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Trying out a very lightweight laptop: LG Gram 17 (2023)

My thoughts on the LG Gram 17 (2023): light design, potent performance, and impressive battery for travel.
Sid Metcalfe

Cartesian Mathematics Foundation


November 24, 2023


I recently had the chance to test out the new LG Gram 17 (2023) and it’s left a good impression on me. As someone who frequently travels for work, weight and functionality are key in choosing a laptop. This LG Gram stands out with its remarkably light frame and sizable screen, a rare combination in the market. I’m often skeptical of ultraportable claims, but this device truly lives up to the hype. Let me walk you through my experience with this laptop, which is pushing the boundaries of what we expect from portable computing.



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First Impressions and Design Appeal

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When I first unpacked the LG Gram 17 (2023), the lightweight design immediately stood out to me. Weighing in at a mere 3.2 pounds, it defies expectations for a 17-inch laptop, which typically tips the scales considerably more. The sleek black magnesium alloy chassis gives it a premium look and feel without the heft, and that’s a big plus for someone like myself who’s constantly on the go.

Holding it, I appreciate the engineering effort that has gone into striking this weight-to-size balance. With the dimensions of 14.91 x 10.19 x 0.7 inches, it fits comfortably in a larger bag or backpack, making it a very travel-friendly option. The large 17-inch WQXGA (2,560 x 1,600 pixels) display is sharp, offering a bright and colorful canvas for work and leisure. The addition of a 144Hz refresh rate is a subtle but significant boost for both smoother visuals and potentially better gaming experiences—assuming you’re willing to work within the limitations of the RTX 3050 GPU.

Opening up the LG Gram 17, you’re greeted by a spacious keyboard and touchpad. For a frequent typist like myself, the keyboard’s layout is comfortable and expansive, including a full number pad that could be a boon for users who crunch numbers regularly. However, the keys do require a surprising amount of force to register a press, which could lead to some frustration and slower typing speeds until you adjust to it. Moreover, despite its understated design suitable for professional environments, the keyboard is somewhat of a fingerprint magnet, which may detract from its otherwise classy appearance.

Port selection on the LG Gram 17 (2023) does not disappoint, offering a good mix of modern and legacy options. With two Thunderbolt 4/USB4 ports, two USB-A ports, HDMI, a microSD card slot, and a headphone jack, the laptop is well equipped to handle a variety of peripherals without necessitating a dongle. Yet, one of the drawbacks is the power cord length, stretching a little over 6 feet, it feels quite short compared to others on the market. It’s functionally adequate but may limit your mobility within a space, which is somewhat ironic for a device that’s otherwise so well-suited for on-the-go use.

In terms of the touchpad, it’s sufficiently responsive and supports gesture navigation without issue. It complements Windows 11 well and helps maintain productivity especially when you don’t have an external mouse handy.

The dual 3W speakers are another high point of this laptop, delivering a clear and loud sound that can easily fill a small room. Whether jamming out to music between work sessions or catching up on a favorite show, the audio quality is impressive for a laptop of this size and weight.

The built-in 1080p IR webcam is serviceable for video calls, and the integration of IR capabilities bolsters device security through facial recognition, though under low-light conditions, the camera’s picture quality isn’t quite as sharp as one might expect.

For developers or tech enthusiasts, the LG Gram 17 (2023) does a decent job of balancing power and portability. Whether you’re handling coding projects on GitHub, wrangling large datasets, or jumping between power-hungry applications, the laptop’s Intel Core i7-1360P CPU and RTX 3050 GPU manage a respectable performance for an ultraportable. However, it’s not a workstation replacement, and if you’re used to desktop-grade performance, you’ll need to set your expectations accordingly.

So far, the LG Gram 17 (2023) clinches its spot as a standout ultraportable laptop for consumers who need a large screen and don’t want to compromise on portability. Its design is an excellent example of how far ultrabooks have come, though it’s not without its flaws. The keyboard may prove to be a divisive factor—some may find it perfectly adequate, while others might lament the need for a firmer press—and the surprisingly short power cord may have you scouting for sockets more often than you’d like. Despite these shortcomings, the Gram 17 holds promise as an enticing choice for on-the-move professionals and casual users alike.

Performance and Usability Balance

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When it comes to the performance and usability of the LG Gram 17 (2023), I’m struck by how LG manages to walk the line between a lightweight form factor and the kind of power you’d want for on-the-go productivity and light gaming.

The inclusion of a 13th Gen Intel Core i7-1360P CPU paired with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 GPU is a significant step forward from previous models. I’ve found that this laptop tackles all of my day-to-day tasks without a hiccup. Whether it’s running multiple applications or having dozens of browser tabs open for research, the LG Gram 17 doesn’t flinch. The 16GB LPDDR5 RAM and 1TB SSD provide ample memory and fast storage, making multitasking smooth and responsive. However, I’ve noticed that while this setup is sufficient for lighter creative work and casual gaming, it may not satisfy those looking for a hardcore gaming or professional-grade video editing laptop.

The 17-inch WQXGA (2560 x 1600) display strikes a good balance between size and resolution, offering crisp visuals with good color accuracy, though it’s not the brightest out there. For work and play, it’s more than adequate, and the high-refresh-rate option of 144Hz is a nice touch that contributes to an overall smoother experience, especially in fast-paced games. That being said, using it in bright, outdoor conditions can be a bit challenging due to its lower peak brightness compared to some competitors.

The keyboard is a bit of a mixed bag. Some users might find the adjustment period for the LG Gram 17’s keyboard a little longer than usual due to the key resistance. In my use, I’ve adapted to it, but it isn’t as immediate or satisfying as typing on a ThinkPad or even a Surface laptop. It really depends on your preferences and what you’re used to.

As for the touchpad, it’s generously sized which I appreciate, but the inadvertent palm touches can be an annoyance. I’ve learned to adjust my typing posture slightly to avoid this issue. It’s a small critique that doesn’t overshadow the overall positive user experience.

For those who prioritize a light workload like coding, writing, or general productivity, this laptop is an excellent compromise of performance and weight. It handles these tasks beautifully, demonstrating that you don’t need to lug around a heavy workstation for effective mobile work.

On occasion, I have pushed this laptop by dabbling in some video editing and more demanding software like Adobe Photoshop. While it handles these apps well enough, the thermal system—although improved—can get loud when the hardware is pushed to its limits. It’s clear that the LG Gram 17 prioritizes quiet operation and cool temperatures over raw performance.

All in all, the LG Gram 17 (2023) positions itself as a unique option for those seeking a large-screen laptop without the weight penalty. It’s like having your cake and eating it too, all while acknowledging it’s not the richest cake on the market. For many, the trade-off is worth it, given the unmatched portability it offers for a 17-inch laptop. And for specifics on the hardware, referencing the detailed review by Notebookcheck can offer some additional technical perspective.

Portability and Battery Life Trade-offs

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Navigating the fine line between portability and battery life is a perennial challenge in laptop design. With the LG Gram 17 (2023), I’ve found the scales tip impressively towards the side of portability without significant compromise on battery longevity. This is a major win for someone like me who prioritizes a big screen and light carry weight.

The Gram 17’s feather-light 3.2-pound frame is a marvel, especially for a 17-inch device. It’s the closest I’ve gotten to the freedom of a tablet with the power of a larger machine—except, of course, it feels vastly more capable than any tablet I’ve handled. Carrying this around feels almost the same as my old notebooks, and slipping it into my bag is a no-fuss affair. I often forget it’s there.

But lightweight often comes at the cost of battery size and therefore life. Not so with the Gram. In my use, it routinely hits the 12-hour mark on a single charge. For a long workday or back-to-back meetings where power outlets are elusive, the laptop has reliably powered through. The 90Wh battery on the dedicated GPU model is a smart move, even if it’s a slight trade-off with a bit more weight, and I think it’s a worthy one.

Admittedly, I’ve seen better battery performances out there. The MacBook Pro outshined the Gram in terms of battery longevity. And there’s a part of me that wishes LG had squeezed in some form of quick charge technology for battery top-ups, as a 35% recharge in 30 minutes doesn’t quite satiate my thirst for efficiency. Nonetheless, the Gram holds its own with respectable endurance.

On the flip side, where the Gram 17 (2023) does feel the pinch is in the cooling department. While handling daily tasks with aplomb, during heavy lifting with resource-demanding applications or multi-tasking, it gets noticeably warm. This doesn’t slow down the laptop significantly, but it’s a point of consideration for those who might push their laptops to the limit. I am also aware that long-term, consistent heat can impact battery health, so it’s a trade-off I’m keeping an eye on.

While the Gram isn’t the heavyweight champion of laptops when it comes to battery or thermal performance, it certainly punches above its weight class. It’s a machine that strikes a near-perfect balance most of the time, nudging ever so close to being the ultimate travel laptop. There’s something liberating about carrying something so light yet so capable.

The LG Gram 17 (2023) serves as an excellent reminder that with the right engineering, you can indeed have a portable machine that lasts a workday without a charge. It’s not without its trade-offs, but in the grand scheme of things, these are rather minor inconveniences. Given the choice, I would opt for this laptop time and again for its blend of power and lightness despite the few drawbacks mentioned. It fits seamlessly into my on-the-go lifestyle, making it a valuable tool in my tech arsenal.

For those like me, whose work doesn’t chain them to a desk, the LG Gram 17 offers the elusive balance that we often seek in a work device — light enough to forget it’s in your bag, yet powerful enough to handle the tasks at hand. It’s a notable feat that shouldn’t be overlooked.

In conclusion, while the LG Gram 17 may not completely eliminate the trade-offs between heavyweight power and featherweight design, it comes close enough that, for me, it’s become a staple for business travel and day-to-day productivity. It exemplifies a portable powerhouse done right.