Light, slim and packed with ports, Lenovo's ThinkPad T470s ($1,124 to start; models tested range up to $2,102.99) offers the strong performance, great keyboard and overall versatility of Lenovo's popular ThinkPad T470, but it weighs a much lighter 2.9 pounds. Unlike its big brother, the T470s is available with a 2K screen and a choice of a silver or black chassis. This $1,124 laptop ($1,571 as tested) is pleasant to carry and work on, but below-average battery life and dull displays (on the 1080p models) hold it back.
While all ThinkPads have a similar design, I'm still wowed by just how small the T470s is. The carbon-fiber chassis is black (or silver, if you like change), with the ThinkPad logo in the top-left-hand corner of the lid. When you lift the lid, you'll be greeted by a 14-inch display, an island-style keyboard, a red pointing stick and another ThinkPad logo -- this time, in the bottom-right corner of the black deck.
At 13 x 8.9 x 0.7 inches and 2.9 pounds, the T470s cuts a sleek profile that doesn't take up too much room on a desk or in a bag. It's significantly lighter and smaller than the regular T470 (3.5 pounds, 0.8 inches thick). Although the ThinkPad X1 Carbon weighs a mere 2.49 pounds and is only 0.6 inches thick, it costs $200 to $300 more than the T470s, depending on the configuration. The Dell Latitude 5480 is much heavier (4 pounds, 0.9 inches thick), while Apple's 13-inch MacBook Pro is 3 pounds and a sleeker 11.97 x 8.4 x 0.6 inches.
Despite its slender frame, the ThinkPad T470s has enough ports for peripherals and monitors. The left side features the power jack, a USB 3.0 port, a headphone jack and an SD card slot. On the right are an optional smart-card reader, a Thunderbolt 3 port, a pair of USB 3.0 ports, HDMI output, an Ethernet jack, a SIM card slot (for the optional 4G modem) and a space for a Kensington lock.
The ThinkPad T470s also has Lenovo's proprietary docking port on the bottom -- something the X1 Carbon lacks.
Durability and Security
The ThinkPad T470s is built to protect your data and take a few knocks. Lenovo put a touchpad on the palm rest, which easily lets you log in to your computer with a single tap thanks to Windows Hello. That biometric data is protected by a TPM chip, and every configuration with a compatible CPU (Core i5-7300U or Core i7-7600U) also offers vPro for remote maintenance.
The laptop is MIL-STD-810G tested, meaning it should survive extreme temperatures, humidity, vibrations and shocks.
Lenovo offers three different 14-inch screens on the ThinkPad T470s, and they differ wildly. Our favorite is the high-end 2560 x 1440 display, which is far more vivid than the alternative 1080p touch-screen and non-touch-screen options. When I watched a 1080p trailer for "The Circle," the bright reds on the company's computer software popped off of actress Emma Watson's screen, and it was sharp enough to see all of her freckles. The grass on the company's campus was verdant and vibrant. On the 1080p display, the trailer looked slightly brighter, but the colors were a bit off. The 1080p touch display, by comparison, was extremely dark.
The WQHD (2560 x 1440) version of the ThinkPad T470s covers 118 percent of the sRGB color gamut (68.1 percent for the 1080p version and 76.9 percent for the touch-screen 1080p version). That's above the ultraportable category average (96 percent), and it tops the MacBook Pro (113 percent), the X1 Carbon (104 percent), the ThinkPad T470 (73 percent) and the Latitude 5480 (71 percent).
The T470s with a 2560 x 1440 display scored 2.2on the Delta-E test for color accuracy. (Zero is ideal.) With a Delta-E score of 2, the 1080p version was less accurate, as was the full-HD touch-screen version, which had a Delta-E of 0.9) were both lower. The average is 2.5, and the ThinkPad T470 (2.1), the Latitude 5840 (1.6) and the MacBook Pro (1) were all lower.
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All of the T470s' displays are dimmer than the average ultraportable average of 294 nits. The WQHD panel measured 253 nits, the 1080p non-touch-screen version reached 245 nits and the touch-screen version registered a dismal 216 nits. The original T470 (234 nits) and the Latitude 5840 (a poor 202 nits) also were dimmer. The X1 Carbon (275 nits) and the MacBook Pro (with its 495-nit display) were more luminous.
Keyboard, Touchpad and TrackPoint
It's always a pleasure to type on a ThinkPad keyboard, and the T470s continues that tradition. With 1.7 millimeters of travel and 70 grams of force required to actuate, the keys on the T470s are clicky and responsive. I reached 108 words per minute on the 10fastfingers.com typing test, barely beating my usual 107 wpm while maintaining my standard 2 percent error rate.
The 2.2 x 3.9-inch touchpad is smoother than some ThinkPads of late, and I appreciate the new feeling (there's far less friction). It's certified as a Windows Precision Touchpad and is very receptive to gestures.
If you like the accuracy and convenience of a pointing stick, you'll appreciate that Lenovo's TrackPoint provides extremely precise navigation without making you lift your hands off the home row.
The speakers on the T470s produce balanced audio; I just wish it were a little louder. When I listened to Lorde's "Green Light," the sound barely filled our lab. I could easily distinguish the vocals, keys, drums and synth beats, but I couldn't get the volume to a point where my toes started tapping along. There are some sound settings in the Lenovo Settings app, but I found the default options were best.
We reviewed one ThinkPad T470s with a 2.8-GHz Intel Core i7-7600U CPU, 12GB of RAM and a 512GB PCIe NVMe solid-state drive. Two other models we reviewed had an 2.6-GHz Intel Core i5-7300U CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB PCIe NVME SSD (but different screens). All three could handle 35 tabs in Chrome, including one streaming a 1080p episode of "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver."
The T470s with Core i7 notched a score of 6,214, and the Core i5 model hit 5,807. The average is 5,879, and the regular T470 (6,699; Core i5-7200U), X1 Carbon (8,571; Core i7-7600U) and Latitude 5480 (8,530; Core i7-7600U) outperformed it.
It took 13 seconds for the T470s with Core i7 to copy 4.97GB of mixed media files,for a rate of 391.5 MBps, and the Core i5 model took 17 seconds, for a rate of 299.4 MBps. Both are faster than the average (190.1 MBps) as well as the X1 Carbon (242 MBps) and the Latitude 5840 (137.6 MBps). The ThinkPad T470 reached 267.8 Mbps, and the MacBook Pro had a blazing rate of 508.9 MBps.
The Core i7 T470s paired 20,000 names and addresses in our OpenOffice spreadsheet test in 3 minutes and 59 seconds, while the Core i5 version was slightly behind, at 4:04. The average is 5:47, the MacBook Pro took 4:39, the original T470 finished in 4:01, the X1 Carbon completed the test in 3:22 and the Latitude was done in 3:12.
It's unsurprising that these ultraportable business laptops aren't ready for gaming. With integrated Intel HD Graphics 620, the i7 and i5 models of the T470s hit 51,955 and 47,856, respectively, on the 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited test. The average is 54,383, and the original T470 with the same GPU earned a score of 62,912.
While some of the ThinkPad T470s models we tested lasted longer than others, they all had significantly shorter battery life than competitors. The configuration with a Core i7 CPU and a 2560 x 1440 display lasted the longest, at 8 hours and 1 minute on the Laptop Mag Battery Test (continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi), while the Core i5 version with a 1080p display lasted 6:43. On the touch-screen model, that time dropped to 6:17.
In contrast, the ThinkPad T470 lasted a whopping 17:25 with its six-cell battery, and 8:39 with its three-cell unit on board. The X1 Carbon conked out after 12 hours and 21 minutes. The average for ultraportables is a longer 8 hours and 18 minutes, while the MacBook Pro endured for 9:50, and the Latitude survived for 11:37.
The T470s' 720p webcam takes usable photos, but the colors are a tad off. In a picture I took at my desk, I could make out individual hairs on my head and the silhouette of my colleague's Spider-Man figure on a monitor behind me. But everything appeared a bit pale, with washed-out navy-blue headphones and a dull-brown sweater. All of the lights behind me were completely blown out.
The ThinkPad T470s stayed cool during our heat test. After we streamed HD video from YouTube for 15 minutes, the laptop measured 82 degrees Fahrenheit on the touchpad, 86 degrees on the center of the keyboard and 94 degrees on the bottom of the laptop. All of those temperatures fall below our 95-degree comfort threshold.
Software and Warranty
Lenovo continues its trend of offering just a few useful utilities on the ThinkPad T470s. It comes with the Companion app, which makes it easy to run system updates and check warranty status, and Lenovo Settings for controlling various aspects of the system, including the sound, webcam and battery.
Although the company didn't add its own bloatware, the ThinkPad T470s still comes with all of the junk that's built into Windows 10, like Candy Crush Soda Saga, Drawboard PDF, Minecraft: Windows 10 Edition, Facebook, Twitter and Sling.
Lenovo sells the ThinkPad 470s with a one-year warranty by default, with various options up to three years at an extra cost. See how Lenovo performed on our Best and Worst Brands ranking and Tech Support Showdown.
Lenovo sells several different configurations of the ThinkPad T470s at third-party retailers, and allows you to configure the laptop to order at Lenovo.com. The base model goes for $1,124 and features a Core i5-7200U CPU; 4GB of RAM; a 128GB SSD; and a nontouch, 1080p screen.
We tested three configurations of the ThinkPad T470s. The most powerful model costs $2,102.99 and boasts a 2.8-GHz Intel Core i7-7600U CPU, 12GB of RAM, a 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD and a 2560 x 1440 display.
The $1,571.99 base model comes with a 2.6-GHz Intel Core i5-7300U CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD and a 1920 x 1080 screen. For $1,619, you can get a configuration that's nearly identical to the base model but adds a touch-screen display.
The Lenovo ThinkPad T470s is an ultraportable business notebook that delivers solid performance and a comfortable, responsive keyboard. There's very little bloatware on the machine. However, its battery life is below average, and the only screen we can recommend is the high-end QWHD panel.
If you can spend around $200 more and don't need the proprietary docking port or a built-in SD card reader, consider Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Carbon, which is lighter and lasts much longer. Or, if you're looking for long battery life and don't mind carrying a noticeably heavier laptop, another option is the regular ThinkPad T470, which costs less and lasts more than twice as long as the T470s on a charge.
However, if you can live with its trade-offs, the ThinkPad T470s will offer you a strong combination of performance, usability and portability.
Photo Credits: Jeremy Lips/Tom's Guide