If there has been one really helpful tool during an engineering exam it has been the scientific calculator.

The Scientific calculator is a device that helps you calculate stuff faster than using your already stressed brains. But are calculators even allowed for exams? Of course.

Non-programmable calculators are very important for exams as they help to calculate large values and get results quicker than doing them by hand. Also, most universities allow the use of calculators in their exams.

To find the best scientific calculator we looked at some of the best and most used calculators today on Amazon and Flipkart. For full disclosure, we have to state that there are not many brands in the budget market, with Casio and Texas Instruments being the only reputable brands making good scientific calculators.


Best Scientific Calculator (in detail)

The Casio FX-991EX calculator

With a modern phone-like design, well laid out buttons and a user-friendly UI the FX-991EX ticks all the boxes in design and user-friendliness. But its support for up to 552 functions including spreadsheet, ratio, and QR based graphing makes it one of the best scientific calculator in its category.
 

But what really separates one calculator from another is the user interface. Overtime due to muscle memory we do get used to most types of interfaces but it's always nice to have one that is simple and easy to use. This is exactly the focus Casio had with their latest scientific calculator- the fx-991EX.

Starting with the buttons, the number pad has white buttons (with black text) that stand out on the black background. This is much better than the usual grey buttons on the competitors and even previous Casio products.

The buttons themselves are much larger than usual which is a small but important improvement over the previous generations. The d-pad and top row are finished in chrome and stand out nicely which makes using them that much easier.

It also looks much better than the previous generations of dull grey Casio calculators. It has a nice black texture on the front fascia and a full white finish on the back and cover. Combine that with the large thoughtfully designed buttons and it looks more like a senior citizen phone than a scientific calculator.

​Casio FX-991EX old UI vs. New

Casio fx-991 EX ClassWiz User Interface (Left), Older Casio UI (Right)

Coming to one of the most important updates in the fx-991 EX, the software UI. Traditionally calculators have had list-based UI's like the older Blackberry phones full of text and very little icons (Shown in the image on the right).

Thankfully with the FX-991EX, we get a well thought out icon-based menu system that is more Windows Phone with its square tiles and is simply much more intuitive to use (Shown in the top image on the left). This is all thanks to Casio Classwiz UI that make not only using the calculators easy but also for a teacher to teach its functions easily.
 

The difference in the UI as seen by a still for calculations


​Casio fx-991 EX ClassWiz User Interface (Left), Older Casio UI (Right)

Some users did report that the screen although high resolution makes the fonts smaller than before which is actually true (As can be seen in the image above). However, the resolution makes them more legible and the UI lets you read the options and menu more easily than before thanks to ClassWiz.

Now that the FX-991EX solves the user interface issues with calculators, is that the only reason to pick it? Not quite, Casio has improved many other key aspects of the calculator.

Calculation speed, this is something nobody thinks about but as we and almost everyone around us have done engineering we know calculators when fed with a complex equation will take a few seconds to blurt out the answer. Often the display goes off while processing the equation that can sometimes give you a mini heart attack especially during an exam. “Oh no, did my battery die? Do I have to retype the whole equation again? Am I going to fail? What is going on?”, these are the thoughts that have run through our minds.

The FX 991EX makes sure these thoughts never enter your mind.  

When compared with any other calculator in its price range the FX991EX simply outshines them in calculation speed, it is faster than them from anywhere between 1 second to a whopping 5 seconds for complex equations. You click enter and it displays the answer. No screen off nonsense, no thinking, nothing. That is quite a difference and in fact, you can imagine the time you save (or earn) during exams when you use this particular calculator.

The difference in the UI as seen by a still for calculations


Spreadsheet Functionality in the Casio fx-991 EX

Now that usability and speed are covered let us see what the calculator can do. Apart from your basic mathematical and trigonometric options, it has spreadsheet capability which includes statistical calculations, recursion formulas, and Riemann Integrals. 4x4 matrix calculations are also supported. In all 552 functions are supported by the Casio FX 991EX, to know more about the mathematical capacity click here.  

The Feature of Spreadsheet in FX-991EX

Functions of the Casio fx-991 EX

Another neat trick is the QR code feature. Which when used lets you create graphs of the equations you've created using your smartphone. Do note this is not a graphing calculator and the QR features need a smartphone to work. You can also use the QR code to pull up the online user manual that really helps to use the calculator easily. Click here to visit the QR website of Casio.

QR code feature on the Casio fx-991 EX

QR code feature on the Casio fx-991 EX

While most users of the Casio fx-991 EX were satisfied with its performance we did notice a few people mentioning that it did not save the previously used equations in memory after the calculator was turned off. This was a feature many said was present in the Texas Instruments calculator. So if you do need this feature look at our next best pick.

The Casio also cannot perform LCM/GCD and Product Calculations (Product of f(x)). So if you need all these features do check out the Texas Instruments TI-36 X Pro which is also our best pick.
 

Funnily enough, we found quite some complaints regarding the white back and cover. Not all of them were about the panel getting dirty, but because the white colour makes copying in exams more difficult. The formulas and answers written on the white back are more prominent than on the grey calculators which use it to hide it well. This may be a genuine concern for the few, we hope the majority will not indulge in such activities.

The Casio fx-991 EX comes with a single battery cell (G13/LR44) and supports solar charging. There is a nifty little icon on the screen that shows if the calculator is solar charging or not.
 

Talking about the battery life, calculators are known for their super long battery lives and this is no different. Our researcher who has a working Casio Scientific calculator has not changed his calculator's battery even once in 7 years. It also comes with a long 3-year warranty.

The Casio fx-991EX with its modern design, simple UI, faster processor and 552 functions is what you must pick if you want the best scientific calculator. It is for people who do not want the older UI based calculators and want a modern calculator that works faster than before.  It is priced very well and can be used for all engineering related calculations.

With the price of around Rs.1,200, the great features, the amazing design and easy to use UI the Casio fx-991 EX will be a wonderful tool for your engineering studies.

Note:  For a more detailed list on what functions the Casio fx-991 EX and Texas Instruments TI-36X support click here. 

Pros

  • One of the fastest calculators in its class

  • Modern and Ergonomic Design

  • Brilliant High-Resolution Display

  • Can display 12 characters

  • Thoughtful UI and supports natural textbook input

  • 552 functions

  • Supports Spreadsheet, 4x4 Matrix, and Ratio calculations

  • Dedicated DMS buttons for quick surveying calculations

  • Cool QR code features

  • The long-lasting battery also comes with a  solar panel built-in

  • 3-year warranty

  • Can be used for Engineering exams due to its non-programmable nature

Cons

  • White cover and back may pick dirt stains

  • Higher resolution screen make the fonts smaller

  • Doesn't save the previously used formulas and calculations

  • Doesn't support LCM and GCD

  • Doesn't support Product Calculation (Product of f(x))

Where to buy it?


Best Scientific Calculator 

Simple and sweet, Texas Instruments TI-36 X Pro Scientific Calculator

The TI-36X doesn't have the modern design, build or features as the Casio but it has one key feature which has helped earn a very dedicated fan following. Its ability to store results and equation makes it a great tool for a certain type of user. It also supports natural textbook display like the Casio and can display up to 14 characters, unlike the Casio which only shows 12. So its differentiating features make it a calculator that is as good if not better than the Casio fx-991 EX.
 

The Texas Instruments calculator comes from an older generation of calculators, but don't let that fool you. It is still a very competent calculator. It displays more characters (14) compared to the Casio (12). It has support for LCD/GCD and Product Calculations which the Casio misses out on. But the biggest benefit is the fact that it can save up to 20 entries into its memory which can be recalled at any time.
 

The display although not a high resolution as on the Casio fx-991 EX still has a natural textbook based entry which gives you results and equation in the textbook format. The buttons are however quite small and the grey-on-grey buttons and body make it tough to read. The White colour font too is not easy to read.
 

Now coming to what it loses out on when compared to the Casio is the spreadsheet and ratio calculation support. The matrix support although present is limited to only 3x3, unlike the Casio's 4x4. For a civil engineer who has to do a lot of calculations involving degrees, minutes and seconds (DMS) will find the task a bit longer on the TI-36 X Pro, as you have to go through a menu and then select the corresponding symbol. The dedicated DMS button on the Casio will be a life-saver for you and will help to speed up your calculations.
 

There is also no fancy QR code feature like the Casio but we can let this one slide owing to the age of the calculator.
 

The Texas Instruments TI-36X has a dedicated following from people due to some features that are not present on the Casio products like the saving functions, different mathematical calculation support and longer character support.

So to conclude if you need a calculator that can store numerous entries has a few extra functions (LCM/GCD etc.) and can display more characters than the Texas Instruments TI-36X Pro makes for a great pick. It costs around Rs.1,200 and comes with a 3-year warranty.
 

Note: Click  here to know all functions that can be performed on the Texas Instruments TI-36 X Pro  


Pros

  • Can store up to 20 entries unlike any Casio Calculator

  • Easy to use and supports natural textbook input

  • Displays 14 characters over the Casio's 12

  • Supports LCM/GCD and  Product Calculation (Product of f(x))

  • The long-lasting battery also comes with a  solar panel built-in

  • 3-year warranty

  • Can be used for Engineering exams due to its non-programmable nature

  • The grey body will not get stained as easily as the Casio

Cons

  • Older generation calculator

  • No dedicated DMS buttons

  • Can only solve 3x3 matrices

  • Lacks Spreadsheet and Ratio calculations

  • Low screen resolution

  • No fancy QR features like Casio fx-991 EX

  • Slower than the Casio fx-991 EX

Where to buy it?


Buying Guide to the best scientific calculator

When it comes a calculator it’s always about finding the right tool for the right task. In a scientific calculator, you must pick based on what you need it for, most of the calculator is enough for engineering exams and so on but if you need more functions like 4x4 matrice multiplication, graphing and more you have to carefully pick the calculator which has it all.
 

Next thing to make sure you check is if the calculator has a solar panel, this really keep to charge your battery and makes sure that you do not run out of juice during an exam.
 

Still, have some questions regarding calculators? Check out the FAQs section below.
 

FAQs

  • Can we use this for statistics?

    Yes

  • Can this be used as a scientific calculator?

    Yes, both are picks are scientific calculators

  • Is it programmable?

    No

  • Shall I use this for GATE engineering exam or there are any restrictions to use this type of advanced calculator inside the exam hall?

    Both our best picks are non-programmable calculators which are accepted in most universities, but GATE exams usually do not allow calculators and you have to use the software based calculator provided.

  • Does it have graphing?

    No, but you can use your smartphone with the Casio calculator to get a graph

  • Can we perform 4×4 matrix multiplication?

    The Casio one supports 4x4 matrix, while the Texas Instruments one only supports 3x3

  • Is the battery is chargeable or not?

    No, the batteries are not rechargeable

  • Why the power-on metal key (Casio calculator) is at the level of lower height compared to other metal keys? Is it designed like that or is mine a faulty piece?

    The power button on the Casio calculator is deliberately designed that way so that you do not accidentally turn off the calculator in the middle of a calculation.


​Final Thoughts

The Casio FX-991EX has a modern design, modern software, fast processor and a lot of features. It has some neat tricks up its sleeve as well like QR code support and spreadsheet support. If you need a calculator that is not only fast and capable but also affordable and easy to use than look no further than the Casio.

The Texas Instruments TI-36X Pro comes with some unique features like support for LCM/GCD, product calculations, 14 characters display and ability to store entries. Like the Casio, it too has a natural textbook display that makes it easy to enter and view equations. If you need a calculator that has all these features and is priced very well then you can look at the Texas Instruments scientific calculator. 

Have any of the picks we suggested? Comment down below about your experience with the product or the brand service. Still, have a doubt regarding scientific calculators? or about any feature related to them? Write down your question below so we can help you with the same.

Finally, do not forget to check out our other articles and share them with your families and friends.


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