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LG Gram 17 (2021) review: Light it up

Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
1,299
inc VAT

The king of lightweight large-screened laptops returns with faster performance and better battery life; what’s not to like?

Pros 
Nearly as light as a 13.3in laptop
Big, high-quality display
Great battery life
Cons 
Not the world’s best keyboard
Webcam not Windows Hello compatible
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LG’s genre-bending Gram 17 was one of my favourite laptops of 2020. By squeezing a huge 17in display into a laptop nearly as light as a MacBook Air, LG achieved something special and in a world of identikit 13.3in ultraportables that’s something to be applauded.

The 2021 has now been released and the latest model takes that recipe and refines it. It’s still the lightest 17in laptop you can buy and it’s an even more impressive machine than last year’s model. In fact, the only threat to its lightweight laptop crown comes from the new LG Gram 16, which is cheaper, even lighter and has a display that’s almost as big.

READ NEXT: The best laptops to buy today

LG Gram 17 (2021) review: What you need to know

Indeed, the LG Gram 16 is so good that it has taken over as my new favourite ultralight big-screened laptop. If that extra inch of screen real estate is important to you, however, there’s still no beating the 17in model.

There’s no difference in weight from last year, which is very much a good thing. At 1.35kg it remains, rather astonishingly, a mere 65g heavier than the M1 MacBook Air. And it’s pretty much the same shape and size as before.

There are some small changes to the look of the laptop and LG has moved to USB-C charging this year but the big changes to the 2021 model mostly come internally, where LG has moved to 11th generation Intel CPUs complete with Iris Xe graphics. That, as you’ll see below, results in a huge bump in both performance and battery life.

LG Gram 17 (2021) review: Price and competition

The LG Gram 17 is available in a choice of three configurations in 2021:

The first two configurations listed above are extremely good value for money, especially when you consider the size of the display. However, while there’s nothing quite like the Gram 17, there is some competition in this price range and it’s Samsung’s Galaxy Book Ion that provides the strongest challenge.

The 15.6in Galaxy Book Ion weighs a Gram-challenging 1.19kg, starts at £1,299 and can often be found at a discount for as little as £1,099. It has great battery life and a wonderful screen. However, at the time of writing it’s only available with older 10th-gen Intel CPUs and its display is smaller, and lower resolution at 1080p.

Our favourite laptop at the moment is the M1 MacBook Air, which will set you back at least £999. It’s a faster laptop than the Gram 17, cheaper still, and has a nicer keyboard but, clearly, can’t match the Gram’s huge display or its weight.

The 16in Honor MagicBook Pro (AMD) at £850 is ludicrously good value. Again, though, it’s significantly heavier than the LG Gram 17 and has a lower resolution, lower quality 1080p display.

Buy the MagicBook Pro (AMD) now from Honor


Since this review was first published, the Samsung Galaxy Book Pro has launched, another lightweight, high-powered laptop that comes with a stunning Full HD Super AMOLED display. The 15.6in Galaxy Book Pro will set you back from £1,199 (Core i5-1135G7, 8GB RAM, 512GB storage), which is a little pricier than the LG Gram.

LG Gram 17 (2021) review: Design and key features

Just like the Gram 16, there’s not a huge amount new when it comes to the layout and design of this year’s LG Gram 17. The weight is exactly the same, at a ludicrously light 1.35kg and, although the 16:10 aspect ratio screen does make it deeper than you might expect, slim bezels all around mean it’s about as compact as a 17in laptop can get.

If you plan on making this your daily carry around laptop, however, do make sure your laptop bag can take its 381 x 263 x 17.4mm dimensions. And bear in mind that its very tall display means it isn’t the best laptop for use on a cramped plane or train, especially when the person in front hits the recline button.

Despite the similarities, LG has made some subtle changes over last year’s model. The overall colour scheme is now a bit smarter with no ugly orange lettering for the secondary functions on the backlit keyboard and there’s now a rougher matte finish, which feels less cheap. There’s an overall more angular look to the chassis as well.

The keyboard layout has changed a tad, with slightly larger keys and less space between them. As before, LG has squeezed in a number pad on the right, which I’m not convinced is necessary, even on a large machine such as this. But the feel of typing has improved, with a slightly more positive action to each key press.

I rather like it to type on but there’s no doubt that it lacks the X factor compared with the very best laptop keyboards around, the M1 MacBook Air and Dell’s XPS 13 being the first that come to mind.

The touchpad is perfectly serviceable but, again, not the best. It’s slightly larger than on the previous model and perfectly responsive but it also has the same slightly spongy feel to it. There’s a little extra travel beyond the click that feels distinctly odd at first, although I’ve no doubt you’d quickly become accustomed to the action over time.

The final changes to the design focus on physical connectivity. The main change here is the removal of the DC-input of the previous generation. The laptop is now charged solely over USB-C, via either of the USB 4 3x2 ports (up to 40Gbits/sec) on the left edge of the laptop and these sit between the Gram’s 3.5mm headset jack and full-sized HDMI video output.

On the right-hand side you have a further two USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 ports which provide up to 10Gbits/sec transfer speeds, a microSD card slot and a Kensington lock port for securing the laptop to your desk the next time you can make it into the office.

As for wireless connectivity, the Gram is equipped with the – now fairly commonplace – Intel AX201 Wi-Fi adapter, which delivers 2x2 Wi-Fi 6 support and Bluetooth 5.1.

READ NEXT: The best laptops to buy today

LG Gram 17 review: Webcam, microphone and speakers

Positioned at the top of the display, the LG Gram’s 720p webcam is a pretty decent offering. It doesn’t support face unlock, which is disappointing, although biometric login is covered off by the fingerprint reader built into the power button.

Image quality is fine, although not as crisp as you’ll get from a Microsoft Surface Laptop 3, and the two microphones flanking it produce a nicely full-bodied sound.

The speakers are pretty decent as well. As with the LG Gram 16 – and most other laptops if I’m honest – there’s little in the way of real bass but there’s plenty enough volume here for video calls, TV shows, podcasts and the like. Plus there’s just enough body to make listening to the odd bit of music reasonably enjoyable.

As ever, for the best sound quality you’ll need to hook up a pair of headphones or a Bluetooth speaker but these are far from the worst laptop speakers you’ll ever clap ears on.

LG Gram 17 review: Display quality

The LG Gram’s 17in IPS display is the main attraction here and while it might not have touch support, it is exceptionally good in pretty much every other way. Its 16:10 aspect ratio feels more spacious for working on than a 16:9 display would have, the resolution of 2,560 x 1,600 is perfectly sharp and it’s beautifully vibrant as well, covering a quoted 99% of the DCI-P3 colour gamut.

There’s even a polarising layer which means that, despite the glossy finish, readability outdoors is good. This is a laptop that’s as comfortable being used in the garden as it is in the dimmer confines of your home office. Beware, though: this also means wearing polarising sunglasses is out since they have the effect of blacking out the screen.

Aside from this small niggle, the display measures up incredibly well. If you’re using the laptop for professional-level photo editing, especially if you’re working in sRGB content, you’ll still want to break open the calibrator. However, out of the box and within the P3 colour space, performance is highly respectable. A peak brightness of 350cd/m2, a contrast ratio of 1,514:1, an average Delta E colour accuracy of 0.67 and a total colour volume of 101.6% DCI-P3 are all excellent figures.

The latter is particularly great to see – too many laptop panels are still limited to sRGB – and it means the LG Gram 17 is a fabulous machine on which to watch Netflix or Prime Video with colours leaping to life on that huge LCD panel.

LG Gram 17 (2021) review: Performance

With either an Intel Core i5-1135G7 or Core i7-1165G7 inside, the LG Gram 17 (2021) enjoys a significant performance boost over last year’s model. I’ve tested the Core i7 laptop here and, backed up by 16GB of RAM, it’s a decent chunk faster in the benchmarks as you can see from the graphs below.

As we’ve come to expect over the past few months, the presence of Intel’s Iris Xe integrated GPU means that light gaming isn’t entirely off the cards, either. Indeed, as you can see from the GFXBench benchmark number, it’s more than twice as quick as last year’s LG Gram 17 on this front.

Not only that, but the increased efficiency of the 11th gen CPU also helps out when it comes to working on the move. With the same 80Wh capacity battery in place as in last year’s laptop, the 2021 LG Gram 17 lasted a whopping 13hrs 24mins. That’s around two-and-a-half-hours longer.

READ NEXT: The best laptops to buy today

LG Gram 17 (2021) review: Verdict

The 2020 LG Gram 17 was a great laptop but the 2021 model is even better. LG has made small improvements everywhere you look while doing nothing to undermine the attraction of the original.

It’s still ludicrously light and portable for a 17in laptop, but this year’s version has better battery life, improved connectivity and faster performance. If you hanker after something that works just as well as a mobile workhorse as it does a desktop replacement, it’s pretty much the perfect solution. 

The only thing that might give you pause is that the LG Gram 17’s new sibling, the LG Gram 16, is cheaper and slightly more portable, while still offering a decent expanse of screen space to play with. Choose either one, though, and you’re highly unlikely to be disappointed.

LG Gram 17 (2021)LG Gram 17 (2020)
Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 15.6
ProcessorIntel Core i7-1165G7Intel Core i7-1065G7Intel Core i7-1165G7
RAM16GB16GB16GB
Additional memory slotsNoNoNo
Max. memory16GB16GB16GB
Graphics adapterIntel Iris XeIntel Iris Plus GraphicsIntel Iris Xe
Graphics memorySharedSharedShared
Storage1TB512GB512GB
Screen size (in)171715.6
Screen resolution2,560 x 1,6002,560 x 1,6001920 x 1080
Pixel density (PPI)178178141
Screen typeIPSIPSAMOLED
TouchscreenNoNoNo
Pointing devicesTouchpadTouchpadTouchpad
Optical driveNoNoNo
Memory card slotYesmicroSDYes
3.5mm audio jackYesYesYes
Graphics outputsHDMI, Thunderbolt 4USB Type-C, HDMIHDMI 2.0
Other portsUSB Type-A 3.2 x 2; USB-C Thunderbolt 4 x 23 x USB Type-A (3.0)
USB Type-C x 2 (1 x Thunderbolt 4)
Web Cam720p720p720p
SpeakersStereoStereoStereo
Wi-FiWi-Fi 6 (802.11ax)WiFi 6 (802.11ax)Wi-Fi 6E (802.11ax)
BluetoothBluetooth 5.2Bluetooth 5Bluetooth 5.1
NFCNoNoNo
Dimensions, mm (WDH)381 x 263 x 17.4mm381 x 262 x 17.8mm355.4 x 225.8 x 11.7mm
Weight (kg) - with keyboard where applicable1.351.351.05
Battery size (Wh)808068
Operating systemWindows 10 HomeWindows 10Windows 10 Home

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