Our pick, the Lenovo ThinkPad T470s, on a desk with its screen displaying a desktop background of a coastal sunset.
Photo: Michael Hession

Our pick

Lenovo ThinkPad T470s

Lenovo’s ThinkPad T470s is the best business laptop for the people who need one because it’s quick, it has an excellent keyboard and trackpad, and because it’s easy to upgrade the memory and storage or replace the battery as parts wear out or as your needs change. Its battery life is mediocre and it’s larger and heavier than the ultrabooks we recommend, but it’s noticeably smaller and lighter than most of the other 14-inch business laptops we tested, and it costs about the same amount, too.

We recommend the configuration with the Intel Core i5-7200U processor, 8 GB of memory, a 256 GB PCIe SSD, and a 1080p IPS screen. These specs should be fast enough for everyday work for the next two or three years, and you can always upgrade the memory or storage later if you need to—even though there’s only one memory slot available, instead of the two slots available in our runner-up. You should also add on the fingerprint sensor, since it doesn’t add to the cost; switching from the staid black ThinkPad finish to silver doesn’t cost extra, either, if that’s the look you prefer. Adding a vPro processor like the Core i5-7300U adds another $100 or so to the pricetag.

The T470s, closed on a desk. It's uniform black plastic except for its ports and a small logo on the back of the lid.
A closeup on the T470s's keyboard.

Lenovo’s ThinkPad keyboards and trackpads have a reputation for excellence, and the T470s lives up to that reputation. Its slightly scooped, not-quite-square keys have satisfying travel, the keys are firm without being stiff, and the backlight is bright and even. None of the other business laptops we tested had bad keyboards, but almost all of them were either shallower or mushier than the ThinkPad’s keyboard.

The large one-piece trackpad conforms to Microsoft’s Precision Touchpad spec, which means it’s accurate and pleasant to use, requires no drivers, and supports all of Windows 10’s multitouch trackpad gestures out of the box. If you prefer the ThinkPad’s traditional pointing nub, it’s here, and Lenovo hasn’t fixed what wasn’t broken. The large fingerprint sensor also works quickly and accurately and is compatible with Windows Hello.

The 14-inch 1080p IPS non-touch screen on the T470s is in line with what you’ll find in most business laptops. Its maximum brightness of 247 nits is on the low side for a laptop, but the matte anti-glare finish helps with visibility outdoors and in brightly-lit rooms. Viewing angles are good, as you’d expect from an IPS screen, and colors were slightly more vibrant than they were on our runner-up pick’s screen.

A closeup on the aforementioned ports on the right side of the laptop.
The ports mentioned in the caption, which are on the left side of the laptop (from its screen to its forward edge).

The T470s has a good mix of old and new ports that should keep you from ever needing a dongle or adapter. It has a proprietary power connector, a USB 3.0 Type-A port, a headphone jack, and a full-size SD card slot on the left side, and a SIM tray, gigabit Ethernet port, two more USB 3.0 Type-A ports, an HDMI port, a Thunderbolt 3 port, and space for an optional smart card reader on the right side. The Thunderbolt port can be used to charge the laptop—instead of the included proprietary charger—if you prefer to use a USB-C charger or if you have a USB-C-compatible monitor that can provide power.

Lenovo also made the T470s exceptionally easy to upgrade. Flip the laptop over and remove five captive Phillips head screws, and you can easily lift away the bottom panel to access one DDR4 memory slot, the M.2 SSD, the wireless card, and both internal batteries; neither battery is hot-swappable, but they’re simple enough to replace when they wear out. The T470s does have only a single memory slot where others, including our runner-up pick, have two—4 GB of memory is soldered to the motherboard, and the slot can accept as much as 16 GB. That caps the T470s at a maximum of 20 GB of memory, instead of the regular T470’s 32 GB, but this isn’t a limit that most people will butt up against.

The T470s, upside down on a desk with its backplate removed, showing its accessible guts.
The T470s is easy to open and upgrade. Photo: Michael Hession

The T470s is also the lightest 14-inch laptop we tested that doesn’t sacrifice upgradeable memory or full-size SD card slots and ports. At 13.3 by 9.2 by 0.8 inches and 2.9 pounds, it’s larger and heavier than most 13-inch ultrabooks, but it’s one of the few 14-inch laptops we tested that came in below 3 pounds. It’s a convenient middle ground between the flexibility of the larger ThinkPad T470 and the size of the thin and light but more expensive ThinkPad X1 Carbon.

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