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Whether you’re a student, have a budding mathematician in your life or work in a job requiring complex graphing and computations, you likely know that a graphing calculator is a handy device. From checking your work to comparing different theoretical scenarios, graphing calculators are just as relevant today as they were when they were first introduced back in the mid-1980s.
While the style and look of a graphing calculator haven’t changed since their inception more than three decades ago, for the most part, neither has math. Graphing calculators remain a staple for advanced math classes and on the desks of professionals in several fields, including engineering and finance (also check out the best financial calculators). In addition to general graph plotting, a graphing calculator can help with everything from algebra to trigonometry.
And though computers, tablets, smartphones and the best scientific calculators can be used to address fundamental math problems, graphing calculators continue to help teach and aid those working on more technical issues that are best viewed on screen.
What To Consider Before Buying a Graphing Calculator
Your best graphing calculator will depend on your specific needs and circumstances. Here are several questions to ask yourself before choosing from our selection of devices.
Are there any restrictions on what calculator you can use/own? If you’re a professional looking for a graphing calculator, you can choose any model as there are no restrictions. However, all students should make sure any selected calculator is suitable functionally and, more importantly, allowed in your classroom/exam. The majority of graphing calculators indicate what exams they have been approved for. But it’s always a good idea to double-check with proctors and teachers before any test day comes around.
How advanced do you need the calculator to be? Remember that the most advanced and complicated calculator isn’t always the best one for every need. A graphing calculator beyond the scope of your class or profession may give you more headaches and create more confusion than it solves. One big consideration is whether you want CAS (Computer Algebra System), which allows you to manipulate expressions in symbolic form rather than just numerically.
Do you prefer battery-powered or rechargeable devices? Look at the power source for the calculator. If you’re good at remembering to plug in their devices, a rechargeable USB calculator may be a better fit for you. Otherwise, opt for a battery-powered calculator and pack a backup battery in your backpack.
Do you want to be able to create color graphs? If you find it easier or more pleasing to see graphs presented using color over black and white, ensure you opt for a device with a color screen.
How We Chose the Best Graphing Calculators
When finding the best graphing calculators, we used a specific set of criteria to ensure each device is worthy of your consideration. But it is worth remembering that there is no one-size-fits-all product.
To ensure there’s an option for every kind of calculator user, we chose devices of all levels and complexities. You’ll find options for junior high, high school and college classes, as well as options that are also suitable for professional environments. Devices also cover a wide range of price points to ensure every student and professional can find a calculator that works for their needs and budget. Each device on our list also comes with the backing of hundreds, if not thousands, of positive ratings and reviews from users who have tried and tested the device. In short, you can be confident in any purchase from this list.
Whether you’re heading back to school or starting a new job in finance, the right graphing calculator can help you deal with complicated problems and see answers presented in a visual and easy-to-understand way.
1. Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus CE Graphing Calculator
With a design 30 percent lighter and thinner than previous editions, the Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus CE Graphing Calculator feels modern. It comes with preloaded apps and images and is also available in eight different colors. Compared to the TI-84 Plus, it has far more memory in the form of 3 MB ROM/154K RAM and 480KB ROM/24K RAM, respectively. The TI-84 Plus CE is also easily recharged with the supplied USB cable and has built-in apps that extend its functionality. Like the TI-84 Plus, the TI-84 Plus CE is also approved by most testing boards and is an excellent choice for high school and college students. It can be used for everything from biology and chemistry to trigonometry and linear algebra.
2. Texas Instruments TI-Nspire CX II CAS Color Graphing Calculator
Try this Texas Instruments TI-Nspire CX II CAS Color Graphing Calculator for a calculator that can bring your graphs and functions to life. Full-color graphics are displayed in impressive detail on the 3.5-inch screen, which features 320 by 240 pixels. The lightweight calculator also comes with the TI-Inspire student software and delivers enhanced graphing capabilities. Users can choose from six different graphing styles and 15 colors to create unique graphs. Plus, this rechargeable calculator can last up to two weeks on a single charge and is easy to maneuver through functions thanks to its intuitive touchpad navigation.
Texas Instruments TI-Nspire CX II CAS Color Graphing Calculator
3. Casio fx-9750GIII Graphing Calculator
ENTRY LEVEL PICK
The fx-9750GIII is Casio’s latest edition of their popular, entry-level graphing calculator. It’s an excellent option for students looking for a reliable calculator that can take them through their middle school, high school and even some college-level courses. Using an icon-based menu, students can access functionality for everyday tasks, including independent and dependent values and graphing X=relations. An interactive equation solver and a built-in graphing function for conic sections make it ideal for pre-algebra, algebra I & II, geometry, trigonometry, AP calculus, AP statistics, biology, physics, business & Finance. A high-resolution LCD screen and high-speed CPU make it easy to see graphs and calculations quickly. The Casio, approved for use on PSAT, NMSQT, SAT, ACT college entrance exams and AP tests, also features USB connectivity to let students share data.
4. CASIO PRIZM FX-CG50 Color Graphing Calculator
The CASIO PRIZM FX-CG50 Color Graphing Calculator brings graphs to life thanks to its high-resolution LCD display with over 65,000 colors. This natural, textbook-like display makes it easy for students to view graphs comfortably and check their work. Graphs are displayed in 3D and built-in conic sections to provide added benefits. The icon-driven menu system is straightforward to navigate, and a picture plot function allows users to learn from images. In addition, statistics regression and graphical displays are impressive and an appropriate option for high school and college courses.
5. CATIGA Scientific Calculator with Graphic Functions
Even though the CATIGA Scientific Calculator isn’t technically a graphing calculator, it does provide users with 20 built-in graphs which can be used to visualize mathematical formulas. It also offers more graphing functions and more than 200 other functions, including fractions, statistics, complex number calculations, linear regression and standard deviation. It’s also available in four colors and is supplied with a detailed instruction manual to help users make the most of the device.
6. NumWorks Graphing Calculator
The NumWorks Graphing Calculator is an excellent option for high schoolers looking for a reliable calculator to help them in class, with homework and during tests. The ergonomic design features three thematic areas: a navigational area, advanced functions area and a numerical keypad. There are also six built-in apps designed to work with many high school math and science courses. We also like that the company recently updated its calculators to include equations, functions, probability, calculation, sequences, regression and statistics.
7. Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus Graphing calculator
Calculate real and complex numbers with up to 14-digit accuracy and 10 graphing functions using the Texas Instruments Ti-84 Plus Graphing calculator. The TI-84 Plus can handle just about any function, fraction or figure you throw at it, with 14-digit accuracy plus a two-digit exponent. Define, save and analyze up to 10 graphs at once and list and store up to 999 elements or 10 50×50 matrices.
8. Texas Instruments TI-83 Plus Graphing Calculator + Guerrilla Case
Designed for high school students, the Texas Instruments TI-83 Plus Graphing Calculator is perfect for algebra, trigonometry, stats, business finance, calculus and chemistry. The TI-83 Plus has built-in memory storage of up to 10 matrices, 94 applications and features 14 interactive zoom features. The device comes with a Guerrilla travel case and an essentials accessory kit for greater convenience, more comprehensive functionality, and improved protection.
9. Texas Instruments TI-Nspire CX II Graphing Calculator
Given its large color display, rechargeable battery and user-friendly configuration, the Texas Instruments TI-Nspire CX II Graphing Calculator’s popularity should come as little surprise. It sports a lightweight, thin design and is ready to help with all kinds of mathematical problems, including statistics, geometry, algebra and calculus. The device’s high-resolution, backlit screen also ensures answers are easy to view and interpret. Furthermore, the calculator comes with the full version TI-Inspire CX Student Software and is permitted for the ACT, SAT and AP use.