Refreshed upgrades, but system memory is unchanged
Last year’s LG gram 17 was remarkable for one reason. That 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.
This new 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 will not play well in newer titles like Doom Eternal.
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 you are 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 scores 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 – performs 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 eight hours and 20 minutes 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 may make owners of the previous model decide to hold on to their old laptops.