LG Gram 14 review: This thin, light 2-in-1 boasts exceptional battery life

The Gram strikes a nice balance between performance, weight, and battery life.

lg gram 14t90n raas8u1 main
Ben Patterson/IDG
At a Glance

The LG Gram 14-inch laptop we tested may not be the fastest we’ve seen, but with its Intel Core i7 Comet Lake CPU, it offers solid mainstream performance in a durable 2-in-1 design. It also boasts a bright full-HD display with impressive viewing angles.

The Gram really comes into its own in the battery life department, making it a great choice for productivity-minded professionals who don’t want to be tied down by an AC adapter. You'll see us compare it to two other convertibles we've reviewed recently—the budget-friendly Lenovo Yoga C740 (currently $790 on Lenovo.com) and the similarly priced Lenovo Yoga C940 14 (currently $1,430 from Microsoft.com). Both those competitors earned high ratings from us (as does the LG Gram) and are well worth considering, but the Gram beats them both on battery life. 

This review is part of our ongoing roundup of the best laptops. Go there for information on competing products and how we tested them. 

Configuration

LG sells two versions of its latest 14-inch 2-in-1 Gram. First, there’s the model that we’re reviewing here (14T90N-R.AAS8U1), which is $1,400 as a Costco exclusive with a 10th-gen Core i7 Comet Lake processor, integrated Intel UHD graphics, a 512GB solid-state drive, and 16GB of RAM. The second model (14T90N-R.AAS9U1) is identical save for a larger 1TB SSD and a $1,600 price tag. LG also offers a pair of 15-inch Gram models with stepped-up Ice Lake CPUs starting at $1,300, but the 15-inch versions are conventional clamshell laptops, not 2-in-1 designs.

Let’s take a closer look at the specs for our review unit:

  • CPU: Quad-core 10th-gen Intel Core i7-10510U
  • Memory: 16GB DDR4
  • Graphics: Integrated Intel UHD Graphics
  • Storage: 512GB SSD
  • Display: 1920x1080 IPS touchscreen
  • Wireless networking: Wi-Fi 6
  • Battery capacity: 72 watt-hour
  • Dimensions: 12.8 x 8.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Weight: 2.46 pounds

There are a few key specs worth calling out here, starting with the CPU. The Core i7-10510U is a 10th-gen Comet Lake Intel CPU, but it represents only a modest bump over older 8th-gen Whiskey Lake chips such as the Core i7-8565U. The Core i7-10510U is built on the same 14nm architecture as its 8th-gen predecessors, rather than the 10nm process of Intel’s latest and greatest Ice Lake CPUs. It also hits the same base clock and only a slightly higher boost clock than its 8th-gen ancestors (4.9GHz, versus 4.6GHz for the Core i7-8565U).

To say that the Core i7-10510U is roughly equivalent to its 8th-gen counterpart isn’t a knock, however: The older chip was (and is) a dependable workhorse when it comes to daily computing tasks as well as CPU-intensive chores. We expect no less from this Comet Lake processor.

We also like the generous 16GB of RAM (perfect for smoothing out multitasking hiccups) and the roomy 512GB SSD. The Wi-Fi 6 support means the Gram will be ready once you upgrade to a router that supports the latest and greatest Wi-Fi standard.

Best of all, check out that 72-watt-hour battery capacity, pretty impressive for a 2-in-1 laptop that weighs less than 2.5 pounds. That means we’re looking for impressive numbers from the Gram when it comes to battery life. However, cramming such a big four-cell battery into the Gram’s svelte chassis also (probably) means you’ll have to accept some performance trade-offs to keep things cool under the hood.

Design

The LG Gram’s design is understated. As with Gram laptops in previous years, the 14-inch Gram 2-in-1 has a perfectly flat and nearly featureless lid, save for the “Gram” logo in the cente. The dark-silver chassis and its lid logo are about as close as the laptop comes to a signature look.

lg gram 14t90n raas8u1 rear Ben Patterson/IDG

The logo on the lid and the dark silver design are about as close to a “signature” design as the LG Gram gets.

More important than how it looks, however, is how the Gram feels. Weighing in at a tad less than 2.5 pounds according to my scale (actually a little less than LG’s specs claim), the Gram feels impressively light, particularly considering its 2-in-1 design.

Thanks to its convertible form factor, the Gram’s display can be rotated to use the device in a “tent” position, a “kiosk” position (keyboard down, display tilted up), or a tablet when its screen is swiveled all the way around.

lg gram 14t90n raas8u1 tented Ben Patterson/IDG

Thanks to its 2-in-1 design, you can tent the LG Gram on a flat surface, sit it keyboard-down with its display tilted up in “kiosk/stand” mode, or swivel its screen all the way around for tablet use.

LG also says that it’s designed the Gram’s magnesium alloy shell to meet MIL-STD 810G standards, which means it’s passed a battery of durability tests including shock, vibration, pressure, dust, and extreme temperatures.

Display

The LG Gram’s 14-inch, Corning Glass-protected display is pleasingly bright, measuring 400 nits (or candelas) according to our light meter readings. That’s well above our minimum 250-nit standard for comfortable indoor reading, and it means you’d have a reasonable shot at making out the full-HD (1920x1080) display outside in direct sunlight.

lg gram 14t90n raas8u1 display Ben Patterson/IDG

The LG Gram’s 400-nit IPS display impressed us with its wide viewing angles.

The IPS (in-plane switching) touch display boasts wide viewing angles. The screen dims only slightly when viewed from the far left and right sides, as well as from the top and bottom. Even with the Gram sitting flat on my desk with the lid open at a 180-degree angle, the Microsoft Word document on my screen remained perfectly readable, making the display ideal for sharing with someone nearby.

LG includes its Stylus Pen in the box. The zero-stroke Stylus Pen supports 4,096 levels of pressure, tilt detection, and up to 18 months of battery life.

Keyboard, touchpad, speakers, and extras

The LG Gram’s backlit keyboard has a springy, comfortable feel, with a solid mid-keystroke bump. I wouldn’t have minded slightly longer keyboard travel, but that’s a tradeoff with thinner laptops. The keyboard lacks dedicated media controls, but there are function-enabled shortcuts for airplane mode, keyboard backlighting (two steps are available), and LG’s Reader Mode (which cuts down on the amount of blue light emitted by the display).

lg gram 14t90n raas8u1 keyboard Ben Patterson/IDG

The LG Gram’s fingerprint reader is embedded in the power button, which sits in the top-right corner of its backlit keyboard.

The LG Gram’s power button sits in the top-right corner of the keyboard. That could be a recipe for accidentally powering off the laptop, but the power button’s flat and somewhat stiff design makes it difficult to press inadvertently. Embedded in the power button is a Windows Hello-compliant fingerprint reader, which lets you log into Windows and sign in to Windows Hello-enabled apps. I used the reader throughout my testing, and I found that it unlocked Windows almost instantly and never failed to recognize my fingertip.

The medium-sized trackpad on the Gram sits precisely centered beneath the keyboard, and it’s small enough that my palms rarely grazed it while I typed. While I didn’t notice much in the way of accidental inputs during my everyday typing, I was able to make the cursor jiggle around the screen when I deliberately dragged my palms across the bottom corners of the keypad. But as I just mentioned, I rarely noticed any issues when I was typing and clicking normally.

The LG Gram’s integrated down-firing speakers are par for the course, which is to say they’re nothing special. The Gram’s support for DTS:X, an object-based 3D audio format that competes with Dolby Atmos, does help boost the width of the soundstage, but the speakers themselves sound (typically) dull and listless, with decent detail on the high end but practically no bass at all. As with pretty much every laptop we review, we recommend using external speakers or a headset if you plan on listening to music on the Gram for any length of time.

Ports

The LG Gram comes with a solid array of ports for a laptop in its price range, starting on the left side with a USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A port, a full-size HDMI port, a Thunderbolt 3 port (good for connecting a 4K monitor or transferring data at up to 40Gbps), and a barrel-shaped power connector.

lg gram 14t90n raas8u1 left side Ben Patterson/IDG

The left side of the LG Gram features a USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A port, a full HDMI port, and a Thunderbolt 3 port.

On the right side you’ll find a second USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A port, along with a microSD media card reader, a laptop security slot, and a combo audio jack.

lg gram 14t90n raas8u1 right side Ben Patterson/IDG

Right-side ports on the LG Gram include a second USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A port, a combo audio jack, and a microSD card reader. There’s also a sleep button that could snooze Windows by accident if you’re not careful.

Nestled in with the right-side ports is a button that puts the laptop to sleep. While the sleep button is both stiff and flush with the edge of the laptop, it is possible to press it by accident, as I learned when I picked up the Gram on the right side (that only happened once, however).

Unsurprisingly, the LG Gram lacks an ethernet port, although it does come with a USB-C-equipped fast ethernet (10/100bps) dongle.

Keep reading for performance and especially battery life numbers.

At a Glance
  • The LG Gram strikes a nice balance between exceptional battery life, an impressively lightweight design, and solid quad-core performance.

    Pros

    • Solid quad-core performance
    • Bright display
    • Lightweight design
    • Exceptional battery life

    Cons

    • Side sleep button could be pressed accidentally
    • So-so speakers despite DTS:X 3D audio support
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