Review

LG gram 17 review: An ultraportable 17-inch laptop with great battery life

Announced ahead of CES this year, LG's gram 17 is the company's first 17-inch laptop. It's also the first one from the company to include Thunderbolt 3, or a display with a higher resolution than 1080p.

Moreover, this PC weighs in at just 2.95 pounds. That makes it one of the lightest 17-inch laptops on the market, and it also makes it much more portable. 17-inch PCs can be bulky and heavy, but not this one.

In fact, it just doesn't seem to make any compromises. Read on for our review:

Specs

CPU Intel Core i7-8565U (1.80GHz/4.60GHz)
GPU Intel UHD Graphics 620
Body 15.0x10.5x0.7in (2.95 pounds)
Display 17 inches, 2560x1600, LCD
Storage 512GB M.2 2280 SSD
RAM 16GB DDR4 2400MHz - 8 GB x 1 (On Board) - 8 GB x 1
Ports (3) USB 3.1 Gen 1
(1) Thunderbolt 3
(1) HDMI
Micro-SD
3.5mm combo audio
Power
Battery 72Wh four-cell lithium-ion (up to 19.5 hours)
Material Metal alloy (nano carbon with magnesium)
Color Dark Silver
Windows Hello Fingerprint
OS Windows 10 Home
Price $1,699.99


It's worth noting that this is the only configuration for the gram 17, and it's not abnormal for LG to only offer one configuration for its PCs.

Day one

Design

The LG gram 17 comes in the same Dark Silver color that we've seen from previous grams. Just like those, it's not the sexiest machine in the world. In fact, it looks and feels plasticky, even though it's made out of nano carbon and magnesium.

But that also makes it incredibly light at 2.95 pounds. Yes, this is a 17-inch laptop that weighs around the same as a 14-inch convertible from any other company. Naturally, LG makes a 14-inch convertible that weighs the same as the lightest of 13-inch clamshells from other companies.

The company says that because it's trimmed down the bezels with this unit, it's a 17-inch laptop that fits in the footprint of a 15-inch laptop. This statement is partially true, in the sense of if you're upgrading from a 15-inch laptop that's a few years old. That statement, however, has been used so frequently over the last couple of years that it's lost its meaning. We've heard Dell say that its XPS 13 is a 13-inch laptop in a 12-inch footprint, and that started the trend.

Of course, this is a good trend. I love that I can comfortably fit the LG gram 17 in my bag, which isn't always the case for 17-inch laptops. Most of the 17-inch machines I've used are built for gaming, so they're thick, bulky, and heavy. The LG gram 17 is none of those things.

On the left side of the device, you'll find a full Thunderbolt 3 port, which supports data transfer speeds of up to 40Gbps. There's also a USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A port, HDMI, and a pin charging port. Sadly, this machine does come with a pin charger, although you can use any USB Type-C charger that you have lying around to power it up. I'm just against all non-USB-C chargers on laptops.

On the right side, there are two more USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A ports, along with a micro-SD card reader and a 3.5mm combo audio jack. Note that that's a total of three USB Type-A ports, which isn't bad at all for a machine that's so light. It comes in at just 0.7 inches thin, and it really doesn't seem to make compromises for that, at least where ports are concerned.

Display

The LG gram 17 has a 17-inch 2560x1600 display, and it's pretty awesome. That resolution gives it an aspect ratio of 16:10, which feels like the sweet spot to me. A lot of people disagree with me on this, but I don't like 3:2 laptops, such as Microsoft's Surface PCs. When used in landscape orientation, they just feel too tall, especially when running two apps side-by-side. 16:10 gives me that right amount of screen size without things feeling distorted.

It has narrow bezels on all sides, although the top and bottom are a bit larger. The top bezel fits the webcam, putting it where it actually should be, as some PCs use narrow bezels by sacrificing that placement. The bottom bezel is small enough, although it's just big enough to fit an LG logo.

The screen itself is nearly perfect, albeit it doesn't support touch. The 2560x1600 resolution makes it sharp; there's no pixelation to be seen. It's a nice break from LG's usual 1080p resolutions that we see, and it's not jacked up to 4K where it might affect battery life. It's bright as well, and you won't have any trouble seeing it if you're using it outdoors.

Ultimately, it's the size and the resolution that make me love this screen so much. The screen is just so big, and it's so pleasant to use. I've never used a 17-inch laptop that's so portable before, and the ability to have such a screen without having to write it off as being too hard to carry around is amazing.

Keyboard and fingerprint sensor

The keyboard is mostly the same as other LG gram laptops, although it's larger than the gram 14 2-in-1 that I reviewed earlier this year, so it includes a number pad. The 15.6-inch model that I reviewed last year also had the feature.

In general, the keyboard is comfortable to type on. It's no Lenovo ThinkPad or HP EliteBook, but it gets the job done. The keys are a bit (just a bit) louder than the average laptop at that price point, although they're accurate. I haven't had any issues with double-typing any keys.

What I absolutely hate is the design of the letters on the keys. They're very blocky, and it's a bit jarring. Also, the Fn key and the Fn commands on various keys are a bright orange color. It's all pretty ugly, to be honest. I really wish LG would just go for a standard keyboard design like everyone else uses.

The trackpad is clickable, definitely something worth noting on a device that's so thin and light. It brings me back to that theme of LG really just not making compromises to cut down on the thickness and the weight. I do wish that LG made more use of the additional real estate of such a large device and made a massive trackpad though. While the size is definitely large when compared to other PCs, there's some unused space.

Finally, the power button on the top-left corner of the keyboard doubles as a fingerprint sensor, and this is the only method of Windows Hello on this machine, or on any LG gram, for that matter. Just as with other models, it scans your fingerprint when you boot it up, so you don't have to scan it again when it's on the lock screen. It just automatically logs you in.

Normally, I prefer facial recognition for Windows Hello, as it's just natural to sit in front of your PC and have it recognize you. But if it recognizes you from when you pressed the power button to boot it up, then that's even better.

Performance and battery life

The LG gram 17 uses an Intel Core i7-8565U processor with integrated graphics, and it comes with 16GB RAM and a 512GB SSD. There are no other options, as there's only one configuration. Personally, I don't disagree with LG's method here. It doesn't give people a chance to make bad choices. Surely, this thing could be sold for well under half of its price if LG offered it with an HD display, a Core i3, 4GB RAM, and 128GB of storage, but then the firm would be left with a bunch of unsatisfied customers.

No, if you buy a gram, you get solid specs for yourself. And it pays off. I'll point out that once again, LG didn't make compromises with this laptop. It has a full U-series processor, a 15W quad-core chip. Typically, when an OEM wants to be the thinnest or lightest, it throws away the fan and goes for a 5W Y-series processor, but that's not the case here. This is the same Whiskey Lake Core i7 that you'll find in any modern ultrabook or convertible.

The performance is solid, but remember that it doesn't have a dedicated GPU. That means that this is mainly engineered for productivity-related tasks. Don't let the size fool you. This isn't made for gaming or video editing, although you can do either if you really need to. But if that's your primary task, you should look for something with a dedicated GPU.

But one thing that the size is great for is a big battery. Once again, this machine does not compromise on battery life, and you'll have no problem getting a full day out of it, and then some. I've said in previous gram reviews that I'm pretty sure they just run on magic, because they're so light that it feels like there can't even be a battery inside, let alone one that gives you plenty of battery life. This is yet another area that was not compromised to make the device light.

For benchmarks, I used PCMark 8 and PCMark 10. PCMark 8 provides three tests: Home, Creative, and Work. The Home test checks common tasks like web browsing, video chat, casual gaming, and more.

The benchmarks are right where you'd expect them to be in a machine with these specs. It's worth noting that the size of the machine does not affect the performance. These are the same specs that you can find in a 13-inch premium laptop, and that's totally fine. The Creative test focuses more on GPU-intensive tasks like mainstream gaming, video editing, and more.

The score on the Creative test is once again on par with what you'd expect. Finally, the Work test checks productivity-related tasks like writing and spreadsheets.

Once again, the score is right on par with what you'd expect. It's better than 83% of results, showing that this hardware is designed for productivity tasks. I do most of my work in the browser, as do many of us, so it works out pretty well when you've got a dozen or two tabs open, a few side apps, and more.

Conclusion

The LG gram 17 is an awesome laptop. Most of my complaints are pretty trivial, like the lack of touch in the display. It would be nice if it has a more solid feel to it and a sexier design, but either of these things would probably put some weight on the body.

What you're buying into here is a beautiful, large display in a 2.95-pound body, so it's both big and it's light. The large screen is just such a delight to use, and it makes it so much better that you can just throw it in your bag.

You wouldn't buy this machine just for the weight though. After all, the smaller gram models are lighter. The 15-inch model from last year is just 2.4 pounds, and the gram 14 2-in-1 is just over 2.5 pounds. If you go the 13-inch route, which hasn't been refreshed in a while, it's just 2.1 pounds. You'll have to want the big screen as well.

On top of that, you get a real keyboard, a full 15W quad-core Core i7, 16GB RAM, and a 512GB SSD. There's not much else that you can ask for in a portable PC that's just so light. At $1,699.99, the LG gram 17 is definitely a buy, if this sounds like the type of PC that you're looking for.

 

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