-core test. Looking at Geekbench 5, the Gram 14 scored 1,170 and 3,480, compared to the Asus ZenBook Duo with the same CPU that managed 1,183 and 4,221. The Gram 14 simply lags on this test.

Switching to our real-world Handbrake test that converts a 420MB video file to H.265, the 2019 Gram 14 took about 4.1 minutes to complete the test using an older version of Handbrake while the new Gram 14 took five seconds longer. We haven’t tested the same CPU with the latest version of Handbrake, but the Gram 14 required five minutes to complete the test compared to the Acer Spin 3 that finished in just over four minutes with a Core i5-1035G1.

None of that is a tragedy, of course. These scores mean you won’t want to use the Gram 14 for demanding photo and video editing tasks, but it’ll do just fine on pretty much all of the productivity, web browsing, and multimedia tasks you’ll want to throw at it. And really, that’s this laptop’s focus — providing a lightweight platform that productivity workers won’t mind carrying around. In this respect, the Gram 14 shines.

Of course, with Intel UHD Graphics inside, this isn’t a gaming laptop. Stick to older titles at low resolutions and graphical details, and you can get some light gaming done, but that’s about all you can expect.

Battery life

Somehow, LG managed to cram 72 watt-hours of battery capacity into the Gram 14’s lightweight chassis. That’s a lot of battery for a 14-inch laptop, and I expected some strong battery results.

What I got was strong but not spectacular longevity. Battery life has been one of the more remarkable improvements among recent laptops, and the Gram 14 places itself on the upper shelf in this category. It’s not the longest-lasting we’ve tested, but it’ll give you a good, long working day away from a plug.

First, it managed almost 4.5 hours in our demanding Basemark web benchmark test. That’s at the top end of average, which is a bit odd because the Gram 14 doesn’t exactly push the CPU to its limits and so I expected more here. The Asus ZenBook Duo lasted longer at almost five hours, and the Dell XPS 13 with its Core i7-1065G7 managed nearly half an hour longer. So, the Gram 14 did well here, but not great.

The LG Gram 14 will get you through a full day of work and then some.

Switching to the web browsing test and the Gram 14 was a bit stronger. It managed about 11.3 hours, which is a strong — but again, not class-leading — score that indicates a long-lasting productivity laptop. The ZenBook Duo only managed 8.5 hours, while the XPS 13 lasted for 13 minutes longer. Finally, consider our video looping test that runs through a local Full HD The Avengers trailer until the battery dies. Here, the Gram 14 lasted for 16.6 hours, beating out the ZenBook Duo’s 11.9 hours and the XPS 13’s 14.5 hours. You’ll find the Gram 14 to be an excellent laptop for bingeing Netflix on the road.

Ultimately, I have to rate the Gram 14 as impressive in terms of battery life, and that’s all the more so given that you’re not paying a premium in terms of weight for all that battery capacity. The Gram 14 will get you through a full day of work and then some, which is all that you can ask for from such a featherweight machine.

Display

If you were to look at our display database, you’d see a remarkably consistent trend. There are fantastic displays with brilliant and accurate colors, deep contrast, and high brightness among laptops like the Apple MacBook and the Dell XPS 15. Then there are budget displays with weak colors, low accuracy, and dull panels with inferior contrast. Right in the middle is the premium average, which is almost exactly where the Gram 14’s display falls.

It’s pleasantly bright at 320 nits, which exceeds our 300 nit preference, while its contrast falls at 830:1, below our preferred 1,000:1 ratio. But that’s similar to or better than some other laptops like the Lenovo Yoga C930 (we haven’t tested the C940) that came in at 294 nits and a contrast of 650:1. The Dell XPS 13 was much brighter at 377 nits and enjoyed a 1,440:1 contrast ratio.

The display is one of the worst at color accuracy we’ve seen in a while.

Looking at colors, the Gram 14 managed 70% AdobeRGB and 95% sRGB. Again, that’s about average for premium laptops. although the XPS 13 beats it at 77% and 97%, respectively. Where the Gram 14 falls down though is in color accuracy at 5.11 (1.0 or less is considered accurate), meaning that colors were all over the place compared to a laptop like the XPS 13 that scored a 1.53. The Gram 14’s score is one of the worst we’ve seen in a while, and for an expensive laptop like this one, there’s no excuse.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed using the display while writing the review. Black text on white backgrounds popped enough to be pleasant for long-term writing, and I didn’t notice the inaccurate colors unless I compared it to another laptop side by side. If you’re a creative type who demands a wide color gamut and accurate colors, steer clear. But for productivity users and multimedia watchers, the Gram 14’s laptop is more than good enough.

The audio was clear and enjoyable, although volume was lacking. There was little bass, of course, but few laptops outside of Apple’s latest MacBook Pros can lay claim to a ton of low-end response. Highs and mids were fine, though, making the speakers fine for the occasional YouTube and Netflix session (in a quiet room) but headphones or Bluetooth speakers would still be a boon.

Keyboard and touchpad

The Gram 14’s keyboard seems unchanged from the previous model, which is generally a good thing. First, as I noted above, it’s a good-looking keyboard with a nice, clear, and attractive font and effective backlighting. Second, it has a snappy mechanism that’s comfortable for long typing sessions, although it’s a little shallow for my tastes. Many people might be okay with it, though, so I rate the keyboard as very good — not quite to the level of the excellent keyboard on the HP Spectre x360 13, but not all that far off.

The touchpad is of average size and supports Microsoft Precision drivers with reliable Windows 10 multitouch gesture support. The display is touch-enabled, of course, and the included active pen supports 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity and works well with Microsoft inking. Overall, input is a strength.

Windows 10 Hello password-less support is provided by a fingerprint reader built into the power button. It works well, quickly and accurately, saving me the hassle of entering a PIN or password.

Our take

The LG Gram 14 2-in-1 lives up to its primary goal of being a lightweight productivity 2-in-1 that’s particularly easy to carry around. It fell back a bit in performance over the last version, but it’s nothing egregious — it’s still plenty quick for its target of productivity users. Battery life is a strength, as are input options.

There’s some stiff competition out there, though, and some of it much less expensive than the Gram 14. But for ultimate portability, it’s hard to beat the LG Gram 14.

Are there any alternatives?

The Lenovo Yoga C940 is a strong competitor to the Gram 14. It’s likely to be faster and more solidly built, with outstanding audio performance and a better keyboard. Battery life might not be as long, though, but it makes up for it with a lower price by about $300.

You could also drop down significantly in price (think, under $1,000) and consider the HP Envy x360. You’ll get significantly faster performance thanks to AMD’s strong Ryzen 4000 CPUs, and an overall better build quality without adding on too much weight. You’ll give up some battery life, though.

Finally, LG sells a Gram 14 clamshell that’s even lighter at 2.2 pounds and offers the same basic size as the 2-in-1. It’s only configured with a Core i5, but if you don’t need the speed or the 2-in-1 functionality you can save some serious cash over the $1,600 Gram 14 2-in-1 — the clamshell is on sale right now for $950 and retails for $1,200.

How long will it last?

The LG Gram 14 2-in-1 is built well enough that it should last for years. And it’s relatively future-proof with the latest components and Thunderbolt3. As always, we lament the short one-year warranty.

Should you buy it?

Yes, but only if having a super-light laptop is appealing to you. If performance or build quality are higher priorities, there are better laptops and 2-in-1s available.

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