Marine GPS Chartplotters

One tech piece no sailor can go without is the chartplotter. It works by amalgamating GPS with ENC, while in some cases displaying ancillary details from radar or other sensors, granting a safe means to navigate the seas. If you are the explorer type or you simply want to ensure you will always arrive back on shore safely when you go on a boat trip, a marine chartplotter is essential. As you peruse our product recommendation matrix, find out what are the top marine chartplotters and what makes them indispensable to your boat gear collection.

Top 5 Marine GPS Chartplotters Comparison

1. Simrad GO7 XSE 2. Garmin CHIRP 52cv 3. Garmin CHIRP 53cv 4. Lowrance ELite-5 5. Garmin GPSMAP 78sc
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General Info

Manufacturer Simrad Garmin Garmin Lowrance Garmin
Dimensions (H x W x D) 5.63″ x 7.87″ x 2.76″ 5.4″ x 6.8″ x 1.7″ 5.4″ x 6.8″ x 1.7″ 5.4″ x 6.9″ x 2.5″ 6″ x 2.6″ x 1.2″
Weight 2 Lbs 1.6 Lbs 1.6 Lbs 3.5 Lbs 0.5 Lbs

Technical Specifications

Networking Connectors 1 x NMEA 2000 1 x NMEA 0183 1 x NMEA 0183 1 x NMEA 0183 NMEA 0183 Compatible
Operating Frequency N/A 50/77/200 kHz, 260/455/800 kHz, Low/Mid/High 50/77/200 kHz, 260/455/800 kHz, Low/Mid/High 455/800 kHz, 50/83/200 kHz, Low/Mid/High N/A
Media Ports 1 x microSD Slot 1 x microSD Slot 1 x microSD Slot 1 x microSD Slot 1 x microSD Slot
Waterproof Rating IPX7 IPX7 IPX7 IPX7 IPX7
Power Consumption 950 mA @ 13.5V 7.1W 7.1W 0.9A @ 13V N/A
Display
Type WVGA Colour TFT LCD WQVGA WQVGA 256-Color SolarMAX Plus TFT Transflective, 65-K Color TFT
Size 7″ 5″ 5″ 5″ 2.6″
Resolution 800×480 px 480×480 px 480×480 px 480×480 px 160×240 px
Backlight Levels LED/1200 nits N/A N/A Adjustable Screen and Keypad N/A
GPS Navigation
Antenna Type 10 Hz Built-In GPS Internal or External Over NMEA 2000 Internal or External Over NMEA 2000 Internal High-Sensitivity WAAS+EGNOS+MSAS N/A
Routes N/A 100 100 100 200
Waypoint Storage 1000 5000 5000 3000 2000
Custom Mapping

Features

Customisable Interface Sonar Recording Built-In CHIRP Sonar Technology DownScan Overlay Technology Wireless Sharing
TripIntel Technology Sonar History Rewind Sonar Recording DownScan Imaging HotFix Satellite Prediction
Cruise Charting View Water Temperature Log and Graph Sonar History Rewind Advanced Signal Processing BlueChart g2 Coastal Charts
Built-In Sonar CHIRP Sonar Water Temperature Log and Graph TrackBack Worldwide Basemap with Imagery
StructureScan Imaging ClearVü Scanning Sonar Preloaded LakeVü HD Inland Maps Multi-Window Display Sun and Moon Information
CHIRP-Enabled Broadband Sonar GPS Waypoints Transfer AIS Support Page Selector Menu Area Calculation
Bluetooth Audio Integration DSC Support Hunt/Fish Calendar
Built-In Wi-Fi

Warranty&Support

Product Warranty 2 Years 2 Years 1 Year 1 Year 1 Year
User Manual
Customer Support
Telephone Support 800-628-4487 1-855-2763-666 1-855-2763-666 00-61-2-9936-1000 1-855-2763-666
E-Mail Support
Online Chat Support

Maritime GPS Chartplotters Reviews

1. Simrad GO7 XSE

A full-featured marine navigation device you will become dependent on using, the GO7 XSE sets itself apart from competitors as it provides the best cartography support out there. Thus, it is easily understandable why we were compelled to rank it as our number one pick. What delights is the fact it does not only stick to providing the best possible help for amateur as well as professional sailors but that it features a user-friendly multi-touch interface, thus being easy and intuitive to use.

Not only does it come in handy when sailing the waters as it provides navigation guiding, but it allows you to fish with extra precision due to the TotalScan sonar transducer that alongside other features it comes with, makes it possible to search and target fish-holding structures. Basically, there are numerous perks to reap by simply adding this small, compact device to your collection of marine electronics.

In terms of compatibility, it is hard to surpass as it communion with Insight, CMAP, and Navionics. Regardless of the experience you intend to take up, whether it is boating or angling, this chartplotter is a necessary companion as it features the TripIntel technology that allows a more successful and smarter planning ahead. Best of all, it features built-in Go Free Wi-Fi, allowing you to easily download maps and perform software updates wirelessly.

PROS

CONS

Versatile installation as it allows flush, flat, or bracket mounting None
User-friendly operation saves you time on learning how to use it
Wonderful built-in features: DownScan, TotalScan, ForwardScan, StructureScan
Allows smart planning of your navigation route

VERDICT

Feature-filled and easy to use, the GO7 XSE is undoubtedly the best choice you can make. A perfect fit abroad sport boats and rigid inflatable boats, it provides a wide range of functions like control of the onboard sound system, navigation aid, engine monitoring, and so on. With it by your side, you will confidently roam the seas with your boat, all without worrying you might get lost.


2. Garmin CHIRP 52cv

Easy to use and filled with features that aid sailors more easily navigate, the 52cv helps you avoid getting lost, create new and exciting routes to take with your boat and share your experiences when you are at sea with others. Capable of saving up to 100 routes and 5000 waypoints, it puts everything you could ask for at your disposal.

The trail recording function it features is another highlight worth mentioning as it allows you to save as many as 50000 track points, thus retaining important info you will need during other expeditions on it. Another highlight worth mentioning is the Quickdraw Contours feature you can use to effortlessly create custom HD maps.

Highly effective in its tracking capabilities, it features an internal GPS that updates your position 5 times per second, so there is no need to worry you might lose track of your exact location or get lost during the expedition. If it were to pinpoint a flaw, the only downside we could find when reviewing this marine chartplotter is the rather expensive price tag. Other than that, we can only praise it for its accuracy and performance, strongly recommending it to those who can afford it.

PROS

CONS

Quickdraw Contours feature allows you to create personalized HD fishing maps with ease Price tag might be out of some people’s reach
Comes with a preloaded worldwide basemap that you can use as a general reference when sailing
The chartplotter’s cords plug directly into the mount, allowing a convenient and neat installation of the device
Waterproof design ensures the device will not be harmed when it enters in contact with water

VERDICT

Garmin is one of the most renowned brands at the moment, and with its arrival on the marine GPS chartplotter market, it did not disappoint as it delivered one of the best performing devices at the moment, the 52cv. Reliable in its performance, this marine electronic ensures you will never get lost when you are on water with your boat.


3. Garmin CHIRP 53cv

Perfect for navigating the water as well as fishing, this Garmin chartplotter features everything you could ask for as a recreational boater. With its simplistic interface, it manages to deliver important data regarding your location and the route you are supposed to follow, as well as other important info, all without requiring you to be a tech genius to control it. A successful product you will become addicted to using, what makes it even more appealing is the reasonable price it comes at.

Processing your location information once every 5 seconds, it always tracks your positioning to ensure you will have reliable data at your disposal and make no mistakes when navigating. A highlight we cannot overlook due to its importance when looking at the bigger picture performance-wise is the temperature sensor it integrates as this sensor allows it to boast a graph function and temperature log.

It features a microSD slot you can use for additional mapping as well as other numerous features that add to its appeal in use and performance quality. Overall, what you should take away from this review is that it is hard to find a better performing chartplotter out there, only the two aforementioned models slightly surpassing its performance.

PROS

CONS

Quickdraw Contours feature allows you to customize your maps Single SD card slot does not allow sonar recording while inserting a different microSD card
Tide tables information to keep you updated with weather conditions
Perfect choice for medium to large vessels like bass boats and even professional fishing boats
Comes at an affordable price

VERDICT

When it comes down to price-value ratio, it is one of the best choice to go for as it provides everything you need and expect from a marine chartplotter, all while remaining at a reasonable asking price. Easy to use and perfect for medium and large vessels, it is a recommendation we strongly make as it has impressed us during testing sessions.


4. Lowrance ELite-5

The fourth entry in our top is this amazing Lowrance chartplotter you will adore using as it boasts a powerful fish-finder functionality and precise GPS chartplotting features, thus proving to be an indispensable tool for recreational boaters. With its user-friendly interface, it ensures you will never lose sight of the route you must follow when you are with your vessel on water.

The reason why we praise this product so much is that it comes with a highly accurate GPS antenna that will never fail you as it ensures quality aid while navigating the water. Another important highlight we must mention is the TrackBack feature you can use to review the history of the sonar whenever you need to do so.

Backed by a 1-year warranty and manufactured by one of the most respectable manufacturers of marine chartplotters, it is an investment worth making. Additionally, it is well-priced, being one of the most affordable high-end chartplotters you will encounter when searching the market for this type of marine tech pieces. Unfortunately, it is poor in the features department when compared to the models we previously reviewed, so we had to rank it a bit lower.

PROS

CONS

Internal GPS antenna is highly accurate Not as feature-rich as other marine chartplotters
TrackBack feature makes it possible to review the history of the sonar
One of the best price-value ratios
Features a quick-release tilt and swivel bracket

VERDICT

Reasonably priced and great performing, this Lowrance marine chartplotter is the best companion for boating hobbyists and those who enjoy fishing in their free time. An accurate GPS antenna, quality fish-finder technology, a plethora of performance-boosting features, and a reasonable price are only some of the highlights boasted by this device we so strongly recommend.


5. Garmin GPSMAP 78sc

The most affordable option on our roster, the 78sc chartplotter from Garmin, is a handheld device you will enjoy using as it boasts an intuitive operation and a plethora of features. One of its most important functions is the barometric altimeter that enables the marine GPS to pinpoint your altitude and that you can use to keep an eye on weather condition changes over time.

One of the many aspects that make it highly desirable is the allowance of wireless sharing of waypoints, routes, and tracks with other compatible device users. Thus, you can help out those who share the same interests with you by sharing the locations of your favorite fishing spots or boat ride routes.

It comes preloaded with the BlueChart g2 for the entire U.S. and it allows you to add additional maps as well as it features the convenient microSD slot located in the battery compartment. Locating your position quickly as it features an accurate GPS and HotFix satellite prediction, you never have to worry about precision in tracking even if you are in the deep canyons.

PROS

CONS

Handheld design makes it highly convenient to use Battery must be recharged once every 20 hours
Barometric altimeter tracks pressure changes to observe shifting weather conditions
Comes at a highly affordable price
microSD card slot allows you to load additional maps on the chartplotter

VERDICT

The handheld design of this chartplotter is definitely one of its strong points as it allows a convenient operation, but there are a lot of other highlights and features to enjoy with it as well. Coming at an exceptionally reasonable price, it is a purchase you surely will not regret making. There are a few downsides to this product, obviously, but none of these flaws affects its performance too much.

Important Features and Specs that Impact Chartplotter Quality

We did our best to deliver the best possible ranking of the highest quality GPS chartplotters on the market in 2018. For us to offer you this accurate portrayal of your best options, we had to do a lot of testing and digging around for interesting info. Fortunately, all of our research paid off as we have indeed found the top GPS charplotters out there. If you are curious to learn what are the main elements to influence the way our top looks, better understanding why we made these choices to begin with, check out the table below where we have listed the rating criteria, the explanation for their importance to the overall quality of the products, and what are the marine GPS devices that received the most points for each rating category.

Rating Criteria Impact on Device Quality What Chartplotter Received Most Points
Screen Size Screen size is important as it shows how easily you will be able to read the maps and coordinates that appear on the display. The bigger the screen size is the better, so we awarded the model that boasted the widest screen when it came down to this rating aspect. Simrad GO7 XSE
Portability A portable marine GPS allows you to carry it around more easily, so we gave extra points to the model featured in our top that boasts a handheld design. Garmin GPSMAP 78sc
Waterproof Rating We made sure you would spend your cash on a long-lasting marine GPS by rating these devices according to their waterproof rating as well. As these systems will most likely get wet on a regular basis, it is important for them to not get affected by the unfavorable conditions. Simrad GO7 XSE, Garmin CHIRP 52cv, Garmin CHIRP 53cv, Lowrance ELite-5, Garmin GPSMAP 78sc
Sonar Capability The sonar feature allows you to detect if there are fish-holding structures in the area and it helps you locate these structures as well. We gave extra points to the models that feature sonar as they come in handy for fishermen as well as recreational boaters. Simrad GO7 XSE, Garmin CHIRP 52cv, Garmin CHIRP 53cv, Lowrance ELite-5
Bluetooth Audio Integration A little entertainment does not hurt at all as it tends to get quite tiring when you are at large. Thus, we rated the model that comes with this feature higher as it helps you have more fun when you are on the water with your vessel. Simrad GO7 XSE
Wi-Fi Interface Wi-Fi integration is of a maximum importance as it not only allows wireless data sharing, but because it enables you to perform crucial updates on the software and even download maps. We had to make this feature one of our rating aspects as it considerably boosts the usability of these devices. Simrad GO7 XSE, Garmin GPSMAP 78sc
Warranty Length A lengthy warranty is crucial as it ensures you will not be put in the situation of having to spend money on the repair or replacement of the marine device in case it malfunctions or gets damaged. Keeping your best interest in mind, we rated the models that are accompanied by long warranties better. Simrad GO7 XSE, Garmin CHIRP 52cv

Instructions for Using a Maritime Chartplotter

The complete lack of signals and light when night comes makes it impossible to safely sail the seas without getting lost, especially in the case of beginner boaters or those who do this activity in their free time with a recreational purpose. To get from one point to another safely and as fast as possible when you are on the water, you must use a marine GPS chartplotter. Fortunately, the device is not hard to use or understand, so you will not encounter difficulties when it comes to operating it. To find out more about the process of installing and using the chart plotting device, read the following lines.

  • Step #1: First, you must properly install the GPS device. If you are dealing with a marine chartplotter featuring an internal antenna, use it in a boat that does not have a top or cover as the receiver the device features requires a direct line of sight to satellites. If you have an external antenna device, install the antenna on the top of the vessel’s cover for it to communicate trouble-free with the satellites.
  • Step #2: Each marine GPS has its own operational style, so it is important for you to carefully read and get familiarized with the instructions manual of the device. The basic principles of operating marine GPS devices are quite similar, but there are still more than enough differences between the gadgets to make reading the accompanying manual mandatory.
  • Step #3: To see where your boat is located, you need the map to be already loaded on the device. Pick the type of map or chart you like and is compatible with the chartplotter you own, and select the region you are navigating in to receive an accurate visualization of your location.
  • Step #4: Now that you have installed and connected everything, it is time to use the device. On the screen, you will notice a triangle or boat symbol – this is where your vessel is situated in relation to the map. Press the zoom in/out button to get a better view of the map, your current location, and the rest of the areas you want to reach. As you zoom in, details start to be more specific, and you are able to analyze the route better. To mark the destination you want to go to and receive instructions on how to get there, simply move the triangle or boat symbol to that specific destination.

Frequently Asked Questions


?What are the main functions chartplotters perform?
These interesting tech pieces perform three main functions – straight-line navigation, tracking, and following/creating routes. The three functions allow you to safely roam the seas, not existing the danger for you to get lost anymore. Seeing how the sea is a cruel mistress that does not offer real directions on its own, the device is a mandatory companion on board.

?Is the sonar feature important for a GPS chartplotter?
Yes, the sonar function makes a huge difference as it delivers real-time depth tracking among many other important details that help make your expedition safer, free of mishaps and wrong turns. If you are a recreational boater, this feature is all the more important as you need all the help you can get when navigating.

?Am I still in danger of getting lost even if I use the chartplotter?
Woefully, the danger that you might get lost still exist as a split second of being distracted and a powerful current hitting the boat can deviate you from your route. However, as you have the chartplotter at your disposal, you will get back on track fast, so there is no need to worry about wandering around for too long as it will not happen.

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