LG makes a point to update the gram laptop series every year. Now in its third year, the new LG gram 13.3-inch (13Z980) is the only model with touch screen sold in Singapore market, while the refreshed 14-inch and 15.6-inch do not. The trade-off is that only i5-8250U processor is available, whereas the i7-8550U is an option for the other 2 sizes. And it only comes in white colour, but interestingly it does not stain casually.
While many design elements remain the same, there are much appreciated improvements. All the connectivity ports remain exactly the same – USB Type-C on the left, USB 3.0 on both sides, HDMI on the left, micro SD and headphone jack on the right. The webcam is shifted back to the top of the screen, though the image quality is vastly inferior compared to the modern smartphones.
The laptop now supports fingerprint unlock which seriously helps tremendously in unlocking quickly without having to key in the password manually, and works better than face unlock.
Compared to the 13-inch in 2017, the 13.3-inch in 2018 has a much larger battery – 72Wh – which claims up to 21.5 hours. For weight-performance ratio, the LG gram 13.3 keeps me going without fear of suddenly running out of battery. Even the AC charger is compact and lightweight.
Many consumers do not like the plasticky flimsy body of the LG gram, but I’m fine with it. Instead of cold-hard metal feel, the body uses nano-carbon magnesium to achieve durability. I also like how I can open the laptop hinge with one hand while many other laptops require 2 hands to pry open like a clamshell. The laptop boots up very fast, the fingerprint sensor unlocks quickly.
What I also like on LG gram is they still keep the full-sized USB and HDMI ports to allow direct connectivity without dongles. Speaking of display, the LG gram offers a warm colour tone that is somewhat more pleasing to the eyes. The screen also does not reflect as much.
The smallest model among the LG gram 2018 series sold in Singapore is the only one with touch screen, which feels responsive and sensitive. But the display panel wobbles, so it’s not for rough use. That’s fine for me, as I only use the touch screen to move my cursor quickly instead of the touchpad, though the touchpad has attained the Macbook standard of responsiveness and more usable than older laptops.
On the whole, the LG gram 13.3 runs cool. Occasionally there are CPU utilisation that warms the laptop area close to the fan vent, but the laptop does not unnecessarily heat up for long periods of time when doing office productivity or using Chrome browser.
While benchmark results may not put LG gram at the top, my hands-on experience concludes that the laptop runs fantastic without excessive battery drain. I feel confident leaving the laptop in idle mode, or just put it in sleep mode. I can confidently say that the LG gram 13.3 is the top laptop with the longest battery life below 1kg.
The LG gram feels very polished and usable thanks to its conventional keyboard, touch screen, standard connectors, and extreme lightweight. Most important, the battery life keeps me productive for longer. It’s the laptop that I will carry with me everywhere I go. You may think that a few hundred grams don’t make much difference, and you are right if your bag is already a few kilos heavy. But if your weekend bag is light and you want to carry a laptop, you will feel the difference.
Based on specs alone, the LG gram 13 does not seem value for money, as there are other laptops with similar specs going for lower prices. The only reasons to get it are the lightweight and long battery life.
LG gram 13 (2018) Specs
Model code: 13Z980-T.AA5CA3
Processor: Intel Core i5-8250U, 1.6 GHz
Memory: 8GB DDR4 2400 MHz RAM, 512 GB M.2 SSD SATA3
Display: 13.3-inch 1920×1080 IPS LCD display
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620
Speaker: 1.5W x 2
Connectivity: WIFi 802.11ac 2×2, Bluetooth, USB Type-C, USB 3.0 x2, HDMI
Dimensions: 30.6 x 21.2 x 1.55 cm
Battery: 72Wh (up to 22.5 hours)
Clarifying LG gram Model Codes
Be careful when shopping for LG gram. Don’t be confused with the older-generation models which are cheaper. One way to tell: read the model codes carefully. The 2018 version of LG gram 13 is coded 13Z980, the 14-inch is 14Z980, the 15.6-inch is 15Z980. SImple? The 2017 version of 13-inch is 13Z970, 14-inch is 14Z970, and so on. Clear?
There are also processor differences. LG gram 14 i5-8250U is 14Z980-G.AA5BA3, while the i5-8550U is 14Z980-G.AA5CA3. Spot the difference. Finally, only 13-inch has touch screen, hence the “T” in “13Z980-T.AA5CA3”.