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Lifewire / Jonno Hill
Relatively small footprint
Impressive battery life
A bit expensive
No discrete graphics
Somewhat flimsy feeling
The LG Gram 17 is a very capable productivity laptop featuring a shockingly light design and thin bezels, making it great for those that prioritize screen real estate and portability over everything else.
The market for 17-inch laptops might not be massive, but the LG Gram 17 certainly makes a compelling argument in their favor. Traditionally the two largest drawbacks to 17-inch laptops are the physical footprint, and the weight, both of which make these large laptops less than portable. The LG Gram does away with both of these problems with its 2.95 pound body and thin bezels, packing a 17-inch screen in a 15-inch body.
LG further supports this laptop with a better than average suite of specs, including an 8th gen i7-8565 processor, 512GB SSD, and 16GB of RAM. This laptop unsurprisingly omits a discrete graphics card in its slender 0.7-inch thick frame, so don’t plan on doing any gaming or similarly heavy graphics work, but it should otherwise stand up to just about any task.
Without question, the first thing you will notice when you take the LG Gram 17 out of its box is how light it is. Weighing less than 3 pounds, it’s trivial to lift, hold, and carry with one hand. For reference, a current-generation 15-inch MacBook Pro weighs in at just over 4 pounds, so it’s a funny feeling to hold a larger laptop that weighs less. There haven’t been any great miracles worked here—the reduced weight comes at the cost of a flimsier feeling construction that lacks the sturdiness of heavier laptops.
Despite the slim frame, the LG Gram 17 still manages a fair amount of connectivity. The left side of the device contains a USB-A, HDMI, and USB-C ports, while the right side houses two USB-A ports, a headphone jack, and a microSD card reader. This may not be an overabundance of connectivity options, but it's more than we’ve come to expect from modern laptops.
The market for 17-inch laptops might not be massive, but the LG Gram 17 certainly makes a compelling argument in their favor.
The keyboard takes advantage of the sizeable frame and provides a full-size layout complete with numpad. The keys themselves are a bit on the mushier side, but after a bit of acclimation, we were able to type quickly enough to not be an issue. One peculiarity that might bothersome, however, is the placement of the touchpad square in the middle instead of aligned with the main key rows. This did cause us to accidentally move the cursor while typing on plenty of occasions.
Finally, the fingerprint sensor, located directly on the power button on the top right corner of the keyboard, performed fairly well in our tests. This placement, although precarious in theory, didn’t cause any mishaps during our testing. This placement is actually somewhat advantageous—if you turn on the laptop using a finger registered to the fingerprint sensor, it wakes straight into Windows seamlessly without even hitting the login prompt.
The LG Gram 17 arrives in a minimally packaged box containing only the essentials: The laptop itself, the charger, a manual, and an adapter for the USB-C port. LG definitely gets high marks on setup, requiring minimal steps to get set up and begin using your device right away. You will be prompted to enter the standard information any Windows laptop will ask—like your Wi-Fi credentials, a username and password, your timezone, and if you’d like, a fingerprint impression.
Once you’ve completed setup, you’ll be introduced to the LG Update Center, designed to handle both Windows updates and updates to LG’s software on the laptop. Thankfully, this software is very discreet and hands-off, not overstepping its intended purpose. LG is very light on 3rd party software bundled with the laptop, containing only a handful of bespoke applications which we will cover in greater detail in the Software section. Suffice it to say, there is a lot less bloatware than we normally find on laptops.
The large, bright 17-inch 2560 x 1600 IPS display is definitely the centerpiece of the LG Gram 17. It strikes the perfect balance of size to resolution ratio. Having a 16:10 aspect ratio instead of 16:9 definitely gives the feeling that you have more room to play around with.
We were impressed by how bright and vivid colors were on this display when watching video content. The IPS display is sharp, featuring attractive colors and satisfying contrast. Keep in mind though that while watching most standard 16:9 content, you aren’t taking advantage of all 17 inches of the display, and will see black bars on the top and bottom.
The large, bright 17-inch 2560 x 1600 IPS display is definitely the centerpiece of the LG Gram 17.
Productivity is definitely where this laptop shines. The large, tall screen makes it really perfect for getting things done. It’s easy to throw a couple of applications side by side and have plenty of real estate to work with. Even if you don’t feel like you’re missing much on your current laptop, it’s definitely nice to be able to scroll less and see more at-a-glance.
The IPS display also performs admirably by most other metrics that buyers will care about, such as a maximum brightness high enough to be usable outdoors. Additionally, the display looks great from off-angles, losing very little brightness when viewed from the sides, and showing no signs of color shift.
The LG Gram 17 performed well in our tests, managing a 3,851 score in PCMark 10. As mentioned previously, this laptop is best suited for productivity-related tasks. The absence of a dedicated graphics card means that it won’t be able to keep up in anything beyond casual games and very light video editing workloads, but so long as you avoid these types of tasks you shouldn’t really notice any shortcomings. The 16GB of RAM and 8th gen Intel i7 made using the Gram 17 a fast, responsive experience in everyday and work-related tasks.
We did nonetheless test the LG Gram 17 in some less demanding games, such as Slay the Spire, a roguelike card game with relatively undemanding graphics. We were able to play the game, but definitely noted some lag that made gameplay a little less pleasant.
Having 16GB of Memory and a 512GB SSD makes the Gram a great choice for productivity purposes. We had no problem working with many browser windows open at the same time and switching back and forth between different applications. Shoppers looking to find a laptop with ample screen real estate and the specs necessary to deliver good performance now and into the future will be pleased with what the LG Gram 17 offers.
The speakers on The LG Gram 17 are an afterthought at best, offering meek sounding audio originating from ill-placed speaker grills on the bottom. To make matters worse, these speakers are easily covered and muffled when it sits on your lap. Even when the stars aligned and we happened to leave the speakers unobstructed, we weren’t impressed by the sound offered. In short, get ready to use headphones or external speakers, and don’t plan on having any movie viewing parties with it either.
Keep in mind though that while watching most standard 16:9 content, you aren’t taking advantage of all 17 inches of the display, and will see black bars on the top and bottom.
Wi-Fi on the LG Gram 17 gave us no trouble, offering a strong signal and speeds in any of the public and private environments we tested in. LG uses the Intel Wireless AC 9560 Wi-Fi adapter, the fastest of such chips currently on offer from Intel. This Wi-Fi adapter has a theoretical max speed of 1.73Gbps and offers a 2x2 antenna configuration, though you’re unlikely to ever hit such a high download speed.
The 720p webcam on the LG Gram 17 is nothing to write home about, and probably won’t be the platform you use for taking your next headshot or dating profile picture. The camera has a tendency to blow out the background in an attempt to keep the subject in focus, and there is a plainly visible amount of noise in the image even in generous daylight conditions. Nonetheless, it will serve fine for teleconferencing purposes.
The LG Gram 17 is equipped with a more than capable battery that offers up to 19.5 hrs of battery life, according to LG. In our tests, the laptop averaged around 14 hours during mixed daily use—still quite a great deal. This is likely due to a mixture of the larger than average battery, lack of a discrete graphics card, and an energy-efficient display. This is about as good as you can hope for in a laptop, to be honest, and a surprising achievement for such a light and thin one. If time between charges is a concern for you, take note.
When running Battery Eater Pro to push the laptop to its limits, it kicked the bucket in just over 2 hours and 30 minutes. This may seem like a very short time, but it’s still considerably better than any of the other 17-inch laptops we tested using this brutal benchmark.
The LG Gram 17 comes with a fairly vanilla installation of Windows 10 Home, offering very little in the way of custom third party applications or other types of bloat. In our eyes, this is a big plus, as having numerous added applications can slow systems (and users) down, and often serve as yet another piece of software to keep up to date.
The three main pieces of software we did find pre-installed were the LG Update Center, LG Control Center, and Reader Mode. LG Update Center helps manage Windows updates in addition to driver updates, and does so without being overly complicated or intrusive.
As it stands, you won’t find a lighter, smaller 17-inch laptop than the LG Gram 17.
The LG Control Center gives users quick access to common system functions like power management, Windows security, and system settings. You can control the volume, disable the touchpad temporarily, manage screen and keyboard backlight brightness, and more. This might not be altogether necessary, but users can simply not use it if they wish.
Finally, the LG Gram 17 comes with Reader Mode as a pre-installed app that runs in the background on startup and is accessible from the taskbar. Switching it on changes the color temperature of the display to filter out blue light (by default) and make night-time and low-light usage more pleasant. You can also take control of the adjustments that Reader Mode makes, controlling the brightness, contrast, and gamma adjustments for red, green, and blue independently. This seems excessive, but we can’t fault LG too much for giving users more control.
At an MSRP of $1,700, the LG Gram 17 is not particularly affordable, and even less so when compared to similar options in the market. For this price, we would normally expect to get a discrete graphics card and the expanded possibilities that come with it. The premium you are paying for in this case isn’t sheer price-to-performance but portability and form factor. On these fronts, the LG Gram 17 definitely shines.
These two laptops share very little in common other than both having 17-inch displays and the same Intel processor. The VivoBook has a lower resolution (1920 x 1080 versus 2560 x 1600) display, larger bezels, chunkier body, smaller battery, and weighs over 50 percent more (4.6 versus 2.95 pounds). The VivoBook, on the other hand, has an Nvidia GTX 1050 graphics card and costs far less ($1,099 vs $1,699).
If form factor and portability are higher on your list, the LG probably still wins out, but where price-to-performance is concerned, the VivoBook Pro 17 wins handily.
A featherweight champion for productivity.
As it stands, you won’t find a lighter, smaller 17-inch laptop than the LG Gram 17. LG is aware of how valuable this is to buyers that care about these metrics, and has priced their laptop accordingly. If you are shopping for what the Gram has on offer, we can’t imagine you’ll be too disappointed. This is a smart, capable laptop that delights in daily use.
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