With the new LG Gram 17 for 2020, LG has tried to make a laptop that's both super-light, and super-large – a laptop that doesn't make much of a compromise on screen size or portability, in a market where you usually have to choose between one or the other.
The laptop boasts a high-resolution 17-inch display, and yet weighs in at a mere 1,350 grams (that's nearly 3 lbs). You might think it's missing some components when you pick it up, though the full keypad and expansive screen means it's not all that easy to lug around.
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There's plenty to like under the hood as well, with the LG Gram 17 available with a choice of 10th-gen Intel Core processors and up to 24GB of RAM. The review model that we've been busy testing comes with a quad-core Intel Core i7-1065G7 CPU and 16GB of RAM.
That's combined with 512GB of on-board SSD storage, making this a laptop that's capable of doing light-to-medium tasks with ease – it's only the integrated Intel Iris Plus graphics that stop you from doing any heavy video editing or gaming on this LG Gram 17 laptop.
LG Gram 17 (2020) review: design and setup
In case you missed it, there was also a 2019 version of the LG Gram 17, and this 2020 edition adds some small improvements (including a redesigned hinge) without messing with the original formula too much. 17-inch laptops aren't all that popular with either users or manufacturers because of their excess size, but LG has done a good job here – the thin bezels on the display and the lightweight, premium construction mean the computer is just about as portable as it possibly can be (though you might struggle to open it on a cramped train seat).
Besides the very light weight of the LG Gram 17, which we've already noted, it's also an extremely well designed laptop – open or closed, it looks thin and stylish, and it's absolutely going to add a touch of class to any desk you open it up on (assuming it's a big enough desk to fit it). Added to that it's passed the standard MIL-STD-810G military testing for reliability and durability, which is reassuring.
Besides not weighing down your bag and being lovely to look at, the LG Gram 17 is also a pleasure to work with, thanks to the textured nano carbon and magnesium alloy finish: it feels like a quality product, if ever so slightly plasticky, and typing is a fast and comfortable experience. The trackpad, while it doesn't quite match the sensitivity and the delicateness of something like the MacBook Pro trackpads, is spacious and responsive too.
The screen isn't fully flippable though, so you can't bend this over and use it as a tablet. Meanwhile, Setting up Windows on the LG Gram 17 is no problem, and we're pleased to see a fingerprint sensor embedded in the power button too – it's good news that more and more laptops are coming with this feature now, as it makes logging in a breeze.
LG Gram 17 (2020) review: performance and features
Our review model LG Gram 17 came with a quad-core 10th-gen Intel Core i7-1065G7 processor, 16GB of RAM, 512GB of SSD storage, and Intel Iris Plus integrated graphics. That's definitely enough grunt to breeze through most everyday tasks, and we were able to load up several dozen browser tabs and do some serious image editing without the laptop showing signs of faltering. Startup and login times were mere seconds, though Windows being Windows this will no doubt slow down over time.
Compromises have to be made to get a laptop to this sort of lightness and thinness though, and it's not suitable for gaming or heavy-duty video editing. The fans did kick in rather more than we would have liked (while just watching movies in some cases), but to be fair they don't make a lot of noise and you'll hardly notice they're there. There are plenty of ports too, which is another plus: Thunderbolt 3, HDMI, USB-A (x3), miniSD and a headphone jack are all catered for.
The 17-inch display is running at a super-sharp resolution of 2560 x 1800 pixels, which shows off everything really well, from movies to webpages, it's a gorgeous screen to look at, with bezels so thin you'll hardly notice them. We're also big fans of the 16:10 aspect ratio on laptops – admittedly there's more letterboxing when it comes to movies, but you get so much more viewable space for documents and websites. Contrast and brightness are excellent, though of course the brighter you have the display (and the keyboard backlight), the quicker the battery will run out.
LG promises you'll get around 17 hours of battery life between charges, which is a bit optimistic based on our testing – though with undemanding tasks and the display on a low brightness setting you might get close to that. We were certainly able to get through a working day of 8-9 hours with plenty left in the tank, which is about as much as most people will need. In our one-hour video streaming test, using the default system configuration on battery power (with the screen slightly dimmed), the battery level went down from 100 percent to 91 percent – not a bad effort.
LG Gram 17 (2020) review: price and verdict
A huge display and a lightweight form factor and some decent internal specs all come at a cost of course – this will set you back £1,399 and up in the UK, depending on your configuration, so we're not talking budget Chromebook prices. If you're in need of a screen this big though, and you don't need to do any gaming or any demanding video editing, then the LG Gram 17 still has plenty of appeal even at this high price.
We especially like the design and the experience of using the LG Gram 17, and of course the way LG has managed to cram some very good components into a chassis that's so thin and so light. It really is a lovely laptop to use and to look at, and it was difficult to part with the device at the end of the review period – a sure sign that a gadget has been genuinely useful to our everyday workflow.
All that said, it's not the most powerful or the most affordable of laptops, and the fans kick in a bit more than we would like. To be fair, those are all signs of the constraints LG is working under to get a 17-inch laptop into a form factor like this – it's done a fantastic job overall, but it's worth mentioning the compromises that have been made. There aren't many negatives here.
We suspect more people are going to opt for a 15-inch or 16-inch laptop rather than making the jump to 17-inch – and if you need a 17-inch screen you might well want to opt for a chunkier, more powerful laptop that just stays put on a desk – but if the LG Gram 17 has the specific set of features you need, then it's an excellent purchase. It's difficult to go back to a smaller laptop after getting used to this.