Garmin Edge 840 vs 830: What Is The Difference (And Is Solar Worth It)?

My favourite Garmin bike computer from the last generation was the Edge 830. Now we have the new Edge 840.

Specifically I have the new 840, for yessir I have bought one, so it’s time for another comparison.

Strap in for some similarities. Discover the differences. Set your brain to receive mode as I answer, straight into your eyeholes, the all important question:

Should you buy the Edge 830 or the 840?

[Whispers] Or, if you already own an Edge 830, should you upgrade? [Stops whispering cos grown men don’t whisper]

In the words of my local butcher (Mark The Butcher), let’s get into the meat.

Watch The Video Version of this Edge 840 vs 830…

… Or not. But it’s here if you want it.

The Edge 840 User Interface Has Been Upgraded

The 840 has a cleaner, more modern user interface versus the Edge 830.

The home screen is more dynamic. It comes with some default widgets providing some ‘at a glance’ info: your last ride overview, a compass, the weather.

Each widget can be clicked for more detail and to access the full feature set.

Edge 840 vs 830 updated UI

And you can add more of them (widgets), depending on your persuasion.

For a larf, I’ve added ‘Training Status’ (generally showing ‘Undertrained’), VO2 Max and Cycling Ability* (who knew there was a ‘Not sure you have any’ classification?).

(* More on the new training features below).

Where possible within a feature, Garmin seems to have upped the design ‘snazz’ factor (technical term). The summary available just after you’ve finished a ride is a bit funkier. The maps seem a little prettier.

Garmin hasn’t gone overboard though. The 840 is recognisably an Edge UI.

The classic ride screen with all the data fields in a grid is pretty much the same (maybe with a slightly larger font size and bit less white space – a welcome improvement). The 840 is just, overall, a bit more interesting to use.

Edge 840 vs 830 data screen

Talking of data screens and fields, with the 840, you can now add and change them directly within the Garmin Connect phone app. They then update automatically on the 840 device.

On the fly (ride) changes are still easier on the 840 itself, but it’s a handy feature if you spend your evenings polishing your perfect data screen setup from the comfort of your sofa.

The 830 does have the quick access menu (which is retained on the 840), pulled down from the top edge of the screen, it remains almost fully reliant on list-based menus. And sub-menus. And sub-sub-menus.

Edge 840 vs 830 quick access menu

Whilst the 840 also has a significant main menu (it wouldn’t be a Garmin Edge without one), and I’m sure there are sub-menus, the overall user experience feels much less reliant on scrolling back and forth, desperately trying to remember where you saw that all important feature or setting.

Edge 830 vs 840 menus

The Edge 840 Has More Buttons

In fact, the arrival of the 840 marks a cataclysmic, epoch-defining, pants-filling departure from Garmin’s strategy of having one touchscreen-only (ok, touchscreen-mainly) compact bike computer (the 8xx series) and one equivalent buttons-only compact bike computer (the 5xx series).

But let’s shift to plain English. The 840 has an additional 4 buttons versus the 830 – two extra on each side.

Buttons Edge 840 vs 830

The debonair 840 user can decide, on the fly, whether they wish to perform a task with either a swipe of the screen or a poke of a button. It supports either.

To be clear, using the 840’s touchscreen is easier, quicker and more intuitive than going with the buttons. When you do use the buttons for selecting the elements on the screen, a blue box appears around said element, which sullies slightly the 840’s refreshed UI.

But the buttons aren’t there for day-to-day use (if you are a committed button-phile, save some money and buy the Edge 540). Their purpose (I’m guessing) is to provide an alternative to the touchscreen when it’s raining or cold and you’re wearing gloves.

Now, I’ve never been part of the Garmin touchscreen hate brigade. There are some cyclists that claim they never work in the rain. I’ve generally found that the 830’s screen performs well in the wet.

But it is true that not every be-gloved finger swipe does exactly what I’m hoping for. Or indeed anything. So sometimes the gloves have to come off on a cold winter ride, which I don’t appreciate.

Edge 840 vs 830 side view

So I can see the value of having more buttons as an alternative, even if they do disrupt somewhat the 840’s ‘clean lines’ versus the Edge 830.

From Garmin’s perspective, it takes away the potential objection to paying up for the touchscreen version of its compact bike computer: “You say the touchscreen doesn’t work in all conditions? Fine, have some buttons to tickle.”

For the majority of riders, I’d say this is a significant improvement versus the older generation 830, and one worth having.

The 840 Version of ClimbPro Is Better Than On The 830

That’s the truth of the matter.

(And, yes, you CAN HANDLE THE TRUTH!)

There are a few presentational differences.

The Edge 840 has more shades of gradient colour with each climb broken down into a greater number of individually-coloured sections. In other words: the gradient charts of each climb look better and a bit more pro.

Edge 840 vs 830 ClimbPro detail

More importantly, where the 830 ClimbPro only kicks in when you’re following a course, the 840 version will pop up whenever you start a climb, whether you’re following a course or not. Which puts the 840 broadly in line with equivalent climb-specific features on the Hammerhead Karoo 2 and the V2 variants of the Wahoo ELEMNT.

You can search for nearby climbs using the Edge 840’s Climb Explore page, easily reached as one of the pull-down quick access screens. Climbs are also highlighted when you move around on the map screen.

Edge 840 Climb Explore

To be clear, ClimbPro on the 830 is great. I was, and still am, a big fan (anything to help quieten the ‘this climb will break me’ demons).

But the 840 version is a real hero feature. I likez it. A very lot. A major slap on the bum for buying the newer device.

The Edge 840 Has Solar Charging

Well, the Edge 840 has it (solar charging)… and the older 830 doesn’t.

It’s an option on the 840 though, so you don’t have to buy it. I did though, because I am a prime plonker (with a cycling blog).

As the name suggests, the battery on the 840 Solar replenishes when the sun shines on it (and, to a lesser extent, if it’s cloudy).

According to Garmin, the Solar variant might extend battery life by up to 6 hours (to 32 hours total).

Edge 840 ride summary
The solar, er, panels are the reddish bits around the edge of the screen

I’ve found the benefit to be marginal though, particularly in the context of a bike computer where the base, non-solar model already has an amazing 26 hour battery life.

By way of example, on a bright but not super sunny ride this morning (my ideal conditions), over the course of 2 hours 23 minutes, with average intensity of 33% (presumably some measure of the sun’s brightness), my 840 gained a whopping 6 minutes and 38 seconds.

In strong, continuous direct sunlight, the benefit is greater. But not all that much. And England rarely bestows on me such clement conditions.

So, solar charging goes, for me, firmly in the ‘nice to have’ column rather than ‘must have’. Not in itself something that would compel me to upgrade from the 830.

(But then I remind you of my prime plonker status, and that I did in fact purchase the solar version…).

Edge 840 Solar on box

The Edge 840 Has USB Charging

Well this one’s easier to describe, if not judge the value to you personally.

The Edge 840 uses a USB-C cable-wanger where the 830 uses micro-USB – a charging port whose use was first recorded in the Domesday book.

Edge 840 USB-C

The 840 is quicker to charge. The 830 is slower. Maybe this’ll make a difference if you often find yourself forgetting to charge until 5 minutes before your group ride.

But it’s not like micro-USB charging has died out. I have thousands of cables and I accrue more with each piece of random rechargeable tat purchased by my children (unicorn lamp anyone?).

Unless you’ve embarked on a USB-C only lifestyle (almost as wanky as CrossFit), purchasing the 830 probably won’t ruin your quest for charging purity.

Onwards!

Battery Life on the 840 Is Longer (But It Likely Doesn’t Matter)

We’ve already touched on this. The 840 revels in 26 hours of (Garmin-)claimed battery life for the base non-solar model.

With the power of the sun (and the spunking of extra moolah on the solar variant), that claim increases to 32 hours.

Edge 840 vs 830 differences

Both of which are: VERY LARGE NUMBERS (er, amounts of time spent riding on your bike).

The Edge 830 pales in comparison (not really) with 20 hours.

For me, all of these battery lives are in the ‘plenty large enough so I don’t have to worry about them’, er, bucket.

Twenty hours (or 26, or 32) can at least accommodate three big rides (probably 4-5 if I stop fooling myself that I ride 6 hours on the regular).

Edge 840 vs 830 battery save

Essentially, all three computers can support a week’s worth of regular riding, unless you’re a pro, and a weekly electro-juicing is an acceptable cadence for having to plug the thing in to charge.

So longer battery life on the 840 is, for me and I’d guess many others, in the ‘nice to have’ column rather than the ‘I must upgrade right now or I’ll scream’ one.

Garmin Edge 830

A powerful bike GPS with full on-board mapping. The touchscreen is responsive and works well, both in the map screen and for moving around the menus. Excellent training and safety features.

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The Edge 840 Has More Precise GPS Tracking (But Navigation Otherwise Is Similar)

Software-wise, the Edge 840 and 830 are similar from a navigation perspective. Nothing profoundly new has been introduced.

The 840 map files, in addition to being larger to accommodate all the extra ClimbPro data, now feature more bike-specific points of interest rather than the ‘general with a car flavour’ POIs seen on earlier generations.

Edge 840 vs 830 mapping

The main change is on the hardware front. The 840 appears to have more processing grunt, meaning route calculation and re-calculation times are quicker (or maybe Garmin just says it’s complete as soon as the first portion of the ride has been worked out).

The GPS chipset has definitely been upgraded, with the 840 now having multi-band GNSS. Whilst I don’t purport to understand the science (you expect me to research these articles? You don’t know me very well…), this means that tracking accuracy is superior on the Edge 840 versus the 830.

I’ve not tended to have an issue with my 830. Perhaps I don’t ride in sufficient urban or wooded locales for this to be a problem. If you do, and you have, then this pippity positioning precision may just be what the doctor (Ferrari) ordered.

The 840 Has More Training Features (But Will You Use Them…?)

I speculate that only the Garmin imagineers felt the Edge 830 was lacking in training features. I certainly didn’t feel it was missing anything.

The Edge 830 calculates and tracks (estimated) VO2 Max, training load and recovery time, and estimates the effect of recent training on the various aspects of your fitness (anaerobic, high aerobic, low aerobic).

Edge 840 vs 830 training features

However, said Garmin imagineers have come up with some new features on the 840 that the older device hasn’t also received:

  • Course demands
  • Real time stamina
  • Cycling ability
  • Power guide
  • Suggested workouts using a generated periodised training plan, based on a target race or event

Edge 840 Cycling Ability

If you’re heavily into training minutiae then it’s worth researching a bit more on the 840’s extra capabilities. I go into a little more detail on each in my comparison of the Edge 1040 and 1030 Plus, so you could always start there.

For the 99% in the ‘rest of us’ autobus, then I’d suggest the Edge 830 is good enough and sophisticated enough for our day to day training needs.

The Edge 840 Is A Bit Bigger Than The 830 (But Screen Size And Resolution Is The Same)

And the extra heft is entirely in the width department.

The 840’s girth accommodates the space needed around the screen for the solar panels (even if you bought the non-solar version), plus wider bevels generally.

Edge 840 width

The wider 840 doesn’t get you a bigger screen. The display is the same size as the 830 (2.6″) and the resolution is the same (246 x 322 pixels) – ok but not quite in the same league as the Hammerhead Karoo 2.

The 830 is sleeker and arguably (cos it’s subjective innit) more refined and attractive to look at.

Edge 830 width

All the buttons extrude visibly on the 840 (at the top and bottom of both sides). The 830 only has one button and the inward angle of the side means you can’t see it when looking directly at the screen.

But since both devices are compact and ultimately attached to a much bigger object (your bike) – and you’re unlikely to ride with both of them side by side – I can’t imagine the size difference being a significant factor in your buying decision.

Unless the 5-10g weight saving in favour of the 830 is sufficient to sway you….

A Quick Recap Of The Garmin Range (Before We Get To The Money Shot)

CategoryEdge x40 family (Current generation)Edge x30 family (Previous generation)Generation Comparison Posts
Large touchscreen1040 Solar / 1040 (my Edge 1040 review)1030 Plus (replaced 1030)Edge 1040 vs 1030 Plus
Compact touchscreen840 Solar / 840830 (my Edge 830 review)Edge 840 vs 830
Compact button-only540 Solar / 540530 (my Edge 530 review)
Budget miniNot yet released130 Plus (replaced 130)
TouringExplore 2Explore
Category Comparison PostsEdge 1040 vs 840Edge 1030 Plus vs 830
Edge 830 vs 530

So, Edge 840 Versus 830, Which Should You Buy?

Of course it’s horses for courses. I can’t mystically divine which one you should buy. My derriere is a-punctured with the splinters from the fence ‘pon which it is balanced.

But I do have at least one clear message to impart: there is nothing about the Edge 830 (the older one) that should prevent you from buying it, if that’s the way you’re leaning.

Edge 830 vs 840 home screen

The 830 remains a high quality, compact bike computer, with a touchscreen that I’ve always got on with. It has loads of training, navigation and safety features – too many to shake my magic selfie stick at (not a euphemism). It’s accurate, connects with all your sensor-jobbies, and just works.

The Edge 830 will absolutely support your enjoyment and progression on a bike (including, and I’ve largely stayed silent on this as I don’t own one, a mountain bike).

The likelihood is that you’ll find some excellent deals on the 830, certainly around sale periods.

But the Edge 840 is objectively better (you’d hope so).

I am a big fan of the freeride version of ClimbPro, and that’s not coming to the 830.

ClimbPro on Edge 840

Others will value the full suite of buttons on the device, the more precise satellite dragnet, the extra training whizzbangs.

I’m not convinced that solar is a ‘killer feature’, but then you can get the 840 version without it.

So, as always, if money’s no object, then you’d probably plump for the newer 840. And you’d probably be very happy with it.

Garmin Edge 830

A powerful bike GPS with full on-board mapping. The touchscreen is responsive and works well, both in the map screen and for moving around the menus. Excellent training and safety features.

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Some Other Bike Computer Options…

… That you can read about in these exciting posts:

Monty - Sportive Cyclist
Monty is an enthusiastic road cyclist with only moderate talent. He started Sportive Cyclist in 2013 to record the journey to his first 100 mile ride, the RideLondon 100. Over time the blog has expanded to include training advice, gear reviews and road cycling tales, all from the perspective of a not-very-fit MAMIL. Since you're here, Monty would also like you to check out his YouTube channel. Also, Monty really needs to stop referring to himself in the third person.

1 thought on “Garmin Edge 840 vs 830: What Is The Difference (And Is Solar Worth It)?”

  1. I am curious what your thoughts are on the Garmin 840 now vs the Wahoo Roam V2 in terms of overall user experience? I had an Edge 830 and the screen glare made it hard to see under mixed sun/shade conditions with normal cycling sunglasses so I switched to the Roam mostly for screen visibility. But I miss things like street names on the device, and have had to re-add sensors multiple times whereas I didn’t have that issue with the Garmin. Thanks!

    Reply

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