Best Dive Computer For Beginners [2021] Pro Adventure Guide

This is our review of the Best dive computers for beginners in 2021

Dive computers for beginners should be simple to use, easy to understand, and importantly for some, provide some room to grow.

There are a number of computers on the market aimed towards newly certified & recreational divers, and we’ve found that the Shearwater Peregrine best satisfies a beginner divers needs, whilst still providing more advanced options for the future.

But each divers requirements are different, and some may choose to further advance their scuba diving training more than others.

So with that in mind we’ve reviewed the best dive computers for beginners to suit every need and budget.

Check it out!

The Best Dive Computers For Beginners


Best Beginner Dive Computers Reviewed [2021]

Shearwater PeregrineBest Overall

overall best dive computer for beginners

Specs

Algorithm: Bühlmann ZHL-16C with gradient factors
Gases: Air, Nitrox (up to 40%) & 3 Gas Nitrox (Up to 100% O2)
Memory Capacity: 200 hours
Battery: Wireless Rechargeable
Best For: Recreational through to advanced divers

Features

  • Vivid LCD Color screen
  • Multi gas diving modes
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Wireless battery charging

The Peregrine is super easy to navigate through the menu’s, but it also offers a LOT in terms of functionality.

That makes it perfect for recreational divers, but it’s easily advanced enough that it has plenty of room to grow with you from a recreational to a more advanced diver, saving you plenty of money in the process as you won’t have to keep reinvesting in new dive computers the further you go into your training.

One of the best features the Peregrine holds over most other dive computers within it’s price and is the display. Reading the display is no issue on the Peregrine thanks to it’s very brightly colored LCD display, which also happens to be nice and large too (2.2″).

This would greatly benefit anyone who has trouble reading smaller, less brightly lit displays, or if you’re diving in poor conditions or when in tropical conditions where glare can be an issue.

The Peregrine supports air, single gas nitrox and more advanced multi-gas nitrox dive modes which are switchable underwater. As well as also providing decompression planning and support.

It also has a superior memory capacity to a lot of other computers, plus bluetooth connectivity to allow you to quickly and easily upload your dive logs to a computer. It also has wireless charging of it’s battery (the battery life provides up to 30 hours of dive time on medium brightness).

The display can be customized so that you can display the information on the screen that you find most important to you, and the menu is also super simple and easy to navigate.

The Peregrine as you can imagine is a bit more high end than the other dive computers on our list and therefore a little pricier than the others, however it still comes in at a very reasonable price for the features on offer. If your budget allows then you won’t be disappointed with this dive computer!

Pros

  • Highly colorful, large and very easy to read display
  • More advanced then the other computers on our list & will accompany you further in your training
  • Good battery life
  • Wireless bluetooth upload/download of dive logs is simple and quick
  • Supports multiple gas mixtures

Cons

  • None!

Cressi LeonardoBest Budget Dive Computer

Cressi leonardo wrist dive computer

Specs

Algorithm: RGBM Algorithm: Bruce Wienke/Haldane Model
Gases: Air and Nitrox
Memory Capacity: 60 dives/75 hours
Battery: User replaceable 3-Volt CR2430 Battery
Best For: beginners on a budget

Features

  • Three levels of user-adjustable conservatism
  • Backlit, easy to read display
  • User replaceable battery

For a recreational diver the Cressi Leonardo has everything you need and nothing you don’t.

The Leonardo is one of the the best entry level dive computers for those on a strict budget, and is one of the most budget friendly dive computers on the market.

It’s an extremely popular choice amongst recreational divers as their first dive computer to add to their scuba diving gear thanks due to it’s price point, and the fact that as a warm water recreational diver it’s going to give you everything you need in terms of function.

It’s very easy to use and navigate, which is exactly what you want as an entry level diver. Making it easy for you to focus on the dive, and it’s easy to read the information given to you on the screen and shows you all of your need to know information at a glance.

It has single button interface (a short push of the button changes functions, and a longer push selects the function) so it is not complicated at all to use, but, the problem with single button interfaces is that if you miss a menu function it can be frustrating as you then must keep pressing it until you come back around to that function again.

The strap is well constructed, durable and comfortable.. but it’s very long! The wrist strap could fit the hulk and still have room to spare, but then that means you have plenty of room to be able to wear this with a thick wetsuit/gloves or drysuit. (If you have a small wrist then you may need to trim it).

Replacing the battery yourself is very simple and straightforward, and it doesn’t require any kind of special tools to do so.

The algorithm used by the Leonardo is quite conservative (this is not a bad thing), but it is more conservative than other brands so as you become more advanced you may not like how conservative this dive computer can be.

All in all what you have with the Cressi is a very good entry level dive computer for recreational divers at an unbeatable price, which would go on to make a decent backup computer as you become more advanced and want to upgrade.

pros

  • User changeable battery
  • The alarms are loud and distinct (you certainly won’t miss them!)
  • Very budget friendly
  • Simple to navigate menu
  • Display is well lit & very easy to read

cons

  • The computer connection is sold separately
  • One button interface can be frustrating for some

Mares Puck Pro PlusEasiest To Use Dive Computer

mares puck pro diving computer

Specs

Algorithm: Mares-Wienke Rgbm (Reduced Gradient Bubbles Model)
Gases: Air and Nitrox
Memory Capacity: 36 hours
Battery: User Replaceable CR 2450 Lithium-Ion Battery
Best For: Ease of Use & entry level divers on a budget

Features

  • Two different gas mixtures during single dive
  • One button navigation
  • User changeable battery

The Puck Pro Plus is very simple, easy and intuitive to use, to the point where you could use it right out of the box without pouring over the manual like some other dive computers on the market (although, still good practice to read the manual of course!).

It’s simple interface, the fact that it is also another extremely budget friendly option, and it’s good range of functions is why the Mares Puck Pro+ is another of the most popular dive computers for beginners.

You have the option of setting a different algorithm based on how conservative you want the Puck Pro to be (P2 being the most conservative, P1 middle of the road, and P0 is the least conservative and will therefore give you the longest dive time).

It has a large screen size, and the display is clear and very easy to read (even from tight angles), it of course has a backlight too for low level light conditions and though the backlight on the Mares Puck Pro whilst suitable enough is not quite as good as the Cressi.

As with the Cressi the Puck Pro is also a single button user interface. It’s extremely easy to use but once again, as with any single button interface can sometimes be frustrating if you accidentally skip past the function you wanted.

Overall, the Cressi and Puck Pro are fairly similar in terms what they offer. Both are excellent dive computers for recreational divers, and would make fine backup computers, but the Puck Pro has the edge thanks to a bit more functionality (such as gas switching).

pros

  • Best dive computer for ease of use
  • Large & easy to read display
  • Simple & very intuitive to use
  • User replaceable battery

Cons

  • The wrist band is a little stiff & not quite as comfortable as the Cressi
  • Backlight isn’t the strongest

Aqua Lung i300CBest For Bluetooth Transfer

aqualung beginners dive computer

Specs

Algorithm: Buhlmann ZHL-16C based PZ+
Gases: Air and Nitrox
Memory Capacity: Last 24 Dives
Battery: User Replaceable 3.0V CR2450 Lithium Battery
Best For: Bluetooth connectivity

Features

  • Water activated on switch
  • Salt or fresh water dive selection
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • freediving mode

The i300 has a ton of features for an entry level recreational dive computer.

The capabilities and ease of use of the i300c make it one that is suitable for beginners as their first dive computer, but also allow it to accompany you as you become a more advanced diver as well.

It’s water activated on switch is a nice feature for those who may forget to turn their computer on! This makes the start of your dive nice and easy and gives you one less thing to worry about which is always a good thing.

It has really good bluetooth connectivity which easily connects to your phone. This combined with it’s app are featured selling points (these features and functionality are usually found at a higher price point).

The app is really simple to use and it also has a ton of features like; being able to view your profile data & log, the ability to store and share photos/videos to social media, and you can even remotely control all of your i300’s settings from the app.

The battery is user replaceable and the i300 will maintain it’s calculations and settings between battery replacements.

Four dive modes are available with the i300 – Air, Nitrox, Gauge (with run timer) and freediving mode. The freediving mode is a welcome addition for those who enjoy both sports and this mode tracks calculations to allow unrestricted switching between Dive & Free on the same day.

You also have the ability for multiple gas switches and it’s able to switch up to 3 gases underwater, with 3 Nitrox mixes up to 100% 02, and it has automatic altitude adjustments for an accurate profile (up to 14,000 feet / 4,270m)

On the downside, the i300 is a pretty bulky dive computer (much bulkier than the i200), so it is not one that you would want to wear outside of the water. The size and the position of the two buttons also make it a little difficult to use with thick gloves on.

pros

  • Bluetooth connectivity to your phone
  • User replaceable battery
  • Multiple dive modes (including freedive mode)
  • Remotely control it’s settings from your phone
  • Social media sharing

cons

  • It’s pretty big & bulky

Suunto Zoop NovoMost Popular

Suunto zoop novo dive computer

Specs

Algorithm: Bruce R. Wienke, BS, MS and PhD, Reduced Gradient Bubble Model (RGBM)
Gases: Air & Nitrox
Memory Capacity: 140 hour profile & logbook memory
Battery: User replaceable 3 Volt CR2450 Lithium-Ion Battery
Best For: Scuba and free diving

Features

  • 4 button interface
  • Water activated on switch
  • User replaceable battery
  • Programmable for 21% to 50% oxygen mixtures

Suunto dive computers in general are popular choices, and the Suunto Zoop Novo is one of the most popular entry level computers on the market as a whole.

The Zoop Novo is a really popular, market favorite dive computer for beginner to intermediate divers that isn’t going to break the bank.

The four button interface is easy to navigate so you can find the function you need quickly, and these additional buttons will be more preferred by some users who don’t like the single button interface on the Cressi Leonardo or Mares Puck Pro.

It has a water activated on switch just like the AquaLung which is nice addition, and a very convenient option for anyone who may forget to manually activate their dive computer.

The Zoop Novo has a total of five difference dive modes: Air, Nitrox, Gauge, Free dive and Off so it has a lot to offer in terms of functions to the user, and it also has the option of personal dive profiles to that you can adjust the algorithm to become more conservative.

The Zoop has a good memory capacity (140 hours), and you can easily download this to your MAC or PC using the USB cable, (unfortunately the cable does not come with it as standard and must be purchased at additional cost).

Many users have issues with the manual provided with the Zoop for not being that easy to decipher. Fortunately most of the information you need can still be found online on places like YouTube, but the Novo doesn’t have the intuitiveness of some of the other dive computers on our list.

pros

  • Good computer for scuba diving as well as free diving
  • 4 buttons make navigating through the menu quick
  • Big, clear and easy to read display
  • Water activated on switch
  • Really rugged and well built

cons

  • Very big and bulky
  • USB cable is sold separately

How To Choose A Dive Computer – Buyers Guide

best dive computers for beginners

The key points to think about when buying your first dive computer are – what kind of diving do you do? And what do you plan on doing in the future?

Warm water recreational diving will only require a basic computer at the end of the day, and all of the above computers on our list will more than happily fit the bill for this purpose.

But, if you think you may want to gain more training and become a bit more of an advanced diver one day then dive computers like the Leonardo don’t offer a huge amount of room for growth.

They would make okay backup computers at this point but you will most likely need to invest in a more advanced computer with enhanced capabilities, like the Peregrine or potentially even more advanced than that.

Price will obviously be a factor within most newly qualified divers minds as well.

As a beginner who is buying their first pieces of dive gear, you may be looking for more of a budget friendly dive computer.

Dive gear isn’t cheap after all, and especially so if you’re looking to invest in several bits of gear all at once!

The cost can really add up very quickly, and there’s not much point in splashing out on features in a dive computer you may not need for quite a while (or maybe even ever).

Besides, the extra money you will save when buying an entry level dive computer could be better spent on a higher spec BCD and regulator!

Dive Computer Basic Features

Entry level dive computers will come with certain basic features as standard. Typical features needed for normal recreational diving such as;

  • No stop limits
  • Current Depth
  • Max Depth
  • Current Time
  • No Decompression Limit
  • Alarms
  • Ascent rate
  • Decompression Planning
  • Previous dive/log information
  • Low battery warning
  • Backlight
  • Enriched air compatible

Features Of A Good Dive Computer For Beginners

Ease Of Use

New divers have a lot of things to think about.

Many techniques may not come naturally to you just yet, and you probably have to work harder to focus on what it is you’re doing.

With so many things to think about, the last thing you need on top of that is a complicated dive computer as well.

You just need something that is going to be simple to use and easy to navigate through it’s functions so that your dive computer isn’t taking up too much of your mental energy, focus, and time.

Readability

You should be able to glance at your dive computer and see all of the information you need, readily available.

So whichever dive computer you choose, it’s extremely important that the data be easily readable and clear. For most recreational diving all of the above would be fine.

Some users with poorer eyesight though, or those who regularly dive in conditions with poor visibility may benefit more from a color display.

The layout of the data itself is also very important too as it needs to be one that you can easily understand.

Some divers love to have a screen packed full of data, whereas some prefer only the basics to be shown.

Both of these styles are fine so long as you, the user, can easily read and understand the information being presented.

Additional Features / Advanced Dive Computers

Once you head into the realm of more advanced dive computers then the functions on offer, naturally, are going to increase.

Of course, these additional features are going to come at a higher price point but they are worth keeping in mind as some features (like air integration) are becoming more and more popular and may be something you’d like from the start.

Air Integrated Dive Computers

Wireless air integration is a wonderful thing, and is becoming really popular these days.

I’ve written a complete guide to the Best Air Integrated Dive Computers on the market where I obviously go way more in depth into them, but to sum it up;

An Air Integrated (AI) dive computer provides all the features and benefits of a regular dive computer, but it also provides accurate data regarding your tank pressure, breathing rate and how much time you have left at your current breathing rate and depth.

This information is transmit directly from your tank to your dive computer and displayed for you in real time, so it is constantly recalculating and providing you with accurate/current readings.

Because of this, your AI Dive Computer could replace your submersible pressure gauge (SPG).

Display Screen

dive computer display

The most basic dive computers on the market have a non-color digital style display. They are more limited in the information that can give you, and the clarity in comparison to higher end models is noticeable.

Slightly highly quality and a step up from those are a dot matrix style display screen (like on the Suunto Zoop Novo).

It is still a black and white display, but the information presented is slightly more clear and they are able to display slightly more complex data, though both of these screens require the use of a backlight to read the information in low light.

More advanced and high end dive computers will have a full color display, (like the Peregrine). The information is much more clear and easy to read, and the use of color coding information can also make it much easier to understand the information and draw your eye to where it needs to be.

The brightness of the screen can be adjusted, and they are much easier to read in low light/visibility. (Although the battery will drain faster than that of a dot-matrix, but this is why they tend to be rechargeable rather than replaceable battery types).

Advanced Functions

Advanced dive computers are going to give you a lot more in terms of functionality.

You may or may not need some of these advanced functions, and that ultimately depends on the type of scuba diving you’ll do.

Features like;

  • Digital compass
  • More versatile gas switching
  • Calculating decompression with a different air
  • Rechargeable batteries as opposed to user changeable
  • Bluetooth transfer
  • Air integration
  • HUD capability (heads up display)
  • Vibration and not just audible alarms
  • Choosing between open circuit or closed circuit diving
  • GPS.. & more

Our Verdict

The Cressi Leonardo is one of best dive computers for beginners who are on a strict budget.

But budget allowing, the Shearwater Peregrine is almost second to none as an all round recreational dive computer.

If you’re able to invest in one now it could save you money in the long run as you advance as you won’t need to upgrade it like you would with other basic dive computers for beginners.

Check out our other Scuba Diving Gear Guides