Best Chartplotter – Our Top 5 Picks for Your Boat

Chartplotters are highly useful navigational devices for boat owners. Most Chartplotter models nowadays are packed with a wide variety of features. This article will list the best chartplotters on the market to help narrow your search.

What is the best chartplotter? Our top 5 picks are as follows:

  1. Humminbird HELIX 5 Chartplotter Fish Finder Click here to see it on Amazon – Our #1 Top Pick!
  2. Garmin echoMAP CHIRP 54cv – Click here to see it on Amazon
  3. Garmin GPSMAP 78sc Handheld GPS
  4. Lowrance Mark-4 Combo Base Fishfinder and Chartplotter
  5. Simrad GO7 XSE Chartplotter

From our research, the best chartplotter for the price is the Humminbird Helix 5 Chartplotter. If you’re willing to spend more, you can get a more top-of-the-line model like the Simrad GO7 XSE Chartplotter.

Read on to learn more about the best chartplotters including the key features and benefits for each.

Also, we hope you find the links here useful. We may get a commission if you purchase something through a link on this page, so thank you!

Also, for an excellent Chartplotter, take a look at our top pick, the Humminbird HELIX 5 Chartplotter Fish Finder:

Click here to see it on Amazon.

Best Chartplotter – Our Top 5 Picks

1. Humminbird HELIX 5 Chartplotter Fish Finder

A great quality and great value Chartplotter fish finder is the Humminbird HELIX 5 Fish Finder. This Chartplotter has what you need to improve your fishing skills. You can use it to easily find fish in shallow creeks, bays, and lakes.

Click here to see it on Amazon.

On top of being a Chartplotter, it’s also a fish finder that’s able to use two frequencies for its CHIRP DualBeam Plus sonar, which uses both wide beam and narrow beam to cover more area and for higher accuracy, respectively.

This model features the Humminbird Side Imaging that gives a 180-degree view of the underwater world. Combined with its zoom-in, zoom-out feature, this device can produce higher-quality images.

This has a total area coverage of up to 800 feet (400 feet on each side of your boat location).

Other Details:

  • Keypad control
  • A slot for Micro SD card
  • Includes mounting hardware, gimbal mount, transducer, power cable, and internal GPS, and chart plotting with Anima cartography

Key Features & Benefits:

  • It helps you find fish close to the bottom of your boat.
  • It’s easy to install and operate, even for a weekend fisher.
  • The different views and displays are varied and very clear.
  • It produces accurate and fast results.

2. Garmin echoMAP CHIRP 54cv 

The Garmin echoMAP CHIRP 54cv is next on our list of the best chartplotters. It’s a great navigational tool for small boat owners. It also has an all-black finish with a 5-inch color monitor and keypad control.

Click here to see it on Amazon.

Like other Chartplotter units from Garmin, the echoMAP is pre-loaded with BlueChart g2 charts for the coastal U.S., including:

  • East coast
  • West coast
  • Gulf of Mexico
  • The Great Lakes (between the United States and Canada)

When you pair your BlueChart g2 charts with the HomePort planning software, you can set up the sonar sound waves’ timing with your boat’s position. You can save and review the details later, so you can create a plan to avoid underwater hazards.

This unit produces detailed, wide-angle images of the fish, structures, and objects around your boat, thanks to the Garmin CHIRP ClearVü high-frequency sonar and Garmin HD-ID sonar. It also refreshes your position and direction at least five times every second through its internal 5 Hz GPS.

Another great feature of the Garmin 54cv is its Quickdraw Contours custom HD map creation software. This software allows you to make your own high-definition, shareable maps with 1-foot contours during your fishing expedition.

The cord plugs directly into the mount. As a result, you can easily install and uninstall the unit from the power and mount.

Key Features & Benefits:

  • It’s a user-friendly device.
  • It produces clear and easy-to-read graphics, even in direct sunlight.
  • It easily uninstalls from the mount for storage.
  • Garmin constantly updates its maps so you can run your boat with confidence.

3. Garmin GPSMAP 78sc Handheld GPS

Next on our list of the best chartplotters is the Garmin GPSMAP 78sc Handheld GPS, which is a handy device for techies, boaters, and water sports enthusiasts.

Click here to see it on Amazon.

One unique thing about its 2.6-inch color TFT display screen is that it’s found at the bottom, while the buttons are at the top. This design allows your thumb to access the buttons without covering up the display screen easily.

It’s perfect for all of your outdoor adventures. With its high-sensitivity GPS receiver, it’s easier to calculate indoor positioning.

Meanwhile, the built-in BlueChart g2 U.S./Bahamas coastal detailed charts provide important navigation information, such as 1-foot contours, 10 depth ranges, shallow water depth shading, and more.

This device also has a 3-axis tilt-compensated electronic compass to orient the map to the direction you’re facing. It can detect air pressure change through its built-in barometric altimeter so that you can verify your location.

Key Features & Benefits:

  • It accurately calculates the depth.
  • Although the screen size is small, it’s still easy to read, even on sunny days.
  • You only need a few hours (around 2 hours) to familiarize yourself with the device.
  • It takes you to the spot where you need to be every single time.

4. Lowrance Mark-4 Combo Base Fishfinder and Chartplotter

Need a backup fishfinder? The Lowrance Mark-4 Combo Base Fishfinder and Chartplotter might be worth your time. It offers the benefits of two navigation tools in one—a fish finder plus a Chartplotter.

It has a 4-inch, black, and white monitor with 320×240 pixels to produce the best images possible. The monitor also has backlighting, so you can easily view it in any light setting.

The Lowrance Mark-4 transducer supports two types of frequencies to fit your needs: 200 kHz (for shallow waters) to get more information and 83 kHz (for deep waters) to penetrate deeper depths.

It’s equipped with a GPS antenna so that you can enjoy the features of a Chartplotter. It’s already pre-loaded with Navionics Gold charts. Plus, a microSD card slot is available for optional maps and saves up to 3,000 custom waypoints, 100 plot trails, and 100 routes.

A feature that’s common in Lowrance fishfinder/Chartplotter models is the TrackBack™. This feature allows you to review the recorded fish targets, structure, and important locations.

Key Features & Benefits:

  • It operates in two frequencies to give you better flexibility and operate in various water conditions.
  • It doesn’t lose any information, so it’s easier for you to backtrack.
  • You can add more maps with different expansions through the microSD card slot.
  • It works as a fish finder and a chartplotter.

5. Simrad GO7 XSE Chartplotter

The Simrad GO7 XSE Chartplotter is a full-featured Chartplotter that is compatible with many navigation charts. These include Navionics®, C-MAP® MAX-N, NV Digital, Insight®, and Insight Genesis®.

Click here to see it on Amazon.

This is an easy-to-use device. It has an intuitive, multi-touch interface with accessible functions. You can easily zoom in and out by using a pinching gesture. Suppose you want to make or choose waypoints, tap. Or, pan through charts with a simple tap-and-drag gesture.

The GO7 XSE includes the CHIRP and StructureScan® HD sonar imaging system for a high-quality, panoramic view of the environment below and around your boat.

On the Cruise Charting page, you’ll quickly find important navigation charts and information. And if necessary, you can edit any item on the screen.

Key Features & Benefits:

  • The charts are detailed, and the GPS is precise.
  • The display screen is bright and sensitive to human touch.
  • The software is constantly updated.
  • It’s waterproof. The power and transducer cables have rain caps to prevent them from getting wet when they’re disconnected.

Other Considerations When Choosing a Chartplotter for Your Boat

The purpose of a Chartplotter is to be a navigation system that continuously monitors your boat’s GPS location and movement and puts it on a digital map, along with routes, tracks, and waypoints.

So the main feature of a high-quality Chartplotter is that it has precise GPS. This will allow you to safely and comfortably explore new destinations.

What other factors should you consider before buying a Chartplotter?

If you’re thinking of buying your first Chartplotter or replacing your old unit, consider these factors:

  • Think of the type of boating you do (boat racing, coastal cruising, coastal sailing, offshore cruising, or recreational fishing).
  • Screen size and resolution: A bigger and brighter screen will be easier to see details better and avoid zooming in and out most of the time. Skip chartplotters with a resolution that’s less than 480×480.
  • It should have a simple design and user-friendly interface, with clearly labeled and illuminated buttons.
  • Check the power (expressed in watts). For instance, a 200-watt power Chartplotter is enough for inland waters. Offshore boat fishing requires 1,000 watts and above.
  • Select the right transducer for your boat. The thumb rule is transducers with low frequency (around 50 kHz) have greater penetration, while high-frequency (200 kHz, 400 kHz, or 800 kHz) show the greatest detail or resolution.

Conclusion – Best Chartplotter

So what is the best Chartplotter? The best Chartplotter for the money, in my opinion, is the Humminbird HELIX 5 Chartplotter Fish Finder. However, there are many others to consider.

Our top 5 picks are as follows:

  1. Humminbird HELIX 5 Chartplotter Fish Finder Click here to see it on Amazon – Our #1 Top Pick!
  2. Garmin echoMAP CHIRP 54cv – Click here to see it on Amazon
  3. Garmin GPSMAP 78sc Handheld GPS
  4. Lowrance Mark-4 Combo Base Fishfinder and Chartplotter
  5. Simrad GO7 XSE Chartplotter

Chartplotters have become indispensable tools for many on-water activities (fishing, power boating, and water sports). Any of the chart plotters we listed above will enhance your fishing trip and your overall boating experience.

Related reading:

Best Fish Finder for Pontoon Boat Fishing – Top 6 Picks

Best Marine GPS Fishfinder Combo – Our Top 4 Picks

Best Chartplotter Fishfinder Combo – Our Top 7 Picks

Best Boat GPS for the Money – Our Top 3 Picks