Two minute review
When you pick up a 17-inch laptop like the LG Gram 17, you're likely expecting a device that is packing the most powerful hardware on the market, while simultaneously being big, bulky and heavy. Well, what if we told you that none of that is true about the LG Gram 17?
If you want to get your hands on the LG Gram 17, it'll set you back $1,749 (£1,549, about AU$2,450). For a 17-inch laptop with a Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM and 1TB of SSD storage – not to mention the 1,600p display, that's actually quite a bargain. Comparitively, the HP Envy 17 is cheaper at $1,399 (about £1,070, AU$1,960) but that's with single-channel RAM with its closes hardware configuration, and a much heavier 6.02 lb build – twice the weight of the LG Gram 17.
The laptop is packed with a top-end Intel Core i7-1065G7, but it's configured down to a 15W TDP, down from the 25W that you'll find in some more powerful configurations. To further hamper the maximum performance of this processor, LG has a pretty lightweight cooling solution on hand, which stops it from boosting quite as high as something like the Surface Book 3, which has the same processor at the same TDP, but is 28% faster in Cinebench R20. However, the Surface Book 3 is much heavier.
Here is the LG Gram 17 (2020) configuration sent to TechRadar for review:
CPU: 1.3GHz Intel Core i7-1065G7 (quad-core, 8MB Intel Smart Cache, up to 3.9GHz with Turbo Boost)
Graphics: Intel Iris Plus (integrated)
RAM: 16GB LPDDR4 (3,200MHz)
Screen: 17-inch WQXGA (2,560 x 1,600)
Storage: 2 x 512GB SSD (PCIe, NVMe, M.2)
Ports: 3 x USB-A 3.1, 1 x Thunderbolt 3, microSD card reader, combi audio jack, 1 x HDMI
Connectivity: Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX201 Bluetooth 5.0
Camera: 720p Webcam
Weight: 2.98 pounds (1.35kg)
Size: 15 x 10.3 x 0.7 inches (381 x 261 x 17.78 mm; W x D x H)
The LG Gram 17 weighs just 2.98 lbs and is just 0.7 inches thick, making it the most portable 17-inch laptop we've ever used. Just for comparison's sake, the Surface Book 3 we just mentioned is a 15-inch device and weighs more at 3.35lbs. Even the Dell XPS 15, which is a laptop we would love to carry around everywhere we go weighs more at 4.5lb.
So, basically, if you're looking for a laptop with a huge display and a numpad that you can easily carry around everywhere without weighing you down, the LG Gram 17 should be near the top of your list.
The laptop even has a wide selection of ports, which makes it excellent for working on the go. On the left-hand side of the laptop, you're getting a charging port, a USB-A, an HDMI-out and USB-C, which can also be used for charging. On the opposite side, you get MicroSD, two more USB-A ports and a lock. In a laptop this thin and light, the LG Gram 17 provides such a wealth of ports that we just can't help but wonder why everyone else keeps opting for just USB-C these days.
However, the thin and light design does have one critical drawback – durability. The keyboard deck and screen have a bit too much flex to give us much confidence in its ability to survive any kind of trauma. LG does claim that the magnesium-alloy chassis has passe 7 MIL-STD durability tests, but it's definitely a device that you don't want to subject to much bending or drops.
Despite the flexibility of the keyboard deck, typing on this laptop is an absolute dream come true. The LG Gram 17 keyboard is a pretty standard chiclet setup, but the keys have just the right amount of travel that typing is quiet and comfortable, without messing with our accuracy. Plus, there are more and more large laptops coming out that are doing away with numpads, and having one here is a dream come true, especially because it doesn't really make the rest of the keyboard feel cramped – again because of the sheer size of the device.
The touchpad gets the job done, too, and is honestly one of the better Windows trackpads we've used. It's still not quite as good as the trackpad on something like the Razer Blade 15 or a MacBook, but it's far from the worst, and gestures and tracking is nice and accurate.
The LG Gram 17's largest downfall, however, is likely going to come down to the speakers. They're bottom-firing, because we can't have nice things, and sound extremely flat. Listening to Caroline Polachek's "So Hot You're Hurting My Feelings" the driving bass that makes up so much of the texture of the song is just completely stripped out. The song still slaps, but it's just not the same as listening on competent speakers. Likewise, listening to Sisters of Mercy's "This Corrosion", the weak bass causes the backing vocals to outpower the main vocals, which takes away from that juicy gothic atmosphere that makes that band so good in the first place.
It's a shame because the display is so good. We're talking about a 2,560 x 1,600 IPS display with a 16:10 aspect ratio, which is frankly beyond amazing for getting some work done. But the display is also extremely colorful, which is great for watching some anime on your break – but, again, you'll have to deal with the weak speakers or plug in some headphones.
We already alluded to performance a little bit, but you really shouldn't expect the LG Gram 17 to be some ultra-powerful workstation. The CPU performance is dialed back to facilitate the lightweight cooling solution, which makes the LG Gram 17 score 1,227 points in Cinebench R20 and 3,274 points in the Geekbench 5 multi-core test. The Surface Book 3, with the same processor, configured to the same TDP scores 1,697 and 4,350 points in the same tests, respectively.
Here’s how the LG Gram 17 (2020) performed in our suite of benchmark tests:
3DMark Night Raid: 6,631; Fire Strike: 1,679; Time Spy: 711
Cinebench R20 CPU: 1,227
Geekbench 5 Single-Core: 1,290; Multi-Core: 3,274
PCMark 10 Home: 4,276
PCMark 10 Battery Life: 14 hours 28 minutes
Battery Life (TechRadar movie test): 9 hours 38 minutes
That makes Microsoft's flagship much better for heavy workloads, but the size of the display, inclusion of a numpad and the lightweight design means that this laptop is more geared to folks that just need to do some heavy Microsoft Excel work while traveling. This is definitely reflected in the battery life, too.
The LG Gram 17 is, without a doubt, the longest-lasting full-fat Windows 10 laptop we've ever tested, lasting a whopping 14 hours and 28 minutes in the PCMark 10 battery test, and a whole 9 hours and 38 minutes in our anecdotal movie playback test. The LG Gram won't just get you through your workday without needing a charger, it could probably get you through two if you're careful about battery usage.
For the right person – basically anyone that needs to do work with a big screen while traveling – the combination of a lightweight build, super long battery life and a high-resolution display is enough to earn the LG Gram 17 an easy recommendation. Sure, CPU performance isn't as high as we know the chip is capable of, but if it means we can pack a 17-inch laptop in our bags for the same weight as a 13-inch laptop, it's kind of something we're willing to live with.
Buy it if...
You travel a lot
Right now, we don't expect many people are doing heavy traveling, but if that's one of your strongest considerations for a laptop, you're not going to find a lighter 17-inch device.
You want a big, beautiful screen
The LG Gram 17's 17-inch, 2,560 x 1,600 display is big, bright and colorful, making work a breeze with that lovely 16:10 aspect ratio.
You do a lot of typing
The LG Gram 17 keyboard is seriously a delight to type on. Perfectly spaced with a good amount of travel, not to mention that it has a numpad.
Don't buy it if...
You need a lot of horsepower
Because of the lightweight design of the laptop, CPU performance takes a hit, due to the lighter cooling solution. This means that the LG Gram 17 could fall behind in some tasks.
You like good speakers
The LG Gram 17 speakers are emblematic of everything wrong with laptop speakers. They fire down at your table, have absolutely no bass and don't get very loud. You're going to need some headphones if you pick up this laptop.