Top boating MFDs for 2021
7/19/2021

Multifunction displays (MFDs) have become the central nervous system of most boats, pulling information from just about every system and piece of equipment onboard and laying it out for the operator. Want to know where the fish are hiding, if the weather is going down hill or what the boat traffic ahead is doing? Call up those functions. Plotting the best course through unfamiliar waters or looking for a great dockside restaurant where you can tie up later, simple. Worried about someone falling overboard now that the weather is deteriorating and seas building, the man overboard alert is on the job 24/7.

Below are top-pick candidates if you’re shopping for a new MFD. These are the models that manufacturers singled out as the Best & Brightest of their line of MFDs—not necessarily the latest or the one with the most features, but the MFD that may be their most popular or technologically advanced or the workhorse of the line. This exercise in naming top products in 17 categories is something Marine Electronics Journal does every year. We call it the Best & Brightest Boating Electronics. We kicked off this year’s Best & Brightest last week with top-rated fishfinders/sonars. Here are the results of the MFD category for 2021. Next week The Mic will roll out the top-dog autopilots.


Garmin GPSMAP 1243xsv

Get a sharper view from your connected helm with the GPSMAP 1243xsv chartplotter. With its high-resolution 12-inch in-plane switching display, ultra-sleek design and vivid sonar color palette, it seamlessly integrates into your Garmin marine system. It also features built-in ultra high-definition SideVü and ClearVü scanning sonars and supports 1-kW CHIRP traditional sonar as well as fully networkable radar and Panoptix LiveScope sonar devices. Preloaded BlueChart g3 coastal charts and LakeVü g3 inland maps give you the best of Garmin and Navionics data—plus Auto Guidance technology. Easily build your marine system, from compatible sonar and autopilots to compatible radar, cameras and multimedia, using HTML 5.0, NMEA 2000 and NMEA 0183 network connectivity, J1939 for engines and the Garmin Marine Network.

Simrad NSS evo3S

The Simrad NSS evo3S allows users to experience top-quality levels of built-in functionality under all conditions using charts, radar, sonar and more. With a built-in GPS receiver and high-performance sonar, upgraded charting, support for HALO dome and open-array radars, as well as a range of Simrad autopilot systems, nearly all in-water activities are covered. Industry-standard connectivity makes it easy to create multi-display systems and link displays to all onboard electronics. The new iMX 8 high-performance processor ensures engine and fuel monitoring in real-time, control of onboard sound systems and much more. Systems can easily be expanded by adding Simrad modules and accessories, including the S5100 CHIRP Sonar, Active Imaging and ActiveTarget Live Sonar, HALO Pulse Compression radar and fully integrated Simrad autopilot.

Furuno NavNet TZtouch3 TZT19F

Furuno’s NavNet TZtouch3 is available in the 19-inch TZT19F multi-touch MFD. Features include a powerful quad-core processor for lightning-fast response, a built-in dual-channel 1-kW TruEcho CHIRP & CW fishfinder, edge-swipe features, and single-tap menu options, so you’re never more than a tap or swipe away from what you want to do. Furuno’s PIN code lock allows you to require a four-digit password on startup, keeping your data safe against theft. TZtouch3 utilizes Furuno’s award-winning network sensors, such as solid state Doppler radar, DFF3D multi-beam sonar with PBG (Personal Bathymetric Generator), AIS (Automatic Identification System), instruments, engine data, and more. NavNet TZtouch3 is also available in the 16-inch TZT16F and the 9-inch and 12-inch TZT9F and TZT12F with hybrid control.

Raymarine Axiom XL 24

The Axiom XL 24 is the pinnacle of Raymarine navigation and modern helm integration. Designed for glass bridge installations, Axiom XL 24 offers top performance, large format visibility and elegant simplicity. Every model in the Axiom XL lineup uses IPS display technology and optical bonding to deliver wider viewing angles, sharp contrast, and top readability in bright sun. Edge to edge glass construction gives vessel designers the ability to create integrated and elegant helms with a sleek, modern appearance. More than just a big MFD, Axiom XL 24 is also a powerful, super-bright HDMI monitor and repeater. It supports HDMI input and output, along with touch control input and output, making integration of other onboard systems easy.  

B&G Nemesis

Nemesis is the next generation of intelligent sailing data displays offering top-quality visibility, with complete customization or easy-to-use, pre-set, multifunction templates and automatic dashboards based on the point of sail. A bright IPS SolarMax HD touchscreen, with super-wide viewing angles provides the ability to view with polarized sunglasses from anywhere onboard. With adjustable data sizes, palettes and backlighting, Nemesis offers optimal viewing in all conditions, whether on the mast or in the cockpit. The all-in-one customizable display can be mounted in either portrait or landscape orientation and the easy-to-use drag and drop editor provides a wide choice of graphical gauges, SailSteer, tank levels, digital data, IP camera views, histograms and images.

Humminbird APEX 13 MEGA SI+

The APEX 13 MEGA SI+ chartplotter by Humminbird provides exceptionally clear sonar imaging. MEGA Imaging+ and Dual Spectrum CHIRP sonar come standard, with even more performance from a dedicated sonar channel for accessory 2D CHIRP transducers, up to 2 kW. See everything clearly on a 13.3-inch full-HD touchscreen display that provides a customized arrangement of information from advanced networking options like NMEA 0183/2000, HDMI In/Out, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.  Add the power of the One-Boat Network to integrate the accuracy of Humminbird Digital GPS charts, boat control from Minn Kota, and reach new depths with wireless control of Cannon Optimum downriggers. The APEX 13 MEGA SI+ chartplotter will take your fishing to a new level.

Maretron TSM810C

The TSM810C is a dedicated 8-inch touchscreen with N2KView vessel monitoring and control software that allows you to configure favorite screens with exactly the information you want to see from anywhere on the vessel. The display includes two USB ports for connecting keyboards, mice, or trackballs, and an Ethernet port for connecting IP cameras for viewing within N2KView. The unit’s solid-state disk drive withstands pounding associated with waves and only dissipates 10 watts (no need for internal cooling fans that are noisy and wear out, causing electronics to overheat and fail). The TSM810C can be mounted outside (TFT LCD screen and waterproof front) and contains two completely isolated CAN bus connectors (M12) for easy connection to single or redundant NMEA 2000 networks.

SI-TEX NavPro

New NavPro Series MFDs are now compatible with Navionics Platinum+ cartography, enabling a wide range of advanced navigation, fishing and cruising features on their high-resolution 9- and 12-inch LCD displays. NavPro comes bundled with free Navionics+ cartography that features advanced dock-to-dock Autorouting along with SonarCharts and SonarCharts Live. Adding optional Navionics Platinum+ cartography unlocks a range of additional features like 3D View, Panoramic Photos, Satellite Image Overlay w/SonarChart Shading, Relief Shading and more. Boaters will also be able to access the Platinum+ SonarChart detail, innovative 0.5-meter bathymetric charts created using proprietary data, and SonarChart Live, which lets anglers create their own contour maps using live data collected by the NavPro’s CHIRP sonar.  Easily integrates with SI-TEX’s wireless Wi-Fi MDS-12 network radar.

Lowrance Elite FS

The Elite Fishing System (FS) combines a full lineup of fishfinding tools with a display that is easy to use and install. From new, high-resolution ActiveTarget Live Sonar and Active Imaging with Lowrance CHIRP Sonar, SideScan and DownScan Imaging to preloaded C-MAP Contour+ Fishing Maps, Elite FS offers anglers all the tools needed to find and catch more fish. Elite FS displays include full networking capability with Ethernet and NMEA 2000 connectivity and integrated wireless, making it easy for anglers to create a complete system that fits the way they fish. Add HALO Dome Radar, Outboard Pilot or share sonar, charting, waypoints, and other user data between multiple displays via Ethernet.

Onwa KMulti

The new Onwa KMulti Series of MFDs showcases additional navigational functions compacted in one unit. The KMulti Series has two screen size options: 8 and 12 inches. The 12 inch also has a touchscreen variant, which is Onwa’s entry into touchscreen displays. KMulti series-compatible charts are K-Chart 2.0, K-Chart 3.0, C-Map Max and Navionics+. Apart from standard navigational functions such as Class B+ AIS transponder, fishfinder and radar, the KMulti also displays gauge screen and CCTV screen. It has user-defined screen modes (Dual,Tri and Quad) depending on the user’s preference and a built-in HDMI feature to connect to a bigger screen. The KMulti supports dual NMEA 2000 and NMEA 0183 interfaces.

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