Which Calculator Should You Get?

Students can be successful with many different calculators, and we’ve seen some students be fervently passionate about their particular calculator on more than one occasion (e.g. the Ti-Inspire comes to mind).

However, we over here at Mo Prep recommend the Ti-84 Plus. We recommend this for several reasons. Primarily, it’s because it’s the most powerful, yet still user-friendly calculator on the market today, but also it’s the most common model, which can be useful when you’re stuck on something and need help. And above all else, the Ti-84 Plus is accepted on all math tests, including the ACT (in contrast to the Ti-89, which is accepted on the SAT but not the ACT).

Why is a graphing calculator useful at all? Read this post for the answer to that question.

And finally, what are the primary differences between a Ti-84 Plus and a Ti-84 Plus C?

1. Price: Current market prices (07/15) have the Ti-84 Plus at around $100, and the Ti-84 Plus C at around $120.

2. Display: The “C” in Plus C stands for color, so the Plus C model graphs in color. The regular does not. The Plus C model also displays graphs more crisply and finely, and it’s often easier to read from in graph mode.

3. Batteries: The Plus C model uses a USB cord to charge – so you can charge it either with your computer or with the wall outlet. The regular model uses batteries. The big plus/minus here is that you may run out of batteries during a test, but this can be compensated for by bringing an extra set. For the Plus C model, the battery runs down a lot quicker, and you’re not able to bring a charging cord with you the day of the test, so it’s best to charge it the night before the test (or two nights, to make sure you remember to pack it the night before) and/or to have a dedicated wall socket to charge it.

4. Wake Up Time: The regular model starts to dim before it fully turns off. In this “sleepy” state, if you type something in, it’s captured. This can be especially useful if you haven’t used the calculator for a few questions, but then in a flurry of excitement for the new question, you start typing without checking if it’s awake. The Plus C model, however, doesn’t capture data in its sleepy state. I have often caught myself having to retype the first few digits because I haven’t gotten used to this.



Q1: Does Silver Edition mean anything?

A1: Yes, from what I can tell, it means that you have the most recent (as of press time) operating system, which is useful for a few questions on the SAT and ACT. However, unless you’re inheriting your calculator, almost all Ti-84s purchased today have the most recent operating system.

Q2: What if I’m inheriting my calculator from an older sibling?

A2: Check the operating system according to this link:


  • Press 2nd Mem on your TI-84 Plus family calculator
  • Select 1:About
  • Press Enter
  • You should see TI-84 Plus 2.55MP

If you are in fact on 2.55MP, then you’re good to go. If you’re not, you can use a cord to obtain the newest operating system from any of your friends (or your tutor) who have that operating system.



In summary, the differences 3 and 4 may seem like a small deal in the scheme of things, but some students may feel a strong preference because of them. I personally have a strong preference, but you should make the $20 decision that’s best for you, as there is admittedly no huge price or features difference between the two.

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