Top 5(+1) Best Scientific Calculators


If you are a student that needs a scientific calculator for class, you may be wondering which one is the best scientific calculator to buy.

They are easy to find at department stores, electronic stores, and office supply stores. Scientific calculators perform most of the same basic functions, but depending on the model, some can do more advanced calculations that may be required for the class you are taking.

It’s important to understand what calculations you will be performing with your scientific calculator to make sure it will be able to do what you need it to. Here are a few tips in the differences in scientific calculators and what to look for when you are buying one, plus a few reviews to help you start shopping.

Best Scientific Calculator Comparison Table

PhotoNameProsPrice
Texas Instruments TI-30X IIS 2-Line Scientific CalculatorGreat nongraphic calculator, easy to use Check Price on Amazon
Casio fx-300ES PLUS Scientific CalculatorA simple, yet somewhat technically-able calculator that is perfect for students Check Price on Amazon
Sharp EL-W516XBSL 556 Scientific Calculator Editors' Choice WinnerGreat for school, you get a lot of features for the money Check Price on Amazon
HP 35s Scientific CalculatorGreat user guide, very complete Check Price on Amazon
Texas Instruments TI-36X Pro Engineering/Scientific CalculatorDoes four line addition, most calculators only do one Check Price on Amazon
Casio fx-115ES PLUS Engineering/Scientific CalculatorFaster with calculating complex numbers than its competitors Check Price on Amazon

#1. Texas Instruments TI-30X IIS 2-Line Scientific Calculator

The Texas Instruments TI-30X IIS 2-Line Scientific Calculator offers you a two-line display that includes the equation you are generating on the top line, and the symbols and numbers you are presently entering on the next line.

When you have solved the equation, your results will be shown on the second line, and you are then able to edit the original equation with four arrow keys in case you need to recalculate. If you repeatedly press the up arrow button, it will also let you look back through previous calculations, so you can look back if you need to see the answer to another problem.

This is a solar-powered calculator, but, if necessary, if can use the internal batteries that are included if it doesn’t have enough light. It includes scientific and engineering notation modes, three angle modes consisting of grads, degrees, and radians, plus one or two variable statistical modes.

There are also memory slots that can hold up to five variables, and a Snap-On cover that also fits onto the back of the calculator. The Texas Instruments TI-30X IIS 2-Line Scientific Calculator is perfect for general math and science, pre-algebra, Algebra 1 and 2, Geometry, and Statistics.

It is a strong, professional grade scientific calculator that features the following functions:

  1. Conversions
  2. Two-line displays
  3. Cut, edit, and paste entries
  4. Fractions
  5. Basic science and trigonometry calculations
  6. One and two variable statistics

Reviewers found that this is a great calculator for both middle and high school students. Some students received it in seventh grade and were still using it in calculus class. It has great features like the ability to enter a complete expression and then solve it, plus it allows you to go back into an equation and change numbers.

The buttons on the keyboard are arranged very logically and numbers that you need are found next to each other. Others found that the buttons tended to be a little loose, but didn’t affect the calculator’s performance. Otherwise, most reviewers found it to be a great calculator for the price.

Things We Liked
  • Great for the ACTs, good value
  • Affordable, functional, and nice and small
  • Great nongraphic calculator, easy to use
Things We Didn't Like
  • Buttons can be a little loose which makes it hard to do fast calculations
  • Buttons aren’t always very responsive
  • Contrast on the screen can make it hard to see

Texas Instruments TI-30X IIS 2-Line Scientific Calculator



#2. Casio fx-300ES PLUS Scientific Calculator

The Casio fx-300ES PLUS Scientific Calculator is a versatile and powerful calculator that comes with a large screen and Casio’s patented Natural Display. It is a great scientific calculator for students in middle and high school that are taking math and physics class.

It is solar powered, but comes with a battery backup making it a dependable and long lasting calculator. It has over 200 features and calculations, and it is approved for the ACT, SAT, AP and PSAT/NMSQT exams.

The Casio fx-300ES Plus is great for general math and science, pre-algebra, Algebra I & II, geometry, trigonometry, statistics, and physics. The Natural Textbook Display reveals results and expressions just like they look in a textbook.

The Multi-Replay function lets you go back through a step-by-step calculation, so you can change the formula and recalculate your answer. It also has the following functions:

  • Fractions and roots
  • Displays repeating decimals
  • Prime factorization
  • Linear Regression
  • Logarithms
  • Statistics

Plus it has nine constant memory locations. The Casio fx-300ES Plus is an easy to use and an intuitive scientific calculator that helps you quickly get through your homework. It also includes a large, multi-line display with replay functionality.

Reviewers have found this a really good calculator for statistics classes, and it is much better than the calculator on your smartphone. When your class requires a calculator that is not a graphing calculator, the Casio fx-300Es is perfect, and it can do everything the class will require. The one downside of the calculator is that the paint comes off the keys pretty easily.

Things We Liked
  • Good price, great for statistics class
  • Functional and easy to use, great for high school math
  • A simple, yet somewhat technically-able calculator that is perfect for students
Things We Didn't Like
  • Not as easy to use as a typical scientific calculator
  • Buttons wiggle and the calculator feels cheap
  • Sometimes will give the answers in fractions when you don’t want it to

Casio fx-300ES PLUS Scientific Calculator


#3. Sharp EL-W516XBSL 556 Scientific Calculator – Editors’ Choice Winner!

The Sharp EL-W516XBSL is a high-quality scientific calculator that is fully-functional, and it is capable of performing over 530 advanced mathematical and scientific functions.

WriteView Technology lets students see formulas just as they look in their textbooks, and the EL-W516XBSL uses an easy to read four line display with a Playback feature that allows you to easily edit formulas. It also has four programmable keys, and it has the capability of simultaneously solving three equations.

This is a great scientific calculator for students, and it includes advanced engineering and technology that will give you pin-point accuracy. It is great for general math and science, algebra, statistics, geometry, biology, chemistry, and trigonometry.

It features over 530 functions including trigonometry, statistics, and other science-related functions. It has a large four line, 16 digit LCD display, modes that include State, Drill, Normal, Complex, List, Equation and Matrix, and four programmable keys that allow you to quickly use your desired functions.

Reviewers have found it to be a pretty comprehensive scientific calculator that is able to remember your command history even after you turn it off. It also has a great looking display and an intuitive layout. Others felt it didn’t seem very durable, and it didn’t have enough tactile feedback to know when you have pressed the keys down, even though the key sensitivity was still good.

Things We Liked
  • You get a lot of power for the price
  • Easy to use calculator, very functional
  • Great for school, you get a lot of features for the money
Things We Didn't Like
  • Very scratch prone
  • Very cheap feeling
  • Much bigger than you expect

Sharp EL-W516XBSL 556 Scientific Calculator


#4. HP 35s Scientific Calculator

The HP 35s Scientific Calculator gives you the professional performance that HP is known for. It provides the definitive RPN scientific programmable calculator that is perfect for surveyors, scientists, engineers, college students, and medical professionals.

If your student is preparing a science project, the HP 35s Scientific Calculator will give your student precision, functionality, and reliability to be successful. It has additional features including a two-line display, both algebraic and RPN entry-system logic, 30KB user memory, and the HP Solve application which is a great time saver.

This is a very versatile calculator that is one of the only scientific calculators that lets you choose between algebraic or RPN entry-system logic. Plus, it has a large display with two lines and a 14 character display to make entries and see menus or results easily.

It also includes a contrast feature that is adjustable, so it is easy to use the calculator inside and outside. It has over 100 built-in constants and functions that are preloaded, so the calculator is ready to use as soon as you get it.

And to make sure large equations are solved quickly and smoothly, there are over 800 independent storage registers that let you store an equation, solve it with any variable, and then use it again with one of the over 100 functions.

Reviewers found that the HP 35s scientific calculator had good programmability, but it was limited to only alphabet letter for variables. It comes with a nice durable case, and a manual. The display was nicely recessed, so it wouldn’t be scratched, and it had a good, although limited, number support. Others found the durability questionable, and wondered why the RPN mode was not the default.

Things We Liked
  • Nice high quality scientific calculator
  • Simple, powerful, and well-designed
  • Great user guide, very complete
Things We Didn't Like
  • Display isn’t very sharp
  • Not very compact, feels cheap
  • Doesn’t have the old school HP feel

HP 35s Scientific Calculator


#5. Texas Instruments TI-36X Pro Engineering/Scientific Calculator

The Texas Instruments TI-36X Pro is perfect for students at any level from middle school to high school. It has a lot of power for an inexpensive price. It is solar powered and mixes operations for Boolean logic with unit conversations and statistical analysis into one small unit.

It can solve a lot of functions for math students including calculating angle units like grads, radians, and degrees in trigonometry and performing fractional equations. It also features a very helpful English/metric conversion operation.

It does not have a graphing function, and the display is a little hard to see when it is lying flat. For the price, this is a very powerful calculator that can help you with your high-level math and science processing needs. This is a great calculator for classes that do not allow a graphing calculator.

Other features include a MultiView™ display that shows you several calculations on the screen at the same time, and MathPrint™ that shows you symbols, math expressions, and stacked fractions like they look in a textbook. It can convert decimals and fractions, as well terms that include Pi, and it can choose floating/fix, degrees/radian, and number format modes.

It is a four line scientific calculator that has high-level science and math functionality that is perfect for engineering and computer science courses that do not allow graphing calculators. This is a calculator that can take you from middle school through college, and it is great for classes like Biology, Algebra 1 & 2, Statistics, Geometry, Calculus, and Trigonometry.

Reviewers found the TI-36X blows away its competition, and it is much easier to use. It doesn’t require special modes for complex numbers, and it has an easy operations history to go back through. The features are very intuitive, and the manual was not needed very much. it was also not very durable and the keys were not very sensitive.

Things We Liked
  • Great product for students
  • Very sleek and professional looking
  • Does four line addition, most calculators only do one
Things We Didn't Like
  • Not usable by professionals
  • Feels cheap and not well constructed
  • Some of the keys do not respond to touch correctly

Texas Instruments TI-36X Pro


#6. Casio fx-115ES PLUS Engineering/Scientific Calculator

The Casio fx-115ES PLUS Engineering/Scientific Calculator is one of the most advanced scientific calculators on the market. It is easy to use with a Natural Display and improved features including product notation, finding derivatives, root form display, and advanced inequality functionality. This is a very versatile calculator that is a great choice for middle school through college.

The Natural Display shows equations and their results just as they would look in a textbook, and the multi-replay function lets you go back step by step through your calculations, so you can edit if necessary and recalculate. It has over 280 functions that include base arithmetic, fractions, linear regression, statistics, computer science, standard deviation, and polar-rectangular conversions.

This is a great calculator for general math and science classes, pre-algebra, Algebra I & II, trigonometry, pre-calculus, engineering, statistics, physics, chemistry, and it is one of the calculators allowed for the ACT, PSAT/NMSQT, and SAT, plus the AP tests and NCEES exams.

The Casio fx-115ES Plus is very intuitive and there isn’t much of a learning curve. It is solar powered with a battery backup, plus a large display. It also has a list-based STAT data editor, 40 Metric conversions, table function, and matrix and vector calculations.

Reviewers found that it is a good scientific calculator, but it has a bit of a learning curve. Students liked it because they can put in math problems just like they are on the paper to get them solved, and it is able to take points in a table to create a graph. Others found all the features and functions overkill, and many couldn’t figure out how to work a lot of it without using the manual. The buttons also tend to move a little, but they stay in place.

Things We Liked
  • Very lightweight, but not flimsy
  • Students can put it equations just as they see them in their textbook and it will calculate them
  • Faster with calculating complex numbers than its competitors
Things We Didn't Like
  • If you want to take a break from what you are doing, do not turn the machine off, it will erase everything
  • The keys tend to shift
  • Not very intuitive, need the user’s manual to operate it

Casio fx-115ES PLUS


Conclusion

Editor's Choice Winner:
The winner of the best scientific calculator roundup is the Sharp EL-W516XBSL 556 Scientific Calculator. It has over 530 advanced mathematical and scientific functions that are great for students from middle school all the way through college. It has an easy to ready four line display with a Playback feature that lets you edit formulas and recalculate. Reviewers found it a very comprehensive scientific calculator that can even remember the command history when you turn it off. It is also very intuitive, and it is capable of solving three equations at the same time. The definite winner of the best scientific calculator is the Sharp EL-W516XBSL.

The Texas Instruments TI-30X IIS 2-Line Scientific Calculator offers you a two line display, and the ability to go back into your equation to make changes and recalculate. It is solar powered with a battery backup, and it includes scientific and engineering notation modes, three angle modes, and one or two variable statistical modes.

The Casio fx-300ES PLUS Scientific Calculator is a powerful and versatile calculator that comes with Casio’s patented Natural Display displaying expressions and results like they look in a textbook. It also has over 200 features and calculations, and it has nine constant memory locations.

The Sharp EL-W516XBSL 556 Scientific Calculator has the ability to perform over 53 advanced mathematical and scientific functions. Like the Casio’s Natural Display, Sharp was WriteView Technology that lets students see formulas just like they look in a textbook, plus it has an easy to read four line display.

The HP 35s Scientific Calculator is the definitive RPN scientific programmable calculator with a two-line display. It is one of the few calculators that lets you choose between algebraic or RPN entry-system logic.

The Texas Instruments TI-36X Pro Engineering/Scientific Calculator is great for students to take with them from middle school to college. It is a very inexpensive calculator that can calculate angles, fractional equations, and even do helpful metric conversions.

The Casio fx-115ES PLUS Engineering/Scientific Calculator is one of the most advanced scientific calculators that you will find on the market. It also has Casio’s Natural Display, and it is very intuitive with no learning curve needed to operate it.


Features of a Scientific Calculator:

MemoryPower SourceFormula NotationFunctionsExtras
Depending on how you are using your calculator, you may require more memory than others will. Consider if you need to save information and how much memory you will require for your use.
Generally, you will find that calculators either run on batteries or on solar power. Either works well as long as you remember extra batteries or are always around a light source when you use your calculator.
There are several options when you consider formula notation that includes standard, logic, algebraic, and direct algebraic.
There are several functions that a calculator can do like fractions, conversion from fractions to decimals, probability, and more advanced calculations.
Some calculators will include extras like a case or batteries.

A scientific calculator is useful if you are in the science or math field for your occupation. It is a more advanced calculator that is able to perform exponential functions, trigonometry, calculus, and logarithms. Here are a few tips on what to look for when you purchase a scientific calculator.

Scientific Calculator Uses

When you are considering buying a scientific calculator, it is important to decide how you will be using it. Before scientific calculators, it was common to use a slide rule to figure out advanced math and engineering calculations.

Important!
Once the technology was created to make calculators, basic calculations were no longer performed by hand tools, and pencil and papers were replaced for doing more complex addition and multiplication tasks.

As calculator technology advanced, the type of mathematical functions it could do increased. They can now perform very advanced calculations including calculus and trigonometry, and many scientific calculators can do binary and octal calculations and include built-in numbers like pi.

Student Uses

Features of a Scientific Calculator
Features of a Scientific Calculator Photo Jorge Franganillo (Flickr)
Scientific calculators are often required for students from middle school on through college.

More advanced scientific calculators are often needed in high school for math, engineering, and advanced science classes, while college students will need a scientific calculator if they are studying math, engineering, chemistry, physics, astronomy or architecture.

It is important to match the level of the scientific calculator that you buy with the level of the class you are taking, so you don’t purchase a calculator that isn’t advanced enough or pay more for a calculator that has features you don’t need.

If you receive a recommendation from an instructor on the type of calculator to buy, it is always a good idea to follow their suggestion. This is especially important if you are buying a scientific calculator as a parent, so that your child isn’t struggling with the wrong type of calculator in class.

It is also not a bad idea to think about what math class your child will be taking the next year and get a calculator that will last your child for a few years in school.

Business Uses

You probably use a scientific calculator if you work in a math or science position. Engineers, architects, planners and designers also use a scientific calculator a lot in their work. At this level, it is vital to have a dependable scientific calculator that is able to perform basic and advanced functions in their chosen field.

It is always a good idea to test out a few calculators to make sure they are capable of performing the basic functions that you use in your line of work. It is also important the displays and keys are easy to read.


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