The Best Graphing Calculators for Engineering
Looking for a graphing calculator for engineering work? Here's our roundup of some great options.
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Whether you need to use one professionally or in a college class, a graphing calculator is an essential tool for engineering. It can help you plot graphs and solve equations quickly. It’s also much more versatile and powerful for things like arithmetic and radicals than the software calculators on your computer or phone. And it’s certainly more convenient.
When you’re solving big equations, fast calculations are essential, and that’s not nearly as easy on a keyboard or touchpad that wasn’t specifically designed for it. Not all graphing calculators are equal, though.
Therefore, we’ve researched and compiled a list of the best graphing calculators for engineering. Knowing the stats, features, and things to consider will help you pick the right calculator for you.
Engineering Graphing Calculators – Our Picks
Note: If you are a student and specifically require a non-graphing calculator, check out this roundup article.
Best Color Graphing Calculator
The Casio FX-CG10 PRIZM
The Casio FX-CG10 PRIZM offers every function required for mathematical and scientific equations. You can also take notes with it, even while making equations, using the included eActivity app.
Its level of versatility is hard to beat, and you get customization options too. One cool example is how it lets you color code and add images to graphs. Spreadsheets are also available. What’s more, it has a 16MB memory. That’s enough to store plenty of equations, graphs, and notes.
- Great formatting options
- Big, bright display
- Large keypad for easy typing
- Ability to take notes and store data
- Tricky menus
- Quite bulky
- Low-Res Display
Best for College Students
The Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus Graphics Calculator
The TI-84 Plus is a powerful calculator that comes with over a dozen built-in applications for advanced equations and functions. One example is the Cabri Jr. interactive geometry app.
It has a fast processor and can handle ten graphing functions at the same time, defining and analyzing simultaneously. You can see equations with their corresponding graphs and coordinates at once.
And you can choose between horizontal and virtual split-screen. The only significant thing missing is a CAS (Computer Algebra System.) So, it can’t find partial and total derivatives or take limits.
Pull-down menus and number-entry navigation reduce the hassle of complex tasks. In addition to typical math and science calculations, you’ll find tools specifically designed for engineering and finances. It runs on four AAA batteries with one silver-oxide backup battery that protects the RAM when you switch batteries.
It also shuts off automatically to conserve battery life. If you have other Texas Instruments devices, you can connect the TI-84 Plus to them through the I/O port.
- Suitable for college-level math
- Long battery life
- Easy navigation
- Clear display
- It’s expensive
- No CAS
- Needs many batteries
Best Display Quality
The HP 50g Graphing Calculator
The HP 50g compact graphing calculator is back with even better capabilities and more usable space. There are over 2,300 built-in functions and a vast equation library.
It’s fast and powerful with an impressive bundle of graphing calculator functions and lessons built into the system. Learning and refreshing your memory on abstract problem-solving concepts is a very convenient feature.
Now, the graphing functionality itself isn’t bad either. Features such as parametric and polar plotting, 3D graphing, differential equation, and bar plots make it very versatile.
What’s more, it allows you to isolate sub-expressions and evaluate them separately with the intelligent editor. For extra convenience, you can cut, copy, and paste objects with ease.
You can choose between Textbook, Reverse Polish Notation, or Algebraic data entry. And in case you need to store lots of data for big tasks, it has an SD card slot. It also comes with a USB cord and an installation CD.
What about visibility? Well, the big display has a high level of contrast, and you can adjust fonts to help you see better.
- Very reliable
- High-contrast screen
- Long battery life
- Excellent number pad
- Easy for programmers to enhance
- No enclosed user manual
- Needs many batteries
Best with 2 SD Card Slots
The HP HP48GX RPN Expandable Graphic Calculator
The HP48GX is an engineering student-oriented graphing calculator with similar specs to the HP 50G. Like that one, it has over 2,300 functions, with 300 specifically tailored to fit science and engineering students.
It also has 128 KB of memory with the ability to extend it via two SD card slots. Most competitors offer one at best.
It’s a lightweight yet rugged calculator, weighing in at a mere four ounces but able to withstand drops and knocks. It offers great capabilities, although it’s a bit slow compared to the other options.
One thing to note is that the screen isn’t the most legible. Blue pixels and low definition don’t serve all eyes too well. And unless you’re used to similar HP calculators, you may find navigation a bit confusing at first.
- Made for engineering students
- Ample memory expansion options
- Very portable
- Somewhat slow
- Not the easiest display to read
- Steep learning curve for many functions
Best TI-84 Alternative
The Casio FX-9750GH Graphing Calculator
Often referred to as a cheaper option for those who want a TI-84, the Casio FX-9750GH boasts an impressive assortment of calculations and graphing functions at an appealing price. While the menus and performance may not match its more expensive rivals, it offers all the same functions. If you’re a student and need to conserve money, it’s worth a closer look.
Statistics and financial equations are a piece of cake, and you can create pie charts and bar graphs with ease. However, it lacks CAS capabilities. So, it can’t do algebraic equations with symbolic results, such as indefinite integrals and derivatives.
Navigation isn’t bad, it just takes some getting used to before you can work smoothly. The simplified input allows for very fast use after the initial learning hump. However, it’s more geared toward professionals, and not as suitable for new students.
This product is a better fit for professionals who need fast and simple input and are familiar with this type of calculator. Where it surpasses many rivals is its battery life. Around 230 hours on one set of four AAA batteries is no small feat. In fact, it’s almost 100 hours longer than many similar calculators.
Although it’s a budget-oriented option, it’s pretty sturdy. On the other hand, the display isn’t the best. Also, the power switch is so exposed that it’s easy to turn on or off by accident.
- Great value for the price
- Long battery life
- Low-res display
- No internal flash memory
- No CAS capability
As you can see, there’s a recommendable option for everyone who needs a good graphing calculator. These are all solid choices, so it’s hard to go wrong with one of these. We hope you’ve found your ideal match.
Good luck with your engineering!