If you’re in search of a new business laptop, you should seriously consider both the Lenovo ThinkPad T470, which brings to the table the legendary build quality and durability of the T series of ThinkPads, and the Dell XPS 15, which packs fantastic performance and a beautiful display inside an elegant case.
Dell XPS 15 vs Lenovo ThinkPad T470
|Dell||Dell XPS 15||1519.99|
|Lenovo||Lenovo ThinkPad T470||1319.95|
Design and Build
You need to be a geek to appreciate the no-frills, raven-black design of the ThinkPad T470, whose form follows function as closely as possible. But if you are, the chances are that this rectangular, business-oriented machine looks exactly how you imagine that a business laptop should look like, and you wouldn’t be alone. ThinkPads have a huge cult following of dedicated users behind them who swear by their durability and long-term reliability.
Designed to pass the U.S. Military Standard durability 810G tests, the ThinkPad T470 can survive extreme temperatures, shocks, and vibrations. The fantastic durability comes from the magnesium-alloy chassis that’s hidden under the carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic exterior. Despite its compliance with military standards, the laptop weighs only 3.48 pounds, making it noticeably lighter than its predecessor, the T460. It measures 13.25 x 9.15 x 0.79 inches.
The Dell XPS 15 still rocks the same design as it has been for the last few years, but why change something that still looks great? Apart from the aluminum lid with Dell’s logo, the laptop doesn’t feature any other prominent design elements, yet its design is decisively modern. The laptop also feels very solid even though it’s not made from a single piece of aluminum as many other premium laptops are these days. It has carbon-fiber-composite palm rests, which are very soft to the touch and give the laptop a premium feel.
With the larger battery that Dell offers, the laptop weighs 4.6 pounds and measures 14.1 x 9.3 x 0.6 inches. For a 15.6-inch laptop, that’s very close to the industry average in this price range. Unlike the T470, the Dell XPS 15 isn’t meant to survive all sorts of horrendous abuse, but it’s more than durable enough to handle everyday wear and tear. A nice touch is the discreet LED battery-level indicator, which can be activated with a press of a button even when the laptop is closed.
Winner: Tie. While the T470 wins hands down in terms of durability, it’s polarizing design will cause some people to love and some despise it.
Input Methods and Ports
Apart from their durability, ThinkPads are also universally loved for their keyboards. The ThinkPad T470 has a highly precise and responsive keyboard with keys which have 2 mm of vertical travel and require 70 grams of actuation force to press. The keyboard is backlit for typing in the dark, and its brightness is adjustable. Right in the middle of the keyboard is a TrackPoint pointing stick, which lets you navigate around the desktop without lifting your hands from the keyboard. Alternatively, you can use the button-less touchpad, which measures 3.9 x 2.7 inches and is accurate and highly responsive.
Located on the left side of the laptop are a Thunderbolt 3 port, a power connector, and a USB 3.0 port. On the right side are two additional USB 3.0 ports, a 3.5 mm audio jack, an Ethernet port, a Kensington lock slot, a HDMI output, and an SD card reader.
The Dell XPS 15 has a comfortable full-size, backlit keyboard with 1.3 mm of key travel. The keys are responsive, well-spaced, and well-suited even for extensive typing. Still, they are a far cry from the excellent keyboard on the T470. The precision trackpad with full support for Windows 10’s gestures is, however, a different story. It recognizes even multi-finger gestures without a flaw, and its smooth surface feels very good to the touch.
Most ports are located on the left side, and they include an HDMI output, a Thunderbolt 3 port, a USB 3.0 port, and a 3.5 mm audio jack. On the right side are a Kensington lock slot, an SD card reader, and another USB 3.0 port. For $25 you can purchase an optional fingerprint reader with Windows Hello support.
Winner: The Lenovo ThinkPad T470. The typing experience on the T470 is simply amazing, and the TrackPoint pointing stick is very easy to get used to.
The ThinkPad T470 is aimed at people who don’t spend their time looking at or designing pretty pictures—they look at Excel spreadsheets and Linux terminals, instead. With this in mind, it becomes easier to understand why Lenovo went with a 14-inch non-touch display with 1920 x 1080 pixels and unimpressive color reproduction and brightness. An average laptop in the 14-inch laptop category can reproduce around 90 percent of the sRGB color gamut, but the T470’s display can reproduce only 73 percent, making it unfit for color-sensitive work.
Believe it or not, there’s even a model with 1366 x 768 pixels on the market. Yes, 1366 x 768 pixels in 2017, on a high-end laptop. Needless to say, avoid the low-resolution model at all costs.
Above the average display is an equally average 720p webcam, which gets the job done for the occasional business call, but we wouldn’t recommend it for selfies and long video calls with your loved ones.
The Dell XPS 15 is a different story when it comes to display quality. By almost entirely eliminating display bezels, Dell successfully squeezed a 15.6-inch display into a 14-inch body, which even fits inside some larger 13-inch laptop sleeves. More expensive models of the Dell XPS 15 come with a gorgeous 4K glossy IGZO IPS touch-enabled display, which covers 188 percent of the sRGB color gamut and has 380 nits of brightness.
The display is incredibly vivid, sharp, and simply a joy to look at. It makes even mundane tasks feel interesting, not to mention how delightful it is to edit pictures or movies on it. There are also models of the Dell XPS 15 with a non-touch Full HD matte display, but its image quality isn’t nearly as good as the image quality of the 4K display. Still, it’s a lot better than the ThinkPad T470.
If there’s one thing that’s not great about the display of the Dell XPS 15, it’s the position of the webcam. The camera is below the display, looking directly up your nose. This can make for some pretty awkward moments, and, if you make a lot of Skype calls if important business clients and friends who are quick to make a joke about you, you might be better off buying a stand-alone webcam. Apart from the unfortunate position, the image quality of the 720p webcam is decent.
Winner: The Dell XPS 15. If display quality matters to you a lot, then you need to get the Dell XPS 15.
You can get the ThinkPad T470 with the Intel Core i7-7600U processor, the Intel HD Graphics 620, 16 GB of RAM, and 256 GB PCIe SSD. If you don’t need all the processing power offered by the Intel Core i7-7600U, there’s also another Full HD model, with the Intel Core i5-7300U and 8GB of RAM. The ThinkPad T470 has loud front-mounted speakers, which, unfortunately, don’t perform nearly as well as we would like them to perform for multimedia consumption.
The lack of a dedicated GPU means that gaming, apart from a small number of casual titles, is out of the question. Applications which rely heavily on GPU acceleration, such as video and photo editors, suffer as well, but we’ve already established that the T470 isn’t aimed at creative professionals. Instead, it aims at people who do a lot of number crunching and resource-heavy data processing. Both the i7-7600U and the i5-7300U perform great, and you can easily add up to 32 GB of RAM or configure the laptop with up to 1 TB SSD drive.
The Dell XPS 15 is available with the Intel Core i3-7100H, i5-7300HQ, or i7-7700HQ processor. All models can have up to 32 GB of RAM running at 2,400MHz, and, apart from the model with the Intel Core i3-7100H CPU, they all have the desktop-level NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 with 4GB GDDR5. Available storage options include a 500GB 7200 RPM hard drive and PCIe SSDs up to 1 TB. We would personally avoid the traditional hard drive as it makes the laptop feel a lot less responsive and powerful.
The flagship model of the Dell XPS 15, with the i7-7700HQ processor and the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050, is a beastly laptop with enough power to satisfy even the most demanding users. Whether it’s video editing or coding, the Dell XPS 15 can do it. And thanks to the gorgeous display and decent speakers, it’s even great for movies and online videos at the end of a long hard day at work. Pre-installed on the laptop is Waves MaxxAudio Pro app, which you can use to quickly and easily tune up the sound signature of the speakers to your liking, perhaps making them bassier.
Winner: The Dell XPS 15. Available with a dedicated desktop-level graphics card and a faster CPU than the Lenovo ThinkPad T470, the Dell XPS 15 is a laptop that can do it all.
When fitted with the 6-cell battery that Lenovo offers, the ThinkPad T470 can last up to 17 hours, which is simply amazing. Even with the lighter 3-cell battery, it can still go over 8 hours. Like many other ThinkPads, the T470 features the PowerBridge battery system, allowing you to install a fresh battery without turning off the laptop.
The Dell XPS 15 is available with either a 56Wh or 97Wh battery. We believe that the larger battery is a must-have if you’re considering the 4K version of the XPS 15. The 4K resolution has a huge impact on the battery life, cutting it down from around 8 hours of video playback to only 5. Still, that’s not bad for a large, powerful 15.6-inch laptop with a dedicated GPU.
Winner: The Lenovo ThinkPad T470. The battery life of the Dell XPS 15 is good, but it’s nowhere near the amazing battery life of the ThinkPad T470, which can go without a charge for up to 17 hours.
Ignoring the model with the 1366×768 TN non-touch panel, the Lenovo ThinkPad T470 starts at $1,250 for a model with the Intel Core i5-7300U processor and goes up to around $1,600 for a model with the Intel Core i7-7600U processor. A fully specced model with a touch-enabled Full HD display, 32 GB of RAM, and 1 TB SSD costs $2,000.
The Dell XPS 15, on the other hand, starts at $999 for a model with the Intel Core i3-7100H processor and goes up to $1,750 for a model with the beastly Intel Core i7-7700HQ processor and the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 with 4GB GDDR5. A fully specced model with the 4K InfinityEdge touch display and 1 TB SSD costs $2,400.
Winner: Tie. The two laptops are very close in price. The Dell XPS 15 offers better performance and display for a few hundred extra dollars, but the ThinkPad T470 offers better durability across all models.
It’s a tie! Both the Lenovo ThinkPad T470 and the Dell XPS 15 are fantastic laptops that won’t disappoint anyone looking for a reliable, high-end laptop. It all comes down to what your priorities are. If you value durability and portability above graphical performance, image quality, and perhaps even design, the ThinkPad T470 is the right laptop for you. Conversely, if you need a color-accurate display and the performance of a desktop-level GPU, the Dell XPS 15 will meet your requirements to a tee.