The new 2021 version of the LG Gram continues the company’s focus on making the lightest possible laptops for each of the screen sizes that it’s available in. Its an approach that inevitably results in some compromises but there’s still a lot to like about these laptops.
LG Gram 2021 specs
Screen size: 17inch
Resolution: 2560 x 1600
Panel type: IPS
Maximum refresh rate: 60Hz
Response time: 1ms
Inputs: DisplayPort 1.4, 2 x HDMI 2.0
Stand adjustability: Height, Tilt, Pivot, Rotation
I’ve got the 17in model here, and immediately the very fact it has such a big screen feels slightly contradictory to the idea of having the lightest laptop around. Because it’s likely to spend very little time on the move. However, there’s no denying the appeal of having this large a screen on such a portable laptop.
It weighs an astonishing 1.35kg, which is only 180g more than this 13inch Dell XPS 13. It also has incredibly thin bezels allowing for the whole laptop to have the sort of dimensions you’d normally associate with a 15inch laptop. So, unlike most 17in laptops of the past, it does fit in a regular size laptop bag.
However, it only just fits and I’d be more than a little paranoid about having such a thin yet large laptop squeezed into a bag like this. Moreover, this touches on the first and most overriding compromise of this laptop, which is its build quality.
Not that it’s bad. In fact, the magnesium alloy chassis is very impressive in terms of its lightness and strength. But, it still feels quite flexible and fragile compared to the hefty machined aluminium of a Dell XPS 13 or Macbook. The rigidity of those laptops helps protect the screen and other components more from damage due to knocks or bending.
This also affects the feel of the laptop. The construction used for these magnesium alloy laptops means you miss out on the clean, machined lines of aluminium laptops, so they simply look and feel cheaper. Superficial, it may be, but it is what it is.
Another disappointment when it comes to the build of this laptop is that despite having a spare M.2 slot for adding a second SSD, you can’t actually open up this laptop without tearing off all the rubber feet and screw covers. Not only might this invalidate your warranty but there’s no guarantee you can get the feet to stick back on properly afterwards. And, in fact, the feet are a bit too easy to get off anyway. I could quite easily so these becoming dislodged over time from regularly inserting the laptop into a bag.
But back to the good stuff and the sheer size and quality of the screen is undeniable. As well as its massive 17in scale it also has a resolution of 2560 x 1600, which gives it a taller 16:10 aspect ratio for more vertical desktop space.
Now, this whole 16:10 thing is a bit of a trend in laptops at the moment as manufacturers have realized people use their laptops for more than just watching HD video. However, while it makes a lot of sense to squeeze more vertical space into a small, 1080p screen, on a 17in panel with a higher resolution, it’s actually unnecessary. This laptop could easily have got away with sticking to a 2560×1440 resolution and saving even more weight and size.
As to its quality, it’s an IPS panel, so it has great viewing angles, and it has an extended colour range of up to 99% DCI-P3 so produces HDR-like extra vivid colours. It’s a shame you can’t switch it to an sRGB mode, though, to tone those colours for work or image editing. Its contrast is decent though, and although its colour balance isn’t great out the box it’s good enough for most uses.
The screen does have a gloss coating, though, which helps to further boost the vividness of the colours but does mean more reflections, so it depends which you prefer. With a maximum brightness of 377nits, it’s just about bright enough for use in brighter sunlight. Reflections notwithstanding. One benefit of the sheer size of this laptop is that you get a full size keyboard with a numpad, and it feels of a decent quality, even if the lightweight chassis does produce a fair amount of flex. I’d also prefer a little more contouring to the tops of the keys so you can feel for the centre of the key, but otherwise it’s a decent typing tool.
The trackpad, meanwhile, is very good thanks to its huge size and accurate tracking.
In terms of performance, the new range includes Intel’s latest 11th gen core processors, with this model using the i7-1165G7, which includes the company’s latest Iris Xe graphics.
It’s an impressive chip that combined with fast 4267MHz DDR4 ram and a speedy M.2 SSD, makes for a very snappy laptop. It boots up, loads apps and generally does all the day to day stuff very rapidly and can even do a little gaming too. You’ll have to turn settings down dramatically and performance still isn’t great – plus it’s only a 60Hz screen – but the option’s there.
On this 17 version it does feel a little hemmed in, though. You’ve got a huge, metal chassis here to help distribute heat but it makes do with a fairly weedy cooling system that means the CPU throttles its clock speed as readily as much more compact machines. This keeps heat and noise to a minimum, though, with the CPU never peaking above 90C and noise rarely registering above a whisper even when gaming.
Making slightly more of the large chassis are the speakers that have significantly more depth and volume than smaller machines.
As for connectivity, LG has done a decent job. There’s none of the over reliance on USB C ports and dongles that you get on some laptops. You do still get two USB C ports, either of which can be used to charge the laptop, but there’s also two full size USB ports and a full size HDMI, along with a microSD, combi headphone jack and a Kensington lock slot.
It would’ve been nice to have a full size SD card slot, especially on this 17in model, but it’s easy enough to use microSD to SD adapters in your cameras. As for battery life, this machine impresses, with its 80Wh battery lasting a massive 12h exactly in my PCMark 10 battery test, with the screen at ¾ brightness.
When it comes to pricing, this isn’t a cheap laptop but it’s competitively priced compared to many other premium thin and light models. This version with the i7 processor and 1TB SSD is just £1599 while the core i5 version with a 512GB SSD can be had for £1399. Meanwhile the 14in version starts at £1149. Those are competitive prices for the specs you get, with the Dell XPS 17 starting at £1799 with a 256GB SSD, for instance. Plus, at the moment, LG is giving away a pair of these Tone Free noise cancelling earbuds that retail for £180, as well as a red Herschel rucksack worth £40.
All told, then, this is a genuinely impressive laptop thanks to its astonishingly low weight. It also delivers adequate or better than adequate performance in just about every area. The glossy screen may prove divisive but otherwise the only major caveat is the overall build. Moving up to a machine like the Dell XPS 17 nets you a much more premium looking and feeling machine. But, it’s over fifty percent heavier and quite a bit more expensive, so the LG Gram is a good value option if you want a large but thin and light laptop.