Best graphing calculator 2022: from color displays to trusty old standbys

Best Graphing Calculator
(Image credit: Texas Instruments/Casio/HP)
Editor's Note: December 2022

With the Fall term coming to an end, you'll get a short respite this holiday season before we'll be right back into the Spring 2023 term, so right now is a great time to find some deals on graphing calculators if you know you're going to need one (It's also not a bad time to upgrade your graphics calculator if you need it for work).

John Loeffler, US Computing Editor

The best graphing calculator your budget will allow is likely on top of your school supply shopping list if you are the parent of secondary- or high school-aged children. 

A graphing calculator is not just the best calculator for advanced mathematics and engineering, it is also an essential tool for physics, statistics, and even biology. The best graphing calculators will last you many years, if not a decade or more, thanks to their relatively simple electronics that won't wear out over time as quickly as even the best phone or tablet might do.

And while it takes some practice to effectively use, once you know your way around a good graphing calculator, even the most complex calculus equations can be broken down and visualized in a quick and easily understood manner. It's little wonder why most math and science teachers and professors will keep one handy in class, even if they have the latest computer readily available, since it is often quicker to just whip out graphing calculator and find an answer than it is to even Google it.

With all the back to school sales currently running, there are a lot of great deals out there on the supplies you need, but there are also a lot of options to sort though. And given that these are relatively expensive devices, you really don't want to buy the wrong one only to find out in class that it can't do what you need it to do. Fortunately, we're here to help you find the best graphing calculator for your needs and budget so you can start knocking your assignments out of the park.

Best graphing calculator 2022 - Chosen by our experts

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.

Numworks Graphing Calculator

(Image credit: Numworks)

5. Numworks Graphing Calculator

The graphing calculator of the 21st century

Specifications

Display: IPS LCD
Battery: 1,450 mAh rechargeable
Memory: N/A
Weight: 5.9 ounces
Approved exams : SAT, PSAT, AP, ACT
Dimensions (H x W x D): 6.3 x 3.2 x 0.4 inches

Reasons to buy

+
Clean, minimalist aesthetic
+
Intuitive UI

Reasons to avoid

-
Not for the more advanced math classes

Whether you’re something for your math classes or you want to learn coding in Python, the Numworks Graphing Calculator will see you through everything you need. There are several applications here, from basic calculations and equations to probability, statistics, and regression, and it’s approved for the PSAT, SAT and ACT exams.

Design-wise, there’s also much to appreciate. It has a fresh minimalist look that puts aging gray or black calculators to shame, a rechargeable battery with up to 20 hours of life, and a weight of less than 6 ounces. 

Desmos web and mobile app online Graphing Calculator

(Image credit: Desmos)

6. 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 (opens in new tab) 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.

Today's best graphics calculator deals

John Loeffler
Computing Editor

John (He/Him) is the US Computing Editor here at TechRadar and he is also a programmer, gamer, activist, and Brooklyn College alum currently living in Brooklyn, NY. 


Named by the CTA as a CES 2020 Media Trailblazer for his science and technology reporting, John specializes in all areas of computer science, including industry news, hardware reviews, PC gaming, as well as general science writing and the social impact of the tech industry.


You can find him online on Twitter at @thisdotjohn


Currently playing: The Last Stand: Aftermath, Cartel Tycoon

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