Raymarine vs Garmin – Battle of the best marine GPS products


When it comes to maritime electronics and chart plotting marine technology systems, both Raymarine and Garmin are two of the leading brands within this market. Both offer good service and provide unit models that contain new threads of maritime technology across a broad canvass of needs, whether it is recreational boating or fishing. But with this in mind, which is the better brand – Raymarine vs Garmin?

When it comes to choosing between Raymarine vs Garmin, both have daylight view-ability, can improve upon previous boat experience with faulty marine electronics and have digital switching. But, in a side-by-side comparison, Garmin chart plotters have better radar, mapping features and a brighter display.

Are you trying to decide between purchasing either a Raymarine or a Garmin charting device? Do you need further details to ensure you make the best decision based on your own specific needs for a chart plotter? If so, this comprehensive guide is for you.

This guide will explore some key details about both of these companies, in addition to offering an in-depth review of two of the brand’s best models as well as a Simrad model to round out the comparison.

Garmin marine gps products vs raymarine

Differences between Raymarine and Garmin

To begin, both Raymarine and any new Garmin model in the ever-expanding Garmin line are great for boats for practically any reason. Both brands are also very similar and the differences are usually only between 1-5 variations depending on the version of the model compared.

There is a good chance any user may want to replace one brand with the other based on these often slight variations in categories, but most users of either brand usually find that the differences are only slight and no replacement is necessary.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some differences in five main categories.

Charting

When compared side-by-side, Raymarine tends to allow a bit more leeway for charting capabilities from outside, popular third party charting apps, whereas Garmin, and this is true of any of the brand’s devices, tends to only allow its own in-house technology with some variations in place for essential technologies like Navionics.

Both brands feature Navionics which allows a bit more power in both brand’s charting features.

In terms of which brand has better charting options, Raymarine stands out in this category due to variability and options, but Garmin’s charting technology is consistently ranked as some of the best in the maritime electronic device community.

Overall winner – Raymarine

Sonar Technology

Both brands have units that feature the mainstay CHIRP sonar technology, and while Raymarine is pretty good in its ability to present and integrate CHIRP, Garmin kicks up the power to a superior level of around 1 kilowatt, which is truly impressive.

Overall winner – Garmin

Radar

In terms of radar, both brands are about equal in comparison. But Garmin does have some stunning radar technology, particularly in the Garmin Striker 7SV. But both brands are great at reducing the risk of a collision.

Overall winner – Garmin

Screen

The screen resolution on both brands in all units is both capable and bright, but Garmin does come out a bit better based on the luminosity of the images, maps, and overall display readings when compared to the more indexed type of style that is found on a Raymarine device.

Overall winner – Garmin

Additional Connections

Garmin is great for inputting video, whereas most Raymarine devices rely more on SD cards and USB ports for external device connectivity and recording. But SD can be important, and Garmin is not always great at implementing this connectivity for those who do choose to use it.

Overall winner – Draw

Is Garmin better than Raymarine?

This truly depends on what each user needs to use these devices for. Garmin does have superior GPS in my opinion, and the screen resolution is bright no matter what the weather conditions may be, but Raymarine also has a slight edge when it comes to categories like sonar and charting options.

The Raymarine Axiom series, and specifically the Raymarine Axiom 7, have a quad-core processor that delivers instantaneous response and the ability to run multiple apps simultaneously without any slowdowns. And this feature is truly stunning in terms of quickness, ease of use, and variability.

But Garmin is also, and as always, one step ahead of the curve, even when considering the standout Raymarine Axiom series. The bright, sunlight-readable display on Garmin devices gives you a clear view of what is below your boat, even on the brightest days. And the larger screen gives you a better view of what is happening below the boat.

The intuitive user interface makes it simple to navigate to whatever feature you need, so you are ready for anything on the water.

Overall winner – the best of these two brands is truly what you need from the devices and each line is stellar.

Is Raymarine a good brand?

Raymarine is definitely a good brand of maritime electronics, and I would say that the Raymarine Axiom line is a standard-bearer in this field. The uncluttered interface of any model in the Raymarine Axiom series is fully customizable and easily personalized for your style of navigating.

Additionally, all devices in this series are optimized for flush or surface mounting.

Raymarine began in 1923 and has always been a subsidiary of Raytheon, which manufacturers military defense systems, therefore, there is no doubting the superior innovation that comes with any Raymarine product.

Did Garmin buy Raymarine?

Raymarine was purchased by FLIP Systems in 2010. Garmin did make an offer to purchase Raymarine in 2010, but FLIP Systems ultimately prevailed in the bidding and acquisition war.

Does Raymarine radar work with Garmin?

Although many assume that Raymarine radar can work with Garmin radar systems, this is actually not true. Neither of the two brands and the radar systems that each uses work with another and therefore, neither of the brands can be interchanged or replaced for the other.

Some users have found ways to link the radar network of Garmin to Raymarine, but this is not recommended as it can cause malfunctions within each device’s implanted radar system.

It is best to use the radar protocols found with each unit to avoid any malfunctions that could occur with each brand’s models.

Is Raymarine going out of business?

In a press release in May 2020, FLIP CEO Jim Cannon stated:

“We thought it prudent to suspend that process to run the business for the foreseeable future. It certainly does have more headwinds than more of the defense or professional industrial exposure that we have.”

During the Covid-19 pandemic, sales for maritime electronics have been hit fairly hard, and although Raymarine is not going out of business, manufacturing of new products was halted, and FLIR is considering a possible sale of Raymarine in the future.

The company is still in business and is still distributing its products around the world.

Simrad Cruise vs Raymarine Axiom 7 vs Garmin Striker 7SV

In the following section, we will take a comprehensive look at three of the most popular marine electronic chart plotters on the market by three of the most popular brands. Each of these models is user-friendly and comes with a range of diverse features that will appeal to the specific needs of your boating experience.

Simrad Cruise

The Simrad Cruise is one of the most intuitive, easy-to-use Chartplotters available. Everything you need for simple and straightforward GPS navigation is right inside the package, including a sunlight viewable display, mounting bracket, and a sonar transducer.

Simrad Cruise can display charts, navigation, and sonar in a split-screen view, or separately in full screen.

Rotary dial and keypad controls make navigating through menus, creating routes, and accessing temperature, speed, depth readings, and battery voltage effortless. Some key features the Simrad Cruise contains are simple menus plus easy-to-use rotary dial and keypad controls.

The Simard Cruise supports a wide range of enhanced charts from C-MAP and Navionics.

A great feature is the pre-selected split screens that allow you to keep important data in views such as display depth, position, battery voltage, and more. The transducer is included in the box and is fully programmed and ready to use. There is also a great amount of smooth navigation between menus, which is pretty important when at sea.

This chart plotter also features intuitive menus, so you can quickly find the information you need when you need it, and rotary dial and keypad controls make navigating from screen to screen effortlessly.

You can confidently put away the instruction manual; with Simrad Cruise, you simply turn on your display and go without having to worry about consulting directions or a manual to ensure you have the right programmed controls in place.

This allows you to always stay on course and know where you are and where you are going. Since this chart plotter comes pre-loaded with base maps, the Simrad Cruise also simultaneously comes complete with all the charts you need to enjoy your day on the water.

You can also choose from a wide range of enhanced charts from C-MAP and Navionics, and enjoy advanced features like C-MAP Easy Routing for a true navigation experience.

But in all honesty, one of the most innovative and useful features of this model is the amazing display view of what you need to see. Simrad Cruise offers both full and split-screen views, so you can easily display the information you need.

Are you considering plotting your course? That won’t be a problem since you can select full-screen charts for a maximum view of your surroundings.

Are you not sure what’s underneath you? This can be crucially important and the Simrad Cruise allows you to choose full-screen sonar for a clear view of the bottom and automatic depth tracking. Additionally, you can also use the split-screen option for the perfect combination of chart and sonar data.

I like this chart plotter because it allows you to stay informed in every possible way in terms of navigation. The Simrad Cruise gives you access to the information you need for a safe and enjoyable time on the water. Depth readings, position, battery voltage, and other critical boat information, can all be monitored on your screen for quick reference and situational awareness.

Truly one of the best.

Pros:

  • Everything you need for simple and straightforward GPS navigation is right inside the box.
  • Preloaded with a US coastal map, Simrad Cruise comes complete with all the charts you need to enjoy your day on the water.
  • Supports enhanced charts from C-MAP and Navionics.
  • Intuitive menus let you quickly find the information you need when you need it.
  • Rotary dial and keypad controls make navigating from screen to screen effortlessly.
  • Depth readings, position, battery voltage, and other critical boat information, can all be monitored on your screen for quick reference and situational awareness.
  • Included 83/200 transducer provides excellent automatic depth tracking for worry-free operation without the need for fine-tuning or pre-programming.

Cons:

  • The mapping navigation can be confusing initially, but as long as you allow the device to properly sync and scan the area, this should ease up
  • Depth recordings are not as accurate as can be found in other chart plotters

Raymarine Axiom 7

The award-winning Raymarine Axiom is a powerful multifunction navigation system. The Axiom 7 DV features a 7-inch rugged all-glass touchscreen display and is powered by Raymarine’s powerful new LightHouse 3 operating system and a supercharged quad-core processor.

Axiom 7 DV has built-in dual-channel CHIRP DownVision sonar for imaging bottom structure and fish.

Axiom 7 DV is expandable so its capabilities can grow as needed. It supports the full range of Raymarine accessories including Quantum radar, CHIRP Sonar, FLIR thermal cameras, audio integration, instruments, cameras, and Evolution autopilot.

Standard Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity allow connection to the latest Raymarine apps for tablets and smartphones.

The Axiom 7 DV includes a CPT-100DVS transom mount transducer, surface and trunnion mounting kits, mounting hardware, power/data cable, and installation instructions. It is bundled with Navionics+ Charts for North America with full coastal coverage for the USA and Canada, plus over 20,000 inland ponds, lakes, and rivers, which is truly quite impressive.

The Navionics+ charts are also compatible with advanced features like SonarChart Live and Dock-to-dock Autorouting. Axiom 7 DV also works with a wide array of raster and vector electronic charts from C-MAP and LightHouse Charts.

The standout feature has to be the Axiom’s quad-core processor that delivers instantaneous response and the ability to run multiple apps simultaneously without any slowdowns. LightHouse 3 is fast, fluid, and easy to learn.

The uncluttered interface is fully customizable and easily personalized for your style of navigating. Additionally, this device is optimized for flush or surface mounting. Axiom’s sleek buttonless design with swipe-to-power control will look great on any helm.

Pros:

  • Built-in fish targeting CHIRP sonar and ultra-wide CHIRP Down Vision
  • Quad-core processor delivers blazing-fast performance without any slowdowns
  • Multi-touch interface and powerful lighthouse 3 operating system allow for a smarter, more intuitive boating experience
  • Built-in Wi-Fi paired with free Raymarine Apps allow you to view or control your unit from your iOS or Android device
  • Includes Navionics+ charts with coverage of coastal USA and Canada and over 20, 000 inland ponds, rivers, and lakes
  • Included components: Multifunction display, surface mounting kit, trunnion mounting kit, mounting hardware, power/data cable, installation instructions, Navionics+ chart card, transducer

Cons:

  • Some marine electronics are not as great for fishing as they are for boating, and some reviewers find this model to be in this category
  • Constant resetting gain may be a problem

Garmin Striker 7SV

The Striker Plus 7sv fishfinder with a bright 7-inch display and built-in Garmin GPSmap features the Garmin Quickdraw Contours map drawing software, which stores up to 2 million acres of content with 1-inch contours. Garmin CHIRP traditional sonar provides crystal-clear images with remarkable target separation.

When it comes to fishing, nobody knows the waters you fish better than you and your fellow fishermen. While you are trolling the shorelines and the depths, Quickdraw Contours mapping software creates HD fishing maps of the places you’ve been. No special knowledge is required to use this innovative feature.

Additionally, you can use the built-in Wi-Fi to pair with the ActiveCaptain app for smart notifications, access to Quickdraw Contours Community data, and more.

One feature that truly stands out to me is that you can get nearly photographic images of what passes below and beside your boat with CHIRP ClearVü and CHIRP SideVü scanning sonars. This truly comes in handy for collision avoidance.

This is because the Garmin ClearVü scanning sonar gives you a nearly photographic, wide image of what passes below your boat.

Garmin SideVü scanning sonar gives you a crisp, clear view of what lies off to each side of your boat as well. You can clearly see structures, submerged objects, and best of all, fish. Garmin CHIRP traditional sonar provides remarkable target separation and all this sonar technology is combined into 1 transducer to help you catch more fish.

The built-in, high-sensitivity Garmin GPSmap finds and maintains your position anywhere you go on the water. The GPS allows you to mark waypoints for different locations. So for example, if the fish are biting in 1 spot, you can mark it, and return to it on your next trip. You can also mark docks, boat ramps, and other locations on the lake, and create routes back to them for your next trip.

The Garmin GPSmap also allows STRIKER Plus 7sv to show your speed on screen, so you can be sure you’re trolling at the right speed for the lure you’re using or in wake-controlled areas.

The STRIKER Plus 7sv fishfinder makes fishing a breeze, and it’s built to work in any environment, including wet conditions. The bright, sunlight-readable display gives you a clear view of what is below your boat, even on the brightest days. And the larger screen gives you a better view of what is happening below the boat.

The intuitive user interface makes it simple to navigate to whatever feature you need, so you are ready for anything on the water.

Pros:

  • Includes transducer for built-in Garmin CHIRP traditional sonar plus CHIRP ClearVü and CHIRP SideVü scanning sonars
  • Built-in Quickdraw Contours mapping software lets you create and store maps with 1’ contours for up to 2 million acres with a resolution of 800 x 480
  • Built-in Wi-Fi for access to ActiveCaptain app so you can receive smart notifications, access Quickdraw Contours Community and transfer waypoints and software update notifications
  • Built-in Garmin GPSmap lets you mark waypoints, create routes, and view the boat’s speed, and you can transmit power of up to 500 W (RMS)
  • Comes with a bright, sunlight-readable 7-inch display and intuitive user interface

Cons:

  • The fish finder does not come with mapping

Is Simrad better than Garmin?

Simrad does seem to have an edge over Garmin when it comes to the superior radar technology that can be found with practically any Simrad device. But Garmin does win this argument based solely on the innovative Livescope technology that is better overall when compared to the Livesight technology used on Simrad devices.

How do you use Raymarine autopilot?

The first thing you would need to do is to confirm what kind of autopilot drive you have onboard pertaining to your Raymarine unit. Select your appropriate drive and then press select, you will then need to select the proper rudder limits and confirm if the rudder is set to port and working in the opposite direction as well. This is how you properly use the autopilot feature on a Raymarine unit.

Does Raymarine own Flir?

Yes, FLIR Systems purchased Raymarine in 2010 and has ownership over Raymarine’s subsidiaries as well. FLIR Systems consistently works with Raymarine to innovate upgrading product features for the company.

Summary

When comparing Raymarine units and Garmin units, especially when considering the release of a new model in each line, both brands have their pluses and minuses based on the individual needs of a maritime boater or for those who fish primarily.

Both brands have daylight viewability, both brands can help improve upon any previous boat experience with faulty marine electronics, both have digital switching and great screen sizes, but for the most part, Garmin chart plotters tend to have better radar and mapping features. Garmin displays are also a bit brighter in a side-by-side comparison.

Axiom units within the Axiom line of Raymarine are outstanding, and the Raymarine Axiom 7 is one of my personal favorites. But any model you choose should be weighed in favor of what exactly you need it for.

Richard Harding

I am a retired English teacher from New Jersey now living the high life in the South of Spain. When I am not cooking up a storm in my outdoor kitchen you will find me teeing off on the golf course.

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