The 10 best Dive Computers in 2024

By Julius
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Using the best dive computer on your next dive will make you dive more safely and relaxed! But with new models coming out all the time, it can be hard to find the right one, especially for beginners.

That’s why we’ve tested and reviewed A LOT of them so you can make a good decision on which dive computer to purchase.

Here is our list of the best Dive Computers in 2024 with suggestions for any budget:

  1. Best Overall in 2024: Shearwater Teric
  2. Best Smartwatch: Apple Watch Ultra 2
  3. Budget Beast: Suunto Zoop Novo
  4. Best for Multi-Sport: Garmin Descent Mk2i
  5. Most Innovative: ScubaPro Galileo HUD
  6. Best for Technical Diving: Shearwater Perdix 2
  7. Cheap but Good: Cressi Leonardo
  8. Best Console: Shearwater Peregrine
  9. Easiest to Use: Suunto D5
  10. Eco-Friendly Option: Garmin Descent G1 Solar

When it comes to Dive Computers, it sometimes feels like we’ve tried them all. 😅 Every week, we spend a lot of time underwater and in the real world testing the top models so that we can compare them here for you!

All our tests for scuba gear were done by avid divers, professional dive instructors, and equipment specialists at Social Diving. There are always at least 2 people involved when reviewing a piece of equipment. We never recommend anything we haven’t used ourselves and think it’s great!

We make sure our picks offer something for everybody on any budget. Because we know, not everyone wants to spend the same amount of money on gear.

Our ranking reflects both our tests and use in the real world as well as the opinions of other users.

Keep reading for our reviews for each of them, as well as all the others we have tested so far! ⬇️

We also added a Dive Computers buyer’s guide that takes you through what you need to look for before buying, the available types and the pros and cons of each.

With strong options available at all price levels, you can either pick from among the top flagships or opt for a solid midrange one with all the features you need at a fraction of the price. We also have super-budget versions that still work great.

The best dive computers should fit comfortably around your wrist, have an easy-to-read display, offer Nitrox support, have clearly recognizable alarms, support different diving types, and potentially double as your everyday wristwatch. And all of that at a decent cost!

The 10 best Dive Computers in 2024

These are the 10 best Dive Computers in 2024 for every budget:

Shearwater Teric

Best Overall

An amazing wristwatch-style computer for any type of diving, in any environment.

  • The best wristwatch-style dive computer
  •  Super reliable
  •  Reputable maker
  •  Any type of diving supported
  •  Offers air-integration
  •  Bright display
  •  Many different dive modes
  •  Looks amazing
  •  Configurable algorithm
  • Plenty of customization potential
  • Pricey
  •  No multi-sport capabilities
  •  Could be too large for small wrists
  •  Battery change quite expensive
  •  No heart rate or vitals monitor
Shearwater Teric

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The Shearwater Teric is extremely well built, features a large display, multiple gas options, a stunning look, and it just works. It’s a full-sized wrist-style dive computer with all the bells and whistles that the name Shearwater brings with it. Want to change the algorithm from Bühlmann to something else? Check. Need to add 4 different staging gases? Yup. Want to dive for a week but don’t think you can recharge? You got it.

It also comes in a variety of colors and even a special edition that looks really fancy. Whatever kind of diving you are planning to do, the Teric will serve you well. The display is a joy to look at and much better than some of the close contenders. Did we mention it looks amazing?

Yes, it does come at a steep price and will probably be too expensive as a beginner dive computer. But you really get what you pay for. The only real drawback is that it does not support different sports like the Garmin or Apple.

The Shearwater Teric is the best dive computer of 2024 and way beyond that is focused purely on what it does best: Absolutely ruling as your companion underwater.

Specs & Features

Display3.5cm / 1.39in AMOLED display
Depth Rating200m (650 ft)
Operating ModesSingle-gas, multi-gas, freediving, gauge, apnea, customizable
Oxygen BlendNitrox, Trimix, Custom
Decompression AlgorithmBühlmann ZHL-16C with adjustable gradient factors

Apple Watch Ultra 2

Best Smartwatch

Apple meets diving = Innovation.

  • Amazing design
  • High quality
  • Great connection to the Apple ecosystem
  • Good for recreational diving
  •  Mega bright multi-color display
  •  Good compass
  •  Heart rate monitor and other vitals
  •  Good GPS
  • Super easy Nitrox switch
  • Bühlmann ZHL-16C
  • Pricey
  •  Rated to 100m (328 ft) but gauge only works down to 40m (130 ft)
  •  Only 36 -72 hours of battery life
  •  Dependence on a paired iPhone for full functionality
  •  Not for technical diving
  •  Additional cost for the Oceanic+ app subscription for full feature access
  • It's clearly a first iteration product
Apple Watch Ultra 2

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The Apple Watch Ultra and the newly released Ultra 2 are two of our favorite innovations in the dive computer industry. In a groundbreaking move for tech-savvy divers, the Apple Watch Ultra paired with the Oceanic+ app turns one of the best smartwatches on the market into a full-blown dive computer.

Let’s make this short: If you love Apple, you will love the Ultra 2.

It features the brightest and most colorful display of any dive computer we’ve ever used and we LOVE everything about it. Heart rate monitor, compass, GPS, and multi-sport capabilities complete the offering. As with all Apple products, it fits perfectly into the rest of the ecosystem and the connection to your iPhone, table, MacBook, etc. is painless. Please be aware, however, that you will need an ongoing subscription for the Oceanic+ app to use it for diving.

On the diving side, the Apple Watch is only suitable for recreational divers and freedivers. Although it is rated for 100m/328 ft, the internal gauge has a maximum operating depth of 40m/130ft. It supports Nitrox and the switch is super easy, however, other gases aren’t supported. Sorry, tech divers.

We like the Apple Watch Ultra 2 (and the Ultra) for being super unique and being a complete smartwatch. If you are a casual recreational diver, this could very well be your next purchase!

Suunto Zoop Novo

Budget Beast

A ton of features, a hyper-competitive price, and 4 easy to use buttons? Sign us up!

  • Very user friendly
  •  Amazing value
  •  Nitrox mode
  • 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 world’s best-selling entry-level dive computers of all time. It is super popular among beginners and more experienced divers alike and our favorite budget beast on this list. It comes with so many goodies that it’s hard to find something that isn’t amazing value.

First off, the Zoop Novo features a 4-button layout that’s far superior to the 1- or 2-button dive computers of other contenders at this price range. Secondly, it is super affordable, offers Nitrox support, a nice logbook functionality, and has a really bright display. 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 proprietary RGBM 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 our favorite budget dive computer and the right choice for casual 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

Garmin Descent Mk2i

Best Multi-Sport

If you’re not just a scuba diver but an athlete or sports lover, 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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Garmin took the dive computer scene by storm in 2019 with its Mk1 Descent which featured some super cool innovations, unique features, and most of all, a multi-sport dive computer smartwatch. The Garmin Descent Mk2i features a few awesome improvements such as air integration, even better battery life, and a great inbuilt logbook system.

It has multi-sport support, so it doubles as my dive computer and running, hiking, climbing, and swimming watch. Whether you want to do casual reef diving, or advanced stage handling with different gases, the Garmin can do it all. It integrates flawlessly 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 App and community ecosystem.

The clippable wrist strap is very convenient and makes it easy to switch between the short and long wristband, depending on exposure suit thickness. It does come at a high price and the air integration pod isn’t exactly cheap either. I would have wished for some more diving customizations like algorithm switching but that’s maybe pushing it.

The Garmin Descent Mk2i 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

ScubaPro Galileo HUD

Most Innovative

A unique concept for a hands-free diving experience with some flaws.

  • Mask mounted
  • Unique concept
  •  Air integration
  • Multigas capability with up to 8 gases 
  • 3D compass
  •  Rechargeable battery with up to 20 hours of dive time
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Multi-Gas ZHL-16 ADT MB algorithm
  • Many quality issues in the beginning
  •  Display can be distracting
  •  High price
  •  Requires special mount on mask
ScubaPro Galileo HUD

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The ScubaPro Galileo HUD stands out among the crowd as it is the only mask-mounted no-hands dive computer in the market. It was hailed as the biggest innovation since Nitrox before quickly falling a bit into oblivion among the scuba community. Not deserved, as we think. The Galileo HUD does a lot of things right, it just suffers terribly from quality inconsitencies.

The computer attaches to your dive mask, positioning a miniature full-color OLED screen in the diver’s line of sight. The display projects an image that appears at a virtual distance of about 1 meter, which means you can keep looking around while checking your data. Navigation is managed through a push-wheel on the device, which can be operated with ease, even when wearing thick gloves.

We like the display, the full-tilt compass is absolutely brilliant, and the concept itself is super innovative. Drawbacks are the high price, aforementioned quality issues, and the fact that it requires a special mount on your mask to use it.

If you love innovative products and need your hands free underwater, the ScubaPro Galileo HUD is your dive computer. If you can forgive some minor issues and are patient with customer support, you will receive a great piece of tech!

Cressi Leonardo

Cheap But Good

In the ultra-budget section around the $250 mark, this is as good as it gets.

  • Very cheap
  • Nitrox capabilities
  •  Adjustable conservatism
  •  Different colors & wristbands
  •  PO2 adjustable between 1.2 bar and 1.6 bar
  •  Residual Nitrogen Reset (great for instructors and dive centers)
  • One button only
  •  Not in 'wrist-watch' format
  •  Logbook function rather limited
  •  Uses RGBM algorithm
  •  Bulky
  • Strap much too long
Cressi Leonardo

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In the ultra-budget section, you will not find many worthy alternatives to the Cressi Leonardo. It does all you could expect from a basic dive computer, gives accurate accent rate warnings, and even includes Nitrox functionality. If you absolutely can’t or don’t want to spend any more money than necessary on a dive computer, get this one and call it a day.

It is not a wrist-style watch and a couple more buttons wouldn’t hurt either, but then again, those start at around $300. It’s really meant to cater to the absolute casual divers who dive maybe once every other year or so or students with limited budget.

If you are looking for the absolute cheapest yet performant dive computer, look no further than the Cressi Leonardo!

Specs & Features

DisplayLCD Backlit
Depth Rating120m (393 ft)
Memory70 hours
BatteryUser Changeable (CR2430)
Operating ModesAir, Nitrox, Gauge
Oxygen Blend2 Gasses, up to 50% O2
Decompression AlgorithmCressi RGBM

Shearwater Research Peregrine

Best Console

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
  • Easy charging
  • No air integration
  •  No compass functionality
  •  Alarms could be improved
  • Settings UI is not super pretty
Shearwater Research Peregrine

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The Shearwater Peregrine is a budget-friendly introduction to the excellent Shearwater build quality many advanced divers have come to love. Despite the low price it still offers amazing features for serious divers and can be your primary console any day. First off, it looks great, featuring a small console-style display with lots of bells and whistles usually only found in higher-priced models.

This includes 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 are the lack of air integration and that it doesn’t include a compass. Since it’s a console you also won’t be wearing it around all day like you could the more expensive Teric, for example.

If you are looking for a recreational console computer, the Shearwater Peregrine should be on your watch list as it will be hard to find a better price-value ratio.

Specs & Features

Display5.59 centimeter (2.2 inch) LCD, customizable
Depth Rating120m (390 ft)
Memory200 hours
BatteryUp to 30 hours per charge
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

Suunto D5

Easiest to Use

If you want a diving Mercedes, this is it.

  • Looks great
  •  Bright display 
  •  Perfect for recreational diving
  •  Super simple to use 
  •  Will find spare parts anywhere
  • Nitrox & Trimix compatibility
  • Proprietary Fused™ 2 RGBM algorithm
  •  Would not recommend for tech/decompression diving
Suunto D5 PVD Coated

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The Sunnto D5 is the bigger brother of the Zoop Novo and turns the user-friendliness and amazing price-value ratio into a wristwatch computer. It looks nice, works reliably, and has a gorgeous display. It’s not too big and is just so simple to use. Unpack it, put it on, go diving. Chances are you never have to do any kind of extra setup. It just works.

Of course, it features Nitrox compatibility that can be used with air integration and the display is super bright. As usual with Suunto, finding someone to service it is easy. The biggest drawback is once again the dreaded proprietary Suunto RGBM algorithm and I personally wouldn’t use it for decompression diving (use the Suuno EON Core or others for that).

If you want a hassle-free dive computer that looks, and feels valuable and can be worn as a day-to-day wristwatch, the Suunto D5 is a great option.

Specs & Features

DisplayFull-color LCD
Depth Rating100m (330 ft)
Memoryunlimited due to app integration
Operating ModesSingle-gas, freediving, gauge, apnea, customizable
Oxygen BlendNitrox up to 99% O2
Decompression AlgorithmFused™ 2 RGBM

Garmin Descent G1 Solar

Eco-Friendly Option

Versatile and affordable dive computer for those who love going solar.

  • Solar powered
  •  Clear display
  •  Much more affordable than Descent Mk2i
  • Rugged, durable construction ideal for harsh environments 
  •  Multi-sport
  •  Integrates with other Garmin offerings
  •  Different color options
  • Monochrome display
  •  A bit small
  • Navigation a bit tricky
  •  Can be overkill for beginner divers
  • No air integration
  • Design a bit rough

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The Garmin Descent G1 Solar is – as the name suggests – the only solar-powered dive computer on this list and wins our most eco-friendly award! It combines the raw features of the Garmin Descent dive computer line with a no-nonsense minimalist display. Don’t go looking for brilliant colors here, as you won’t find them. The G1 Solar is much leaner than its bigger brothers and everything feels a bit..smaller.

This is not to say that the G1 Solar can’t do multi-sport, vitals tracking, diving down to 100m / 300ft etc. It does all that and is really good at it, as well. However, it doesn’t offer WiFi connectivity or some other features we see in bigger smartwatches. But at least its only about half the price of the Mk2i!

If you want to buy into the amazing Garmin Descent dive computer line without the huge price tag, the Garmin Descent G1 Solar is a great and affordable choice. And it’s solar-powered!

Other Dive Computers We Have Reviewed

Here are all the other dive computers we have reviewed:

Garmin Descent Mk1

The first smartwatch turned dive computer is still gold even with newer versions on the market.

  • Smartwatch & Dive computer in one
  •  Looks gorgeous
  •  Versatile
  •  Great battery life
  •  Integrates with other Garmin offerings
  •  Super nice logbook features
  • Not the newest version
  •  Looks best on bigger wrists
  •  Display not as bright as some others
  •  No air integration
Garmin Descent Mk1

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The Garmin Descent Mk1 was the first dive computer released by Garmin and is essentially a smartwatch turned dive computer.

It looks absolutely gorgeous and it comes in a standard version, as well as the more expensive Black Sapphire option with a titanium wristband.

Bühlmann Z-16 algorithm, bright display, easy-to-use underwater, a gorgeous compass, a super useful logbook with the Garmin map function integrated and many many many more features make this thing a steal at the current price.

Yes, it isn’t the newest version anymore, but you can find it for under 800$ and that is an amazing value for the money.

Specs & Features

DisplayBacklit LCD
Depth Rating100m (330 ft)
Memoryunlimited due to app integration
Operating ModesSingle-gas, multi-gas, apnea, apnea hunt, gauge, plan & custom
Oxygen BlendNitrox, Trimix, Custom
Decompression AlgorithmBühlmann ZHL-16C

Mares Puck Pro

The Mares Puck Pro is a good choice for scuba divers on a budget and those who only do a handful of dives each year.

  • Very cheap
  •  Nitrox capabilities
  •  Mountain lake mode
  • Different colors & wristbands
  •  Residual Nitrogen Reset (great for instructors and dive centers)
  •  Replaceable wrist bands
  • 1-button only
  •  Not in 'wrist-watch' format
  •  Logbook memory very limited
  •  External dongles not included
  •  Uses RGBM algorithm
  •  Cannot set depth alarm
  •  Short strap
Mares Puck Pro

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I find Mares products inferior to other competitors, their design lacking, and all in all, I don’t use or recommend anything from them.

Why is the Mares Puck Pro on this list? Because many people use it so much and like it, including some people who join us for fun diving.

The good first. The Mares Puck Pro has similar features to the Cressi Leonardo with a one button design, nitrogen reset, nitrox capabilities and different colors.

Oxygen mixes up to 99% O2 are possible, although I can’t recommend such an inexpensive dive computer to anyone looking to start technical diving.

It even has a useful altitude dive mode for exploring mountain lakes up to 3,500m and easy recharging.

Where it falls short is the limited amount of logbook memory, the need for an external dongle (not included) to connect to the computer, and that some specimens are not particularly reliable.

The Mares Puck Pro is a good choice for divers on a budget and those who only do a handful of dives a year.

Specs & Features

DisplayLCD Backlit
Depth Rating150m (492 ft)
Memory36 hours
BatteryUser Changeable
Operating ModesAir, Nitrox, Bottom time
Oxygen Blend2 Gasses, up to 99% O2
Decompression AlgorithmMares RGBM

Aqualung i100

The Aqualung i100 is the ultra-budget entry dive computer made by Aqualung and is stripped down to the absolute minimum.

  • Very cheap
  • Underwater gas switch possible
  •  Nitrox capabilities
  •  Nice logbook app
  •  Residual Nitrogen Reset (great for instructors and dive centers)
  •  Uses Bühlmann-Z16
  • 1-button only
  •  Not in 'wrist-watch' format
  •  Display very dull
  •  For less than 100$ more you can get the Aqualung i200 as a fully-featured 4-button alternative
Aqualung i100

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The Aqualung i100 is the ultra-budget entry dive computer made by Aqualung and is stripped down to the absolute minimum.

Like other budget offerings, it features a one-button design that just works out of the box and gives you all that’s necessary to dive right in.

I also like that the Aqualung i100 features a freediving mode, different gas blends, and just looks super nicer with its black or black and blue finish.

Specs & Features

Depth Rating150m (492 ft)
Memory24 dives
BatteryUser Changeable (CR2450)
Operating ModesAir, Nitrox, Gauge, Free Dive
Oxygen Blend2 Gasses, up to 99% O2
Decompression AlgorithmBühlmann Z-16

Aqualung i300C

Priced just below $400, the Aqualung i300c is a good bang for your buck and will last forever. Just don’t hope for a wristwatch replacement or to win any beauty contests with it.

  • Good value for the money
  •  Exchangeable battery
  •  Altitude diving ready
  •  Multiple diving modes
  •  Bluetooth access
  • A little hard to use underwater with thick gloves 
  •  Small screen
  •  Design can be improved
Aqualung i300c

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The Aqualung i300c is easy to use for beginners and allows for gas switches and entry-level decompression dives (just like all other Aqualung dive computers).

I have used it as a rental dive computer plenty of times and do like it a lot for that.

Priced just below $400, the Aqualung i300c is a good bang for your buck and will last forever. Just don’t hope for a wristwatch replacement or to win any beauty contests with it.

Specs & Features

DisplayBacklit LCD
Depth Rating100m (330 ft)
Memory~70 dives
BatteryUser Changeable (CR2450)
Operating ModesAir, Nitrox, Gauge
Oxygen Blend3 Gasses, up to 100% O2
Decompression AlgorithmBühlmann ZHL-16C

What is a dive computer?

Dive computers are small, often watch-sized, computers worn around your wrist during a dive that shows important information such as current diving depth, time, and remaining non-decompression times. It provides real-time data to prevent decompression sickness (DCS) and has other useful features such as alarms for safety stops or too-rapid ascents.

Dive computers aren’t just fancy accessories for divers, they are an indispensable piece of scuba gear to monitor your diving, observe your no-decompression levels, and help you stay safe underwater. Using a bad dive computer is therefore not just super annoying, inconvenient, or distracting, but it can quickly ruin your entire dive trip in a moment

As such, it’s a good idea to buy a suitable computer right after your Open Water Diver course. They serve many purposes, which you should take into consideration before buying.

First and foremost, they calculate your nitrogen saturation in and out of the water in real-time and provide you with your current non-decompression limit (NDL) based on that. This is super important to prevent decompression sickness!

If you breach the NDL, the computer will display the mandatory deco stops, as well as times, dynamically. Advanced computers for technical diving will be better at this than cheap recreational ones and give you tables, a planning mode, and different decompression algorithms to work with.

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

Dive Computer vs Dive Tables

Many years ago, divers calculated every single dive with dive tables and dive watches. We have since moved on to dive computers and they are much superior. Please don’t listen to some forum warriors and social media trolls who tell you things like “I’ve done XYZ dives with tables and never needed a computer. Don’t waste your time on one, we used to get by without them, too!” – Get a computer and be on the safe side.

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

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.

Key Features to Look for in a Dive Computer

You really want to get your dive computer choice right! If the computer breaks, goes into a lock or outright misjudges your decompression limits, you may miss out on diving days. On the other hand, a good computer makes every dive even better and more relaxed.

Before purchasing a dive computer, here are some key features to look out for so you make the right choice:

What’s your budget?

Dive computers range in price significantly, as you saw from our top list above. Set a budget and stick to it! Yes, great dive computers do make a difference but it doesn’t make sense to spend all your money on it if you could instead get more diving time.

However, if you wear a wristwatch anyway, getting a better one is absolutely worth it.

Type & Design

There are different types of dive computers on the market: Wristwatches, consoles, mask-mounted, hose-attached, and anything in between. Each come with their advantages and disadvantages and you should go for the style and design you find best.

Feature Set

Dive computers come with very different feature sets. Pick one that has all the ones you need. Some examples include: Digital compass, altitude diving mode, dive planner, GPS, heart-rate monitor, dive planning mode, customizable display, and more.

Algorithm Type

Different dive computers use various algorithms like Bühlmann or RGBM (Reduced Gradient Bubble Model) to calculate decompression limits and no-fly times. The choice can affect how conservative or aggressive your dive profiles are. We always recommend Bühlmann-based algorithms.

Scuba diver equalizing ears underwater.
The Suunto D4i in action.

Display Type and Readability

Look for clear, easy-to-read displays. Options include color or monochrome screens, OLED, or LCD. The display size and layout are important for legibility underwater. Many advanced dive computers include quality backlights that can be switched on and off while diving to make the display easier to read.

User Interface and Navigation

The interface should be very user-friendly with intuitive navigation that you can understand easily. Some dive computers have button-based controls, while others offer touchscreen functionality.

Alarms & Notifications

Check the types of alarms that are included. The bare minimum should be ascent rate monitor, non-decompression limit, and safety stop, however, some also include general depth alarms, partial pressures, and more.

Size & Weight

A dive computer should not feel like dead weight on your wrist or come loose because it is too wide. If you plan to use the dive computer as a daily watch this becomes even more important.

Supported Gases

If you plan on using different gas mixes, ensure your computer can handle them. Basic computers support air and nitrox, while advanced models can cater to trimix and even closed-circuit rebreather (CCR) systems.

Wireless Air Integration

Some dive computers offer an integration with your scuba tank to display your current air pressure on your computer’s display. This is a super handy feature available in premium models.

Battery Life and Type

Long battery life is a plus, especially for frequent divers. Newer models come with rechargeable batteries or a docking station to make charging easy. In budget computers, check whether it has a user-replaceable battery or requires professional servicing.

Materials and Build Quality

Durability is key. Quality computers incorporate materials like titanium or aluminum while cheaper ones are made of plastic. We’ve seen many screens and cases crack so choose wisely!

Memory and Logbook Functionality

Check the dive log capacity and how the computer interfaces with PC/Mac or smartphones for dive data analysis and sharing.

Types of Dive Computers

We generally divide dive computers into these classifications:

  • Wrist-Mounted
  • Console-Mounted
  • Mask-Mounted
  • Air Integration
  • Smartwatch-Style
  • Technical Dive Computers

Please note that a dive computer can fall under several of these. For example, the Shearwater Teric is a wrist-mounted technical dive computer with air integration.


Similar to a watch, these are versatile, easily accessible, and worn around your wrist. More expensive ones are also small enough to be worn as a daily wristwatch!

Best For: If you prefer a streamlined setup or want a dive computer that can also be used as a daily watch.


Attached to your dive console, these connect to your pressure gauge and sometimes a compass and offer air integration out of the box. The drawback is that they cannot be worn like a watch.

Best For: If you want all your primary instruments in one place without anything on your wrist.


In recent years, there have been first developments in building mask-mounted dive computers that project a heads-up display (HUD) right in front of your scuba mask.

Best For: If you love new tech and want to have your hands free during a dive.

Air Integration

Some dive computers can wirelessly connect to your scuba tank to monitor air supply and show it on the display. Usually, you need to buy a separate pod which is screwed into one of the HP (high pressure) ports of your scuba regulator.

Best For: Divers who want to keep a close eye on air consumption for better dive planning and safety.


These are compact wrist-mounted computers that double as sports or smartwatches.

Best For: If you want a multi-purpose device that is great for both underwater and on land.

Technical Dive Computers

Designed for technical diving, these computers support multiple gases, including trimix and nitrox, and cater to decompression diving, rebreathers, and deep dives. This is perfect for much more complex dive profiles.

Technical divers often prefer larger, console-shaped dive computers that are easily readable underwater, even in low-visibility environments. They often allow algorithm switches and have greater depth ratings than recreational ones.

Best For: Technical divers, cave divers, or anyone engaging in more complex dive profiles requiring detailed planning and monitoring.

Should you Buy a Dive Computer?

Every scuba diver should have their own dive computer. It is an essential part of the scuba gear setup and you need to use one on every dive. It can serve as a part of your logbook and buying a dive computer is also cheaper in the long run than renting it every time.

Every scuba diver should have their own dive computer! Here is why:

Expensive to rent

Dive computers are among the most expensive items you can rent with prices between $10-40 per day. Therefore, buying one will be much cheaper even after only a few diving days.

Logbook included

Dive computers serve as a logbook with all the diving data you accumulate over time. If you rent them, you never get to keep this data to look at later.

They cannot be shared

A dive computer must be worn by you on every dive during a dive trip and cannot be shared with anyone else. That’s because they calculate your current nitrogen saturation based on all the dives you have done in a certain amount of time.

Therefore, if you give it to anyone else, the computer does not use their personal data but yours. This will of course provide them with the wrong data.

Scuba divers swimming through reef fish
The Suunto Zoop in action.

You can use them for other things than diving

Most modern computers look very much like wristwatches and can double as such when you’re not scuba diving. Some like the Garmin computers or the Apple Watches are also great smartwatches in general.

Easier to Understand

Dive computers are among the more complicated items a scuba diver uses regularly. Save yourself the hassle of learning a new one each time and master your own.

Dive Computer Buyer’s Guide

Scuba divers should choose their dive computers based on their budget, the kind of diving they enjoy, and their experience level. For casual recreational divers, a budget computer between $250 – $500 is often all they need. Frequent divers should invest in a better computer to get advanced features like different breathing gases or air integration. Technical divers and instructors need high-end models that are suitable for decompression diving.

In my opinion as a dive instructor for several training agencies, you should not just choose a dive computer based on your level of experience, but three factors which are more important:

  1. What features do you want?
  2. What is your budget?
  3. What kind of diving are you planning to do?

We already looked at the features above. Here is an overview of what you can expect from the budget you set:

Basic dive computers

$200 – $500

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

They usually only differ in the way they display this info, and in their design.

The cheapest ones have very limited screen size and resolution, only one button, and are generally suited for basic recreational (fun) diving. At the same time, they are often rather large, and cannot be worn as a wristwatch.

Still, they should be sufficient for many needs, as long as they feature Nitrox compatibility and a bright enough display.

Scuba diver checking pressure
Choosing a good dive computer is important to enjoy your dives even more.

Advanced Dive Computers

$500 – $900

Advanced dive computers include 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

Advanced dive computers are usually a manufacturer’s middle-class offering to anyone who enjoys diving multiple times a year and is interested in wearing their computer as a regular watch. They feature LED displays, many modern ones in color, and are generally more pleasing to look at and wear.

At the upper price range, starting around $600, advanced dive computers start to feature multi-gas support and light technical diving capabilities, although I would not suggest them as pure technical diving computers, yet.

Premium Dive Computers


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)
  • Techincal diving capabilities
  • Multiple decompression gases
  • More durable materials (titanium)
  • Very good battery life
  • Extensive dive planning options
  • Touchscreen display

I don’t think premium dive computers are the first choice for newly certified Open Water Divers, or even intermediate ones. However, if you are an avid diver, these are definitely worth checking out!

What kind of diving are you planning to do?

This one is important, especially when you become more advanced.

If all you ever want to do is a couple of dives here and there on vacation, almost any computer will work. Yes, even the very cheap ones.

Make sure it has Nitrox capabilities, though, as nowadays it is available at pretty much every dive center in the world. Especially for vacation divers, who always dive in warm water, this is super important.

The more you dive, the more a higher-priced dive computer will pay off for you.

More diving often equals more difficult or challenging experiences and a better dive computer will help you stay safe underwater while offering advanced options and easier handling.

If you enjoy diving in cold water, I recommend you start looking in the $500+ range and maybe consider even higher tiers.

My top recommendations like the Shearwater Teric or the Garmin Descent Mk2i offer technical diving capabilities such as multiple gas switches, smartwatch features, and nice displays that make your life so much easier underwater.

Wristwatch-style yes or no?

Should you get a watch-sized dive computer or not?

In my opinion, this again depends on the style of diving you are planning to do. However, I usually prefer watch-sized dive computers as I can wear them anywhere.

My go-to computers, the Garmin Descent, and the Shearwater Teric both look like a watch, albeit larger ones.

I believe most casual recreational divers will be better served with watch-style dive computers, for two major reasons:

  1. You never run the risk of forgetting your dive computer in a bag or suitcase.
  2. They serve as your computer, as well as wrist watch and you never need to leave your valuables in a safe or hidden underneath your other luggage.

Naturally, if you don’t like to wear a wristwatch and only dive once or twice per vacation, there is no need to spend the extra money on the smaller size.

Again, I personally dive a watch-style computer all the time, with one exception: Technical and cave diving.

If you belong to one or both of these groups, you might be better served with a console-sized dive computer such as the Shearwater Perdix or the Shearwater Petrel 2.

They give you more screen real estate and are often easier to handle underwater than watch-style ones.

Should you buy a dive computer with air integration?

Dive computers with air integration allow divers to connect a pod to their scuba tank to display the current tank pressure directly on their computer display. It is a convenient feature that often replaces an additional pressure gauge and can be found on intermediate to high-end dive computers. However, it is not required and especially technical divers should choose an analog pressure gauge instead.

I don’t think air integration (AI) is a must-have feature but it is definitely nice to have. I personally enjoy it and most dive computers feature air integration anyway nowadays at least in the 600$+ range.

However, please don’t buy an air-integrated dive computer that uses an extra hose instead of a transmitter. They are also referred to as console-style computers.

I cannot find any advantages over the transmitter-receiver combo and they create an extra potential failure point to your setup. They also add (a little) extra weight to your kit. Especially when packing for your dive trip, you want to stay as lightweight as possible.

Dive Computer vs Dive Watch

Before dive computers were invented, scuba divers used dive watches to measure bottom times, decompression stops, and the current depth. Nowadays, dive computers are capable of doing all that plus calculating non-decompression limits in real-time, serving as a logbook, and have replaced dive watches in all practical regards. However, dive watches are still worn as stylish accessories.

If your goal is to go scuba diving, you need a dive computer. You may or may not want to wear a dive watch for aesthetic reasons, however, they are not required anymore.

If you are looking for a great waterproof dive watch to wear in everyday life, check out the best dive watches of 2024!

Man in suit wearing Rolex Submariner dive watch
Dive watches are mainly worn as stylish accessories.

Do you even need a new dive computer?

This might sound obvious, but we are all guilty of suffering from shiny-new-stuff syndrome. To prevent you from spending money on something you don’t need, find which group you belong to.

I don’t have my own dive computer

If you don’t yet own a dive computer, and you dive at least once per year, then the answer is yes. Yes, you do need a new dive computer.

It is always the first item I recommend to every beginner after buying their first mask and snorkel. Why? Because renting one for even a few dives is almost as expensive as buying a new one altogether, plus it is an essential part of your dive equipment.

I own an old dive computer

If you already own an old dive computer, check how old it is and if it is still applicable to the kind of diving you do.

Just because you own an older version of the same dive computer doesn’t necessarily mean you need to buy a new one.

For example, many people swear by the Suunto D4i for beginners. I have owned one myself since about 2017. Now there is a new version out, the Suunto D4i Novo which also features a compass. Do you need to upgrade just for that? Definitely, if you have the money. However, if you are still missing a regulator, for example, go get that instead!

However, let’s say you got your dad’s old Aladin from 20 years ago. While this is a nice gesture and it might still function properly, it is best to buy a new dive computer in 2024.

Not only will a new dive computer be much nicer to look at and easier to work with, it will also offer many advanced features like Nitrox capabilities and more accurate decompression algorithms.

Use the old one as a backup, if you must, but really…get a new one.

Scuba diver hovering on back
Great shot…just the dive computer strap feels a little off.

I own a newer Dive computer

If you already own a dive computer that is no older than 1-2 years, I do not believe you need a new one to replace it with.

It’s as simple as that. Save that money, go diving more instead! However, it is never a bad idea to own a backup dive computer. This way you won’t have to suspend your diving days on vacation if one of them breaks.

I am a dive professional

If you are a professional diver, such as an instructor or Dive Leader/Divemaster, your situation is different from the typical recreational (fun) diver.

You might be required by your dive center to use the newest tech or just run through them too quickly.

I change my personal dive computer every year or two to stay up to date on what’s new.

Using many different computers also helps me give better service and suggestions to our Social Diving students and clients.

If this is you, I believe getting a new computer every 1000 dives or so is not a bad investment.

This equals about two diving seasons for many professionals and you always have the option to sell your old one.

What is your budget?

Just like with anything else in life, you must choose a budget you are willing to spend on a new dive computer. This is purely personal and I don’t recommend buying something expensive just based on reviews if it doesn’t fit your budget.

But how much should I spend?!” I hear some of you think.

In my opinion, the dive computer and regulator are the two pieces of your scuba gear to which you should allocate the largest part of your dive equipment budget.

Almost any BCD will work, some better some worse, and the same goes for fins, arguably.

Hands holding dollar bills
When choosing a dive computer it’s important to set a budget and stick to it.

On the other hand, a dive computer is responsible for proper decompression in and out of the water and must function at all times. Therefore, set a budget for dive equipment, and then see how much you can spare for a good dive computer.

I believe if you buy cheap, you buy twice…or even more often. That is to say that although you will find good dive computers at any price point, you get what you pay for.


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