Skip to main content

Best graphing calculator 2020

Best Graphing Calculator
(Image credit: Texas Instruments/Casio/HP)

Only the best graphing calculators will do if you need a handy tool to assist you with complex mathematical equations and problems. Whether you need help with trigonometry, algebra and statistics, or want a mini portable for engineering problems, these graphic calculators are the most reliable out there. 

The only thing is, for students and science professionals, finding the best graphing calculator for your specific need can be a daunting task. Unfortunately, most graphing calculator manufacturers don’t exactly advertise what their products can and cannot do, so it’s easy to pick up something and find a vital feature missing. And, spending $100/£80 on a graphing calculator that doesn’t do what you need from it as useful as lighting your money on fire. 

Fortunately for you, we're here to help you find the best graphing calculator for you, from actual physical ones to their mobile software versions. While we haven't reviewed any of these officially, some of us actually made it through college-level trigonometry and calculus using these, so if it's good enough to get us through integration-by-parts, they're good enough to tackle just about anything you can throw at it that doesn't require a postgraduate degree to evaluate.

Whether you’re a student going back to school and taking standardized tests, are doing a lot of general lab work, or have your own business, you’ll find something to suit your needs on our list. 

Best graphing calculators at a glance

  1. Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus CE
  2. Casio FX-9750GII
  3. HP Prime
  4. Texas Instruments TI-83 Plus
  5. Desmos Web and Mobile App

Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus CE Graphing Calculator

(Image credit: Texas Instruments)

1. Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus CE

The schoolroom staple gets a color upgrade

Display: High-resolution back-lit color | Battery: Rechargeable Lithium-ion | Memory: 154KB RAM | Approved exams: PSAT, SAT, ACT, NMBST, AP, IB | Dimensions (H x W x D): 7.5 x 3.42 x 0.62 in. (190.5 x 86.86 x 15.74 mm) | Weight: 12 ounces (340 grams)

Lightweight
Back-lit screen
Rechargeable battery
Expensive

When it comes to the best graphing calculators for high school and college students, you can't beat the TI-84 series calculators. The latest model, the TI-84 Plus CE, has all the functionality you'd expect from a classroom graphing calculator but with a modern back-lit color screen and comes pre-loaded with several useful math applications.

It has a rechargeable battery that should get you about two weeks on a single charge, which will save you some extra cash on batteries for several years of high school, college, and graduate-level math courses.

Casio FX-9750GII Graphing Calculators

(Image credit: Casio)

2. Casio FX-9750GII

The perfect pocket graphing calculator

Display: Monochrome LCD | Battery: 4xAAA alkaline batteries | Memory: 62KB RAM | Approved exams: PSAT, SAT, ACT, NMBST, AP, IB | Dimensions (H x W x D): 7.5 x 3.42 x 0.62 in. (190.5 x 86.86 x 15.74 mm) | Weight: 7.6 ounces (215.45 grams)

Highly portable
Very affordable
No built-in battery

A graphing calculator can be an expensive piece of equipment, with some mid-range to higher-end units costing north of $100/£80/AU$140. If you don't expect to ever need it after the end of the semester, the Casio FX-9750GII is probably the best graphing calculator out there. 

It's powerful enough to handle everything from calculus to finance and statistics without any of the bells and whistles that run up the costs of other graphing calculators. 

Unfortunately, one of those missing features is a rechargeable battery, but the four included AAA batteries should get you about 200 hours of use, which might be enough to get you through your final exam. If you need it beyond that, expect to shell out for new batteries at the start of the next semester.

HP Prime

(Image credit: HP)

3. HP Prime

A touchscreen twist on the graphing calculator

Display: High-resolution color touchscreen | Battery: Rechargeable Lithium-ion | Memory: 256MB Flash | Approved exams: PSAT, SAT, ACT, NMBST, AP, IB | Dimensions (H x W x D): 7.13 x 3.38 x 0.55 in. (182.3 x 85.8 x 13.9 mm) | Weight: 8.04 ounces (228 grams)

16-bit color touchscreen
Large memory capacity
Expensive

The HP Prime definitely updates the standard graphing calculator design to feature a more modern form factor and multi-touch, 16-bit display. It also features 256MB of flash memory, which is way, way more than you're going to find in a lot of other graphing calculators out there.

All that razzle-dazzle comes at a price though, making the Prime one of the most expensive mainstream graphing calculators out there, and there's an argument to be made that it isn't as good as some of its slightly cheaper competitors.

Texas Instruments TI-83 Plus Graphing Calculator

(Image credit: Texas Instruments)

4. Texas Instruments TI-83 Plus

The Cadillac of pre-calculus graphing calculators

Display: Monochrome LCD | Battery: 4xAAA alkaline | Memory: 24KB RAM | Approved exams: PSAT, SAT, ACT, NMBST, AP, IB | Dimensions (H x W x D): 11.3 x 7.5 x 1.4 in. (287 x 190.5 x 35.5 mm) | Weight: 7.2 ounces (204.1 grams)

Perfect for pre-calculus work
Limited display
Bulky

Graphing calculators really break down into two different categories, those that can do calculus and those that can't. If you don't need to do differentiation or integration, then the Texas Instruments TI-83 Plus is definitely the best graphing calculator you can buy. 

It's been a mainstay of algebra, geometry, and trigonometry classes the world over. It isn't the flashiest nor is it the most powerful calculator out there, but its perfect for visualizing quadratic and exponential functions. While its not the cheapest calculator out there, its been around for so long that you can find some great deals online without much effort.

Desmos web and mobile app online Graphing Calculator

(Image credit: Desmos)

5. Desmos web and mobile app

Because everything is free on the internet

Display: N/A | Battery: N/A | Memory: N/A | Approved exams: None | Dimensions (H x W x D): N/A | Weight: N/A

Powerful functionality
Looks great
Free
Did we mention that it's free?
Cannot use it on any standardized tests
Probably can't use it on any other tests either

Why pay for a graphing calculator when you can just use Desmos's free web or mobile app? Well, if you want to use it for the SAT or AP Calculus exam, we guess, but if you just need some homework help, Desmos has you covered.

The simple and elegant design allows you to do everything from graphing algebraic equations to differentiation and integration with ease. While handheld graphing calculator screens are tiny little things, Desmos lets you graph as many interactive functions as you want on a full screen display making for very dynamic visualizations.

The mobile version isn't as robust as some of the pricey exam-approved graphing calculators, but this is by far the best graphing calculator you're going to find without having to spend any actual money.

  • Back to School 2020 is certainly going to be different, and we’re here to guide you through what you’ll need. Whether you’re truly going back to school or remotely attending classes online, we’re rolling out a series of in-depth guides for students, teachers and parents to ensure you’re buying the right technology and accessories.