"The LG Gram 17 is one of the best 17-inch laptops you can buy."
Fast in performance mode
Very good keyboard and touchpad
Excellent battery life
Feels a little thin
Sometimes you want a larger display than a typical 15.6-inch (or 16-inch) laptop. Perhaps you are a strong multitasker and want to put more windows on your display without feeling cramped. This is where 17-inch laptops come in, and while there aren't that many to choose from outside of gaming laptops, there are a few good options to consider.
One such option was LG's Gram 17, which, like all Gram laptops, aims to pack as much of the machine as possible into the lightest possible case. The 2021 version increases the display usage with an aspect ratio of 16:10, which offers even more vertical space for your work.
I looked at the LG Gram 17, which comes with a Core i71165G7, 16 GB of RAM, a 1 TB PCIe solid-state drive (SSD) and a 17-inch 16:10 display with a WQXGA resolution (2.560 x 1,600) is configured. This configuration costs $ 1,800, which means it is solidly in premium territory and can rival a potent competitor, the excellent Dell XPS 17. Does the LG Gram 17 have what it takes to compete?
The LG Gram 17 does what it promises to pack a large display in a lightweight housing. It weighs just 2.98 pounds, which is remarkably light for such a large laptop. In comparison, the Dell XPS 17 with Touch and its 97 watt hour battery option weighs 5.53 pounds (the Gram 17 has an 80 watt hour battery). Even the non-contact XPS 17 with the 56 watt hour battery weighs 4.65 pounds.
In overall dimensions, the Gram 17 is 14.97 inches wide, 10.24 inches deep and 0.70 inches thick, compared to the XPS 17 at 14.74 inches x 9.76 inches x 0.77 inches. As another comparison, the HP Envy 17 is 15.71 x 10.2 x 0.76 inches and weighs 6.02 pounds (note that the Envy 17 has a 17.3 inch display). LG has clearly achieved something special here.
The LG Gram 17 doesn't have the solid feel that other laptops enjoy.
How did you manage to make the LG Gram 17 so light? The key is the magnesium alloy used in the case of the laptop. It's a light metal to start with and LG doesn't use much of it. This affects the perceived build quality, with an extremely pliable lid and keyboard deck and case base that are fairly pliable. Magnesium is a strong metal, and so it's not that the LG Gram 17 isn't rugged, but it doesn't have the same solidity that you get from the XPS 17 or even the mid-range Envy 17.
The aluminum used in the other laptops weighs more and feels more robust. LG put the Gram 17 through military-grade MIL-STD-810G testing, so there is some objective data it can take. I also have to note that while the bottom is exceptionally light, the lid opens with one hand and only wobbles a tiny bit when in use.
Aesthetically, the Gram 17 is designed as conservatively as it gets. It's all black with just a simple chrome “gram” logo on the lid. Otherwise there are no embellishments and the lines of the laptop are simple. It's by no means a bad looking laptop, but it also lacks character. The Dell XPS 17 and HP Envy 17 are more eye-catching and, I think, a lot more attractive. The Gram 17 enjoys small bezels, so it looks modern in that regard – and these small bezels naturally help keep the case size manageable.
Despite its thin frame, the Gram 17 offers a nice mix of connections. On the left is a full-size HDMI port and two USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 4 support (one of which is needed to power the laptop), as well as a 3.5mm audio jack. On the right there is a Kensington lock, two USB-A 3.1 Gen 2 ports and a microSD card reader. Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1 offer wireless connectivity.
My test unit was equipped with an 11th generation Intel Core i7-1165G7, which is common on premium laptops and tends to offer solid productivity performance. I've noticed that laptops with the same chip can vary in performance, so I was curious to see how the LG Gram 17 would fare in a larger case that should have plenty of room for cooling. LG offers a utility to adjust the performance for heat and fan noise, and it has a noticeable effect. Most manufacturers offer such a utility today, and not all of them have a significant impact on performance – I only mention them if they affect our benchmark results. HP is another vendor whose "Performance" mode makes a significant difference in some (but not all) of its Envy and Specter laptops.
In its “optimal” mode, the Gram 17 corresponds to a large part of its Tiger Lake competition. In Geekbench 5, it did well in the single-core test and fell behind some competitors, such as the Samsung Galaxy Pro 360, in the multi-core test. However, switch to Performance mode, and the Gram 17's score jumped to 1563 and 5,473. In our Handbrake test, which encodes a 420 MB video as H.265, it was behind the pack, but again did a little better in performance mode with 197 seconds. When switching to Cinebench R23, the Gram 17 was again at the lower end in optimal mode, but was the fastest Tiger Lake laptop in our comparison group in performance mode (.375 in single-core and 4604 in multi-core).
The LG Gram 17 was a competent performer.
After all, it was not a leader in PCMark 10 in optimal mode and its performance mode made no difference in score – something I saw with other vendors' performance optimization utilities. One example is the HP Specter x360 14, which also showed no improvement in PCMark 10 performance mode, although it was significantly faster in all other benchmarks in this mode. The Gram 17 did well on the Essentials parts (web browsing, video conferencing, etc) but fell behind in the areas of productivity and content creation.
Overall, the Gram 17 was a competent performer that handled all of your productivity tasks with ease. Switch to Performance mode and you will hear the fans spinning more often (they are not particularly loud), but you will get a noticeable increase in performance. However, I do find that you get much better performance with the Dell XPS 17, on par with its larger display with a much more powerful CPU and GPU combo. The Gram 17 is best suited for productivity users who want a bigger display, as opposed to the XPS 17, which is designed to give creative professionals a bigger canvas.
|Geekbench (single / multiple)||Handbrake (seconds)||Cinbench R23 (single / multiple)||PCMark 10||3DMark time spy|
|LG Gram 17 2021
|Dell XPS 17 (Core i7-10875H)||1315/7959||109||N / A||N / A||5801|
|LG gram 16 (Core i7-1165G7)||1394/4137||213||1394/4137||4827||1390|
|Samsung Galaxy Pro 360
|1554/5603||N / A||1308/4062||5159||1800|
|HP Envy x360 15
|HP Envy 15 (Core i7-10750H)||1274/5542||139||N / A||N / A||5123|
The Gram 17 isn't a gaming laptop given its built-in Intel Iris Xe graphics. In the 3DMark Time Spy test, it achieved an average score of 1802 in optimal mode and a significantly higher score of 1802 in performance mode. In Fortnite, the influence of the utility was even more pronounced. It managed a meager 12 frames per second (fps) in 1080p and high graphics and 13 fps in epic graphics in optimal mode. That is way behind the rest of the Tiger Lake competition.
However, switch to performance mode and it jumped to 29 fps and 19 fps, which is much more competitive. Of course, these aren't impressive results either, and so you'll be limited to older titles or run newer titles with low resolutions and graphical detail.
Display and audio
A large, expansive display is of little use if it suffers from poor quality. Fortunately, LG chose a high-quality panel for the Gram 17, starting with its 16:10 aspect ratio that offers plenty of space in a 17-inch display.
According to my colorimeter, the display exceeds our 300 nit limit at 343 nits, making it bright enough for most indoor lighting conditions. The contrast of 930: 1 was close to our preferred 1000: 1 ratio. The 4K display of the Dell XPS 17 is superior with 491 nits and 1,530: 1, while the Gram 17's smaller brother, the Gram 16, was just below it with 313 nits and 830: 1. The results from the Gram 17 are in line with what is expected from a premium laptop today.
In terms of colors, the display on the Gram 17 scored 88% AdobeRGB and 100% sRGB, which is better than the 75% and 95% average of the premium laptop and close to what creatives go for photo and video Want video editing. The XPS 17 does significantly better with 98% and 100%, respectively, while the Gram 16 is on par with the 17-inch model. The color accuracy of the Gram 17 was good with a Delta E of 1.3 (less than 1.0 is considered excellent), while the XPS 17 was inferior with 0.37 and the Gram 16 with 2.67.
Overall, this was an adorable display for anything most users throw at it. Productivity was increased by the aspect ratio, good contrast and above-average brightness, while viewing photos and videos became a pleasant experience thanks to the wide and accurate colors. If you want to do photo and video editing occasionally – consider the performance deficit compared to a laptop like the XPS 17 – this display will be fine with this display if necessary.
The sound is nice and clear, with pleasant highs and mids and just a hint of bass. At the same time, the two downward facing speakers don't get very loud, and there is only a hint of distortion at maximum volume. You'll be content with the occasional YouTube video, but you will likely need a pair of headphones or bluetooth speakers for Netflix binging and music.
Keyboard and touchpad
The keyboard is comfortably spaced with large keycaps and has a number pad with a light touch and sufficient travel. The typing experience is only tarnished by a slightly abrupt ground movement – I usually appreciate a certain bounce at the end of a keystroke, but it's just a little too much here. I was able to type on the keyboard at full speed, but I felt like I could get tired after long typing sessions. The keyboard on the Dell XPS 17 has a more comfortable action, as does HP's keyboard on its Specter and newer Envy laptops.
The touchpad is large, but could be bigger given the many palm rests available. It's a Microsoft Precision model that is universal at this point and makes Windows 10's multi-touch gestures accurate and precise. The keyboard layout, especially the integrated number pad, pushes the touchpad out of the middle, which takes some getting used to. If you're using the touchpad as a guide to finding the starting line on the keyboard, you'll need to adjust your exercise or type the wrong letters. The display doesn't support touch, which I always miss on a laptop.
Windows 10 Hello support is provided by a fingerprint reader built into the power button which is the best place. You can turn on the Gram 17 and sign in with a touch, and that's so much more convenient than looking for a fingerprint reader that sits somewhere on the keyboard deck or, worse, embedded in the touchpad. The reader was quick and accurate during my tests.
Somehow, LG managed to pack 80 watt hours of battery capacity while still maintaining the low weight of the Gram 17. That's a decent amount of power, and I was confident that LG's usual superb battery life would apply.
And that's exactly what I found. Starting with our web browser test, which ran through a number of popular websites, the Gram 17 lasted for 13.25 hours, which is a very strong result. The Dell XPS 17 managed less than half as long with almost 6.5 hours, while the Gram 16 was a bit stronger with 13.8 hours. In our video test, which plays a Full HD Avengers trailer until the battery is empty, the Gram 17 managed a spectacular 21 hours, compared to the XPS 17 with only 9.3 hours and the Gram 16 with an even better 24.4 Hours.
With a single charge, the LG Gram 17 will get you through a whole working day and well into the evening.
I also ran the PCMark 10 gaming test, which put a strain on the CPU and GPU, and the Gram 17 made it to almost five hours. This is one of the longest results in our database and only seven seconds less than another top runner, the Gram 16. We didn't test the XPS 17 in PCMark 10. The result was probably a combination of the large battery capacity and the optimal setting that neither the CPU nor the GPU ran at full speed.
Finally, the Gram 17 achieved just under 14 hours in the PCMark 10 Applications test, which is the best indicator of the battery life in productivity. That's a strong score, in the top of the range of the laptops we tested, but not as strong as I expected. For example, the Gram 16 reached 17.8 hours.
Overall, the Gram 17 is a long-lasting laptop despite its large, high-resolution display. It will get you through a full day of work and well into the evening, and you will likely have a few hours left the next morning.
LG achieved its goal of creating a large screen laptop with good performance and great battery life that doesn't weigh a ton. You want to switch to performance mode for the highest speed and you will endure a little fan noise, but it's worth it. For the most part, this is a laptop that delivers on its promise and a lot more besides.
However, whether it is for you depends on whether you are okay with a metal case that shows some degree of flexibility. LG tested the Gram 17 for durability at a military level, and it survived, which means the laptop is likely very sturdy. Even so, you won't get that warm and fuzzy feeling of durability when handling the Gram 17.
Are there alternatives?
The Dell XPS 17 has the same 16:10 aspect ratio display that is higher quality, and you get a faster laptop with a more powerful GPU. It's also much heavier and doesn't even match the battery life of the Gram 17. To get the most out of the XPS 17's performance, you'll also be spending hundreds more.
Next, consider the slightly smaller LG Gram 16 if you don't need quite that much screen real estate. It also offers great battery life and suffers from the same flimsy feel, but it's another lightweight offering that offers plenty of performance and durability without the weight.
The XPS 15 and MacBook Pro 16 are also faster laptops with smaller displays and could be good options. If you don't need the largest display, these two machines should be on your list.
How long it will take?
The Gram 17 doesn't feel as rugged as the premium laptops it competes with, but if you trust the MIL-STD-810G rating, you can be comfortable with the longevity of the laptop. It is definitely equipped with the latest components. However, you won't like the one-year warranty.
Should you buy it?
Yes. The LG Gram 17 puts a large and beautiful display in your hand without weighing you down, and you will love the spectacular battery life.