The 10 Best Graphing Calculators

Updated March 04, 2018 by Brett Dvoretz

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We spent 43 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top selections for this wiki. A trademark of high school students who've moved beyond basic mathematics problem solving, graphing calculators can be essential for math, science and engineering professionals and high-level academics as well. Today's models feature color displays, 3-D capabilities, and touchscreen convenience, but basic options can still perform most operations while saving you some money. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best graphing calculator on Amazon.

10. NumWorks 100

The ergonomic keyboard design and user-friendly interface make the NumWorks 100 a great choice for high schoolers, and the decent battery capacity and included charger mean you never have to worry about it dying in the middle of an exam.
  • supports five languages
  • can run python scripts
  • secondary key functions hard to see
Brand NumWorks
Model N0100
Weight 8.6 ounces
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

9. Casio Prizm

Enhance your understanding of even the most complex operations with the Casio Prizm. This revolutionary tool allows students to experiment with concepts by incorporating images from their own lives to achieve a whole new level of learning.
  • vibrant display shows 65000 colors
  • 140 hours of use on 4 aaa batteries
  • missing some calculus functions
Brand Casio
Model FX-CG10
Weight 2.8 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

8. TI 84 Plus CE

Even if you don't like math, the plethora of applications preloaded on the TI 84 Plus CE means you will almost always find what you need, and an ultra-slim design makes it a space saver in that almost always overfull backpack.
  • adds grid lines to display
  • charts can be color-coded
  • can be slow to display graphics
Brand Texas Instruments
Model 84PLCE/PWB/2L1/A
Weight 12.8 ounces
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

7. Casio FX

The Casio FX boasts an icon-driven onscreen menu system for easy access to advanced functions, and it has a hard slide-on cover for maximum protection when not in use. A built-in USB port allows you to share your data with peers easily.
  • intuitive design and software
  • great value for the price
  • may not be approved for all tests
Brand Casio
Model FX9750GII
Weight 12.8 ounces
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

6. Casio Color

The LCD and 3D modeling capability of the Casio Color make it a great option for any mathematics classroom, and with approval for all major exams, you won't have to leave it at home on the big day. The auto sampling mode can build graphs from live sensor data.
  • natural textbook display
  • picture plot technology
  • finds intersections automatically
Brand Casio
Model FX-CG-50-L-IH
Weight 13.6 ounces
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

5. TI 89 Titanium

The TI 89 Titanium features 16 preloaded applications suitable for college-level math and engineering coursework, and can be programmed and upgraded from a computer via its USB port. Its 16,000 pixel screen allows for 3D rendering.
  • supports euler angles
  • full statistical regression
  • folder-based organization system
Brand Texas Instruments
Model 23141
Weight 1.3 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

4. TI 84 Plus C

Students using the TI 84 Plus C's math print feature can enter and view fractions, operations and symbols exactly as they appear, making comprehension quick and easy. With a wide range of built-in functions, this model is great for middle school through college.
  • import and use images
  • rechargeable battery included
  • deep sleep mode for idle periods
Brand Texas Instruments
Model 84PLSEC/TBL/1L1/L
Weight 14.4 ounces
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

3. HP Prime

With an attractive, slim, brushed metal housing, the HP Prime makes a great personal assistant. It features a straightforward keypad, has 256 MB of storage and the gesture-based commands make interactions quick and intuitive.
  • approved for standardized test use
  • plots boolean graphics
  • expandable application library
Brand HP
Model G8X92AA#B1K
Weight 15.2 ounces
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

2. TI Nspire CAS

Get inspired to tackle elaborate math problems using the sleek and rechargeable TI Nspire CAS. It includes a high-resolution, full-color display that makes it easy to see every exponent, variable and line, while the custom Chem Box app accepts full chemical formulas.
  • overlay and color-coded graphs
  • chart and rotate functions
  • can transfer work to a computer
Brand Texas Instruments
Weight 1 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

1. Casio Touch

The intuitive design of the Casio Touch eliminates the need for unnecessarily complicated key operations, thanks to a large touchscreen panel and handy stylus. It can be used in its upright orientation or rotated horizontally for a wider view.
  • clutter-free interface
  • latch mechanism for stylus storage
  • nearly 5-inch display
Brand Casio
Model fx-CG500
Weight 1.3 pounds
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

The Advent Of Graphing Calculator

The first graphing calculator designed for commercial sale was the Casio fx-7000G, which was released in 1985. The advent of the graphing calculator was a significant leap forward in technology over all previous calculator models. Up until then, calculators could only process a single calculation at a time, but the Casio fx-7000G could perform a series of calculations based on formulas or functions that the user had input. In addition, it could store the results of the calculations in its internal memory. The Casio fx-7000G was also the first calculator that could be programmed by the user.

For a graphing calculator to not only plot points on a graph, but also display them for the user to see, it required a more powerful display than what previous versions offered. To combat this, Casio integrated a 96x64 dot matrix screen allowing it to plot out bar graphs, algebraic graphs, regression lines, and normal distribution curves.

When Casio first introduced the graphing calculator, they created it with a custom designed processor based on the popular Z80, which is what was used to power home desktop computers of the day. As computers of the time were relatively basic themselves, graphing calculators were capable of many of the same functions, making them essentially handheld computers.

Once Casio opened the doors to the market of graphing calculators, other companies soon followed. In 1987, HP released the HP-28 series, which was the first calculator capable of solving equations symbolically. It was available in two models: the HP-28C and the HP-28S. Both models had a flip-open case with an alphabetic keyboard on the left side and a standard scientific keyboard layout on the right. They also had a 137×32 LCD dot matrix screen.

The HP-28C was the first graphing calculator that had a Computer Algebra System (CAS) and it came with 2KB of RAM. In 1988, the HP-28S model was released, which had a stunning 32KB of RAM and a Saturn processor running at 1 MHz, giving it the same specs as desktop computers from just one year earlier.

Choosing A Graphing Calculator

Graphing calculators can be had for as little as $25 or as much as $200+, so before buying one, it's a good idea to decide which features you need and which you don't. This will prevent you from spending more than needed on a tool that you might only use for a semester or two.

Nearly any student can benefit from a graphing calculator that has Natural Math Display. This allows it to display equations and formulas in exactly the same way as you would write them on a piece of paper; meaning fractions look like fractions and you can use full sized symbols. Having this will make reading a graphing calculator considerably easier, which is especially useful for those new to using them.

CAS makes using a graphing calculator quicker and more efficient. Instead of having to give a numerical definition to each and every variable, you can just perform algebra symbolically. This is an absolute necessity for complex calculations, which not only makes your life easier, but also allows the graphing calculator to solve equations with a higher number of unknown variables.

Only the most expensive models are available with full color screens, and some even are touchscreens. A full color screen will make navigating menus easier and graphs easier to read. Those with a class load heavily focused on mathematics should certainly consider one, but for those who are just taking the bare minimum of math and science classes, it is probably best to choose a less costly model without a color screen.

3D graphing is another feature that is only useful for particular classes. 3D graphing allows a calculator to plot multivariable functions over the x, y, and z planes, as opposed to standard graphing which only plots on the x and y planes. If you are just taking basic algebra and precalculus classes, it's more of a luxury than an essential feature, whereas those taking non-linear algebra and multivariate calculus will find it invaluable.

Two Common Questions About Graphic Calculators

One of the foremost questions parents and students have about graphing calculators is "What classes use them?" Graphing calculators are a vital tool in a number of science and math classes. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but a student can expect to use a graphing calculator in algebra classes of all levels; geometry, precalculus and calculus, trigonometry, biology, physics, chemistry, business and finance, and statistics.

Another common question is whether to purchase one with a rechargeable battery or one that uses standard alkaline batteries. While many people these days prefer rechargeable devices, buying one that requires alkaline batteries may be a better choice for those who will be using their graphing calculator for tests.

If a student accidentally forgets to charge their device before a big test, there is nothing they can do about it and will either have to take the test without their graphing calculator, or rush out to a store to buy one that takes alkaline batteries. Even if charged, their is always the risk of it dying during class or a test. Models that take alkaline batteries will always be ready to use as long as a student makes it a habit to keep a few extra batteries in their bag at all times.

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Last updated on March 04, 2018 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as behind the computer screen, Brett can either be found hacking furiously away at the keyboard or perhaps enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He hopes to one day become a modern day renaissance man.

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