LG Gram 17 vs Apple MacBook Pro 16 (2020)

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Winner
New Apple MacBook Pro (16-Inch, 16GB RAM, 512GB Storage, 2.6GHz Intel Core i7) - Silver
Best Price
LG Gram Laptop - 17" IPS WQXGA (2560 x 1600) Intel 10th Gen Core i7 1065G7 CPU, 16GB RAM, 1TB M.2 NVMe SSD (512GB x2), 17 Hour Battery, Thunderbolt 3 - 17Z90N (2020)
Model
MacBook Pro 16
Gram 17
Test Result
Test Result 9.8/10 Excellent July 2020
Test Result 9.4/10 Very good July 2020
Manufacturer
Apple
LG
RAM
16 GB
16 GB
CPU
Intel Core i7
Intel Core i7 1065G7
Graphics Card
Amd Radeon Pro 5300M Graphics
Iris Plus graphics
Storage Capacity
512GB SSD
1TB SSD
Battery Time
Value for money
Weight
4.3 lbs
2.98 lbs
Pros
  • Best performance in this price segment
  • Fantastic display / image quality
  • Great Battery life & lightweight
  • Performance not throttled when running on battery + long battery life
  • Better Price than MacBook Pro 16
  • Large Trackpad + thin & very lightweight
Cons
  • More expensive than LG Gram 17
  • Below average CPU performance; short-lived Turbo Boost
Winner
New Apple MacBook Pro (16-Inch, 16GB RAM, 512GB Storage, 2.6GHz Intel Core i7) - Silver
Model
MacBook Pro 16
Test Result
Test Result 9.8/10 Excellent July 2020
Manufacturer
Apple
RAM
16 GB
CPU
Intel Core i7
Graphics Card
Amd Radeon Pro 5300M Graphics
Storage Capacity
512GB SSD
Battery Time
Value for money
Weight
4.3 lbs
Pros
  • Best performance in this price segment
  • Fantastic display / image quality
  • Great Battery life & lightweight
Cons
  • More expensive than LG Gram 17
Best Price
LG Gram Laptop - 17" IPS WQXGA (2560 x 1600) Intel 10th Gen Core i7 1065G7 CPU, 16GB RAM, 1TB M.2 NVMe SSD (512GB x2), 17 Hour Battery, Thunderbolt 3 - 17Z90N (2020)
Model
Gram 17
Test Result
Test Result 9.4/10 Very good July 2020
Manufacturer
LG
RAM
16 GB
CPU
Intel Core i7 1065G7
Graphics Card
Iris Plus graphics
Storage Capacity
1TB SSD
Battery Time
Value for money
Weight
2.98 lbs
Pros
  • Performance not throttled when running on battery + long battery life
  • Better Price than MacBook Pro 16
  • Large Trackpad + thin & very lightweight
Cons
  • Below average CPU performance; short-lived Turbo Boost

We tested and compared the LG Gram 17 vs Apple MacBook Pro 16 in terms of Performance, Display Quality, Price, Portability, Battery life & more.

Above you can see the Ranking with the results of the test and below you will find the in-depth reports of the two lightweight Laptops.

Ranking First: Apple MacBook Pro 16

Apple MacBook Pro 16 review


Pros

  • Best performance in this price segment
  • Fantastic display / image quality
  • Great Battery life & lightweight

Cons

  • More expensive than LG Gram 17

By making what appear to be regressions in size and weight with the 16-inch MacBook Pro, Apple is enabling the notebook to benefit from a better keyboard, good cooling for sustained high performance and longer battery life. There’s a lot of good things to hold on to with the MacBook Pro 16-inch and very little to complain about.

The MacBook Pro 16-inch isn’t just a replacement for the 15.4-inch MacBook Pro, it’s designed to meet the needs of professionals who demand a reliable notebook with lasting high performance.

To this end, Apple, for example, has thrown out the butterfly keyboard introduced with the MacBook after years of problems and replaced it with a classic scissor mechanism, as it was in the time before the problems.

In addition, the cooling system has been reworked to prevent Intel’s Core-i7 and Core-i9 processors from again having comparatively low turbo clock rates.

In the course of the revision, Apple surprisingly didn’t turn the price screw. Strictly speaking, the opposite is the case, because the SSDs of both base models are twice as large as standard with the MacBook Pro 16 inch. In addition, somewhat faster RAM and more powerful graphics cards from AMD are built in due to the bench.

Apple MacBook Pro 16 setup

Techtestreport has tested the second base model with Core i9-9880H, 16 GB RAM, now 1 TB instead of 512 GB SSD and smaller AMD Radeon Pro 5500M, which is priced at $2200. Both base models can be brought up to $7200 with full equipment consisting of Core i9-9980HK, 64 GB RAM, 8 TB SSD and large AMD Radeon Pro 5500M.

Design

Whether you’re looking at the older MacBook Pro 15.4-inch or the new MacBook Pro 16-inch, it’s not easy to tell when it’s closed. In fact, it’s impossible to tell without a direct comparison, because the two notebooks are separated by just 8.6 × 5.2 mm in area and a tiny 0.7 mm in height.

However, when the notebook is lifted, the 0.37 lbs extra weight of the larger model becomes noticeable in sensitive hands.

A nice side effect of the larger case are the very good speakers, of which there are a total of six equally distributed on the left and right sides – two of them are woofers that can compensate for the vibrations acting on the case to prevent resonance.

That works well in real life because even at the highest volume, MacBook Pro doesn’t become a rattling boom box – it stays precise. And at the highest volume, MacBook Pro is capable of playing a small office in a small space. Especially in front of the notebook, the sound is spatially solidly divided so that sounds can be easily assigned to different channels.

Apple MacBook Pro 16 back view

Apple mentions the support for Dolby Atmos playback in the data sheet. A certain surround effect can actually be elicited from corresponding demo material, although you still don’t feel like being transported to the cinema. Nevertheless, these are excellent notebook loudspeakers that are currently unparalleled on the market.

Apple has also added three new microphones that provide better audio quality for FaceTime, Skype and podcasts. In a direct comparison with an iPhone 11 Pro Max (review), there is less noise and less reverb.

For 16 inches Apple has created an elegant notebook that successfully conceals size and weight. 4.4 lbs is clearly more than with one of the popular 13-inch companions, which are often well under 3.3 lbs. Measured by the available, larger screen diagonal, the weight is okay, though.

Except for the new dimensions, the MacBook Pro is outwardly indistinguishable from its predecessor. The colors silver and space gray are still available, and the feel, choice of materials, and workmanship are still at the highest level.

Only sometimes, when you lift it too hard, you can’t help but grab a spot on the bottom where the outer skin meets the hardware, and a sound similar to a soft crackling sound is heard.

If you want to have a look at the technology, you’ll have to remove at least the six visible Pentalob screws for this. However, almost none of the most soldered components can be replaced, as iFixit reports in the teardown.

Keyboard & Trackpad

y used scissors design with around 50 percent longer key travel (1.0 mm vs. 0.7 mm). The 16-inch MacBook Pro is the first Apple notebook to be excluded from the MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro keyboard service program. 16 notebooks introduced since 2015, including four from this year, are affected.

Apple MacBook Pro 16 side view

The return to scissors-style typing is as simple as it is effective: On the new MacBook Pro, it types beautifully and reliably. Until now, no crumbs have been able to fight their way into the key mechanism and cause failures. Hopefully it will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

But the keyboard has more to offer than a new old mechanism under the by the way marginally smaller keycaps, including a physical Esc key again instead of integrating it into the “touch bar”, and a layout in an inverted T-arrangement for the arrow keys instead of letting the left and right keys close the gaps to the shift key in full height.

This may be less appropriate in Apple’s world of perfect symmetry, but it separates the keys better. And also the power key with integrated touch ID scanner is now slightly separated from the “touch bar”. The fingerprint sensor works absolutely reliable and thus stands in stark contrast to the recently not very convincing implementation in the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 (7390) (review).

For the initial login after booting and some administrative confirmations, macOS – like Windows 10 – requires the user password.

A few millimeters below the keyboard, the gigantic Force-Touch trackpad starts, which has taken over the dimensions of the MacBook Pro 15.4 inch with 16 × 10 cm.

Apple MacBook Pro 16 keyboard

By comparison, the MacBook Pro 13.3-inch model measures 13.5 cm by 8.3 cm, but even older devices without force touch, such as the MacBook Pro A1502, which will be manufactured from late 2013 to mid-2017, measure just 10.5 cm by 7.5 cm.

Apple trackpads continue to set the standard for pointer precision and Multi-Touch gesture control. Since the switch to Force Touch trackpads, there are also pressure-sensitive functions such as force-clicks, which when pressed firmly can trigger secondary functions.

Apple’s trackpads also have the advantage that they are not suspended from a hinge at the top like a rocker and can therefore be operated from any position.

In the Windows world, no other manufacturer offers such a good implementation. Apple’s closest rivals here are at best Microsoft with the Surface laptop and Dell with the XPS 15.

Display

The MacBook Pro is named for its display, which has been enlarged from 15.4 inches to 16 inches. The 0.6-inch increase in diagonal size results in an enclosure that’s only a few millimetres larger, thanks to thinner display edges.

To maintain the previous pixel density of 226 ppi, Apple increased resolution from 2,880 × 1,800 pixels to 3,072 × 1,920 pixels. The aspect ratio of 16:10, which is practical in everyday use due to the additional space in height, has been retained.

This format has recently also made a positive impression on the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1. Microsoft’s 3:2 screens in the Surface devices are also clearly superior to the 16:9 viewing slits of many notebooks. The panel also continues to cover the extended P3 colour space.

Apple advertises the screen of the MacBook Pro 16 inch with a maximum brightness of 500 cd/m², which turned out to be a practical indication in the test. Strictly speaking, Apple even slightly surpasses this specification in the central area of the display with up to 512 cd/m².

Apple MacBook Pro 16 display

Measured in nine areas, the display reaches an average maximum brightness of a very good 493 cd/m². The homogeneity of the panel turns out excellent and is on par with the best notebook so far, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon G7 (review) with 96 percent.

The high maximum brightness also makes sure that Apple can compensate for the partly occurring reflections of the screen covered with glass. Users should be aware, however, that MacBook Pro tends to have to work with a higher brightness than a notebook with a matt display in order to achieve the same readability despite the anti-reflective layer.

On the other hand, a display with a glass cover always has a certain brilliance advantage over matte panels under good lighting conditions, providing richer colours and a subjectively perceived better contrast. This in turn is in the upper midfield with measured 1,450:1, but doesn’t set any new records.

Nevertheless, the determined black values between 0.326 cd/m² and 0.349 cd/m² provide a deep black that doesn’t look like grey.

Like Apple’s smartphones and tablets, the MacBook Pro supports “True Tone” to adjust the display’s white point to the ambient light. You can also use Night Shift to lower the white point further, which can be set for the time from sunset to sunrise.

Without these functions, the white point is at a slightly cooler 6,900 Kelvin, which is slightly higher than on the last tested iPhones. Their OLED panels are currently Apple’s best displays.

Performance

MacBook Pro users demand great input devices, great displays, and great performance – consistently. And in this respect, the last generation of the notebook series was not so good for Apple, because the processor in the MacBook Pro could only run at a high turbo clock rate for a short time before the cooling system thwarted the whole thing.

Apple MacBook Pro 16 performance

To speak of throttling is not correct in this respect, as only the turbo clock frequencies varied, but the CPU didn’t fall below the base clock.

The new MacBook Pro completely eliminates this shortcoming and delivers very high performance over the long term. The CPU and GPU heatsink is 35 percent larger in the new model, and the revised fans deliver 28 percent more airflow, according to the manufacturer.

On the other side, in the CPU area, there are no changes with an influence on the cooling, because Apple has to continue to rely on Intel’s Coffee Lake processors from optimised 14-nm production for the MacBook Pro due to the lack of suitable 10nm new introductions.

This means that, as with the last MacBook Pro, the Core i7-9750H, the Core i9-9880H (built into the test device) and the Core i9-9980HK are available for selection.

In comparison to the last reviewed Ultrabooks, which work with a maximum of 4 cores, the Core i9-9880H naturally performs significantly better with its 8 cores and 16 threads.

Far more interesting than the first multi-core score of high 1,427 points determined in Cinebench R15 is the processor’s performance, which can be called up over a longer period of time. Apple itself speaks of 12 watts more thermal dissipation power that can be dissipated, but includes CPU and GPU in this figure.

For the Core i9-9880H, it can be said that Apple approves around 88 watts in the first run of the benchmark, before a slightly fluctuating package power of 60 to 65 watts is applied under continuous load.

The manufacturer initially handles the cooling conservatively, so that the CPU initially delivers worse readings in the second and third runs than in the later course of the test, when the fans turn up fully. But even in this worst case scenario, 92 percent of the maximum performance is still available, which improves to 95 percent in the later course.

Apple MacBook Pro 16 performance

Equipped with a powerful cooling system this time around, it’s not surprising that the new MacBook Pro delivers consistently high performance in the benchmarks. The notebook is once again well ahead of the Razer Blade 15 (review), whose Core i7-8750H works with 6 cores and 12 threads.

Impressive, for example, are the dramatically reduced waiting times for encoding from 4K H.265 to Full HD H.265, which turns out almost half as long with just over 3 minutes. If time is really money for the Creator target audience, then the power of the MacBook Pro really comes into its own.

Also noteworthy: The Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR with Core i9-9980HK at 80 watts package power according to the display is just beaten in Blender.

In order for Apple to be able to offer a constantly high performance in the MacBook Pro this time, the fans have to provide a corresponding service. They rotate at a maximum of 5,600 rpm (left) and 5,200 rpm (right). If that’s the case, measured in front of the notebook (40 cm to the hinge), the fans aren’t exactly quiet at 50 dB(A).

Fortunately, the notebook doesn’t emit more than a loud noise, but none with annoying background noises like high frequency whistling or bearing noises of the fans. 50 dB(A) is an announcement and the MacBook Pro isn’t quiet under full load, but the noise is one of the tolerable variants. Also, in the Pro segment, performance must take precedence.

The MacBook Pro’s behavior in battery mode is pleasing, because it doesn’t differ from operation with a power supply in terms of performance, as the test with the benchmarks in both modes has shown.

macOS users, unlike users under Windows 10, don’t have to torment themselves with countless Windows performance profiles and additional ones from the notebook’s manufacturer, but always get the available performance provided, no matter if on the power supply or not. Everything else is regulated quietly and silently by macOS in the background according to the principle “It just works”.

Apple MacBook Pro 16 display benchmarks performance

While the processors are the same as in the last model and only provide more performance due to the better cooling system, new hardware is actually being introduced for the graphics cards. Instead of AMD Polaris and Vega, Apple now uses navigation systems from 7-nm production throughout.

A total of three variants are available, whereby the latter only differ in the VRAM: Radeon Pro 5300M with 4 GB GDDR6, Radeon Pro 5500M with 4 GB GDDR6 and Radeon Pro 5500M with 8 GB GDDR6.

Gaming Performance

With the Radeon Pro 5500M, Apple is the first manufacturer to offer Navi 14 in full configuration with 24 compute units and 1,536 stream processors. However, only 22 of the 24 compute units are active in the Radeon RX 5500 and RX 5500M.

The Radeon Pro 5300M with its 20 compute units and 1,280 active stream processors is even one class below that. Apple already offers the stronger of the two graphic cards from the second base model for $3000.

The new navigation graphics cards also deliver significantly more performance in applications than in the days of Polaris and Vega in the MacBook Pro, whereby the difference between Polaris and navigation in particular is great, unless VRAM becomes the limiting factor, in which case the advantage over Vega becomes clearer.

Apple MacBook Pro 16 keyboard

Professional applications that make use of the GPU are for example the Unity Editor, Final Cut Pro X and Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve Studio. In the absence of comparable devices, the following information is taken from Apple comparisons.

But there are also big gains for the MacBook Pro beyond the professional applications. In games, the navigation graphics cards are also clearly superior to Polaris and Vega. Here the bottleneck is rather the number of games available for macOS, as the editorial staff had to find out on Steam in search of current titles.

Of the more than 280 games in the archive, only 28, or around 10 percent, are compatible with macOS – much of the rest can be streamed. The most recent title was Rise of the Tomb Raider, which is the second part of the current Tomb Raider trilogy introduced at the end of 2015, which was completed in 2018 with Shadow of the Tomb Raider. The port of Rise of the Tomb Raider made by Feral Interactive for macOS and Linux is available since April 2018.

Apple itself attests the game in 1,440 × 900 with very high quality settings and Vsync disabled a 90 percent higher performance with the Radeon Pro 5500M (4 GB) instead of the Radeon Pro 560X (4 GB) and a 30 percent higher performance in comparison to Radeon Pro 5500 (8 GB) compared to Radeon Pro Vega 20 (4 GB).

For its own benchmarks, Techtestreport chose 1,920 × 1,200 pixels at medium, high and very high details, with VSync disabled in each case. As with Apple, the integrated benchmark was used. With medium and partly high details, a title like Rise of the Tomb Raider can be played smoothly on the MacBook Pro.

Besides the three options for processor and graphics card, buyers have many options when choosing RAM and SSD. First of all, it should be noted that Apple is keeping up with the times and has doubled the standard configurations in terms of SSD capacity, so that at least 512 GB and 1 TB respectively are now installed.

Apple has not changed the amount of memory with 16 GB compared to the last 15-inch offshoot, but has at least switched from DDR4 with 2400 MHz to DDR4 with 2666 MHz in order to fully use the memory interface of the Coffee Lake processors this time.

Apple MacBook Pro 16 touchbar

Apple had unnecessarily wasted potential with the last model by using the slower memory. If you need more than 16 GB RAM, you can upgrade to 32 GB for $500 and to 64 GB for $1000.

Whilst notebook manufacturers like Acer, Asus, Gigabyte or MSI can keep up with the RAM, Apple is alone on a wide field in terms of SSD options. Up to 8 TB surcharge depending on the base model can be selected. Apple was already well ahead of the competition with the 4 TB of the last model, and with the doubling to 8 TB, the company is setting the crown on the whole.

The 1 TB variant built into the test device delivers 3,400 MB/s for sequential reading and 2,800 MB/s for sequential writing in the AmorphousDiskMark, a macOS clone of the CrystalDiskMark developed for Windows.

Both are very good values that can compete with the best SSDs of current Windows notebooks. Whether the SSDs deliver even better values with 2 to 8 TB is not known to Techtesreport.

Upgradeability

By the way, upgrading SSD and RAM is not or only with a lot of effort possible, because both components are soldered to the main board. This kind of compact, but not very maintenance-friendly manufacturing is, among other features, one of the reasons why the notebook received only one of ten possible points in the teardown of iFixit in terms of reparability.

Apple MacBook Pro 16 design touchbar

If you want to buy a MacBook Pro 16-inch, you should be aware of the requirements you’ll face and make appropriate decisions regarding SSD and RAM. It’s not possible to upgrade or use memory cards later. External storage media can only be integrated via the four Thunderbolt 3 interfaces or via the network or cloud.

Battery life

Apple accommodates a larger battery in the marginally larger chassis in addition to upgraded hardware and better cooling. With 99.8 Wh, it is just about within the framework of the regulations of the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and can therefore be transported in an airplane.

The battery is 5 percent larger than the 17-inch MacBook Pro, which was discontinued in 2012, and 16.2 Wh more powerful than its direct predecessor, the 2019 MacBook Pro 15-inch.

The 100-wh battery ensures that runtimes are excellent despite the large, high-resolution display. In the editorial everyday life, Apple’s stated 11 hours runtime for wireless surfing proved to be almost realistic, whereas in the test rather 9 to 10 hours of work in the CMS via Safari and image editing with Gimp correspond to the most common scenario.

The measured values that are close to the manufacturer’s specifications also apply to the runtimes in the multimedia area, because the notebook ranks high in the ranking with well over 12 hours of play time in YouTube. Only the Surface Book 2 with 86 Wh and the Dell XPS 13 (9380), deliberately tested with a Full-HD display due to the battery life, score better.

Among the power notebooks in the 15 and 16 inch class, Apple’s step to a somewhat larger but still elegant case with room for a 99.8 Wh battery was exactly the right one and, in view of the competition in the Windows camp, a timely counter. Because there are already several providers with Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo and Razer who equip their creator, gaming and workstation flagships with 95 Wh and more.

Apple MacBook Pro 16 package hands on

Apple’s runtime specifications don’t include any applications for the professional sector, not even for Apple’s apps. The benchmarks for performance under continuous load in battery operation show that 100 Wh can be emptied much faster away from office and multimedia apps.

If you render with software such as Cinema 4D from Maxon, as it happens with Cinebench R15, you can also quickly use 15 percent of the battery charge in 10 minutes of full load on all 8 cores.

The MacBook Pro 16-inch is typically not an office notebook, so users of Final Cut, Premiere Pro, Photoshop, or even applications like Cinema 4D can expect shorter runtimes. When 8 cores and a GPU are running at full load, even the most efficient notebook with the largest battery will suffer.

Creator should be aware that rendering jobs with 10, 11 or 12 hours of continuous load are better started with the power supply. The USB type C power supply has also become more powerful with 96 watts via USB-PD. The 2m long USB type C cable that Apple includes with the notebook remains unchanged.

Verdict

With the MacBook Pro 16-inch, has Apple really returned to the old ways in certain areas and reversed supposed improvements of the last few years? That’s exactly what it’s doing, because it’s areas such as the keyboard and the larger case that catapult the MacBook Pro forward with supposed regressions.

The new keyboard is what users have been demanding for years. At last Apple has listened to users and, by returning to the scissor mechanism, has acknowledged a mistake and corrected it at the same time.

It should only be a matter of time before the entire portfolio is changed over. From now on, every refresh of existing Apple notebooks must include the new keyboard.

The extra key stroke is only made possible by the gains in the case. This measure affects the MacBook Pro in three other places. A larger cooler and new fans with higher speeds if necessary ensure that Apple this time delivers the performance available on paper in practice.

Apple MacBook Pro 16 setup office

While the processor’s turbocharged clock speeds caused frustration for some professionals in the last generation, this time the performance is high and stable through the bench. And while on the processor side the same CPUs with now better cooling are used, the GPUs have AMDs powerful navigation generation to choose from. This delivers significantly more power in professional apps and games than Polaris and Vega did before.

And even though the prices for upgrades are again high, Apple offers options with up to 64 GB RAM and 8 TB SSD memory that are no longer compromises in most professional environments.
Apple also knows how to make good use of the additional housing volume of the battery, and with 100 Wh, it uses exactly what is allowed in the aviation industry. Working travellers without a socket at their seat can therefore even enjoy long-haul flights in a relaxed manner.

There’s never been a shortage of battery power in the MacBook Pro, but a clear distinction must be made between workloads. If you’re constantly rendering videos or 3D scenes, working intensively in Photoshop, producing music non-stop, or constantly playing games, you’ll run out of battery power – and not too slowly.

Improvement number 3, which comes along with the larger case, are the very good speakers, which hardly any musician will use for the final mix of a track, but which can still get very loud and always maintain a very good quality without rattling, distorting or vibrating on the higher levels.

Beyond those points, MacBook Pro brings the proven qualities of earlier models, including excellent craftsmanship, a huge trackpad, and a very good display. It’s slightly larger at 16 inches, has a slightly higher resolution and comes with narrower edges, but is a familiar sight in terms of pixel density, brightness, contrast and color space.

So what’s there to complain about on the MacBook Pro? Not much, you have to say, because Apple has really succeeded with the new notebook edition. Price and a lack of connectivity are still the most likely attack vectors, whereby only a few people will probably shy away from the price in a professional environment.

With the storage media used in digital cameras today, only Thunderbolt 3 and wireless methods are not yet sufficient. Here Apple could have taken advantage of the larger case and offered more ports again. But maybe they would have got in the way of the battery or other components.

The MacBook Pro 16-inch is the notebook for Creator, especially those who have been looking for a much better successor without any major flaws in the macOS environment for a long time. It’s the notebook that should have been the last model, but wasn’t – and then some more.

The hardware is top class & long-term software support with macOS is also available to Apple customers, which is why all in all the Apple MacBook Pro 16 is ranking first vs LG Gram 17.

Ranking Second: LG Gram 17

LG Gram 17 review


Pros

  • Performance not throttled when running on battery + long battery life
  • Better Price than MacBook Pro 16
  • Large Trackpad + thin & very lightweight

Cons

  • Below average CPU performance; short-lived Turbo Boost

After the return of Samsung, LG now also wants to get back into the US notebook market. Within the new Gram series, the Gram 17 is the biggest new introduction.

The 16:10 display with a high resolution and the good battery life are particularly convincing in the test. However, the first generation also has construction sites.

Suddenly they all want to get back into the notebook market. We’re talking about the two South Korean manufacturers LG and Samsung, who have stayed away from the US notebook market for years, only to compete for the favor of the buyers again with a range of new devices.

While Samsung has already had a first device of this kind in its range for a few months with the ARM-based Galaxy Book S (Test) and more new releases will follow in the coming weeks, LG is currently launching the Gram series, which will be presented at the CES.

Design

Gram is a notebook series available with 14, 15 and 17 inch screens, which combines a lightweight design with a comparatively large number of connections and current hardware from Intel.

LG relies on Ice Lake-U from Intel’s 10nm production throughout and even in the largest Gram 17, it does without a dedicated graphics card. Instead, relatively large batteries with up to 80 Wh find room in the case.

LG Gram 17 setup office

LG offers Gram 14 and Gram 15 for private customers in one configuration each. The Gram 17 is available in two versions, which differ in terms of RAM, SSD and thus ultimately also the price. Techtestreport deliberately chose the Gram 17 with the model number 17Z90N-V.AA55G for the test, which is the smaller of the two configuration variants.

On the one hand, 17 inch office laptops are only rarely offered and then also tested, and on the other hand, a notebook with the recently known Intel Core i7-1065G7 shouldn’t be tested for the umpteenth time.

Those who unpack the Gram 17 and lift it out of the packaging for the first time, think they have caught an exhibition copy without hardware, a so-called dummy.

The dimensions of 38.1 × 26.16 × 1.78 cm (W × D × H) and the large screen don’t really want to fit the weight of just 2.97 lbs. This is only 0.22 lbs more than on a Dell XPS 13 (9360) used by the editorial staff for trade shows and other away activities.

LG achieves the low weight via the case made of a magnesium alloy. The material is especially light, but has an unattractive side effect: magnesium can feel like plastic, which is the case with the Gram 17. LG is not the first manufacturer to struggle with this disadvantage of the actually high-quality material. Toshiba (now dynabook) also makes notebooks from magnesium, which feels like plastic.

Annoyingly, the Gram 17’s impression of quality is further clouded by a slightly warped case. The front left of a total of four feet does not have the same contact pressure as the others on the table and hangs slightly in the air when the display is opened by about 90 degrees.

LG Gram 17 side view

The further the screen is opened, the more the deficiency becomes noticeable. In everyday life, this feature is annoying, as a slight rattling is always noticeable when the palms of the hands are put on. It’s also noticeable that the case can be simply pushed in and easily bent.

But the case is basically well made and has small, even gaps. The case bottom can be removed, but LG hides the screws behind covers. There are also two loudspeakers on the bottom.

Ports / Interfaces

Despite its thin design, the Gram 17 offers many connections, but not all that some users might wish for. There are also interfaces for this, which one would no longer expect in the $1700 class. But one after the other.

LG Gram 17 ports

Ports for microSD, 3.5 mm jack, two USB 3.2 Gen 1 types (5 Gbit/s) and a lock are placed on the right. A full-fledged SD card reader hasn’t found a place. On the left side, users will find Thunderbolt 3, full HDMI, another USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type A and a fiddly power supply connector for hollow plugs.

LG includes an outdated power supply with a proprietary hollow plug instead of a modern USB type C. For Ethernet an adapter from USB type C to RJ45 is included.

Keyboard & Touchpad

When opened, the Gram 17 reveals a feature that is becoming increasingly rare due to the trend towards subnotebooks: a number pad that users who often have to enter a lot of numbers will especially appreciate.

The NumPad made itself felt several times positively in the test period when calculating various measured values. Those who often need the feature on the desktop keyboard will quickly appreciate it on the notebook as well.

The keyboard on the left next to it has an almost normal layout, but has two special features to offer. On the one hand, the enter key only comes with half the height, thus reduced to one row of keys. The fingers didn’t really want to get used to it during the entire test period.

LG Gram 17 lit up keyboard

The left shift key also turns out too small and is also much too close to the key for the comparison characters. These are the only two keys of the entire keyboard that LG places directly next to each other without interruption for whatever reason.

The typing feel in general turns out good on average. The individual keys sit firmly in the case, but look a bit too soft from the stroke and sink too deeply into the case, so that the fingertip scratches the edge of the case from time to time. A plus point: There is a fast fingerprint sensor in the power button on the upper right.

The touchpad only appears relatively small at first glance, which is due to the case’s large dimensions. However, with 12 × 7.8 cm, the touchpad is as large as the current Huawei MateBook X Pro (review) and noticeably larger than the 11.5 × 6.1 cm of the Samsung Galaxy Book S.

In addition to the size, the gliding characteristics also fit, as fingers glide pleasantly without resistance over the surface, so that various Windows gestures can be easily executed with up to four fingers.

The click feeling isn’t so good, because the touchpad sinks deeply into the case, just like the keyboard, so that fingers run along the slightly sharp-edged case frame. The overall qualitative impression of the touchpad turns out rather mixed.

Display

“Wow”, is the motto when looking at the pleasantly large display, which has not degenerated into a viewing slit. Because the Gram 17 plays in a completely different league than the recently reviewed office notebooks in the 13 and 14 inch class with a 17.3 inch screen.

In everyday office life, it was always positively noticeable how pleasant the plus in surface area is. This is especially true when using two apps positioned next to each other, whose contents can be read more easily.

LG has also exclusively opted for the Gram 17 to use the 16:10 format and implemented it with 2,560 × 1,600 pixels instead of the usual Full HD or 1440p resolution. This means that almost twice as many pixels are available on the same surface. In addition, the extra screen height is practical in everyday office life, as there is always a little less scrolling to do.

LG Gram 17 display

An average maximum brightness of 381 cd/m² was determined for the IPS panel from nine measuring fields in the test, with which LG lands in the upper midfield. A bit more would have been desirable, as the manufacturer annoyingly relies on a glossy display coating, which wouldn’t have been necessary in view of the lack of touch and leads to unsightly reflections depending on the incidence of light.

In return, subjectively colors and contrast benefit from this. The latter is on the usual, but good IPS level with 1.472:1.

The color temperature of the white point in the test device is a standard, well-calibrated 6.600 Kelvin, so that white is not falsified in the direction of blue or red.

Those who want to can manually influence the value via LG’s Control Center app, whereby it is not numbers but “warmer” and “colder”. In practice, the display ranges from a bluish 8,300 Kelvin to a reddish 4,900 Kelvin.

Sound

As good as the Gram 17 visually scores, the speakers are disappointing. When movies or YouTube videos are played on the big screen, the sound doesn’t match the visual impression.

Even at medium volume the speakers rattle, distort the sound and sound muffled in all registers from low to high. Movies on the Gram 17 are better watched over headphones.

Performance

The Gram 17 is powered by an Intel processor from the Ice Lake-U 10-nm family, more precisely the Core i5-1035G7, which is equipped with four cores at eight threads and an integrated Iris Plus graphics unit with 64 EUs and runs at a basic clock rate of 1.2 GHz. The maximum turbo clock frequency is 3.7 GHz.

LG Gram 17 benchmarks gaming games gta V; test

Intel specifies the usual TDP of 15 watts for the processor, but the notebook manufacturer can also operate the CPU with a configurable cTDP-up of 25 watts. In the other direction, 12 watts are set as cTDP-down.

Independent of this, short load peaks are possible, which increase the consumption in the test for fractions of a second in the case of Gram 17 to up to 33 watts in multi-core measurements and 30 watts in single-core measurements.

However, these are values of power limit 2, which can’t be permanently applied in practice. As power limit 1, which can be permanently present at maximum load, 12 watts have been determined in the LG notebook’s single-core or multi-core benchmarks.

Thus, Gram 17 ranks alongside the most recently reviewed Huawei MateBook X Pro, whose Core i7-10510U is also limited to 12 watts under continuous load.

The Gram 17 with a Core i5-1035G7 ranks just above the Asus ExpertBook B9450FA (review) with a Core i7-10510U in terms of performance, as its processor has a limit of 10 watts.

The Gram 17 is 14 percent behind the MateBook X Pro in the benchmarks for everyday use, as opposed to 15 percent in the Asus ExpertBook B9450FA. When it comes to the heavy workload rating, i.e. applications like Blender, Cinebench, POV-Ray and the like, Asus and LG are equal, while the MateBook X Pro has a lead of 26 percent.

LG Gram 17 gaming performance benchmarks

The power limit 1 corset results in a clock rate of initially 3.6 GHz under single-core load, which drops to up to 2.1 GHz after half a minute, as the fans rotate as slowly as possible up to this point in order to minimize the noise, which is successfully achieved.

This can be well observed in the temperature progression of the same benchmark, where the CPU package’s temperature climbs up to 94 degrees Celsius before the fans turn up fully and cool the processor down to 82 degrees Celsius under a still predominant single core continuous load.

The clock rate climbs again up to 3.6 GHz due to this measure, which is acknowledged with a short temperature peak of 96 degrees Celsius, before the clock rate and temperature finally level off at 3.2 GHz to 3.6 GHz and 86 to 92 degrees Celsius respectively.

In return, the Core i5-1035G7 doesn’t come out of its first and ultimately also permanent low under multi-core load at 12 watts. From an initial 3.5 GHz, between 1.7 and 1.9 GHz usually remain in the further course, sometimes there are short-term valleys of only 1.5 GHz.

The CPU package’s associated temperature curve shows a rapid rise to 97 degrees Celsius at the start of the benchmark before the cooling starts and is initially realized between 77 and 84 degrees Celsius, before relatively stable around 80 degrees Celsius are present in the later course.

In terms of memory, 8 GB DDR4-3200 are built in, which LG runs in single channel mode. The 16 GB version of the Gram 17 can be assumed to operate in dual channel mode, but at least here this is not the case.

LG uses the South Korean competition from Samsung for the SSD and relies on a very fast PM981, which is connected via PCIe x4 and the NVMe protocol. In the sequential transfer rates, values of 3,500 MB/s read and 1,900 MB/s write are achieved.

Software

LG’s software for private customer notebooks is Windows 10 Home in the 64-bit version. If you need Windows 10 Pro, you’ll have to go for the business versions, which cost $50 more for the same equipment. Apart from a handful of LG’s own applications, the test device was free of bloatware.

LG Gram 17 office setup

LG’s four pre-installed applications include the TroubleShooting 2.0 app, which can be seen as a digital user manual, answers the most important questions about the notebook and provides an FAQ.

The LG Update Center, on the other hand, is the central point for driver and BIOS updates, whereby Windows updates are still handled by the operating system itself. In the LG Power Manager certain battery settings can be managed and an overview shows which apps use the battery and to what extent. The settings are partly similar to those of Windows, for example that from 20 percent remaining capacity, the system switches to energy saving mode.

In addition, when the battery is low, you can automatically switch to the dark Windows theme and a completely black background image. But since no OLED panel is installed anyway, the measures are purely homeopathic.

The most powerful of the pre-installed LG applications is the Control Center. Here, various system settings can be made, such as deactivating the touchpad, swapping the function keys or activating immediate booting after opening.

LG Gram 17 white version

The silent mode is also hidden there, which allows the fans to turn at a particularly low speed and barely audible. However, this has the consequence that the CPU is throttled down from formerly 12 watts to only 8 watts under multi-core load and only between 1 and 1.3 GHz in the Blender benchmark. The performance is thus once again significantly reduced.

The color temperature setting of the display can also be found in the tool. Furthermore, there is a power management to determine, for example, whether devices can be charged via the USB type C port even when the notebook is turned off.

In addition, a limit of 80 percent can be set for the charging process in order to supposedly extend the battery life.

Battery life

If you turn your attention to the hardware again, the battery stands out as a positive feature with its 80 Wh. LG promises that “location-independent working” should be possible all day long with a battery life of up to 17 hours, although the fine print says that the actual battery life depends on the specifications and can vary depending on the model, settings and user environment.

In everyday editorial use, the up to 17 hours proved to be unrealistic, but with several days of 9 hours of office use resulting in a remaining capacity of 5 percent, the results were still good.

The notebook was operated with an uninterruptedly activated display at calibrated 200 cd/m². Chrome was used in applications for working in Techtestreport’s CMS and Slack in the background, as well as occasionally GIMP and IrfanView for simple image editing.

LG Gram 17 display

In contrast, PCMark 10 achieves a runtime of twelve hours in mixed operation of office applications for word processing, browsers and video conferencing. The individual tests are executed in a continuous loop and are repeatedly interrupted by idle phases. This results in longer runtimes than in the everyday office life of Techtestreport.

With YouTube streaming in the Edge browser, also at 200 cd/m², twelve and a half hours is also a good value in view of the large and higher resolution screen. The LG Gram 17 is again almost on par with the Huawei MateBook X Pro in the office benchmark, but achieves marginally longer runtimes overall.

Verdict

LG has succeeded in returning to the US notebook market insofar as the Gram 17 is a notebook far from the masses, which combines a very large screen with high resolution in the practical 16:10 format with a nevertheless very light case.

Despite the relatively compact design, this in turn offers numerous connections that comply with current as well as earlier standards and thus provide a high degree of flexibility and compatibility.

The second clear plus point for the Gram 17 concerns the battery life. Instead of filling the case with a GPU, which isn’t needed in an office environment anyway, just so that an AMD or Nvidia sticker can adorn the device, LG uses an 80 Wh battery, which in the test provided reliable runtimes throughout the day several times in uninterrupted use. With breaks or simpler applications like streaming, runtimes of up to twelve hours are realistic.

If you’re looking for a notebook that should meet exactly these aspects, you’ll get a possible candidate for the shortlist with the Gram 17.

But then there are all those points that are less appealing with the Gram 17. Magnesium or not, the case leaves an ambivalent impression of quality, bends slightly, was already delivered warped and doesn’t give the input devices, which plunge deeply into the device during use, much of a firm grip.

Although there should actually be room for good loudspeakers in 17 inch notebooks, the Gram 17 variants leave a disappointing impression.

In addition, there are further points of criticism, such as the glossy display, the numerous translation errors in LG’s software and decisions like the renouncement of a modern USB type C power supply, which are not comprehensible.

All of this doesn’t mean that the Gram 17 isn’t worth a look, though, as it certainly offers a handful of advantages for a certain, albeit smaller target group. But versus the MacBook pro 16, the first generation of a return must also offer more, which is why the LG Gram 17 is ranking second vs MacBook Pro 16.

For its price class of $1650 the LG Gram 17 is still a great Laptop, so if you are not willing to spend as much top Dollars for a MacBook Pro or don’t need so much performance of a MacBook Pro, the LG Gram 17 is the right choice for you.


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