Garmin Forerunner 945 | In-depth review and opinion


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Garmin's new top of the range triathlon segment is now with us all. Garmin Forerunner 945 were the same ones we had with the Fenix 5 Plus family: maps, music and Garmin Pay.

However, FR945 arrived with a few surprises, as well as the Fenix 5 Plus family with a few more surprises.

This time Garmin has changed the approach. The Forerunner 945 is now not the lightweight version of the Fenix 5 Plus; it is the plastic version of the Garmin MARQ AthleteSo in addition to receiving the 5 Plus news we also have a new GNSS chipset, extended range, pulse oximetry, more detailed training load metrics, temperature and altitude acclimatization estimation, etc.

In short, the Garmin Forerunner 945 is the brand's most powerful model to date.

I've been testing the FR945 for more than a month in my running, cycling, swimming and other activities trainings. It's a unit bought by me in a shop, it's not a loaner watch of the brand. That means that I've actually paid the 750 euros that the FR945 is worth in the triathlon pack. And all this, mainly, to tell you how the new model behaves. I could recite the benefits of the features sheet to you as they do in other places, but then you wouldn't have the real information of its operation that only here you get.

If you like this analysis and find it useful in deciding to buy your next GPS watch, please use the links on this page (well, you can buy that GPS watch you want or anything else). You won't pay more than it's worth, but the seller returns a small percentage which helps cover the costs of hosting the site, buying the watches and, obviously, my job.

So, since I know the watch perfectly and have subjected it to all the tests that I have deemed appropriate, do you think that I should tell you everything you need to know in detail? Well, here we go.

Garmin Forerunner 945


Overall - 9
Training possibilities - 10
Platform and applications - 9
Battery life - 10
Finish and comfort - 8.5
Price/performance ratio - 7.5



Garmin's latest Forerunner is the most complete to date. It has ALL the technology Garmin is capable of offering for a watch. Is it expensive? Yes. Is it worth it? It's up to you to assess it, but in this analysis you'll find all the clues to find out.

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The good


  • It has everything that Garmin has to offer. And when I say everything is EVERYTHING
  • Up to 36 hours of autonomy (without using music)
  • Sensor with pulse oximetry estimation
  • Acclimatization to temperature and elevation
  • Garmin Pay support
  • Includes map navigation
  • Play music directly from the clock, including syncing with Spotify
  • Automatic incident detection for any sport, or for manual activation at any time

The bad

  • Aesthetically there is hardly any difference from the previous model
  • The strap does not adopt the QuickFit system (although we could buy such a strap and use it)
  • High price. No one said having all the features of Garmin in one watch was cheap

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Garmin Forerunner 945


Garmin Forerunner 945 pack

What's New in the Garmin Forerunner 945

If we compare the new Garmin FR945 with the FR935 we can see that both are exactly the same, at least aesthetically, because except for small details of marks on the lens or the colour chosen for the model in the pack, there is nothing that differentiates them. It takes a very trained eye to know if you are in front of a 935 or a 945.

But that's on the outside. Inside the story is very different, here are all the changes to the Forerunner 945.

You want the fast version? FR945 is a Garmin MARQ Athlete As it is, all the novelties that arrived at the MARQ (a 1,500 euro watch) are in the FR945.

Do you prefer the detailed version? Of course I have it too. Here's the list with all the news.

  • Maps detailed color route navigation, which can be created directly from the clock
  • Music playback autonomously, including support for Spotify
  • Support for Wireless NFC payments with Garmin Pay (for banks and associated cards)
  • New GNSS chipset from Sony, joining the general trend of all manufacturers to offer extended rangeNow capable of up to 36 hours of battery life with GPS use (or up to 10 hours if using the music playback function)
  • New Garmin Elevate sensor with PulseOx for SpO2 estimation. FR945 offers the same blood oxygen saturation monitoring as the Fenix 5X PlusThis is in contrast to FR245, which, despite having the same sensor, does not make this measurement.
  • Performance Metrics including adjustments for altitude and heat (already seen in the Garmin Edge 530 and Edge 830) In addition, the training load is now more detailed, highlighting the focus of the training
  • Add ClimbProThe "Distance to Go" screen: Automatically displays the remaining slope and distance ahead on each significant hill on a route
  • Incident detectionIt sends a message to the chosen contacts in case of a sudden deceleration or any situation that the watch may assume to be a fall. It is conditional on carrying the phone with you as it will be the one to take care of the communication (the watch itself is not capable of doing this)

It's a performance above the Fenix 5 Plus and Fenix 5X Plus. There's nothing in the Fenix range that the FR945 doesn't have, and yet there are things in the Forerunner 945 that the Fenix 5 Plus doesn't have (and you won't see).

Not to prolong this unnecessarily, if you already know the Garmin family to a greater or lesser extent you will not find many things out of place in the FR945. The main news is related to the training metrics that I will detail later. And if you do not know all the details of what it offers you can always take a look at the basics that you will find in the Fenix 5 Plus.

Which is not to say that I don't give you all the details here, just that in Garmin's case it's starting to get a little repetitive, both for you and for me. And given the enormous amount of features available, we'd be here for hours.

So I prefer to focus on this test rather than on analyzing its novelties and tiptoeing around the (many) functions it has: map navigation, music playback, wireless payments... 

Garmin Forerunner 945, what you need to know

The Garmin 945 is the top model in the Forerunner range. It's primarily a watch designed and built for triathlon (preferably medium or long distance), but that doesn't mean it's not a good choice for those who just run, or just cycle, or just do a lot of sports.

Garmin FR945 - Triathlon watch

Why? Because in addition to having sport profiles for swimming, cycling or running; there are a lot of different possibilities such as skiing, rowing, golf, etc. All of them with specific metrics for each sport or, in the case of golf, with thousands of courses stored in memory.

Garmin Forerunner 945 - Golf

It is also a very good option for trail runners. Its autonomy is fabulous and it offers the same possibilities as the Fenix 5 Plus range. In fact, thanks to the new GNSS chipset by Sony the battery life is longer than in these, besides being a lighter watch.

Let's go over some of the most important details.

Garmin Elevate v3 sensor

Also new is the optical pulse sensor. The new Garmin Elevate v3 is the same as the one we first saw at the MARQ, and a renovation on the one that mounts the Garmin Fenix 5X PlusLike the latter, it also constantly monitors SpO2 (estimated blood oxygen saturation).

You can do this in the watch itself through a widget, where you will see the comparison of oxygen saturation with respect to the altitude. 

This function is primarily intended to monitor oxygen saturation when we are at altitude, and more specifically when we are ascending. In my case, as I am always at sea level, I do not get any benefit beyond checking that everything is correct in my body.

Garmin Forerunner 945 - spO2 estimation

Garmin Forerunner 945 - spO2 estimation

Of course we can view reports of pulse oximetry details in the application or on the web, as is usual with all Garmin activity functions.

Garmin Forerunner 945 - Pulse Oximetry

It can be turned on or off as you like, and if it is turned on it will have a significant impact on battery life, so this is something to keep in mind if you are not planning excursions to high altitude areas.

Possibilities in sports

When it comes to sports, you can configure all the activities it offers in a completely individual way, each with its specific settings, both in terms of options and behaviour, as well as data screens.

By default the data screens can display up to four different metrics, although there are different options in the Connect IQ application store to have screens with more data. 

The Garmin Forerunner 945 allows you to connect to both ANT+ and Bluetooth sensors, and you can have different sensors of the same type stored (for example, several pulse sensors or several potentiometers if you have one on each bike), and the watch will connect to any of them in the vicinity.


The mapping and navigation possibilities are exactly the same as you can find in the Fenix 5 Plus, so I won't go into too much detail (you can find out everything that it offers precisely in that test by clicking here).

It is a function that is becoming increasingly important in watches. Perhaps not so much in the 945 because it is more focused on triathlon than adventure, but it is no less important. In the end many long-distance triathletes prepare ultratrail events at another time of the season, so having maps on the watch will be of great help to them.

Garmin FR945 - Map

But remember that the FR945 (just like the Fenix 5 Plus) includes the maps of the geographical area in which it was sold. So if you buy the watch in Europe the maps you will have will be the European ones (along with basic maps of the whole world). And if you buy it in Asia, those will be the maps you will have. So be very careful where you buy the watch...

The maps are with Digital Elevation ModelThis means that in addition to looking like a traditional map it also contains topographic information, so there is complete altitude data for any point on it. This allows us to be able to calibrate the altimeter at any time at a known altitude.

Garmin FR945 - Use DEM to calibrate altitude

Garmin FR945 - Use DEM to calibrate altitude

You can explore the entire map by moving or zooming in to select the point you want to go to. As the maps are available, the clock will plot the route using the available roads to get to that point, rather than showing you the way in a straight line.

Garmin FR945 - Explore Map

Speaking of creating routes, not only do you have the ability to go to a specific point on the map or navigate a downloaded route; you can also create different routes from the clock itself to a saved location, nearby points of interest (a gas station to get water, a hostel to stay overnight, etc) or a circular route.

This last option is fantastic, especially if you are in some unknown place. You can enter the distance you want to travel and direction and it will give you three different options.

Garmin Forerunner 945 - Calculate Route

To do this you don't need a phone, an Internet connection or any previous planning, everything is done directly on the clock.

Finally, remember that the Forerunner 945 includes the option to ClimbProIt separates the route into small individual fragments, each of which is one of the climbs present on the route. When we reach one of them, a specific screen will appear with information on what we have ahead of us, allowing us to manage our effort: remaining distance, metres still to be climbed, average gradient and route profile.

It is a possibility that is only shown when you have a navigation route activated because, logically, the clock would not be able to know where we are going in any other way. It is not something exclusive to route navigation by running or walking, you can also use it in cycling.

Smart options

As for "smarter" options, the Garmin FR945 allows you to display notifications from your cell phone in exactly the same way as the other Garmin models.

Garmin FR945 - Notifications

There's one new feature, though, and that's that there's now a new privacy mode that will only show the notification when you turn your wrist or press a button, instead of appearing on screen in front of dozens of prying eyes. This option is disabled by default, but you can select it directly from the menu.

Another important new feature is the ability to play music directly from the clock. Forerunner 645 Music to the market a year and a half ago, is a function that we have seen in different models of the range regardless of their price.

The addition of Forerunner 945 was to be expected, offering 16GB of total storage of which half can be used to store audio files, with the rest of the memory being for the clock's own operating system as well as the installed maps.

Garmin allows us to synchronize music files directly from our computer or through music platforms. Logically, the second option is much more convenient and better adapted to the year 2019, in which practically nobody keeps audio files stored on their computer anymore (and that's for those who haven't already discarded the use of a computer at home...).

And while we are listening to music we will have messages that we will receive while we are training, like the summary of return or the rhythm by return.

Garmin Forerunner 945 - Audio Specifications

In short, nothing that we had not already seen in previous models, so if you want to have more details you can the specific section in any of the previous tests, like the Forerunner 245 for example.

Wireless Payments with Garmin Pay

Garmin Pay is another feature that has been gradually introduced on all Garmin models, and like music, it also came to Garmin for the first time with the Forerunner 645. 

Although market entry is somewhat slower than the possibilities for music playback since this does not depend exclusively on Garmin, it has to be the banks that individually offer compatibility with this wireless payment system.

Currently the list of supported banks in Spain is quite limited, only Santander or OpenBank cards are supported, along with VISA cards from La Caixa. No other bank has shown interest in offering support for Garmin Pay. While we have the possibility of contracting a prepaid card through boonso you won't have to change banks.

Just like your phone's wireless payment, you can pay for your purchases by simply moving your watch closer to the payment terminal.

It may seem silly when you usually have your credit card, cell phone, money on you... but now think of a workout you've completed while running or cycling and you feel like eating or drinking something because you've dried up... that's where Garmin Pay can make all the sense.

You can pay with your watch anywhere that accepts wireless payments. You don't need to sign up for Garmin Pay, so once you have a compatible card you can pay at thousands of locations.

Adding the card is very simple, simply from the Garmin Connect application on your mobile and by capturing the card data with the camera you will have it registered on the clock.

Garmin Pay - Create Wallet

After including the card in the clock, when you want to make a payment you simply have to access the quick access menu by holding down the upper left button and look for the purse option. 

Garmin FR945 - Garmin Pay

By default it is added to this menu, but remember that in the clock settings you can change which options you want to appear in this quick menu.

For security reasons, you must enter the security PIN you have selected when you save your card.

Garmin FR945 - Garmin Pay

It will not ask you again within 24 hours, unless you remove your watch from your wrist (to avoid being charged to your card in case of loss).

Once you have entered the PIN you can select the card you will use to make the payment.

Garmin FR945 - Garmin Pay

You bring the clock to the dataphone to make the payment and that's it. The clock will vibrate confirming that the payment has been made and you can go on with your life. 

Is it absolutely necessary to have this function on a watch to practice sport? Not at all. Is it extremely comfortable? Without a doubt. 

If your bank supports Garmin Pay, don't hesitate to set it up and make use of it.

Once we've gone over the most important details of the Garmin Forerunner 945 it's time to get your hands on the main course, the advanced training metrics.

Advanced Training Metrics

Garmin's goal with Forerunner 945 is to offer an advanced watch that's as advanced as possible, and to that end the watch provides a multitude of metrics that you can analyze later to help with your training.

Although its main market is triathlon (especially medium and long distance), that doesn't mean that if you're not a triathlete it's not a model for you. It's true that it's its main focus, but it covers a huge amount of very different sports; from rowing to trail to skiing, and all of them with specific metrics.

And to be that advanced watch that Garmin wanted to achieve, they've incorporated into the Forerunner 945 the latest Firstbeat They are spread across different parts of the clock (and of course the application reports), but all the data starts in the same place: your training.

When we save the training we have screens that were not present before, starting with a detail of the route we have traveled.

Garmin FR945 - Activity map

By pressing the main button, the start-stop button, we will rotate through the most important metrics of our training: Training Effect, VO2Max, recovery time and training status.

Garmin FR945 - Final training data

That's the main information shown above. Of course we can access the usual basic information on laps, training data, etc.

This is where the path in the new training metrics present in the Forerunner 945 begins, and that is Training Effect (the effect of our training) now provides much more detailed information, separating and identifying the type of training we have done to classify it into three types of physiological effect for our body: base, aerobic and anaerobic. Each will be colour coded, with blue for base training, orange for aerobic and anaerobic purple.

Garmin FR945 - Training Effect

Each of them has a very different effect on our muscle fibers and, depending on what we are training for, our training will focus more on a more specific aspect of one of them. That is why it is important to differentiate our work and to know how training is affecting our fitness.

Just because the watch identifies an Activity with a particular Training Effect it does not mean that it only counts as such. For example in the previous Activity the watch has identified that the main improvement obtained has been Tempo. However it is a training where I have included changes in pace (as a series) in the climb so I have had some anaerobic training. 

Below the workout summary it clearly indicates this, giving a value of 3.4 for aerobic and 2.5 for anaerobic (both on a scale of 5). Why is it not an anaerobic type workout if I have done series? Because in addition to series, I have also rolled at a lower pace in warm-up, cool-down, etc. Therefore that workout will add up to figures for base, aerobic and anaerobic workouts (see below for what it is used for).

That screen shows more information, such as that I have accumulated a load of 161 with this training.

If we scroll down here we get more information on how this training has benefited us.

Garmin FR945 - Training EffectGarmin FR945 - Training Effect

This information is the basis with which, as we carry out our trainings, the Training State is built. We already knew this screen from previous models, however it also incorporates small novelties, since now this algorithm can also take into account the acclimatization to temperature and altitude. 

At the bottom of the screen there are small icons to indicate if you are in an acclimatization period. Consider them as unlocked achievements. In this image for example, I have managed to unlock the heat acclimatization achievement.

Garmin FR945 - Training status

Garmin FR945 - Heat Acclimatization

Heat acclimatization occurs for cycling or running training above 22°C. Garmin assumes that acclimatization occurs with a minimum of 4 days training at that temperature, while we will lose acclimatization if we stop training in high temperatures for 3 or more days.

Therefore to obtain acclimatization data we need to record temperature data. These are taken from the same data source as for the time widget, i.e. the connection to your mobile phone.

Garmin FR945 - Time Widget

And here is an important factor, you should synchronize the clock with your mobile before starting the activity and make sure that the time widget is showing correct and updated data. This synchronization can be done, at most, up to 3 hours before you perform your workout. 

In the example of the previous image and without doing any later synchronization, if I train from 14 to 15 it will take into account the training to show the acclimatization since I will be training at 27ºC. If I train at 18 and I don't do a new manual synchronization from the application, the forecast will not be updated so it will not apply any acclimatization factor since I don't have information of the temperature. I know I will be hot, but the clock will not.

The fact that I have to make sure that the data is updated is a failure on the part of Garmin, because it should be a totally transparent process for the user and force this update automatically every 3 hours, since the clock is always connected to the phone.

As for acclimatization for altitude it is a similar procedure, but in this case it takes into account the values recorded by the barometric altimeter. Acclimatization begins in training above 850m, reaching up to 4,000m. Adaptation to altitude will occur after 21 days, and will be lost after 21-28 days.

I have not managed to see any message of acclimatization to altitude, of course living at sea level I do not have it as easy as with the heat. I have done parts of workouts above 850 meters (some cycling workouts where I have climbed above 850 meters), but I have not been "living" at that altitude, so I have not had time (or need) to adapt.

And what is this acclimatization data for? Well, it allows you to adjust the VO2Max values taking into account environmental factors. Less oxygen or higher temperature makes the body work harder, so now the metrics will take these values into account and adjust the VO2Max and all related metrics.

If we press the main button in the Training Status screen we will access all the information regarding our training, where we will find more information that was not present before, starting with the graph of the 7-day training load.

Garmin FR945 - Training load 7 days

This is where I can see the breakdown of how my last few days of training have been, along with the colour coding I indicated to you earlier.

Each bar has a different length, and its height corresponds to the training load on that particular day. If you ever bend over and do exercises of different intensity, it will also be reflected on the bar as you will be stacking exercises to add up the total load.

For example, on Sunday of that week I did a one-hour walk (classified as base and with little load), and later I swam in open water. The training load of both workouts is added up, differentiating how much has corresponded to the base training and how much to the aerobic.

It also shows on screen the training load accumulated during those 7 days (612), and confirms me that I am in the optimal range (446-988). According to that information and as I haven't done my session yet on Thursday, it is telling me that I could do a pretty strong training without risk of overtraining (up to a load of 376). 

This can also be seen in a Garmin Connect report, similar to what Polar does with its Training Load feature.

Training load 7 daysThat is, I've been in the optimum range almost all the time... except today, I better get my act together because it seems I've been slacking off too much (yesterday was a break).

Going back to the clock, if we press down again we will find more data of training loadbut this time for the last 4 weeksThe analysis of data from our training is completed.

What stands out here is how we have focused our training over the last month, differentiating between the three values indicated in Training Effect and establishing what the optimum value would be.

Garmin FR945 - Training load 4 weeks

Referring to this data, the algorithm recommends me to increase a little the anaerobic work, although I am near the optimal point, and to reduce the aerobic.

Do you remember, going back to the beginning of this section, that although my series training with the bike had been categorized as aerobic, I had also achieved a score of 2.5 in anaerobic? All that is adding up for the 4 week load, adding to the graphs the corresponding parts of each training to give us an overall view.

In other words, that workout has not only given me aerobic load, but even though it wasn't listed as an anaerobic workout, it has also given me that load to do the total follow-up.

If we press the main button the watch will give us information about the load along with possible tips. As I have been doing a balanced workout it tells me that if I keep this up I will manage to improve the lactate threshold, VO2Max values and resistance.

Garmin FR945 - Training load 4 weeks

If I have not focused on training in this way, he would give me advice on how to improve it, indicating whether I should introduce gentler workouts or work on intensity more.

You can also find all this data in Garmin Connect.

Garmin Connect - Training load

The information is the same, but is buried in dozens of other options, reports and menus. Looking at the data on the clock is much easier and faster for me.

As for the metrics themselves, I've found myself using them a lot more these last few days than I have in the past, and they've been especially useful in planning the intensity of my training or shaping the weekly schedule that my coach sends me.

Because in spite of doing a guided training, when I have a "50 minutes hard run" I am the one who has the last word about the intensity at which I am going to do it. And based on the data that the watch is storing I can decide with a good perspective if I'm going to do that run at Z4 as initially planned or better go down to Z2-Z3 to recover from past workouts.

Optical heart rate sensor

One of the new features of the Garmin Forerunner 945 is the optical heart rate monitor, version 3 of the Garmin Elevate, which also offers the oxygen saturation estimation that I indicated to you further back.

Aesthetically it is different from the previous one precisely because of this detail, since it needs a third red LED to perform these measurements. By adding one more LED, it changes the arrangement of them on the sensor area.

Garmin FR945 - FR935 sensor comparison

But since I've talked about it before, I'll focus now on the operation of the wrist heart rate monitor when you're playing sports, which is the part of the sensor that worries you the most.

As a reminder, keep in mind that an optical pulse meter will not work the same for everyone. Tattoos, body hair, skin tone... all of these can create a big difference between people.

These tests are performed with a "broad" spectrum of users: one, which is me. What works for me may not work the same way for someone else, or may work better.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that you have to wear the sensor correctly, tightly (but not like a tourniquet) and leaving a separation of approximately one finger from the wrist bone. If you make sure you follow these details you can be sure you will get the best possible results for your skin color conditions, etc.

I'll start the comparison with an easy-paced workout. It couldn't be simpler.

For this training he wore FR945 itself on one wrist, while on the other one was the Garmin Forerunner 245He also wore a chest pulse sensor, the Polar H10, paired with the Polar Vantage M.

Garmin Forerunner 245 - Optical Heart Rate Comparison

What can we see in this graph? All three are practically the same. There is only a small difference in the FR245's, around the 26 minute mark, which I am sure occurred when I adjusted the watch strap. It is at this same point that I slightly change the intensity of the workout, when I reach a steep climb.

Let me zoom in on that area. Leaving the point error aside, I want to focus on the ups and downs of the graph. We can see that even though the optical pulsometer reaches the correct pulse values, there is a slight delay compared to the chest sensor.

Garmin Forerunner 245 - Optical Heart Rate Comparison

It's something that happens when I start to increase the intensity like when I'm recovering and it doesn't vary much from what I've been used to seeing in the past on other similar sensors.

Then I go to a slightly more complicated training, where I mix segments at more intense rhythms with other areas of up and down slopes, that is, quite a lot of variation in intensity because of the terrain.

Which models do we have in the comparison? Well, besides the FR945 itself, I have a Suunto 5 on the other wrist, and as a data validator again the Polar H10 sensor paired with the Polar Vantage M.

Garmin Forerunner 945 - Optical Heart Rate Comparison

Noting the strange start of Suunto 5 during the first few seconds, we see that the situation is very similar, although you can see a better overall performance from the Garmin's optical sensor than from Suunto, which is more likely to delay changes in intensity.

Until the 6th minute I do a short warm up, where everything is more or less the same in the three graphs. At that point I start a segment of about 10 minutes at a rate of 4:10-4:15min/km, which is this part you can see enlarged below.

Garmin Forerunner 945 - Optical Heart Rate Comparison

Forerunner 945's graphics are almost perfect; slightly better than the Suunto's which, while not bad, stands out more than the chest sensor we assume provides the most accurate data.

At 16:30 I stop to cross a street and that's where I start the up and down zones, alternating the changes in intensity. 

Garmin Forerunner 945 - Optical Heart Rate Comparison

The behaviour continues to be repeated. Very good from the FR945 that practically nails the changes in intensity to the second, while a couple of seconds delay can be seen in the Suunto 5 graph.

Being a triathlon watch it is also important to talk about the data recorded when riding a bike. Historically all the optical sensors integrated in the watches have provided regular, if not directly bad data. 

It is something that happens specifically with sensors located on the wrist, it is not a problem with optical sensors in general. In fact with sensors such as the Polar OH1wearing it higher on the arm, the record is very good. 

It is not a problem of sensor design, it is simply something related to location and the greater or lesser ease of recording heart rate intensity. 

So I didn't expect the FR945 to improve and show perfectly valid data when training with the bike even though there is a new sensor, but I ended up a bit surprised (though not with the 945).

This doesn't mean that the performance is as good as during the race, but I know that there has been an improvement. It won't make you forget the breast sensor forever, but an improvement is an improvement and when it happens I have to highlight it.

Here's a workout that I liked very much because it clearly summarizes the status of the optical pulse sensors today, and also helps me to show you how the sensor responds to changes in intensity typical of training series.

This time, in addition to the Forerunner 945 and Suunto 5, I was using a Garmin HRM-Tri chest sensor, paired with a Garmin Edge 1030. This is a two-part workout. After an initial warm-up (and a road part that I like to finish as soon as possible) I had to do a 4×5 minute, with a 1 minute break between sets. After the intervals, a very smooth lap. 

Garmin Forerunner 945 - Optical Heart Rate Comparison

I'm going to zoom in on the different areas, although I think it's pretty clear which one by taking a quick look at the image above.

This is the first part, heading to the small port where I will do the intervals. 

Garmin Forerunner 945 - Optical Heart Rate Comparison

In general, all three sensors have needed an initial warm-up until they start recording correct values. This is common for everyone, so the first few minutes are always going to be erratic. Perhaps in this case Suunto 5 has taken the longest time to come into action, because it doesn't join the other two sensors until I start pedaling hard to try and save the busy part of the road.

As we have seen so far, FR945 reacts to changes relatively quickly. Not as fast as the chest sensor, but it behaves better than Suunto 5.

Let's move on to the interval part, including the last stretch of the climb which, although not at the same intensity, does have a good volume of work.


Garmin Forerunner 945 - Optical Heart Rate Comparison

Very good result by the FR945 in tracking the intervals. It practically traces the graph of the Garmin HRM-Tri sensor. Again Suunto 5 shows a bit slower reactions, along with some erratic behavior sporadically.

In the first of the breaks, however, it is the HRM-Tri that fails as it has a sudden drop in pulses, while both optical pulse sensors record data in a very similar way.

So far we have a good score for the FR945, recording well the changes in intensity typical of a training series, with the difficulty of being also during cycling. 

But when we don't have the same intensity, the result is different, there is not the same precision.

Garmin Forerunner 945 - Optical Heart Rate Comparison

That's the second part of the training. Until minute 53:30 or so I'm just standing there filling up the water cans, and that's where I start the descent. What until now was a nice graph in which all the sensors were practically parallel, is now a mess of different colors.

But let's remove the graph from Suunto 5, which is really bothering more than helping, and see clearly what Forerunner 945 has recorded.

Garmin Forerunner 945 - Optical Heart Rate Comparison

It certainly improves visibility, and now it doesn't look so bad. In many points both graphs are parallel (especially when the intensity is above 110-120 beats per minute). When there are areas where I circle more quietly there are many more errors. 

But I have to say that the result, compared to what I was used to seeing a few years ago, is quite satisfactory.

Which is not to say that it is enough to use on the bike, it isn't. And even more so if we cycle on a regular basis (as the 90% of 945 buyers will do). It's good to see that things are getting better, but as I said before you should continue to maintain your friendship with the chest pulse sensor.

Finally, I would like to add a novelty that Garmin has launched, for the time being, in betaWith firmware version 2.64 Garmin allows you to activate the optical pulse sensor during swimming, something that both Polar and Suunto allow but that at the moment Garmin did not contemplate in any of its models.

Heart rate in beta swimming

More than other manufacturers, Garmin is forced to perform this movement by its own pressure. With the new training load algorithms, heart rate data is paramount, without it no load is accumulated at all.

So even if you do three days of swimming at 4000 meters each day, it will not accumulate any charge at all as it does not include pulse data. Activating the sensor underwater will do so, although the result will be variable.

That doesn't mean that the watch is not compatible with HRM-Tri or HRM-SwimOf course it still maintains compatibility and in fact both sensors are part of the triathlon pack, it simply adds another possibility to going to the pool with the sensor, something that many are reluctant to do. 

What is the result of the underwater sensor? It is even more complicated than cycling, and much more so than running. Keep in mind that with each stroke the watch will move due to the opposing force of the water. Furthermore, even if we press it hard, nothing can prevent the water from passing between the watch and the wrist making it difficult to read.

I've done a few swimming tests both in the pool and in open water, and these are the results.

I'll start with a pool training. It's a short workout and I was mainly testing the sensor's benefits under water, so I just warmed up at normal rates until the 7th minute, followed by a couple of long hard intervals, ending with a cool down period.

For the test I wore the FR945 on one wrist, together with the FR935 on the other being paired with the HRM-Swim sensor.

Garmin Forerunner 945 - Optical Heart Rate Comparison

The results are bad in general. There is quite a difference in the data measured by the two sensors, and above all the slowness of the optical sensor's reaction to changes in intensity is very marked.

During swimming at a constant pace? Well, as data to analyze, it's not useful for me either, but if the purpose is to identify the intensity of the exercise and then add it to the training status... well, it's something else. This way, this training will count towards the overall activity. And if it's the way to avoid the embarrassment of taking the pulse sensor to the pool and not looking like an idiot, then I'll take it for granted.

This wasn't the only swimming training I've done, I've also tried open water swimming.

Garmin Forerunner 945 - Optical Heart Rate Comparison

To tell you the truth, I don't like this workout in either way. The optical sensor's record is too high. In swimming the heart rate rises as much as during the race, mainly due to the horizontality of the exercise, so I know quickly that the data it has recorded is not correct.

Going back to past swimming activities, in my last two Ironman 70.3 I averaged heart rate values between 135 and 143 beats per minute, with maximums of 149 and 151 respectively. And that's a competitive effort, so the probability that during a training session I'll be usually above those 150 beats is very remote, if not nil.

However, I don't like the HRM-Swim sensor graphic either, it doesn't give me confidence. There are many very flat areas, very little variability. The optical sensor graphic in that sense is much more detailed.

But, well, I remember that this is just a beta version and it hasn't reached the production version yet. It remains to be seen how and when it will officially arrive, and what improvements Garmin may include over time. Not that the competition is much better off in this regard, both Polar and Suunto are facing similar issues.

What's the bottom line after all this? I think there's some improvement in the new FR945's optical pulse sensor. These aren't amazing changes, but I don't think as the technology stands today there can be much greater differences either.

My opinion about the optical sensor remains the same as before. For me, it is perfectly valid for racing training where there are not too many sudden changes in intensity (i.e. anything other than interval or series training). However, for cycling I always use the chest sensor, even if the improvement is promising in this field.

GPS operation

Garmin has adopted the new Sony chipset for all its new models; from the MARQpassing through the Edge 530 or Edge 830 review and, of course, in Garmin FR945.

This GNSS chipset is the same one that both Polar and Suunto have also incorporated into their new models, with Garmin being the latest to arrive at the party. Why have all the manufacturers switched to Sony? Battery life.

Sony has managed to design a GNSS chip with much lower power consumption than we have had so far, allowing manufacturers to offer much longer battery life figures without having to increase the battery size or compromise overall clock performance by lowering the processor frequency.

But this change does not come without bringing other problems into the equation. All manufacturers are trying to tame the Sony chipset and find a balance between power consumption and location accuracy.

In fact Garmin has also had its share of problems, especially with open water swimming, but also with Galileo (beyond the service drop of these last few days).

Just like the optical sensor tests you saw earlier, the GPS comparisons are done in the same way: with the watches accompanying me in my usual training. I wear both the FR945 and other models, and check where the problems appear. I don't have any defined route where I set a score for the simple reason that there are other external factors that we should never forget.

Things like clouds, leaves on trees or simply the satellite position can alter the GPS results from one day to the next, which is why I prefer to do this type of comparison instead of having a predefined path and assess it from there.

I will start with the most serious problem with the Forerunne 945 today: open water swimming. As of today, there is a "bug"This is a firmware bug that Garmin has not yet managed to fix and that is not exclusive to the FR945. Obviously the MARQ Athlete also suffers from it, internally they are still the same watch.

It is not a fault that always happens in every training, but it is quite repetitive. And annoying. I prepare for my open water training, wait for the GPS signal in all the watches, and even some minutes more to ensure good satellite coverage, and start the activity when I am still out of the water to avoid any kind of mistake.

The problem is that the watch suddenly stops recording satellite data. The activity continues, the timer does not stop, but it stops counting meters. The fault appears sporadically and without any common denominator. 

Here's an example. As soon as you get out, after having covered only 30 meters, it's over. However, time continues to pass and the clock keeps counting strokes, but there is no GPS data, distance or rhythm.

Garmin Forerunner 945 - Open water swimming problem

Obviously this is an extremely annoying problem, not only because it does not work properly, but also because we are at the top of Garmin's range for multisports - a 600-euro triathlon watch that is not capable of registering all three segments of a triathlon correctly.

Imagine you've just started an Ironman where you're looking for a better record, and after 50 meters you run out of swimming data... Disastrous, it's something Garmin must give top priority to.

As I say, it doesn't always happen. When the clock doesn't stop abruptly, the track is reasonably good, within the difficulties of swimming in open water.

Garmin Forerunner 945 - Open water swimming

Here you can see a comparison between Forerunner 945 and Suunto 5, each on a wrist, and the Polar Vantage M went under the cap to make sure it was always above water and didn't lose signal, to try to get perfect route data.

Clearly that wasn't the case, it seems that the race mode (which is the one I used on the Polar) didn't like the low speed we've been swimming and it has a totally erratic track, worse than the watches I was swimming with.

I'll widen the area of the gyre for you.

Garmin Forerunner 945 - Open water swimming

And for gaining clarity, by eliminating the track of the Polar.

Garmin Forerunner 945 - Open water swimming

You can see that the line of the 945 is quite good, improving somewhat the record of the Suunto which is a bit more erratic (still the Suunto have improved a lot in open water, a few months ago it was totally discouraging).

In this case the watch does the complete swimming training, the graph ends where I stop it. Both the Polar and the Suunto I stop them later, when I go out to the beach, that is, after the critical point of the first meters it seems that there are no more problems with swimming.

But let's go back to the mainland and run, which is probably what you will do most with the FR945. I start with a very simple training to analyze, practically a straight line in one direction. Perfect visibility of the sky because the whole route is parallel to a highway. And no clouds in the sky.

In other words, conditions in which I expect a perfect record of all the watches I wore. 

Garmin Forerunner 245 - GPS Comparison

In this training I was wearing the FR945 with GPS+Galileo configuration, the FR245 with GPS+GLONASS and the Polar Vantage M.

It is an interesting test because FR245 and FR945 share their GNSS chipset. Obviously the antenna design is different so I don't expect the behaviour to be identical, but similar. 

Why do I say it's interesting? Because Garmin has acknowledged that they have not yet worked out the GPS+Galileo configuration too much, in fact they recommend using GPS or GPS+GLONASS for the time being.

But they're not the only ones who have to polish up the behaviour of the new chipset. Polar also has a task ahead of them, because since the launch of the Vantage I've seen a regular behaviour with them. The track is about 8-10 metres away from the original route, and it's consistent with that error.

Instead of swerving briefly and returning to the right place, it stays in the fault. It is also a straight line so there is no impact on the instantaneous pace or total distance, but the track usually appears wrong.

I've marked the areas in yellow.

Garmin Forerunner 245 - GPS Comparison

In the meantime, both Garmins behave correctly. Not perfect, because sometimes they deviate 30-50cm from the right place, but quite precise at all times.

A little further down the line it's the Forerunner 945 that makes very strange movements, probably due to its GPS+Galileo configuration. A few days ago Garmin released a beta version to try to improve operation in that configuration mode for all devices.

Garmin Forerunner 245 - GPS Comparison

The rest of the training was quite correct, even in spite of the configuration I had on the FR945.

Here's another example of a circular route.

Garmin Forerunner 245 - GPS Comparison

In this case I replace the Vantage M with Suunto 5 (and so I also take advantage of obtaining data from it for its next test), which is configured with GPS+Galileo. Seen at first sight and from a distance it seems that all three behave perfectly.

But I always like to zoom in and, above all, look at the sharpest turns to try to find erroneous patterns of behaviour by the algorithms. 

Garmin Forerunner 245 - GPS Comparison

In the image above you can see that I am running under an area of trees, making two 90º turns with little distance between them. The result is that all three behave almost perfectly.

Yeah, there's some separation in the tracks, but we're talking about a few inches.

We have another tricky turn ahead of us. Very good results from both FR245 and FR945, while Suunto 5 is well intentioned but records the turns with some delay.

Garmin Forerunner 245 - GPS Comparison

As I say, it's a precise moment, but it's not the usual one. Here's another area with numerous turns where all three clocks mark almost exactly the same track.

Garmin Forerunner 245 - GPS Comparison

How would you like to compare it to the Forerunner 935 to see if it improves or worsens its predecessor? Ask and you will be rewarded.

Garmin FR945 - GPS

Here I replace the Vantage M with the FR935 which, after a couple of years on the market, has reached a very good maturity in terms of GPS records. I consider that today it is a watch that has a fairly reliable GPS (which is not perfect).

To compare the turning area we've seen before, I zoom in on the same spot.

Garmin FR945 - GPS

Well, here's the FR935 that behaves the worst all the way around, making more wrong turns than the other two and going off course constantly.

Another curiosity. In this workout I did stair repetitions. Breaks, short runs, very variable movement speeds... all hell for the algorithms, which are designed to make records at higher speeds, without so much turning and at constant rhythms. 

Well, none of the three of us have any problems, though.

Garmin FR945 - GPS

A little bit of forest? Of course, I've looked for those situations too.

Garmin FR945 - GPS

But before we get to the forest, we're going to cross a tunnel about 25 meters long and see how it behaves.

Garmin Forerunner 945 - GPS

In the turn facing the tunnel Suunto 5 arrives already somewhat forced because it cuts the turn, while both Garmin and Polar have no major problem. None of the three has a strange behavior when passing underneath and the deviation is minimal even losing the coverage (that's pure algorithm work), recovering signal quickly when leaving the complicated area and having no problem in the subsequent turns.

But let's go to the woods, which is what I was looking for in this training.

Garmin Forerunner 945 - GPS

I remind you that blue is the colour corresponding to FR945, red to Vantage M and purple to Suunto 5.

At the entrance to the difficult zone Suunto 5 is more in line with reality, following the route of the road, but further on it is the one that deviates while both Garmin and Polar are more in line with the correct path. Even so, in these difficult conditions, all three have proved to be quite reliable.

And what about cycling? Well, as usual there are no problems of any kind.

Garmin Forerunner 945 - GPS

Even in the slowest areas it behaves perfectly.

Garmin Forerunner 945 - GPS

Garmin Forerunner 945 - GPS

In short, Garmin still has work to do on two fundamental issues: firstly, the problem of swimming in open water, which should not be overlooked at any time because it is a triathlon watch, but they must also work on the reception of Galileo satellites.

Otherwise I have found good results in all the tests I have done, which does not mean it is perfect. No watch will be.

But when there are errors, they've been prompt and resolved quickly (not like Polar, which persists in error), nor is it prone to constant spin trimming. If Garmin corrects the above points, they'll have a fairly reliable device on the Forerunner 945 (and 245 and future models with this chipset) with hardly any penalty for range.

- Update September 2019

Garmin has released the 2.50 update for the sensors, which improve the performance of GNSS for open water swimming. I personally have had no problems in the last days of summer.

Buy Garmin Forerunner 945

I hope that this complete analysis has helped you to decide if it is a valid device for you or not. All the work I do you can consult it without any cost, but if you want to support the web and with it the work I do, the best way to do it is to buy your new device through the links I provide below. And if you don't buy it today, remember to stop by when you are going to do it!

Through these links not only will you get a very competitive price and the best customer service, but I will also receive a small percentage without costing you any additional outlay, which is what allows me to continue offering you proofs like this on the page.

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Garmin Forerunner 945 pack

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If you have any questions, remember that you have the comments section at the bottom, where I will try to answer all your questions.

Opinion Garmin Forerunner 945

And coming to the end... What's my opinion of the Garmin 945? Well, it might be enough if I tell you that it's become my default watch when I'm not trying anything else. Previously the FR935 was my main watch, so it makes sense that now it's the Forerunner 945 that will take its place.

Obviously my case is special and won't apply to most users as my refresh cycle is much higher. If you have a Forerunner 935 you may not find enough reasons to change a watch that cost you a bundle not long ago. The truth is that an FR945 won't make you a faster triathlete. It won't improve your swimming technique, give you an extra 10W on the bike or make you increase your pace at your lactate threshold on the run.

It's no less true that the base price of the watch has also increased by 100 Euros compared to the model it replaces. This was something we could have expected, as it is exactly the same movement that Garmin made with the arrival of the Fenix 5 Plus on the market. But the market has shown that this is not an impediment and the public is willing to pay these prices. I remember that my first Garmin was an FR410 (after a few Polar) for which I paid about 130 Euros many years ago... The price escalation is notorious (its performance as well), but it is clear that the public pays for it.

So the watch costs too much? It's not cheap, but we can also look at it another way: the only model on the market that is up to its standard in terms of performance is the 1500-euro Garmin Marq Athlete. Seen like this it may look like a bargain...

You don't need me to know what an expensive watch is, you already knew that before you started reading the first line of this analysis. What you would like to know is if that price is reflected in what one expects when spending that amount of money. 

You don't have to hide your flaws, you have them. "bug" GPS in open water swimming is an unforgivable failure, not in a watch of this price but in any watch that boasts of being multisport. The synchronization of time data, so vital to the metrics it boasts of, should also be improved to be absolutely transparent.

- It seems that the open-water GPS failure has been corrected -

But let's not forget how good it is, which is a lot, a lot. After all this time I find that this time I'm really paying attention to the training load metrics indicated by the clock. Despite following a plan prepared by a trainer, I use those metrics to plan the intensity at which I'm going to do each session.

That's because it's very easy to understand, it's correctly detailed on the clock and I don't need to do a 10-minute pre-analysis in front of the computer to decide whether I should press more or less on the next start.

It's the main new feature, but let's not forget the other features I enjoy now that I didn't have in the 935. Music playback for long runs, Garmin Pay to know that I can go out and train comfortably without a wallet, Climb Pro to manage my efforts, faster to do anything with the watch (like creating a route to a certain point). And all of this makes my experience of use very positive, which in the end is what it's all about.

And with that... thanks for reading!

Eduardo Mateos

I've been surrounded by electronic devices of all kinds for more than 25 years. Using them, testing them, taking them apart and dissecting them. Long distance triathlete: I swim, run and cycle for a long time. Maybe too much.

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  1. The 945 is more complete than the Fenix 5 plus? In addition to incorporating the latest
    Thank you. Greetings.

  2. Hello thank you for the info, excellent and very good as always. A consultation you know if it is planned in some range add the possibility of entering by power? How do I add the polar?

  3. For me, who has the Fenix 5+, the big question is which of the 945's new features do you think will be incorporated into the Fenix 5+ in future upgrades? (Those that the hardware allows of course)

    Or will Garmin wait for the Fenix 6? Which, given the renewal of its range, may not take so long...

    As always thank you very much for the article and for giving us your feedback 😉.

    1. In principle Garmin hasn't pronounced on the inclusion of the new FirstBeat metrics, I'm not sure that they will arrive to the Fenix 5 Plus

  4. Hello,
    What advantages do you see in the Fenix 5 plus compared to this 945 (maybe more storage capacity in the Fenix?) i.e. according to what you read, apart from the materials the F5+ is lower in everything, battery, functions, more weight...and the 945 includes the new ELEVATE sensor.
    I've got the F5+ and I'm thinking of switching to the 945, which is lighter and has more features...

    Greetings and thank you!

    1. Forerunner 945 is superior to the Fenix 5 Plus in both software and upgraded hardware and is virtually a plastic MARQ Athlete.

  5. Thank you very much for your answer, I was asking you because I have a Phoenix 3 and I was thinking about a change. I am very happy with the Phoenix but like everything in life you have to renew yourself. I will wait a little while to see how the hr pulse and the different metrics work.
    Now it's time to decide whether plastic or metal or prioritize software and hardware

  6. How's that GPS chip coming along? Is it more accurate than the Fenix 5x? I'm thinking of changing it, thanks and a salute.

    1. Both Suunto and Polar are still working to improve results. Polar has recently released an update and seems to improve on what they had previously, but they still need to keep "exploring". As for Garmin, we have to wait until I can test it at my leisure.

    2. Hello, very nice article!
      I do middle and long distance triathlons. I follow the workouts of a trainer, on the bike I go by power and on the run by heart rate. I currently have the 920xt. Do you think that with both the 935 and the 945 I could forget about the band and go by wrist heart rate or should I keep the band?
      Thank you very much,

      1. You will still need the strap for cycling outings, as well as for training with intensity changes or series. For steady paced rides, the optical sensor works well in most cases.

  7. Thanks for the analysis... I'm looking forward to replacing my 935 with the 945, but we'll have to wait a few more years!

  8. Eduardo has commented that depending on where you buy the watch, a different map configuration comes along. My question is if the watch is bought in the USA, and used in Spain, is it possible to change the map configuration?
    Thank you. Great article.

    1. No, you'd have to buy them. I just looked and the one from Spain (only Spain) would be $149

        1. Good one, Eduardo.

          First of all, congratulations on the review, which was very complete and enlightening.
          However, since it is a very specific question, I put the question to you that can decide whether to acquire the 945 or not.

          To point out that my sporting activity is also my professional activity. At present I have the Garmin 235 and in terms of performance I am generally happy, except that the pulse measurement is absolutely poor (tested in all positions of the wrist and with different levels of pressure). As an example, in a training series I get a maximum pulse of 110. My trainer makes the measurements on time but he has already become serious and asks me for a constant pulse that is at least credible.

          My question is, will the GFR945 improve my measurement?

  9. Eduardo, you talk about improvements in the battery with respect to the 935/Fenix 5, but I don't see any evidence where you clarify data.
    We're talking about 5h, 10h... I have a 935 that I use every day in exclusive clock/pulsometer mode and if I win a week of autonomy + Garmin Pay and music, I would already justify the L 945 update.
    Thank you

    1. I can't do autonomy tests like I used to, unless I spend more than 24 hours training... which is not in the plans. Now the watches detect when you are not wearing it and reduce its consumption, turn off the sensor, etc.

      In the end, I can only refer to the brand data, which has always coincided with the real data when I have been able to carry out autonomy tests.

  10. Hi, Eduardo,

    First of all, I want to thank you for this excellent analysis, like all the ones you do.
    I know it's a "subjective" score, but it seems low compared to the F5+ or the FR245, which had 9. Being such a good watch, I expected a higher score...

    1. The 945 has had a hard time with the failure of open water swimming. As I said in the test, in a triathlon watch it is unforgivable that sometimes you can run out of data during one of the main sports.

  11. Hi Eduardo, I don't know if you have podido try it. I have the 935 pack tri, is it possible to use the 945 on the 935 "Quick Disassembly Kit", or do you have to buy the 945 pack tri?

    1. Physically both watches are exactly the same. The tri-pack is in fact the same in both cases. I also tell you that if you like the blue finish, you can buy the tri-pack and by selling the sensors you get back the price difference (and more...)

  12. What's your opinion about power in running? Do you think garmin will put it in series as a polar or should we pull stryd for now? Or is there some other way?
    I comment that I'm very popular on the web, so keep it up.

    1. Well, my opinion is pretty much summed up in the Polar Vantage V test:

      I don't think Garmin is going to worry too much about power in the race at the moment. If they thought it was an interesting segment for customers they would have already done so, or at least supported it natively. In short, they know exactly how many users are currently using the power (for activity synchronization, application downloads, etc).

      1. Well, the issue of power is not something to be dismissed. And the fact that they don't support it natively seems to me to be a mistake on Garmin's part. The use through applications is too limited. It's not worthy of the in-depth analysis of training that Garmin has always shown. Bad for Garmin in this respect.

  13. Congratulations for the article, very complete and also has just convinced me to acquire the 945, as just died my Fenix 3 after four years of use.
    By the way, I also liked to see from your notifications that you are a Home Assistant user like me! ;-)) HA is also a great one, even more than 945. ;-))

  14. Hi! I'm doing a triathlon and I've just broken my 735, it's worth the 945 or I'd better take advantage of a 935 offer, or even the 735 again? Thank you.

  15. Good one, Eduardo.

    First of all, congratulations on the review, which was very complete and enlightening.
    However, since it is a very specific question, I put the question to you that can decide whether to acquire the 945 or not.

    To point out that my sporting activity is also my professional activity. At present I have the Garmin 235 and in terms of performance I am generally happy, except that the pulse measurement is absolutely poor (tested in all positions of the wrist and with different levels of pressure). As an example, in a training series I get a maximum pulse of 110. My trainer makes the measurements on time but he has already become serious and asks me for a constant pulse that is at least credible.

    My question is, will the GFR945 improve my measurement?

    1. The sensor is somewhat superior, but still for series and interval work you will need the chest pulse sensor yes or yes. If that bothers you you can always opt for an external optical sensor, such as the Polar OH1

  16. Thank you for the article. I have a query because of the many injuries I have suffered in the last year that make me think I am overtraining.
    I would like to know what 945 has to offer in this respect that is new compared to its predecessor 935.

    Thank you very much for your attention

  17. Hi, Eduardo!

    Speaking of the polar oh1, with beta 2.64, in addition to enabling the wrist heart rate monitor during swimming, would it be possible to use the armband to wear while swimming, "discarding" the wrist measurements and saving in the activity the heart rate recorded by the oh1? Because the latter is more reliable than the wrist reader.

    Thank you!

    1. No, but not because something has to be enabled in the watch, but because although the OH1 has memory, it is not compatible with the data download function of Garmin watches.

  18. Good morning, Eduardo,

    I've got a Phoenix 5 and I'm thinking of switching to this one. I'm backing off the open water thing. You think that bug will work.


  19. Good afternoon.
    I had a Garmin fr 620 that I retired prematurely because with its poor contrast I hardly saw the data. Especially on the sunset and wooded paths. Now I manage with a fr35 but I find data missing.
    I hesitate between the fr945 and the vantage V. For functions I think I would choose the 945, besides that I already know the Garmin system, but at my 54
    and vision sacrifice functions in favor of good contrast. Which do you think offers better readability?
    Cheer up with the web Eduardo.

    1. I think that with the FR945 you'll have better contrast and visibility, especially in the dark where the Vantage V doesn't exactly stand out.

  20. Congratulations for your analysis, they are really good. As a Fenix 5 user I have a doubt since I have GPS+Galileo configuration.
    In this analysis you talk about how the efficiency of Garmin with Galileo is still not very polished. So you recommend that in my Fenix 5 I use GPS+Glonass?

    1. It's different. On the 945 the problem is that the chipset is new (which has already received an update), so it doesn't apply to the Fenix 5.

  21. Hi! I'd love for you to do an analysis and compare how Garmin and Polar (Training Load PRO) work, work, and are the training load, which shows you each one, what they mean, which one you think does it best...if they are useful when they tell you to rest...

  22. Hi Eduardo, when you try the upgrade for the chipset or find out by some other means, can you confirm that the 945 open water problem has been fixed? Thank you very much and congratulations on your analysis.

    1. I've done some open water this summer and I've had good results, no training has been cut again. Reviewing the Garmin forums it also seems that all the topics where problems were reported have disappeared (not because they were deleted, but because they haven't been updated again), so it seems that it's already something that has seen a solution.

  23. Hi, Eduardo,
    I come from an F935 and previously a Fenix 3.
    Although I use it daily as a clock, I also get data from field trips, MTB and skiing.
    In use 100% clock, I have noticed that the battery lasts one week less than the 945, that is a 30-35% difference down, when it should be the opposite, no matter how much new Sony chip I have.
    Same sensors in use, no wifi or bluetooth, no notifications, pulse sensor deactivated, etc.
    Have you really noticed an improvement in duration? In my case, the opposite.
    All updated to the latest firmware version

    1. Please note that Sony's chipset is concerned with the use of satellites and does not interfere in any way with the exclusive use of watches.

      Doing frequent trainings (which is not the case now, because I am in preseason) I have noticed that extra duration. And more than extra duration what I notice is that between trainings the battery goes down less.

      Of course, I haven't used the FR945 daily for a long time (and I use the FR935 even less), so I don't know how the latest firmware updates have affected the clock, but reading in the Garmin forums the general consensus is that with the 3.30 the situation has improved.

  24. piece of article!!... congratulations!!. I am that I want to buy one and the offer of webs with almost 100 euros cheaper than in traditional webs (amazon, wiggle, etc) throws me back... what difference is there?, I have heard that the guarantee is not the same, that the maps are not compatible (asian with european or american). total, undecided to save 100 euros and then it is in chinese. some idea?.

    Thank you very much and congratulations on the articulation.

    1. Thank you, Alfredo.

      All the pages that have it cheaper (which has a lower price simply because it does not have VAT and does not pay taxes...) type eBay, eGlobal Central, etc. are Asian. They have no warranty, only one year through the seller and having to send it, at your expense, back to China.

      Furthermore, as you indicate, the probability of having a watch sent to you that is not from the European market is very high, so you would not have the correct maps. And finally, if the shipment is made from China you have a very high probability of having the package stopped at customs and paying taxes (VAT + duties + handling fees), so it will end up being more expensive than buying it in Europe.

      In the end, I wouldn't.

      Right now the cheapest place to be is on Wiggle, within reliable vendors and having access to warranty in Spain. And remember, if you buy through the links on the page you will be helping my work.

  25. Hi, Eduardo.
    Very good article. I practice running and swimming in the pool,
    I am interested in the HRM run tape because of the metrics it offers. What would be the advantage of buying the TRI BUNDLE.
    Thank you!

  26. Morning,

    I have a question, if you have activated the wrist pulse sensor and you link a sensor with a chest strap, if you do a default activity which sensor is used, the wrist or the chest?
    Do you have to deactivate the wrist sensor to take the values from the chest sensor?

    Thank you very much in advance.

  27. 2009, bought my first Garmin 310, wore out the buttons and said enough. 2013, buy 910xt, wore out the buttons and said enough, 2017, buy 920xt, will last long yet ....but the 945 is already at home, that of poser having maps on the wrist has always amazed me.
    As you can see, pro garmin, as I have had the connect since then.
    I love reading you.

  28. Dear Eduardo, I am writing to you from Cordoba, Argentina, excellent all the details. I read the tests because I am interested in acquiring the 945 for its features and improvements. I currently use a Forerunner 235 and it leaves a lot to be desired in the measurement of the heart rate at the wrist.
    Specifically, my question is whether the function of playing music can work simultaneously when the sports activity function is activated, for example cycling and listening to music?
    I look forward to your valuable input.

  29. Hello, Eduardo.

    Thanks to this excellent article (one more), I was thinking of switching from the Phoenix series to the Forerunner.

    Now I have a Fénix 3 and I use it basically for triathlon, as I don't do any mountain running.

    I don't know whether to go for a Fenix 6 or an FR945 (or the 955), as I am not clear about the differences between one series and the other.

    Thank you.

    1. Thank you Victor.

      If you want it for triathlon, the 945 is probably a better option simply because of its weight and a little less thickness (when it comes to putting it under the neoprene).

      In terms of performance, the Fenix 6 Pro and FR945 are the same, the only difference being the larger screen of the Fenix and the battery usage configuration function (and some "outdoor" functions in terms of navigation).

  30. Hi Eduardo, thanks for your analysis, it's great.
    I have doubts between the fr245M and the fr945. What stops me is the price. I run asphalt marathons and occasionally I want to run a couple of trails a year. I don't know if it's worth it for a couple of trails a year.
    Thank you very much.

    1. Since your primary use is on pavement, the FR245 would be more than enough. I would only opt for the 945 if you really think you're going to take advantage of its additional features: training load metrics, altitude information during the ride, and map navigation.

      If those three aspects don't matter excessively to you, I wouldn't spend the extra money you need for the 945.

      1. Hi, Eduardo,
        Another question. Do you know if I can see the route and at the same time the altitude profile of the race I'm doing? Is it possible to see it on both the 245 and the 945?
        Thank you very much!

        1. Yes, on the 945 when creating a route you will have access to the altitude profile, as well as to the Climb Pro functions that will indicate the profile of each of the climbs of which the route consists. It is only available on the 945, the 245 navigation only allows routes.

  31. Hi, Eduardo,

    I am looking at this watch. I have always come from Polar and have been with them all my life and happy with the brand. I have worked with several models. The Polar Sport Tester PE 3000, the Polar S-120- The Polar RCX-3, the Polar M-430.....All have lasted me many years. But now I would like my next watch to incorporate maps, hence the reason for my change of brand. But I have a doubt. I only have a laptop computer and I don't have a smatphone. My doubt is if the application Garmin Connect and Connect IQ can be used indistinctly on mobile or laptop. That is, podre take full advantage of the watch without smatphone? Do these applications work the same on a laptop as on a mobile?

    Thank you in advance and I encourage you for the great work you do.

  32. Hello, I have sent the 945 to garmin because it does not work correctly in open water and with the race on foot, garmin sent it back to me saying that no watch gives accurate data. and I bought this watch 600€ thinking that to do the Tri, I would be super well. I do not know what to do, my watch has only 6 months is under warranty and I have returned the same, gives the same errors in the sea and in the race on foot.
    So give me some advice, which watch can I buy to do the Tri?
    Thank you

    1. The same thing happened to me; I went from 735xT to the 945 thinking it was going to be better, and in open water it's a disaster, the measurement and the rhythms go to hell. And the technical service says that no watch measures the same ... that's clear, but differences of 350 meters in 2000 in open water seems excessive. Anyway.... for swimming in the sea I'm going to have to keep using my old 735.

  33. Hello! In my case I play tennis, the 945 does not mark correctly from the wrist either, very bad and erratic records.
    Diego V

  34. Hi, Eduardo!

    Congratulations on the review. I'm thinking of changing my FR735XT and I think that for the price difference, it is worth opting for the 945 instead of the 735XT. My doubt comes if by acquiring this model, it is worth to continue using the HRM-Run band instead of the optical pulse sensor (which in the 735 was not very reliable), and if using the band, it would stop generating some metrics that the watch offers without the need for it.
    The truth is that the TRI band increases the price of the watch a lot, and although I practice a variety of sports, I am more focused and competing in running.


    1. I assume you mean the 745 (and not the 735XT again).

      As of today, yes, the 945 is more interesting because they cost the same and have more features.

      As for the HRM-Run the only thing you would lose is the sensor's memory, which is mainly used for swimming. For everything else and for training and running competitions, you will have the same data with either sensor.

  35. Hi, Eduardo,

    Thank you very much for your analysis, it is a great help, I have a Suunto Ambit3 and I'm looking at his replacement, I like the Suunto 9 Baro, the Spartan Sport Wrist HR Baro and Garmin the forerunner945, I've always worn Suunto and I am very happy with the brand, but the Garmin is winning me, I regularly practice cycling, running both asphalt and mountain, and swim when I prepare some Olympic distance triathlon, plus some walking, so I would like your advice to have more idea.
    Greetings and thanks in advance

    1. It all depends on the need you have for maps for navigation. If you're going to do a lot of routes, the 945 is a clear winner. For triathlon I would still recommend a Garmin (they carry it better), but if you're used to Suunto it's something in your favor....

      What I would tell you is to go for the Suunto 9 Baro, the Spartan Sport Wrist HR as of today is not worth it compared to its competition.

      1. Thank you for answering, as I have a small wrist the 945 is also for me a point in its favor, and in terms of resistance of materials and screen, for the blows and use, which is more resistant?

        1. Except for the sapphire crystal of the Suunto 9 Baro (it resists scratches better) there is hardly any difference between them. Either one will get really ugly if you "rub it".

  36. Good afternoon,

    First of all I want to thank you for the excellent analysis, it was the one that made me say goodbye to Polar and buy this Garmin.
    I bought it this morning and so far very happy except for one thing, the buttons. They have a weird touch, sometimes they click and sometimes they don't (even if the button doesn't click the button does its function), other times it's like a double click, when I press it and when I release it, I don't know... it's something very random.

    is it normal? I've been looking online and there are people who complained and apparently Garmin recognized the problems and replaced clocks and such, but the thing is that they are messages in forums of 2019... I understand that Garmin in 2021 has already solved the problem.

    Anyway... as I say, the buttons work but the touch is weird and of course... just bought and I'm already pissed that it is defective haha.

    A salute.

    1. Yes, it is a known defect of the 945. In fact I have to send mine in for warranty precisely because of the buttons (bought the same week of release).

      In principle, the problem should already be solved, but if your unit has been in stock for some time, it will be one of those that still had this defect.

      1. Thank you very much Eduardo for your response.
        Well, I finally consulted the problem where I bought it (Decathlon) and they exchanged it for a unit sent directly from the warehouse and the truth is that it works fine.

        Best regards and congratulations for the blog.

  37. Hi, Eduardo,
    I have a question about buying for black friday (or previous offers). I need a GPS watch for a very mountaineering person who currently has a Fenix 3 but it is already working terribly. My initial idea was the Fenix 5 Plus because the Fenix 6 pro is too expensive but I don't know if the Forerunner 945 1TP10 could be an option or if the Fenix 5 plus is still preferable because of the price/age difference.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. On a performance level the FR945 and the Fenix 6 Pro are almost completely on par. The main difference is aesthetics and some navigation differences that not many people will use.

      Looking ahead to Black Friday, it is the Fenix 6 that will be on sale. The Fenix 5 Plus has already been left behind in the Garmin range, and the FR945 doesn't usually get too many offers as it is a model that sells quite well. Although perhaps this year with the arrival of the 945 LTE the situation will change.

      In any case, what I recommend is that you keep an eye on the website during those dates, as I always publish the best offers.

  38. Very good Eduardo, I'm thinking about taking the fr945 or the Fenix 6x pro. The sport I practice the most is running and some mountain, what I see is that the Fenix is something big, is it very annoying when you run? Let me know which one you prefer. Thank you very much in advance

    1. In favor of Fenix 6X
      - larger screen
      - small additional navigation options
      - more "premium" materials and appearance

      In favor of 945
      - much lighter
      - improved optical sensor performance
      - more comfortable to wear under a neoprene wetsuit

      In all other respects they are the same. I personally like the 945 better for the type of sport I do (triathlon). It adapts much better. But if you go mountain biking then you will appreciate the larger screen for route navigation. The size is noticeable, but you get used to it quickly.

      Check out all the offers for the Fenix 6 range in the specific Black Friday post, because today there are some very good opportunities.

  39. Hi, I have the same doubts as previous colleagues, I do a lot of mountain and so I hesitate between the Fenix 6 and the 945. We are in March 2022 so I do not know if something has changed in terms of performance of both models, or soon discontinued or would bring something at a similar price. I know the F7 came out, but those are big words in terms of price.

    One last thing, what do you mean about the additional navigation features of the F6?

    Once again, thank you very much for these very complete opinions.

    PS. What good prices 1TP11Could you currently get for the two models?

    1. There are some sight n go and similar functions, but of residual use. The navigation base is the same.

      The Solar I don't think it's worth it, in this range there are hardly any differences.

      In terms of price, right now the Fenix 6 Pro is cheaper at Amazon GermanyIn i-Run you get the Solar at a good price (and they give you money in your account), or sapphire

  40. A very well done article. Thank you. I 1TP11Could you tell me what the folders and files it brings mean? I have not seen it anywhere. The thing is that I would like to move my kml files from Google Maps to I don't know what folder on the FR945 so that I can read them, of course once I have moved them to gpx.

  41. Hi! I had a 935 and I changed it for a 945 because in open water swimming the measurement fails a lot, and my surprise is that in this one it still fails. It gives a metric of 200 meters less in 2800, swimming in a straight line, with few turns and stops; but if the swimming is with stops and many turns and twists and turns, the measurement is 300 meters less in 2000; my main sport is swimming, and it seems to me a considerable failure in a watch of that price; Garmin tell me that it is an error within the limits, but I do not think so, not so much because of the failure in the distance, but because it leads to a pace of more than 3 minutes in the 100, and averages that do not correspond to my real pace.

    1. This is normal behavior. Every time you put your hand in the water the watch loses GPS signal, and only recovers it in the short period of time it is out of the water. It is a digital signal that is not transmitted through the water, and there is no possibility of having better data.

  42. Hello, Eduardo.
    I have a question that, no matter how much I research, is not clarified anywhere. Can I customize the pool length to exactly 13 meters?
    Thank you very much.
    A salute.

  43. Good the 945 is still in Lepape at a very good price and the Phoenix 6x sapphire also (100 € more expensive). Which one do you think is a better option? Because more or less the features are the same no? I am afraid of the Fenix because it is big and heavy and the 945 because it is not very resistant to shocks or scratches. I do mountain biking, trail and asphalt running, and golf. The watch I really only wear it for sports and trail running. Thanks in advance, congratulations on your work and happy new year.

  44. Hello!!! I discovered the site by rebound and congratulations for the work 👏👏👏👏. I come from a 735 that has given everything, I only go out running, some MTB and swim a little. My ppto is 300€ and I found the 945 for that price and the 745 for 30€ less. For size I would prefer the 745, but seeing the battery and other features and the little difference in price, I really have many doubts. Which one would you recommend? Thanks and best regards.

      1. Thank you very much. Although I see that the 255 does not carry music and since I would like to improve is something I would like to include. The 255 music even if it comes out 100€ more you see it as a better option. Regards.

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