What Are the Differences Between the TI-30X & TI-83 Plus?

By Erik Devaney

The Dallas Texas-based computer technology and semiconductor company Texas Instruments produces both the TI-30X IIS scientific calculator and the TI-83 Plus graphing calculator. Of the two, the TI-83 Plus offers more advanced features and can provide visualizations of mathematical concepts. The TI-30X, in comparison, is better suited for users who need to perform basic mathematical calculations. The prices of these two calculators are strong indicators of their respective performance capabilities. As of the date of publication, the TI-30X costs approximately $15, while the TI-83 Plus costs approximately $130.

Graphing vs. Non-Graphing

Unlike the TI-30X, the TI-83 Plus is a graphing calculator, which means it can create graphical representations of mathematical functions and other mathematical data. Many high school-level aptitude tests, such as the AP Calculus exam and the SAT Math Level 1 and 2 Tests, permit and encourage the use of graphing calculators, as they allow students to visualize complex mathematical concepts. Specifically, the TI-83 Plus can graph up to 10 rectangular functions, six polar expressions, six parametric expressions and three recursively defined sequences. In addition, the TI-83 Plus graphing calculator allows for seven different graph styles for differentiating the appearance of the calculator's graphs.

Advanced Capabilities

Apart from being able to create visual, graphical representations of data, the TI-83 Plus can perform several operations that the TI-30X cannot. For example, the TI-83 Plus allows for matrix operations, such as determinant, inverse, augment and transpose operations and can convert matrices to lists and lists to matrices. Other advanced capabilities that the TI-83 Plus provides but the TI-30X lacks include statistical analysis of one- and two-variable models, statistical plot definitions for scatter plots, an interactive equation-solving editor and business functions such as cash flows and time-value-of-money, or TVM.


For displaying digits and other data, the TI-30X relies on a two-line display screen. The top line can display a maximum of 11 characters simultaneously while the bottom line can display up to a 10-digit answer with a two-digit exponent. In comparison, the TI-83 Plus provides an eight-line display, with each line being capable of displaying up to 16 characters. In addition, the TI-83 Plus allows for vertical and horizontal split-screen options, allowing users to display graphs and characters simultaneously.


Unlike the TI-30X, the TI-83 Plus has flash ROM memory. Specifically, the TI-83 Plus provides 160KB of flash ROM. The benefit of ROM is that it allows users to load and update applications on the calculator, just as you can do with a computer. The TI-83 Plus even comes with several pre-loaded applications, including Vernier EasyData, Probability Simulation, StudyCards and Science Tools.