Top value for money dive computers
by Jorge Mezcua on Aug 10, 2023
If the options for wetsuits, jackets, or fins in the world of diving are almost endless, dive computers are no exception. And in this article, you're going to find out. The dive computer is an essential device, as we saw in this article where we explained how they work and what they're used for, so whether you're a beginner or advanced, you're going to need one. No debate.
Now then, which dive computer best suits your needs? What aspects should you consider when buying a dive computer? Which one do you need based on your experience and budget? If it's your first dive computer, should you only focus on the price, or are there more factors to consider? And above all, what are the best value-for-money dive computers?
There's a wide variety of dive computers for every level, whether it's beginner, advanced, or expert, so to make it easier, we've divided the best dive computers into two levels based on their features, functionalities, performance, price, overall quality, durability, and their ability to be used across different levels.
Not all the dive computers listed here have been released this year. Many of them are true classics that maintain their good value for years on the wrists of demanding divers. In each of them, we'll tell you why we believe it deserves a spot on this list, and perhaps this will help you find your ideal dive computer at the best price.
Dive Computers for Beginners
Suunto Zoop Novo, from €219
The Suunto Zoop Novo is one of those classic dive computers that, for numerous reasons, makes it a highly appreciated choice for novice divers and still remains loyal to many advanced divers. What makes this computer special? Its durability, low price (around €200), and ease of reading the display make it all you need to start diving.
Looking into it more, we see that it includes essential features for a dive computer such as audible alarms, which will alert you if your descent or ascent is too fast. It's also important for entry-level dive computers to have clear and highly visible decompression stops, which is the case with the Suunto Zoop Novo. Other necessary aspects that are present include the ability to use it in Nitrox mode (from 21% to 51%), compatibility with PCs (not yet with Mac), and the ability to store up to 50 hours of dives.
During night dives, you'll be able to read the data perfectly thanks to its phosphorescent blue display, which is important and sometimes overlooked by beginners. An important aspect is that its lithium battery can be replaced by the user, which is interesting if you don't live near a dive center or specialized store. Without a doubt, a very intuitive computer, easy to use, and with an excellent quality-price ratio that you can learn to dive with and keep as a backup computer as you advance to a higher level.
Cressi Leonardo, from €159
A classic for those starting in diving. This computer is simple, functional, and even elegant; a great way to start in the world of diving. Its large LCD screen is easy to read, with very visible battery warnings (with capacity for around 60 dives and memory for 70 hours) and decompression time. Like other beginner classics such as the Suunto Zoop Novo, it includes audible alarms for depth and ascent rate. Everything essential can be found in the Leonardo.
It's operated with a single button, making navigation super easy and intuitive. It includes modes for air, Nitrox (between 21% and 50% oxygen), and Gauge, all of which are easy to navigate between. Its RGBM algorithm is perhaps slightly conservative, designed for novice divers, so it might be a bit cumbersome on dive trips and successive dives, potentially penalizing divers.
An interesting feature, especially for dive centers, is that it can be reset very easily after each dive, starting fresh for the next customer. It has a backlit display for night dives. You can review your dives both on Windows and Mac and keep track of your dive profiles. A great dive computer to start with, starting at only €179.
Mares Puck Pro, from €199
There's no doubt that Mares manufactures some of the best dive computers you can buy, especially in the beginner segment, and the Puck Pro is no exception. Its design is simple, lightweight, yet with a good display that's easy to read, making it a solid choice not only for beginners but also for more advanced divers. The Mares Puck is a model that was born more than 10 years ago and is still selling well thanks to its low price (only €139) and user-friendly simplicity. This dive computer is the evolution of the original Mares Puck, which revolutionized the market a decade ago, now in a lighter, simpler, and more affordable version with an RGBM algorithm and a super intuitive and user-friendly Nitrox mode.
Like the Cressi Leonardo, it can be operated with a single button to navigate through the menu. In terms of memory, it has a capacity of 36 hours thanks to a CR2450 3-volt lithium-ion battery that, another plus, can be replaced by the user. It also features backlighting for night dives and can be connected to a PC via USB. It's also interesting to have the option to adjust profiles to make it more conservative than the factory settings. In summary, the Mares Puck Pro is a reliable, durable dive computer with everything you need as a first computer or for those who will remain recreational divers for a long time.
Mares Smart, from €225
The Mares Smart can be considered a step above the previous option, the Mares Puck Pro. It's also a super intuitive dive computer with a clear, crisp, easy-to-read display, ergonomic design, and very user-friendly. Mares has added an additional button to the Puck Pro, placed on the side, giving you the option to better manage dive information underwater and view data like bottle pressure, breathing rate, or remaining air time directly on your wrist.
It features a backlit LCD display with a scratch-resistant mineral crystal and a set of configurable alarms that provide added safety during the dive. Additionally, it includes options like altitude settings, pre-dive planning, and surface interval countdown.
Outside the water, it offers features that basic dive computers lack, such as calendar, stopwatch, daily alarm, dual time modes, and temperature readings. Like the Puck Pro, it comes with a user-replaceable lithium battery, offering a dive log storage capacity of 36 hours for up to 200 dives. The Mares Smart is an all-around dive computer, suitable for beginners due to its affordability, but also something advanced divers and pros can find as a reliable and lasting device.
Aqualung i300, from €198
The Aqualung i300 is one of the simplest, most versatile, and user-friendly dive computers available, essentially because it has the minimum and necessary features to be considered a dive computer... but a lot more. It's perfect for divers who want their first computer and have a limited budget (priced around €200), but it will leave you with a positive impression after you use it. The interface is easy to use, it has backlighting, the battery can be replaced by you, it's robust, you can use it in air, Nitrox mode (up to EAN 50), or apnea mode, it has audible alarms... What more could you ask for to start diving?
In addition to the essentials of a good dive computer, the Aqualung i300 goes a bit further as mentioned before. You can choose between fresh or saltwater modes, automatic altitude adjustments, a comprehensive history mode, a planning function that lets you preview the next dive based on your historical and previous dive data, deep stop with countdown timer, data download via cable... Much more than a simple beginner's computer.
Suunto D4i Novo, from €429
While it might appear simple and not much different from computers in the beginner category, the Suunto D4i Novo dive computer is a spectacular piece of engineering. Along with its refreshed design, the Suunto D4i Novo also features a completely new soft silicone strap, ensuring maximum comfort and excellent fit. The case and strap share the same color, providing a uniform appearance. Combined with the metallic buttons and bezel prints, this has made this new version more elegant.
The standout feature that places it a step above is the wireless integration via the Suunto Transmitter (optional always), which when installed on the first stage port, allows you to view crucial dive and personal information on your wrist, such as bottle pressure, breathing frequency, or remaining air time, giving you precise knowledge of how much time you can stay underwater.
Of course, at this level of dive computer, you can expect excellent data readability and display. The dot matrix display is easy to read, and the backlighting allows critical dive data to be quickly and comfortably visualized, enhancing visibility for depth, dive time, and decompression status. In both air and Nitrox modes, the screen clearly shows current and maximum depth, current time, dive time, decompression time, and temperature. It also includes audible alarms for critical data like ascent rate or maximum depth, and in Nitrox mode, you can adjust it between 21% and 50% oxygen and the PO2 between 0.5 and 1.6 bars.
Regarding its algorithm and safety, the Suunto D4i Novo uses the RGBM algorithm, which predicts dissolved and free gas in tissues, allowing it to calculate continuous decompression for optimal ascent time. The deep stop option provides extra safety with a set of deep stops.
Lastly, it's worth noting that many divers use this computer as a watch due to its lightweight (only 92 grams) and comfortable wear, thanks to its silicone strap. That's why the Finnish brand has given it a more elegant touch. The only downside is that battery replacement must be done at a specialized center (you can do it at home with special kits, but you risk damaging it on your next dive), which can cost around €50.