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TI 84 Calculator – Where to Buy It Cheapest (And Why Does My Kid Need This?)

By July 12, 2021 July 21st, 2021 No Comments

The TI graphing calculator tops school supplies lists for high schoolers across the nation. From high school through college, students will crank out plenty of powerful graphs with these calculators.

You may be wondering why you need to buy one, especially since every high schooler already has a pocket computer (smartphone) where you can google just about anything. This article takes a look at what a TI 84 calculator is, why students actually need them, and what TI 84 calculators can do.

What is a TI 84 Calculator?

A TI-84 Calculator, sometimes called a TI-84 Plus or a TI-84 Plus Graphing Calculator, is the gold standard right now for math, science, and statistics courses in high school (and beyond).

In a nutshell, the TI 84 is a powerful calculator for students to create more complex graphs and solve higher math equations. TI-84’s also come preloaded with many related apps to help students better collect, input, and analyze-real world data. Being able to visualize the data (from Calculus, Statistics, Economics, Physics, and a number of other areas of study) is powerful.

Instead of having to convert the data (from long mathematical equations) they see on the board into other numbers, students can enter fractions and equations in proper notation and run computations and graphs. And it’s important to note that graphing calculators are not a cheat. Graphing calculators don’t just “give” you the answers. You need to apply your understanding of a concept to make efficient use of them.

Texas Instruments, the manufacturer, has a helpful FAQ guide for parents about why a calculator is helpful and learning modules or guides to learn how to use the TI-84 Plus. Just scanning over the list of modules to learn more about the device gives you an an appreciation for all the things this device can do.

Why do you need one (when you’ve already got a smartphone)?

While graphing calculators existed long before smartphones were around to compute specialized Calculus and Algebraic functions, today, there almost certainly “is an app for that” to achieve similar results.

Graphing calculators still have a purpose though. The TI 84 device is often allowed to be referenced in testing & school environments that otherwise prohibit smartphone use. Because it is such a specialized device as compared to your smartphone, its also often quicker and easier to use than a graphing calculator app.

Finally, making use of graphing calculator functions on a smartphone would require downloading a third party app that could potentially be unreliable, costly, hard to use or even contain malware. Texas Instruments TI 84 devices have been trusted for decades and will stand the test of time (as long as you have a healthy supply of AAA batteries!).

TI 84 Plus Graphing Calculators Are Commonly Used Instead of Smartphones For:

  • Chemistry
  • Precalculus and Calculus
  • Pre-Algebra, Algebra, and Advanced Algebra
  • Physics
  • Biology
  • Statistics
  • Finance
  • Business
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Trigonometry
  • College Entrance Exams, like the SAT or ACT
  • PSAT Exams
  • AP Exams
  • And in many career fields that are math or computation heavy

Can you use a TI 84 calculator for your ACT or SAT?

When completing the Math and Science portions of the PSAT, SAT and ACT college entrance exams, time is of the essence. Since you are not being tested on your ability to remember your times tables or long division techniques, a calculator can save you valuable time on the math sections of the test, by allowing you to solve simple computational problems easily.

While college entrance exams generally are not testing for calculus skills, the TI 84 Plus calculator is approved for use during the test (though not required to score well). Since you won’t be leveraging the TI graphing abilities during the test, the main advantage of bringing TI 84 Plus calculators to a standardized test is familiarity. If that’s the graphing calculator you use every day in AP Calculus, AP Chemistry, AP Physics or some other high level math and science course, you will be most comfortable using the same graphing calculator in the stressful environs of the College Board PSAT, SAT and ACT college entrance exams.

What’s the difference between the TI 84 Plus and the TI 84 Plus CE?

A color screen, plus a lot more memory to support the more advanced display.

Other than math class and college exams, what will I use my TI 84 for?

Playing games, duh. The Texas Instruments TI 84 Plus graphing calculators are powerful tools for deriving functions and intercepts from pre-algebra to AP Calculus BC high school courses (as well as college math and science courses). But for most of us, we don’t need to use that functionality outside of school on a day to day basis.

One fun way students stave off boredom is by making alternative use of the calculator screen and playing the simple games stored in some of the preloaded apps. More complex games can be uploaded to your device and stored in the memory of the calculator. Games are more fun if you purchase TI products with a color display, but even without a color screen you may want to pass the time in English class with a riveting game of Snake or Space Invaders.

Where can I get the cheapest price for a Texas Instruments TI 84 graphing calculator?

Like anything else, it is important to shop around for the best deal when searching for your graphing calculator. Look for second hand devices on craigslist or eBay or with neighbors who have kids aging out of high school. If buying new, be sure to search for coupon codes at Best Buy, eBay, NewEgg and more, and maximize your savings with cash back on your purchase from sites like Swagbucks, Tada and MyPoints.

Across major retailers, here’s what you’ll pay for a brand new TI 84 plus Graphing Calculator

NewEgg TI 84 Prices :

  • $112.36 Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus Graphic Calculator (Black)
  • $112.99 Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus Graphic Calculator 8 Line(s) 16 Character(s)
  • $154.99 Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus CE Graphing Calculator, Blue
  • $159.99 Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus CE Graphing Calculator, Black
  • $179.99 Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus CE Color Graphing Calculator, White

VERDICT: Newegg offers the cheapest price to get the 84 Plus Graphing Calculator with 8 Line(s) 16 Character(s) display. And they’re the cheapest by a long shot. Many other retailers do not carry this item, or if they do it is only available for sale as part of a 10-pack “teacher’s set”.

*BONUS: Get a free $10 gift card when you make a purchase of $25+ or more from this retailer’s website.

Best Buy TI 84 Prices:

  • $118.99 Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus Graphic Calculator (Black)
  • N/A Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus Graphic Calculator 8 Line(s) 16 Character(s)
  • N/A Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus CE Graphing Calculator, Blue
  • $149.99 Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus CE Graphing Calculator, Black
  • N/A Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus CE Color Graphing Calculator, White

VERDICT: Best Buy has the most limited supply of TI 84 Plus Graphic Calculator inventory and their pricing is not the cheapest.

*BONUS: Get a free $10 gift card when you make a purchase of $25+ or more from this retailer’s website.

eBay TI 84 Prices (Brand New):

  • $80.00+ Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus Graphic Calculator 8 Line(s) 16 Character(s)
  • $85.00+ Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus Graphic Calculator 8 Line(s) 16 Character(s)
  • $115.00+ Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus CE Graphing Calculator, Blue
  • $119.99+ Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus CE Graphing Calculator, Black
  • $130.00+ Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus CE Color Graphing Calculator, White

VERDICT: Availability of new TI 84 Plus Graphing Calculator inventory changes often on eBay, as does pricing. Supply is irregular and some brand new items may be open box or have damaged (dinted or torn) packaging. It’s possible to snag a great deal without issue, but buyer be leery. I wouldn’t recommend this to a non-avid eBay buyer since it’s a high-price school supply that you need to function.

Staples TI 84 Prices:

  • $134.99 Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus Graphic Calculator (Black)
  • $135.99 Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus Graphic Calculator 8 Line(s) 16 Character(s)
  • $154.99 Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus CE Graphing Calculator, Blue
  • $154.99 Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus CE Graphing Calculator, Black
  • $154.99 Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus CE Color Graphing Calculator, Mint

VERDICT: Staples does not offer TI 84 84 Plus Graphic Calculator models in white, but does offer mint for $154.99 as noted above. Additionally, price of 84 Plus Graphing Calculator 8 Line(s) 16 Character(s) is unit price if purchased as a 10-pack. Staples does not sell these calculators individually. Staples is not the cheapest option for any models, but I’d shop there if getting the color mint is important to you.

*BONUS: Get a free $10 gift card when you make a purchase of $25+ or more from this retailer’s website.

Office Depot & Office Max TI 84 Prices:

  • $121.79 Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus Graphic Calculator (Black)
  • $160.37 Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus Graphic Calculator 8 Line(s) 16 Character(s)
  • NA Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus CE Graphing Calculator, Blue
  • $129.99 Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus CE Graphing Calculator, Black
  • $129.99 Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus CE Color Graphing Calculator, Rose Gold

VERDICT: The price of 84 Plus Graphing Calculator 8 Line(s) 16 Character(s) is unit price if purchased as a 10-pack. Office Depot does not sell these calculators individually. Overall Office Depot has limited inventory and does not offer the lowest prices. Shop Office Depot if purchasing a rose gold colored TI 84 Plus CE calculator is important to you.

*BONUS: Get a free $10 gift card when you make a purchase of $25+ or more from this retailer’s website.

Walmart TI 84 Prices:

  • $98.36 Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus Graphing Calculator (Black)
  • NA Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus Graphic Calculator 8 Line(s) 16 Character(s)
  • $172.00 Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus CE Graphing Calculator, Blue
  • $118.99 Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus CE Graphing Calculator, Black
  • $159.98 Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus CE Color Graphing Calculator, White

VERDICT: Walmart has the cheapest price for black TI 84 Plus CE Graphing Calculators, and the option for free 2-day delivery or in-store pickup. It does offer a wide assortment of other models and colors, but these are primarily sold by third-party vendors using the Walmart.com selling platform.

*BONUS: Get a free $10 gift card when you make a purchase of $25+ or more from this retailer’s website.

Amazon TI 84 Prices:

  • $98.36 Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus Graphing Calculator (Black)
  • NA Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus Graphic Calculator 8 Line(s) 16 Character(s)
  • $139.99 Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus CE Graphing Calculator, Blue
  • $118.99 Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus CE Graphing Calculator, Black
  • $144.35 Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus CE Color Graphing Calculator, White

VERDICT: Unfortunately, does not sell the teacher-favored TI-84 Calculator with extra lines and extra characters for graphic functions. Amazon does tie with Walmart for offering the cheapest black 84 Plus CE Graphing Calculator, and Amazon offers the widest selection of different colors including 5 shades of blue (bionic, blueberry, trifecta, denim, cobalt) and numerous calculators with frustration-free packaging (an option for around $10+ more in cost).

Target TI 84 Prices:

  • $98.99 Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus Graphing Calculator (Black)
  • NA Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus Graphic Calculator 8 Line(s) 16 Character(s)
  • $119.99 Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus CE Graphing Calculator, Blue
  • $119.99 Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus CE Graphing Calculator, Black
  • $119.99 Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus CE Color Graphing Calculator, White

VERDICT: Unfortunately, Target also does not sell the teacher-favored TI-84 Calculator with extra lines and extra characters for graphic functions. Target does offer the cheapest price for blue or white 84 Plus CE Graphing Calculators and free 2-day shipping or in-store purchase or pick-up options.

*$10 Gift Card with Purchase Bonus

This free $10 gift card is offered as a bonus for new members of Swagbucks. A new member must join Swagbucks for free and make a purchase of $25 or more at a featured store, including Newegg, Best Buy, Staples, Office Depot & Office Max, and Walmart. Featured retailers may change, and additional terms and conditions for cash back rewards and gift card bonus may apply. See the merchant’s coupon page in the Swagbucks shopping portal for more details.

Pricing Overview

Apart from waiting for deals to crop up from sellers on eBay, here are your cheapest options:

  • Basic TI 84 Plus Graphics Calculator: Walmart has the cheapest price and free 2-day shipping or in-store pickup options.
  • TI 84 Plus Graphics Calculator with 8 Lines and 16 Characters: Newegg has the best price for this teacher-favored option.
  • TI 84 CE Plus Graphing Calculator: Walmart again has the cheapest price and also offer free 2-day shipping or in-store pickup options.
  • TI 84 CE Plus Graphing Calculators in Other Color Options: Target has competitive prices for this model in white or blue. Amazon has the widest range of colors found, however, since these are offerings by third-party sellers there can be considerable variance. If you’re in the hunt for a specific color, I’d recommend checking out Walmart, eBay, and Amazon to see which one offers the best price.

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