The 9 Best Graphing Calculators of 2020
Just the tool you need to help you with math
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When it comes to graphing calculators, two manufacturers dominate the market: Texas Instruments and Casio. Although finding the best graphing calculator means picking between the two brands, don’t assume that your options are limited because the two companies offer graphing calculators with a range of functions and features.
When you’re selecting the best graphing calculator, consider the course you’re taking and whether you’d like to use the calculator on a standardized test like the PSAT, SAT, ACT, or AP exams. It might also be helpful to check with your teacher or professor to see which calculators are accepted. In the meantime, read on to see the best graphing calculators to buy today.
Best Overall: Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus CE
The TI-84 Plus CE Graphing Calculator comes preloaded with more than a dozen applications such as inequality graphing, correct math notation, and data collection. The thin, lightweight design features a high resolution, full-color backlit display with a sleek design. The graphing calculator also comes in several different colors: black, pink, white, coral, gold, mint, gray, and blue, so you can find one that suits your style. The full-color screen enhances the display experience, making graphs easier to read by adding color-coded equations, plots, and objects.
The TI-84 Plus CE includes a rechargeable battery that keeps you from having to head to the store to stock up on batteries. It also means you need to make sure your graphing calculator is fully charged before class and especially before heading out for standardized college testing. The calculator is approved for PSAT, SAT, ACT, and AP exams.
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Best Value: Casio FX-9750GII
The Casio FX-9750GII Graphic Calculator features all the basic functionality of an entry-level graphing calculator, making it great for math coursework from Pre-Algebra to AP Calculus and Statistics and courses in between (like Geometry and Trigonometry).
The icon-based menu makes it easy for students to navigate. The FX-9750GII also includes several soft-menus to easily access functionality for common tasks. The high-resolution LCD display includes enlarged-dot area technology that enhances the visuals – lines and curves are sharp and easier to see and comprehend. The high-speed CPU processes lengthy calculations and complex graphs quickly and accurately, which is essential during test time when every second counts.
Speaking of test time, test takers can also benefit from the Casio graphing calculator – it’s approved for use on the PSAT, SAT, and college entrance exams, as well as AP tests. The FX-9750GII requires four AAA batteries and includes built-in USB functionality for connecting with other devices.
Best for Engineers: Texas Instruments Nspire CX CAS
The Texas Instruments Nspire CX CAS graphing calculator features advanced functionality for students taking advanced high school coursework and university students in math, science, and engineering classes. You can even import digital images and place graphs and equations on them. It's also possible to create documents and pages and store them the way you would with a computer. Even more, you have the ability to enter equations in proper notation – with superscript and subscript.
The graphing calculator's CAS functionality, or “Computational Algebra System," allows you to manipulate equations and solve for any variable within the equation. Those taking courses such as Chemistry and Physics will find this functionality helpful since it helps students discover the theory that drives equations.
This Texas Instruments calculator is approved for use on the SAT and PSAT exams, as well as AP tests. It’s not approved for the ACT exam. Students in Pre-Algebra or Algebra 1 or 2 may not find this calculator useful.
Best for Calculus: Casio FX-9860GII
The Casio FX-9860GII features an oversized, high-resolution display, making it much easier to view the graphs and data displays on the calculator screen. Plus, the backlit display feature can be turned on to improve visibility. The calculus calculator can be used for a variety of math courses from Pre-Algebra to Statistics and has expanded functionality, such as the built-in spreadsheet application that makes it useful for science courses like Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and even Business & Finance courses. It’s especially great for students who are taking Calculus courses.
You can navigate the functions by using any of the 15 pre-loaded icon menus. It features the same speedy processing as other models and is even approved for use in college entrance exams and AP tests.
Best for Algebra: Texas Instruments TI-83 Plus
The TI-83 Plus graphing calculator is a great entry-level calculator for middle and high school students taking math and science courses such as Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1 & 2, Trigonometry, Calculus, Statistics, Biology, Chemistry and Physics.
The LDC screen features 64 x 96-pixel resolution and offers a clear display. The built-in memory can store and analyze up to 10 matrices. The calculator also features a split screen that’s helpful for tracing graphs while scrolling through the table values.
The TI-83 Plus is a great choice if you don’t need many advanced functions or if your professor does not allow calculators with the more advanced functions.
It’s approved for use on the SAT, AP, PSAT and ACT tests and uses four Alkaline batteries.
Best for High School: Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus
The TI-84 Plus graphing calculator comes preloaded with essential functions for all your graphing needs. This version of the TI-84 plus doesn’t feature the color display, only comes in black, but also has a lower price tag.
Users can easily access advanced functions by pulling down the display menus. The calculator features horizontal and vertical split-screen options allowing users to view the essential information on the screen without having to scroll around.
The TI-84 Plus graphing calculator has been approved by standardized testing organizations for use on the PSAT, SAT, and ACT college entrance exams, as well as AP tests. It includes an i/o port that can be used to communicate with other TI products. The calculator also uses four AAA batteries and includes a lithium battery backup that protects RAM memory.
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Best Display: Casio FX-CG10 PRIZM Color
The Casio FX-CG10 PRIZM Color Graphing Calculator features a high-resolution LCD display with over 65,000 colors, giving you one of the most detailed screens of any graphing calculator on the market. It’s useful for standard high school and college math classes. It includes the ability to create 3D graphing designs, which helps enhance understanding of complex graphs. The easy-to-use, menu-driven interface makes it easier to access calculator functions. The calculator also takes four AAA batteries and can be used for all major exams.
Best Advanced: Texas Instruments TI-Nspire CX II CAS Color
For more advanced mathematical calculations like Calculus, opt for the TI-Nspire CX II CAS Color Graphing Calculator. An upgrade from Texas Instruments' TI-Nspire CX graphing calculators, this version offers faster performance, interactive visuals, and graphics that are easier to read. In addition to computing basic equations, this graphing calculator can plot functions and equations, construct geometric figures and animations, graphically create a hypothesis, perform calculations on data, and more. There are six different graph styles and 15 colors to choose from to distinguish each of your graphs. All this and the TI-Nspire CX II is lightweight and its touchpad easy to navigate with. This product comes with a rechargeable battery.
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Best Features: HP Prime Graphing Calculator
Among the Texas Instruments and Casios, the HP Prime Graphing Calculator is another worthy contender in the graphing calculator market. Touch-screen enabled, the calculator lets you zoom, add images, and sketch on its 3.5-inch diagonal, full-color screen. Its keypad also lets you perform essential functions and concepts, including dynamic geometry, CAS, advanced graphing, and other applications. For students, it's approved to use during IB Diploma Programme exams, the PSAT/NMSQT, the SAT, the SAT Subject Tests in Mathematics, and select AP Exams. Plus, it doesn't hurt that the HP graphing calculator looks good, too, with its sleek, brush metal design.