Lenovo ThinkPad T470s

I never owned a ThinkPad. My first PCs were built from components, and my first PC laptop was a noname. Then I got into Linux and non-x86 architectures, and as student worked on ARM, SPARC, PowerPC, MIPS. Probably in that order. Given that path of education, my second laptop probably was a G3 iBook - which I obviously run with Linux for the flawless suspend / resume at that time (2003?).

Nowadays I’m more and more disappointed by Apple’s offerings. Few ports, uncomfortable keyboards, too large trackpads, glossy displays to name a few. On the PC side there are so many cheap, but low quality options that it takes a bit or research to find your perfect fit. However, choice is good, and you could opt for a much cheaper model in case of.

One of the more outstanding, higher quality options are Lenovo ThinkPads. Purchased from IBM in 2005, they may still be the only laptops certified for use on the International Space Station.

Lenovo Germany was so kind to send me the 14″ T470s for a test.

This time I again captured the unboxing and initial setup on video for you:

The T470s also comes with many ports, including a headphone jack, two regular USB 3, a new USB type C Thunderbolt port and HDMI for video output, SD cards slot. Unlike the Dell XPS13 one of the two SO-DIMMs is socketed, for future expansion, as are the standard M.2 SSD, M.2 WiFi and optional M2 WWAN module! Interesting is that there are several display (HD, UHD, Touch) configuration options, as well as different WiFi modules and WWAN. So unlike Apple’s fixed configuration you can choose what best fits to your use case (and Linux, or BSD driver compatibility).

While the Lenovo T470 has also some user serviceable parts (and Lenovo even publishes Hardware Maintenance Manual), so that you could later upgrade the SSD, RAM or replace the battery.

All in all I found the Lenovo T470s to work awesome on Linux - even with our minimal T2 SDE flavour, and be a small and lightweight developer’s companion. Personally I would prefer slightly higher CPU power for developer code compilation tasks. Luckily Lenovo has many different configuration options, series: For example the the T470 (without s) or T470p offer more computing power up to a dedicated Nvidia GPU. Of course even with this many options one may still find the personal minority preference missing. E.g. a non-touch WQHD (2560×1440) screen. While I would be ok with the anti-glare (mate) FHD screen, the brightness is lacking a bit and the 2560-WQHD screen is listed with 300 nits, instead of 250 nits. While I did not test such a model the higher brightness may be nice to have for some bright office or traveling around. Personally, I find the mate finish is usually more friendly to my eyes.

A unique, nice, and highly addictive hardware feature is the TrackPoint, that I have not often used before. I found this little rubber finger mouse knob in the middle of the keyboard highly addictive for keyboard users like me.

After a good month with the ThinkPad I can definitely recommend them to anyone looking for a quality PC, or professionals currently using MacBooks and looking for alternatives better suiting their requirements. The various series offer many alternative configuration options from slim and compact with ULV (Ultra-Low-Voltage) CPUs, to more powerful quad-core mobile workstations with dedicated GPU.

The good:

  • very small and compact
  • solid and light CFRP Hybrid / Magnesium case
  • socketed, M.2 SSD, WiFi and WWAN module
  • serviceable battery
  • TrackPoint!
  • service manual

Would be nice:

  • quad core CPU option

The bad:

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