LG Gram 17 Thin And Light Review – Almost Perfect, But Not For Gamers
LG Gram 17
Typically here at Wccftech, we focus on gaming-centric devices whether that be mice to headphones, but occasionally we get to suit up to get some work done. That's exactly what the LG Gram 17 is all about. If you're here to find out how awesome of a gaming system this can be with the 10th Gen Intel Core i7-1065G7 with Iris Plus graphics is then you're going to be underwhelmed, although tagging in an external GPU with the included Thunderbolt 3 port might change that story a bit.
The LG Gram 17 is all about getting work done and letting you work as long as possible without being tethered to a wall, and it excels in several ways of doing that. The idea for LG here is to break the mold of so many 15.6" 1080p screen laptops that so many people and carryons prefer because of their size. Let's be honest here, 17" laptops are absurdly large and not typically portable at all. Well, LG took the 17" screen size, made it 16:10 rather than 16:9 allowing for some footprint shrinkage on the sides, then kept the bezels and size of the laptop so small that it occupies the same space as most 15.6" 1080p laptops but gives you a full-size keyboard that isn't cramped AND a MASSIVE 2560x1600 desktop resolution to work in. But is it really that good?
The configuration that LG sent over for us to evaluate includes:
- Quad-Core 10th Gen Intel Core i7-1065G7 Processor 15w Configuration 1.3GHz base 3.9GHz turbo
- Graphis by Intel Gen11 Iris Plus graphics
- 17" LG WQXGA 2560x1600 IPS panel
- 1TB NVMe (2x512GB not raided)
- 16GB DDR4 3200 (8GB soldered, 8GB SO-DIMM)
- 80Wh Battery
- Backlit keyboard (white LED)
- Metal Alloy (Nano Carbon with Magnesium) shell weighing around 3lbs
- Measuring 15" x 10.5" x .07"
- Included LG barrel port charger, can also charge through Thunderbolt 3 port
- Price as configured $1,849.99
Build and I/O
We mentioned in the specs listing that the casing of the LG Gram 17 is made of a Metal Alloy that consists of their Nano Carbon design with the use of Magnesium. Thanks to this the Gram is able to be made very thin and light, weighing around 3 pounds, while still maintaining rigidity so that it doesn't flex under its own size. The lid can easily be lifted with one hand, which is a feat because the screen stays in place once set but is just loose enough to not pull the base up while trying to open.
The lid of the laptop is a very clean finish with a very classy non-lit GRAM logo and no other accents. The bottom of the Gram is adorned with rubber feet as well as rubber screw covers, these are nice to look at but if you ever need to access the inside of the laptop you're going to have to pry them off in order to access the screws hidden beneath them. One interesting note is the lack of ventilation across the bottom, we'll touch on that later.
The left side of the Gram houses the standard barrel charging port, a single USB 3.0 Type-A port, an HDMI port, and the Thunderbolt 3 port. The Gram can be charged through the Thunderbolt port so if you would rather set up desk space at work with a TB3 hub you won't have to worry about lugging around the included charger, and concurrently if you don't like those types of chargers you can opt for this route instead. The right side of the laptop features a Kensington lock, 2x USB 3.0 Type-A ports, a combo headphone/mic port, and a Micro SD card reader (I can't help but feel like there is enough room and more use for a full-size SD card reader on this)
The keyboard side of the laptop carries the same signature we've become accustomed to with the Gram by now, clean and no-frills. We'll drill more into the keyboard and the touchpad.
LG is in a unique position when it comes to display technology, they make their own. This means they are able to source EXACTLY what they want for the Gram as well as have much tighter quality control than buying in bulk from another vendor like so many other laptop makers have to resort to. Because of this, they're one of the few using such a large and vibrant panel on a thin and light laptop. It's more than typical to be limited to a 15.6" 1080p panel in this overall size class and being able to have access to a 17" screen rocking a massively increased resolution 2560x1600, one caveat is that it's a glossy finish that could cause issues with reflections while outdoors or in brightly lit areas.
To those who would question the use for such a resolution on a mid-sized laptop are likely serial workers, meaning they usually only ever have one program at a time going. This high of a resolution makes the Windows Snap feature your best friend. To those who are rocking spreadsheets and word processing documents will find being able to open up multiples of either and snapping them to quadrants or halves while still having a very generous working space will find it hard to EVER go back to a cramped 1080p panel to get work done.
What about quality? Thanks to Datacolor and their Spider X Elite we're able to get a better idea of the panel outside of just sRGB coverage. The 17" panel does have a great sRGB coverage of 99% and an Adobe RGB 74% with a maximum luminance of 350nits. We've got a very vibrant and fairly accurate screen with some excellent viewing angles making for sharing workflow with those around you a breeze.
The Datacolor Spider X Elite also lets us get a clear and non-subjective look at color uniformity as well as luminance uniformity. These are important metrics because often numbers for marketing are derived from a single point in the center of the screen, but this can give us a look across the entire panel to judge it's quality. Thankfully in both metrics of color and luminance uniformity, the LG Gram doesn't exhibit a wild range staying quite consistent. While the images may seem drastic in the charts they really aren't, the coloring is a bit exaggerated to show the deltas between regions.
Keyboard and Touchpad
Okay, clearly your eyes are getting a treat with the LG Gram, what about your fingers? The full keyboard is chicklet style with nice spacing between the keys and the backlight has two levels of adjustability with the addition of being able to turn them off. The switch action of the keys is solid with a nice travel distance so you know you're punching the keys for god's sake. You do get a full-size keyboard along with an appropriate 10-key area and the biggest addition of all, proper arrow keys and no scrunched up right shift key, the LG Gram nails the keyboard all around.
The precision touchpad is excellent. I say that as someone who doesn't like when laptops are missing the physical left and right mouse buttons, but the clicks are clear, precise, and never miss a beat (more than I can say for my Asus TUF Gaming laptop). The gestures all work as expected and it features some of the best palm detection I've experienced. When I've used a mouse with the Gram while docked at my desk there was not a single time through typing that my wrist caused the mouse cursor to move about on the screen and interrupt my workflow.
The audio experience of the LG Gram is NOT going to win any awards today. The Gram features my least favorite arrangement for speakers with them being located on the bottom of the laptop. This results in a very inconsistent experience. Honestly, when it comes to audio on this puppy you're going to be reliant on headphones or external speakers or a good media consumption experience.
Storage and Battery Life
The storage for the LG Gram is a very interesting mix. It is nice to see the laptop carrying dual NVMe slots with each being populated with a 512GB drive. This configuration means you'll find two storage locations in your computer's folders which might confuse the less enthusiast users but does allow for flexibility. Each drive performs well enough with 3150MB/s sequential read performance as well as 2030MB/s write performance. I can't help but wonder how performance would be if they had been raided in a raid 0 configuration, but that would increase the likelihood of issues.
The LG Gram comes packed, loosely, with an 80Wh battery that sits comfortably under the touchpad and gives this large paneled laptop a pretty impressive lifespan off the charger. We used PCMark10's Batter benchmark under the Modern Office workload with the laptop's screen set to 80% and the keyboard backlight disabled and it took about 8.5 hours for the laptop to enter the 'power saving mode' with still having around 2 hours left on the battery. I set the screen to 50% and the time to enter 'power saving mode' was just over 10 hours with 2 hours left after entering that mode. By comparison, the Razer Blade Stealth 13, with the same 50% screen setting and keyboard backlight disabled, came in just over 6 hours showing the strong battery life of the Gram with it's 17" panel to light and drive vs the 13" on the Stealth.
CPU Performance And Cooling
The decision for LG going with the 15w variant of the Ice Lake powered Intel Core i7-1065G7 is fairly obvious, efficiency and battery life. While there are many out there that will undoubtedly scream for a Ryzen 4000 series option in this laptop, well they didn't exist when this model shipped. Maybe one day we'll see options with higher core count variants from the red team, but for now it's Ice Lake only.
The 15w option was clearly targeted 100% at optimizing battery life while still getting as much oomph as they could from the i7-1065G7. Thankfully the integrated graphics of Ice Lake's Gen11 GPU really are beneficial for driving a much higher than normal resolution than you get with most laptops in this size category. But, I am a bit underwhelmed with the cooler they attached to it since while it is quiet and unobtrusive during even the heaviest of workloads, it does limit the performance and can reach temperatures of around 90C during long all core workloads, resulting in the CPU sitting around 1.6GHz.
During normal operations such as browsing, spreadsheet word, including combinations of spreadsheets, browsing, and video watching you will see good strong clock speeds from across the board. In the comparisons for the performance, we used the results from our Razer Blade Stealth 13 with the 15w i7-1065G7 for reference. The big thing to keep in mind is that the Razer Blade Stealth was built as a high-performance ultrabook with gaming in mind and had a much more robust cooling solution.
The CPU is only one part of the equation for its performance, the other is memory. While the Steath 13 was paired up with DDR4 3733, the Gram gets the Ice Lake rate DDR4 3200 which does impact its performance in a negative manner, or rather the Stealth gets a boost in performance due to its higher memory speed. The Gram arranges its memory with an 8GB capacity soldered to the board and the other 8GB coming from a single SO-DIMM, so if you decide to expand you'll be limited to an 8GB + your choice.
If I had to make one request for the design here is to increase the size of the cooler, there's plenty of room and it wouldn't add much to the weight. There's room to nearly double the size and add in a second fan, one that would simply not activate unless the laptop was on wall power. This could allow for longer sustained turbo clocks and reduced noise and thermals.
This is not a thing here, simply put you don't buy the LG Gram for gaming. If you're in the market for portability, battery life, and gaming something like the Razer Blade Stealth 13 would indeed be a better option. But, if you're just wanting to play some older games at 1280x800 and use integer scaling to stretch it out cleanly, that's certainly an option. I played a few hours of Elite Dangerous on here using that resolution with modest settings and found it to be perfectly playable. Now if you're thinking something like the recently released Halo Master Chief Collection? You'll be playing that in the classic graphics as it tanks when turned onto the modern settings.
Thanks to the Thunderbolt 3 port you do have the option to add in an external GPU enclosure to hook up to a monitor or feed back into the laptop for a graphics boost when you're at home. Although I would imagine nothing more than a GTX 1650 SUPER or RX 5500XT would be appropriate for this arrangement.
So, LG delivered with the Gram. It has a simple design, a gorgeous screen, a monstrous battery, and the overall experience is simply wonderful. But is this the laptop for you at around $1800? That's not as tough of a question to answer as some may think. If you're a gamer who wants that massive 17" high resolution screen that simply glows with excellence, you're out of luck. This is not a gamer's paradise by a long shot. If you're a heavy video editor I would wager to look elsewhere as well. I did use it to edit a few videos in Davinci Resolve and while I found navigating and scrubbing to be a positive experience I can't say the same for the wait for optimized files to take place and final export times.
Now, if your jam is photo editing, spreadsheet tackling, word processing, video consumption, conference calls, all-day battery, ample workspace, a great touchpad, and a good keyboard? Well, the LG Gram might be right up your alley. It delivers on the daily workflow for a vast majority of people out there. The large screen and small footprint make it a very unique option for those who find themselves cramped up on a 1080p panel and need a secondary portable screen to really work effectively when on the go. The LG Gram is all business, but has a little play on the side and is definitely deserving of an Editors Choice award.
The LG Gram is all business, but has a little play on the side and is definitely deserving of an Editors Choice award.
- Large 17" 2560x1600 display
- Same footprint as 15.6" laptops
- Great touchpad
- Solid build quality
- Long battery life
- Decent keyboard
- Very light for size
- Fast storage with two drive bays
- Only one SO-DIMM Slot for memory expansion with 8GB soldered
- Barrel charger and not Type C charger
- Weaker CPU and Memory performance than comparable spec laptops