For many students and professionals, having a reliable calculator that can handle their daily assignments and projects is imperative to their success. Whether you’ve gone back to school to study math and science, you need a calculator for your older child, or you’re looking for something that can help with balancing your budget at home or work, having the right calculator for your specific needs can mean the difference between solving for X and getting an F.
Not all calculators are created equal, which is why we included a variety of calculators on our list. Scientific calculators assist in geometry, statistics, biology and chemistry and can be used in situations when graphing calculators are not permitted, which is often the case in tests and exams.
Calculators with mathematic equations allow students to backtrack through calculations step by step, so they can better understand how they arrived at the (hopefully) correct answer.
Desktop calculators are more straightforward and are better adept at helping with everyday math problems involving balancing a budget, crunching numbers for a project and general invoicing. We like these calculators for home and office use.
Whatever your math needs, there’s a calculator that’s right for you. Check out our top picks below.
1. Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus CE Graphing Calculator
The TI-84 features several improvements over the original, including a backlight display and a 30 percent reduction in weight. The calculator includes a rechargeable battery and comes pre-loaded with apps and images. Like the TI-36, the TI-84 includes MathPrint for a textbook display. The TI-84 is allowed for most major exams, including the SATs, PSATs, IB exams and AP exams that allow a graphing calculator.
Pros: It’s easy to distinguish between graphs and plot points thanks to the color-coded equations.
Cons: Battery can lose charge rapidly after extended use.
2. Casio fx-115ES PLUS Engineering/Scientific Calculator
With over 280 different functions to perform, the Casio fx-115ES PLUS Engineering/Scientific Calculator is sure to come in handy with just about any math problem you’ll find in the average high school math and science class. Designed to do more than just help solve problems, this calculator by Casio can actually backtrack, allowing you (or your professor) the ability to walk through the solution, step by step. The Casio has a solar-powered battery and comes with a backup battery supply to ensure the calculator is always ready for homework or big exams. A hard case keeps the calculator protected from bumps and bruises in backpacks.
Pros: Casio’s textbook display helps ease the transition from books to calculators and the playback function allows users to better understand how each problem was solved.
Cons: Lacks graphing ability.
3. Canon LS-82Z Handheld Calculator
For a calculator that is affordable and portable, we recommend the Canon LS-82Z Handheld Calculator. The small but mighty desktop calculator measures 4.4 inches by 3.5 inches, making it compact enough to slip into a pocket or pencil case. The calculator features a floating decimal point system, product dimensions and square root functions. An angled display makes for easy viewing.
Pros: The calculator has a dual power source of solar and battery and an auto-shutoff after seven minutes.
Cons: Because of the calculator’s small size, users who need a large display or prefer oversized buttons should look elsewhere.
4. Sharp EL-1801V Printing Calculator
Check your work quickly and easily with the Sharp EL-1801V Printing Calculator. The traditional accounting style calculator has been the standard for decades whether users are running a household or a small business. Printing in black and red ink, users can confirm their calculations and store the paper as a physical record. A large, 12-digit fluorescent display, one-touch change calculation function, cost-sell-margin and grand total and average keys provide an easy way to quickly calculate costs and print receipts.
Pros: Small businesses can use the calculator to confirm sales and provide receipts for customers thanks to the markup and tax functions.
Cons: The printing function lags and the keys can be quite loud.
5. ONXE Electronic Calculator
For users who don’t want to struggle to find small buttons, we recommend the ONXE Electronic Calculator. The desktop calculator features an ergonomic percussion keyboard with large, raised buttons that make a slight tapping sound so users can hear when they’ve hit the correct key. The tilted 30-degree screen provides a comfortable viewing angle. Designed for home or office use, the calculator includes 12 digits, a margin account, memory load/clear function and an extraction function.
Pros: The Onxe has two battery options, including solar power and a backup AA battery, which is included with the purchase of the calculator.
Cons: The keys are very loud, which may be distracting for some users.
6. Helect Standard Function Desktop Calculator
The Helect is a standard desk calculator available in five color options, including black (shown here), white, pink, orange and blue. The large calculator is ideal for tax and currency conversion, while also including function and command signs. The 12-digital calculator includes large, easy to read buttons, has an ergonomic design and anti-slip feet to keep it in place.
Pros: The digital readout is placed on a 30-degree incline for clear visibility.
Cons: The Helect uses solar power and can be run on one AA battery for extended and uninterrupted use, but the battery must be purchased separately.