Have you just started scuba diving and now you’re ready to buy some of your own equipment?
“What’s the best dive computer for beginners?”, you may ask yourself.
This is an important question because it’s probably the biggest purchase you make at the beginning of your diving adventures.
Even if you’re not a beginner, if you only go scuba diving a few times a year, it doesn’t make sense to spend a fortune on something you don’t use much.
Dive computers are an essential piece of kit for safe, responsible and, of course, fun scuba diving.
They can vary in size, shape, colors, durability and quite literally everything under the sun. But it can be hard to know which one to buy.
Most purchasing guides you will find online are written by people who aren’t even scuba divers, they’re only comparing features but haven’t used them.
Not this guide. This one is actually a collaboration post.
I had a few of my friends who are divemasters and/or instructors put together their experiences with their dive computers to create a guide for you of our opinions of the top rated dive computers!
This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases (if applicable). Please see my disclosure for more information.
Let’s dive right in and take a look at the Suunto D4i, Mares Smart, and Aqualung i200:
The Mares Smart Dive Computer actually won SCUBALAB’s Best Buy award in 2014, but let’s look at the specifics.
The computer is more robust than your average watch. It includes the time, a stopwatch, daily alarm, and a calendar.
So if you are looking for a dive computer that also is appropriate as a watch, this may be for you!
Thanks to the segmented screen display it is clear and easy to read.
The features shown on the screen during dives include: depth, max depth, ascent rate, deco time temperature and dive time.
On top of this, a feature I appreciate is that the seconds are shown during your safety stop, not only the minutes. This is something I have not seen on many dive computers before.
With Nitrox function available and Apnea, you are not limited to air on your dives with this computer.
Plus, a 36-hour memory capacity allows you to keep a log of your dives - although this is not so generous compared to competitors.
The maximum depth display is for 492feet/150meters.
The ascent rate alarm is very sensitive, so it’s brilliant for beginners to become more aware of their ascent and learn quickly, however it is a little annoying at times.
A 24-hour lock is triggered if an excessive ascent rate has been maintained for more than two-thirds of the dive - something to be cautious of!
Aqualung’s i200 Dive Computer is a sporty design featuring 4 air modes: Nitrox, Freedive, Air and Gauge.
A unique point of the Aqualung computer is that there is no restriction to switch between scuba dive and freedive modes - different to both Mares and Suunto.
With a bold and simple display, this computer is nice and easy to use and I love that it is not too conservative, a great feature for me as a dive guide.
It features all the basics you need in any diving computer. Showing depth, no decompression limit, max depth and dive time whilst diving.
It has an onboard log of your last 24 dives, a little less lavish than the competitors, but that's what a logbook is for, right?
A great feature of this computer is its user-changeable battery, simple ones you find at supermarkets too!
So there’s no need for me to wait a few weeks whilst I send it back to the manufacturer for a battery replacement.
Easy to use, a decent price point and all the necessary functions, the Aqualung i200 is a perfect start for new divers.
The Suunto D4i computer is one of the top rated dive computers to date.
Featuring a compact, responsive display during dives, with depth, no decompression time, max depth, dive time and temperature.
It also has optional wireless air integration, allowing intermediate divers to upgrade to a transmitter later on!
Nitrox and Apnea mode are available, like the Mares Smart, but with the additional option of Gauge.
It’s also possible to switch off diving mode for other activities such as swimming (I love this to avoid false dive recordings).
Something to note is that the freedive mode locks the computer for 48 hours after being activated, most other brands only lock for 24 hours.
Unlike the Mares Smart, the seconds are not shown during your safety stop; however this has never bothered me much as the numbers are clear and easy to read.
Suunto D4i does include a moderately sensitive audible and visual alarm for fast ascent rate, sensitive enough to be safe but not too much to be annoying.
For enthusiastic dive loggers, your onboard log is 80hours with the Suunto, and can be uploaded to a computer through USB.
Unfortunately, the battery is not user-replaceable and must be sent to a Suunto supplier or manufacturer for replacement.
With such a sleek design, the Suunto D4i is a fairly, if I can say it, beautiful dive computer!
The classy colors (pure white, black, bright yellow and rosy pink) allow for it to be worn as an everyday watch.
The silicone straps are comfortable and easy to clean. The watch also comes with screen protectors you can apply.
I personally have the pure white color and wear it most days as a watch, not just when I am diving.
I love that the white color stays very clean and white, even whilst living in dusty Egypt!
It is a real statement piece of equipment.
If you are happy to spend a bit more money, the luxe Suunto D4i is for you.
Best Scuba Dive Computer (Value for Money): Mares Smart
So which scuba dive computer should you choose as a beginner?
Let’s take into account: affordability, functionality, and appearance.
For this reason, I would have to say the best scuba dive computer is the Mares Smart.
The price point of $349 is not too high, whilst it operates very well with all the metrics you would need as a beginner as well as for more advanced divers.
It allows for use as a normal everyday watch, with a few color variations, features such as a calendar and a stopwatch- including an alarm to wake up for your diving day.
The simplicity of this computer really tops is one of the best dive computers for beginners.
Also, it’s available in all kinds of colors so there’s for sure a design you will love.
Best Budget Dive Computer: Aqualung i200
Without a doubt, the stand-out of this category is the Aqualung i200 Dive Computer.
It’s leading the best affordable dive computer rating but, at the same time, does not lack essential functions for new divers, and has a few more details for the advanced.
This computer actual won SCUBALAB’s “Best Buy” award in 2017, and I can absolutely see why.
Three computers, three prices, three brands. There we have it, some of the top rated dive computers on the market at the moment.
Hopefully, this detailed guide has helped you to find out a little more about the right diving computer for you.
Best Dive Computers for Beginners – Pin for later:
If you’re a scuba diver, these articles of mine might be interesting for you as well:
- Liveaboard Diving – Ultimate Guide for First-Timers
- Best Dive Computers for Beginners
- Scuba Diving Guide to Dahab, Egypt
- Scuba Diving Guide to Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt
- Scuba Diving Guide to El Gouna, Egypt
- Best Dive Watches under $300
- Best Dive Watches under $1000
Coral Reef Guide - Red Sea
This is a great book if you want to know what you looked at after your dive in the Red Sea.
It's one single guide that covers all forms of marine life, including coral. Each species is illustrated with an underwater color photograph along with biological and physical descriptions.
Kraken Universal Smart Phone Underwater Housing
My go-to underwater housing that fits pretty much every smartphone and is safe to use for up to 80 meters. If you have a good quality phone camera, your photos will turn out great.
Dive+ : Free photo editing app with amazing color correction
This app is a lifesaver when it comes to editing underwater photos and videos. In just one click, it turns your blue, boring photo into a colorful image that looks like in real life.
If you get the free version, your photos will be watermarked with your username. If you pay for a subscription, there are no watermarks and you can batch edit your photos and videos - big timesaver!
Sun Bum Reef-Safe Sunscreen
It is absolutely essential to have reef-safe sunscreen because regular sunscreens have a very harmful effect on corals. With SunBum, you won't contribute to the death of our coral reefs, and it is totally worth investing some extra money.
This sunscreen is hypoallergenic & made with reef friendly, vegan ingredients that are designed to protect against UVA rays, prevent premature aging, and moisturize skin.
It is water-resistant for 80 minutes, so a quick round snorkeling won't compromise your protection.
Personalized Waterproof 3M Sticker Labels for Scuba Diving gear
If you bring your own dive equipment on trips, you've probably had the problem of mixing up your stuff with someone else's before. Especially on a liveaboard, similar-looking gear can easily be confused, and let's be honest - most scuba equipment looks the same.
No more problem with these super cool stickers that are individualized with your name and waterproof. Instead of using your real name, you could even come up with a cool diving nickname for yourself.
Also a great gift for any scuba diving friends and family!
Quick Spit Antifog Spray
Nothing is more annoying than a foggy mask during a dive. It can easily ruin your experience, we've all had this problem before. And let's be honest, most of us aren't big fans of clearing our masks. I know I'm not.
To avoid the foggy mask problem, you should apply an antifog spray before your mask touches the water. This one contains all-natural ingredients and works on glass and plastic masks.
Kraken Mesh Gear Bag
A mesh bag often comes in handy underwater to collect any trash you might find.
Mares Smart Dive Computer
I really like my Mares Smart dive computer, it's perfect for beginner and intermediate divers. I have it in white/purple, so for the girls who like to be stylish but don't want to spend a fortune on the white Suunto D4i, this is a great budget alternative.
The different color options also make it easy to differentiate your computer from others, which can be very helpful at times, especially on a liveaboard.