LG Gram 17 (2020) review: A lightweight productivity machine with a big screen
Built from a magnesium alloy, the 2020 LG Gram 17 weighs just under 3 pounds (1.4 kilograms) -- less than many smaller ultraportables and certainly less than other 17-inch models. Because the laptop feels like it's filled with nothing but air and doesn't have the weight or stiffness of aluminum, the Gram laptops (they're available in 13- and 15-inch sizes as well as an excellent 14-inch two-in-one) usually get knocked for feeling cheap or plasticky. The main issue here is that it's decidedly not cheap (and, again, it's made from metal). Prices start at $1,500 for a Costco-exclusive configuration and jump to $1,850 for the one I tested.
LG Gram 17 (2020)
|Price as reviewed||$1,849|
|Display size/resolution||17-inch 2,560x1,800 display|
|CPU||1.3GHz Intel Core i7-1065G7|
|PC Memory||16GB DDR4 SDRAM 3.2GHz|
|Graphics||128MB Intel Iris Plus Graphics|
|Storage||1TB (512GB PCIe NVMe SSD x2)|
|Networking||802.11ax Wi-Fi wireless; Bluetooth 5.0|
|Operating system||Windows 10 Home (64-bit)|
Not like the others
The Gram 17's uniqueness certainly works in its favor. There are simply no other 17-inch laptops that are this light and also have a long battery life. It lasted 13 hours on our streaming video test, beating last year's model by 47 minutes on the same test. Processor performance is stepped up some, too, thanks to the addition of a 10th-gen Intel Core i7-1065G7 CPU. This is partnered with more powerful Iris Plus integrated graphics as well, giving you a little extra speed for photo and video editing and casual gaming.
The 16:10 2,560x1,600-resolution display gives you a bit more vertical space than more typical 16:9-ratio displays. It's a high-quality screen, too, with strong color and contrast performance, even if it's not the brightest screen. If you work next to a window or out in the sun you'll be fighting reflections off its glossy coating.
LG touched up the body some from the 2019 version, the hinge in particular, which makes the laptop look more polished and more worthy of its premium price. The company runs it through seven military-grade durability tests including ones for shock and vibration, so it's built for a commute or travel.
Part of the update is a new backlit keyboard with a full-size number pad and slightly wider Backspace, Enter and Shift keys. Overall it's a more comfortable typing experience, but the touchpad is still centered on the entire keyboard instead of directly below the space bar. This can lead to accidental brushes or clicks if you tend to drag your right palm while typing. The precision touchpad is otherwise nice to use.
Although its weight makes it nice for travel, LG includes a full port assortment that makes it easy to connect to an external monitor or two, a keyboard and mouse, external storage and more. While many laptops in its class have moved to USB-C ports for charging, the Gram 17 comes with a power adapter that uses an old pin-type connector. However, you can still charge this laptop through its USB-C Thunderbolt 3 port. LG even includes a USB-C-to-Ethernet adapter if you want to use a wired connection instead of its Wi-Fi 6 wireless.
More screen, more battery, more mobility
The differences between the 2020 LG Gram 17 and the 2019 version are subtle but important enough to notice. Battery life and performance are generally better. The keyboard is improved as is the overall fit and finish, making it look more premium. Unfortunately, it hasn't gotten any less expensive. But, if you want a large screen, long battery life and the weight of an ultraportable laptop, the Gram 17 is the answer.
|LG gram 17 (2020)||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit) 1.3GHz Intel Core i7-1065G7; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 3.2GHz; 128MB (dedicated) Intel Iris Graphics; 512GB SSD|
|Lenovo Ideapad S940||Microsoft Windows 10 Pro (64-bit); 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-8565U; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 128MB (dedicated) Intel HD Graphics 620; 512GB SSD|
|LG gram 17 (2019)||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-8565U; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,400MHz; 128MB (dedicated) Intel HD Graphics 620; 512GB SSD|
|Samsung Notebook 9 Pro||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-8565U; 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 128MB (dedicated) Intel HD Graphics 620; 256GB SSD|
LG Gram 17 review (2021): key specs
Model number: 17z90p
Weight: 1.35kg (2.98lbs)
Dimensions: H x W x D = 26.01 x 38.02 x 1.78 cm (14.97 x 10.24 x 0.7 inches)
Processor: Intel Core i7-1165G7 (2.8 GHz, Turbo up to 4.7 GHz, L3 Cache 12MB, 28W)
System memory: 16GB LPDDR4X 4266MHz
Graphics: Intel Iris Xe Graphics
Screen: 17 inch IPS WQXGA 2560 X 1600
Sound: Stereo Speaker 2.0W x 2, Max 5W (Smart Amp) Operating System: Windows 10 (64-bit)
Ports: 1 x HP-Out (4Pole Headset, US type), 1 x HDMI, USB 3.2 Gen2x1 (x2), USB 4 Gen3x2 Type C (x2, with Power Delivery, Display Port, Thunderbolt 4)
Want a Windows laptop that’s extremely light, but also extremely powerful? Then LG Gram is definitely a range you should be looking at.
This ultralight device has long been among our top picks of the best lightweight laptops. First introduced in 2017, LG has continued to update the Gram annually, and this time last year we called the 2020 version “just about the best 17-inch laptop out there for non-gamers”. This new version for 2021 improves on that model yet further.
There’s added screen real estate thanks to a new 16:10 ratio, new 11th Gen Intel CPUs to boost speed and performance, and Thunderbolt 4 ports for faster data transfer. Incredibly, LG has achieved all this (and more) while still keeping the laptop super-light and portable.
The 2021 range comes in five models, all running Windows 10 Home. There are two 2-in-1 laptops, with 14-inch and 16-inch screens respectively. And there are three traditional laptops, with 14-, 16- and 17-inch screens.
We got our hands on the latter. The LG Gram 17 (17z90p) is the largest of the LG Gram range and yet still weighs just 1.35kg (2.98lbs). Can a laptop be THIS big and THIS light, while still performing well under pressure? We put it through its paces to find out.
Considering the LG Gram 17 (2021)? Then you'll be pleased to hear that it has won the the Best Laptop award at the T3 Awards 2021.
LG Gram 17 review: Design
When we took our LG Gram 17 (17z90p) out of the box, there were two things we noticed. Firstly, the weight, or more accurately lack of it. It just doesn’t feel like it could be a powerful computer, because despite its imposing size (380.2 x 260.1mm / 14.97 x 10.24 inches), it's so amazingly light.
Secondly, its flatness. This laptop, which is made from a magnesium alloy used in military aircraft, is so thin (17.8mm), and the top so geometrically rectangular (thanks to a ‘hidden hinge’ that makes it look near-borderless), that it looks strikingly two-dimensional from above.
Given this, and the device’s light weight, you wouldn’t expect to be able to open it with one hand. But as long as you lift from the dead centre, that was pleasingly possible for us. At which point, you’re presented with a gorgeous screen that genuinely evoked a ‘wow’, due to its combination of large size and colourful, high-resolution display.
Below that, the keyboard is not end-to-end; indeed it only takes up around 36 per cent (10.5 x 34cm) of the total area (26 x 38cm). And yet it’s full size, and backlit. The keys are large, well spaced and easy to identify, with single letters printed in clear block capitals. And – hurrah! – there’s a number pad too. There’s also a fingerprint reader on the power button that worked well in practice.
The keys themselves are flat and offer a key travel of 1.65mm, which produces a satisfying tactile click. (That’s an increase from 0.15mm in the previous model, for those keeping score.) They’re nice and quiet in operation, too, which was an unexpected plus. Our only niggle is that the arrow keys are a bit small and not really suitable for gaming.
The touchpad, meanwhile, is nice and big (8 x 13cm), and again offers a satisfying click. For the record, this has been rescaled from a 16:9 ratio in the last version to 16:10, which means it offers 11 per cent more surface area. The result is that moving your cursor around the large screen is nice and smooth, and less of a strain on the hand, compared with some smaller trackpads we’ve used.
LG Gram 17 review: Screen and speakers
The screen is one of the big wins for this laptop. To anyone used to a smaller display, the 17in diameter feels huge and epic, particularly because the thin bezels maximise the available screen space. And yet there’s zero loss of quality. The WQXGA IPS Display does a superb job at presenting images and video in pixel-perfect precision, text is razor-sharp, and colours are vivid, rich and nuanced.
With a resolution of 2,560 x 1600 (not 4K, but not far off), you get the high levels of visual detail you need if you work in image manipulation, 3D or video editing software, while for the rest of us it means great picture quality for our entertainment content. In fact, that’s evident simply by gazing at those panoramic landscape shots that Windows uses as screen backgrounds: despite having seen them before on other laptops, we actually spotted small details here we hadn’t previously noticed. (And yes, we definitely should get out more...).
Note that as with all 2021 LG Gram models, the screen is 16:10, rather than the standard 16:9 ratio. That means you’ll get slightly bigger black bars on widescreen TV shows and movies, but on the positive side you’ll see more of, say, a web page or a spreadsheet, because the screen is a little taller. Two other things to be aware of are that screen is not flippable (you’ll need the 2-in-1 version of this laptop for that), and nor is it a touchscreen.
Audio, too, was impressive. The sound quality of the 2020 LG Gram left a lot to be desired, so the brand has stepped up and upgraded things for 2021, with two 2W speakers and a MAX 5W Smart Amp. These delivered deep bass notes, crystal clear trebles and a decent level of loudness: 60 per cent was more than sufficient to fill a room with our tunes, or to watch movies with others. It’s not quite up to the standard of the HP Spectre x360 14’s Bang & Olufsen speakers, but not far off.
Sadly, these speakers are recessed into the bottom of the chassis, sending the soundwaves in exactly the wrong place. That’s fine on a 2-in-1, where you can put the device into tent formation, but is not great on a standard laptop, as none of us have ears in our laps.
LG Gram 17 review: Performance
These days, more and more demands are being made on our laptops, from videoconferencing to 4K streaming. So manufacturers have to constantly keep pace by upgrading the processors used in their hardware. And LG have done just that, by treating 2021’s LG Gram range to the latest ‘Tiger Lake’ 11th Generation Intel Core processors, along with Intel’s integrated Iris Xe graphics.
In the LG Gram 17, you’ll find the i7-1165G7 processor that’s appearing in all sorts of ultrathin laptops at the moment, including the Dell XPS 13 and the HP Spectre x360 14. You get 2.8 GHz speeds (and Turbo up to 4.7 GHz) and 16GB system memory. Everything’s been configured as part of the Evo program, which means LG has worked closely with Intel to make sure the two companies’ tech works harmoniously and gets the best out of each other.
The new laptop features LPDDR4X 4266MHz memory, which LG says processes 33% faster than the previous 3200MHz type. Also debuting this year is a new ‘LG Up-Down Air’ thermal solution, which is said to allow two times faster thermal circulation than conventional products. While maintaining the previous model’s cooling system, the new design now discharges heat in two directions, promising better performance over a long term.
LG Gram 17 review – benchmark scores
Cinebench CPU (Multi Core) test: 4625
Cinebench CPU (Single Core) test: 1425
Geekbench 5 Single Core score: 1519
Geekbench 5 Multi-core score: 5513
Geekbench 5 Open CL score: 18402
PCMark 10 score: 4,917 points
So what does this all mean in practice? Well basically, we found that the LG was capable of handling pretty much anything we could throw at it.
It was happy for us to open multiple tabs while browsing. We streamed both music on Spotify and watch video on YouTube and Netflix. We downloaded software, uploaded images, wrote articles using Microsoft Word, edited images in Photoshop, and entered numbers into spreadsheets. And we performed many of these tasks concurrently, such as streaming music while watching a YouTube video with subtitles on mute. At no point did the LG noticeably slow down, and nor were there any freezes or crashes. It just, well, did the job.
While this isn't a gaming laptop, if you're willing to throttle the frame-rates a little, our experience suggests you can play most games on this, even AAA titles. And aside from handling our own personal workflow, the Cinebench and Geekbench 5 benchmarking test we ran (see boxout) gave impressive results, suggesting that LG has really upped its performance game since 2020.
LG Gram 17 review: Battery life
LG makes the bold claim that the 80 Wh lithium-ion battery inside the LG Gram 17 can last up to 19.5 hours from a single charge. Of course, ‘up to’ is a relative term. But using the laptop across a full working week, we found that battery life was certainly sufficient for an mixed working day of word processing, video conferencing, surfing the web and listening to Spotify. Plus the battery indicator suggested there was still between 1.5 and 3.5 hours left in the tank at the end of our 9-5.
One of the most common uses of laptops on battery is to watch movies and TV shows while on long journeys. So we ran a downloaded HD movie from Netflix on repeat, with the sound going through headphones, to see how long the LG Gram 17 would last. It held out for a staggering 15 hours 16 minutes, which is significantly more than we’ve found in ultrabooks at a similar price point. This surprised us so much, in fact, that we ran the same test two more times, just to make sure we hadn't made a mistake, and got similar results.
LG Gram 17 review: Connectivity
Despite being an ultrathin laptop, the LG Gram 17 offers a decent array of connectivity options. On the left you’ll find an HDMI port, then two USB-C slots, and then a mic/headphone jack.
You can use either of these USB-Cs to charge the laptop, and the other to charge up your phone, etc, simulaneously. It’s a shame, though, they couldn’t put the USB-C slots on opposite sides, as this means you have no choice but to power the LG Gram 17 from the left.
On the right, meanwhile, there’s a Kensington lock slot, two USB-A slots, and a microSD reader. The new 2021 LG gram supports Thunderbolt 4 and data transfer speeds of up to 40 GB/sec, not to mention display connections up to 5K.
LG Gram 17 review: Verdict
The market for ultrathin laptops is so hot right now, the consumer is spoilt for choice. And the LG Gram 17 (17z90p) is one of a number of devices at this price point that offer high build quality, a beautiful screen and speedy performance.
But there are a few things that make this laptop really stand out from the crowd, and the most obvious is the combination of lightness and size. This really is an astonishingly big display for something this feather-like, and if you're expecting to be travelling a lot once lockdown eases, but you need a nice big screen to do proper work on, then this is probably your best bet right now. Particularly given the astonishingly good battery life.
Of course, the LG Gram 17 won't be for everybody. It's not a 2-in-1, and it's not a touchscreen, so if either of those things are important to you, you'll need to look elsewhere. The same goes if you prefer a deeper 3:2 screen ratio to 16:10, or you just don't like Windows and would prefer a Chromebook or Mac. And while it's fine for casual gaming, we wouldn't recommend it as a gaming laptop per se.
But beyond those considerations, this ultrabook is leading the pack when it comes to lightweight laptops. Having received a significant upgrade from its 2020 incarnation, the LG Gram 17 is now the one to beat, if other brands wish to stay in the game.
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The LG Gram 17 (2021) is the latest 17-inch variant of the company’s so far superb lineup of productivity-oriented laptops that focus on being as light as possible. Powered by Intel’s 11th-generation mobile processors, the LG Gram 17 (2021) mostly allows for fast, hassle-free productivity to make your workload seamless.
While the LG Gram 17 (2021) certainly isn’t going to win any awards for style, what the laptop does offer is pure function, poising it as one of the best choices for workplace use. If you can stomach the price, that is.
Your immediate reaction to the LG Gram 17 (2021) laptop will almost definitely be how light it is. Weighing in at 2.98 pounds (1.35kg), the LG Gram 17 (2021) is fascinatingly lightweight, especially impressive given the extra bulk that 17-inch screen provides.
Its lightness is easily one of the LG Gram 17 (2021)’s biggest selling points. It’s certainly one of the most portable-friendly options around, perfect for carrying around in a laptop bag. The importance of this can’t be overstated, as it could spell an end to heavier laptops giving you unnecessary strain during your morning and evening commutes to and from work or school.
The laptop’s feathery weight pairs perfectly with its swiftness, too. Backed up by Intel 11th-generation processing power, the LG Gram 17 (2021) boots impressively quickly, letting you work on projects almost immediately without worrying about wasting time.
Fast boot times are usually a good indicator of how well a laptop performs in everyday use, and the LG Gram 17 (2021) works hard in that regard, too. Under balanced power options, Intel’s technology has no trouble loading programs quickly and maintaining solid performance even when multiple tasks are running simultaneously. This naturally extends to browsers with a smorgasbord of tabs open.
Another area where the LG Gram 17 (2021) absolutely excels is in its superb battery life. This is nothing new for the LG Gram series, but this latest model goes above and beyond even its predecessors in this regard, lasting just shy of 14 hours. As such, the LG Gram 17 (2021) will handily last you a full work or school day and then some.
All this fantastic tech surely has to come at a steep price, and like other models in the series, the LG Gram 17 (2021) isn’t cheap. It’s an undoubtedly impressive laptop, but the high price point prevents it from being within reach of a huge number of potential consumers.
Price and availability
Here is the LG Gram 17 (2021) configuration sent to TechRadar for review:
CPU: 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-1165G7 (4-core, 12MB Intel Smart Cache, up to 4.7GHz with Turbo Boost)
Graphics: Intel Iris Xe Graphics
Screen: 2560 x 1600 WQXGA LCD
Storage: 1TB SSD
Ports: 2 x Thunderbolt 4 USB-C, 1 x HDMI, 2 x USB 3.2, 1 x microSD slot, 1 x audio jack
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.1, Wi-Fi 6
Camera: 720p webcam
Weight: 2.98 pounds (1.35 kg)
Size: 15 x 10.3 x 0.7 inches (381 x 261 x 17.78mm)
The LG Gram 17 (2021) is on sale now for $1,799 / £1,599.
This is comparative to other models in the LG Gram series. Last year’s LG Gram 17 (2020) model costs $1,749 / £1,549. That laptop ran on 10th-generation Intel processors, meaning the difference you’re paying for the LG Gram 17 (2021) goes towards extra processing power provided by the Intel Core i7-1165G7 CPU.
Other LG Gram 17 (2021) configurations are also available. There’s a 512GB SSD configuration that costs a bit less, at $1,749 / £1,549 / AU$2,999. This is the only model available to Australians and might suit you better if you don’t work with files boasting large sizes.
Another LG Gram 17 (2021) configuration features a 256GB SSD, which costs even less at $1,699 / £1,499, but it’s hard to recommend the laptop at that price with such a small amount of space, unless you’re planning on boosting it with external storage devices.
If size is a concern for you, however, then the LG Gram 16 (2021) will be a more compact and cheaper option for you. At $1,299 / £1,249 / AU$2,799, the LG Gram 16 (2021) is a more affordable choice, and also features the same 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor, 2,560 x 1,600 resolution and 1TB SSD (512GB in AU). That’s a pretty hefty saving if the smaller screen size isn’t a concern for you.
Even though the 'LG Kilogram' might be a more literally accurate name for this laptop, the LG Gram 17 (2021) is shockingly light regardless. It’s arguably the very first thing you’ll notice about the laptop when first picking it up out of the box.
It’s hard to truly gauge the value of this without holding the laptop yourself, but trust us when we say its light weight of just 2.98 pounds (1.35kg) is a remarkable achievement for a 17-inch laptop.
That weight positions the LG Gram 17 (2021) as one of the lightest 17-inch laptops around. Other productivity-based laptops certainly don’t fare as well in this regard. The Gigabyte Aero 17, for example, weighs almost twice as much at 5.5 pounds (2.49kg), while the XMG Pro 17 fares a bit better at 5.1 pounds (2.3kg).
That’s still roughly a whole kilogram the LG Gram 17 (2021) has over its competition, then. Still, if you want to go even lighter, the LG Gram 14 and 16-inch variants weigh even less and are slightly cheaper to boot. Those could be better options if you’re concerned about the extra real estate taken up by the LG Gram 17 (2021).
Speaking of real estate, the LG Gram 17 (2021)’s dimensions are 15 x 10.3 x 0.7 inches (381 x 261 x 17.78mm). While the larger screen does take away from some of the portability aspect of its 14 and 16-inch counterparts, the impressively thin depth makes it compact enough to fit into an appropriately sized laptop bag with no issue.
You might think that such a lightweight design comes at the cost of durability. After all, heftier laptops can give users peace of mind when it comes to preventing accidental damages. The LG Gram 17 (2021) is still impressively sturdy, however, featuring a full metal body that’s resistant to drops, dust and other common forms of wear and tear.
For those who consider available ports as a purchasing factor won’t be disappointed either. The LG Gram 17 (2021) features two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports used to power the laptop and charge its battery. Those are flanked by a HDMI port and an audio jack on either side, the former allowing the laptop to be connected to other displays.
On the laptop’s right side we have two USB 3.2 ports and a microSD card slot, giving users an abundance of options when it comes to slotting in portable storage devices as well as for connecting devices like smartphones and tablets for charging or file transfer and management purposes.
The LG Gram 17 (2021)’s physical look isn’t going to wow anyone when opened up. In fact it’s rather inconspicuous. The laptop’s aesthetic design is so plain that you probably wouldn’t glance at it a second time, unless you get to see its gorgeous screen in action.
At a resolution of 2560 x 1600, the LG Gram 17 (2021)’s sizable screen is a primary reason why the laptop is as big as it is. The WQXGA LCD screen is big for a reason, though, and from a productivity standpoint it’s hard to beat. The heightened display offered by its resolution means you might have more real estate shown on web pages and programs, and the choice of LCD renders the display beautifully sharp.
Another standout feature of the laptop’s design is its keyboard. It’s satisfyingly punchy, with each key press giving strong feedback to ensure typing never becomes a chore. The touchpad fares less well, though. While it works just fine in practice, some users will miss the omission of dedicated left and right-click buttons, which can provide a satisfying and tactile experience on other productivity-based laptops.
Rounding out the design feature set is the power button, which doubles as a fingerprint scanner as a secure method of logging in to your system. The sensor is both fast and accurate, requiring just a light touch of your fingertip, staying true to the LG Gram 17 (2021)’s prowess at getting you back into your projects as swift and painlessly as possible.
Here's how the LG Gram 17 (2021) performed in our suite of benchmark tests:
3DMarkNight Raid: 9,384; Fire Strike: 3,707; Time Spy: 1,118
Cinebench R20: 1,382
GeekBench 5: 1,418 (single-core); 4,532 (multi-core)
PCMark 10 (Home Test): 4,686
PCMark 10 Battery Life: 13 hours and 48 minutes
Battery Life (TechRadar movie test): 12 hours and 2 minutes
The LG Gram 17 (2021) has impressed us from a design perspective, then, but it’s no slouch under the hood, either. Intel’s 11th-gen processor does a great job at multitasking, allowing you to juggle multiple projects on the go simultaneously.
The model given to us for review features the aforementioned Intel Core i7-1165G7 as well as Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics, 16GB of RAM and an impressively large 1TB SSD. Those last two also help the laptop’s speeds tremendously.
The laptop proved its worth in performing tasks quickly, even under the stress of multiple tabs and programs open at the same time. Google Chrome has traditionally been a resource hog, but it didn’t represent an issue for the LG Gram’s top of the line components.
Photo editing is also handled fantastically, and can provide both enjoyable and accurate results thanks to the screen’s high image quality. Long sessions of editing of photos at 4K and above can start to tax the laptop, though, so if that’s part of your day to day, a more specialized laptop might benefit you more than the LG Gram 17 (2021).
In our time working with the laptop on a day-to-day basis, the machine remained whisper quiet throughout, with only slight humming and heat buildup registering during our benchmark tests, which is to be expected.
As a laptop made for work and school use, then, it gets the fundamentals right. Although one drawback is the LCD screen is prone to glare which can prove to be distracting in brightly lit office environments.
The LG Gram 17 (2021)’s battery life is the real star of the show here, easily registering hours in the double digits during our benchmark tests.
Our PC Mark 10 battery test clocked in at 13 hours and 48 minutes with the laptop’s screen set to 50% brightness. While this will undoubtedly vary depending on the type and amount of programs you’re running, it’s safe to say that the LG Gram 17 (2021)’s battery will last you a full work or school day without needing to be plugged in.
The laptop also excels with video. We tested looping a 1080p video, again at 50% brightness, with the battery lasting a whopping 12 hours and two minutes before needing to recharge. Once again, mileage may vary based on the number of programs running in the background. If you’re on the move, then, the LG Gram 17 (2021)’s stellar battery life will allow you to keep yourself occupied with movies and shows for an extended period of time.
Believe it or not, the LG Gram 17 (2021) will need charging eventually, and that’s where the superbly fast USB-C charging ports come in. Using the USB-C charger included with the laptop, the laptop fully charged from zero in just under a couple of hours when plugged into the mains.
Should I buy the LG Gram 17 (2021)?
Buy it if...
You’re sick of laptops with poor battery life
At over 13 hours of battery life on a single charge, it’s hard to compete with the LG Gram 17 (2021). You’ll easily get through a work or school day without needing to charge.
You commute a lot
From sleepy morning commutes to travelling to important business meetings, the LG Gram 17 (2021)’s light weight makes carrying the laptop a hassle-free endeavor.
You need a quality screen
The LG Gram 17 (2021)’s large, sharp display output affords you loads of screen space, which is great when multitasking is of the highest priority.
Don't buy it if...
You’re on a budget
We won’t sugarcoat it: the LG Gram 17 (2021) is an expensive piece of hardware. While you definitely get what you pay for, it’s likely not an option if you’re on a tight budget.
You’re after a gaming laptop
While the LG Gram 17 (2021) is incredible for productivity, it isn’t a gaming laptop. It will handle smaller scale games with ease, but look elsewhere if you want to play the latest in gaming tech.
You want something a bit more compact
Despite its light weight, the LG Gram 17 (2021) is big, due to that 17-inch screen. As such, you might want to look at the smaller models within the Gram series.
Prices - LG Gram 17 (2021):▼
LG’s latest Gram 17 makes a stellar case for 17-inch laptops
I’ve read plenty about what it’s like to use, hold, and type on an LG Gram before, but that didn’t take away from the impressive first impression it made when I used the new Gram 17 for the first time — especially this larger model. The Gram 17 has a grandiose 17-inch display, yet it’s only three pounds, which is light enough for me to carry around one-handed. Its keyboard is a joy to type on with a surprising amount of tactility and travel in the keys, and the battery life outlasts a whole day of work, even much of a second one, too. It’s a quiet laptop, and even under pressure, its fans weren’t loud enough for me to hear once.
The Gram communicates its biggest selling points — lightness and longevity — so effectively that it outshines some persisting minor problems. Those include a keyboard layout that can be difficult to adjust to. For instance, the num lock is too easy to press accidentally, being right next to backspace, and the only function key is located too far away from the most essential function row buttons, making it a stretch to adjust the volume one-handed. Lastly, the large trackpad isn’t always good at palm rejection. These are important things for any laptop to get right, let alone one that has a bunch of extra real estate that should be used to avoid flaws like these.
- Lightweight build
- Better battery life and performance than the 2020 model
- Refined port layout
- Fans run very quietly
- Keyboard layout problems persist
- Trackpad has palm rejection issues
- It’s pricey
- I’d love a matte display option
Buy for $1,699.90 from LGBuy for $1,696.90 from Amazon
This new model for 2021 is mostly a spec update, not a design overhaul compared to the 2020 version. But it’s a good update, at that. Inside of LG’s sole $1,799 Gram 17 configuration (it’s been available for $1,699 since late March), there’s now an 11th Gen Intel Core i7 quad-core processor that promises — and actually delivers — better performance and longer battery life than the 2020 model my colleague Monica Chin reviewed. Additionally, this model’s faster 4,266MHz LPDDR4X RAM, of which it has 16GB, likely plays a role in that speed boost. It’s not a drastically different computer to use than before, but it can hold its own more reliably this time around.
While running my usual collection of around 10 tabs in Microsoft Edge for work, with Slack and Spotify running in tandem, performance didn’t stutter at all. This is the bare minimum of competency tests for laptops, so for something more demanding, I exported a five-minute, 33-second test file from our Verge video team through Adobe Premiere Pro. Last year’s model took 30 minutes to do this, but this one gets it done in around 11 minutes. That doesn’t hold a candle to laptops that put more of an emphasis on power usually at the expense of heft, but it’s enough of an improvement to make the Gram 17’s price a little easier to justify. Razer’s Book 13 with the same processor fared just about a minute faster with this test, but the Gram is on par with the latest Dell XPS 13 and Asus ZenBook 14.
The battery is also mystifyingly good — and better than before. With that same batch of apps I mentioned earlier, the Gram 17 lasted an entire workday and well into the next, around 12 or so hours later. If you’re looking for a laptop that can go a full day of work without its charger, whether you have video calls or not, this is one for your shortlist. It features the same 80Wh battery as last year’s model, which is still impressive considering the Gram 17’s lightweight profile.
Also similar to the 2020 version is its USB-C charging. LG now includes a 65W USB-C power adapter instead of the 48W charger that shipped with the previous model. It can more quickly recharge with the included brick (which is no bigger than a compact power bank), but it still takes a few hours to refill it completely.
That sums up the biggest changes to this year’s Gram 17. There are a few smaller tweaks I liked, too. The arrangement of ports has been shifted around in a more logical layout. On the left side, there’s a Thunderbolt 4 port (it can be used for charging, data, or connecting to a display), one USB-C 4.0 Gen 3 port, a headphone combo jack, and an HDMI port. Over on the right is where you’ll find two USB Type-A 3.2 Gen 2 ports next to a microSD card slot and a Kensington lock.
If you’re shopping around for 17-inch laptops, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything lighter than the Gram. It’s 2.98 pounds, which is just a little heavier than the 13-inch MacBook Air. The Dell XPS 17 is one of LG’s main competitors in this space, yet its baseline model weighs over a pound and a half more. If you get an XPS 17 model like the one we reviewed in July 2020, it’ll weigh almost as much as two Gram 17s at 5.53 pounds. That added weight does bring more power and a dedicated GPU in the Dell, but if you just want a big, portable screen for productivity, the Gram is more than capable.
As my colleague Monica Chin mentioned in her review of the 2020 LG Gram 17, this laptop isn’t a looker. It still doesn’t stack up next to the high-end design of the XPS 17, which features an aluminum chassis. The Gram has a tough magnesium alloy-clad body, but it looks and feels plasticky. That said, there’s technically nothing flawed about its design, and it seems better than most black aluminum laptops I’ve tried at resisting fingerprints. Some people might actually prefer that its design doesn’t stick out much, even when its backlit keyboard is on.
Something minor that I wish LG offered with this model is the option for a matte display. It’s rare for ultrabooks to have them, but I find it hard to stay focused on what’s happening on the screen when I can see a reflection of all my apartment’s happenings staring back at me. Wherever you use this laptop, glare could be a big problem, like it can be with a TV. This doesn’t take away from the Gram 17’s display being sharp and vivid. It’s a WQXGA (2560 x 1600) IPS non-touch panel from the company’s own display division, and it makes everything look excellent with 99 percent DCI-P3 color gamut coverage. If a touchscreen is important to you, LG’s Gram 2-in-1 laptops feature them. LG was one of the first Windows laptop makers to move to a 16:10 aspect ratio, and the Gram 17 has one, too. It gives you a little more vertical real estate to work with on the screen compared to 16:9 displays. It’s most beneficial for productivity (you see more info at once, so less scrolling is necessary), but you’ll have black letterboxing for most full-screen videos you watch.
The Gram is short on bloatware, which I love to see. It ships with Amazon’s Alexa built-in, though it requires activation before you can use the service. A few other preinstalled apps include McAfee LiveScan and a suite of creator tools from CyberLink. Compared to some other laptops I’ve used recently, like Acer’s Predator Triton 300 SE, the Gram doesn’t shove pop-up notifications in your face seemingly every time you use it.
There are few 17-inch laptops to choose from and even fewer models that are as lightweight as this one. This year’s LG Gram 17 is unique in the sense that it’s more powerful than ever, but it doesn’t give up its portability. Oddly enough, the only competition it faces at the moment comes from within LG. The 16-inch Gram is lighter and less expensive, yet it features the same design, screen size, port selection, battery capacity, and specs (aside from having significantly less storage) for $1,399. You can find one that has the same 1TB storage as the Gram 17 for $1,599. If the Gram 17’s $1,799 price is too expensive, at least you have an alternative that’ll likely deliver the same great results.
But if the price isn’t an issue and you want a surprisingly portable and powerful laptop with an oversized screen, the Gram 17 is in a class of its own.
Photography by Cameron Faulkner / The Verge
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