The LG Gram 17 practically feels like nothing when you pick it up. And that's exactly the point of this laptop, which somehow squeezes a big 17-inch display into a design that weighs under 3 pounds. That's the lightest 17-inch laptop ever.
And yet this $1,699 system packs pretty solid specs, including a 8th-Gen Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. The battery life is pretty epic, too. Is the LG Gram 17 worth the steep price? A somewhat awkward keyboard curbs our enthusiasm for this system, and you don't get discrete graphics, but overall, it's worth the splurge if you want the biggest possible display in the most portable package.
LG Gram 17 Price and Availability
The LG Gram 17 is available at both Amazon (opens in new tab) and Best Buy (opens in new tab) for $1,699 with an 8th Gen Core i7 Whiskey Lake processor, 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. No other configurations were available at the time of this review.
Using a special metal alloy comprised of nano carbon and magnesium, the LG Gram 17 is ridiculously light given the size of its display. It weighs 2.95 pounds, which makes laptops with smaller 15-inch screens seem overweight.
By comparison, the Dell XPS 15 weighs 4.2 pounds, while the 15-inch MacBook Pro is 4 pounds. This is definitely not the thinnest system in its class, though, as the chassis is 0.7 inches thick; the XPS 15 tapers down from 0.7 to 0.5 inches and the MacBook Pro is 0.6 inches.
Would I travel with this machine? Yes. I used it on my bus commute, and even though the display is huge, the chassis is compact enough that it wasn't encroaching on the passenger sitting next to me. However, I found myself lowering the screen brightness so no one could snoop on my screen.
Despite being so light, the Gram 17 doesn't feel chintzy. The base felt solid when I picked up the unit. However, I noticed some flex on the deck when pressing down on keys. LG says this laptop is built to comply with the 810-G military ruggedness standard, which means that it should be able to withstand shock, vibration and dust without a problem.
Aesthetically, the Gram 17 is a bit too MacBook-ish for my tastes. Dark silver with a black keyboard, where have I seen that before? And while the bezels around the display aren't chunky, they're thicker than those on the XPS 15.
Ports and Fingerprint Reader
It's weird to see a laptop with a proprietary charging port these days, but there it is on the left side of the Gram 17. (You can use USB-C for charging, though.)
I would have like to see one more Thunderbolt 3 port for connecting to a growing array of accessories, but it's not a dealbreaker.
The LG Gram 17 supports quick Windows Hello logins via a fingerprint sensor built into the power button. In my testing it worked reliably, but it's not instant; it took about 5 seconds for the desktop to appear. Alas, there's no Windows Hello support for the camera, so you can't log in via facial recognition.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The keyboard on the LG Gram 17 is awkward to use at first, and it has nothing to do with comfort. The problem is that the G and H keys are not centered above the touchpad, so I needed to shift my hands to the left before typing. I'm also not a fan of the small Backspace key on the right. I would rather lose the number pad to the right in order to accomodate a roomier layout.
There's good news here, though, and that's the actual typing experience. The 1.2 mm of travel proved plenty for comfy input. The keys felt bouncy yet quiet, and I hit 78 words per minute on the 10FastFingers typing test with a fairly high accuracy rate of 94.2 percent. My typical range is 75 wpm.
The touchpad is large and responsive, and I had no problems controlling the cursor. But I did turn off right-clicking on the right side of the touchpad. That's because I was often activating right-click when I didn't want to, due to my needing to shift my hand right when going from the keyboard to the touchpad. I just turned on right-clicking with two fingers only.
The 17-inch screen on the LG Gram is simply gorgeous. No, the 2560 x 1600 resolution isn't 4K, but this panel is is plenty sharp and bursting with color. When I watched the trailer for Captain Marvel on the Gram 17, everything from the hero's reddish-blonde hair to a gleaming metal city looked vibrant on this display without being oversaturated.
According to our tests, the screen reproduces a good 114.5 percent of the color gamut. That's slightly below but comparable to the Dell XPS 15's 115 percent and the 15-inch MacBook Pro's 117 percent.
At 359 nits, this panel is very bright as well, surpassing the MacBook Pro's 354 nits. The XPS 15 was even brighter at 371 nits.
The good news is that the stereo speakers on the LG Gram get fairly loud and deliver fairly crisp audio. On Grouplove's "Tongue Tied," Christian Zucconi's soaring vocals and the acoustic guitar strums sounded distinct. My only issue is that the bottom-mounted speakers can be easily muffled if you have the system in your lap or on any other surface that's not hard.
The LG Gram 17 definitely isn't the fastest laptop in its class, partially because it doesn't offer discrete graphics. It's equipped with a Whiskey Lake 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8565U processor, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD with Intel UHD 620 graphics.
In my testing, I found the Gram 17 swift in keeping up with my usual workload. With 25 tabs open in Google Chrome and Spotify streaming in the background, I had no problem hopping between tabs and then streaming trailers like Spider-Man: Far From Home on YouTube.
On Geekbench 4, the Gram 17 turned in a score of 13,557, which is above the premium laptop average of 12,479 but behind powerhouses like the Dell XPS 15 (Core i7-8750H; 19,775) and 15-inch MacBook Pro (Core i9-8950HK; 23,138). The Kaby Lake-powered HP Spectre x360 15-inch also turned in a higher score (15,340).
It was a similar story with our video-editing test. The Gram 17 was better than average but behind the fastest premium laptops. When transcoding a 4K video to 1080p in the Handbrake app, it took the LG system 19 minutes and 18 seconds. That's quicker than the 21:52 average, but the XPS 15 and MacBook Pro both took closer to 10 minutes. The Spectre x360 15-inch needed 15:01.
The LG Gram 17 didn't take that long to match 60,000 names and addresses in Excel, totaling 1 minute and 18 seconds. The typical premium laptop takes 1:31. However, LG's closest competitors took under a minute.
I was hoping for a faster SSD from the Gram 17. On our file copy test, we saw a data rate of just 203 MBps. That's less than half the premium laptop average of 527 MBps.
You can play some casual 3D games on the Gram 17, as evidenced by our playthrough on the Dirt 3 racing game. The laptop averaged 54 frames per second on low settings and 1080p resolution. Still, that's 20 frames below the average.
The Gram 17's main selling point is its portability, but its superb battery life is a close second. On the Laptop Mag battery test, which involves continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of screen brightness, the Gram 17 latest 11 hours and 57 minutes. That's over 3 hours longer than the premium laptop average (8:31).
By comparison, the Dell XPS 15 endured for a nearly equal 11 hours and 53 minutes, but the 15-inch MacBook Pro was over an hour behind at 10:21. The HP Spectre 360 15-inch wasn't even in the same universe at 5:20.
The Gram 17 exhibited good endurance in everyday use as well. After I started using the laptop heavily unplugged at 6:45 a.m., I was down to 50 percent at 11:14 a.m., and Windows estimated I still had 4 hours left.
Although you may not use the Gram 17 in your lap that often, it should stay cool to the touch. After playing a full-screen HD video for 15 minutes, the underside reached only 89 degrees. We consider anything above 95 degrees uncomfortable. The area between the G and H keys got to 94 degrees and the touchpad hit just 80 degrees.
Well, it's decent, but nothing more. I used the HD webcam for a few Google Hangout meetings, and it did a nice job capturing the red and blue in my shirt, but the white drawstrings on my hoodie got blown out. I also noticed some noise in the image.
LG includes a handful of utilities on the Gram 17, including LG Control Center for easy access to system settings like color temperature and allowing the USB-C port to charge external devices. There's also LG Update center for keeping your system up to date. Two other applications, LG Easy Guide 2.0 and LG Troubleshoot 2.0, were not enabled on this laptop.
For multimedia buffs, LG also bundles PhotoDirector, PowerDirector and PowerDVD for free from CyberLink. And, yes, there's some bloatware, too, including Candy Crush Friends Saga and Cooking Fever.
LG's first couple of Gram laptops impressed with their lightweight designs, but they fell short in other areas, whether it was battery life, performance or build quality. The Gram 17 is a big step forward for the brand, offering a bright and colorful 17-inch display in a design so light you'll do a double take. The battery life is fantastic as well at close to 12 hours.
The Gram 17 may not provide the performance creative pros are looking for, and you don't get discrete graphics or a touch screen. I got used to the slightly off-center keyboard, but it will take some adjustment at first.
Some may prefer the Dell XPS 15 for its slimmer bezels and optional Nvidia GPU. But, overall, the Gram 17 is a winner and is a laptop I would gladly use for work and play.
Credit: Laptop Mag