We may receive affiliate commission when you click certain products. Read our important disclosure to learn more.

You’ve just started scuba diving and now you’re ready to buy some of your own dive equipment. 

And you’ve heard that a dive computer is one of the first, and arguably most important, pieces of dive gear you should buy. 

But, with hundreds of different options available, you’re probably thinking ‘which dive computer should I buy?

That’s where ScubaOtter comes in. 

We’ve compiled a list of the very best dive computers for beginners as well as considerations to keep in mind when choosing your first dive computer.

So let’s pick your perfect dive computer.

 

5 Best Dive Computers For Beginners

 

Mares Puck pro Dive Computer

The Mares Puck Pro is easily one of the best dive computers for beginners. The straightforward design, robust construction and affordable price tag make it a popular choice for new scuba divers. 

The intuitive one-push button makes the menu’s navigation exceptionally effortless. And the oversized backlit display ensures you can easily read the computer in almost every dive condition. 

What’s more, is that the Mares Puck Pro is extraordinarily rigid and durable. Built from high-quality materials there’s no need to worry if you accidentally hit this dive computer against the side of the dive boat or on a rock while underwater.

No matter how clumsy a diver you are the Mares Puck Pro will continue to look after you for many years to come. 

If you’re looking for a budget dive computer with all the essential functions that will last you for several years, then the Mares Puck Pro is for you. 

And if you’re interested in transferring your dive data to your computer, check out the Mares Puck Pro Plus which also features blue-tooth connectivity.

Key features:

  • Modes: Air, Nitrox (up to 99%) & Gauge
  • User-replaceable Battery: Yes
  • Adjustable Safety Settings: Yes
  • Size: Large
  • Backlight: Yes
  • Max depth: up to 150m 
  • Buttons: 1 
  • Style: Wrist
Pros
  • Affordable for all divers
  • Straightforward interface
  • Extremely durable
  • Clear & easy to read display 
  • Adjustable wrist strap
  • Variety of colours available
Cons
  • Not very stylish
  • Strap material is not flexible 
  • No freedive mode 
  • Bulky

Buy NowRead Review

cressi leonardo

The Cressi Leonardo is an excellent option for beginners looking for a low profile dive computer that is super easy to use and looks good at the same time. 

This dive computer puts you completely in control of your diving experience. With adjustable safety settings, you can decide exactly how conservative you’d like to be. You can add extra decompression stops as well as program visual and audible alarms for depth, bottom time, ascent rate and more. 

The high definition screen, backlight and large numerical display means that you’ll never struggle to read this dive computer underwater. And the user-friendly menu and one-button navigation makes using the Cressi Leonardo a breeze.

Key features:

  • Modes: Air, Nitrox (up to 50%) & Gauge
  • User-replaceable Battery: Yes
  • Adjustable Safety Settings: Yes
  • Size: Medium
  • Backlight: Yes
  • Max depth: up to 150m 
  • Buttons: 1 
  • Style: Wrist
Pros
  • Compact & stylish 
  • Straightforward menu
  • Very durable design 
  • Variety of colours available
Cons
  • Slightly pricier 
  • Very loud ascent rate alarm 
  • No freediving mode 
  • Backlight isn’t very bright

 

 

 

Sunnto Zoop Novo Dive Computer

If you’re looking for the ultimate dive computer for beginners, you simply can’t go wrong with the Suunto Zoop Novo. 

The Suunto Zoop features a large, high contrast display that is easy to read even in the low light. And the exceptionally rugged design will undoubtedly last you several years, if not more. 

What’s more, is that the 4 buttons actually make navigation much quicker. You can easily go back and forth as needed without having to waste time scrolling all the way through as you would on a 1 button model.

Plus with adjustable safety settings, programmable alarms and 4 different dive modes this dive computer has everything a recreational diver needs and more. 

Key features:

  • Modes: Air, Nitrox (up to 50%), Freedive & Gauge
  • User-replaceable Battery: Yes
  • Adjustable Safety Settings: Yes
  • Size: Large
  • Backlight: Yes
  • Max depth: up to 150m 
  • Buttons: 4 
  • Style: Wrist
Pros
  • Best beginner computer on the market
  • Used by most dive centers when teaching 
  • 4 different dive modes
  • Exceptionally long-lasting 
  • Simple navigation menu 
  • High contrast display
Cons
  • Not very pretty to look at 
  • Buttons can feel hard to press 
  • Bulky

Buy Now

Read Full Review

Mares Smart Dive Computer

If you’re after a beginner dive computer that you can wear both in and out of the water then look no further than the Mares Smart. 

The Mares Smart provides all the essential features of a dive computer, plus some more advanced options, in a much smaller and more attractive package. It features the same straightforward and intuitive menu as its ‘brother’ the Mares Puck Pro, but with 2 buttons for even easier navigation.  

This dive computer is excellent value. It’s simple enough for the newest of new divers but also features advanced settings, such as gas switching, nitrox and freediving, so it’ll support you throughout your dive education. 

The ascent rate alarm on this dive computer is very sensitive, so it’s great for beginners to be more aware of their ascent speed. But it can get a little annoying at times. It’s also worth noting that the computer will lock itself for 24 hours if an excessive ascent rate is maintained for more than 2 thirds of the dive. 

Key features:

  • Modes: Air, Nitrox (up to 99%), Freedive & Gauge
  • User-replaceable Battery: Yes
  • Adjustable Safety Settings: Yes
  • Size: Small
  • Backlight: Yes
  • Max depth: up to 150m 
  • Buttons: 2
  • Style: Watch
Pros
  • Small, stylish design
  • Straightforward menu 
  • Gas switching available
  • Minutes & seconds displayed during safety stop 
  • Variety of colors available
Cons
  • More expensive 
  • Small strap not suitable for dry suit diving 
  • Super sensitive ascent rate alarm

 

Buy Now

Cressi Giotto Dive ComputerCressi is one of the pioneers of scuba diving gear, and they’re one of the most trusted brands for a reason.

Their dive computers are some of the easiest to use and longest lasting dive computers on the market. And the Cressi Giotto is no exception.

With 3 ergonomic buttons, a clear high definition display and a straightforward menu, this dive computer makes every dive operation feel effortless. The Cressi Giotto also offers adjustable safety settings including the option to set extended safety stops, deep stops as well as visual and audible alarms for depth and time. 

This dive computer is a great choice for new divers looking for an easy to use and robust dive computer that is built to last.  

Key features:

  • Modes: Air, Nitrox (up to 99%), & Gauge
  • User-replaceable Battery: Yes
  • Adjustable Safety Settings: Yes
  • Size: Medium
  • Backlight: Yes
  • Max depth: up to 120m 
  • Buttons: 3
  • Style: Wrist
Pros
  • Stylish design 
  • Relatively cheap 
  • Durable 
  • Clear display
  • Variety of colors available
Cons
  • Bulky on the wrist 
  • Not overly bright 
  • Buttons are close together to can be hard with gloves

Buy Now

What to consider when buying your first dive computer

We get it. You really want your dive computer to look as cool as possible. But when you’re new to scuba diving it’s much more important that you find your new dive computer easy to use. 

And when you’re just starting out you might not want to splurge on the fanciest model out there.

So here’s our list of the top things to consider when buying your first dive computer.

How easy is the dive computer to use

The best dive computers for beginners are the ones that are easiest to use. Bear in mind that a complicated dive computer will distract you more than it helps you underwater.

So you want to choose an intuitively designed model with easy to navigate menus for planning, tracking and logging your dive. 

As a newly certified scuba diver or even a more experienced recreational diver, you won’t really need all those additional features.

And what’s more is that a great beginner dive computer becomes the perfect backup computer if you do decide to upgrade in the future. 

style of dive computer

Dive computers come in 3 different styles; a traditional console computer mounted with your pressure gauge, a wrist-mounted dive computer and a dive watch computer. The wrist-mounted dive computer is the best style for beginners. 

A wrist-mounted dive computer is a little bulkier than the smaller watch computers but they are much to set before your dive and easier to read during your dive.

They’re easier to check than a console computer and also tend to be much more durable and long-lasting than a dive watch. 

Screen size & brightness 

When you first start scuba diving there’s a lot to remember when you’re underwater and keeping an eye on your dive computer can be a little challenging.

So you want to make sure you can quickly and easily read the information displayed on the computer. 

If you plan to often dive in low visibility or you just don’t see well close up then you want to choose a dive computer with an oversized and backlit display.

Or if you are leaning towards a smaller model, make sure it has a bright screen that’ll be easy to read even at depth.

Durability and longevity

Although dive computers are much more affordable nowadays, they’re still a significant investment for a beginner. So you want to choose a computer that will last you a long time. 

If you plan to dive often, or you know you can be a little hard on your dive gear, choose a robust model that’s really built to last.

And don’t forget to check out the warranty on your chosen dive computer before purchasing!

The type of scuba diving you plan to do

Be sure to choose a dive computer that is suitable for the type of diving you plan to do. 

For example, if you’re a certified enriched air nitrox diver, or plan to become one, you want to make sure you choose a dive computer with a nitrox setting.

Or if you’d also like to use your dive computer for freediving, make sure that it has a freediving mode.  

Your budget

When it comes to dive computers, more expensive doesn’t necessarily mean better. There are as many excellent, and safe, dive computers at the lower price points as there are at the higher end of the scale.

The best dive computer for you should be easy to use, long-lasting and, of course, fit your budget 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I really need a dive computer?

A dive computer is rarely mandatory. But most scuba divers consider their dive computer an essential part of their dive gear. And we ScubaOtters never dive without one.

Yes, you could use the dive tables (if you can remember how to use them) along with a depth gauge and bottom timer to stay within your limits. 

But a dive computer will do all the hard work for you. And much more precisely. By tracking your dive profile in realtime, it gives you the longest possible bottom time.

A dive computer will also track your safety stop, ascent rate, any emergency decompression stops and much more. 

Simply put, a dive computer gives you all the information you need to dive safely. 

Now you might be thinking ‘can’t I just follow my guide’s dive computer?’ 

You could. But your guide’s dive computer does not keep track of your dive profile or take into account any nitrogen load from your previous dives.

The computer is tracking their safety and their no-decompression limits, not yours. So if you want to be fully in control of your own safety it’s much better to have your own dive computer. 

And if that’s not enough, more and more dive centers and liveaboards are now requiring all divers to have their own dive computer. Which means if you don’t own a dive computer, you’ll be forced to rent one. 

This will quickly add up over a week or two of diving. So it’s smart to invest in your own dive computer. As one of the smallest and lightest pieces of dive equipment it’s super easy to travel with. 

What is the easiest dive computer to use?

The easiest dive computer to use is one that you can easily understand how to operate and can clearly read the display during a dive. As with any new piece of gear it will take a little time and practice to feel comfortable with a dive computer.

All of the dive computers we’ve listed above are intuitively designed for recreational divers so they’re relatively easy to use. However as the majority of dive centers teach using the Suunto Zoop, or similar, many divers find this dive computer the easiest to use.  

How long do dive computers last?

As long as you look after it properly, a dive computer will last for several years, if not longer. But depending on how often you dive, you will need to replace the battery at some point. 

How much does a dive computer cost? 

You can expect to pay anywhere from $200 up to $1,500, or even more, for a dive computer. 

As with all pieces of dive equipment, there is a big range in price across different brands, styles and models.

Nowadays all modern dive computers, even the cheaper models, have all the essential features you need to stay safe. 

The more expensive dive computers tend to be sleeker in design and have additional features such as a compass, options for different gas mixes and ability to read the pressure left in your tank.

Check out our guide to air integrated dive computers for more information. 

Conclusion

As a new scuba diver, a dive computer really is one of the best investments you can make.

Not only will a good dive computer help you stay safe on every dive, it’ll also keep track of all your diving adventures and will easily last you for many years to come.  

And if you pick from the list above you can be confident that you’ve got one of the best dive computers for beginners. 

What was your first dive computer? Let us know in the comments.

Alexa Worswick Administrator

Alexa Worswick is a PADI and SSI scuba diving Instructor, recreational freediver and freelance copywriter. She first learnt to scuba dive in the UK aged 15 and has since travelled and dived in multiple locations across 3 different continents. After quitting her marketing job in London in 2016, Alexa is now based in Indonesia where she can pursue her passion for the ocean fulltime. 

follow me

Comments

Mary

Thank you for useful info, i was thinking to get Mares Smart, but had some doubts, now for sure I will go for it

No problem Mary!