LG Gram 17-Inch Notebook Is Shockingly Good: Six Month Review

By Patrick Moorhead - February 3, 2020
The LG gram 17 opened up showing off its 17-inch footprint. 

Throughout the year, it is common that I review and use devices that direct and move towards the industry’s new and innovative design. I follow the next generation of devices that shape and mold what next year’s devices most likely will be. From 2-in-1 and foldables to gaming laptops, each year keeps getting better.

Very rarely do I come across a device that doesn’t have these molding and shaping qualities, but rather is a device entirely different from the market. The LG Gram 17-inch is one of those devices, and it’s in a league of its own.

The LG Gram 17-inch does not have a touch screen option, does not have a 360-degree hinge mechanism, nor does it have dedicated graphics for gaming. It is a 17-inch laptop with incredible specifications. My time using it testifies that the LG Gram 17-inch is one of the most unique and innovative devices in 2019. It’s thin, ridiculously light, has a giant high-res enough display and just kicks serious butt.

Build quality

I find the size of the LG Gram 17-inch to be astounding. It weighs just over 2 pounds at 2.13 Lbs or less than 1 KG, which is around the weight of other ultra-light 14 and 15-inch laptops. Considering that other 17-inch laptops weigh 2 to 3 pounds more, the compromise mentioned earlier of not having a touch screen becomes well worth it for travelers like me. The weight is easily manageable and sometimes unnoticeable when I throw it in a backpack to go to my office. Another way the LG Gram 17-inch resembles smaller laptops is it’s laptop footprint. The bezels of the LG Gram are slightly larger, if not the same as other 15-inch laptops, one of the many qualities that contribute to its low weight.

The 8 MIL-STD810G durability tests” shock, high temperature, dust, salt fog, low pressure, low temperature, and vibration. 

The material LG uses to make the LG Gram 17-inch so incredibly light is magnesium with a nanocarbon material. Depending on whom you talk to, it is more magnesium than nanocarbon or vice versa. When you pick up the LG Gram 17-inch, it feels like a plastic laptop, it has the lightness of a plastic laptop, and it has a give like a plastic laptop. However, the nanocarbon magnesium is not plastic and has passed seven military-grade tests that include extreme temperature, shock, and dust. The LG Gram 17-inch is not afraid of being used, and even though it is light, it is a surprisingly durable and reliable laptop. The Keyboard and the screen have a noticeable give to them. I wouldn’t put it past such a thin laptop, no matter what the build material is for the chassis.

After about three months, I did notice that if I did get the laptop near another magnesium surface, it would wear it off. LG needs to look into this.

The display and battery life

The screen flex is forgivable once you turn on the display. The LG Gram 17-inch has a WQXGA (2,560 x 1,600) IPS Display with fantastic viewing angles. The 16:10 aspect ratio is excellent for getting work done. The taller display did not give a cramped feeling when I was multitasking. I would consider the concept of a 17-inch, light laptop to be wasted if it did not have an exceptional display. For the LG Gram 17-inch, the display met all my productivity and entertainment expectations.

The LG Gram 17-inch thin and light design with multiple ports on the side of the device. 

A downside to most 17-inch laptops is the need always to be plugged into an outlet. The LG Gram 17-inch has the same size battery, 78 Whr, as its little sibling the LG Gram 15-inch. Both points would give the assumption that the LG Gram 17-inch is used with an outlet in mind. However, I was able to get around 10 hours of productive battery use. Even though 10 hours of productive battery use is not the 20.5 hours of battery life advertised, it was enough for a productive day. The battery life was there when I needed it to be.

Whats under the hood

The internals of the LG Gram 17-inch was not skimped out on either. It has an 8th Gen Intel Core i7 8565U with 16GB of memory and 512 GB of storage. The storage is SATA-3 but can be upgraded to an NVME storage slot. The LG Gram 17-inch does not have a dedicated graphics card like most 17-inch laptops, so gaming is relatively limited. The UHD 620 integrated graphics does the job well for most daily tasks. The LG Gram 17-inch has up to date Wi-Fi 802.11 A/C and Bluetooth 5.0 although Wi-Fi 6 would have been a nice addition for performance’s sake. The long sides of the LG Gram leave room for a valuable amount of ports. It has three USB 3 ports, and HDMI port, audio jack, microSD card reader, and a Thunderbolt 3 port with optional charging.  The Thunderbolt 3 port enables 40gbps of data transfer and can power two 4k displays at once. The LG Gram 17-inch has no problem transitioning to a workstation, and I found it easy to move my work from the single screen to the workstation in my office.

Even though the keyboard of the LG Gram 17-inch has more flex than I would want, I found the typing experience to be pleasant. The laptop is big enough to present a Numpad, and LG sized the keys so that there is a comfortable setting for the palm rests. The trackpad doesn’t dwarf the keyboard and is comfortable to use. I think LG missed an excellent opportunity to place front-facing speakers in between the keyboard and the edge of the laptop. There is enough space, and it would have been better quality than the speakers on the bottom of the laptop. The speakers are not on the same level as the display. If a laptop is going to have a fantastic viewing experience, it is only reasonable for it to follow with a similar speaker system. Nonetheless, LG settled with a sound experience for the headphones called DTS Headphone: X. It simulates the sound experience that you would get from something like a home theater as long as you have the right headphones. LG appears to be continuing the belief that its users prefer wired connections for audio, much like in the company’s phones which are among the last with headphone jacks.

 Wrapping up

The LG Gram 17-inch provides the portability that I need with the size I didn’t know I could have. The LG Gram 17-inch hides nicely into the weight and footprint of a 14 or 15-inch laptop. Even though it compromises with the inability to be a touch screen, it is excellent for travelers like me who want to bring their office on the go. It has all the ports, internals, and the display that you would want from a 17-inch laptop without the extra baggage of its 17-inch competitors. I would recommend the LG Gram 17-inch to anyone looking for a featherweight portable uncompromising powerhouse.

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Patrick founded the firm based on his real-world world technology experiences with the understanding of what he wasn’t getting from analysts and consultants. Ten years later, Patrick is ranked #1 among technology industry analysts in terms of “power” (ARInsights)  in “press citations” (Apollo Research). Moorhead is a contributor at Forbes and frequently appears on CNBC. He is a broad-based analyst covering a wide variety of topics including the cloud, enterprise SaaS, collaboration, client computing, and semiconductors. He has 30 years of experience including 15 years of executive experience at high tech companies (NCR, AT&T, Compaq, now HP, and AMD) leading strategy, product management, product marketing, and corporate marketing, including three industry board appointments.