Built for business use without the high price tag, Lenovo's ThinkPad L470 is a durable 14-inch laptop that can go the distance. Starting at $615 ($847.20 as configured), this system is slightly less expensive than Lenovo's ThinkPad T470, our favorite business notebook, and also offers a best-in-class keyboard, impressive battery life and a MIL-SPEC-tested chassis. In exchange for the savings, you'll have to accept some trade-offs, such as a heavier chassis and fewer ports. But for small businesses or individuals on a budget, the L470 is a solid choice.
Design: Durable and familiar
With a chassis made from glass and carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic, the ThinkPad has a solid and durable build. Following a standard ThinkPad aesthetic, the Lenovo's L470 comes in a charcoal-black finish. A silver and black ThinkPad logo is nestled on the lid's right-hand side, while a red indicator light glows when the ThinkPad is powered, which is a nice touch for this plain design.
At 13.3 x 9.25 x 0.94 inches and 4.36 pounds with its 6-cell battery or 3.64 pounds by itself, the ThinkPad L470 is heavier and thicker than the ThinkPad T470 (3.5 pounds or 3.88 pounds with 6-cell battery, 0.79 inches thick). The Dell Latitude 5480 (4 pounds, 0.9 inches thick) and AsusPro B9440 (2.4 pounds, 0.6 inches thick) are also svelter.
The L470's keyboard features white and gray lettering, while buttons above the touchpad have red and purple accents. The ThinkPad's deck is the same charcoal color, with a non-lit logo at the bottom right hand corner, a power button is located 8 inches above it that lights up green when the machine is powered on. Chrome hinges connect the deck to the 14-inch screen, which has moderate-sized bezels.
Ports: Plentiful, but...
The ThinkPad L470 has numerous ports that are helpful in business settings. On its left side, the laptop has a power adaptor, USB 3.0 connector and 3.5mm headphone jack. The ThinkPad's right side features a SIM card slot (for those who buy it with a 4G modem), two USB 3.0 connectors, a mini DisplayPort, Ethernet, VGA-out and a Kensington Lock slot, while the front lip has an SD card reader. You can also customize the ThinkPad L470 with a smart card reader. Unfortunately, there's no Thunderbolt 3 port, like you get on the T470.
The 1366 x 768, non-touch display on our review unit isn't the best. Images were sharp, but inverted whenever the screen was propped at 45 or 135 degrees. The screen is also dim, measuring 198 nits on our light meter, which falls far below the 259-nit category average. The AsusPro B9440 registered 291 nits, while the Lenovo ThinkPad T470 clocked in at 234 nits and the Latitude 5480 got a similar score of 202 nits. Overall, the ThinkPad L470 is OK if you use it indoors, but the screen is hard to see in direct sunlight.
In terms of color, the ThinkPad L470 also fell short. Its screen reproduced just 58 percent of the sRGB color gamut, nearly half that of the category average (102 percent). The AsusPro B9440 (103 percent), ThinkPad T470 (73 percent) and Latitude 5480 (71 percent) all did better. The ThinkPad L470's dull color quality was apparent when I watched Hailee Steinfeld's music video for "Most Girls." Hailee's tan skin and honey-blonde hair appeared on the gray side.
The ThinkPad L470's screen fared better in color accuracy, earning a 1.94 (0 is perfect) on the Delta-E test. That number exceeds the scores from the ThinkPad T470 (2.11) and AsusPro B9440 (6.7), as well as the category average (3.25). The Latitude 5480 (1.58) was even more accurate.
With bottom-mounted speakers that are loud enough to fill a small-to-medium conference room, the ThinkPad L470 produces clear sound. When I listened to Julia Michaels' "Issues," I could hear the chimes, bass and backing vocals perfectly, while Julia's voice carried over without distortion. The clarity in pitch and tone makes the ThinkPad's sound system ideal for school or office presentations.
To test the ThinkPad L470's sound system further, I recorded a few videos and voice notes to see how it captured audio. My recorded voice sounded accurate in the playback, so the ThinkPad's microphone earns two thumbs up for conference calls.
Keyboard and Touchpad: Top-Notch
The ThinkPad L470 has a fantastic keyboard that provides an enjoyable typing experience. The keys have a deep 1.9mm of vertical travel (1.5 to 2mm is typical) that felt great, even with my long nails.
Since the ThinkPad's keyboard is so roomy and responsive, I surpassed my average 58 words per minute by 7 percent on the Key Hero typing test. One gripe that I have with the keyboard is that the Control and Function buttons have switched places, and this interfered with my commonly used shortcuts.
Like other ThinkPads, Lenovo's L470 has a red TrackPoint pointing stick in the center of the keyboard. The TrackPoint has a textured surface that adds a sturdy grip and works seamlessly as a touchpad alternative.
If pointing sticks aren't your thing, you can use the 3.9 x 2.2-inch buttonless touchpad, which provides just as much accuracy and responds to standard Windows gestures like three-finger swipe and pinch-to-zoom. The right and left buttons supply a good amount of feedback.
Battery Life: Excellent
With the optional 6-cell (72 Whr) battery on board, our review unit lasted an impressive 15 hours and 56 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery Test (continuous surfing over Wi-Fi). This time isn't as long as that from the 6-cell battery on the ThinkPad T470, which lasted 17 hours and 25 minutes, but it crushes the category average (8:40), and the times from the Latitude 5480 (11:37) and AsusPro B9440 (8:26).
Like many other ThinkPads, including the T470, the L470 uses Lenovo's PowerBridge technology, which pairs the laptop's 3 or 6-cell external battery with a 3-cell internal unit. Since there's always a battery inside, you can easily swap out the removable one without powering down. This allows you to switch out batteries if you have a spare on hand, but since the battery life on the ThinkPad L470 is so long, you can probably survive on a single charge.
With a Core i5-7200U CPU, 4GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, our review configuration of the ThinkPad L470 offered solid performance for multitasking and productivity. Even with 15 tabs open in the Chrome browser and Netflix running in the background, I was able to switch between tasks without experiencing buffering or lag. However, other business laptops offer faster performance.
The ThinkPad L470 scored 6,524 on Geekbench 4, a synthetic test that measures the performance and speed of a device's processor and memory. That mark is slightly behind showings by the Core i5-7200U ThinkPad T470 (6,739; $1,135.20), Core i7-7600U-powered Latitude 5480 (8,999; $1,399) and Core i5-7200U-enabled AsusPro B9440 (7,238; $989). But keep in mind that these other systems are all more expensive than our $847.20 ThinkPad L470.
Lenovo's ThinkPad L470 took just 4 minutes and 7 seconds to complete our Spreadsheet Macro test, which involves matching 20,000 names with their addresses. That time is a few seconds slower than those for the ThinkPad T470 (4:01) and AsusPro B9440 (4:02), but it's faster than the category average (4:15). The Latitude 5480 completed this task in a brisk 3 minutes and 12 seconds.
The 256GB SSD on our ThinkPad L470 took 45 seconds to copy 4.97GB of files, for a rate of 113 MBps. That's a fraction of the 267.8-MBps result found with the ThinkPad T470, the 218.7-MBps category average and the B9440's speed of 195.7 MBps. The Latitude 5480 (137.6 MBps) was only slightly ahead.
Lenovo's ThinkPad L470 has an integrated Intel HD Graphics 620 GPU, which is good enough for watching feature films, playing casual games or performing light media editing. The ThinkPad L470 scored 56,966 on our 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited test, which is a synthetic benchmark that measures a device's graphic capability. That score is a bit below those from the ThinkPad T470 (62,912), Dell Latitude 5480 (73,623) and AsusPro B9440 (69,585), as well as the category average (76,553).
When we played Dirt 3 on the ThinkPad L470, the laptop managed a strong 53 frames per second, beating out the 44-fps category average and the ThinkPad T470's 48 fps. The B9440 (27 fps) and Latitude 5480 (32 fps) were far behind.
With a silent fan located on the left hand side, Lenovo's ThinkPad L470 stayed very cool in our tests. When I played a full-screen 1080p video for 15 minutes, the touchpad measured 81 degrees Fahrenheit, while the keyboard was 83 degrees and the bottom registered 88 degrees. All of these measurements fall below our 95-degree comfort threshold.
The 720p HD webcam on the ThinkPad L470 isn't anything special, but I've also seen far worse. When I took a selfie under the fluorescent lighting in my office, my features came out clear enough, but colors were greatly undersaturated and had a blue-gray tinge, giving the scarlet wall behind my desk a maroon shade. There was also a fair amount of noise in the background.
The ThinkPad L470 starts at $615, with a base model that includes a Core i3-7100U CPU, 4GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive. The ThinkPad L470 can be configured with up to a Core i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. Other optional add-ons include a 14-inch FHD non-touch IPS screen, an UltraNav fingerprint scanner, a smart card reader, 3-cell or 6-cell batteries, and Intel Dual Band Wireless AC with Bluetooth 4.1.
Our $879 review unit came equipped with a Core i5-7200U CPU, 4GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. We definitely recommend the 6-cell battery ($15 extra) and the 1920 x 1080 screen ($60 extra), which should offer much better image quality than we experienced.
The specs on the ThinkPad L470 can be modestly upgraded. Each ThinkPad configuration is upgradable up to 16GB RAM. The 500GB hard drive can be replaced with a higher-capacity drive, so long as it's 2.5-inches wide, 9.5mm high and SATA-compatible. If you have the 128GB SSD configuration on your hands, the ThinkPad L470 can be bumped up to a 256GB SSD. Both the RAM and hard drive are accessible at the base of the ThinkPad L470 and can be easily switched out whenever you see fit.
Software and Warranty
The Lenovo ThinkPad L470 comes with a mix of helpful utilities and some bloatware. Lenovo Solution Center scans hardware and provides system information. Lenovo Settings allows you to customize your ThinkPad's controls, and Lenovo Companion monitors system health. You also get standard Windows 10 preloads such as Candy Crush Soda Saga and a trial for Sling TV.
Lenovo backs the ThinkPad L470 with a one-year Depot warranty, which includes parts, labor and free return shipping. If you want to extend your warranty, you'll have to shell out anywhere from $19 to $579 for yearlong or five-year plans. Lenovo also has on-site services and accidental-damage protection available. See how Lenovo fared on our Tech Support Showdown and our Best and Worst Laptop Brand Ratings.
Providing durability, a top-notch typing experience, long battery life and varied configurations, the ThinkPad L470 is a good choice for business-oriented users on a budget. If you can splurge and pay an extra $154 or so, the ThinkPad T470 is lighter, has speedier performance and offers longer battery life. However, if an affordable and powerful 14-inch business laptop is up your alley, the ThinkPad L470 could be right for you. Just be sure to get the 6-cell battery.
Credit: Shaun Lucas/ Laptop Mag