LG Ultra PC 17: A big, lightweight laptop with graphics pep
PCWorld|December 2020
LG made a version of its ultra-light laptop that plays video games.
JARED NEWMAN

LG tends to fly under the radar as a PC maker, yet its laptops— including the recently launched LG Ultra PC 17—are some of the most interesting ones around.

Weighing in at 4.3 pounds, LG’s Ultra is surprisingly light for laptop with a 17-inch display and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 graphics card inside. It’s as if LG sized up its Gram 17 notebook, which at three pounds is perhaps one of the most underappreciated laptops on the market (go.pcworld.com/ unlp), and decided to make a version that plays games.

The result is admittedly less breathtaking than the aforementioned Gram—it doesn’t quite feel like it’s defying physics when you pick it up—but also more practical. The Ultra’s 17-inch screen really shines when you’re using it for a round of Deep Rock Galactic or a run through Hades. While its performance has notable limitations, it’s ultimately a careful balance with portability and battery life.

SPECS AND FEATURES

The LG Ultra we reviewed costs $1,700 on Amazon (go.pcworld. com/17am) and includes the following specs:

17-inch 2560x1600 IPS LCD display

10th Generation Intel Core i7-10510U “Comet Lake” CPU

Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 GPU with 4GB VRAM

16GB DDR4-2666 RAM

512GB NVMe SSD

Webcam

Wi-Fi 6

• Leftside: HDMI, USB-A 2.0, 3.5mm headphone jack, MicroSD card slot

Right side: Laptop lock, gigabit ethernet, USB-A 3.1 (x2), USB-C 3.1

If processing power isn’t a priority, Best Buy sells a $1,500 version of the LG Ultra PC (go. pcworld.com/15ul) with an Intel Core-i5 10210U CPU that otherwise has the same specs. (We’ve seen it on sale for as low as $1,200.)

Either way, you’re not getting a workhorse for heavy-duty media editing—a laptop with one of Intel’s H-series processors would be a better fit for that. Instead, you get solid battery life for basic productivity, especially given the discrete graphics card inside. More on that in the Performance section below.

The Ultra PC 17 also has a great array of ports. While the lack of Thunderbolt 3 support is a downer, the inclusion of ethernet is a rare treat, as is the full-sized HDMI port for playing games or doing work on a larger screen.

While the laptop comes with a proprietary charger, you can enable USB-C charging while the laptop is off through a setting in LG’s Control Center software, accessed by pressing Fn-F1. That same menu also has an option to stop charging the Ultra PC at an 80-percent battery level, which can preserve long-term battery life if you’re mostly using it on outlet power.

One more nice touch: The LG Ultra PC 17 chassis is held together with Phillips screws. Removing them lets you pry open the laptop’s bottom panel. Inside you’ll find a spare slot for a RAM upgrade, along with easy access to the battery.

DESIGN AND DISPLAY

Like LG’s other Gram laptops, the Ultra PC 17’s aesthetic is unimpressive. The deep-gray finish—its sole color option—is on the drab side, there’s no edge-to-edge glass over the laptop’s display bezels, and the magnesium chassis feels somewhat cheap. Although the laptop’s bottom portion feels sturdy, the display lid flexes easily.

But those lightweight materials help the LG Ultra PC 17 hit that feathery 4.3 pounds. HP’s Envy 17 (go.pcworld.com/h17t), by comparison, weighs just over 6 pounds (with an inferior GPU), and Dell’s XPS 17 (go. pcworld.com/de17) weighs 5.53 pounds in a configuration with a comparable GTX 1650 GPU. Despite its size, the Ultra is light enough to use comfortably in long stretches on your lap.

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