LG Gram 14 (14Z90Q) Review: Best Windows Alternative to the MacBook Air?
Thin-and-light Windows laptops or Ultrabooks have been around for a long time, and although we’ve seen and tested some really good products over the years, they’ve generally been expensive and have struggled to offer comparable battery life to Apple’s MacBook laptops. However, Intel’s 12th Gen processors promise a huge leap forward in terms of battery life and efficiency, especially for laptops based on the updated Evo platform. We’ve already seen one example of this with the Samsung Galaxy Book 2 Pro 360 (Review), and today we’ll be taking a look at the LG Gram 14 (14Z90Q).
LG’s premium thin-and-light Gram series is packed with features and has good specs, but most importantly, promises 20+ hours of battery life. It’s available in three screen sizes and today we’ll be reviewing the 14-inch model, which is the most compact of the lot, weighing less than 1kg. The LG Gram 14 has all the ingredients to be the perfect travel laptop, but is it?
LG Gram 14 (14Z90Q) price in India
The LG Gram 14 variant that I have is the top-end one (14Z90Q-G.AH75A2) with a Core i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. It has an MRP of Rs. 1,49,000 in India but is officially available at a market price of Rs. 1,05,999 (and even slightly less during sales). There’s also a Core i5 variant of the Gram 14 with 8GB of RAM but the same amount of SSD storage. LG has more variants of the Gram 16 and Gram 17 laptops (with 16-inch and 17-inch screens respectively), that cost a bit more.
LG Gram 14 (14Z90Q) design
The LG Gram 14 is only available in black and has a very understated design. The whole laptop has a matte finish with sharp lines and just a ‘Gram’ logo in chrome on the lid. LG has made it a point to round off the edges so this device doesn’t feel uncomfortable to hold or use on your lap. The first thing that really struck me the moment I took it out of the box was how incredibly light it is. LG says it weighs 999g, but I found it to be a bit less at around 967g, according to my kitchen scale. The Gram 14 is also very slim when closed, measuring just 16.8mm. It’s only a tiny bit wider than the new M2 MacBook Air (Review) but because of the lower weight, it feels a lot more compact and is much easier to travel with.
The LG Gram 14 uses a 14-inch IPS display with a full-HD (1920×1200 pixels) resolution and a 60Hz refresh rate. The 16:10 aspect ratio gives you a bit more vertical room, and it uses the DCI-P3 colour profile by default, for rich and vibrant colours. The screen also has an anti-glare matte finish, so reflections from bright light sources aren’t a huge bother. The Gram 14’s screen has slim bezels on all four sides, but LG has still managed to fit a webcam and an IR camera for Windows Hello above it.
The base of the LG Gram 14 feels like plastic, but the keyboard deck is made of a single piece of metal. For a 14-inch laptop, I’m genuinely surprised to see the number of ports LG has managed to fit in. On the left, there’s a full-sized HDMI output, two USB 4 Type-C (with Thunderbolt 4) ports, and a headphone jack. The right side has two USB 3.2 Type-A ports, a microSD card slot, and a Kensington lock slot. I don’t think many people would need to carry a USB hub along with this laptop, unless you need a full-sized SD card slot. LG includes a Type-C to Ethernet adapter in the box.
The keyboard on the LG Gram 14 has well-spaced keys with two levels of white backlighting. The keys could have been a tad larger in my opinion, but I got used to them after a few days. The direction keys are separated from the rest of the keyboard so they are easy to find and use. The power button sits nearly flush with the frame so you won’t mistake it for any other key, which is a nice touch. There’s no fingerprint sensor embedded in it, but that’s fine since there is face recognition. The Gram 14 has just two white status LEDs; one near the power button and the other between the two Type-C ports. The trackpad is decently sized and tracking is smooth.
LG Gram 14 (14Z90Q) specifications and software
The LG Gram 14 unit that I’m reviewing has an Intel Core i7-1260P processor which has a total of 12 CPU cores and supports 16 threads. The CPU consists of four performance cores with a max turbo frequency of 4.7GHz, and eight efficiency cores with a max turbo frequency of 3.4GHz. The processor has integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics, and the Gram 14 doesn’t have any dedicated GPU. There’s 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM and a 512GB NVMe M.2 SSD. The laptop also has Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.1, two 1.5W speakers for stereo sound, and a 2.1-megapixel full-HD webcam.
The LG Gram 14 is MIL-STD-810G certified for durability and ruggedness, which means it should be able to withstand fairly high and low temperatures, and shock from accidental drops. The laptop features a 72Wh battery and ships with a 65W USB PD (Type-C) charging adapter.
My unit of the LG Gram 14 came running Windows 11 Home. You’ll get a lot of third-party software preinstalled, such as 30-day trials of Microsoft Office 365 and McAfee Live Safe, the DTS X:Ultra app, PCMover Professional, and a bunch of Cyberlink programs such as ColorDirector and Audio Director.
LG also bundles some of its own apps such as Smart Assistant, which is a very well designed app for customising system and battery settings, and Virtoo by LG which lets you transfer files as well as send and receive text messages through your phone. The latter didn’t seem to work very smoothly with an iPhone and even though I was able to see my photo library via the Windows app, it couldn’t sync my text messages.
There’s another interesting app called Glance by Mirametrix, which tracks your presence using the webcam so it can automatically pause a video when you look away and resume playback when you’re back, and also blur the screen if it detects that you’ve walked away or another face is in the vicinity, to prevent snooping. All these features worked quite well when I tested them, and didn’t seem to have a major impact on battery life either.
LG Gram 14 (14Z90Q) performance and battery life
I used the LG Gram 14 for work and catching up on movies and TV shows, and the experience during my review period was very good. The display has very good viewing angles and I found the 350 nit brightness to be sufficient for indoor use. In fact, my only criticism is that I wish I could have dialled the brightness down a bit lower than the allowed minimum level, as the screen could be a bit too bright in the dark. The colours are rich and a bit too vibrant, which is not a problem when watching videos, but this isn’t the most colour-accurate display for work.
I found the keyboard on the LG Gram 14 to be very good for typing. The keys have a decent amount of travel and aren’t very noisy. The backlighting is even and isn’t distracting at night. The Gram 14 showed no signs of overheating with casual workloads, with only a small area on the bottom, near the vents which gets slightly warm. The laptop ran silently when running most tasks and even at the highest fan speed setting, I only heard a faint hum.
Benchmark numbers were pretty solid too. The LG Gram 14 posted 468 and 2,250 points in Cinebench R20’s single-core and multi-core CPU tests. The laptop scored 5,120 in PCMark 10 and 12,992 in 3DMark’s Night Raid test scene for integrated graphics. Real-world tests also yielded good results. It took just 2 minutes, 9 seconds to compress a 3.76GB folder of assorted files using 7zip. Rendering the BMW test scene in Blender took 9 minutes, 7 seconds, and encoding a 1.3GB AVI file to a 720p H.265 MKV file in Handbrake took 58 seconds.
In Geekbench 5’s single-core and multi-core tests, the LG Gram 14 scored 1,034 and 3,151 points respectively. To put things into perspective, Apple’s M1 SoC in the 2020 MacBook Air (Review) scored 1,749 and 7,728 points respectively.
The LG Gram 14 is not designed for gaming but it can easily handle casual titles from the Microsoft Store such as Asphalt 9: Legends, if you need to pass time. Simple games from Steam should also be playable. Fortnite ran at 1080p using the Medium visual preset, but not without jerks and stutters. Dropping the resolution made the gameplay smoother. This game also caused the base of the Gram 14 to get very hot and it wasn’t comfortable to use on my lap after a point.
Media looks good on the LG Gram 14’s display but the same cannot be said for sound from the stereo speakers. Even at high volume and with the DTS X: Ultra enhancement enabled, sound was muffled and unclear. The webcam produced decent quality video for calls, and even in dim lighting there wasn’t too much noise or distortion.
The LG Gram 14 delivers very good battery life for such a slim and light Windows laptop. I was able to get through one full work day on a single charge and still have about 20 percent charge remaining on average. LG’s claimed battery life is probably not feasible for real-world usage, but I still think most people are going to be happy with 8-10 hours of runtime from a laptop that weighs less than 1kg. In the stressful Battery Eater Pro benchmarking app, the Gram 14 lasted for 3 hours, 45 minutes, which is very good. Charging the laptop fully took less than two hours, and you can charge it up to 58 percent in an hour using the bundled charger.
The LG Gram 14 makes for a terrific work laptop as it is compact and light, performs well, and has very good battery life. The stereo speakers are its only real weak point, and barring that there’s very little to complain about. The laptop also offers a good selection of ports, a crisp and vivid display, and some useful software. The Core i7 variant is a bit expensive, but you could always opt for the lower variant to fit your budget.
While there are many laptops in the market that are also based on the Intel Evo platform, very few come close to the Gram 14’s ultra-low weight, which is what makes it special. Apple’s M1-based MacBook Air is still a strong contender at this price level, but if you need a Windows 11 machine, the LG Gram 14 is an excellent alternative.