Updated Jan 18, 2021 | Justin Carmack
People always ask me, “what is the one piece of dive gear I should buy first?”. My answer is always the same: a dive computer! You can always get away with renting the fins and BCD and everything else from the dive center you are diving with, but I always want the monitoring of my depth and no-deco times etc, to be my responsibility.
Besides that, if you are diving with a new dive operator, you really don’t know how responsible they are as guides, and you should really never rely on someone else to keep track of your dive limits and safety. Every diver should have their own dive computer, and know how to use it.
On top of that, I have been to many dive shops that simply do not have extra computers, so you would be forced to dive without one, and hope your guide keeps you safe. So if you have to choose what to buy, go for a computer.
Thats what this guide is for. There re a lot of dive computers out there, and this guide is meant to make it easy to find your best possible match, based on budget, skill level, preference and more. If you can’t find something perfect for you here, I don’t know where else you will!
Ultimate SCUBA Regulator Guide Index
Top 5 Dive Computers Overview
Before Buying a Dive Computer
Still not sure what one to go with, with all these great options? There are a few factors to consider when choosing the perfect computer for you, so lets go through those, and then I will just give my recommendations and all time favorites, that you cant go wrong with.
Obviously you should think about your budget, check the prices in the links above, and that will be a big factor. But obviously since there are a lot of options around the same prices, there will be more factors to think about.
HOW OFTEN WILL YOU DIVE?
If you are diving frequently, are a Divemaster or instructor, you are going to want a good watch that will last, as well as one that will log a lot of dives. If you are diving a few times a year, you don’t need the most top of the line.
WHAT IS YOUR QUALIFICATION LEVELS?
Most of you reading this will be recreational divers, and do not need something very technical. Do you do mix gases? Do you use air integration? Will you need to be able to plan a dive table on your computer for tec diving? If not, don’t get something like the Shearwater Research. It is complete over kill, way too big and uncomfortable to wear, and too expensive for what you need. But if you are tec diving, it doesn’t get much better than that one.
EASY TO SETUP AND USE
This also goes with how much you dive and how much experience you have with computers, but if you are like me, and DO have a lot of dives and experience with computers, yet I still prefer something simple and user friendly. I have tried a lot of computers in my day, and I always seem to revert back to a Suunto. I rather not have to spend time figuring out a complicated computer, so I stay away from most Oceanic or Shearwater, unless for tec.
But that’s just my opinion, and a ton of divers lover Oceanic computers, with more options and settings. I’m just lazy. I also like a big, lit-up display that I can see fast and easy underwater, but now days most are pretty good with that.
The Full List of the Best Dive Computers for 2020
The new Suunto D5 is designed to be so clear and easy-to-use that you can just enjoy and focus on exploring the wonderful underwater world. Play with style by changing the strap to match your looks. After diving, connect wirelessly to the Suunto app to re-live and share your adventures with friends.
Intuitive controls and menu navigation along with a bright, vivid colour display. With a high degree of customization, the Teric brings divers a timepiece and dive computer of unprecedented capabilities.
Shearwater is known for their exceptional tec diving computers, and now they have this beautiful watch style that everyone wants.
It took me a while to learn all the settings on the Geo 4.0, even simple things like changing the time, but in the end I really liked this computer, and it was a LOT cheaper than a Suunto equivalent, and accordingly to instructors I know, it is preferred for tec divers over more simple Suunto computers.
Designed for the active diver, this computer by the world’s top dive gear manufacturer is one of the best on the market. It’s great for lots of diving, as well as daily wear as a watch. There are a ton of great features and modes.
Now you can get a computer from Mares, if you love that brand and their other gear. It’s one of the best for the price, and it pretty good looking as well. Mares is well known for great tec gear, so this should be a popular computer for them as well.
The Cressi Leonardo is a great computer for beginners, and you can wear it daily, unlike a Zoop. It might even be cheaper than a Zoop, and looks a lot better. The Cressi Giotto is one step up from Leonardo, and about $100 more.
GASES: Air, nitrox, trimix
FEATURES: Multiple dive Modes, 2 button interface
PROS: Durable design, large display, big drysuit straps
CONS: No wireless air integration, huge & uncomfortable. Only for tec divers.
The Perdix AI. Offering all of the same great features of the Perdix, the Perdix AI uses its large, easy-to-read screen to clearly display the tank pressure as well as your gas time remaining (GTR). The Perdix AI is capable of connecting to either one or two transmitters giving the diver the option to monitor both tanks or dive sidemount.
Suunto is a top-of-the-line manufacturer, and my personal favorite brand for dive computers. They are easy to use, and come in many colors and styles. The D6i is the stepped up version of the cheaper D4i that is super popular for divers of all levels.
A Suunto D4i with air wireless integration is what I personally use the most. It has/does everything a recreational diver needs, and is cheaper than a D6i. I love this computer. It is super user friendly, and easy to use, and widely available.
This is my favorite Oceanic computer, and I really like it. It is slightly cheaper than a Suunto D6i at around $650, and has a lot of great features and looks good. Tec divers prefer it over Suunto a lot of the time.
What Gear do I Use?
I can not say enough good things about Suunto computers. From my very first ever dive, I started with a super simple and cheap Zoop. It’s a little bulky, and doesn’t turn on until in the water, but it is bomb proof, battery last forever, records countless dives, and does everything a new diver can ever need. And it costs like $100
Once I got a few dives under my belt, I upgraded to a Suunto D4i. I think that is the perfect computer, and I see it being used by divers at most, if not all, dive shops I’ve ever been to. You can still get them used, and they aren’t too expensive. Mine has over 1000 dives on it, and I’ve never had a problem with it at all. In-fact, the battery hasn’t even died yet!
Just lately I’ve upgraded to a Suunto D6i (although I didn’t get rid of the D4i), and it is just a better, more sleek (and expensive) version of my trusty D4. It really is an awesome computer and worth the money if you can afford it.
For tec diving, most divers I have talked to go with either the Oceanic OCi, or the Shearwater Perdix (or both). But now the new Teric has come out, that you can use both on the tec side as well as regular dives, and it looks awesome! So there are too many options!
I really like the oceanic, and the only reason I choose the D6i over it, is because it is really not user friendly. I never really did learn the settings or use it to it’s full potential, and even simple things like changing the time was a task. But tec divers love the added features.