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FE Calculator Opinions


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Poll: Which calculator to use on exam? (161 member(s) have cast votes)

Which calculator to use on FE exam?

  1. Texas Instruments (59 votes [36.65%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 36.65%

  2. HP (13 votes [8.07%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 8.07%

  3. Voted Casio (89 votes [55.28%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 55.28%

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#1 mtow78

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Posted 26 October 2011 - 06:20 PM

So there are three major brands of calculators we can use. I have always used the TI-84 for all my engineering classes.

Which calculator would we most useful on the exam, or which on can do the most functions?

TI Calculators:
  • TI-30Xa
  • TI-30Xa SOLAR
  • TI-30Xa SE
  • TI-30XS Multiview
  • TI-30X IIB
  • TI-30X IIS
  • TI-36X II
  • TI-36X SOLAR
HP calculators:

33s or 35s

Casio calculators

#2 mudpuppy

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Posted 26 October 2011 - 07:05 PM

I predict this will degrade into an RPN versus algebraic shouting match in about 2 hours. In the mean time:

I grew up with TI graphing calculators (TI-85 mainly). Can't use those on the exam, so I tried out a few calculators, (not HP since I can't stand RPN), and settled on Casio. The biggest reason I prefer Casio is I like the way they handle complex numbers better than TI. In fact I like my Casio better than the TI-85 that I've been using for 15 years. I even bought a second one so I can have one at home and work (since they're under $20). The only thing the Casio doesn't do that I would like is matrix algebra, which comes in handy for the occasional times I want to solve full symmetrical components problems. However, I'd never have to do that on an exam, so this is not a drawback from that perspective.

#3 roadwreck

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Posted 27 October 2011 - 03:59 PM

When I took the FE you could use whatever calculator you wanted so I'm not sure I could make an accurate assessment of which calculator is best for that exam. For the PE I tried several calculators, but like mudpuppy I had used mostly TI graphing calculators to that point so I skipped the HP's because I am not a RPN user.

I settled on the Casio mostly because at the time it was the only calculator available with a multi-line display. I liked being able to see what I had already input so as to verify that I hadn't fat fingered any numbers or computations as I was doing my calculations.

#4 MGX

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Posted 08 November 2011 - 07:45 PM

I started using a TI-30XIIS a year before the exam exclusively. Doing so pretty much forced me to write out all the work on problems and boil them down on paper instead of calculator gymnastics. This may or may not have been effective but I passed on the first try.

My only opinion is to start using the calculator you will use for the exam well beforehand so you are familiar with it during the exam. Some classmates broke their NCEES sanctioned calculator out of the blister pack the night before the FE which probably cost them some points.

#5 biofem2011

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Posted 09 November 2011 - 05:37 PM

I vote for the fx-115. I used mine for studing so I was familiar with it before the exam. I like that the keys are soft to touch. The TIs keys are a little stiff for me.

#6 MickDozier

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Posted 14 November 2011 - 04:46 PM

TI-36X Pro- especially if you're used to TI graphing calculators.

#7 3point5

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Posted 15 November 2011 - 06:33 PM

I started using a TI-30XIIS a year before the exam exclusively.


I used a TI 86 and TI 89 through college and into my first few years of working because it would save lines of data and equations to which you could go back and retrieve. When I really started studying for the exam I put the 89 away and used the TI30IIs exclusively. I had about 1 year of work experience using the TI30 and I knew it up and down. so it was easy to use for the exam.

Honestly, you don't need a fancy calculator to pass the FE -

With that being said, when I take the PE I will have 3 each of the TI 30IIS and 3 each of the TI36 (for it's statistics functions that the TI30 doesnt have). A little excessive, yeah…but I don't want to be left with my balls in my hand the morning of the exam. And I learned that Ebay is the best place to get used calculators… +/-$4 each...

#8 monkeywinky

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Posted 16 November 2011 - 04:10 PM

I know of someone who spent a lot of time learning how to use an RPN and didn't pass because you don't really know what/how you are supposed to calculate something. Use what you're comfortable with - I'm pretty sure if you know the material like you should, you can pass using any of the calculators (except the RPN, I can't use those for beans).

I used a fx115ms for the EIT. It handled fractions, deg/min/sec, etc really intuitively and I used the solver a lot.

I bought a fx115-es as a backup for my PE, I ended up using that at work, study and on the test. I like that you don't have to go through as many menus to get to the functions you need.

#9 mudpuppy

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Posted 23 November 2011 - 07:52 PM

Do the approved TI calculators handle complex numbers?

#10 Justin Dickmeyer

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Posted 13 December 2011 - 03:56 PM

I used the TI-30X IIS on both the FE and PE and didn't have any problems with getting through the exam. It doesn't have any complex number manipulations that I know of, but then again, I didn't need to rely on that function while preparing or taking the exam.

It's my opinion that any of the calculators are fine to use as long as you pick one up far ahead of time and use it while you study for the exam. If you use your graphing calculator, or some other non approved calculator, while you prepare and all the way up to exam day, then you are probably going to have some problems when you bust out that new little $5 toy. As with anything, it takes time to get the hang of the unique quarks, so just get a calculator early and forget about studying it, just use it and learn about it as you prepare.

#11 ptatohed

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Posted 13 December 2011 - 09:24 PM

I used the TI-30X IIS on both the FE and PE and didn't have any problems with getting through the exam. It doesn't have any complex number manipulations that I know of, but then again, I didn't need to rely on that function while preparing or taking the exam.

It's my opinion that any of the calculators are fine to use as long as you pick one up far ahead of time and use it while you study for the exam. If you use your graphing calculator, or some other non approved calculator, while you prepare and all the way up to exam day, then you are probably going to have some problems when you bust out that new little $5 toy. As with anything, it takes time to get the hang of the unique quarks, so just get a calculator early and forget about studying it, just use it and learn about it as you prepare.


Well said J.D.

#12 piesrsquared

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Posted 14 December 2011 - 06:53 AM

Raised on TI's here also. 83 in high school. A few classes required the 30XIIS in college (bah chemistry) and the 89 was invaluable in my final year. I found the 30XIIS to be fine on the Mech. FE exam (didn't need complex numbers), but some of these calculators are so cheap I may pick up an HP and Casio to fiddle with. I would take an 89 any day though.

#13 mudpuppy

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Posted 14 December 2011 - 01:23 PM

I used the TI-30X IIS on both the FE and PE and didn't have any problems with getting through the exam. It doesn't have any complex number manipulations that I know of, but then again, I didn't need to rely on that function while preparing or taking the exam.


That's what I thought I remembered, so I would warn EEs to stay away from the TIs.

#14 fba0861

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Posted 20 December 2011 - 10:50 PM

Casio user here. Grew up using them.

I actually started my review reading the manual and doing all the operations.

Saved me lot of time during the morning session.

#15 KingKazma

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Posted 20 December 2011 - 11:45 PM

Casio fx-115es worked for me. It has so much to offer if you read the manual and some other stuff online. For only about $20, it has the same functions as the expensive graphing calculators. Amazes me at how inexpensive it is for what it does. Of course, become familiar with it in advance of the exam and you'll be doing math problems in under 30 seconds that would usually take 2-4 minutes by hand.

#16 okeng

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Posted 20 December 2011 - 11:58 PM

I agree, the Casio is the way to go. Reading the manual and understanding each of the functions is key for the FE and PE. It is a very powerful tool.

#17 fba0861

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 05:47 PM

Casio fx-115es worked for me. It has so much to offer if you read the manual and some other stuff online. For only about $20, it has the same functions as the expensive graphing calculators. Amazes me at how inexpensive it is for what it does. Of course, become familiar with it in advance of the exam and you'll be doing math problems in under 30 seconds that would usually take 2-4 minutes by hand.


The exam is a battle and your calculator is your sword! :-)

#18 ofareggie

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 06:01 PM

I used the TI-36X (as I was accustomed to using the TI-89 in college) and I found it to be a smooth transition. Plus it has a poly-solver and the ability to analyze matrices, which made the calc section a breeze. But as has been noted, its important to get comfortable with which ever calculator you choose.

#19 Jacob_PE

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 06:31 PM

I passed the FE in 2006 using the HP33s and reverse polar notation. I used the Casio FX115ES to pass the PE exam this last October. Of the two, the Casio is the definitely the best.

#20 addi

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 10:46 PM


I started using a TI-30XIIS a year before the exam exclusively.

This is very true

#21 Jordan S

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Posted 22 December 2011 - 02:16 AM

Casio. Great little calculator with a LOT of power. Does complex numbers very well, can solve systems of equations, do operations on matrices and more. And I can't stand RPN, so that made that a little easier.

#22 EM_PS

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Posted 22 December 2011 - 02:38 AM

I passed the FE in 2006 using the HP33s and reverse polish notation.


Fixed it.

FWIW, to non-RPN fans, both HPs have algebraic entry capability and are also programmable, albeit somewhat rudimentally. Casio probably gives you most bang for your buck but depends on what you're most comfortable with.

#23 omar711

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Posted 27 December 2011 - 08:10 PM

Passed Oct 2011 FE with HP33s. Actually prefer RPN after years and years and years with TI. Found out I couldn't use graphing calcs on exam so I started using HP a couple of years ago to get used to it now I don't like anything but. Will continue with HP and RPN on PE as long as it is still allowed.

#24 ACC_HOKIES

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Posted 28 December 2011 - 07:43 PM

I use TI30X. Like to keep it simple, plus its solar, and its a smooth transition from the TI83 I have used since middle school.

I suggest when you find the one you like, get a second of the exact same model. One at work, one at home, and use them for everything from work related calcs to studying to balancing the checkbook. You will know the calculator, have one ready for studying where ever you are, and your backup is identical for each exam.

#25 alora

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Posted 29 December 2011 - 04:52 PM

Which Casio is more preferred? And why?

FX-115ES

or

FX-115MSPlus

#26 Wildsoldier PE

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Posted 30 December 2011 - 12:49 AM

I prefer ES because if you are using complex numbers it will give you the real part and imaginary part on the same display..same with polar form...with the MS it will give you real part and to get the imaginary part you have to press other buttons to get the imaginary part


I also try to solve for X using their SOLVE function on the MS and gives me a math error...solve the same equation using the ES and comparing character with character and no problem it solved for X using the ES

I recomend the ES over MS. However i used the MS for the FE...by that time the ES was dificult to find in the stores....then i used the ES for the PE
(null)

#27 chemicalpe

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Posted 30 December 2011 - 12:57 AM

I used FX-115ES for both FE and PE. I used it extensively for FE exam because of real and imaginary parts display. Also, this is where I used it for matrices, quad. equations and for probability and stats.

#28 EM_PS

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Posted 30 December 2011 - 10:45 PM

Which Casio is more preferred? And why?

FX-115ES

or

FX-115MSPlus

The ES has greater capability; matrix (up to 3x3) & vector operations, and being able to generate a results table from an inputted function for example. It also has scientific constants & metric conversions available. The MS does not. Both are good, just the ES does more while costing not much more. Not really sure why the MS is still even around.

The ES actually did fall off the ncees approved list one year (2007 I think), I never really understood why, but its been on it since then I believe.

#29 SAEngineer

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Posted 01 January 2012 - 08:07 PM

I got through the FE and PE with the Casio fx-115. I did not know half the functions the calc could do but understanding the basic functions obviously was enough for me to pass

#30 R2KBA

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Posted 02 January 2012 - 08:23 PM


I used the TI-30X IIS on both the FE and PE and didn't have any problems with getting through the exam. It doesn't have any complex number manipulations that I know of, but then again, I didn't need to rely on that function while preparing or taking the exam.


That's what I thought I remembered, so I would warn EEs to stay away from the TIs.


Can't speak for other disciplines, but I strongly agree that for electrical (FE and especially the PE) the Casio FX-115ES is the way to go. I used TI calculators for years, but mainly the graphing calculators which do handle complex numbers. Because of the people on this website I gave the Casio a try. They were so right about it. There was almost no learning curve, you can enter expressions (including integrals) just as they are written on paper, you can enter complex numbers in either polar or rectangular form (even mixing the two forms in the same expression!) and easily switch the answer back and forth. The only gripe I have about it is there is a very slight lag when you hit the keys, so don't enter numbers too quickly or it won't register. I purchased 3 of these, got a 90 on the PE exam, and still use them almost every day.

#31 8vgumby

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Posted 03 January 2012 - 10:22 PM

I figured I would throw in my two cents. I grew up with the TI-82. I was in/out of school/work and found myself regularly using a TI-82,83,84 for a little over 15 years now. When I read the requirements for the FE, I went onto Amazon, and started looking at what each mfg had to offer.

Realizing practicality would rule over bells and whistles, I decided against "learning" a new calculator, but instead using a format I recognized. Narrowing it down to TI, I picked out the most powerful thing the FE would allow, the TI-36x Pro. Ever since purchasing this, I have tossed my graphing calculators aside. It's half the size, and does more practical functions than the TI-84 could.

Assisting to the FE exam notably is the following:

(4) Variables, (x,y,z,t)
(3) Matrices (A,B,C)
(3) Vectors
3x3 Linear Solver for Ax=B formatted problems
Third and Second Order Root Finder
Probability (nCr, nPr)
Bin/Hex/Dec
Stats (lists, var1, var2)
Complex manipulation (have it spit out angles and magnitudes)

Integral Solver (Provided you have numeral limits)
Derivative Solver (Limits)
Built-In, extensive list of constants (gravity, charge, mass of elementary particles, Biot, permeability etc..)
Scrolling Text with "regular text" print
Solar Powered

All things considered, these are basic things that most people taking this exam should know how to do in their sleep. However, when the pressure is on, it's nice to have a calculator that can confirm an integral you did in your head or make sure you got the cross product or matrix multiplication correct. This one does it.

Edit, It also uses "double-tap" instead of a 2nd key for most functions. This is really nice when trying to fly through a problem and you can just tap sin twice to get inverse, or tap e twice to get ln. It takes some getting used to, but I prefer it now. Also, I would recommend you learn everything about your FE calculator. I began my semester at the end of August with this calculator, by the time I took the exam in the end of October, I knew every button and feature it had. Don't go into it blindly.

Edited by 8vgumby, 03 January 2012 - 10:26 PM.


#32 khtPSU

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Posted 08 January 2012 - 12:48 AM

I have both Casio-115es ( using 4 years in college), HP 35s, and TI 36x-pro ( just bought a few months before Oct/2011 exam). I think TI-36x-pro is more easy to use than the others, save a lot of time in exam, I love it Solve function, OP function ( set a formula for calculating 2 parallel resistors), complex number. I tried HP 35s again and again, but not like the way do integral, solve, matrix, so I bring 2 TI-36x-pro to the exam, and all calculation were very easy to do without remember how to do like as the HP 35s. If you don't have TI-36 pro, Casio 115s is ok.

Edited by khtPSU, 08 January 2012 - 12:49 AM.


#33 TatumPE

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Posted 08 January 2012 - 11:41 AM

I loved the HP for the FE due to the programmable features. This can save you a lot of time when you don't have to go look something up in a table (time value of money, statistics, etc). I still have mine and usually use it in ALG mode. I used the Casio primarily for the PE because of the display, but brought my HP as a backup.

#34 cdframe

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Posted 31 January 2012 - 07:30 PM

I used my TI-30X IIS, the same one that I had been using all through college. I passed the first time and the calculator definitely did everything that was included on the exam. Of course the only thing even remotely calculator heavy that I found on there was some statistics stuff, and the calculator functions only saved time, they were not exactly necessary.

Practice a lot with whatever calculator you choose, I was already fast with this one from using it for many years.

#35 mauldinite

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Posted 22 February 2012 - 01:32 PM

I took the electrical discipline afternoon for the FE and passed this past October. I had a TI-30XS Multi-view with a TI-36X Solar as a backup. I used both extensively while studying, but I really hated the TI-36X because of the single line. The solar panel was also pretty terrible. It was ok in the test room, but the Multi-view worked much better in lower light. I grew up with a TI-83 Plus so I wanted to stick with that comfort, and the Multi-view was great in that department.

Now that I'm studying for the Power PE, I looked at more calculators and landed on the TI-36X Pro. This calculator is the best thing since sliced bread. The solar panel and display are both just as good as the Multi-view. Complex numbers are basically instant. Just looking at the functionality, this is a huge step up for TI, with three solvers (numeric equation, polynomial and system of linear equations), numeric derivatives and integrals, vectors and matrices, quick conversions, and complex numbers. I'd say I would have saved 30 minutes to an hour of calculations off of the overall exam if I'd had this in October. If you're familiar with the TI layout like I was, the learning curve is basically zero. I've already gotten rid of those other two calculators and it's also replacing my old TI-83 Plus at work. You really can't go wrong with this thing.

#36 chemicalpe

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 07:40 PM

casio fx 115es

#37 Dexman PE PMP

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 09:48 PM

I don't remember what I used on the EIT (took it back in Dec '02), but I can guarantee it was a TI. I used either my TI-36x Solar, which I had used since I started highschool, or my TI-86, which I got my freshmen year of college.

I used the TI-36x Solar on the PE.

#38 shezadeh

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 01:15 PM

At first I was dissapointed that I could not use my beloved TI-89, but to be honest, the Casio FX-115EX (the one that advertises "natural display") is an awesome calculator.

I highly recommend getting this calculator (If you need to buy something else on Amazon, it qualifies for free shipping if you are buying at least $25 worth...or if any of your friends have Amazon Prime, get it from them) It was well worth the money. Get it when you start studying so that you can familiarize yourself with the button locations. I was a bit clumsy the first few days.

#39 shezadeh

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 01:16 PM

For what it's worth, I took the Electrical version of the F.E. exam. Again, I was VERY HAPPY with the Casio FX-115ES

#40 stlaggies

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Posted 25 July 2012 - 12:59 PM

I used a casio calculator.

Make sure you use whatever you study with.

#41 ikesdsu

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 03:00 PM

While I am old and when I took the test you could still use the TI-89 calculators, I am speaking from experience, when you study use the calculator you are going to use on the test.

#42 dana

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 04:05 AM

Casio Is the best calculator!

#43 AZCIVILTRANS

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 05:04 PM

So there are three major brands of calculators we can use. I have always used the TI-84 for all my engineering classes.

Which calculator would we most useful on the exam, or which on can do the most functions?

TI Calculators:

  • TI-30Xa
  • TI-30Xa SOLAR
  • TI-30Xa SE
  • TI-30XS Multiview
  • TI-30X IIB
  • TI-30X IIS
  • TI-36X II
  • TI-36X SOLAR
HP calculators:

33s or 35s

Casio calculators

I am an avid HP RPN user although for the FE exam I found that the Casio FX115 to be more suitable for matrix operatins and many other functions needed for the FE exam. The reason I knew to switch for that exam was by the advice of Tesmaster's FE review course. I did take my HP 33 in as I had several formulas programed into it. I think I used the HP twice. So my vote is for the Casio when it comes to the FE or exams in general. I use an HP for work I like the storage and RPN style for grading etc. but stuck with the Casio for my PE exam as well.

#44 sumpnz

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 09:35 PM

I used the TI-36X Pro for the FE last April. I really liked it and found it very nice for matrix problems. When I got ready to start studying for the PE (took it this October) I couldn't find that dang calculator to save my life. Wound up buying a TI-30XS (I think, it was whatever the most capable -30 model turned out to be) because I couldn't find a local -36X Pro and was out of time to order from Amazon. It worked just fine for the PE as I didn't need to do fancy matrix calculations on that test.

#45 ptatohed

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 08:56 AM

While I am old and when I took the test you could still use the TI-89 calculators, I am speaking from experience, when you study use the calculator you are going to use on the test.


Yup, me too. I used my TI-89..... and my own pencil!! when I took the FE Exam.

#46 Vinsanity

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 07:02 PM

I have TI's
Casio's and
HP 33 and 35

I like HP 35.

#47 iwire

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 04:00 AM

I used ti36X since I am pretty familiar with TI calculator as I had a TI84 back in college ages ago..

#48 iwire

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 04:01 AM

I used ti36X since I am pretty familiar with TI calculator as I had a TI84 back in college ages ago..

Forgotten to add..TI36x Pro does anything 3X3 matrix with ease!

#49 MechE_in_PA

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 12:57 AM

I was raised on the TI's used a TI-30 and TI-89 in college and used the TI-30 on the FE.  However I picked up a Casio 115 and use it at work.  Overall I think the Casio is the more powerful tool, and probably will use it on the PE.

 

Never liked the RPN of HP



#50 QuieTSToRM33

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Posted 13 May 2013 - 10:17 PM

TI-36x Pro






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