TI-Nspire CX vs TI-Nspire CX CAS

When it comes to buying the perfect calculator, which will be well-suited to all of your needs and requirements, you can get a bit confused. With various models out there with amazing features & specs, choosing the best one is not an easy task.

The Nspire models by Texas Instruments are one of the most trusted calculators by students across the world. They give you superior performance and are full of features & capabilities which are useful for researchers & students in various fields. In this review article today, we will help you in making a decision between TI-Nspire CX vs. TI-Nspire CX CAS.

The main difference between the TI-Nspire CX and TI-Nspire CX CAS

The CAS, which means Computer Algebra System, allows the CX CAS calculator to solve algebra equations.

The CAS can give you factoring, solving for a variable, exact answers, and also simplifies long expressions.

The CX CAS is allowed in the SAT, but you should check whether your standardized test allows the calculator first because some tests, like the ACT, do not allow the TI-Nspire CX CAS.

TI-Nspire CX vs TI-Nspire CX CAS

TI-Nspire CX

  • More affordable than CX CAS
  • Can be used on ACT, SAT, PSAT, IB, and AP tests

TI-Nspire CX CAS

  • CAS to solve algebra equations
  • Cannot be used in all tests (i.e. ACT exam)

The TI-Nspire CX and TI-Nspire CX CAS are similar to each other with a few differences. We will cover both these similarities & differences in this review article.

In this article, we will discuss the following things regarding each calculator:

  • Design & Dimensions
  • Color Display’s quality
  • Ease of Use
  • Distinctive Features
  • Exams in which they are allowed
  • Price

Let’s get started!

Design Differences

Both the TI Nspire CX CAS and Nspire CX have a distinctive design which differentiates them from other calculators as well as their predecessors. The difference between TI Nspire CX and TI Nspire CX CAS when it comes to design is minimal. Apart from the name at the top of the product and the color scheme, you won’t find any difference in design between these two.


Currently, most of the people want their instruments & gadgets to be very compact & slim. These calculators are pretty thin, having a thickness of only 1.57 cm. This slim & compact profile makes TI Nspire CX CAS and TI Nspire CX very space-friendly & portable.  Both these models have a height of 86 mm and a width of 191 mm. They weigh approximately 242 g. Thus, it is pretty easy to keep them in a very small space inside your bag.

If you are a new user, you may find the size of these calculators slightly big. But when you compare them with other graphing calculators, you will find that it is perfect in size.


The coloring of TI Nspire CX CAS is slightly dark as compared to TI Nspire CX. The casing of TI Nspire CX CAS is black. The alphabet buttons & most of the function buttons are black in color. The X, Y, Z buttons and the numeric buttons are grey in color. Additionally, the directional pad has a light blue border that glows. According to several user reviews, people find TI Nspire CX CAS elegant & stylish.

TI Nspire CX incorporates light colors in its design. The casing comes with a silverfish color, on the right & left sides. Several of the buttons are black, except the X, Y, Z and numeric buttons that are white. The directional pad has a metallic border. According to user reviews, TI Nspire CX has a contemporary & modern. 


There are three ports on these calculators. Two of them are present on the top and one is present on the bottom. One port on the top is the mini-USB port while the other rectangular port is meant for use with the wireless TI Nspire Navigator Adaptor. The port at the bottom of the calculator is used to charge the calculator.

A really great thing about the display is that it is padded. It is a smart move considering how these calculators are going to be used by kids and there is a risk of them falling.


Talking about the batteries, TI Nspire CX CAS and TI Nspire CX, unlike the traditional models, don’t come with alkaline batteries. They used rechargeable lithium-ion batteries of 1060 mAh capacity when they were released in 2011. The units that have been produced since 2013 have batteries of 1200 mAh. The older units can be upgraded by replacing the old batteries.

The battery lasts for almost 3 years with normal usage. You can charge the batteries on these calculators with a wall-charger, mini-USB cable or with the help of a TI Nspire Docking Station.

CX vs CX CAS Display

The Nspire models CX CAS and CX differ a lot from previous models. These calculators have a user interface that reminds one of a personal computer rather than a normal calculator. What’s more, files are handled by TI Nspire CX CAS and TI Nspire CX in a way that is similar to personal computers.

Ease of Use

Therefore, these calculators are easy to use & understand. Traditional calculators pose challenges to their users because of their complex procedures & syntaxes. However, this is not the case with these calculators. If you are moving from traditional calculators to TI Nspire CX and CX CAS, you will find them slightly confusing in the beginning but you will learn how to use them pretty quickly & easily.

User Interface

The user interface is very convenient, especially the built-in functions. Everything is very well-organized since the functions can be easily grouped into documents & apps. A particular document is separate from other apps of the calculator and any action which you make, is performed within that document. If you opened a document using a particular app, you will be able to open the document again using that app only. You will be required to open a new document if you want to use another app. This means that all of the features & functions of the calculator cannot be accessed simultaneously in one document.

The document which you will use quite a lot is the normal calculator screen. If you press the calculate button, you can access this document.

Both TI Nspire CX and CX CAS have a 3.2 inches, full-color display which is backlit. These calculators come with a resolution of 320 x 240 pixels. The images shown & displayed are very detailed & sharp and have nice vibrant colors.

What is CAS?

The major difference between TI Nspire CX and TI Nspire CX CAS, as indicated by the model’s name, is the Computer Algebra System, i.e. CAS.

With the help of CAS, TI Nspire CX CAS is capable of solving algebraic equations as well as performing algebraic operations. It is capable of expanding, factoring and simplifying long algebraic expressions as wee as solving an algebraic equation for a particular variable. Fractions can be kept as fractions with the help of TI Nspire CX CAS.

If you want to solve an equation, all you need to do is to type in Solve and follow it with parentheses. You have to enter the equation inside the parentheses. After the comma, you can type in the variable with respect to which you want to solve the equation.

You will get the exact answer to the equation. If the equation is quadratic, you will get multiple answers. It is extremely convenient. Similarly, if you want to perform operations such as expanding of factor, all you need to do is to type expand or factor and then plug in the equation.

On the other hand, the TI Nspire CX CAS doesn’t have a CAS. It is not capable of solving, factoring, expanding or simplifying an equation. Moreover, if you have to simplify a radical or fraction, you will get an answer in decimals, most probably.


The programming capabilities of both these calculators are similar. Two programming languages are supported by these calculators, Lua, and TI Nspire BASIC.

However, the programming capabilities of both these models are not the same as the predecessors. If you have to create a program in TI Nspire CX or CX CAS, it will be a tedious & long process. In order to create a program, you have to create a new document and type your program in it. This program can be edited later. However, a few features are no longer accessible, so editing the program and programming itself is pretty limited.

Moreover, as discussed earlier, a document cannot be accessed other than the app it was created with. Therefore, you will not be able to access the created programs across all the apps. It can be slightly problematic when you need to run a program while performing some calculations since you will have to exit the screen and open the document of that particular program.

Thus, the programming capabilities of TI Nspire CX and CX CAS are limited and are useful only for a few purposes, like calculus. You can still combine functions that you have created pretty efficiently. However, it is not practical beyond that.

Performance & Operation

Before choosing TI Nspire CX or CX CAS., you ought to know that both these models differ from other TI Calculators. Since they are different than traditional calculators, you will need to spend some time learning how to use them. Once you have learned how to operate them, you can use them efficiently & effectively.

These calculators come with functionalities which are unique & thus aren’t available in other graphing calculators. Importing digital images as well as drafting shapes are the functions which make them different from other calculators available.

There is a keyboard of letter keys which is present underneath the numeric keypad. It is nice to have a separate keyboard for typing in text, however, this keyboard is not in QWERTY. Rather, the alphabets are from A to Z.

This may come across as a little surprising for a few people. However, this is for a good reason. The rules of college boards don’t allow keyboards that have QWERTY keyboards. Thus, TI Nspire CX and CX CAS have come with Non-QWERTY keyboards, making them usable in colleges.

The directional keys come with a trackpad which can pretty useful in several apps like geometry app. With the help of the trackpad, you are capable of pinpoint the cursor with high precision & accuracy. Moreover, you are also capable of dragging & dropping points, measurements & lines.

As the TI Nspire CX and CX CAS have the same hardware, they have similar performance. The memory register on these calculators is 64 MBs whereas the user memory on them is 100 MBs. This gives you ample space to store both your files & data.

Their processing speed is pretty fast as well. You can perform lengthy iterations or calculations in mere seconds. You can draw curves that are color-coded very quickly. It is slightly difficult to overlay curves on a particular image, however, it can be performed smoothly as well.

Which Exams Can the Calculators be Used In?

Some tests may consider the use of CAS as cheating. Thus, TI Nspire CX can be used in more tests & exams as compared to TI Nspire CX CAS. However, both of these calculators are allowed on Math AP, SAT & PSAT. On PreACT and ACT, only TI Nspire CX is allowed. Therefore, you need to keep this thing in mind when buying these calculators for use in & preparations for these exams.

When it comes to using in subjects, these calculators are perfect for a large variety of subjects. They are suitable for Trigonometry, Statistics, Geometry, Algebra I, Algebra II, Pre-Algebra, Calculus, Pre-Calculus, Physics, Business, Finance, Chemistry, Mechanical Engineering & Biology.

Being a teacher, you may find it bad for your students’ capabilities to allow them to solve equations with the help of calculators instead of using their minds to do it. Therefore, you can allow your students to use TI Nspire CX in your class, but not the CX CAS in that scenario.

CX vs CX CAS Price Comparison

When it comes to the price of these two calculators, there is just a slight difference. TI Nspire CX has a lower price tag than the CX CAS. However, neither of the calculators is cheap and this shouldn’t play a significant part in your final buying decision.


The main difference between TI Nspire CX and CX CAS is the CAS. TI Nspire has more features than TI Nspire CX. However, if you are buying the calculator for use in a particular exam, make sure you are allowed to use the particular calculator.

If you are not worried about exams and test which may not allow your calculator to be used, then it would be a better choice to buy TI Nspire CX CAS. However, if that is not the case, then TI Nspire CX is a safer option. If you are looking for a calculator that can help you do math with variables, then TI Nspire CX CAS is the one for you. For college-level mathematics, such as calculus, TI Nspire CX CAS would be more capable.

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