Best For High School: Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus CE Color Graphing Calculator

The TI-84 Plus CE Color Graphing calculator is probably the most popular calculators used in high schools today. Yes, it is pricey—but it does have one big advantage over other brands. Many teachers are so familiar with the TI’s calculators they can help you if you get stuck . . . with other brands (with different layouts and functions), it might be more hit  or miss.

Here’s why we recommend this model:

What We Liked

• Bright screen! We loved the high-resolution backlit display, with color coding for equations.

• Easy to use.

• Can update operating system and apps via USB cord.

• 30% lighter and thinner than previous models.

• Can graph images as well.

• Includes protective case.

• Battery can last for many weeks without charging when in sleep mode.

• A big step-up from black and white models!

• Multiple colors available. 

What Needs Work

• Pricey!

• Unit conversions can be challenging.

• Slower than TI’s other flagship models, such as the  TI-Nspire CX II CAS. Of course, those models cost more!

Best Black & White Screen: Texas Instruments TI83 Plus Graphing Calculator

If you don’t care about the color screen, this calculator (the TI83) is more affordable . . . and just as good at displaying graphs and tables.

What We Liked

 Durable.

• Auto shut-off.

• Uses AAA batteries with  a lithium battery back-up.

• Preloaded apps include StudyCards, Vernier EasyData.

• Operating system and software can be updated.

• Horizontal and vertical split-screen options.

• Includes a slide case.

• Compatible with TI-84 calculators.

• Affordable.

What Needs Work

• Learning curve. This model is popular with teachers, but some students say the learning curve can be a challenge.

Best Budget-Friendly: Casio fx-9750GII Graphing Calculator

We love Texas Instruments graphing calculators, but let’s be honest—they are quite pricey. And other brands can do much the same function, at prices that are easier on the wallet.

Case in point: Casio. Their model fx-9750GII is an excellent graphing calculator with black and white screen. Here’s why it is our top budget-friendly pick:

What We Liked

• 200 hours of battery life.

• Protective hard case.

• Affordable.

• LCD screen is easy to read.

• Includes 4 AAA batteries.

• Icon menu helps navigation.

What Needs Work

• Teachers aren’t as familiar with this model. And that means things might get tricky if you get stuck on a problem and need to get a teacher’s help!

• Navigation not as intuitive as TI’s models.

• Difficult to open packaging.

Best Basic Model: Catiga Scientific Graphic Calculator

We love Texas Instruments graphing calculators, but they have a major drawback: they tend to walk off on their own. So popular, TI models are frequently stolen from lockers, backpacks and other unsecured locations.

If this is an issue you’re concerned with, Catiga’s basic graphing calculator has one major plus: it is super affordable. So if it gets stolen, it is much easier to replace!

What We Liked

• Simultaneous display for graphs and functions.

• 9 variable memories.

• Large LCD screen.

• Includes batteries.

• Programmable.

• Super affordable!

What Needs Work

• Fragile. This calculator is more susceptible to breakage if dropped than other models.

Why Trust Us

We’ve been rating and reviewing products for the home and families since 1994. We do hands-on testing—we buy the products with our own money and evaluate with an eye toward quality, ease of use and affordability.

Here’s another key point: we don’t take money from the brands we review. No free samples, no sponsors, no “partnerships.” Our work is 100% reader-supported!