LG Gram 17 2021 Review: Too Big to Handle

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The 2021 LG Gram 17 is a highly capable laptop with a ton of screen space and an all-day 80Wh battery.
The LG Gram 17 price is reasonable, and it’s as light as some 13-inch laptops.
The LG Gram 17’s biggest fault is that its ergonomics are hindered by its design and size.

The 2021 LG Gram 17 continues the Korean company’s efforts in the ultra thin-and-light laptop space, and though this 17-inch model by its nature ends up heavier than its smaller counterparts, it’s still an astoundingly light product for its size.

This time around, the LG Gram 17 isn’t just a simple Ultrabook – a specification for thin-and-light laptops set by Intel and other partners – but also an Intel Evo certified model. This is a newer specification that’s effectively a guarantee of snappy performance, long-lasting battery, and enhanced connectivity for both wired and wireless connections. That said, there aren’t a lot of changes from the previous model.

The LG Gram 17 I tested is the 17Z90P model, which costs $1,799 and currently appears to be the only version LG offers at this size. It is on the expensive side of the market for Ultrabooks, but comes with hardware inside to match the price. It sits in a similar position to the ever-popular Dell XPS family of high-end Ultrabooks.

Design and display

My first impression of the LG Gram 17 was of astonishment. A 17-inch laptop can only get so small, but it is a true shock to feel a laptop this large weighing just under three pounds – nearly as light as the Dell XPS 13 model with a touchscreen. With thin bezels around the display, it does manage to have a modest footprint and I could still slide it into my backpack, which was not designed to accommodate 17-inch laptops of the past.

LG’s design language is understated on this device. Whereas the Dell XPS family may be more flashy with their carbon fiber keyboard decks, the LG Gram 17 goes for an all-black

magnesium
alloy accented by the word “gram” in silver letters on the lid.

Despite its size and thinness, the LG Gram 17 feels fairly rigid. That applies most to the keyboard area with only slight flex. The display portion verges on flimsy, but that is natural for a display this large, thin, and light. The laptop’s hinge is smooth, holds its position well, and can be used with one hand. Large rubber feet on the base of the laptop also help keep it steady.

Mark Knapp/Insider

Even while keeping the chassis thin, LG has included lots of ports: two USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 ports, a microSD card slot, a lock slot, a 3.5 headset jack, dual

USB-C
4.0 / Thunderbolt 4 ports, and a full-size HDMI port. The USB-C ports also serve as the power port for charging, which makes their one-sided position a bit cramped. Wireless connectivity is also powered up with Wi-Fi 6 and

Bluetooth
5.1.

The 17-inch IPS (in-plane switching) panel packs in more pixels than before with a 2,560 x 1,600 resolution to stay crisp. That 16:10 aspect ratio has become popular for productivity-focused machines, as its extra vertical real estate is helpful for document work. The display is bright and colorful, offering 99% coverage of the DCI-P3 professional color space, though still limited to an 8-bit color depth.

In my testing, the display is bright enough to use even outside in the sun, albeit only for high-contrast tasks like reading and editing text. At 50% brightness, it’s still useful outside on an overcast day. The experience could have been improved with a matte finish, as the biggest distraction in those brighter conditions is the reflection on the glossy display.

Specifications

Performance

Battery life: 10+ hours (tested), 22+ hours (potential) Geekbench 5: 1,510 single-core; 4,896 Multi-core; 19,318 OpenGL Compute

The LG Gram 17 is as smooth as it is silent. With fast bootup and quick performance in general use, I haven’t seen it stumble. Better still, even while it’s on tasks with many webpages open in a Chrome browser, it hardly gets warm. I haven’t once heard fans running either, even during my benchmarking.

This model comes running an Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor with Intel Iris Xe Graphics. All the extra space to dissipate heat and keep running at high speeds may be what has allowed it to outperform the similarly equipped Dell XPS 13 in our tests while staying cool and quiet. The LG Gram 17 hit an average single-core score of 1,520 and a multi-core score of 4,896 in Geekbench 5. That’s a healthy lead over the Dell XPS 13’s 1,279- and 4,307-point scores, though still doesn’t keep up with the M1 MacBook Air’s 1,726- and 7,558-point scores.

The LG Gram 17 easily maintains this consistent performance even at lower settings while on battery. The only hiccup I’ve encountered was trying to play an

HBO Max
video in fullscreen, which saw it only occupy a portion in the top left of the display. This is likely an issue with HBO Max’s video player, as I didn’t run into the same issue on other streaming platforms

This laptop’s capacity for work is clearly stronger than its capacity for entertainment. This comes down to LG’s speaker placement. Despite loads of space on the top of the laptop, LG put the two 2-watt speakers on the bottom of the laptop. They are just loud enough for solo listening in a quiet space, but don’t hold up well if there’s much ambient noise.

Keyboard and touchpad

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The large size of the LG Gram 17 gives it plenty of space for a full keyboard with a number pad as well as a considerable touch pad. But, LG could have done a much better job placing these. The keyboard is so far up the base, to accommodate the trackpad with roughly an extra inch of buffer space on either end of the trackpad, that it’s a major reach to type on. Instead of comfortably resting my palms on the laptop surface, I find my forearms resting on the edge of the laptop, which becomes a pain quickly.

It’s really too bad this is the case, because the keyboard is otherwise kind of a joy to type on. LG has used key switches that have a pronounced pop to them alongside a 1.6mm travel. It’s still easy to type rapidly, but the keys are far less prone to mis-typing from gentle touches. The keyboard includes white backlighting for easy visibility in the dark, and the backlighting even covers the legend for keys’ secondary functions.

LG’s touchpad is also a great big tool. It offers plenty of space for swiping, scrolling, tapping, and multi-finger gestures. I can easily get four fingers on with space to spread out. Mostly it works without issue, though I noticed several occasions where it seems to get confused with two-finger scrolling, as it appears to register as a swipe and simply moves the cursor instead of scrolling.

Battery life and webcam

One big promise of the LG Gram 17‘s Evo certification is that it’ll have a large battery, and the Gram 17 seems to be making the most of its 80Wh battery. The laptop comes with an impressively light 65W charger. It doesn’t charge the laptop all that fast, but once the battery is juiced up, it’s ready to go for a long while.

With some modest considerations, the LG Gram 17 can readily handle an 8-hour workday. Through my battery test, the laptop saw its charge drain between 8% and 12% per hour. This test was done while working in Chrome with a few dozen tabs open with music playing from YouTube in one tab. The system was set to run at the Better Battery setting with the display at 50% brightness and only the Wi-Fi radio turned on. After four hours, the battery had drained to exactly 50%. That extrapolates to a full 8 hours on the battery, and it likely could go a deal longer with a lower power setting and a dimmer display (remember that 50% brightness was enough to see outdoors). I kept the computer running in total for just over 10 hours before the battery hit critical levels at 6%, at which point the battery gauge still estimated another hour of charge left, though it did shift into Battery Saver mode when it hit 15% around the 7.5-hour mark.

The webcam is much less impressive than the battery. The detail and color are rather poor. It looks like everything has a paint-like filter applied, as the image is somewhat flattened. It’s enough to get the job done, and thankfully LG stuck the webcam in the upper bezel so the angle isn’t awkward, but it’s a utilitarian inclusion.

The bottom line

Mark Knapp/Insider

The LG Gram 17 could have been a lot better. A great laptop would marry solid performance and parts with a design that doesn’t just look good but also feels good. The only part of that equation LG gets wrong is the feel. The huge space below the keyboard makes this laptop harder and less comfortable to use extensively. It’s an issue that may be somewhat resolved by going with one of the smaller models, though.

Should you buy it?

If you absolutely need all the screen space and don’t need to use the built-in keyboard for most of your work, the LG Gram 17 could be a good option. It certainly has the performance and battery for a lot of work, but it’s not well suited to a lot of typing.

What are your alternatives?

The LG Gram 16 still offers a pretty big display, the same 80Wh battery, and most of the same internals save for a 256GB solid-state drive (SSD) that’s much smaller than the Gram 17’s 1TB, but the Gram 16 also shaves a tidy $400 off the price tag. The smaller size might also solve the keyboard placement issue.

Alternatively, if you want a ton of performance in a thin-and-light laptop that can run for hours and hours, Apple’s M1-powered MacBook Air is a strong option and costs significantly less at $999. It may be a different operating system, but this is likely to only be an issue for very particular workloads with specific software dependencies.

Pros: Great display, excellent performance paired with long-lasting battery life, incredibly lightweight for its size, compact for a 17-inch laptop, silent and cool operation, large trackpad, good port selection

Cons: Keyboard position is suboptimal, glossy screen hinders outdoor use, poor speaker placement, can only plug in charger on left side

Mark Knapp

Freelance Reporter, Insider Reviews

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