Top of page logo

Suunto D5 - Diving Squad Report:

Diving Squad Rating:

10/10

“Stylish, durable and easy to use, the Suunto D5 is my favourite dive computer of all time and arguably the most popular mid-price option out there”.

 – Alex: Founder & Grand Admiral of the Diving Squad.

A defining feature of the D5 is it’s beautiful LED colour display which has a powerful backlight that you can adjust the brightness of. 

The stainless steel bezel; available in silver of black gives it a professional, somewhat nautical appearance and the comfortable silicon strap is available in many colours. 

Like all Suunto products, the D5 is suitably durable – but unlike cheaper dive computers it is watch sized (with a diameter of 2.08 inches / 53 mm) meaning it will look just as good on your wrist at a formal event as on a dive. 

This is an exceptionally easy to use dive computer with an intuitive user interface that even complete beginners will find easy to navigate. 

That said, theres also many great features for more experienced divers – including a digital compass, gas switch compatibility, alarm clock, optional air integration and an RGBM decompression algorithm that can be user-adjusted.

In this review, we’ll take an in-depth look at all the Suunto D5: it’s many great features, how it performs and if there’s room for improvement. 

That said, if you already know it’s for you click the green button below. Otherwise, read on for the full review!

PROS

    • Great value for money

    • Beautiful with range of styles

    • Bright LED screen

    • Adjustable backlight

    • Adjustable RGBM algorithm

    • Internal compass

    • Air integration option

    • Mixed gas compatible

    • Easy to use

    • Durable

    • User-rechargeable battery

CONS

  • Battery life is quite short (12 hours)

  • Not for tech diving 

  • More expensive than low-budget dive computers

“The Suunto D5 is my favourite dive computer of all time. I’m a huge fan of the LED display with it’s beautiful colour-coded data and adjustable backlight.

I love the stainless steel bezel – it makes the D5 visually stand out from other dive computers; it looks so professional and sleek with just a splash of nautical thrown in.

When being worn, the back of the D5 curves around my wrist comfortably, feeling snug yet light whilst the silicone strap has 21 adjustment points for finding the perfect fit!

Because the D5 is watch-sized, it never gets caught on my bcd strap as has been the case with bulkier, cheap dive computers.  It also means I can wear it in everyday life to just about any occasion. Some people think it’s just a really cool watch!

The D5 gives users a little more than the average dive computer – what with the digital compass, custom display setup and adjustable decompression algorithm. This makes it a great option for more experienced divers. 

At the same time it’s so straightforward  and simple in it’s user-interface that even a complete beginner will find it easy to use”.

Alex Hatton: Grand Admiral and Founder of the Diving Squad

Features:

Other Specs:

Depth rating: 328 ft / 100 m. 

Battery life: 12 Hours – USB charger cable. 

Diameter: 2.08 inches / 53 mm

Weight: 90 g / 3.17 oz

Suunto firmware

EANx compatible 

Silver or black bezel 

Interchangeable silicon strap in range of colours

1. 4 Modes: Air, Nitrox, Freedive & Off:

There’s nothing too out of the ordinary here! Like most modern dive computers, the Suunto D5 operates in 4 modes:

1) Air: no-deco limit info is given for standard scuba dives with a tank of…air (!).

2) Nitrox: if you’re Nitrox diving.

3) Freedive: for… freediving (!!).

4) Off: is where the dive computer simply functions as a watch (which is does a damn fine job of by the way!) thereby conserving energy. 

All boxes ticked. Good stuff but pretty much what you’d expect for any dive computer. Let’s move on to some of the D5’s more unique features…

2. Adjustable Suunto Decompression Model:

Let’s start with the absolute basics. RGBM stands for reduced gradient bubble model and its an algorithm developed by Bruce Wienke for calculating decompression stops needed for a particular dive profile to avoid the dreaded bends. 

In the case of the Suunto D5, it follows the Suunto Fused 2 RGBM Decompression model which takes the most user-popular features of the Suunto technical RGBM and Suunto full RGBM (and is designed for recreational diving). 

The result is a somewhat improved, slightly less conservative version of the original Suunto RGBM that still gives penalties for continuous multi-day diving, reverse profiling and rapid ascents etc, but which allows slightly longer overall dives.

What makes the RGBM algorithm for the Suunto D5 stand out is the fact that it’s adjustable:

Users can select from 5 levels: -2 , -1, 0, +1 and +2 which differ in how conservative or aggressive the decompression algorithm is. 

0 is a great starting point but users with existing risk factors for decompression sickness can select -1 or even -2 for a considerably more conservative algorithm. 

On the other end of the spectrum users with excellent physical fitness and lots of dive experience can opt for +1 or +2 for a more aggressive / less conservative algorithm meaning longer bottom and dive time. 

This is an extremely handy feature and one that’s rarely seen in most other dive computers. Nice!

3. Simple User Interface:

I love how incredibly straightforward and easy to use the Suunto D5 is. It’s operated by via 3 buttons on the right-hand side which are prominent enough to be easy to press even with thick dive gloves but also don’t come out far enough to stick into the side of the wearers wrist as has been the case with some of the older and much more bulky dive computers.

Now, you do get a user-manual when you buy the Suunto D5 which tells you everything you need to know about operating said controls and in truth the absolute best way to get familiar with operating a dive computer is by playing around with it in real life yourself!

All the same, let’s take a quick look at how to navigate through the controls of the Suunto D5:

Short holding or long holding each of the 3 gets different functionalities. 

Pressing the middle button lets you switch between displays, e.g. watch face, dive display (several formats), compass. Holding down the middle button takes you to the setup menu where you can adjust display info, settings, view dive logs, etc. Holding down the middle button again takes you out of menu and back to display. 

When in display mode, tapping the top button starts or stops the timer. Holding it down resets the timer.

Tapping the bottom buttons switches which data is displayed in the bottom window – e.g. temperature, compass heading, timer, no-deco time, gas heading, gas mix etc.  Holding down the bottom button in display mode lets you set the compass bearing. 

Check out the little diagram below to see the data you’ll be presented with when your Suunto D5 dive computer is set to standard dive mode display:

I am a big fan of how easy and intuitive it is to navigate through the controls; I felt entirely familiar the layout of the Suunto D5 within just 10 minutes of playing around with it the moment I go it out the box. 

There’s also enough custom-settings and data displays to keep an experienced diver happy whilst not so much that a complete beginner will feel overloaded with options!

4. Full Colour LED Display:

This has got to be my favourite part about the Suunto D5; it’s one of the incredibly few mid-priced dive computers that features an LED colour display.

Most other similarly priced dive computers have a colourless, dot matrix display and the few that do offer a colour display are typically quite hard to read at the surface. 

Not so for the Suunto D5; it’s high-contrast, adjustable backlight featuring LED display is easy to see whether you’re 90 feet deep or at the surface and has large, easy to read digits. 

It’s really nice that the alarms, warnings and notifications are all colour coded – it means you can process the info you’re presented with just a tiny bit faster, saving precious time. 

You can also choose between 3 dive mode displays which are easy and quick to switch through; simply tap the middle button. 

5. Dive Log and Planner Firmware:

Previous dives are listed in the dive log book by time and date with each entry showing the maximum depth and dive time of the log. 

If you want to view basic dive details on the D5 itself, you can do so by scrolling through the logs (located in main menu) with the upper or lower button and selecting a log with the middle button. Each dive log contains data samples with fixed 10 second internals. 

Of course, if you want to get a more detailed analysis of your logs you can easily do this by connecting your D5 to the the Suunto app, where the dive log info shows more much more information. 

With a memory space of 200 hours (roughly 400 dives) the D5 has a pretty good sized dive log – some luxury dive computers have much bigger dive logs than this, but many of the other mid-priced options and especially the cheaper ones have considerably shorter dive logs. 

You can save dive log data to the Suunto App – when you run out of space on the D5 it starts to delete your older dives. 

6. Alarms & Warnings:

Oh boy. There’s absolutely no way you’re going to miss a warning from the D5!

Although cheaper dive computers tend to only provide you with an audible alarm, the Suunto D5 provides visual colour-coded alarms (flashing yellow or red), physical alarms (vibrating on your wrist) and audible alarms (beeping). 

You can disable some of these alarms in menu setup if you so wish.

You get alarms for rapid ascent, failure to complete the 3 minute safety stop, staying down against no deco limits, reverse profiling, continuous multi-day diving, etc. 

If you continuously ignore these alarms, same as with all recreational dive computers, you’ll get a penalty where you’re locked out of the D5 and can’t use it for 24 hours!

7. Digital Compass:

The Suunto D5 features a digital compass (with 45 degree tilt compensation and +/- 15 degree accuracy) which is an excellent feature for more experienced divers.

It does take a little time figuring out how to quickly and effectively calibrate the compass – and annoyingly every time after you charge the D5 you have to reccaliberate it! But these things aside, it can be a literal life-saver.

The advantage of a digital compass over an actual one is that when featured on a dive computer with a high-contrast LED colour display with adjustable backlight – such as the D5, it’s incredibly easy to see – at any depth.  The disadvantage is that you have to calibrate it. Suunto recommend recalibrating the D5 compass after every dive. 

You can play around with the view so that the compass takes up the entire display – or so that you simply get the header reading in the bottom display of your main dive data window. 

8. Rechargeable battery:

The vast majority of mid-priced and all cheap dive computers are not user-rechargeable. Instead they must be sent off to the manufacturer every 18 – 24 months to have the battery replaced – or you need to do it manually but that’s fiddly and requires a tiny screwdriver – not to mention usually voids the user warranty. 

Problem eliminated when it comes to the D5, which is Suunto’s very first dive computer to feature a user rechargeable battery. All you’ve gotta do is take the your D5 and plug it into the included USB cable and a power source and give it some juice. 

A full charge (takes a couple of hours) usually provides you with around 12 hours of charge – or much longer if you’re only using it in time and data mode. 

Now admittedly, compared to other dive computers with rechargeable batteries, 12 hours is not very long. This is probably because most other dive computers with rechargeable batteries are a lot more expensive than the Suunto D5. 

As previously mentioned, you do have to recalibrate the digital compass every time after charging the D5, but because Suunto recommend you do this in between every dive anyway, it’s no big deal. 

To preserve its somewhat short battery life, the D5 features idle and deep sleep modes. Idle comes on automatically after 2 minutes of inactivity. Deep sleep occurs when it’s been active for a day or more. Wake the D5 up from either simply by pressing any button. 

9. Wireless Air Integration:

If you buy a Suunto Tank pod  (compatible with any Suunto dive computer) for a few hundred bucks extra, you get wireless air integration.

Whilst all dive computers using air integration tech show your tank pressure / remaining air, the D5 goes a step further by also calculating your remaining air based on your breathing rate – awesome stuff!

FINAL VERDICT:

With its stainless steel bezel in silver or black, high-contrast colour LED display and interchangeable silicone strap available in many colours, the Suunto D5 is quite possibly the coolest looking dive computer of them all. 

(Disclaimer, we at Diving Squad are convinced that the D5 most definitely is the coolest dive computer of them all!). 

It also offers the best value for money; with it’s incredibly durable design, awesome features like adjustable RGBM, digital compass, customisable display, user-rechargeable battery and extra air integration info, it feels like a luxury dive computer, despite only being mid-priced. 

This is a seriously nice recreational scuba diving computer – it’s so easy and straightforward to use, incredibly comfortable to wear and offers such awesome all-round quality that frankly we’re amazed it’s not more expensive than it is. 

If you can afford the D5, it is (in our humble opinions) the absolute best dive computer out there. 

Or read reviews of other Dive Computers:

Written by:

Alex

Alex

Scuba diving fanatic, nature geek and Grand Admiral of the Diving Squad