summer worsley

Summer Worsley, Dive Instructor

PRODUCT REVIEW

The Suunto D5

The D5 is Suunto’s latest addition to its very popular D series of dive computers. This new model is hot from the manufacturer and made its debut on the market as recently as March 2019. Combining Suunto’s new FusedTM 2 RGBM decompression algorithm with a sleek new look, the D5 is set to become a crowd-pleasing choice. It’s also packing a few extra features we love.
suunto d5

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Read the complete list of 2019 best Dive Computers here!

suunto d5

Suunto D5 on the go!

Photograph from suunto.com

Suunto D5 Dive Computer: Key Specifications

  • Plan mode
  • User-friendly menu navigation
  • Metric or imperial display
  • Adjustable language settings
  • Stainless steel bezel in black or silver
  • Nitrox compatible up to 99% with ppO2 settings between 1.4 and 1.6
  • Three dive modes: air/Nitrox, freedive, gauge
  • USB included
  • Maximum depth 100m/328ft
  • Color display screen
  • Adjustable conservatism settings (P+2 to P-2)
  • Altitude settings
  • Logbook function
  • Rechargeable battery
  • Optional air integration, multiple tanks when paired with Suunto Tank PODs
  • Watch and stopwatch functions
  • In-built compass
  • Color-coded alarms
  • Gas switch compatible (up to three mixes of air and EANx only)
  • Customizable dive modes

Which is Better, the Suunto D5 or the Suunto Vyper Novo?

This is a tough one and we suspect for many people it’s going to come down to cost. The Vyper Novo is a great dive computer that just keeps on giving. It’s virtually indestructible and packs a lot of features into its large frame. The Vyper Novo is a pure, old-school-looking dive computer, you probably wouldn’t wear it to a wedding unless that wedding was underwater.

Like the D5, the Vyper Novo is gas-switch compatible, EANx compatible up to 99%, provides optional air-integration on multiple tanks, and has an in-built compass.

There are a few key differences though:

  • The D5’s battery is rechargeable, the Vyper Novo’s needs to be replaced but lasts longer
  • The Vyper Novo runs Suunto’s RGBM, the D5 runs the Suunto Fused™ 2 RGBM (more on that later)
  • The D5 is depth rated to 100m/328ft, a fair difference compared to the Vyper Novo’s 80m/262ft. That said, both are intended for use as recreational computers so depth ratings may not matter
  • The D5 has a full-color LCD screen, and a price to match

Both are really great dive computers but the D5 boasts a few more bells and whistles. Great if you can afford it, otherwise, the Vyper remains a top contender.

We think Suunto is precipitating a change with the D5 and expect a lot more recreational dive computers with color displays and user rechargeable batteries to hit the market in the coming years. We also suspect the new algorithm will get people talking.

Suunto D5 with changeable strap to fit your style!
Photograph from Suunto.com.com
suunto d5

What You Need to Know About the Suunto D5

Below are a few things we love about the Suunto D5 dive computer.

The D5 is a Beauty

We don’t say this lightly, but the D5 is probably the best looking dive computer we’ve seen in a while. Not only is the hardware itself sleek, shiny, and expensive looking, but the additional strap options mean each diver can create their own look if they choose to. For us, the key benefit is being able to have a computer that does perfect double duty as a daily watch.

We’d happily wear this computer to a wedding. We’d also rest easy in the knowledge that if we got a little inebriated at said wedding, our D5 would be tough enough to handle any bumps or knocks. Suunto really knocked it out of the park in terms of style and hardiness with this dive computer.

Adjustable Conservatism Settings

Divers can adjust their conservatism level, choosing from five personal options: +2, +1, 0, -1, and -2. The pluses adjust the decompression algorithm to become more conservative, and the minuses make it more “aggressive.”

Most of Suunto’s recreational dive computers don’t allow users to set minus conservatism levels, so we think this is a real plus for the D5. Suunto’s decompression model is known for being notoriously conservative; you might have even heard dive instructors joking about going into deco in the shower!

Of course, if you’re not sure what adjusting the algorithm will do and how it will affect your dives, leave the computer on the default setting of 0 — unless you intend to make it more conservative. Added safety factors are never a bad thing in our opinion.

Idle and Deep Sleep Modes

Both of these functions are part of the D5 to preserve its somewhat short battery life. The idle mode is automatically turned on after two minutes of inactivity. Pressing any button will wake the computer up.

Deep sleep mode occurs when the computer has been idle for a day or more. To wake the computer up again, connect it to your PC or Mac via the USB cable, push any button, or simply immerse the dive computer in water.

These two modes are clever additions from Suunto. Because the D5 boasts a full-color display, it necessarily uses more battery power. Being able to preserve that power for as long as possible is something we really appreciate about the D5. It also leads us to our next point…

User Rechargeable Battery

This is the very first recreational Suunto dive computer with a user-rechargeable battery. Just plug your D5 into the included USB cable and a power source to give it some juice. Each full charge should last you around 6 to 12 diving hours, or substantially longer if you’re just using the computer in time and date mode.

We’re impressed with this feature because it means no more fiddling around with O-rings and tiny screwdrivers, or sending the computer back to Suunto to have the battery replaced — here’s looking at you Suunto Stinger, hope you enjoyed all those trips to Finland!

There’s one drawback we’re not so keen on though; every time you recharge the Lithium-ion battery, you will have to recalibrate the compass. That’s not a big deal if you won’t use the in-built navigation aid. But, if you rely on your digital compass a lot, recalibrating after each charge will get a little tiresome, particularly while you’re still learning how to do it swiftly and accurately.

Ascent Rate Control

Like all Suuntos, the D5 dive computer doesn’t like it when you ascend any faster than 10m/32ft per minute. We agree with this rate, particularly since DAN released studies concluding that 9.1m/30ft per minute was the preferential ascent rate for recreational diving.

Here’s something nifty the Suunto D5 does to help you control your ascent rate. If, for example, a diver ascended a little faster than normal to clear a bit of reef or part of a wreck, the D5 will vibrate and alert that diver that he or she should stop ascending for a bit. The computer will let the diver know how long that pause should be and provide a count down.

Deep (Pyle) Stops

Unless you turn this function off, the computer’s default is to give deep stops on any dive deeper than 20m/65.5ft. This is new for Suunto, earlier models such as the D9 and Vytec DS had voluntary deep stops. Users should bear in mind that this function can be turned off, but really, it’s not that difficult to take a short stop, especially when these stops have proven benefits in terms of decompression.

Suunto D5 super clear, high contrast color screen underwater
Photograph from Suunto.com
suunto d5

The Suunto D5's Decompression Model

The D5 is running the new Suunto Fused™ 2 RGBM decompression model. In a nutshell, when developing the first Fused™ model, Suunto took the elements it liked from both its Suunto Technical RGBM and the full RGBM. Computers running that algorithm automatically switched between the two models to effectively manage the risk of DCS.

Then, when developing Fused™ 2, the company listened to customer feedback and headed in a less conservative direction. Suunto developed the new algorithm in tandem with Dr. Wienke, a decompression specialist and the developer of the RGBM (reduced gradient bubble model). The company has worked with Dr. Wienke since the 90s.

The Fused™ 2 RGBM is based on 15 different tissue compartments (theoretical compartments which represent how different areas of the body on-gas and off-gas at different rates) with halftimes ranging from 1 to 720 minutes. The algorithm is designed to manage dissolved gas and microbubbles in both the tissues and blood of a diver.

What Does This Mean for the Diver?

There’s a lot here that Suunto divers will be familiar with from the standard Suunto RGBM; NDL (no decompression limit) time penalties for continuous multiday diving, repetitive dives with short surface intervals, dives deeper than the previous one (reverse profiles), and rapid ascents, which enable microbubble build up.

If you’re moving from Suunto’s Technical RGMB, you might be surprised to discover that the Fused™ 2 model allows longer bottom times. The model still maintains Suunto’s conservatism features, but thanks to its extension, offers more time underwater. Indeed, the whole point of the Fused™ 2 RGBM is to maximize bottom times and minimize ascent times.

The model is also suited to CCR and technical diving, according to Suunto. We’d just like to reiterate here that the D5 is a recreational computer.

Divers will also notice that the no-fly times are shorter because the Fused™ 2 model doesn’t require that the tissues are completely free of residual gas on standard flights.

What Does This Mean for the Diver?

There’s a lot here that Suunto divers will be familiar with from the standard Suunto RGBM; NDL (no decompression limit) time penalties for continuous multiday diving, repetitive dives with short surface intervals, dives deeper than the previous one (reverse profiles), and rapid ascents, which enable microbubble build up.

If you’re moving from Suunto’s Technical RGMB, you might be surprised to discover that the Fused™ 2 model allows longer bottom times. The model still maintains Suunto’s conservatism features, but thanks to its extension, offers more time underwater. Indeed, the whole point of the Fused™ 2 RGBM is to maximize bottom times and minimize ascent times.

The model is also suited to CCR and technical diving, according to Suunto. We’d just like to reiterate here that the D5 is a recreational computer.

Divers will also notice that the no-fly times are shorter because the Fused™ 2 model doesn’t require that the tissues are completely free of residual gas on standard flights.

Suunto’s After Sales and Servicing Support

Suunto is very helpful and generally quick to respond to any problems you encounter with their computers.

Service centers can be found in licensed Suunto retailers or by contacting the company. In rare cases when there isn’t a service center in your country, the computer might have to be sent overseas. Replacements are provided when the computer is faulty and there’s no error on the user’s behalf.

The D5 cannot be serviced by users, doing so or attempting to do so will void the standard two-year warranty period or the five-year warranty on the depth sensor. Register your D5 here so you’ll receive personalized support should any issues arise.

Suunto D5 Test Dive Testimonials

Any Ongoing Maintenance?

As with any dive computer, the D5 needs minimal ongoing maintenance. Suunto recommends the D5 is serviced every 500 diving hours or two years, whichever comes first. Other than that, wash your brand spanking new D5 in fresh water after a dive, dry it with a soft cloth, and you’re good to go.

One thing we like about the D5 is that users can update the software. To do this, you’ll need the included USB cable and Suunto’s software. Head here to see the latest updates.

For full info, check the Suunto D5 user manual.

Summary

The D5 packs a lot of punch for such a small dive computer. Looking for just the takeaways from our review? You’ll find that below.

Manufacturer’s Specs and Features:

  • Nitrox compatible up to 99%
  • Intuitive user interface
  • Full-color LCD display
  • User updated firmware
  • Gas switch possible (air and EANx only)
  • Rechargeable battery
  • Suunto Fused™ 2 RGBM
  • Backlit screen
  • Adjustable conservatism and altitude settings
  • User customizable dive modes
  • Freedive mode and apnea timer
  • Stainless steel bezel
  • USB included
  • Optional air integration (multiple tanks)

What We Like:

  • It’s sleek and professional looking
  • Great for new divers and divers with more experience under their weight belt
  • Can adjust the algorithm to become more conservative or more aggressive
  • Gas-switch compatible
  • Colored display
  • Ascent rate controls
  • Good quality strap changes/options
  • In-built compass

What We Don’t Like:

  • You have to recalibrate the compass after recharging the battery
  • Breaking a decompression ceiling for more than three minutes will result in the algorithm locking and no decompression information will be displayed. If a tech dive wanted to use The D5 as a backup, and the dive plan deviated from Suunto’s algorithm, an algorithm lock is not very helpful. That said, the D5 was designed to be a recreational computer.

Buy This Computer If:

This is an excellent dive computer more than capable of taking you from your Open Water course all the way through your entire recreational diving journey. After taking a closer look at the D5, we’re impressed. It looks fantastic and it’s jam-packed with all the features even the most demanding recreational diver could need.

suunto d5
The Suunto D5 in different color, photo from sdswatersports.co.uk

Where to Buy:

We've done all the work for you and found the best prices on the Suunto D5:

Our recommendations:

Do you use this computer or have any questions about it? If so, please drop us a comment below and let us know your thoughts.


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