Light and portable design. Touch screen. Myriad port and connectivity options. Comfortable keyboard. Long battery life.
Feature set and performance don't stand out among similarly priced competitors. Lacks removable battery.
- Bottom Line
The Lenovo ThinkPad T470s isn't revolutionary, but is a reliable and travel-friendly business laptop loaded with modern features and ports, making it a worthy upgrade to its predecessor.
The time-tested ThinkPad continues to serve business users reliably, updating a core concept with the latest technology and design trends. The ThinkPad T470s (starts at $1,556.10; $1,628.99 as tested) is the latest evolution of the "S" line, which is moving ever closer to ultraportable territory. It's not quite the slim ThinkPad X1 Carbon or one of the convertible ThinkPad Yoga options, but this thinner take on a general productivity laptop combines portability with more computing power than its T460s predecessor and plenty of current-generation features for an all-around competent machine. The X1 Carbon is our Editors' Choice for business laptops given its superior performance and form factor, but the T470s may better suit your needs with features like a touch screen and adapter-free Ethernet connectivity.
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The T470s borrows the carbon fiber material from the X1 Carbon family, which makes it feel light and high quality without going for a metal body. It measures 0.74 inches at its thickest point and tapers down to 0.67 inches, while 13.03 inches wide and 8.93 inches deep. It weighs 3.1 pounds, not putting it among the true featherweights on the market, but still light by any standard, especially for a business laptop. For comparison, the latest X1 Carbon measures 0.6 by 12.7 by 8.5 inches (HWD) and weighs just 2.45 pounds, while the HP EliteBook 1040 G3 is 0.65 by 13.3 by 9.2 inches and 3.64 pounds. The T470s is practically identical in size and weight to the T460s, with most upgrades on the inside or with new ports and features.
That lighter carbon fiber design doesn't compromise durability: The T470s passes the same military-grade certifications (MIL-STD 810G) as the T470. As such, it's resistant to humidity, low and high temperatures, high vibrations, shocks, sand, and high altitude. That may not be applicable to many office dwellers, but it's useful to anyone taking their laptops into the field.
The top-notch ThinkPad keyboard is one of the main elements that stays the same in each iteration, and such is the case with the T470s. The keys have a good amount of bounce and travel without feeling squishy, making for a reliable and comfortable typing experience, even for long hours of use. There are two options for cursor control: The small, circular TrackPoint stick is still present in the center of the keyboard, while the touchpad looks the same as ever. Dedicated left and right click buttons are located just over the touchpad, which are starting to look a little dated, but performance is dependable.
There are changes beneath the surface, though, as Lenovo has implemented Microsoft's Precision Touchpad technology into this laptop. Precision touchpads let Windows 10 handle driver updates, multitouch input, and gesture commands, and receive raw touchpad input, rather than leave all of that to each manufacturer's drivers. Ideally, all computer makers will integrate this technology and leave the software features and updates to Microsoft, making a more unified market with less finicky controls from laptop to laptop, so kudos to Lenovo for implementing it.
The 14-inch touch display won't turn any heads, but it's perfectly serviceable with its Full HD (1,920 by 1,080) resolution, and touch capability is a big plus for some users (while others may never use it at all—the X1 Carbon has no touch screen option). Its In-Plane Switching technology makes for wider viewing angles, and the screen does a good job of minimizing glare. At 14 inches, the display is a nice size for this type of system—small enough to remain portable, but the extra room over 11- and 13-inch systems means you'll have more real estate for multiple windows and seeing more within each program. The speakers are similarly unremarkable, loud at full volume but without much deep bass. The sound isn't overly tinny or weak, though, so while the T470s won't become your media center, it can play clips and voice chat audio with no issue.
The port loadout is strong, with everything a business user will likely need in the office or on the road. Its left side includes a USB 3.0 port, a 4-in-1 card reader, the power adapter, and a headphone jack. On the right, there's a USB-C port with Thunderbolt 3, two more USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI connection, a smart card reader, a micro-SIM slot, and an Ethernet jack. The X1 Carbon doesn't have a dedicated Ethernet jack, so you'd have to carry a proprietary dongle with you for that, while the T470s removes that worry. Whether you're attaching displays, adding storage, or connecting peripherals and external drives, the T470s has the connections to support it. For storage, there's a 256GB SSD on board. That's not a lot if you need to store many video files or other large projects, but that capacity is fairly standard for a lighter system (the X1 Carbon has the same amount).
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Extras include a Match-in-Sensor fingerprint reader, anti-fry protection, Windows Signature Edition, and Windows Hello. This style of system-on-chip fingerprint reader is meant to be more secure, as it relegates your fingerprint records and biometric matching within the sensor module itself, rather than having it processed by the machine. Anti-fry protection prevents untested third-party USB-C chargers from harming your system, while Signature Edition means no pre-installed anti-virus software or other bloatware like toolbars or third-party services are present on your laptop. Windows Hello is Microsoft's facial recognition feature, which allows you to sign in with a quick facial scan though the 720p front-facing webcam once you set it up by registering a picture of your face on the laptop. The T470s also includes dual-band 802.11ac wireless and Bluetooth 4.1, and is supported by a one-year warranty.
Since you'll be looking to the T470s for efficient multitasking and number crunching for yourself or your company's work force, general processing speed is important. While the 2.6GHz Intel Core i5-7300U processor isn't a Core i7 dynamo, it is of the latest Kaby Lake CPU generation from Intel, and combined with 8GB of memory, the T470s is pretty quick. It scored 3,255 points on the PCMark 8 Work Conventional test, which measures general productivity. That score just edges out the EliteBook 1040 G3 (which has a Core i7 from the last generation), is almost identical to the X1 Carbon's score (which makes sense, since they use the same processor), and doesn't lag too far behind the Dell Latitude 14 7000 (7480). It was also quicker than the EliteBook on the multimedia tests, shaving about a minute off the timed Photoshop test, and again performed similarly to the X1 Carbon, with the Latitude 14 the best of the bunch.
Battery life is strong, with the laptop lasting 11 hours and 13 minutes on our rundown test, an impressive result, but much longer than the EliteBook 1040 G3's 6:55 time, and in line with the 2016 15-inch Apple MacBook Pro's 11:19 result. The X1 Carbon managed 15:59 and the Latitude 14 for 13:03, so the T470s isn't at the top of the heap, but it can rightly claim all-day battery life, which is important if you're out of the office or often away from your desk. Other options, like the ThinkPad X Series, feature removable batteries to virtually double your laptop's lifespan if you swap on the go, which would be nice to see here. Alas, the battery is sealed in.
Performance is weaker when it comes to 3D and gaming, but that's to be expected on a system with integrated graphics. None of these business-focused laptops are equipped for high-fidelity 3D rendering, and work computers designed for thoses use will incorporate a discrete workstation graphics card.
The ThinkPad T470s doesn't bring any real innovation to the field, but rather, incrementally improves on a proven concept with some smart updates. It has a current-generation processor, the latest ports, a travel-friendly design, and new security features like biometric sign in. Performance isn't top tier, but quicker systems are a little more expensive, and it's fast enough to do your daily multitasking without slowing you down. The T470s ultimately isn't specialized for portability or power users, so the similarly priced alternatives may hold higher appeal depending on your specific needs. The Latitude 14 we reviewed is faster, but the configuration will cost you extra, while the Editors' Choice ThinkPad X1 Carbon is still our top business laptop pick for its slim form, long battery life, and speedy components for around the same price.
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Matthew Buzzi is a junior analyst on the Hardware team at PCMag. Matthew graduated from Iona College with a degree in Mass Communications/Journalism. He interned for a college semester at Kotaku, writing about gaming. He has written about technology and video game news, as well as hardware and gaming reviews. In his free time, he likes to go out with friends, watch and discuss sports, play video games, read too much Twitter, and obsessively manage any fantasy sports leagues he's involved in. More »
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