LG Gram 17 (2020) review: A lightweight productivity machine with a big screen

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Joshua Goldman/CNET

If you’ve been working from home on a 13-, 14- or 15-inch laptop and you’re finding your productivity suffering by working on its small screen, you may be craving moving to something larger. An external display might make the most sense assuming you’ve got the room for one. But, if you need something more mobile and lap-friendly, the LG Gram 17 might do the trick because, despite its tall 17-inch display, it’s incredibly light with a long battery life making it a standout in the category. 

Like

  • Incredibly light for a 17-inch laptop.
  • Improved keyboard and overall design from 2019.
  • Long battery life.

Don’t Like

  • Expensive.
  • Centered touchpad could cause accidental clicks, cursor movement.

Built from a magnesium alloy, the 2020 LG Gram 17 weighs just under 3 pounds (1.4 kilograms) — less than many smaller ultraportables and certainly less than other 17-inch models. Because the laptop feels like it’s filled with nothing but air and doesn’t have the weight or stiffness of aluminum, the Gram laptops (they’re available in 13- and 15-inch sizes as well as an excellent 14-inch two-in-one) usually get knocked for feeling cheap or plasticky. The main issue here is that it’s decidedly not cheap (and, again, it’s made from metal). Prices start at $1,500 for a Costco-exclusive configuration and jump to $1,850 for the one I tested. 

LG Gram 17 (2020)

Price as reviewed $1,849
Display size/resolution 17-inch 2,560×1,800 display
CPU 1.3GHz Intel Core i7-1065G7
PC Memory 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 3.2GHz
Graphics 128MB Intel Iris Plus Graphics
Storage 1TB (512GB PCIe NVMe SSD x2)
Networking 802.11ax Wi-Fi wireless; Bluetooth 5.0
Operating system Windows 10 Home (64-bit)
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The keyboard’s new number pad is great, but the centered touchpad might lead to accidental cursor movement. 


Joshua Goldman/CNET

Not like the others

The Gram 17’s uniqueness certainly works in its favor. There are simply no other 17-inch laptops that are this light and also have a long battery life. It lasted 13 hours on our streaming video test, beating last year’s model by 47 minutes on the same test. Processor performance is stepped up some, too, thanks to the addition of a 10th-gen Intel Core i7-1065G7 CPU. This is partnered with more powerful Iris Plus integrated graphics as well, giving you a little extra speed for photo and video editing and casual gaming. 

The 16:10 2,560×1,600-resolution display gives you a bit more vertical space than more typical 16:9-ratio displays. It’s a high-quality screen, too, with strong color and contrast performance, even if it’s not the brightest screen. If you work next to a window or out in the sun you’ll be fighting reflections off its glossy coating.

LG touched up the body some from the 2019 version, the hinge in particular, which makes the laptop look more polished and more worthy of its premium price. The company runs it through seven military-grade durability tests including ones for shock and vibration, so it’s built for a commute or travel. 

Part of the update is a new backlit keyboard with a full-size number pad and slightly wider Backspace, Enter and Shift keys. Overall it’s a more comfortable typing experience, but the touchpad is still centered on the entire keyboard instead of directly below the space bar. This can lead to accidental brushes or clicks if you tend to drag your right palm while typing. The precision touchpad is otherwise nice to use. 

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The Gram 17 can charge via its included pin adapter or its Thunderbolt 3 port. 


Joshua Goldman/CNET

Although its weight makes it nice for travel, LG includes a full port assortment that makes it easy to connect to an external monitor or two, a keyboard and mouse, external storage and more. While many laptops in its class have moved 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 Thunderbolt 3 port. LG even includes a USB-C-to-Ethernet adapter if you want to use a wired connection instead of its Wi-Fi 6 wireless

More screen, more battery, more mobility

The differences between the 2020 LG Gram 17 and the 2019 version are subtle but important enough to notice. Battery life and performance are generally better. The keyboard is improved as is the overall fit and finish, making it look more premium. Unfortunately, it hasn’t gotten any less expensive. But, if you want a large screen, long battery life and the weight of an ultraportable laptop, the Gram 17 is the answer.   

Geekbench 4 (multicore)

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Cinebench R15 CPU (multicore)

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Streaming video playback battery drain test

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance (in minutes)

System configurations

LG gram 17 (2020) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit) 1.3GHz Intel Core i7-1065G7; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 3.2GHz; 128MB (dedicated) Intel Iris Graphics; 512GB SSD
Lenovo Ideapad S940 Microsoft Windows 10 Pro (64-bit); 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-8565U; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 128MB (dedicated) Intel HD Graphics 620; 512GB SSD
LG gram 17 (2019) 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

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