The 9 Best Dive Computers

Updated April 30, 2018 by Daniel Imperiale

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We spent 45 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Scuba diving is one of the coolest activities around. What beats floating around among colorful fish and reef formations? But if you want to ensure your safety or have difficulty keeping up with your dive logs manually, try one of these computers that do all the work for you. We've included both console and watch-style models. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best dive computer on Amazon.

9. Mares Smart Wrist

The Mares Smart Wrist has a slim design that fits most people nicely, and a segmented display that makes it easy to determine what each number represents. The mineral glass face is durable enough to withstand most dings and bumps.
  • counts down safety stops
  • dual-color strap
  • safety lock can be frustrating
Brand Mares
Model P.414129-BKWH-Parent
Weight 14.4 ounces
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

8. Cressi Leonardo

The Cressi Leonardo is a wristwatch-style model that sits at the intersection of quality and value. It offers an easy, single-button operation and features an automatic safety stop countdown starting at 20 feet. Plus, it comes in more than 10 color options.
  • large digits are easy to see
  • battery life gauge
  • backlight isn't very strong
Brand Cressi
Model pending
Weight 9 ounces
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

7. Sherwood Vision

The Sherwood Vision provides a clean display and a simple operation that makes it a pleasure to have along on any trip into the water. It features a built-in digital compass and can give you an accurate estimate of the amount of air time remaining.
  • automatic altitude adjustment
  • shows max and current depth
  • can't be worn on the wrist
Brand Sherwood
Model pending
Weight 2 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

6. Mares Puck Pro Wrist

The Mares Puck Pro Wrist boasts a log that can record up to 36 hours or 50 dives, depending on which number you hit first. It comes in a slew of colors, or you can get your hands on a version with a hose attachment and additional dials.
  • built to last for years
  • very easy to set up
  • no user-definable surface time
Brand Mares
Model pending
Weight 11.4 ounces
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

5. Suunto Zoop Novo

The Suunto Zoop Novo feels a little bulky, but a slim design is a sacrifice most are willing to make when they realize the quality they are getting for this price. It keeps a history of previous dives for later reference, and includes a built-in planner.
  • 150-dive battery life
  • doubles as a snorkel depth gauge
  • audible alarms aren't very loud
Brand Suunto
Model pending
Weight 8.8 ounces
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

4. Suunto D4i Novo

If you want a unit that offers both performance and style, you'll love the fact that the Suunto D4i Novo comes in any of nine attractive colors. Its full continuous decompression algorithm is very reliable, as well, so you can feel safe when it's time to ascend.
  • four optional air modes
  • firmware can be updated
  • soft silicone strap
Brand Suunto
Model 203930
Weight 11.2 ounces
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

3. Aqua Lung i450t Hoseless

The Aqua Lung i450t Hoseless employs a patented gas-time-remaining algorithm that can provide you with calculations in real time, even without a hose attachment. It is also equipped with a digital compass to help you keep your sense of direction while submerged.
  • available in three colors
  • paired transmitters stay connected
  • comes with great software
Brand Aqua Lung
Model pending
Weight 8.8 ounces
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

2. Aeris F.11 Professional Freediving

With six audible depth alarms and a repeating interval notification, the Aeris F.11 Professional Freediving inspires tremendous confidence in the safety of your dives. Its large display is easy to read, as well, so you can spend more time enjoying the view down below.
  • switches between salt and freshwater
  • shallow water training settings
  • buttons are very responsive
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

1. Shearwater Research Petrel 2

The Shearwater Research Petrel 2 has a large color LCD that is easy to read in nearly any water condition, and in full sunlight. It can be used with air, nitrox, and trimix, and, despite being capable enough for technical divers, it is great for recreational use, as well.
  • ideal for multi-gas switch dives
  • automatic brightness feature
  • adjustable elastic straps
Brand Shearwater Research
Model pending
Weight 7.2 ounces
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

Underwater Safety

Exploring under the water can be a fascinating adventure and experience to behold. Descending into the depths of the unknown gives you a thrill, as you never know what you're going to see or find. Perhaps you have aspirations to find buried treasure or you're simply enamored with the opportunity to study underwater life. Whatever the reasons, you're going to need some type of monitor to ensure that your trip is as safe as possible, so that you avoid getting lost or experiencing decompression sickness when you decide to surface. While it's possible to dive without a dive computer, this little device will provide you added assurance for your safety and you'll be glad for having made the investment.

A dive computer is a small, watertight, battery-operated device housed in a pressure-resistant case and sometimes worn around the wrist (like a watch). The computer is designed to measure the time, depth, and ambient pressure of a deep dive under the water. In so doing, the computer ensures that a safe ascent profile can be calculated and conveniently displayed back to the diver in order to avoid complications when surfacing. In other words, once a diver has spent a certain amount of time at a particular depth, after which a direct ascent (without stopping) would be unsafe or inadvisable, it is the dive computer's job to calculate an algorithm (a self-contained and step-by-step set of operations to be performed) that is based on the surrounding water pressure and time input to estimate when a no-stop ascent is no longer possible.

Part of the calculation for this algorithm involves the measurement of inert gases that have dissolved inside a diver's tissues at a given point. An inert gas is defined as one that does not go through a chemical reaction under particular conditions. For a diver, an inert gas is part of the breathing mixture that is not metabolically active. Once the dive computer has calculated this algorithm, it then estimates which decompression stops will need to be made by the diver during his ascent, at particular altitudes, and for how long. This process minimizes the chances for decompression sickness.

So what types of information can a dive computer display? Most dive computers feature liquid crystal displays for easy viewing in the water. Firstly and most important is the no stop time, which is displayed as the amount of time that a diver can remain at his current depth without the need to make decompression stops on the way up to the surface. The computer will also display the current depth and the total elapsed time for the dive. Some dive computers can also display total ascent times and the temperature of the surrounding water, and they have audible alerts when a diver is ascending too quickly or when a decompression stop has been missed.

A Brief History Of The Dive Computer

Up until the early 1980s, recreational diving was learned by leveraging United States Navy diving tables. Because these tables were not based on multi-level diving profiles, algorithms were produced to account for changes in nitrogen uptake when a diver's depth was constantly changing. These algorithms were not computer-accessible until the invention of the microchip.

In 1983, Austrian biologist Hans Haas innovated the first decompression diving computer called the DecoBrain, which was capable of displaying the same information that most modern dive computers display today. Around the same time, Orca Industries released the Orca Edge, which became the first commercially available dive computer. Rather than showing a decompression plan, the Orca Edge would display a safe-ascent depth instead.

The problem with this design was that the diver didn't always know how long he would have to decompress at a particular depth. Orca Industries continued refining its design with the Skinny-dipper in 1987, which was capable of running calculations for repetitive diving, followed by the Delphi in 1989 for calculating altitude.

In 2001, the US Navy approved the use of Cochran NAVY decompression computer, which made use of the Thalmann algorithm for Special Warfare operations. Developed by Captain Edward D. Thalmann, the Thalmann algorithm produces a decompression schedule for divers based on the use of the Mk15 rebreather.

By 2008, the release of the Underwater Digital Interface combined the functionality of two-way digital messaging, SOS and homing capabilities, and a 3D digital compass into a single dive computer.

Do Your Research And Keep Your Options Open

The best dive computer for you is the one that makes you feel the most confident in your ability to stay informed about your underwater circumstances and to keep yourself safe before, during, and long after you've surfaced from a dive. One should take time and research the features they would most like to have on the device.

It goes without saying that a dive computer should be durable and easy to read. As a diver will need to be able to find his or her way back to their boat, finding one with an integrated compass will definitely come in handy, as it can supplement the need for a separate compass and it will also function accurately without having to be held level.

One must also ensure that their dive computer has a reliable depth gauge that will accurately record various depths as well as how much time has been spent at those depths. This will minimize the difficulty with decompression. If you plan to dive often, adequate memory storage is also important so that you can maintain an accurate history of your dives. The most cutting-edge dive computers can maintain a memory for up to ten dives.

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Last updated on April 30, 2018 by Daniel Imperiale

Daniel is a writer, actor, and director living in Los Angeles, CA. He spent a large portion of his 20s roaming the country in search of new experiences, taking on odd jobs in the strangest places, studying at incredible schools, and making art with empathy and curiosity.

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