LG GRAM 17(2021)

This ultralight device has long been among our top picks of the best lightweight laptops.First introduced in 2017, LG has continued to update the Gram annually, and this time last year we called the 2020 version “just about the best 17-inch laptop out there for non-gamers”. This new version for 2021 improves on that model yet further. There’s added screen real estate thanks to a new 16:10 ratio, new 11th Gen Intel CPUs to boost speed and performance, and Thunderbolt 4 ports for faster data transfer. Incredibly, LG has achieved all this (and more) while still keeping the laptop super-light and portable.The 2021 range comes in five models, all running Windows 10 Home. There are two 2-in-1 laptops, with 14-inch and 16-inch screens respectively. And there are three traditional laptops, with 14-, 16- and 17-inch screens.



The LG Gram 17 (17z90p) is the largest of the LG Gram range and yet still weighs just 1.35kg (2.98lbs). It just doesn’t feel like it could be a powerful computer, because despite its imposing size (14.97 x 10.24 inches), it's so amazingly light.This laptop, which is made from a magnesium alloy used in military aircraft, is so thin (17.8mm), and the top so geometrically rectangular,that it looks strikingly two-dimensional from above.


The keyboard is not end-to-end; indeed it only takes up around 36% of the total area .And yet it’s full size, and backlit. The keys are large, well spaced and easy to identify, with single letters printed in clear block capitals.There’s a number pad too. There’s also a fingerprint reader on the power button that worked well in practice.

The keys themselves are flat and offer a key travel of 1.65mm, which produces a satisfying tactile click.The touchpad, meanwhile, is nice and big and again offers a satisfying click. For the record, this has been rescaled from a 16:9 ratio in the last version to 16:10. The result is that moving your cursor around the large screen is nice and smooth, and less of a strain on the hand, compared with some smaller trackpads we’ve used.


The screen is one of the big wins for this laptop. To anyone used to a smaller display, the 17in diameter feels huge and epic, particularly because the thin bezels maximise the available screen space. And yet there’s zero loss of quality. The WQXGA IPS Display does a superb job at presenting images and video in pixel-perfect precision, text is razor-sharp, and colours are vivid, rich and nuanced. 

With a resolution of 2,560 x 1600 (not 4K, but not far off), you get the high levels of visual detail you need if you work in image manipulation, 3D or video editing software, while for the rest of us it means great picture quality for our entertainment content. Note that as with all 2021 LG Gram models, the screen is 16:10, rather than the standard 16:9 ratio. That means you’ll get slightly bigger black bars on widescreen TV shows and movies.


The sound quality of the 2020 LG Gram left a lot to be desired, so the brand has stepped up and upgraded things for 2021, with two 2W speakers and a MAX 5W Smart Amp. These delivered deep bass notes, crystal clear trebles and a decent level of loudness: 60 per cent was more than sufficient to fill a room with our tunes, or to watch movies with others. It’s not quite up to the standard of the HP Spectre x360 14’s Bang & Olufsen speakers, but not far off. 


LG had treated 2021’s LG Gram range to the latest ‘Tiger Lake’ 11th Generation Intel Core processors, along with Intel’s integrated Iris Xe graphics.In the LG Gram 17, you’ll find the i7-1165G7 processor that’s appearing in all sorts of ultrathin laptops at the moment.You get 2.8 GHz speeds (and Turbo up to 4.7 GHz) and 16GB system memory. Everything’s been configured as part of the Evo program.The new laptop features LPDDR4X 4266MHz memory. Also debuting this year is a new ‘LG Up-Down Air’ thermal solution, which is said to allow two times faster thermal circulation than conventional products. While maintaining the previous model’s cooling system, the new design now discharges heat in two directions, promising better performance over a long term.


LG makes the bold claim that the 80 Wh lithium-ion battery inside the LG Gram 17 can last up to 19.5 hours from a single charge. Of course, ‘up to’ is a relative term. But using the laptop across a full working week, we found that battery life was certainly sufficient.

Despite being an ultra thin laptop, the LG Gram 17 offers a decent array of connectivity options. On the left you’ll find an HDMI port, then two USB-C slots, and then a mic/headphone jack. You can use either of these USB-Cs to charge the laptop, and the other to charge up your phone, etc, simultaneously. It’s a shame, though, they couldn’t put the USB-C slots on opposite sides, as this means you have no choice but to power the LG Gram 17 from the left.On the right, meanwhile, there’s a Kensington lock slot, two USB-A slots, and a microSD reader. The new 2021 LG gram supports Thunderbolt 4 and data transfer speeds of up to 40 GB/sec, not to mention display connections up to 5K. 

Latest Gram 17 is worth upgrading from either previous version.The battery life gives you an extra couple of hours for starters, you also get Thunderbolt 4 support, a more powerful CPU as well as graphics performance courtesy of Intel’s Xe integrated graphics. As a modern laptop in its own right, the Gram 17 is still almost peerless with its large 16:10 screen and sub 1.4kg weight that continue to make it a highly compelling option for content creators and business users that need to maximise productivity.If the size and low weight are of key importance then this is still the 17 inch laptop to beat and this is easily the best model yet.


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