Anton D. Nagy contributed to this LG Gram 17 review.
I think the value proposition of 17-inch laptops is kind of complicated. I’m not saying they don’t serve a market cause if not they wouldn’t exist, but historically they’ve been more desktop replacements than laptops.
If you would’ve asked me a week ago if I wanted one, I would’ve said no, but not for the average reason. What I do actually benefits from a powerful and portable machine with a larger-than-average screen real-estate, but since my travel needs are quite unique, I’ve made peace with the fact that if I were to pick between large or portable, I’d pick the latter. It’s come to the point where even if I know that my 16-inch MacBook Pro is the most powerful laptop I own, I travel with a 13-inch M1 because it’s nearly half the weight.
But I think that the last remark is the most important. My biggest problem was weight more than size. The only way I would be willing to look the other way is if someone somehow defied physics and gave us a lighter computer that was larger, which it turns out, has existed for quite a few years.
This is the 17-inch LG Gram, the company’s latest and most powerful laptop, and proof that I’m glad they didn’t pay attention to my emails. See I told them not to send me this machine. I chose a smaller variant for review because I felt there was just no way I could like this behemoth of a machine, and well. Let’s just say I was wrong in most things. This is our LG Gram 17 review.
Alright, so what is it that you look for in a Windows Laptop? For me, it’s power, portability, endurance, and a great experience in basics like the screen, trackpad, and keyboard. It’s sad to admit that actually very few companies get this balancing act right, and I didn’t know what to expect from LG. I love their TVs and Monitors, not so much their phones which went the way of the Dodo, and this is the first time I try their laptops
After a week of testing this computer, I’ll tell you there’s a lot to like, and it starts with most of the hardware. I’d call this probably just a bit too much minimalism as there’s not a single inch of pretension in this computer. People have even asked me if Gram is a brand cause it’s all you see. Now in honor of its name, its selling point is that no matter how you hold it, it just feels surreal to carry because of how light it is. The special magnesium alloy allows this computer to weigh only 2.98 lbs. For context, it’s just an ounce heavier than a MacBook Air, and two ounces lighter than a 13-inch MacBook Pro. Yes, I said 13-inch.
So yeah, imagine having a computer larger than a 16-inch MacBook Pro that weighs almost half of it, and costs a lot less money. If the added size is important to you, this might be one of the best options to consider. I did walk into this review with concerns on durability, but as I did my homework I realized Zack at JerryRigEverything already tried to destroy one of these and couldn’t. I mean, if anything can survive his tests, like who am I to argue? This is possible because this machine is MIL-SPEC 810G certified, meaning it’s sturdy enough to take a hard beating, though obviously not everything is covered, so make sure to read the fine print, and also stick around to the next section of the video as we discuss this further.
Now the second thing to like is that this computer addresses what most Windows laptops get wrong, and it is display quality. They usually lack resolution or fail at color reproduction or brightness. In true LG fashion, this is a fantastic IPS LCD at 2560 x 1600 resolution, meaning a more useful 16:10 aspect ratio. It supports the DCI-P3 color gamut so I have no problem recommending it for its accuracy. The added resolution doesn’t just provide crisper results, but it helps you take advantage of a canvas this large when multi-tasking, as you can reduce the scaling without losing detail. I wish every other company acknowledged this and moved away from 1080p on laptops.
Powering the show we’ve got the latest 11th-Gen Intel Core i7 with integrated XE graphics. There’s also as much RAM and Storage as anyone would want from a computer this large. I do find it interesting that LG was able to nail the EVO certification even with a more dense display. Could be that the massive 80-watt hour battery is what achieves the requirements, because yes, I’ve been able to use this computer unplugged for most of the day without a problem. It’s not the advertised 19 hours you see in the spec sheet, but enough to end a workday on my moderate to heavy use.
And then the last benefit about having a computer this large is that there is no excuse for more ports. We’ve got two USB-A 3.2 ports and microSD expansion on one side, and then two USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports, plus HDMI and a headphone jack on the other.
Right about now is when I get to the keyboard, and I think it’s the best way to switch gears and discuss the reasons why I’m mixed with this computer. You know there’s no such thing as a perfect product and this is one of them.
I have this love and hate relationship with this keyboard not because it’s not great. In a vacuum it is. It’s backlit, has great key travel, is silent, and yet manages to provide a fantastic feel on key presses. It’s got essential shortcuts like a secure mode to disable the HD webcam and microphone with a click, and even a very fast fingerprint scanner baked into the power button.
My problem is with all the wasted space around it, and how some design choices affect ergonomics. For example, the keyboard is stacked all the way to the top, leaving a massive set of armrests below, because they’re so large I wouldn’t even call them palm rests. Yes, some of that excess space is used by a numeric keypad on the right if that’s your jam. Sadly it’s not mine, but I feel the centered placement of the trackpad is what complicates that. If that were moved to the left, and the company would’ve tightened the space around it, I wouldn’t constantly press it with my right arm as I’m typing. That said, I’m mixed because it’s a fantastic trackpad. It’s large and handles gestures like butter, so maybe I just need to continue getting used to it.
Maybe if LG would’ve placed this keyboard lower and closer to the user it would create the separation you feel with a regular PC monitor and a separate keyboard. The company could’ve taken advantage of the top to make the speakers front-firing. As it stands, even if they’ve got a lot of juice at 5 watts, makes them ok, but not amazing.
Then there’s the case for LG’s software. There’s A LOT of it, and I’ve spent most of the week trying to disable as much as I can. I don’t need constant visual indicators of the Capslock button if the keyboard already has a light. And then there’s a ton of bloat that was clearly grandfathered from old partnerships, cause guys there’s even a PowerDVD app here. The problem with this excess software is that it gets in the way of common workflows. It took me forever to figure out how to disable the function lock for example because it’s buried in an LG control panel from 2012. I know I’m nitpicking but if we’re honest, the Windows 10 Home edition on this computer doesn’t need dualities. I seriously haven’t even enabled Amazon’s assistant because I can’t seem to find a use for it.
And last but not least in this LG Gram 17 review, at this price, well, it would’ve been great if this display was a touch screen. I’m not one to use them in this form factor, but I know it has a good enough fanbase of people that would ignore this computer for missing that. I think it could have to do with all LG had to do to keep this computer light cause even the flex on this display is kind of unnerving.
LG Gram 17 review conclusion
Because of all the aforementioned reasons
the LG Gram 17 is our pick
for the best 17-inch laptop.
To conclude our LG Gram 17 review, notice that this is another one of those products where I have a few things I’m mixed about, but really nothing I can say I don’t like. I think the best way to describe the LG Gram 17 is surreal, as I mentioned in the beginning. It’s massive but doesn’t feel that way, it’s powerful and yet somehow sleek, and it’s priced pretty aggressively for everything you’re getting.
If anything I would’ve loved to see some discrete graphics built-in at this size and price, but I do recommend you watch my buddy David Cogen’s video on how these Intel XE graphics are making that less of a need with these new chips.
Overall, this LG Gram is the only 17-inch computer I’d recommend you consider. It’s got more than enough of everything, and then some, packed in a body that makes even the MacBook Air look bad, at a price that’s hard to debate for all that’s included. I’d say it’s kind of hard to argue will the value proposition.