Business Laptop Battle: Lenovo ThinkPad T470 vs. T470s

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ThinkPad T470 front view

The T-series is Lenovo’s top-of-the line business notebook line, along with the more portable X-series. The ThinkPad T470 and T470s we’re looking at in this article are both 14-inch notebooks, but with some notable if not overly significant differences that buyers should be aware of.

Take a look at our full reviews of these notebooks here for context:

Lenovo ThinkPad T470 Review

Lenovo ThinkPad T470s Review

Physical Differences

ThinkPad T470s front view

Let’s cut right to the chase and look at the physical measurements and weight differences between the ThinkPad T470 and the T470s. Relative differences between are listed in the rightmost column.

 

ThinkPad T470

ThinkPad T470s

T470s % Difference

Width

13.3 in

13 in

-2%

Depth

9.2 in

8.9 in

-3%

Thickness

0.8 in

0.7 in

-14%

Weight

3.5 lbs (w/ 3-cell rear battery)

2.9 lbs

-17%

ThinkPad T470s rear view

Although the tenth of an inch height difference between the two might not seem like a lot, consider that the ThinkPad T470 is already on the thin side for a 14-inch notebook. Therefore, shaving more off of that is noticeable in the hand. The other dimensions aren’t all that different; doing the rough math, the ThinkPad T470s has 95 percent of the surface area of the T470. You’d have a hard time seeing much of a difference even if you stacked the two on top of one another.

The weight difference between the ThinkPad T470 and the T470s is the most noticeable of all. Even with the smallest available battery, the latter is still nearly 20 percent lighter. Note that the T470s doesn’t have a swappable battery as does the T470; we’ll discuss the implications of that soon.

On the whole, though, the ThinkPad T470s is slimmer and lighter than the T470, with the weight making the most meaningful difference.

Keyboard & Touch Pad

ThinkPad T470s keyboard. Note the location of the fingerprint reader.

We included this section to illustrate that there aren’t any perceptible differences between the keyboard and touch pad setups on the ThinkPad T470 and T470s.

One small difference that you’d only notice if you spent a lot of time with these notebooks is the location of the fingerprint reader. The T470 manages to fit it to the right of the keyboard, while on the T470s, it’s located near the touch pad.

 

Display Options

You’ll find that 1080p non-touch and touch displays are offered on the ThinkPad T470 and T470s. However, only the T470s offers a further option; a 1440p (2,560×1,440 pixels) non-touch panel. We didn’t get a chance to review the T470s equipped with the latter, but we will say that for purely productive purposes, that the 1440p panel may not offer a significant advantage over the 1080p panel.

ThinkPad T470s display

We routinely find that the text on a 1080p display is a tad too high on a 14-inch display without bumping the text size via Windows scaling. Therefore, increasing the resolution even further isn’t necessary an advantage in our eyes (literally). However, the 1440p panel can be advantageous if you’re working with media and content that is higher resolution than 1080p.

Performance Differences

These two notebooks are offered with the same selection of Intel dual-core processors. The T470 has a slight advantage when it comes to memory support, thanks to its twin DIMM slots for memory. Its maximum-rated capacity is 32GB via a two-16GB DIMM configuration. By comparison, the ThinkPad T470s tops out at 20GB. It has 4GB of onboard (permanent) memory, and just one DIMM slot for RAM. We suspect most users won’t find the extra RAM support on the ThinkPad T470 to be a significant selling point, but it’s worth noting nonetheless.

Storage-wise, the ThinkPad T470 has the advantage of offering a traditional 2.5-inch/7mm height bay in addition to an M.2 Type-2280 (80mm) slot for solid-state storage. The ThinkPad T470s has just an M.2 Type-2280 (80mm) slot. Lenovo doesn’t seem to offer dual-drive configurations on the ThinkPad T470, indicating that it may not be possible to have a drive in both slots. The 2.5-inch bay is an advantage regardless of that, as it’s possible to get drives in 2.5-inch format that have more capacity than the largest M.2 Type-2280 drive.

Battery Life

ThinkPad T470 battery options

The ThinkPad T470 and the T470s both feature a 3-cell 24 watt-hour front battery, which isn’t removable. They both also feature rear batteries. The ThinkPad T470s has a 3-cell, 26 watt-hour rear battery, which isn’t removable. The rear battery on the ThinkPad T470 is removable, however, allowing users to hot-swap batteries on the go. You can carry multiple batteries and never skip a beat.

Lenovo offers three choices for the rear battery on the ThinkPad T470. The standard 3-cell battery is rated for 24 watt-hours. Combined with the front battery, that brings the combined battery rating to 48 watt-hours, or more or less identical to that of the ThinkPad T470s. As such, the two models get nearly identical battery life when the T470 is equipped with the 3-cell rear battery. We recorded 5 hours, 46 minutes for the ThinkPad T470s, and just two minutes shy of that for the T470.

We also tested the ThinkPad T470 with its cylindrical 6-cell 72 watt-hour rear battery, which allowed it to run for an amazing 9 hours, 12 minutes. At the time of writing, that was the best battery life we had seen from a 14-inch business-class notebook. Naturally, the larger 6-cell battery adds some weight and thickness, bringing the ThinkPad T470 to around four pounds and over an inch thick. If long battery life is your goal, however, the trade-off is well worth it.

Port Selection

ThinkPad T470 ports:

Although the ports are arranged differently on the ThinkPad T470 and T470s, both notebooks have the same level of connectivity. You’ll find three Type-A USB ports, a Type-C/Thunderbolt 3 port, an HDMI video-out port, an Ethernet jack, plus an SD card slot. That’s a pretty respectable selection for a 14-inch notebook. You can see side-by-side comparisons of both in our photos.

ThinkPad T470s ports:

Both notebooks also support Lenovo’s snap-in docking solutions, along with Thunderbolt 3 docking.

Price

The fact of the matter is that most buying decisions come down to dollar signs. To evaluate this section, we mock-built configurations of the ThinkPad T470 and the T470s that were as close as possible.

We loaded out both systems with the following components:

  • Intel Core i5-7300U processor
  • Windows 10 Pro 64-bit OS
  • 14-inch 1080p touch display
  • 8GB RAM (least expensive option offered)
  • 256GB SSD storage (least expensive option offered)
  • Integrated fingerprint & SmartCard readers

We also added the backlit keyboard to the T470, which is standard on the T470s, and left the T470 with its 3-cell rear battery, as opposed to one of the upgrade options. As of this writing, the ThinkPad T470 came out to $1,411, while the T470s was $1,359 when equipped as above. That’s hardly a notable difference.

The extended battery options on the ThinkPad T470 are nominally more expensive. The 6-cell 72 watt-hour battery we mentioned earlier was just a $15 upgrade over the 3-cell, as of writing.

Overall, though, for identical configurations, there appears to be just a small difference in pricing between the ThinkPad T470 and T470s. Lenovo is known to have sales, which could cause the balance to tip in favor of one notebook or the other. We suspect not by much, though.

Conclusion

The good news is that, if you’re in the market for a 14-inch business notebook, you can’t go wrong with either the Lenovo ThinkPad T470 or the T470s. These are top-quality notebooks through and through, with a full range of business-friendly options. The differences between the two aren’t massive, but are worth pointing out.

Physically, the T470s is nearly 20 percent lighter than the T470, at just 2.9 pounds. The T470 weighs just over a half pound more at the minimum, and can weigh about a pound more with its optional 6-cell 72 watt-hour rear battery. The swappable rear battery is one of the main selling points for the T470 over the T470s. When equipped with the larger 6-cell 72 watt-hour rear battery, the T470 produced the best runtime we had seen from a business-class 14-inch notebook. The T470s can’t match that kind of runtime, though it still does very well in its own right.

On the configuration side of things, the T470 offers up to 32GB of RAM, while the T470s tops out at 20GB. However, the T470s offers a 1440p display; the T470 offers up to 1080p only. The other differences we found were mundane at best, including price. When configured as identically as possible, we found the price between the two was less than 5 percent. That could change with sales, of course, but we suspect not to a significant degree.

Between the two, we’d opt for the ThinkPad T470s if its battery life was sufficient and we didn’t need more than 20GB of RAM. Its smaller size and lower weight is too tempting. If we did need as much battery life as possible, or we simply wanted the flexibility of a swappable battery and extra memory expansion, the T470 would win out. As we stated, though, it’s truly hard to go wrong with either notebook.


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