I’ve read a lot about what it’s like to use, hold and write on an LG Gram before, but that did not take away from the impressive first impression it made when I used the new Gram 17 for the first time – especially this larger model. Gram 17 has a magnificent 17-inch screen, but it is only three kilos, which is light enough for me to carry one-handed. The keyboard is a pleasure to type on with a surprising amount of tactility and travel in the keys, and the battery life lasts a whole day of work, even much of a second. It’s a quiet laptop, and even under pressure the fans were not loud enough for me to hear once.
The Gram communicates its biggest selling points ̵
This new model for 2021 is mostly a special update, not a design overhaul compared to the 2020 version. But it’s a good update. Inside LG’s only $ 1799 Gram 17 configuration (it’s been available for $ 1,699 since the end of March), there’s now an 11th generation Intel Core i7 quad-core processor that promises – and actually delivers – better performance and longer battery life than 2020 model my colleague. Monica Chin reviewed. In addition, this model’s faster 4.266 MHz LPDDR4X RAM, as it has 16 GB, probably plays a role in that speed boost. It is not a drastically different computer to use than before, but it can keep itself more reliable this time.
While I ran my regular collection of around 10 tabs in Microsoft Edge for work, with Slack and Spotify running in tandem, the performance did not stem at all. This is a minimum of competency tests for laptops, so for something more demanding, I exported a five-minute, 33-second test file from our The edge 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. It does not hold candles for laptops that put more emphasis on power usually at the expense of lifting, but it is enough of an improvement to make the Gram 17 price a little easier to justify. Razer’s Book 13 with the same processor did about a minute faster with this test, but Gram is on par with the latest Dell XPS 13 and Asus ZenBook 14.
The battery is also mysteriously good – and better than before. With the same amount of apps I mentioned earlier, Gram 17 lasted an entire business day and well into the next, about 12 hours later. If you are looking for a laptop that can go a full working day without the charger, whether you have video calls or not, this is one for your favorites list. It has the same 80Wh battery as last year’s model, which is still impressive considering Gram 17’s light profile.
Also similar to the 2020 version is USB-C charging. LG now includes a 65W USB-C power adapter instead of the 48W charger that came with the previous model. It can charge faster with the included brick (which is no larger than a compact power bank), but it still takes a few hours to fully fill it up.
It summarizes the biggest changes in this year’s Gram 17. There are some minor adjustments I also liked. The arrangement of ports has been shifted in a more logical setup. On the left side is a Thunderbolt 4 port (it can be used for charging, data or connecting to a monitor), a USB-C 4.0 Gen 3 port, a headphone jack and an HDMI port. To the right are two USB Type-A 3.2 Gen 2 ports next to a microSD card slot and a Kensington lock.
If you shop around for 17-inch laptops, you will be hard pressed to find anything lighter than Gram. It’s 2.98 pounds, which is only slightly heavier than the 13-inch MacBook Air. The Dell XPS 17 is one of LG’s most important competitors in this space, but the baseline model weighs over one and a half kilos more. If you get an XPS 17 model like the one we reviewed in July 2020, it will weigh almost as much as two Gram 17s at 5.53 pounds. The extra weight gives more power and a dedicated GPU in Dell, but if you just want a large, portable screen for productivity, Gram is more than capable.
As my colleague Monica Chin mentioned in her review of the LG Gram 17 in 2020, this laptop does not look like. It still does not stack next to the exclusive design of the XPS 17, which has an aluminum chassis. Gram has a tough body of magnesium alloy, but it looks and feels plastic. That said, there is technically nothing wrong with the design, and it works better than most black aluminum laptops I have tried to resist fingerprints. Some may prefer that the design does not protrude much, even when the backlit keyboard is on.
Something smaller that I want LG offered with this model is the possibility of a matte screen. It’s rare ultrabooks 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 the events of the apartment staring back at me. Wherever you use this laptop, glare can be a big problem, as it can be with a TV. This does not detract from the fact that the Gram 17 screen is sharp and vibrant. It is 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 scale coverage. If a touch screen is important to you, LG’s Gram 2-in-1 laptops have them. LG was one of the first manufacturers of Windows laptops to move to a 16:10 aspect ratio, and Gram 17 also has one. It gives you a little more vertical property to work with on the screen compared to 16: 9 screens. It’s most beneficial for productivity (you see more info at once, so less scrolling is required), but you have black letterboxing for most full screen videos you watch.
The Gram is short on bloatware, which I love to watch. It comes with Amazon’s built-in Alexa, although it requires activation before you can use the service. A few other pre-installed apps include McAfee LiveScan and a range of CyberLink creation tools. Compared to some other laptops I’ve used recently, like the Acer Predator Triton 300 SE, Gram pop-up alerts do not seem to push your face every time you use it.
There are few 17-inch laptops to choose from, and even fewer models that are as light as this one. This year’s LG Gram 17 is unique in the sense that it is more powerful than ever, but it does not give up portability. Oddly enough, the only competition it currently faces comes from LG. The 16-inch Gram is lighter and cheaper, but it has the same design, screen size, port selection, battery capacity and specifications (apart from having significantly less storage space) for $ 1,399. You can find one that has the same 1 TB of storage as Gram 17 for $ 1,599. If Gram 17’s $ 1,799 price is too expensive, you have at least one option that is likely to give the same great results.
But if price is not 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.
Photograph by Cameron Faulkner / The Verge