The best Dive Computers for Beginners in 2024

By Julius
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Dive computer displaying WhatsApp

Finding the best dive computers for beginners is important for every diver just starting out!

Underwater, a dive computer gives you important data like current depth, non-decompression limits, and safety stops, and can also serve as your digital logbook.

In this guide, we look at the best dive computers for beginner divers, what to look out for before buying, and what models are best to get.

Best dive computers for beginners

These are my personal recommendations for the best dive computers for beginners.

I have added recommendations for each pricing category so you can pick one that fits your budget.

Suunto Zoop Novo

Budget Beast

The Zoop Novo comes with a ton of features, a hyper-competitive price, and Suunto dive computers are loved all around the world for their absolute user-friendliness.

  • Very user friendly
  •  Amazing value
  •  Looks cool
  •  4 buttons
  •  Just works out of the box
  • Long strap fits over any suit (some dislike that though)
  •  Big & bright display
  •  Freediving Mode included
  • Good alarm features
  • Interface dongle not included
  •  Buttons can be a bit unresponsive
  •  Menu navigation can be confusing
  •  Uses Suunto RGBM algorithm
  •  Deco lockout
Suunto Zoop Novo

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The Suunto Zoop Novo is one of the best-selling dive computers of all time. It is a super popular dive computer for beginners and more experienced divers alike.

It comes with a ton of features and a hyper-competitive price, and Suunto dive computers are loved all around the world for their absolute user-friendliness.

Despite its low price, it comes with 4 buttons which makes navigating and using it much more fun than other budget dive computers.

Super affordable, Nitrox support, nice logbook functionality, and much more, what’s not to like?

Being such a well-known brand, you can get service and replacement parts for Suunto computers anywhere in the world.

In addition to the technical features, which are superb, the Zoop Novo just looks really nice, even though it isn’t a wristwatch-style computer.

What I don’t like about the Suunto dive computers in general, is their non-disclosure of the decompression algorithm. This is not specific to this dive computer, but all the Suunto ones.

As it is unlikely that divers at this price range will use the Zoop Novo for any technical diving activities, it is not as relevant as in higher-priced tiers.

The Zoop Novo is by far my favorite budget dive computer and the right choice for vacation divers and beginners.

Specs & Features

DisplayLCD Backlit (Enlarged Segment Matrix Screen)
Depth Rating80m (262 ft)
Memory140 hours
BatteryUser Changeable (CR2430)
Operating ModesAir, Nitrox, Freediving
Oxygen Blend2 Gasses, up to 50% O2
Decompression AlgorithmSuunto RGBM

Shearwater Peregrine

Editor's Choice

The Shearwater Research Peregrine is the best advanced dive computer for beginners in [current_year] and one of the best budget-friendly high-end dive computers ever made!

  • Amazing value
  •  Easy to use 
  •  Expected best-in-class Shearwater quality
  •  Excellent battery life
  •  Bright display
  •  Customizable layout
  • No air integration
  •  No compass functionality
  •  Alarms could be improved

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The Shearwater Peregrine is a budget-friendly introduction to the excellent Shearwater build quality many have gotten used to which still offers amazing features for serious divers.

Shearwater has long been the de facto market leader for advanced technical dive computers. When they finally released a computer aimed at recreational divers in 2021, their entire website went down for hours as people tried to get theirs first.

The Shearwater Peregrine is an exceptional dive computer aimed at all divers who want a superb dive computer for recreational diving without the drawbacks of other contenders and without the high cost of other top-of-the-line products.

First off, it looks great, featuring a small console-style display with lots of bells and whistles usually only found in the 650€+ range.

This includes a color display, multiple diving modes including Nitrox and Gauge mode, 30 hour+ battery life, and my preferred Bühlmann GF decompression algorithm.

It features a user-friendly 2 button interface which is not optimal, but the multi-color display more than makes up for the lack of extra buttons.

The system language can be set to a number of languages and the Shearwater technical support is great.

The only drawbacks, if you can even call them that, in my opinion, are the lack of color options for the frame, as well as the fact that it’s a wrist strap computer.

This means you won’t be wearing it around all day like you could the Suunto D5, for example.

If you are looking for a recreational console computer, this should be on your watch list as it will be hard to find anything better in this price range.

Specs & Features

Display5.59 centimeter (2.2 inch) LCD, customizable
Depth Rating120m (390 ft)
Memory24 dives
BatteryUser Changeable (CR2450)
Operating ModesAir, nitrox (to 40%), three gas nitrox (to 100% O2), Gauge
Oxygen Blend3 Gasses, up to 100% O2
Decompression AlgorithmMultiple choices, Bühlmann ZHL-16C

Garmin Descent Mk2

The Garmin Mk2 Descent is truly one of the best dive computers on the market and if you are an athlete or need a new smartwatch, this is almost a no-brainer.

  • Smartwatch & Dive computer in one
  •  Looks gorgeous
  •  Versatile
  •  Offers air-integration
  •  Great battery life
  •  Integrates with other Garmin offerings
  •  Super nice logbook features
  • Expensive
  •  Could be heavy for some users
  •  Display a little too dim for some
Garmin Descent Mk2 & Mk2i

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The Garmin Mk2 Descent is the second edition of Garmin dive computers which includes some design changes, better battery life, air-integration support, and more.

I don’t even know where to begin why this is one of my favorite dive computers of all. It has multi-sport support, so it doubles as my dive computer and running, hiking, climbing, and swimming watch.

It has all the features you could potentially look for in a dive computer, so I suggest a look into the specs.

Like any other Garmin watch, it features multi-sport and smartwatch capabilities, integrates with the entire Garmin ecosystem, and looks super gorgeous.

The display is super nice, the Garmin map feature is above anyone else on the market, and I personally love the Garmin App and community ecosystem.

A small feature that I found super convenient is the clippable wrist strap which makes it super simple to switch between the short and long wristband, depending on exposure suit thickness.

Would I recommend this dive computer to beginners?

Well, here is the thing. Are you a runner, swimmer, climber or already own a Garmin sports watch? Are you looking for a smartwatch in general?

In that case, the Garmin Mk2 Descent is only a few hundred euros more expensive than the Fenix 6 (the Garmin top-of-the-line sports watch) which means you technically only pay the difference for the dive computer.

If not, it is still one of the best dive computers money can buy, so if you want to get a premium dive computer, the Garmin Mk2 Descent is the one.

The Garmin Mk2 Descent is truly one of the best dive computers on the market and if you are an athlete or need a new smartwatch, this is almost a no-brainer.

Specs & Features

Display3.5cm / 1.39in AMOLED display
Depth Rating100m (330 ft)
Operating ModesSingle-gas, multi-gas, freediving, gauge, apnea, customizable
Oxygen BlendNitrox, Trimix, Custom
Decompression AlgorithmBühlmann ZHL-16C with adjustable gradient factors

What is a dive computer?

Essentially, dive computers are small, often watch-sized, computers worn around your wrist during a dive and show important information such as current diving depth, time, and remaining non-decompression times. They are an essential piece of the scuba gear and you need one on every dive. As such, it’s a good idea to buy a suitable dive computer right after your Open Water Diver course.

First and foremost, they calculate your nitrogen saturation in and out of the water and give you the current non-decompression limit (NDL) based on that.

As you learned (or will learn) in your course, this used to be done with dive tables and dive watches, however, nowadays everyone uses a computer.

Underwater, dive computers also display the current dive time, and depth, as well as optional info such as water temperature, and safety stops.

Shearwater Peregrine dive computer worn on wrist
All the diving info you need on one display.

Dive computers will alert you with blinding and beeping when your ascent rates are too high, which is super useful for beginners.

Last but not least, dive computers serve as a logbook with lots of info on each dive, which I think is a must-have for any beginner and experienced diver alike.

These are just the core functions of any dive computer, and the higher-priced ones will have cool features like multi-sport support, different breathing gases, Nitrox mode, and better displays.

Why buy a dive computer as a beginner?

Dive computers are required on every dive and belong to a diver’s personal equipment kit.

There are many reasons why you should definitely have your own dive computer, and why renting them is not recommended.

  • Expensive to rent
  • Logbook included
  • Every diver needs to use an individual one
  • They can be used as a wristwatch
  • You only have to master one dive computer
Scuba divers swimming through reef fish
The Suunto Zoop in action.

Buying a dive computer for beginners

Buying a dive computer is not a straightforward task, as it depends highly on your requirements, budget, and skill level.

As such, I will only assess features which I think are suitable for beginners.

If you want to see further recommendations and more feature breakdowns, check out the best dive computers in 2024.

In general, the more you spend, the better quality you get and the more features ship with a dive computer. These are not just cosmetic changes, however, they often play a large role.

Dive computers on display
There are many different dive computers out there.

As my rule of thumb, for every 10-20 dives you do each year, I would invest 100€ more into my computer.

For every 10-20 dives per year, spend 100€ more on your dive computer.

So if you regularly plan on doing 50 dives a year, a 400€-500€ dive computer is more than justified, in my opinion.

On the other hand, if you only do a handful of dives each year, you will definitely get by with a super cheap one.

Basic dive computers for beginners: Features

$200 – $300

Basic dive computers will give you the following features:

  • Nitrogen saturation level
  • Non-decompression limits
  • Dive time
  • Dive depth
  • Surface interval
  • Logged dives (20-70)
  • Water temperature
  • Recreational decompression stops
  • Ascent rate alarms
  • Average battery life
  • Mono or Dual button layout

Advanced Dive Computers for beginners: Features

$400 – $700

Advanced dive computers inlcude all the basic features from above, plus extra ones that will make your life as a diver easier.

This often includes:

  • Wrist-watch style
  • Great design
  • Nitrox & Trimix support
  • Gauge mode
  • Freediving capabilities
  • Larger dive log database (100+ dives)
  • Good battery life
  • Decompresion planer
  • LED color display
  • Multi-button layout
  • USB chargeable

Premium Dive Computers for beginners: Features


Premium dive computers are the top-of-the-line offerings by manufacturers mostly aimed at dive professionals, very frequent divers, and those who like to invest in classy wristwatches.

They often don’t add new features but enhance the ones from lower-priced models while using better materials and design.

Premium features may include:

  • Map & GPS support
  • Smart-watch capabilities
  • Multi-sport support
  • Extensive logbook functionality (500+ dives)
  • Technical diving capabilities
  • Multiple decompression gases
  • More durable materials (titanium)
  • Very good battery life
  • Extensive dive planning options
  • Touchscreen display


This concludes this beginner’s guide to buying a dive computer.

If you want more inspiration, check out all my recommendations for the best dive computers in 2024 for every budget.

If you have any questions or need help finding the right one for you, leave a comment below.

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