LG Gram 17 2021 review: a lean, mean work machine with a big screen

This could be the lightest laptop with a 17-inch screen

Zeroing in on an ideal laptop has always been a tough task, and even more so these days when there’s so much choice. Of course, if your requirements are gaming or heavy workloads like image and video editing, your choices would differ. Most people, however, look at an ideal blend of factors like performance, screen size, battery life, portability, etc, when it comes to typical use cases like work or education. Screen size and portability are often related, with buyers usually having to prioritise one over the other. Enter the LG Gram 17, which turns that notion on its head. Let me elaborate.

The new LG Gram 17, bearing model number 17Z90P, comes in as a refreshed version of the model we tested last year and features suitable upgrades too. The core ethos, however, stays the same… as highlighted by its moniker itself. I will get into some more details, but in a nutshell, the Gram 17 is a lightweight device that offers expansive screen real estate, thereby boosting your productivity.


Lifting the laptop from its box can be an interesting experience since its size defies its weight. The Gram 17 is a large (albeit very slim) device but weighs a mere 1.35kgs. You really have to hold it in your hands to experience how lightweight it is, despite its size. The size, of course, is defined by its 17-inch display. And if you’re thinking its light weight means having to compromise on build quality, think again. The metal chassis is made out of magnesium alloy, and the device bears MIL-STD-810G military rating, which means it can survive shock and vibration, or exposure to harsh temperatures, dust, etc. Needless to say, if you’re upgrading to the Gram 17 from a smaller notebook, you’d need to bid adieu to your existing laptop sleeves and backpacks, as they simply won’t be able to accommodate this device.


The matte black chassis does collect a lot of smudges and fingerprints over time, so that’s something you’d need to be careful about. Other than that, the laptop looks quite elegant overall (if a bit subdued), and bears gram branding on the lid. Surprisingly, it even passes the one-finger test, as the lid can easily be opened with a finger without the base lifting up.



The 17-inch display features slim bezels, offering an aspect ratio of 16:10 and a resolution of 2,560 x 1,600 pixels. The display is gorgeous, with sharp, vibrant colours, and good viewing angles. It’s quite reflective though and catches glare from light sources nearby. But that’s the only niggle with this otherwise extremely capable display that helps boost productivity by giving you tons of space to keep multiple windows open together. The 16:10 aspect ratio allows for better productivity, bringing more of the web pages / documents into view, though the downside is that widescreen videos have wide black bands above and below.


The laptop doesn’t compromise in terms of connectivity either, giving you a full-sized HDMI port, two Type-C ports (with one of them supporting Thunderbolt 4), two USB 3.2 Type-A ports, a microSD card reader, and a combo audio jack. The device charges via USB C, and a 65W adapter is included in the box. You also get an Ethernet adapter in the box… and it’s a welcome addition in case you need to hook up your device to a wired network.
The full-sized keyboard is pretty good too, featuring a dedicated numpad. Once you figure out where everything is, it’s easy to type on too, with the keys offering decent travel. There’s a two-step backlight available in case you need to work in the dark. A fingerprint scanner is built into the power button on the top right of the keyboard, and is quite fast and accurate too, giving you access to the machine in a jiffy. The generously proportioned Precision touchpad is also quite welcome, and is smooth and responsive as well. The 720p webcam does feel a bit underwhelming since we live in Zoom times and video calls are the order of the day. It does the job though. The bottom-firing speakers are decent as far as audio is concerned, though I found that I need to keep the volume turned up at maximum during video calls.



Software-wise, you get Windows 10 Home Edition, with LG throwing in a bit of bloatware that includes multimedia tools like Cyberlink Power Media, Photo Director LE, Audio Director LE etc. In addition, there are few utilities, including LG Control Center, Reader Mode, Power Manager, etc. A tool called Virtoo by LG deserves special mention since it lets you mirror and use your smartphone directly from the laptop. Now, this is different from the built-in Windows feature that works with Android smartphones. LG’s software works with iPhones too, and can be quite useful… allowing you to see phone notifications on your laptop screen, transfer photos, and even mirror your iPhone display onto the notebook.

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Handling the number crunching on the Gram 17 is Intel’s 11th-gen Core i7-1165G7 processor, which is clocked at 2.8GHz and can turbo up to 4.7GHz. Also on board is 16 gigs of LDDDR4X RAM, 512GB NVMe SSD storage, and Iris Xe graphics. The combination might not be suitable for intensive gaming or extremely heavy workloads, but is more than sufficient for handling productivity tasks and even the occasional imaging or video work. Keeping tons of Chrome tabs open and juggling between email, Slack, MS Word, Zoom calls, WhatsApp Web, and the like was a piece of cake for this machine. Suffice it to say that if your use case is similar to what I described above, you’ll be pleased with what the LG Gram 17 can do.


The 80Wh battery lasts quite long too, and the device can get you through a working day with ease. The included 65W Type-C charging brick takes about 2.5 hours to juice up the machine.

Verdict


The LG Gram 17 is listed at Rs 1,50,000, and that does seem high, especially considering that this outlay can get you much more powerful laptops. I seriously doubt though that you’d be able to find another 17-inch laptop that’s as lightweight as the LG Gram 17. The large screen is a godsend for keeping multiple windows open together, and the light weight means you can easily lift it with one hand and move around the home or office as you like. And once you add the decent performance, good connectivity options, and long battery life to the mix, the Gram 17 could just be the option that works for you.

Editor’s rating: 4 / 5

Pros:

  • Massive, high-res display
  • Extremely lightweight
  • Decent performance
  • Good battery life

Cons:

  • Gets smudged easily
  • HD webcam
  • Reflective screen
  • Pricey