LG gram 14 2-in-1 review

Windows Central Recommended Award

I'm a big fan of LG's 2018 15Z980 and still use it frequently today, so when I heard that LG planned a 14-inch convertible (called a 2-in-1 here), I was understandably excited. Convertibles have come a long way, and this year's Lenovo Yoga C930 was probably the best I've yet to test and review. I had high hopes for LG's gram and expected it to blow away the competition, and after using it for a couple of weeks, I can say that it's certainly a fine choice, though some flaws keep it from achieving greatness.

LG provided Windows Central with a gram 14 2-in-1 that has inside an 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8565U Whiskey Lake processor (CPU), 16 GB of DDR4-2400MHz RAM, and a 512 GB SATA M.2 solid-state drive (SSD). This is the only configuration LG offers, and it can be had for about $1,500.

Thin and light convertible laptop

LG gram 14 2-in-1

$1,500

Bottom line: It's one of the lightest 2-in-1 laptops out there, and though it has its flaws, there are enough premium perks to make it worth the price.

Pros

  • Light, premium build
  • Superb keyboard
  • All-day battery life
  • Excellent display color reproduction
  • Mostly solid performance

Cons

  • Slow SATA3 SSD
  • No Thunderbolt 3
  • Display could be brighter

LG gram 14 2-in-1 technical specifications

LG gram 14 2-in-1 review

Category Spec
OS Windows 10 Home
Processor 8th Gen quad-core
Intel Core i7-8565U
Up to 4.60 GHz
RAM 16 GB DDR4-2400MHz
Dual-channel
Storage 512 GB SATA3 SSD
Display 14 inches
1,920 x 1,080 (FHD)
Touch, IPS, glossy
Graphics Integrated
Intel UHD Graphics 620
Ports HDMI
USB-C 3.1
Two USB-A 3.1
microSD card reader
3.5 mm audio
Audio Dual Stereo 1.5 W
Wireless Intel Wireless-AC 9560
802.11ac (2 x 2)
Bluetooth 5
Camera Front-facing 720p
Keyboard Backlit
Touchpad Precision
Biometrics Fingerprint reader
Battery 72 Wh
Dimensions 12.8 inches x 8.3 inches x 0.7 inches
(325.12 mm x 210.82 mm x 17.78 mm)
Weight 2.53 pounds
(1.15 kg)

LG gram 14 2-in-1 design

LG gram 14 2-in-1 review

The 14-inch gram 2-in-1 (which uses product number 14T990) has a chassis built from a magnesium alloy that allows for it to stay light. It might seem kind of plastic-y, but it's in reality quite durable, having gone through MIL-STD 810G testing. I was sort of concerned with how well last year's 15Z980 would hold up, having been made from the same material, but I can safely say that it's taken its fair share of abuse and shows nothing more than a couple of shallow scratches.

LG's gram 14 2-in-1 has a perfect keyboard, vivid display, and seriously lightweight chassis that can nevertheless put up with daily abuse.

There's only one silver color available to match the rest of the gram lineup, and it's not bad when it comes to picking up fingerprints and smudges. A wipedown every few days should be more than enough. The gram logo is emblazoned in the middle of the lid, there's a smaller gram logo below and to the left of the keyboard, and LG's logo has a spot below the display in the relatively narrow chin. It's overall a slick looking laptop that flows well from lid to base, and it weighs about a half-pound less than a lot of the 14-inch competition, including Lenovo's Yoga C930.

While it is lighter, the gram 14 2-in-1 is also slightly thicker than a lot of similar laptops, coming in at about 0.7 inches. That makes the lower weight a bit more impressive, but if you need the slimmest possible laptop, this one isn't it. As a tradeoff, the body has essentially no bend to it at all, and the lid isn't too far behind. The hinges are also perfectly stiff, allowing you to open it with one hand while also preventing unwanted movement in its different converted modes.

LG gram 14 2-in-1 review

There's no IR camera for facial recognition, but a fingerprint reader is set into the power button that lives in the top-right corner of the keyboard. With Windows Hello enabled, it allows you to log in almost instantaneously without having to type a password. On the right side of the laptop, mixed in with some of the ports, there's also a Wake and Sleep button that can be used when the laptop is in a converted mode, and you don't want to flip it around to use the keyboard power button. If you have Windows Hello enabled, you will have to nevertheless get your finger over the reader, which kind of defeats the purpose.

Overall I do like the design of the gram 14 2-in-1. It's a bit thicker than the competition, but the weight more than makes up for it when it comes to portability. I hardly noticed I had a 14-inch laptop on my back when heading out the door, and I didn't really have to worry about it getting scratched or otherwise damaged thanks to the resilient chassis.

LG gram 14 2-in-1 display and inking

LG gram 14 2-in-1 review

A 14-inch display is an ideal size for a lot of people, as oftentimes 13 inches seems just a bit too small for productivity and 15 inches seems a bit too big to carry with you everywhere. It has a 16:9 aspect ratio and 1,920 x 1,080 (FHD) resolution for a pretty standard look, but LG nailed it again with superb contrast and near-perfect sRGB color reproduction. In testing, I got back 99 percent sRGB and 77 percent AdobeRGB, which makes this a suitable laptop for some photo and editing work. I'd love for it to get brighter, though, as the glossy finish makes it very hard to use when there's any direct light involved. It's supposed to cap out at about 300 nits brightness, but it's likely closer to about 260 nits.

The bezel on either side of the display is uniform and relatively thin, and the upper bezel is a bit thicker, with a 720p camera (with a picture that's nothing but average) and dual microphones built in. The chin along the bottom of the display is thinner than a lot of other laptops, for an overall modern look. It's enough to have something to hold onto when you're using the laptop in tablet mode, but it's not too much that it looks like an aging device when used as a notebook.

The touch function is responsive, and I had no issues ignoring the keyboard and touchpad for long periods, and LG includes an active pen based on Wacom AES 2.0 tech with every gram 14 2-in-1. Comparing it physically to the Surface Pen, it's about the same diameter and weight, though it's longer and balanced a bit differently. It feels a lot more top heavy and takes some getting used to, but it ultimately delivers a satisfying inking experience. You get 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity and tilt support for artistic ambitions, but it also delivers a smooth line when you need to jot down some notes. It has two programmable buttons on the side, and it comes with a couple of replacement nibs.

LG gram 14 2-in-1 ports, battery, and charging

A lot of premium modern Ultrabooks include at least one Thunderbolt 3 port these days, but for some reason, LG decided to stick with plain USB-C 3.1. It's on the left side of the laptop, joined by HDMI, USB-A 3.1, and a barrel charging port. You can use the existing USB-C port to charge if you have the correct power adapter, but it would have been nice to see a second USB-C port rather than the barrel charger. On the right side, there's a Kensington lock slot, a second USB-A 3.1, a 3.5 mm audio jack, and a microSD card reader.

Other than the lack of Thunderbolt 3, I like the mix of ports here. Convertibles seem to be linked with media, so the HDMI out is ideal if you don't have a USB-C display, and the dual USB-A ports let you easily connect legacy accessories. The microSD card reader makes it easy to transfer and store media, and the USB-C port gives you a lot of flexibility.

The compact charger can deliver in an hour about 50 percent battery life from dead, and with a full battery, I got about nine hours of real-world life before needing a recharge. With a beefy 72 Wh battery, I feel like that number should be a lot higher, but it still gets through a day.

LG gram 14 2-in-1 keyboard and touchpad

LG gram 14 2-in-1 review

LG goes with a flat keyboard deck with keys stuck up out of it, with bumpers along the edges of the palm rest to keep the screen from sitting flat on the keys. It gives the laptop a clean look when open, especially when the fingerprint reader is part of the power button, and the typing experience is exceptional. This is one of the most satisfying keyboards I've ever typed on. The laptop is thick enough to allow for adequate key travel, keys have a soft landing and springiness, and everything is spaced appropriately. You get three levels of backlight for working in the dark, and a full set of functions is coupled with the top row of F keys.

The touchpad uses Precision drivers and delivers a feel much akin to the keyboard. Clicks are satisfying and full, tracking is spot on, and it doesn't show a lot of finger marks. However, it doesn't exactly fill all the space available and seems a bit undersized for the rest of laptop (though it has nothing on the gram 17's small touchpad).

LG gram 14 2-in-1 performance and benchmarks

LG gram 14 2-in-1 review

The gram 14 2-in-1 comes in a single configuration, complete with 8th Gen Whiskey Lake Intel Core i7-8565U CPU, 16 GB of dual-channel DDR4 RAM, integrated Intel graphics, and a SATA 3 Hynix 512 GB SSD. One RAM stick can be upgraded in the future, but the other 8 GB stick is soldered to the board. The SSD can also be upgraded, and there are two M.2 slots that you can use. Unfortunately, the SATA 3 SSD is painfully slow when compared to the PCIe SSDs found in most modern premium laptops, dropping read speeds down to about 550 MB/s from about 2,500 MB/s. That's a big difference, and if you're often working with large files, it will be felt.

Disregarding the slow SSD, everything else here performs well. The laptop stays cool for the most part, the cooling system doesn't get egregiously loud, and I didn't notice any hangups when using it for work, including heavy web browsing, word processing, video watching, and some photo editing.

CPU

Geekbench 4.0 Benchmarks (Higher is better)

Device CPU Single core Multi core
LG gram 14 2-in-1 Core i7-8565U 4,829 13,889
LG gram 17 Core i7-8565U 5,161 13,370
LG gram 15Z980 Core i7-8550U 5,033 12,906
Lenovo Yoga C930 Core i7-8550U 4,787 15,028
Lenovo Yoga 730 13 Core i5-8250U 4,178 13,354
Lenovo IdeaPad 730S Core i5-8265U 4,661 13,433
Lenovo IdeaPad 530S Core i5-8250U 4,001 12,724
Dell XPS 13 (9370) Core i7-8550U 4,681 14,816
Lenovo Yoga C630 (ARM) SD850 2,287 7,215

PCMark

PCMark Home Conventional 3.0

Device Score
LG gram 14 2-in-1 3,452
LG gram 15Z980 3,395
Lenovo Yoga C930 3,506
Lenovo Yoga 730 13 3,121
Lenovo IdeaPad 730S 3,312
Lenovo IdeaPad 530S 3,026

SSD

CrystalDiskMark (Higher is better)

Device Read Write
LG gram 14 2-in-1 558.1 MB/s 523.1 MB/s
LG gram 17 536 MB/s 500 MB/s
Lenovo Yoga C930 2,596.8 MB/s 806.2 MB/s
Lenovo Yoga 730 13 2,790.6 MB/s 506.8 MB/s
Lenovo IdeaPad 730S 3,450.9 MB/s 1,463.5 MB/s
Lenovo IdeaPad 530S 2,566.7 MB/s 520.5 MB/s
Lenovo Yoga C630 791 MB/s 220 MB/s
ASUS ZenBook S 550 MB/s 512 MB/s
ASUS ZenBook 15 1,725 MB/s 1,447 MB/s
Lenovo V330 88.48 MB/s 88.02 MB/s

It blows me away that LG decided to go with a low-cost Hynix SATA SSD in a laptop that costs $1,500. Compared to what you can get in Lenovo's Yoga lineup, there's no competition here.

Should you buy LG's gram 14 2-in-1?

LG gram 14 2-in-1 review

After using the LG gram 14 2-in-1 regularly for a couple of weeks, I've settled into its perks and drawbacks and have mostly left my other devices alone. It's not the thinnest or flashiest 2-in-1 I've used, but it is incredibly light and has a chassis that can endure a regular beating. The keyboard is ideal for those who type all day, and though the touchpad is smaller than I'd like, it's perfectly usable and has a satisfying click.

The lack of Thunderbolt 3 is irksome as I can't plug into my docking station, and it would be nice to have two USB-C ports with one reserved for charging. However, the rest of the selection, including HDMI, dual USB-A 3.1, and a microSD card reader, gives plenty of support for older accessories without the need for dongles.

4 out of 5

Other than the slow SATA SSD, performance is up there with what most other 14-inch convertibles offer, and while I feel battery life could be better, it will get you through a full eight or nine hours.

So who should buy this lightweight convertible? If you love a touch display with full color reproduction and near-perfect contrast, solid active pen support, a knockout keyboard, and a 2.5-pound build that can convert to tent, stand, and tablet modes, the LG gram 14 2-in-1 is a recommended choice.

Thin and light convertible laptop

LG gram 14 2-in-1

Still a great laptop despite a few flaws.

LG's new gram 14 2-in-1 takes a good thing and makes it convertible, bringing some necessary changes along the way. Active pen support is solid, and the display is vivid, the magnesium alloy chassis can put up with daily abuse, and it's light enough that you'll hardly notice it's with you. Performance is great other than the SSD, and the battery will get you through a full workday.