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Best graphing calculator 2021

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

For complicated math equations and problems, the best graphing calculator is the way to go. There’s no better, or more reliable, way to tackle statistics, algebra or trigonometry problems than with one of these, not to mention that they’re also an ideal miniature portable for engineering.

It can be tough trying to find the best graphing calculator for both science professionals and students. To make matters worse, a lot of the manufacturers aren’t advertising everything the calculators are capable and not capable of – you might end up investing in one that’s missing a crucial feature you need. And, what’s the use in spending $100/£80 on something that doesn’t do what you need it to?

Luckily, that’s where we come in. We want to help you get the best graphing calculator for your needs, whether you’re looking at more traditional physical ones or their mobile software counterparts. Though we haven’t officially tested these here, a few of us survived trigonometry and calculus with these, so if it can help us navigate integration-by-parts, then it can handle just about anything you can throw at it.

Whether you’re a student going back to school (even remotely) 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

Specifications
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)
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight+Back-lit screen+Rechargeable battery
Reasons to avoid
-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

Specifications
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)
Reasons to buy
+Highly portable+Very affordable
Reasons to avoid
-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

Specifications
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)
Reasons to buy
+16-bit color touchscreen+Large memory capacity
Reasons to avoid
-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

Specifications
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)
Reasons to buy
+Perfect for pre-calculus work
Reasons to avoid
-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

Specifications
Display: N/A
Battery: N/A
Memory: N/A
Approved exams: None
Dimensions (H x W x D): N/A
Weight: N/A
Reasons to buy
+Powerful functionality+Looks great+Free+Did we mention that it's free?
Reasons to avoid
-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.

John Loeffler

John (He / Him / His) is a writer, programmer, gamer, activist, metal head, and Brooklyn College alum currently living in Brooklyn, NY. When not multi-boxing Linux installs for his computer science graduate program, you can find him online at all hours of the night retweeting cute animal photos or gaming. Find him online on Twitter at @thisdotjohn


Currently playing: Valheim, Elite Dangerous Odyssey, World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade Classic, Mass Effect Legendary Edition