The LG Gram 17 is the very best 17-inch lifestyle laptop on the market thanks to its outstandingly lightweight frame and stellar performance. However, sluggish SSD speeds, stingy storage and a middling battery life prevent it from attaining a perfect score.
- Gorgeous 17-inch Quad HD display
- Outstandingly lightweight design
- Super-speedy CPU performance
- Plenty of ports
- Slow read and write SSD speeds
- No dedicated graphics card
- Battery life middling
- Review Price: £TBC
- 17-inch 2560x1600 IPS LCD display
- Intel 8th Gen Core i7-8565U
- 16GB RAM (DDR4 2400MHz)
- 512GB SSD
- 381 x 267 x 17.78mm
What is the LG Gram 17?
The LG Gram 17 17Z990 is the latest device in the company’s lightweight laptop lineup and looks to be one of the lightest and most portable 17-inch notebooks yet. While it may not be quite as compact and portable as the LG Gram 14 and LG Gram 15, it remains a fantastic alternative for those wanting to watch Netflix on a sizeable screen without compromising on back-relieving portability.
Importantly, the LG Gram 17 continues to offer similar high-powered performance to its siblings. Its processor is powerful enough to blitz through office work, and its integrated GPU appears to have enough grunt to cope with basic media work – although AAA gaming is certainly out of question.
LG has been forced to make compromises to ensure this huge 17-inch laptop weighs little more than a kilogram, but it’s still miraculously impressive that you can slip it into a rucksack and forget it’s even there during the commute.
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LG Gram 17 – UK price and release date
Note that the LG Gram 17 isn’t available to buy in the UK just yet; there isn’t even a confirmed UK price at the time of writing. The $1699.99 US price is the only indication of cost so far.
An LG representative stated a release window of “July (3Q of 2019)”. I’ll update this review once I receive further information. As such, this review assumes the LG Gram 17 will sell for the US-equivalent in sterling, which is approximately £1350. If the UK price differs vastly to this, then I will consider altering the final score.
LG Gram 17 – Design and build
My favourite trick to play with the LG Gram 17 has been to pick it up with just two fingers, making folk believe I’m a muscle man. In truth, this is a deceivingly lightweight laptop weighing only 1.34kg, which is a real feat for a 17-inch device.
Never before would I have considered commuting to and from the office everyday with a 17-inch laptop in my bag, but the Gram 17 is so slender and lightweight, I haven’t given it a second thought. In fact, even once the testing process was complete, I still found myself picking this laptop as my go-to machine for work.
The LG Gram 17 is super-slim at 17.8mm, so it will effortlessly fit inside most rucksacks. And while many laptop manufacturers use the slender frame as an excuse to be stingy with ports, the LG Gram 17 includes them in abundance. If you want to hook it up to an external monitor, there are connections for USB-C and HDMI. For extra peripherals such as mice and keyboards, there are three USB-A ports as well as the aforementioned USB-C.
Topping off the port offering are a headphone jack and microSD card slot, both of which are incredibly useful no matter what wireless worshippers tell you.
There’s also a premium and robust quality to the LG Gram 17’s design. Admittedly, I’ve knocked it off my sofa onto hard laminate flooring, and hurriedly thrown it in my bag when running late for work; nevertheless, the Gram 17 looks almost as good as new. Look closely and you’ll see a faint scratch on the laptop’s lid, but it’s barely noticeable and doesn’t impact the overall clean design.
You’ll notice a slight flex when you push against the device’s deck, or the corners of the screen, and the lid will wobble for a few seconds if you quickly adjust its angle – but this is to be expected with a screen so thin. Regardless, the flex isn’t significant enough to cause concern that the lid could snap off.
In terms of appearance, the LG Gram 17 doesn’t look quite as prestigious as the likes of the Dell XPS 15, with the grey colour scheme looking somewhat basic – but to my eyes it’s fine. Personally, I’d prefer to save a few quid than have my laptop become a fashion accessory.
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LG Gram 17 – Keyboard and touchpad
The LG Gram has the same style of keyboard as its LG laptop brethren. Keys are nicely spaced out and feature a decent amount of travel. I’m a big fan of them, and while the feedback isn’t incredibly clicky, the keyboard is still perfectly adequate for hammering out essays on.
There’s even enough room on the keyboard to fit a number pad here – something which the recent LG Gram 2 in 1 misses out on, unfortunately.
This maybe a minor point, but I appreciate that the function key and corresponding function symbols are clearly signposted in orange, making it immediately obvious which button alters volume, adjusts brightness or activates flight mode.
You’re also able to toggle the keyboard’s backlight on and off via the function key. When turned on, a bright white light glows beneath the keys. It’s subtle, but looks great and comes in handy when sitting in the dark.
The last fancy keyboard trick here is the fingerprint sensor embedded in the power button. It means you don’t have to enter a password every time you log in, simply requiring the press of your finger on the power key. Success was a little hit-and-miss; I was forced to type in my PIN on the odd occasion, especially if there was any residue on my fingers. Sadly, the Gram 17 doesn’t support Windows Hello facial recognition, so you can’t sign in by simply grinning at the screen.
My one gripe with the keyboard layout is that the Backspace key has been reduced width-wise. As a result, muscle memory meant I kept accidentally hitting the “=” key when trying to delete typos, which became a niggling annoyance. Of course, use the Gram 17 frequently enough and you’ll eventually adapt.
Regarding the touchpad, nothing about its use really comes to mind. It was responsive, adequately large and smooth to the touch. I can’t think of any flaws.
LG Gram 17 – Screen
Indeed, while size does matter, with the LG Gram 17 having the edge over most lifestyle laptops with its 17-inch screen, the actual display quality is arguably more important. There’s not much point of a larger display if the picture is washed out and the colours look muddy.
Fortunately, this isn’t the case with the LG Gram 17. In fact, every reading via the colorimeter suggests the LG Gram 17 has one of the very best all-round displays seen in a lifestyle laptop, especially as you’re getting a Quad HD resolution that offers substantially more pixels than a standard Full HD monitor.
With an sRGB colour gamut coverage of 93%, the LG Gram 17 boasts a punchy screen with enough colours to accurately display the likes of digital comic books. This means this laptop is perfectly capable of satisfying the needs of digital artists.
Predictably, the 64.9% Adobe RGB and 67.4% DCI-P3 scores aren’t so impressive, though, which means the LG Gram 17 lacks the colour gamut coverage to accurately present photographs and videos. This is only really an issue for professional photographers and videographers; but since the Gram 17 is a lifestyle laptop, it was never expected to reach such lofty creative standards.
If you’ll simply be using this laptop to browse the web and watch Netflix, the Gram 17 passes with flying colours. A max brightness of 373 nits easily beats the average 300 nits, so overbearing sunlight shouldn’t prevent you from seeing any on-screen action. The 0.25-nit black level also fits into the target range, resulting in a superb contrast ratio of 1466:1. This means there’s an eye-pleasing difference between those dark and bright scenes, resulting in a more vivid picture.
The white visual colour temperature is also crucial for a good display, since it considers how neutral white lights look. Have a reading too low, and the screen will look warmer with red shades creeping in. Have a reading too high, and the opposite will happen with cool-blue lighting having a detrimental effect on the picture.
Laptop manufacturers will aim for a 6500K white visual colour temperature figure for the purest image possible. The LG Gram 17’s display achieved a score of 6162K, which is within touching distance of the golden standard. This means the LG Gram’s colour temperature looks as natural as daylight, presenting images more or less as the director intended for all your favourite TV shows and films.
Overall, then, the LG Gram 17 has a fantastic display. Flick on BoJack Horseman or Tuca & Bertie and you’ll immediately notice the exuberant candy-coloured animations on show. Plus, considering this is a lifestyle laptop and not a machine for gaming or media editing, I really can’t find flaw with this display.
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LG Gram 17 – Performance
Pick up the LG Gram 17 and you’ll swear it’s empty inside. Astonishingly, this lightweight laptop isn’t only functional, but it’s also packed with high-end components. The 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8565U is particularly impressive, being one of the most fast-paced processors currently available in laptops. That’s aided by a surprisingly generous 16GB of DDR4 RAM, which ensures even better processing speeds.
What kind of processing speeds are we talking about here? CPU benchmark software PCMark 10 pumped out a 3425 result, which isn’t far behind some of the most speedy lifestyle laptops on shelves. For comparison, the Dell XPS 13 saw a benchmark score of 3847 and the Asus ZenBook 15 boasted a blitzing 4038 figure. Bear in mind these devices don’t have 17-inch screens, but since LG had to balance performance with weight, it’s impressive that the Gram 17 can maintain pace with these competitors.
The Geekbench 4 results display a very similar story. The Gram 17’s multi-core score of 13,559 is just a hair behind the Dell XPS 13’s 14,509 result. The Asus ZenBook 15 does show its muscle in this test, though, achieving a staggering 17,378 multi-core Geekbench 4 result.
Of course, numbers and bar graphs mean very little on their own. For actual day-to-day performance, the LG Gram blasts through basic tasks. Navigating the web, streaming videos and running basic applications are all achieved speedily and without a hitch. Unless you’re frequently using intensive software, such as the Adobe Creative Suite, you’re unlikely to notice a significant difference between the LG Gram 17’s and Asus ZenBook 15’s processing power.
It’s a different story with the GPU performance, though. The contrast in GPU grunt between the LG Gram 17 and the Asus ZenBook 15 is substantial, with the former restricted to an integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620 graphics card and the latter boasting dedicated Nvidia GTX 1050 graphics. The 3DMark: Fire Strike GPU benchmark test shows the extent of the disparity, with the LG Gram 17 achieving an unimpressive 1159 score, and the Asus attaining a far superior 5060 result.
These results mean the LG Gram 17 isn’t capable of playing AAA video games or running high-end media-editing software. Thus, gamers and professional creatives should look elsewhere. However, LG never intended the Gram 17 to be targeted at such audiences. This lightweight laptop is clearly designed as a lifestyle and office device, excelling at day-to-day tasks such as web browsing, spreadsheet management and video streaming.
The read and write speeds of the SSD hard drive are a disappointment, however, at 540.10MB/sec and 498.70MB/sec respectively. These are low scores, with the Dell XPS 13 offering more than 4x faster read speeds, meaning users will be able to launch applications far quicker than they would with the Gram 17. How much of an issue is this? For a lifestyle laptop it isn’t a deal-breaker, since you’re unlikely to be launching intensive software frequently. Nevertheless, it’s certainly annoying – and a blemish on an otherwise excellent laptop.
|Disk read speeds (MB/s)||Disk write speeds (MB/s)|
|LG Gram 17||540.10||498.70|
|Dell XPS 13||2221.40||326.50|
|Asus ZenBook 15||1737.80||1407.90|
You could also argue the 512GB storage space is stingy. It’s more than enough for storing your own collection of photos and movies for offline use, but if you start to dabble in more creative pursuits, then you may well find yourself running out of room sooner than expected.
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LG Gram 17 – Battery
So far so good for the LG Gram 17, with little to no sacrifices made to increase the display size while retaining its ultraportable weight. However, battery tests prove that LG has indeed had to make some compromises.
With the screen’s brightness dialled down to 150 nits and the PCMark 8 battery test set to simulate office work tasks, the battery tank emptied in just 6hrs 12mins. That’s half the battery life of the LG Gram 14, which is able to keep on chugging for an outstanding 12 hours. Bear in mind the PCMark 8 test is super-intense, simulating web browsing, writing, photo editing and casual gaming.
I also ran a second battery test, looping a YouTube video until the juice ran dry. This saw the LG Gram 17 survive for around eight hours. This sees a slight improvement, but it still isn’t quite enough to match the battery life of the smaller LG Gram 15.
The LG Gram 17’s sub-par battery performance isn’t a huge surprise – an increase in screen size is often a detrimental drain on battery. It’s still a concern, though, with a six-hour battery life too short to even last typical working hours. Unfortunately, that’s the compromise you’ll have to accept if you’re keen to have a large 17-inch display for watching Netflix and Now TV.
Why buy the LG Gram 17?
Lifestyle laptops with 17-inch displays are almost unheard of these days. This is no surprise ,given that nobody wants a cumbersome back-breaking device to lug to and from the office everyday. The LG Gram 17 doesn’t suffer such flaws, though, giving potential buyers the perks of a huge, gorgeous screen without the extra baggage.
The LG Gram 17 isn’t free of flaws, though. Sluggish SSD read and write speeds and the absence of a dedicated graphics card should put off those with any interest in editing and storing lots of photos. However, for video streaming, web browsing, essay writing and office spreadsheets, and the Gram 17 is near-on perfect. I know for a fact I’m going to struggle to revert back to a 15-inch laptop after using the Gram 17.
Such a revolutionary design has made the Gram 17 a unique laptop, with little to no 17-inch competitors available at a similar price point and performance. It looks to offer fantastic value for money, too – assuming the $1699.99 US price converts to £1350 as we’d hope. With no confirmed UK price at the time of writing, we may revise our opinion when UK price details are released.
The LG Gram 17 is the very best 17-inch lifestyle laptop on the market thanks to its outstandingly lightweight frame and stellar performance. Only sluggish SSD speeds, stingy storage and a middling battery life prevent it from attaining a perfect score.
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