When does an ultraportable laptop have a 17-inch display? When it's made by LG. At 2.9 pounds (1.3 kg) the company's biggest laptop for 2019, the Gram 17, weighs less than 15.6-inch models (except for its own Gram 15) which is as much as your average 13.3-inch ultraportable. It also has an amazing battery life at a little more than 12 hours, which makes it one of the the top 10 laptops with the longest battery lives we've tested, along with two other LG Gram models.
Other than its high-quality display, lightweight body and long battery life, the Gram 17 is a fairly average ultraportable laptop. But it comes with a hefty price tag of $1,700 which roughly converts to £1,350 in the UK and AU$2,475 in Australia. (Costco members can get a $1,500 version with 256GB of storage instead of 512GB.) That's not a knock against the device but it has little you won't find on other ultraportables right down to the device's integrated graphics.
The Gram 17 is essentially the same as 2018/2019's 15.6-inch Gram 15 just with a larger display. LG has updated the 15 with the same eighth-gen Core i7 processor as the 17, too. If you're not in business for a large screen, the two should have similar performance, although I'd expect even better battery life from the Gram 15. Also, last year's Gram 15 is $500 cheaper, and I'm guessing the new one's performance isn't $500 better.
Whenever I've handed the Gram 17 or any of LG's other Gram laptops to someone, they can't believe that it's a real laptop. The reaction is even greater with this 17-inch model because it's so light for such a large display. Regardless of how well it performs (and it did well in our tests), there is a disconnect for most people between the laptop's weight and its perceived quality, especially when you consider the $1,700 price tag.
|Price as reviewed||$1,700|
|Display size/resolution||17-inch 2,560x1,600 display|
|CPU||1.8GHz Intel Core i7-8565U|
|PC Memory||16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,400MHz|
|Graphics||128MB Intel UHD Graphics 620|
|Networking||802.11ac Wi-Fi wireless; Bluetooth 5.0|
|Operating system||Windows 10 Home (64-bit)|
An ultraportable 13.3-inch laptop made from aluminum like Dell's XPS 13 will inevitably feel more sturdy than the Gram 17. Not only is the Gram's weight spread out over a greater area, its nano carbon magnesium shell simply isn't as rigid. So, despite being made from metal and built to pass seven industry-standard MIL-STD-810 tests to prove its military-grade durability, the Gram doesn't feel tough. And as one of my coworkers so eloquently put it, "it's cheap, plasticky crap" even though it's metal.
While that's sort of a harsh assessment, the Gram is not a rugged laptop. It'll stand up to a daily commute just fine, but the lid has a fair amount of flex to it, so I wouldn't carry it around by just the display, put too much pressure or weight on it or go out of your way to abuse it.
The display itself is of high quality for its class with strong color and contrast performance. It's not the brightest screen, though, and battling reflections off the glossy screen was kind of a thing. I wouldn't recommend working in the sun.
While it brings a good YouTube- and movie-watching experience, listening to any sort of audio through its weak speakers lacks. To be fair, few laptops this thin have good speakers. LG did build in DTS Headphone: X processing for improved audio quality through the headphone and mic jack.
Other ports and connections include two USB 3.0 ports (Type-A), a microSD card slot, HDMI output and a USB-C Thunderbolt 3. While many laptops in its class are moving to USB-C ports for charging, the Gram 17 comes with a power adapter that uses an old pin-type connector. However, you can still charge this laptop through its USB-C port. I used a Tylt battery pack while testing to keep the Gram topped off while on the go.
LG used the same keyboard on this 17-inch model as on its 15.6-inch Gram. It's decent, but if you hammer hard when typing as I do, it doesn't make for the most comfortable experience. Plus, while most of the keys are reasonably large, the Enter and Backspace are just a little too small which led me to occasionally miss them. Not a deal-breaker, but something you might have to adjust to. On the upside, it does have two levels of backlighting available.
The Windows precision touchpad is smooth and responsive. However, it takes a second for the palm check to kick in, so if you brush the pad with your palm while typing you'll likely move the cursor a bit before it stops.
The Gram 17 features a newer eighth-gen Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD and integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620. Typically with this size laptop you get some sort of discrete graphics, but that's not the case here. If you're expecting a performance powerhouse simply because of its screen size, you'll be disappointed. The components are geared for average home, office and school tasks like word processing, web browsing and email. However, it does have enough processing muscle to push through more demanding work, assuming it's not overly graphics intensive.
Where the Gram is a real winner is battery life. It clocked in at 12 hours, 12 minutes on our streaming video test. Most 17-inch laptops are built for high performance, so a battery life like the LG's is unheard of at this size. Heck, more than 12 hours of battery life is unusual for laptops of any size.
As was the case with the 15.6-inch Gram 15, if you want a large screen, long battery life and the lightest travel weight possible, the Gram 17 is the answer. It is nothing short of amazing that LG can keep the body so light while maintaining performance and battery life. LG must agree, too, given its $1,700 price. It has a couple of shortcomings like the keyboard and speakers, but otherwise, LG's made another solid big screen ultraportable laptop, even if it doesn't necessarily feel "solid."
|LG Gram 17||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-8565U; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,400MHz; 128MB (dedicated) Intel HD Graphics 620; 512GB SSD|
|LG Gram 14||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-8565U; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,400MHz; 128MB (dedicated) Intel HD Graphics 620; 512GB SSD|
|Samsung Notebook 9 Pro||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-8565U; 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 128MB (dedicated) Intel HD Graphics 620; 256GB SSD|
|Lenovo Yoga C930||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-8550U; 12GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 128MB (dedicated) Intel HD Graphics 620; 256GB SSD|
|Apple MacBook Air (13-inch, 2018)||Apple MacOS Mojave 10.14; 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-8210Y; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 1,536MB Intel UHD Graphics 617; 256GB SSD|