The 5 Best Marine GPS Chartplotters: Reviews and Complete Buying Guide

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When it comes to purchasing the best marine GPS chartplotter there are many components at play, and you may feel overwhelmed about choosing one. Chartplotters are a staple in modern boating, and it is essential to have one aboard. Quality is important and so is meeting your unique needs, which is why we have created a list of the best marine GPS chartplotters and included a buyer’s guide to help you out!

In a Hurry? Here Are Our Top 3 Picks

Top Pick
Garmin Echomap Chirp 74Cv with transducer, 010-01801-01
Runner Up
Humminbird 410940-1 HELIX 7 CHIRP MDI (MEGA Down Imaging) GPS G3 Fish Finder
Best Budget Pick
Garmin 010-01550-00 Striker 4 with Transducer, 3.5" GPS Fishfinder with Chirp Traditional Transducer
Garmin Echomap Chirp 74Cv with transducer, 010-01801-01
Humminbird 410940-1 HELIX 7 CHIRP MDI (MEGA Down Imaging) GPS G3 Fish Finder
Garmin 010-01550-00 Striker 4 with Transducer, 3.5" GPS Fishfinder with Chirp Traditional Transducer
Price not available
$507.99
$106.99
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Top Pick
Garmin Echomap Chirp 74Cv with transducer, 010-01801-01
Garmin Echomap Chirp 74Cv with transducer, 010-01801-01
Price not available
-
Runner Up
Humminbird 410940-1 HELIX 7 CHIRP MDI (MEGA Down Imaging) GPS G3 Fish Finder
Humminbird 410940-1 HELIX 7 CHIRP MDI (MEGA Down Imaging) GPS G3 Fish Finder
$507.99
-
Best Budget Pick
Garmin 010-01550-00 Striker 4 with Transducer, 3.5" GPS Fishfinder with Chirp Traditional Transducer
Garmin 010-01550-00 Striker 4 with Transducer, 3.5" GPS Fishfinder with Chirp Traditional Transducer
$106.99

Last update on 2020-12-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Reviews of the 5 Best Marine GPS Chartplotters

Marine GPS chartplotters vary widely in their features and quality, so we have narrowed the search down to the 5 best marine GPS chartplotters.

1. Garmin Echomap CHIRP 74Cv

Garmin Echomap Chirp 74Cv with transducer, 010-01801-01
  • Clearer scanning sonar shows you more of what is in the water around your boat; This high frequency sonar gives near photographic images with detailed representations of objects, structure and fish
  • Chirp sonar Chirp sends a continuous sweep of frequencies which provides a wider range of information; Chirp sonar is able to create crisper fish arches with better target separation
  • Preloaded Blue Chart g2 charts for the coastal U.S
  • Clear scanning sonar the CV Series comes with built in 500 w Chirp traditional sonar and Chirp clearvü scanning sonar; The SV Series offers all of the same Features Plus Chirp sidevü scanning sonar
  • Best in class Internal 5 Hertz GPS Internal 5 Hertz GPS updates position and heading 5 times per second to make marking and returning accurately to way points easier

Last update on 2020-12-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Our number one for the best marine GPS chartplotter is this lightweight advanced GPS chartplotter is a breed of its own. With clear scanning sonar that produces picturesque images, it is perfect for you if you are willing to spend a bit more to have the best quality by far in the industry.

The Garmin Echomap CHIRP 74Cv uses clear scanning sonar which allows you to see more than ever before about the area surrounding your boat. Additionally, the CHIRP sonar feature allows for a continuous frequency that shows crisper fish arches with better separation of objects for enhanced visibility.

This model has a beautiful large screen display with up to date features. This screen is easy to see and control which makes for a very user-friendly experience.

In addition to the quality it produces, another element that makes this the best is what it comes with. This GPS is preloaded with g2 charts of the coastal US and all of the SV series features with the bonus of CHIRP.

The internal Hertz GPS updates 5 times per second which allows for extremely accurate marking of key areas and makes returning to them easy to do. Additionally, it allows you to create personalized HD fishing maps onscreen and tailor them with one-foot contours.

With an IPX-7 score, this model is highly water-resistant and comes with a 1-year warranty on parts and labor. You can feel confident knowing you are getting a durable product and that your purchase will be protected.

Pros:

  • Near photographic image quality
  • Large screen display (6 in x 3.6 in)
  • Highly water-resistant, unaffected by splashing

Cons:

  • This is a pricier chartplotter
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

2. Humminbird Helix 7

Sale
Humminbird 410940-1 HELIX 7 CHIRP MDI (MEGA Down Imaging) GPS G3 Fish Finder
  • 7-Inch screen with 800H x 480V resolution color TFT display
  • MEGA Down Imaging: Get unprecedented underwater clarity with coverage down to 125 feet below your boat. Not a Minn Kota i-Pilot Link Compatible
  • Powered by our proprietary, Low Q CHIRP transducer, Dual Spectrum CHIRP offers two ways to search: wide mode for maximum coverage and narrow mode for maximum detail
  • With two display modes, you can add or remove detail, account for water depth, temperature and turbulence, even watch lure presentations
  • Includes transducer and mounting hardware, power cable and gimbal mounting bracket.Watts RMS: 500

Last update on 2020-12-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Humminbird Helix 7 is a fantastic choice for the tech-savvy user in search of an aesthetically pleasing chartplotter and enhanced functionality. Although it is a bit higher in price, it comes with all the bells and whistles to justify its price tag.

The 7-inch display is bright with high resolution and enhanced visuals for easy visibility and color differentiation. Additionally, this model is water and dust resistant and can handle any splashing thrown its way.

Perhaps the most unique thing about the Humminbird Helix 7 is its Low Q CHIRP transducer which allows for two searching methods. The first search method is the wide mode which allows for maximum coverage. The second mode is the narrow mode, which allows for maximum detail.

These two modes allow you to adjust the detail amount and account for your circumstances. If you need to adjust for water depth, temperature, turbulence, and lure presentation watching this model can make it happen.

Additionally, this model is easy to mount and assemble with tons of user-friendly features. It is bound to satisfy with its ability to save up to 2500 waypoints and 40 different routes. The mega down imaging also allows for water clarity up to 125 feet below your boat!

In case all of those technical advancements weren’t enough, this model also has Bluetooth capability to sync with your phone. Your phone notifications can show up on the Helix 7 itself so you don’t have to take your phone out and risk getting it wet!

If you are not completely sold or are worried about shelling out more money since this model is a bit pricier, keep in mind that they do offer a warranty. There is a 1-year warranty and the software is upgradeable to maintain its usability over time and keep you up to date when you are on the water.

Pros:

  • Two ways to search: wide mode and narrow mode
  • Bluetooth capability allows you to sync your phone
  • Mega down imaging to see far below boat

Cons:

  • Screen may be smaller than those of similar models
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

3. Lowrance HOOK2 5

Lowrance HOOK2 5 - 5-inch Fish Finder with TripleShot Transducer and US Inland Lake Maps Installed …
  • HOOK2 5 - 5-inch Fish Finder with TripleShot Transducer and US Inland Lake Maps Installed
  • EASIEST TO USE: The Lowrance HOOK2 5 Fish Finder features auto-tuning sonar and phone-like menus giving you more time to spend fishing and less time dealing with settings.
  • WIDER SONAR COVERAGE: The HOOK2 5 offers a wide-angle CHIRP sonar cone giving you double the coverage of traditional fish finders.
  • EASY SETUP: A single transducer can be mounted on the transom, inside the hull, on the trolling motor or through a scupper hole. The HOOK2 5 is ideal for small fishing boats or kayaks with limited console space.
  • MORE SONAR VIEWS: The Lowrance HOOK2 5 comes complete with a TripleShot transducer which gives you DownScan sonar (straight down), SideScan sonar (up to 300' to each side), and CHIRP sonar (fish arch) views.

Last update on 2020-12-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Lowrance HOOK2 5 is a moderately priced, 5-inch GPS chartplotter option with a triple shot transducer and detailed inland maps included. It is a great pick for someone wishing to combine functionality without reaching the top end of their budget.

This GPS chartplotter is both easy to set up and use. It is capable of being mounted anywhere throughout your boat and is ideal if you are working with a smaller area due to its smaller five-inch display.

Additionally, this model Is remarkably easy to use. It features sonar that is able to tune by itself and menus that resemble familiar smart devices so you do not have to spend much time at all learning or tinkering with the settings.

In addition to these user-friendly features, this model also has wider sonar coverage with due to its CHIRP sonar that allows for twice as much range as similar models. Additionally, the trip shot transducer offers a wider field of visibility.

The triple views consist of visibility directly under the boat, side visibility, and clearer fish arc views due to CHIRP. These view options are unlike any other model of its kind and make it a clear standout on our list.

Although this has slightly fewer maps than other models (only 4,000 inland lakes), the quality of the maps compensates for the lower quantity. The maps themselves are highly detailed and preloaded into the device with one-foot contours. They easily display and allow searches for active underwater areas, and areas of varying heights.

Also, this chartplotter is highly upgradeable and comes with an SD card included too in case you wish to upload data that is relevant to ongoing updates and perhaps services from other parties.

Pros:

  • Auto-tuning sonar
  • Phone like menus for user-friendly feel
  • Triple shot transducer capabilities

Cons:

  • Only comes with 4000 pre-mapped lakes, so a bit less than others
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

4. Humminbird 410220-1 Helix 5

Humminbird 410210-1 HELIX 5 CHIRP GPS G2 Fish finder
  • 5-Inch Color WVGA Display
  • CHIRP Dual Beam PLUS Sonar. Power Output RMS : 500 Watts. Power Draw : 615 mA
  • Precision Internal GPS Chart plotting with built-in Anima cartography
  • Micro SD card slot for optional maps or for saving waypoints
  • Target Separation - 2.5 Inches

Last update on 2020-12-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Humminbird 410220-1 Helix 5 is a great pick for someone seeking to stay within budget but maintain the modern design of other more expensive models. It is also lightweight and equipped with top-notch sonar capabilities that make the low price a shock!

This model comes with a 5-inch high definition color display that shows detailed routes. The routes have enhanced information provided about depth contours, vegetation, bottom hardness, and more. The display performs well even in direct sunlight and is easy to see although it is a bit smaller.

In fact, the smaller size can be considered a benefit for those working with less console space. The sleek profile makes this chartplotter remarkably easy to store and certainly does not compromise its overall capabilities

This chartplotter has a CHIRP dual beam plus sonar with selective Fish ID+, which offers more information and details about what is going on below your boat. It also has built-in Anima cartography and a micro SD card for optional maps or as a mechanism for saving waypoints. This model also flaunts a target separation of 2.5 inches to emphasize clarity and produce high-quality images.

This is a great choice for someone looking for quality features with less bulkiness and a lower price tag. While it does have a lower depth capability, this model can have a transducer added. A transducer can eliminate this issue and give you the depth you need if this is a priority for you but you want this particular chartplotter.

Pros:

  • Bright screen with high visibility
  • Preloaded with over 10,000 lakes
  • Slim profile with a thin display

Cons:

  • Depth capability of only 600 feet without a transducer
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

5. Garmin Striker 4 with Transducer, 3.5”

Sale
Garmin 010-01550-00 Striker 4 with Transducer, 3.5" GPS Fishfinder with Chirp Traditional Transducer
  • Clear Vu scanning Sonar shows you more of what is in the water around your boat; This high frequency sonar gives near photographic images with detailed representations of objects, structure and fish
  • The power of simple offers a keyed interface with dedicated buttons; The device is easy to use and easy to install; Available in 3.5, 5 and 7 inch display sizes; Water rating IPX7
  • Waypoint map: Use the way point map to easily view, mark and navigate to locations such as brush piles, stumps and docks; Maximum depth 1,600 feet freshwater, 750 feet saltwater; Current draw at 12 volt: 0.23 Ampere
  • Chirp Sonar sends a continuous sweep of frequencies which provides a wider range of information; Chirp Sonar is able to create crisper fish arches with better target separation
  • Built in flasher: View your sonar data in the classic flasher format; Ideal for ice fishing or vertical jigging. Display size: 1.9 x 2.9 inches (4.9 x 7.3 centimeter); 3.5 inches diagonal (8.7 centimeter)

Last update on 2020-12-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Garmin Striker 4 with transducer is the perfect option for someone who has a budget and is not afraid to stick with the classics. Coming in at only $119.99 this model is a fraction of the cost of other models but still boasts many of the same desirable features, just with fewer frills.

The clear view scanning shows clear images of what is below your boat and in the surrounding water. It has high-frequency sonar capabilities as well designed to create detailed representations. They produce accurate findings of objects, structures, and fish while you are out on the water.

Additionally, the CHIRP sonar chip allows for a wider range of information at a continuous frequency. For you, this means crisper fish arches and better target separation which of course leads to more clear and useful images overall.

The waypoint map is user friendly and makes marking new locations and navigating to them a snap. You can mark brush piles, stumps, docks, and more to make your experience easier.

The maximum depth on this chartplotter is where it truly shines. With a maximum depth of 1600 ft in freshwater, it truly exceeds a lot of the competition and can pull off up to 750 feet in saltwater as well.

While some prefer a more high tech design, for those looking for simple this is the best pick. Its simple keyed interface has dedicated buttons for the main functions and it is easy to use and install.

Additionally, this model is resilient. The IPX-7 score means it is completely unaffected by splashing and other contact with water so there is nothing to worry about there. Also, this model comes equipped with a built-in flasher for the classic data view many know and love.

A cheaper option does not have to mean lower quality and it especially does not with the Garmin Striker 4. The smaller screen and more classic features make this highly desirable for many, and if you fit that description be sure to give it a closer look.

Pros:

  • Extremely affordable
  • Clear view sonar scanning
  • Can reach depths of 1600 ft in freshwater and 750 ft for saltwater

Cons:

  • Less tech-savvy and aesthetically appealing than other models
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Buying Guide

Purchasing the best marine GPS chartplotter is considered an investment that should benefit you for years to come, so you want to ensure you are making a choice that is going to serve your needs long term. To determine which is the best marine GPS chartplotter, there are many features to consider and you will want to work with a budget that makes sense for you as well. With the right mindset, selecting a chartplotter does not have to be stressful!

Understanding what a marine GPS chartplotter is

Marine GPS chartplotters differ from traditional GPS devices in several major ways. These advanced features have proven essential in modern boating, and many do not wish to go on the water with a chartplotter on board.

Marine GPS chartplotters feature a traditional GPS system with the added capability of showing charts. This chart plotting allows you to monitor the position of your boat, where your boat has been, and where your boat is heading! It makes navigation much easier.

Due to this functionality, many rely on the chartplotters to locate, mark and find favorite spots. They are also used to find your way back to your original locations and note various objects below the water.

Various levels of sonar, water resistance, materials, and screens are used to create a single GPS chartplotter. Due to these differences, it is important to know what you’re looking for and why you need one before making your selection.

Consider Where and How you will Use the Chartplotter

The size of your space and nature of your activity should have direct influences on the chartplotter that you select.

For example, a smaller console and deck space require a smaller chartplotter. Some of the chartplotters with larger displays can be quite bulky and harder to store, so keep this in mind when making your choice.

Additionally, pay attention to specifications. If you know you will use the chartplotter in saltwater, search for one that tolerates deeper saltwater depts and has more maps of saltwater areas for your convenience.

Compare Screen Qualities

When considering what the best marine GPS chartplotter is for you, some key qualities to look for in a screen are visibility, size, and brightness. Traditionally, the larger and brighter the screen the better the user experience will be. However, keep in mind that larger screens usually result in an increased price.

Also, consider if a touch screen is important to you or if you would prefer traditional keyboard buttons. Either choice is fine, but make sure to pay attention to what the model includes.

Decide what Features you Need

There are too many features to count on modern-day marine GPS chartplotters. To get a good idea of what is important to you, make sure you know what to look for.

Many chartplotters come with preloaded maps with thousands of lakes and areas. Ensure you are looking at the right type of GPS so that the maps can pertain to you and your habits.

Additionally, there are many types of sonar used. If you want continuous sonar, downward, side, etc., make sure the chartplotter you select has these and that you are prepared to pay a bit extra.

Finally, many modern-day chartplotters have Bluetooth and are mobile compatible! If this is important to you, consider selecting a chartplotter that will show your phone notifications, so you don’t have to risk getting it wet!

Construction and Durability

Since many marine GPS chartplotters are considered relatively expensive, you must get one that you feel confident will last. Luckily, as technology has advanced the companies have kept up with protective features to protect that technology.

A common feature to look for is the IPX rating, which is an indicator of water resistance. It is recommended by professionals to go with a rating of 5 or more to ensure water resistance that can handle large splashes. If you can go higher with an IPX-7 rating, that is even better.

Price

It has been mentioned a few times and is no secret that price is a big factor in the purchase of the best marine GPS chartplotter. Let’s face it, they can be expensive.

It is important to view your chartplotter as an investment and not let price be the only factor you consider. Lower prices often mean fewer features, smaller screens, and possibly a shorter lifetime. So try to find a balance and remember that this is an investment.

When all else fails, try to remember the rule of thumb that a larger screen positively correlates with a higher price, and use this to guide your search.

Customer Satisfaction

At the end of the day, what matters most is your satisfaction with the product. It is a good idea to check for companies that have solid warranties and allow you to return or exchange the product if you don’t find what you want. A good warranty offers peace of mind and ensures you will end up with a nice product in your hands.

FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions about marine GPS chartplotters.

How deep can the best marine GPS chartplotter detect objects?

This answer depends on the model you purchase. Many have different depts that range from several hundred to a few thousand feet deep. Additionally, a single model can have different depth capabilities in freshwater versus saltwater.

Is my marine GPS chartplotter waterproof?

The way to tell how water-resistant your chartplotter is to take a look at the IPX score. We recommend a score of 5 or higher because this is resistant to splashes. A score of IPX-7 is the closest to waterproof and even then it is not recommended to intentionally submerge it.

Conclusion

All of the options outlined in our list of the best marine GPS chartplotter are quality options that will help anyone on the water effectively navigate and chart their whereabouts. If you can manage it, our highest recommendation is certainly the Garmin Echomap CHIRP 74Cv. With its crystal clear imaging and nearly photographic images, it is hard to beat.

However, if you are looking for more budget-friendly options with stellar features nonetheless we recommend the Garmin Striker 4. This has a simpler design but still offers high-quality features and durable materials that make us feel confident in recommending it.

Keep in mind all of the tips outlined in our buyers guide while making your purchase and remember that everyone has unique needs and it is important to emphasize those when making your decision. The best marine GPS chartplotter is an investment that will make your time on the water more enjoyable and worthwhile. With that said, make sure you think carefully and choose the best one possible.