LG gram 17 (2020) full review
LG is back with a refreshed range of its gram laptops for 2020 and this is arguably the most svelte 17in laptop you can buy, now with 10th-gen Intel processors.
It's perhaps still a niche product, with most buyers opting for a 13- or 14in screen but in the larger 17in market, LG has done a great job. It's partly about whether you need a screen this big and whether you can afford it.
Design & Build
This is largely a case of a spec refresh, so the design of the LG gram 17 is pretty much unchanged from last year’s model. You’ll need to play spot the difference to notice the changes, even after reviewing the previous model we didn’t see them immediately.
Still, that's not a bad thing really as this is a good looking laptop that's well-made on the whole. The main chassis feels sturdy even if the magnesium alloy looks and feels like plastic. The screen is pretty bendy so it's a good job it's not a touch display, but this is a sacrifice to keep the weight down.
The keyboard has been improved, namely at the number pad end where the ‘0’ and ‘Enter’ keys are significantly larger. As are ‘+’ and ‘-’, which have also been moved to the side. A few other keys here have been reshuffled and it all makes far more sense.
On the main keyboard, the ‘Shift’, ‘Enter’ and ‘Backspace’ keys are all slightly bigger according to LG but we haven't noticed the difference. Sadly the arrow keys all remain tiny and awkward.
Improved numpad aside, the keyboard has a springy feel with a decent amount of travel, which will likely divide the crowd. Many will prefer something more crisp. A bigger problem, regardless of your preference, is how far off to the left the main keyboard is. It feels odd and will take some time for your fingers to get used to where keys are.
Once again, we found the row of function buttons useful and the same is true of the two-level backlight anf the fingerprint scanner embedded into the power key.
The trackpad remains larger than most and works extremely well with a nice responsiveness to regular and gesture input. It's slightly off center but not enough for it to feel weird like the keyboard.
The weight has increased but only by 0.03lb so it still comes in at under 3lb, or 1.35kg. Still an astonishing achievement for a 17in laptop with a decent battery size.
Screen & Speakers
The display remains the same as previously so, as you can guess from the gram 17 name, it’s 17in in size. Small bezels mean the laptop doesn’t feel too huge.
It’s an IPS LCD panel with good viewing angles and a solid WQXGA (2560x1600) resolution. It’s got a good combination of brightness, colour and contrast so it will be suitable for a range of tasks.
An aspect ratio of 16:10 keeps a nice balance between work and play, but the display is not touchscreen if that’s important and the glossy finish means you can easily be distracted by reflections.
We'd like an upgrade in the audio department but the two speakers are still mounted on the underside of the laptop and are pretty weedy both in terms of the amount of power on offer and the quality.
Specs & Performance
Arguably the main upgrade for this year’s model is a new Intel processor, jumping from 8th-generation to 10th. Here we have the Core i7-1065G7 clocked at 1.30GHz, able to Turbo up to 3.9GHz.
There’s still 16GB of RAM but it’s even faster 3200MHz DDR4 Dual Channel and there’s now double the storage with two 512GB SSDs using speedy NVMe technology.
That's a nice amount of internal upgrades, accounting for the price increase.
Without getting too bogged down in the specs and benchmarks, the takeaway here is that it is faster than the previous model by a decent amount. However, you can get similar or better computing performance from various rivals.
You can see the results below compared to the Lenovo Yoga C740, Acer Swift 5, Asus ZenBook Flip 15 and Huawei MateBook X Pro. Some of which have dedicated GPUs, helping a lot with graphically intensive tasks.
These, however, are not extremely light 17in laptops.
One element that LG has improved is the battery life of the gram 17. Well in theory anyway as the capacity has gone from 72- to 80Wh. However, LG only touts 17 hours compared to 19.5 of the previous model.
Regardless, in our video loop test we found the 2020 model lasted exactly the same amount of time as its predecessor at bang on 16 hours. That’s still an amazing result and way ahead of the vast majority of laptops on the market.
You can charge to 25% in 30 minutes with the supplied barrel adapter. This keeps the USB-C port free, but that can also be used for charging if you wish.
Connectivity & Ports
As we just mentioned, there’s a USB-C port here and it still offers Thunderbolt 3 speeds. The HDMI port also remains and the three USB-A ports have been bumped to 3.1.
A MicroSD card slot is handy and there’s also a headphone jack. If you need to connect an Ethernet cable you can use the supplied adapter which plugs into the USB-C port.
The LG gram 17 already had Bluetooth 5.0 but Wi-Fi has been upgraded to Wi-Fi 6 (11ax), although we don’t think many users will notice a difference just yet and your home router is unlikely to have this standard anyway.
Price & Availability
You can get the LG gram 17 in the US already and costs a slightly eye-watering $1,849. That’s $150 more than last year’s model.
This is the ‘17Z90N’ in terms of model number and there is only one configuration available, which is unusual for a laptop. LG does mention a Core i5 option in the spec sheet, but we’ve been sent the Core i7 sku which is the only one on LG’s US site.
We’re waiting for a UK price, but LG tells us the aim is to release the new gram 17 in April.
It's hard to score the LG gram 17, but we've awarded it 9/10 and a Recommended award once again.
LG might not have fixed all the problems from last year's model but this already excellent laptop combines a huge 17in in an unbeleivably light chassis, now with imrpoved performance thanks to a range of internal upgrades.
The 10th-gen Intel chip provides a nice jump and although battery life remains at 16 hours, that still beats most other laptops on the market.
This does come at a higher price, but remains the best 17in laptop you can buy if that's what you're in the market for. Otherwise, there are plenty of 13-15in rivals (including other gram laptops) which offer a high-level experience at a lower price.
Check out our round-up of the best laptops to see what else might suit you.
LG gram 17 (2020): Specs
- Windows 10 Home
- 17in (2560x1600) IPS LCD panel
- Intel Core i7-1065G7 (1.3GHz, Turbo up to 3.9GHz), L3 Cache 8MB, 15W
- Intel Iris Plus Graphics
- 16GB DDR4 Dual Channel RAM (3200MHz)
- 1TB SSD (M.2 NVMe)
- USB 3.1 Type-C (Thunderbolt 3)
- 3x USB 3.1
- MicroSD card reader
- 3.5mm headphone jack
- USB-C to Ethernet port
- 2x 1.5W stereo speakers
- HD webcam
- 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6
- Bluetooth 5.0
- 80Wh lithium-ion battery
- 381 x 261 x 17.78mm
- Magnesium Alloy
- 1 year parts and labour warranty