LG Gram 17 (2021) review: Small changes make this ultra-big laptop ultra-impressive

LG has revised its nearly one-of-a-kind Gram 17 Ultrabook with an updated Intel 11th Gen CPU, new colors, and some welcomed improvements.

Lg Gram 17 2021 Hero
(Image: © Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

17-inch laptops have waxed and waned over the years, but lately, there is a resurgence. The reason is that newer technology lets today's 17-inch laptop feel like yesterday's 15-inch one making them much more accessible to those who need the size.

That said, most 17-inch laptops err on the side of pure "portable" near-desktop power where hitting 6lbs is not atypical. While you can throw it in your backpack, they are not light by any stretch of the imagination.

LG bucks that trend with the Gram 17. Now in its third year, it is the only 17-inch laptop that weighs less than 3lbs. Of course, the trade-off is in performance, but you also gain excellent battery life. For 2021, the Gram 17 gets some minor changes, but they are mostly welcomed ones. Here is what you need to know about this super fun — and very different – massive and shockingly light Ultrabook.

LG Gram 17 (2021): Price and availability

Lg Gram 17 2021 Lid

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

The LG Gram 17 is now available through Amazon and LG directly for $1,700 for the black model with 16GB of RAM and 1TB of storage. Other colorways, including silver, may be made available later on as well as configurations with up to 32GB of RAM and 2TB storage.

Older models of the Gram 17 with 8th and 10th Gen Intel processors can still be found for slightly less — just be sure you are getting the model you want and not an older one if you want the benefits of Intel 11th Gen, Iris Xe graphics, and Intel Evo certification.

LG Gram 17 (2021): At a glance

Lg Gram 17 2021

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

The LG Gram 17 is a unique laptop in that it features a massive 17-inch 16:10 near-bezel less display, but the PC itself has the guts of a typical premium 13-inch Ultrabook. Most 17-inch PCs go bigger in every direction, including weight, GPU, price, and processor class – but not the Gram 17.

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CategorySpec
OSWindows 10 Pro
ProcessorIntel 11th Gen
Core i7-1165G7
RAM16GB (on-board)
LPDDR4-4266MHz
GraphicsIntel Iris Xe
Storage1TB PCIe NVMe
Display17-inches 2560x1600
16:10 Aspect
Non-touch, glossy
PortsTwo Thunderbolt 4
Two USB-A 3.2
Full HDMI
microSD reader
3.5mm audio
AudioDual 1.5w
DTS:X Ultra
ConnectivityWi-Fi 6
Bluetooth 5.1
CameraFront-facing 720P
KeyboardBacklit with number pad
TouchpadPrecision
SecurityFingerprint reader for Windows Hello
Battery80WHr
Dimensions14.97 x 10.24 x 0.70 inches
(380.2mm x 260.1mm x 17.8mm)
Weight2.98 pounds (1.35kg)
ColorWhite
Silver
Black
PriceFrom $1,700

Instead, you are getting the thinnest and lightest 17-inch laptop on the planet that is not only easy to carry but has battery life to last an entire workday.

Small changes

LG Gram 17 (2021): Design and features

Lg Gram 17 2021 Fingerprint

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

At first, there does not seem to be that much new with the Gram 17 for 2021, but that would be missing many important details. LG has continually refined the design, shape, keyboard, ports, venting, colors, and upgrading the internal hardware.

For 2021, the Gram 17 gets the following new features compared to last year's model:

  • Intel 11th Gen (up from 10th Gen) + Intel Evo
  • Intel Iris Xe graphics (up from Iris Plus)
  • LPDDR4-4266MHz (up from DDR4-3200)
  • 2x Thunderbolt 4 (up from 1x Thunderbolt 3)
  • No more proprietary AC charger (now Type-C)
  • x2 USB Type-A 3.2 (up from 3.1)
  • 100% DCI-P3 (up from just 78%)
  • Bluetooth 5.1 (up from 5.0)
  • Slight changes to chassis design
  • New bottom intake for cooling

The processor is a typical but admirable Core i7-1165G7 found in almost all premium 13- and 14-inch Ultrabooks. It benefits from Intel's 10nm design process, 4.7GHz performance, excellent battery life, and just 28 watts of power consumption (versus 45-watts in standard workstation laptops). The Gram 17 is also now Intel Evo certified.

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

RAM is now soldered to the board, so users cannot expand memory down the line, and there is now just one 1TB SSD instead of two 512GB modules. However, there should still be a second open NVMe slot on the board, as one model has 2TB of storage with dual 1TB sticks.

There is now an option for a dark black colorway (used for this review) and the previous dark silver option. Black looks fantastic, especially when combined with LG's commendable minimal branding. The silver 'Gram' logo on the lid is perfect, and there is only a small, non-distracting 'LG' on the lower bezel. There are two stickers for Intel and Amazon Alexa, but these badges can be easily peeled off. My only gripe is that black is highly prone to fingerprints and oils from your hand as it has a very matte finish. If such things bother you, opt for the silver model, which does not suffer from this setback.

The lower display bezel is also just slightly thinner, lending to a much more modern design and viewing experience.

The LG Gram 17 offers an experience like no other laptop on the market.

Thankfully, the barrel charger of the last two gens is now gone. It is still the same 65-watt charger, which is relatively small, but it now connects via Type-C instead of a barrel design. Instead of that barrel connector, LG now includes two Type-C ports (instead of just one), both of which support Thunderbolt 4, so you always have at least one free while charging.

Port selection is a nice balance of old (two Type-A), new (two Type-C with Thunderbolt 4), plus legacy HDMI 1.4 for display out and even a microSD reader. While there is space for a full SD reader, which may have been preferable, LG is sticking with microSD.

Audio is handled via two bottom-firing speakers (1.5 watts each), which is augmented by the excellent DTS:X Ultra software. That app includes a full custom equalizer and presets for movies, games, music, and more. DTS:X Ultra helps with audio and spatial separation. The sound is quite decent, but the Gram 17 would be better served with top-firing audio on the rather large keyboard deck.

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

For security, LG still doesn't include a Windows Hello infrared camera but instead relies on a fingerprint reader built into the power button. That reader is fast, accurate and I had no issues logging into Windows.

The keyboard is excellent once you get used to it being offset to include the full number pad to the right. The key travel and the backlighting are particularly good with well-spaced-out keys. A more direct commentary on this keyboard is it is outstanding for typing, especially for hours-long sessions.

Some may think the trackpad could be larger, but its size is deceptive. It's already a massive trackpad with Microsoft Precision drivers and an excellent click. However, the size pushes the limits of a mechanical trackpad as dead zones, and the right-click area takes some time to adjust to. LG would benefit from looking into using more modern haptic trackpads like on the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga or Huawei MateBook X Pro (2021).

The Gram 17's weight is still a remarkable 2.98 pounds (1.35kg), making this an exceptionally light laptop for its massive display size. LG uses a magnesium alloy for the chassis, which feels closer to a high-end plastic than metal, although this black edition is more metallic-feeling than previous iterations.

Despite being light, the LG Gram 17 is exceptionally durable with a MIL-STD 810G rating to ensure protection against "shock, dust, high or low temperature and more".

LG packs in some of its own software, and it is all outstanding. LG Power Manger is mostly shortcuts to Windows 10 features for prolonging battery life. LG Control Center lets you tune the display to cooler or warmer temperatures or shift cooling mode between silent, optimal, and performance. LG Update Center grabs any new drivers or LG app updates. And Virtoo by LG is an app that connects wirelessly to your Android or iPhone to make calls, view photos, receive and respond to SMS, and even stream apps.