LG Gram 17 review: Slim and sophisticated

A business-ready notebook that manages to be simultaneously big and small

IT Pro Innovation
Price
£1,599 exc VAT
  • Outstanding display
  • Astonishingly thin and light design
  • Plenty of ports
  • Disappointing multi-core performance

LG has recently bowed out of the smartphone game, but while some have mourned the decision, we couldn’t be more thrilled – principally because it means the company has more resources to devote to its increasingly impressive laptop division.

The latest output from this range is the LG Gram 17, an entry into the comparatively underserved category of large-format ultraportables. While that may sound like a slight oxymoron, the Gram 17 earns its name, embodying a slim but surprisingly sophisticated business notebook.

LG Gram 17 review: Design

From a design perspective, the Gram 17 is the definition of minimalism; a flat slab with almost no branding, save for a silver ‘gram’ logo on the lid and a small LG logo hidden just below the screen. The matte-black finish looks suave and elegant – like the monolith from 2001 in a tuxedo – but it picks up fingerprints astonishingly quickly, so you may want to keep some wet wipes on hand. 

It’s also pretty impressively svelte for a 17in device, measuring just 17.8mm thick and weighing a scant 1.35kg. That’s barely more than the MSI Prestige 14 Evo, despite this laptop’s considerably larger footprint. This does bring with it some compromises, however. The magnesium alloy chassis doesn’t have the reassuring sturdiness of other laptops with a thicker aluminium frame, and although LG says it has passed numerous MIL-STD 810G tests against things like dust ingress and drops, the Gram’s lid and base both have a little more flex than we’d like.

Still, it’s impressive that LG has managed to make a 17in device this unobtrusive, and it’s the most easily portable device of its size that we’ve ever seen. We’d have no qualms whatsoever about slinging this in a bag for extended trips.

LG Gram 17 review: Display

As you’d expect for a 17in laptop, it’s the screen that’s the real star of the show here. The sheer size means there’s plenty of real estate to work with, and its slim bezels offer a pleasingly immersive viewing experience. With a 16:10 aspect ratio, it’s a little taller than the average laptop display, while its resolution of 2,560 x 1,600 provides plenty of detail and crispness. 

What makes this a truly outstanding display for creative work, however, is its colour accuracy. Not only did it render 100% of the sRGB colour gamut, it also registered a total gamut volume of 101% of the DCI-P3 colour space, with a contrast ratio of 1,514:1 and an average Delta E reading of 0.67, which is close to perfect. On top of that, there’s a maximum brightness of 346cd/m2, and even a polarising layer to maximise readability in bright conditions. It’s about as close to perfect as you can get with a laptop display.

LG Gram 17 review: Keyboard and trackpad

The keyboard is another highlight. Like the screen, the large footprint gives the keyboard plenty of room to spread its elbows, so you get a full-size keyboard and number pad, complete with all the standard function keys you’d expect to find. The keyboard features two-stage backlighting, and a 1.65mm travel distance combined with smooth action and defined feedback mean the keys themselves are surprisingly pleasant to type on. 

The trackpad itself is also large and expansive, with a smooth glossy finish. Our sole complaint is that it’s surrounded on all sides by a substantial amount of space for expansion, which feels like a missed opportunity. It’s not cramped by any standard, but it would have been nice to see it rivalling the mighty MacBook’s trackpad for size.

LG Gram 17 review: Specs and performance

As impressive as the Gram 17’s size-to-weight ratio is, it’s impossible to achieve without making some sacrifices along the way. The flexible chassis is one, but sadly performance is another. The Gram 17 uses an Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor and 16GB of RAM – a capable enough set of components that should be able to produce a reasonable turn of speed.

However, when we ran it through our benchmarks, it only managed a rather meagre overall score of 86. That’s an advance on the 70 points achieved by last year’s Gram 17, but not by much – and it’s leagues behind the XPS 17 or anything with a Ryzen processor. Looking at the individual test scores, the laptop blazed through the single-core image editing tests, but underperformed when under load. 

Contrast that with the MSI Prestige 14 Evo, which sailed ahead of the Gram by more than 50 points; while the MSI had powerful fans to keep its internals cool, the focus on a slim frame means that the Gram 17 had a tendency to get hot under pressure, which can lead to thermal throttling issues. 

It’s not going to be a problem in day-to-day use if all you’re doing is checking emails and light spreadsheet maintenance, but if you’re planning to use this laptop’s professional-grade screen for professional-level graphics applications, then you’re probably going to struggle. That’s a shame, because everything else about this laptop is a powerhouse; even the storage’s sequential read and write speeds of 2,814MB/sec and 1,409MB/sec are extremely capable – although it’s still bafflingly supplied by two separate SSDs combined into a single 1TB pool.

LG Gram 17 review: Battery life

There’s good news on the battery front, too. Usually, we’d expect a screen as large and high-resolution as this to be a drain on the laptop’s battery life, but in our video playback test, the Gram 17 clocked in at 12hrs 52mins. That would be an excellent result even for a 13in laptop, so it’s even more impressive coming from a machine of this size. 

That’s almost two hours better than its predecessor’s score, and way out in front of the 7hrs 22mins time racked up by Apple’s Intel-powered 16in MacBook Pro. You’re unlikely to get a better battery life in this form factor, as most 17in devices (like the Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR YC) tend to be power-hungry mobile workstations rather than slim ultraportables. 

LG Gram 17 review: Ports and features

Another surprising element, given the relative thickness, is how many ports have been packed into this device. Not only do you get a pair of both USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports and Thunderbolt 4 ports, you also get a full-size HDMI port (which is a rarity on modern laptops) and a microSD card slot. Those Thunderbolt 4 ports also mean that you can drive two 4K monitors from the laptop, as well as delivering 40Gb/sec data transfer rates and up to 100W power delivery.

It’s equally well-equipped for features; there’s Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.12 connectivity, a fingerprint sensor for biometric login, a pair of surprisingly robust 2W speakers with Dolby DTS:X Ultra support, and built-in support for Amazon Alexa. That last feature feels somewhat redundant – especially as you’re never more than a couple of clicks away from a proper search engine if you’re already sitting at your laptop – but the rest of the Gram’s capabilities make it a highly well-rounded device for general business productivity.

LG Gram 17 review: Verdict

17in laptops have become a comparatively rare sight in recent years, but the LG Gram 17 reminds us why they still have a place in modern business. Large without being unwieldy, this expansive ultraportable blends a superb screen and a great battery life with all the features you could want.

That slim frame means it’s let down slightly by underwhelming multi-core performance, but providing you’re not planning to push it too hard, the Gram 17 more than makes up for this deficiency with its other qualities. Whoever said that bigger doesn’t mean better clearly never saw this laptop.

LG Gram 17 specifications

Processor

Intel Core i7-1165G7

RAM

16GB

Graphics adapter

Intel Iris Xe graphics

Storage

1TB (dual NVMe SSD slots)

Screen size (in)

17in

Screen resolution

2,560 x 1,600

Screen type

IPS

Touchscreen

No

Pointing devices

Trackpad

Memory card slot

MicroSD card slot

3.5mm audio jack

Yes

Graphics outputs

HDMI, 2x Thunderbolt 4

Other ports

2x USB 3.2 Gen2

Web Cam

HD webcam

Speakers

2x 2W speakers

Wi-Fi

Intel Wireless-AX201 (802.11ax, 2x2, Dual Band)

Bluetooth

Bluetooth 5.1

NFC

N/A

Dimensions, mm (WDH)

380 x 260 x 18mm

Weight (kg) - with keyboard where applicable

1.35kg

Battery size (Wh)

80Wh

Operating system

Windows 10 Home

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