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The Best Graphing Calculators To Buy Now for Back-to-School

Spiral and composition notebooks, three-ring binders, a protractor and compass—sure, those are the school supplies you can add to your cart without a second thought. But if you have kids getting into more advanced math and science classes, a graphing calculator will likely appear on the long list of must-haves for the fall. Generally speaking, they’re pricier—and definitely more complex to cover a wider range of subjects—than scientific calculators used in early middle school. Read on for our top recommendations, plus how to find the right model and other shopping advice before buying.

What to Consider

To start with a few basics, a graphing calculator has more advanced capabilities for higher-level math than a scientific calculator, with a larger, more dynamic screen for graphing functions and plotting coordinates. Before you start shopping, it’s essential to consider the student’s year in school and curriculum.

There are graphic calculators that can take a student from middle school pre-algebra all the way to calculus, but younger kids may be overwhelmed by too many features, and higher-level math students may learn better on a calculator specifically designed for advanced concepts rather than a basic model that skims the surface.

You may want to go with something that aligns with what your child will be learning. Also, particularly in younger grades, a teacher may recommend using a specific brand and model. For older high school students, keep in mind that certain calculators are accepted for various AP and college entrance exams and others are not, plus some models may be better suited to specific tests.

Graphing calculators have either black and white or color LCD displays, many have rechargeable batteries and offer USB connectivity, and some come pre-loaded with apps.

How We Chose

All of the graphing calculators in our selection have earned at least 4.5 stars or more from top brands. In addition to combing through customer reviews, we consulted expert sourced during our research, including TechRadar and PC Magazine. We included a range of calculators to suit students at different levels, from middle school to high school and and up, plus models that span multiple price points, with both color and black and white displays, starting at roughly $40 to about $140. We also compared and highlighted features for every graphing calculator we cover.

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1

Best Value Black & White

Casio fx-9750GII Graphing Calculator

Dimensions: ‎6 x 4 x 1 inches
Weight
: 7.6 ounces
Power Source: Four AAA batteries

You can’t beat the price of this graphing calculator—plus students can use it from middle school through high school, and in some early college classes. The user-friendly Casio has an icon-based menu, featuring all the basics students need as beginners for pre-algebra, along with essentials for later courses like trigonometry and geometry, all the way through AP calculus. 

Highlights among its features includes a high-resolution backlit LCD display and high processing speed, plus it’s lightweight and said to offer up 230 hours of battery life on a single charge.

  • Versatile for multiple subjects
  • Very affordable
  • Some customers say instructions are confusing

2

Best Value Color

Casio PRIZM FX-CG50 Color Graphing Calculator

Dimensions: ‎10 x 7 x 2 inches
Weight
: 12.8 ounces
Power Source: Four AA batteries

There are more than 65,000 colors and 82,000 pixels on this graphing calculator’s high-resolution LCD screen with text-format-style display, plus it offers 3D graphing capabilities. It’s Casio’s latest PRISM model, so it offers all the top-notch features you want minus extras you may not need that would drive up the price point. With an intuitive icon-based menu, high school and college math students will find this graphing calculator easy to navigate. 

  • Textbook display for easy reading
  • High-resolution LCD screen
  • Battery life is an issue for some

3

A Step Up

Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus Graphing Calculator

Texas Instruments
amazon.com

$108.25

Dimensions: ‎10.7 x 7 x 2 inches
Weight
: 14.4 ounces
Power Source: One lithium metal battery

This reasonably priced, versatile graphing calculator offers excellent value and is a solid choice for high school students. It comes preloaded with a wide range of functions and features a multi-line display along with vertical and horizontal split screen options so you have all the info you need right in front of you. 

The calculator also offers 14-digit accuracy and 10 graphic functions, plus you can save and work on up to 10 graphs at once. That it lacks a color display given the price point is drawback, though perhaps not a dealbreaker, and it’s also on the heavy side.

  • Solid features overall
  • Very accurate
  • Heavy and bulky
  • Midrange price point but lacks color display

4

Our Premium Pick

Texas Instruments TI-Nspire CX II CAS Color Graphing Calculator

Texas Instruments
amazon.com

$137.04

Dimensions: ‎7.5 x 3 x 0.6 inches
Weight
: 12.6 ounces
Power Source: One lithium-ion battery

This slim graphing calculator may be on the pricey side, but it’s interactive full-color visuals and 3D graphing make it one of the best on the market for higher level math — and it gets an average 4.8 stars from more than 3,400 customers.

One of its top features is its CAS (computer algebra system) for understanding and solving more complex equations. Other highlights include six different styles and 15 color options for graphs, plus it has an impressively fast fast processor and the touchpad is easy to navigate. 

The calculator has a rechargeable battery that’s said to last up to two weeks on single charge.

  • Full-color 3D graphing
  • Has CAS for complex calculations

5

Best Entry-Level

Texas Instruments TI-83 Plus Graphing Calculator

Texas Instruments
walmart.com

$76.99

Dimensions: 7 x 3.5 x 1 inches
Weight: 8 ounces
Power Source: Four AAA batteries; one lithium metal battery

If you’re looking for an entry-level graphing calculator, this one is your best bet. It’s perfect for middle school pre-algebra or high school early algebra classes. Students can use it for trigonometry and calculus too, though there are better options for more advanced courses (and we cover them here). 

The TI-83 is lightweight and has a built-in memory that can store up to 10 matrices, along with an LCD split screen for graph tracing and scrolling through tables and an interactive equation solver. 

  • Very user-friendly
  • Calculation history seen on-screen
  • Low-resolution, colorless screen

6

Best for High School

Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus CE Color Graphing Calculator

Texas Instruments
amazon.com

$143.99

Dimensions: 7.5 x 3.4 x 0.6 inches ‎
Weight: 12 ounces
Power Source: One lithium metal battery

The ever-popular TI-84 Plus CE is the go-to for high school and some early college students because it’s easy to use and has a well-rounded lineup of features—plus a vibrant display and streamlined design. 

For starters, the graphing calculator comes with a bevy of preloaded apps and can graph on images, plus its battery life is outstanding, said to run a month with average use on a single charge via USB cable and even longer on sleep mode. 

Another bonus: It’s available in eight attractive colors, something the majority of the competition lacks.

  • Tons of functions
  • Pre-loaded with excellent apps

7

Best For Advanced Math

Texas Instruments TI-89 Titanium CAS Graphing Calculator

Texas Instruments
amazon.com

$127.00

Dimensions: ‎7.5 x 1 x 3 inches
Weight
: 7.6 ounces
Power Source: Four A batteries 

This graphing calculator is ideal for college and high school students taking higher level math classes—and it won’t weigh down a backpack at a mere 5.3 ounces. 

It features an impressive 2.7 MB flash memory, 3D graphing, a CAS, and a large display for split-screen views, plus optional apps to add from the brand’s website. It also comes with a user-friendly menu system, making it easy to navigate. 

Another major plus is file sharing with other calculators and computers via a USB cable, which is included in the package. The calculator also comes with a one-year warranty.

  • 3D graphing
  • Can handle complex calculations

8

Best Design

NumWorks Graphing Calculator

NumWorks
amazon.com

$99.99

Dimensions: ‎6 x 0.4 x 3 inches
Weight
: 5.9 ounces
Power Source: One lithium-ion battery

With a simple, minimalist white design, this eye-catching graphing calculator has a modern, smartphone-like appeal that sets it apart from the crowd. It’s smaller and lightweight, plus it has a straightforward interface that’s easier to navigate than some more traditional options. 

The keyboard is split into three areas for navigation, advanced functions, and a numeric keypad, plus it features six built-in apps for high school math and science courses. The calculator has a micro USB port and cable for recharging, and it’s said to last for weeks in sleep mode.

  • Forward-thinking design for great user experience
  • Reasonably priced
  • Lightweight
  • Doesn’t have as many apps as the competition

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