Tech companies are often lambasted for failing to innovate. However, sometimes it’s worth asking the question; why mess with a good thing? The Lenovo ThinkPad T470 adopts that train of thought. The T470 is very much a ThinkPad — and for those of you who are unfamiliar with Lenovo’s popular enterprise line — that means a strong, durable design and proven reliability. You won’t find any flash or flair, but there’s a lighting fast PCIe SSD under the hood, an industry-leading keyboard, and one of the best batteries we’ve seen on a business notebook. Unfortunately, sticking to the formula also means that the Lenovo T470 is all business. The dim display and tiny audio will leave media junkies wanting.
Lenovo ThinkPad T470 Build and Design
The Lenovo ThinkPad T470 is technically sporting a new chassis design, but it still looks near identical to other Lenovo T-series laptops with a simple and clean squared black chassis design. The soft touch display panel is a nice touch and the matching “ThinkPad” logos along the top right, corner of the display lid and lower right edge of the deck remain iconic mainstays.
Measuring 13.25 x 9.15 x 0.79-inches and weighing 3.49 pounds (3.92 pounds with the larger 6-cell battery) the Lenovo T470 is slightly thinner and lighter than a similarly equipped Lenovo T460. While NBR is always happy when a manufacturer is able to shave off a few inches, the more interesting change likely comes in the form of the laptop’s accessibility. The new chassis design makes repairing and swapping out keys a breeze, as it only requires the removal of two screws and a multitool.
In addition to easy access, the Lenovo T470 also boasts impressive durability with an impressive collection of 12 military-grade certification tests (MIL-STD 810G). The test covers a wide variety of system threats including humidity, high vibration, mechanical shock, low and high temperatures, high altitudes, temperature shock, and sand test. The Lenovo ThinkPad T470 also features dTPM encryption and the higher-tier models (the i5-7300U and i7-7600 CPU builds) offer vPro remote management capability. Finally, to top it all off there is Match-in-Sensor fingerprint reader to the right of the arrow keys.
Lenovo ThinkPad T470 Ports
The Lenovo ThinkPad T470 offers excellent connectivity with a wide selection of ports. The left side features a power connector, a USB 3.0 port, a USB Type-C/Thunderbolt 3 port, and a SmartCard reader. The right side of the device houses a Kensington lock slot, an SD-card reader, an Ethernet connector, a USB 3.0 (always on) port, an HDMI connector, a USB 3.0 port, and a 3.5mm audio jack.
Lenovo ThinkPad T470 Screen and Speakers
The Lenovo ThinkPad T470 features a 14-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) non-touch IPS display. The panel is certainly serviceable with sharp clear image quality, but it will likely leave most consumers wanting more with sub par with a brightness of 228 nits and flat color contrast. Color accuracy is again is decent enough (though NBR wouldn’t recommend this panel to professional video or image editors), but it lacks the vibrancy of glossier brighter displays.
Lenovo’s base model offers a 14-inch HD (1366 x 768) resolution panel. Sometimes opting for the lower resolution panel can be a great way to save some cash, but in this instance, NBR would recommend against it. HD not only feel out of date, but the contrast is far inferior to the already wanting 14 FHD display. The $70 premium for the higher resolution panel seems well worth it.
Considering that the ThinkPad is an enterprise laptop first and foremost the muted colors aren’t that big of an issue, however; the dimly lit display does stunt the machine’s viewing angles, and that is far less forgivable. The Lenovo ThinkPad T470 performs fine when viewing from a straight-on angle, but any variation that will greatly diminish the image quality. Viewing the display beyond 45 degrees causes colors to fade and tilting the display even slightly when there is overhead lighting will create noticeable reflections to appear on screen and colors to fade.
Truthfully NBR just wishes the panel was a bit brighter. If you’re only going to use the ThinkPad T470 in your office or at home then the brightness shouldn’t be too big an issue, but we can easily see this becoming a small (albeit annoying) pain point for road warriors, who often find themselves in a number of different working environments.
The audio quality in many ways mirrors the T470’s display, it’s functional but lacks refinement. The good news is that the front-mounted speakers are quite boisterous, and should be able to fill even a conference room with audio with relative ease. The bad news is that the audio your co-workers will be hearing won’t be all that finely tuned. For simple information dumps or voice calls the speakers are perfect, but if you’re looking to capture music you’ll quickly notice the speaker’s shortcomings. Both the highs and mids sound rather tiny and there’s noticeable distortion when the speakers are at maximum capacity. This can somewhat be alleviated by turning the volume down, but some level of distortion still persists.
Lenovo ThinkPad T470 Keyboard and Touchpad
If there’s one thing that ThinkPads have become known for it’s their impeccable Island style keyboards and the Lenovo ThinkPad T470 does not disappoint. The glossy black backlit keys are rounded along their edges and curve inwards to grip the fingers. Keys are large with adequate spacing, making it both easy and comfortable to find each key as needed. The 2mm travel is satisfyingly deep with consistent responsive feedback that has keys quickly snapping back into place after being struck. This all culminates in an accurate and enjoyable typing experience.
Another staple of the ThinkPad line is their adherence to tradition, at least when it comes to controlling peripherals. The Lenovo TrackPoint pointing stick is located directly above the B key. The braised red nub allows smooth tracking and the physical mouse buttons located along the top of the pad allow users to scroll and click all while having their hands along the home row of keys. Finally sitting below the spacebar is a moderately sized touchpad. The smooth rubber pad allows for easy frictionless travel affording easy tracking and excellent sensitivity. Swipes, clicks, and multi-finger gestures all read instantly with excellent accuracy.
Lenovo ThinkPad T470 Performance
Equipped with a seventh generation Intel Core i5-7200U CPU, with Intel HD Graphics 620, 16GB of DDR4 RAM, and an impressively fast 256GB PCIe SSD the Lenovo ThinkPad T470 offers strong performance for the relatively affordable price of $1,363. The Lenovo ThinkPad T470 offers a number of customizable skews including up to an Intel Core i7-7600U, up to 32GB of DDR4 RAM, and up to 1TB PCIe SSD. These upgrades are rather expensive though, as a fully decked out ThinkPad T470 will run upwards of $2,100.
The review unit that NBR tested hits a really nice middle group between performance and price. Looking at the strong all around benchmark scores the Lenovo ThinkPad T470 is ideal for users that want to multitask and run demanding productivity apps. While testing the device NBR was able to run 12 active Google Chrome tabs and two HD video streams without any drop in performance. The Intel HD Graphics 620 integrated graphics also offer decent visual performance. The ThinkPad won’t be capable of running anything too taxing like high-end PC games, but it will be capable of editing images and HD video with reliable performance. Finally, the 256GB PCIe SSD boasts incredibly fast read and write speeds, offering great overall performance and lighting-fast load times.
The Lenovo ThinkPad T470 review unit that NBR tested had the following specifications:
- Windows 10 Pro
- 14-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) resolution display
- Intel Core i5-7300U CPU (2.6GHz)
- Intel HD Graphics 620
- 16GB of DDR4
- 256GB PCIe SSD
- 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
- Bluetooth 4.1
- Dimensions: 13.25 x 9.15 x 0.79-inches
- Weight: 3.49 pounds (3-cell battery) / 3.92 pounds (6-cell battery)
Lenovo ThinkPad T470 Benchmarks
PCMark8 Home (Accelerated) measures overall system performance in Windows 8 for general activities from web browsing and video streaming to typing documents and playing games (higher scores mean better performance):
PCMark8 Work (Accelerated) measures overall system performance in Windows 8 for work-related productivity tasks (higher scores mean better performance):
3DMark Fire Strike measures the overall gaming performance of the GPU (higher scores mean better performance):
CrystalDiskMark storage drive performance test:
Lenovo ThinkPad T470 Battery Life
To test battery life, we used Futuremark’s PowerMark benchmark in balanced mode. The test consists of a combination of automated web browsing, word processing, gaming and video playback workloads. The test is far more strenuous than typical web browsing alone, measuring the machine under a litany of scenarios to better simulate high-stress usage. With the test being far more demanding the scores are understandably lower than what you’ll experience just checking Facebook or watching Netflix.
PowerMark “Balanced” battery life test results listed in minutes (higher scores mean better life):
The Lenovo ThinkPad T470 has perhaps the best battery life we’ve seen from an enterprise laptop. The ThinkPad T470 combines a 3-Cell embedded battery with either an additional 3-cell battery or a larger 6-cell battery. The 6-cell battery does add a bit of extra weight, but it’s well worth it, as the machine recorded an impressive 9 hours and 12 minutes in our benchmark before shutting down. The 3-cell battery was no slouch either as the notebook recorded a solid 5 hours and 48 minutes before shutting down. Considering that our test is more strenuous than normal everyday activity either battery should net you a full day of activity, but the 6-cell could go as far as to provide two full days of use on a single charge. Users can expect upwards of 15 to 16 hours of battery life on a single charge.
Lenovo ThinkPad T470 Conclusion
Honestly, there’s very little to nitpick when it comes to the Lenovo ThinkPad T470. Sure the display is a bit dimmer than we would have liked and the audio quality can produce a tinny sound, but the laptop’s focus isn’t multimedia. This is an enterprise laptop, and it delivers on the core functionality exceptionally well. The T470 has a simple durable design, that will stand up to wear and tear, with built-in security options, and improved accessibility over the T460. There’s a wide selection of ports for connectivity including Thunderbolt 3, strong performance with an ultra fast PCIe SSD. Finally, there’s the keyboard and battery that stand atop the class.
While it may not come in the prettiest package, this is the business partner you want when you’re on the road.
- Fantastic Keyboard
- Mindblowing battery life
- Strong performance
- Dim display
- Poor sound quality