If you’re an engineering, math, or physical science major in college, odds are you’ll need a pretty heavy-duty calculator. A graphing calculator will help you greatly when you need to visualize functions and come up with plots for what happens to a variable over time. Here are the top 3 graphing calculators currently available.

Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus Graphing Calculator

Texas Instruments TI-84 Graphing CalculatorThe TI-84 is a graphing calculator manufactured by one of the most reputable names in the business – Texas Instruments. Texas Instruments makes great calculators (I can say this from my personal experience as an Electrical Engineering major). The TI-84 has some great features that will help you get through those tough math classes:

  • Graphs calculus, engineering, and trigonometric functions
  • Can display graphs on a split screen (great way to go through the graph and find specific data points from a table)
  • Can connect with your PC or another calculator via USB
  • Can perform advanced statistics functions, probability simulations, conic graphing, and much more

This is a very fast calculator, solving problems much faster than its predecessor, the TI-83. The built-in apps make it much more versatile as well. For example, the Cabri Jr. app makes geometry much easier than before.

Texas Instruments Nspire CX Graphing Calculator

Texas Instruments Nspire CX Graphing CalculatorCredit: AmazonSo what’s the difference between this calculator and the last one? Well there’s one big one, and it’s pretty rare among current graphing calculators – a color screen. Here’s what else is great about this calculator:

  • Thinnest and lightest TI graphing calculator ever made
  • Can overlay math onto digital images or photos
  • Rechargeable batteries (if you’ve ever had your calculator batteries die during a big test, then you’ll know how important this is)
  • Graph 3D functions

These are just a few of the features of this graphing calculator. As you can see this will do some serious heavy lifting on that calculus homework. The Computer Algebra System (CAS) will help you solve for variables in an equation (saving you a lot of time on those tests). This calculator also solves integrals and entering long functions like matrices is much easier than on other graphing calculators.

HP 50g Graphing Calculator

HP 50g Graphing CalculatorCredit: AmazonThis the only calculator in this top three that is not made by Texas Instruments, but don’t let that turn you off! Hewlett Packard has been making calculators for decades (much longer than most companies). They are normally considered the father company of modern handheld calculators. This particular model is a great graphing calculator to own. Here’s a short list of its features:

  • SD Card slot to increase memory
  • Over 2,300 built-in functions
  • Improved data entry (can switch between RPN, textbook, or algebraic)

This calculator has a much improved keypad, making it easier to enter numbers quickly (important when you get down to those last few minutes of your exam). If you’ve ever used an HP calculator before and prefer to enter your calculations in a stack, you can still do that on this model. If you’ve never entered data in RPN format before, give it a shot. Once you get used to it, you can enter data much faster than on other calculators (not a feature on TI calculators).

Buy Graphing Calculators

There are many places to buy graphing calculators. You can pick one of these up at your local department store, electronics store, or office supply shop. You can also shop around online and get one there. You’ll very likely be able to pick up one of these top 3 graphing calculators online for much cheaper than you would find one locally.