Tech review: LG gram 17 returns with incremental upgrades

For the latest iteration, LG has refreshed the gram 17 with an Intel 10th-generation Core processor.
For the latest iteration, LG has refreshed the gram 17 with an Intel 10th-generation Core processor.PHOTO: LG

Last year's LG gram 17 was remarkable for one reason. This 17-inch notebook weighed around 1.3kg, which was practically unheard of for its screen size.

And while the gram 17 did have some drawbacks, such as a shallow keyboard and middling performance, it more than made up for these flaws with its portability.

For the latest iteration, LG has refreshed the gram 17 (available on Amazon, Lazada and Shopee) with an Intel 10th-generation Core processor.

This new Intel processor has an integrated Iris Plus graphics chip that offers entry-level graphics performance. It will run less demanding games like battle royale shooter Fortnite, but it won't play well in newer titles like Doom Eternal.

But you are unlikely to be able to distinguish between last year's model and the new version based on their appearances.

The new version is just as sleek (around 17mm) and lightweight (1.35kg) as last year's model. My review unit has a clean minimalist design with a dark grey chassis that is relatively impervious to fingerprint smudges.

The laptop lid and the chassis exhibit a fair amount of flex. This is typical of notebooks made using magnesium alloy, which is lightweight but not as rigid as aluminium.

LG says the gram 17, like its predecessor, has passed seven military-standard tests (MIL-STD-810G) that check factors such as shock, pressure, dust, temperature and more.

I am a fan of the ample 17-inch screen, which is identical to last year's. It is bright and vibrant and is surrounded by narrow bezels. Its 2,560 x 1,600-pixel screen resolution is sufficiently high for its large display.

Unchanged too from the previous version are the number and type of ports. The most significant one is the Thunderbolt 3 port, which can be used for charging, data transfer and video output, while its three USB ports should suffice for most users.

The gram 17's keyboard is still shallow, though this is far from being a deal breaker. The power button at the top right corner integrates a fingerprint sensor, which unlocks the laptop when you press it to boot up the computer.

 
 
 

Because the gram 17 is so slim, there is just a thin layer of magnesium alloy between your lap and the notebook's warm innards. As a result, the laptop can feel uncomfortably warm while playing a video or running a game.

My review set comes with just 8GB of system memory (RAM), same as the version I tested last year and paltry for such a high-end laptop (my review set costs $2,799). Other vendors typically offer 16GB of RAM for their premium models.

Thanks to its new processor, the gram 17 scored 3,848 in the PCMark 10 benchmark. This is slightly higher than the 3,541 score by its predecessor.

In the 3DMark Time Spy benchmark, the Intel Iris Plus graphics - with a 534 score - performed only slightly faster than the standard Intel graphics chip, which scored around 400 in a laptop I tested previously.

For this year's model, LG has upped the battery capacity from 72 watt-hour previously to 80 watt-hour. But in The Straits Times' video-loop battery test, the gram 17's uptime dropped to 8hr 20min from the 2019 model's 91/2-hour mark.

The faster and presumably more power-hungry graphics chip in the new model is possibly the culprit for this dip in battery stamina.

While the gram 17's thin, ultra-portable design is still amazing, its incremental upgrades are not worth it for owners of the previous model.

FOR

Better performance

Portable for its screen size

AGAINST

Minor upgrades from last year's model

Paltry amount of system memory

Relatively pricey

SPECS

Price: $2,799

Processor: Intel Core i7-1065G7 (1.3GHz)

Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics

RAM: 8GB DDR4

Screen size: 17 inches, 2,560 x 1,600 pixels

Connectivity: Thunderbolt 3 port, 3 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A, HDMI, microSD card slot, audio jack

Battery: 80 watt-hour

RATING

Features: 4/5

Design: 3.5/5

Performance: 4/5

Value for money: 3.5/5

Battery life: 5/5

Overall: 3.5/5

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