Marine GPS Chartplotters

O ne tech piece no sailor can go without is the chart plotter. 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 selections 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
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
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
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

Sailing won’t get easier or safer than with the GO7, a marine device you need if you want to get more from your days spend on the water. Ideal for all types of boats, it features a bright touchscreen that enhances ease of use and features a built-in GPS receiver that keeps track of your location while helping you find convenient routes easier. Furthermore, as it allows Wi-Fi access, you will be able to download all the maps you need and stay updated with the most recent software additions the manufacturing company has provided for it.


As it provides support for a wide range of cartography options, you can confidently navigate to destinations near and far without ever losing yourself. You have the flexibility to choose the charts that suit your needs best, which is another undeniable plus. It provides you with the shortest route to take if you want to be sure you will get there as fast as possible. You can even mark waypoints with a simple touch, assigning them meaningful names to remember your path.

TripIntel Technology

Its most important technology is TripIntel that tracks and displays important info that you need in order to plan ahead a safe journey on the water. A fuel range will be overlaid on the charts so that you know to be well prepared before heading on your trip, and you will even be provided with tide levels, whether they are current or future.

Mention Worthy Features and Specs
  • Provides support for a wide range of cartography options which include Insight, NV Digital Charts, Insights Genesis, Navionics, and C-MAP MAX-N.
  • Screen features a useful LED backlight that makes it easy to view what it displays even when the dark settles.
  • IPX7 waterproof rating ensures it won’t be damaged even if you accidentally drop it in water.
Ease of Use

For beginners, these devices can seem quite complicated to use. However, this isn’t the case in this specific situation as the fully customizable home screen enables you to create the shortcuts you need depending on the activities you plan on taking up. It even allows split-screen viewing so that you may keep an eye on everything you need at once. A feature that greatly enhances ease of use is the automatic routing it provides. All you have to do is select the destination you want to reach, and the shortest and safest route suggestion will appear on the screen in a matter of seconds. If you agree to the suggestion, you can obviously go with it instead of wasting time creating your own path.

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

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 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.

  • Quickdraw Contours feature allows you to create personalized HD fishing maps with ease
  • Comes with a preloaded worldwide basemap that you can use as a general reference when sailing
  • The 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
  • Price tag might be out of some people’s reach

Garmin is one of the most renowned brands at the moment, and with its arrival on the 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 product 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 device out there, only the two aforementioned models slightly surpassing its performance.

  • Quickdraw Contours feature allows you to customize your maps
  • 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
  • Single SD card slot does not allow sonar recording while inserting a different microSD card

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, 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 device 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, it is an investment worth making. Additionally, it is well-priced, being one of the most affordable high-end devices 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.

  • Internal GPS antenna is highly accurate
  • 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
  • Not as feature-rich as other products

Reasonably priced and great performing, this Lowrance entry 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 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 it 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.

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

The handheld design 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.

6. Garmin echoMAP Chirp 74Cv

Reliability on provided images is what it most has to offer, the sonar scanning it employs providing near-photographic images of structures, fish, and objects in the water around you. It might be a tad expensive, sure, but seeing how the integrated GPS and the other features it comes with ensure you won’t ever get lost at sea, it’s safe to say that it is a necessary acquisition.

It comes with pre-loaded charts of the costal U.S., and the internal global positioning system updates your current position and heading once every 5 seconds so that you will more accurately and easily mark and return to waypoints. You can even create personalized HD fishing maps onscreen and tailor them to fit your needs using 1-foot contours.

It size is 9.8 inches by 5.5 inches by 2 inches, while the display measures a hearty 6 inches by 3.6 inches, its diagonal measuring 7 inches. The resolution of the display is 800 x 480p to ensure utter clarity when you check it out. It is IPX7 rated when it comes to water resistance, so splashing won’t affect it. It allows up to 5000 waypoints and 100 routes. Furthermore, it is accompanied by a 1-year warranty on parts and labor.

  • Marking and returning to waypoints is eased by the internal 5Hz GPS
  • Comes with pre-loaded charts for the costal U.S.
  • Sonar scanning gives near-photographic images of structures in the water around you
  • Best-selling product in its niche
  • Not the cheapest entry on the market

Garmin makes yet another appearance in our top, this time with its best-selling product that has managed to impress the masses with its accuracy and ease of use. Not only will you never get lost at sea due to it, but it will help you find fish more easily as well.

7. Humminbird 410220-1 Helix 5

With the Humminbird, you can now easily create your own richly detailed maps with routes to take in order to reach your favorite fishing spots faster. As opposed to other devices in the niche, it provides all the info you could ask for – depth contours, bottom hardness, and vegetation. The base map of the Helix 5 provides interesting info regarding over 10 thousand lakes so that you may have an easy time catching fish.

Its depth capability is of 600 feet, but you need not fret if you prefer more as with the measly purchase of a transducer, you will enjoy depth readings of up to 2500 feet. It features the effective CHIRP dual beam plus sonar tech. The micro SD card slot allows you to either save waypoints which interest you or to add more maps to this system.

The slim profile of the digital display gives it a smooth, cool look. Furthermore, it minimizes the usage of space without making it hard for you to read off of it, the 5-inch size ensuring you won’t’ squint your eyes to see where fish are located. Furthermore, its display is designed to ensure clarity even when direct sunlight hits it.

  • Easy to see all the details on its 1500-nit bright 5-inch screen
  • 600-foot maximum depth reading can be expanded to 2500 feet with the separate purchase of a transducer
  • Features built-in Uni Map cartography
  • Features Selective Fish ID+ which allows you to see what aquatic life is underneath your boat
  • Not the cheapest purchase you could make

Although it is not the cheapest model on the market, considering its stats, it would be a shame to pass on the Humminbird. The color 5-inch display provides you with all the info that could interest you when you are on the water, fishing. Some of its most important features include the Selective Fish ID+, a real time sonar, and a handy temperature alarm.

Important Features and Specs that Impact Quality

Rating Criteria Impact on Device Quality Model to Receive 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 product 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 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

Proper Use Instructions

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 device, read the following lines.

  • Step #1: First, you must properly install it. If you are dealing with a model 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 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 these 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 device 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, the 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.

Why It Is an Asset Sailors Require

Regardless of your experience on the water, you have to consider investing in a marine chartplotter as it can benefit you in more ways than you can imagine. Sure, the device might cost a pretty penny, but it is worth every cent as it positively influences your entire experience when you are out with your vessel on water, no matter the objective of your small trip – taking a little time to relax in your favorite environment or fishing. Learn everything there is to know about the advantages provided by the GPS for sailors from the following lines:

  • Never get lost: One thing is for sure, more precisely that you will never be in danger of getting lost. If you are one of the many recreational boaters out there, you will surely find this to be an amazing advantage as your skills when it comes to finding directions on water are probably not the best. After all, it is not easy to sail as there are no routes or literal signs anywhere that you can use as guidance, so it can prove to be a lifesaver as it prevents you from accidentally deviating from your course and getting lost.
  • Viewing underwater details: If you are interested in fishing, you will enjoy this benefit the most as the device allows you to view important underwater details like the location of reefs and fish-holding structures. Basically, the GPS enables you to view any underwater rises and drop-offs, an advantage that will surely come in handy in various situations.
  • Low visibility conditions navigation: If you consider navigating during the day to be tough, you will be shocked by how difficult it is to do it when the sun sets. The few details that you could use as guidance before will be completely out of your sight, so you will be left stranded, trying to guess what your next move should be. With it in your reach, it will not matter how the visibility is as you will receive the needed guidance to arrive safely back to the shore.
  • Direction instructions: Want to reach a certain destination, but you are not confident you can get there without proper directions? Why take your chances and possibly end up without fuel mid-way when you can steer the boat safely to your destination by allowing the GPS to guide you there. Just keep your eye on the device when you are behind the wheel and follow the direction instructions closely, and you will arrive at the desired destination fast by taking the shortest route.

Frequently Asked Questions

?What are the main functions performed?
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?
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 it?
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 chart plotter 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.

An asset which is ill-advised to sail the seas without, the maritime chart plotter offers you a clearer overview of your current position, the GPS addition enhancing its accuracy so that you not only never get lost but always take the right track to your next destination. Obviously, there are other functions and applications that make it crucial in the bag of a sailor, and as long as you go for a reliable device, you will fully benefit from all of them. The Simrad GO7 XSE made it to our top position as it not only provides a clear and large display to view the stats and maps on but because it is the most feature-rich entry on this market as well. Some of its greatest highlights include the TotalScan sonar transducer, the ForwardScan, the DownScan, and the StructureScan built-in features which ensure a complete mapping of the aquatic territory.

As it can save a hearty 100 routes and 5000 waypoints, the Garmin CHIRP 52cv is an unsurprising entry in our top as well. In addition to boasting a vast storage memory that comes in handy for sailors, it is easy to use and utilizes a high-quality GPS that updates your placement up to 5 times per second to ensure utter accuracy in positioning. If you want to make a smart deal, however, the Garmin GPSMAP 78sc is the one we recommend as it not only comes at a cheap, accessible price, but it comes with unique and useful features that add to its reliability, like the impressive barometric altimeter that accurately observes shifting weather conditions as it constantly tracks pressure changes.

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