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Quick Comparison | Garmin Forerunner 945 Specs to 935 + MARQ Athlete

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Reading Time: 16 minutes

Here we have the full Garmin Forerunner 945 specs compared to the Garmin Forerunner 935 and Garmin MARQ ATHLETE. We’ll start out with some commentary of the new additions found in the FR945.

Return to the Full Garmin Forerunner 945 Review

Garmin ‘Pro’ MultiSport – State of Play

The earlier, Garmin Forerunner 935 was the best triathlon watch. It did all the right sporty things for broadly the right price.

It ticked all the boxes for workout planning, workout execution and working within Garmin’s open-enough platform to move your data to specialist 3rd party sites if that was what you wanted. It connected to the right sensors, in the right ways and it connected you socially and competitively to others. Factor in a ‘correct’ 5-button, non-touchscreen, lightweight format and an increasingly useful 3rd party app infrastructure then it soon became a compelling ‘must-have’ option for a serious triathlete.

What Is the Forerunner 945? What’s New?

The Garmin Forerunner 945 is broadly the same as a 935 but on techy steroids. It’s got improved hardware, slightly improved triathlon-related real sports functionalities and notably increased smart functionality.

It’s been future-proofed with a faster processor and longer-lasting battery package. Some of the tri stuff has been tweaked slightly and the Firstbeat physio algorithms improved and extended to match the new ones we heard about earlier this year on the MARQ.

But the big difference is that the new Garmin Forerunner 945 is moving more towards being a LIFESTYLE watch with MUSIC, MAPS and PAYMENTS. There’s no need to take it off your wrist other than to charge it.

That was enough to make me order one (Yes I really do buy my Garmins – no freebies here, no biased content) but I appreciate you are a discerning tech buyer so here are headlines followed by lots of details.

Assume these are all new to the 945

What’s New – Hardware Base

The new Forerunner 945 looks the same as the 935. But it’s faster and with more onboard memory, a new Sony GPS chip, Gorilla Glass and a new ELEVATE optical heart rate sensor. The FR945 might LOOK the same as the 935 but really it’s totally different inside! Although the lack of a QuickFit strap is annoying.

There are also new power-efficient components inside that we will never hear about but it’s the Sony GPS chip that WILL be the main contributor to saving battery consumption just as the other features like music will degrade it. The new ELEVATE sensor might be a slight battery saver too. The bottom line is that you now get a whopping 36 hours of GPS usage (Warning: that’s what Garmin say, me and others find the real battery life is MUCH less)

Note: Doubts exist about the accuracy of the Sony chip – As of 21 Nov 2020, Garmin has made significant improvements, also with the smaller 745.

What’s New – Garmin PAY

Garmin PAY turns your watch into a contactless payment card. For your bank to work it absolutely MUST be on this list: link to garmin.com. In the UK I started a STARLING bank account just for these kinds of transactions as the availability of this service linking to major European banks remains poor (2020).

What’s New – Music

The Forerunner 945 stores music onboard and plays it back over Bluetooth earbuds as you run. You can copy your personal music collection or sync to the watch from your SPOTIFY account, there are other providers too, but just realise that the Garmin Forerunner 945 doesn’t stream live – it stores data it pulls from your streaming service. But that’s OK. I’m cool with all of that.

Neither Apple Music nor Google Play Music is included…for now.

What’s New – Maps

Most of us will be Naysayers about the addition of maps.

Do we really navigate when cycling with a watch? Will we really use the inbuilt POIs to find a post-workout coffee shop? I suspect that as the months wear on and that part of your wrist that never gets tanned slightly adjusts to the FR945‘s shape then YES, I suspect you will start to do more of these things. Just because you can.

If you’ve never used Garmin’s on-device popularity routing then my recent experiences are generally very positive. It takes you where other runners and riders frequently go too.

Of course, a few of you will have been longing for maps for months for your sport-specific uses, so you’ll already be happy with this inclusion and reading the next section.

So, if you ever followed breadcrumb routes to navigate then it’s just made a whole lot easier with mapping and proper, re-routing functionality built-in. Indeed you can use the FR945 just like a car’s satnav to find a route to wherever you are going and that place could even be a known POI. As Garmin’s maps gain more POIs then 3rd parties will be able to deliver interesting new location-based experiences for us via CIQ Apps

There are proper, routable onboard maps for the region in which you bought the 945. You can buy maps for other regions from Garmin and there are apparently free ways of getting them too.

You can also create routes on the 945 itself although the process is a little ‘clunky’ – personally, I’d stick to routes made elsewhere.

What’s New – Firmware

There are a few differences here but the meat of the firmware is broadly the same as the existing Fenix 5/plus/935 devices. That said as of November 2020 there have been a series of significant firmware updates. including track mode and adaptive training guidance..

What’s New – Physiology by Firstbeat

Some of the calcs have been tweaked for more demanding environments and there are a few extra peripheral features that most of us will find occasionally interesting but which someone, somewhere will have a Eureka moment with. Even into October 2020 these were being significantly improved although a SLEEP WIDGET is still lacking (Garmin are working on it)

What’s New – In-Sport Features

For those of you who follow structured workouts from online providers, there are now improved ways for the likes of Training Peaks, Today’s Plan and Final Surge to natively get the files into the right part of your watch for you to use them.

The addition of ClimbPro is a nice-to-have. I’ve only really used ClimbPro when cycling, the wrist-format could work for fell runners who are following a specific race route but otherwise I’m not convinced about its real usefulness.

The new swim-run auto-transition feature for the MARQ appears to be missing. That’s strange but transition-related functionality WILL come to the 945 in due course (100% certainty).

Gripes

So far so good. But here are the ‘foibles’ I’ve encountered.

But it’s still a ‘happy camper 9/10 so far‘. Can’t wait for my proper GPS test but it’s down at about 5th on that list. Eesh.

Edit: I don’t regret buying the 945 in one sense….it’s got great smart features. In some ways, however, I regret buying it as a ‘just works’ sport-only device which the 935 was. That’s why the Polar Vantage V2 and Wahoo Elemnt Rival appeal to me as well.

 

You won’t regret buying one, just the same old foibles will mildy annoy you. At least you can listen to music whilst being mildly annoyed and sit there super-smug with that coffee the FR945 just bought you, as you know you have the best tri watch and no-one else does…yet.

Futures – What’s going to happen to the 945 over the next 2 years?

OK Garmin, take a lap” One day we will get voice activation of ‘sporty stuff’ but that will be the time when you know it’s right to find a new sport  😉

On that note. You already knew you were going to buy one. It’s now just a case of how soon you want it on your wrist.

I am not a salaried journalist and rely on your support to buy these Garmin and produce these guides. Your help is greatly appreciated.

Click to a buy link – will vary by country. powermetercity in the USA, Wiggle in the UK
Click to a buy link – will vary by country. powermetercity in the USA, Wiggle in the UK

Price, Discounts & Availability

Remember it looks the same as the 935. Ssssh. Your partner really will never realise what you have done. Maybe.

These are the rrp prices shown. Links will give you a choice of retailers usually with PMC/Competitive Cyclist & Wiggle being most competitive and trustworthy.

ORDER here at Wiggle or priority despatch at PowerMeterCity: http://geni.us/GarminForerunner945

 

Click to a buy link – will vary by country. powermetercity in the USA, Wiggle in the UK

Garmin Forerunner 945 Specifications, Comparison to 935, 945 vs MARQ Athlete

As you can see, below, the features are HIGHLY similar between all 3 models (Source: Garmin.com) but the MARQ even has the odd featurette or two which the 945 does not.

I’ve bolded the important differences

 

Forerunner® 945 MARQ Athlete Forerunner® 935
$599.99 USD $1,500.00 USD $499.99 USD and Up
Premium GPS running/triathlon smartwatch with music Modern tool watch with recovery time and VO2 max scales on the bezel Premium GPS running/triathlon watch with wrist-based heart rate
General
Lens Material Corning® Gorilla® Glass DX domed sapphire crystal chemically strengthened glass
Bezel Material fibre-reinforced polymer titanium fibre-reinforced polymer
Case material titanium fibre-reinforced polymer
QuickFit watch band compatible yes (22 mm) yes (22 mm) yes (22 mm)
Strap material silicone silicone rubber silicone
Physical size 47 x 47 x 13.7 mm Diameter x Thickness: 46 x 14.1 mm 47 x 47 x 13.9 mm
Fits wrists with a circumference of 130-220 mm Silicone rubber strap fits wrists with a circumference of 135-213 mm
Display size 1.2″ (30.4 mm) diameter 1.2” (30.4 mm) diameter 1.2″ (30.4 mm) diameter
Display resolution 240 x 240 pixels 240 x 240 pixels 240 x 240 pixels
Display type sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP) sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP) sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP)
Weight 50 g 94 g 49 g
Battery life Smartwatch Mode: Up to 2 weeks Smartwatch mode: Up to 12 days Smartwatch Mode: Up to 2 weeks
GPS mode with music: Up to 10 hours GPS mode: Up to 28 hours GPS/HR mode: Up to 24 hours
GPS mode without music: Up to 36 hours GPS with Music: Up to 9 hours UltraTrac mode: Up to 60 hours without wrist heart rate
UltraTrac mode: Up to 48 hours
Water rating 5 ATM 10 ATM 5 ATM
Colour display Yes Yes Yes
Memory/History 200 hours of activity data 32 GB 64 MB
Clock Features
Time/date Yes Yes Yes
GPS Time Sync Yes Yes Yes
Automatic daylight saving time Yes Yes Yes
Alarm clock Yes Yes Yes
Timer Yes Yes Yes
Stopwatch Yes Yes Yes
Sunrise/sunset times Yes Yes Yes
Sensors
GPS Yes Yes Yes
GLONASS Yes Yes Yes
Galileo Yes Yes Yes
Garmin Elevate wrist heart rate monitor Yes Yes Yes
Barometric altimeter Yes Yes Yes
Compass Yes Yes Yes
Gyroscope Yes Yes Yes
Accelerometer Yes Yes Yes
Thermometer Yes Yes Yes
Pulse Ox Yes yes (with Acclimation) No
Connectivity
Connectivity Bluetooth®, ANT+®, Wi-Fi® Bluetooth®, ANT+®, Wi-Fi® Bluetooth® Smart, ANT+®, Wi-Fi®
Connect IQ (downloadable watch faces, data fields, widgets and apps) Yes Yes Yes
Smart notifications Yes Yes Yes
Text response/reject phone call with text (Android only) Yes Yes Yes
Calendar Yes Yes Yes
Weather Yes Yes Yes
Controls smartphone music Yes Yes No
Plays and controls watch music Yes Yes No
Music Storage Up to 1000 songs up to 2000 songs
Find My Phone Yes Yes Yes
Find My Watch Yes Yes Yes
VIRB® Camera Remote Yes Yes Yes
Smartphone compatibility iPhone®, Android iPhone®, Android iPhone®, Android
Compatible with Garmin Connect Mobile Yes Yes Yes
Garmin Pay Yes Yes No
Safety and Tracking Features
Incident Detection during select activities yes (Smartphone Required) No
Assistance yes (Smartphone Required) No
LiveTrack Yes Yes Yes
Group LiveTrack Yes Yes Yes
Live Event Sharing Android Only Android Only No
Activity Tracking Features
Step counter Yes Yes Yes
Move bar (displays on device after a period of inactivity; walk for a couple of minutes to reset it) Yes Yes Yes
Auto goal (learns your activity level and assigns a daily step goal) Yes Yes Yes
Sleep monitoring (monitors total sleep and periods of movement or restful sleep) Yes Yes Yes
Calories Burned Yes Yes Yes
Floors climbed Yes Yes Yes
Distance travelled Yes Yes Yes
Intensity minutes Yes Yes Yes
TrueUp Yes Yes Yes
Move IQ Yes Yes Yes
Fitness Age yes (in app) yes (in app) yes (in app)
Body Battery Energy Monitor Yes Yes No
All-day Stress Tracking Yes Yes Yes
Gym & Fitness Equipment
Available gym activity profiles Strength, Cardio and Elliptical Training, Stair Stepping, Indoor Rowing and Yoga Strength, Cardio and Elliptical Training, Stair Stepping, Floor Climbing, Indoor Rowing and Yoga Indoor Rowing, Strength Training and Cardio Training
Cardio workouts Yes Yes Yes
Strength workouts Yes Yes Yes
Automatic rep counting Yes Yes Yes
Training, Planning and Analysis Features
Yes Yes Yes
GPS speed and distance Yes Yes Yes
Customizable data pages Yes Yes Yes
Customizable activity profiles Yes Yes Yes
Auto Pause® Yes Yes Yes
Interval training Yes Yes Yes
Advanced workouts Yes Yes Yes
Downloadable training plans Yes Yes Yes
Auto Lap® Yes Yes Yes
Manual lap Yes Yes Yes
Configurable lap alerts Yes Yes Yes
Heat and altitude acclimation Yes Yes No
V02 max Yes Yes Yes
Training Status (lets you see if you’re training effectively by tracking your training history and fitness level trend.) Yes Yes Yes
Training Load (your total training load for the last 7 days calculated from estimated EPOC) Yes Yes Yes
Training load focus Yes Yes No
Training Effect (aerobic) Yes Yes Yes
Training Effect (anaerobic) Yes Yes Yes
Primary benefit (Training Effect labels) Yes Yes No
Customizable alerts Yes Yes Yes
Audio prompts Yes Yes Yes
Finish time Yes Yes Yes
Virtual Partner Yes Yes Yes
Race an Activity Yes Yes Yes
Auto multisport activities Yes Yes Yes
Manual multisport activities Yes Yes Yes
Course guidance Yes Yes Yes
Segments (Live, Garmin) Yes Yes Yes
Strava features (Beacon, live segments) Yes Yes Yes
Round-trip course creator (running/cycling) Yes Yes No
Trendline Popularity Routing Yes Yes No
Touch and/or button lock Yes Yes Yes
Hotkeys Yes Yes Yes
Auto-scroll Yes Yes Yes
Activity history on watch Yes Yes Yes
Physio TrueUp Yes Yes Yes
Heart Rate Features
HR zones Yes Yes Yes
HR alerts Yes Yes Yes
HR calories Yes Yes Yes
% HR max Yes Yes Yes
% HRR Yes Yes Yes
Recovery time Yes Yes Yes
Auto max HR Yes Yes Yes
HRV stress test (measures your heart rate variability while standing still, for 3 minutes, to provide you with an estimated stress level; the scale of this is 1 to 100; low scores indicate lower stress levels) yes (with compatible accessory) yes (with compatible accessory) yes (with compatible accessory)
Records heart rate while swimming yes (with HRM-Tri and HRM-Swim) yes (with HRM Tri or HRM Swim) yes (with HRM-Tri and HRM-Swim)
HR Broadcast (broadcasts HR data over ANT+ to paired devices) Yes Yes Yes
Respiration rate (during exercise) yes (with compatible accessory) yes (with compatible accessory) No
Running Features
Available run profiles Running, Indoor Track Running, Treadmill Running, Trail Running Running, Treadmill Running, Trail Running, Indoor Track Running Running, Indoor Running, Trail Running
GPS-based distance, time and pace Yes Yes Yes
Running dynamics yes (with compatible accessory) yes (with compatible accessory) yes (with compatible accessory)
Vertical oscillation and ratio (the degree of ‘bounce’ in your running motion and the cost-benefit ratio with stride length) yes (with compatible accessory) yes (with compatible accessory) yes (with compatible accessory)
Ground contact time and balance (shows how much time, in the running motion, your foot is on the ground rather than in flight and lets you check your running symmetry) yes (with compatible accessory) yes (with compatible accessory) yes (with compatible accessory)
Stride length (real-time) yes (with compatible accessory) yes (with compatible accessory) yes (with compatible accessory)
Cadence (provides a real-time number of steps per minute) Yes Yes Yes
Performance condition (after running 6–20 minutes, compares your real-time condition to your average fitness level)
Lactate threshold (through analysis of your pace and heart rate, estimates the point where your muscles start to rapidly fatigue) yes (with compatible accessory) yes (with compatible accessory) yes (with compatible accessory)
Run workouts Yes Yes Yes
Race predictor Yes Yes Yes
Foot pod capable Yes Yes Yes
Outdoor Recreation Features
Available outdoor recreation profiles Hiking, Climbing, Skiing, Snowboarding, XC Skiing, Stand Up Paddleboarding, Rowing, Kayaking Hiking, Climbing, Mountain Biking, Skiing, Snowboarding, XC Skiing, Stand Up Paddleboarding, Rowing, Kayaking, Jumpmaster, Tactical Hiking, Climbing, Skiing, Snowboarding, XC Skiing, Stand Up Paddleboarding, Rowing, Jumpmaster, Tactical
Point-to-point navigation Yes Yes Yes
Bread crumb trail in real time Yes Yes Yes
Back to start Yes Yes Yes
TracBack® Yes Yes Yes
UltraTrac mode Yes Yes Yes
Around Me mode Yes Yes No
Elevation profile Yes Yes Yes
Distance to destination Yes Yes Yes
Barometric trend indicator with Storm Alert Yes Yes Yes
ClimbPro Ascent Planner Yes Yes No
Trail run auto climb Yes Yes Yes
Vertical speed Yes Yes Yes
Total ascent/descent Yes Yes Yes
Future elevation plot Yes Yes No
Preloaded topographical maps Yes Yes No
Preloaded ski resort maps Yes Yes No
Downloadable cartography support Yes Yes No
Compatible with BaseCamp Yes Yes Yes
GPS coordinates Yes Yes Yes
Projected waypoint Yes Yes Yes
Sight ‘N Go Yes Yes Yes
Area calculation yes (via Connect IQ) yes (via Connect IQ) yes (via Connect IQ)
Hunt/fish calendar yes (via Connect IQ) yes (via Connect IQ) yes (via Connect IQ)
Sun and moon information yes (via Connect IQ) yes (via Connect IQ) yes (via Connect IQ)
Dual grid coordinates Yes Yes Yes
XERO Locations Yes Yes No
Cycling Features
Available cycling profiles Biking, Indoor Biking, Mountain Biking Biking, Indoor Biking, Mountain Biking, Triathlon Biking, Indoor Biking, Mountain Biking
Courses Yes Yes Yes
Bike lap and lap maximum power (with power sensor) Yes Yes Yes
Race an activity Yes Yes Yes
Time/distance alerts (triggers alarm when you reach goal) Yes Yes Yes
FTP (Functional Threshold Power) yes (with compatible accessory) yes (with compatible accessory) yes (with compatible accessory)
Cycle Map (routable cycling-specific street map) Yes Yes Yes
Compatible with Vector (power meter) Yes Yes Yes
Power meter compatible (displays power data from compatible third-party ANT+-enabled power meters) Yes Yes Yes
Advanced Vector support Yes ? ?
Compatible with Varia Vision (head-mounted display) Yes Yes Yes
Compatible with Varia radar (rear-facing radar) Yes Yes Yes
Compatible with Varia lights Yes Yes Yes
Speed and cadence sensor support (with sensor) yes (ANT+® and Bluetooth® Smart sensors) yes (ANT+® and Bluetooth® Smart sensors) yes (ANT+® and Bluetooth® Smart sensors)
Swimming Features
Available swim profiles Pool Swimming, Open Water Swimming Pool Swimming, Open Water Swimming, Swimming/Running Pool Swimming, Open Water Swimming
Pool swim metrics (lengths, distance, pace, stroke count/rate, calories) Yes Yes Yes
Stroke type detection (freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly) Yes Yes Yes
Swim efficiency (SWOLF) Yes Yes Yes
Drill logging Yes Yes Yes
Pool swim workouts Yes Yes Yes
Open-water swim metrics (distance, pace, stroke count/rate, stroke distance, calories) Yes Yes Yes
Heart rate (real-time during rests, interval and session stats during rests, and automatic heart rate download post-swim) yes (with HRM-Tri and HRM-Swim) yes (with HRM-Tri and HRM-Swim) yes (with HRM-Tri and HRM-Swim)
In Brief
  • Price - 91%
    91%
  • Provisional Accuracy - 89%
    89%
  • Build Quality & Design - 92%
    92%
  • Features, Including App - 99%
    99%
  • Openness & Compatability - 98%
    98%
94%

Summary

The Garmin 945 we review here looks like the Forerunner 935 but is a wholly new piece of faster and more capable kit. The true ‘sport’ features have been tinkered with and improved a little but the main new features are the SMARTs coming from Garmin PAY, Music and Maps.

For once, it REALLY is a case that THE BEST has got better.

Pros

  • Contains every ‘proper’ triathlon feature
  • Revamped hardware – faster than the 935
  • Great battery life for extended GPS usage
  • Contains many new peripheral features notably ‘smarts’ like Maps, Music and Pay
  • Awesome connectivity to external sensors and openness to 3rd party sites

Cons

  • Price
  • oHR and GPS accuracy need extended investigation (broadly OK)
  • Menu interface feels clunky at first
  • No FE-C connectivity but almost everything else can be connected.
  • Don’t buy seocnd hand. Early units have button issues, tho most will have gone back to Garminand re-appear as refurb units.

Return to the Full Garmin Forerunner 945 Review

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