Sunday, March 18, 2012

Garmin GPSMap 76Cx Review


UPDATE: The GPSMAP 76Cx has been discontinued. We recommend the GPSMAP 78s as an alternative.

The Garmin GPSMap 76Cx is an update of the popular Garmin GPSMap 76C, which has been well loved by mariners and landlubbers alike. The 76Cx has the new SiRFSTARIII chipset, which has been garnering accolades for its fast acquisition time and awesome coverage under canopy, in urban canyons and even indoors! The other significant upgrade is that the 76Cx no longer utilizes the built in memory for MapSource maps, but loads them to a microSD card slot instead (the unit comes with a 128 MB card). This means you have unlimited map storage capability, plus you can use some of the newer MapSource software like City Select Mexico. Stepping up to the 76CSx adds a barometric altimeter and electronic compass. To see how the 76Cx stands up against other Garmin models, check out my Garmin handheld GPS comparison chart.

Compare prices on the Garmin GPSMAP 76Cx

UPDATE: In early 2009, it appears that Garmin stopped using the SiRFstar III chipet due to a patent dispute, substituting a MediaTek (MTK) chipset. While both are high-sensitivity chipsets, Garmin is still fine-tuning the MTK firmware. The switch to this chipset has reduced one of the advantages the 60/76 C(S)x series has enjoyed over newer Garmin models.

UPDATE 2: Here’s my 2010 take on SiRFstar III and the newer chipsets.


More Garmin GPSMAP 76Cx reviews

I’ll be posting more hands-on reviews as they show up online. Until then, here’s some additional info that may prove helpful:

Compare prices on the Garmin GPSMap 76Cx at these merchants:


About Rich Owings

Rich is the owner, editor and chief bottle-washer for GPS Tracklog. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or Google Plus.


  1. The Garmin 76Cx is very disappointing. Garmin recommended this unit after I contacted them about wanting a GPS I could transfer from my boat to my car and vice versa. It was more money than I had expected to pay but then it looked like it had everything I needed and although I knew I would have to buy a Bluechart map I was assured these were readily available on micro SD card. I was assured that the included Metroguide Europe software had detailed maps of the UK and therefore I would not need to purchase additional maps for using in the car. However when the unit arrived it became clear that the Metroguide Europe software does not do “auto-routing” (you can’t get the GPS to find places and direct you to them) unless you have first worked out all your routes on a PC and uploaded them to the 76CX unit. If you want the 76CX to behave like a proper automotive GPS unit you have to purchase the City Navigator software which is another £150! This seems completely crazy as dedicated car sat nav units are available for this price with auto-routing and all the bells and whistles as standard. The fact that Garmin didn’t include the City Navigator software rather than the completely useless Metroguide software seems very mean spirited to me. At this point I was starting to feel a bit ripped off so I thought I would just buy the Bluechart Micro SD card and use the 76CX on the boat, and probably buy a proper dedicated road GPS separately. However when I tried to buy the Bluechart map on Micro SD card I couldn’t find anyone in the UK who had them in stock. Garmin will only sell them directly within the US and eventually when I found someone who said they could order the card for me they said it would be “at least 10 days” to get it to them and it would cost 50% more than Garmin charge their US customers! After contacting Garmin’s support team I was told to buy a blank SD card and the Bluechart map on CD – even more expensive! The Bluechart maps are also for quite large areas which is useless for me as I only have a small boat with a 10 mile range so really wont need such a large area but still you have no option to just buy the bit you need – you have to purchase an entire section! All in all this unit is fine – the screen is smaller than I would have liked and there’s no voice directions, it also feels a lot flimsier than I thought it would, but the additional costs of maps and poor availability of pre programmed micro SD cards mean this is incredibly poor value for money – I really regret buying it now and wish I had done more research.

  2. Thanks for sharing your experience. Maybe it will keep someone else from repeating it. The Metroguide vs. City Select/ Navigator is quite confusing. I should do a post on it sometime. There are other things about Garmin’s business model that confuse people as well — some units come with software, some don’t. And I can’t even begin to address the issues facing our friends across the pond. I understand that Garmin is making some inroads in Europe, but it sounds like they need to improve their distribution and pricing there, at the very least.

  3. While one cannot but have sympathy for our British Cousin’s frustration, the simple fact of the matter is his post is not a “review”, really, but a rant. We have all been there, but the fact of the matter is, with a little extra research, and some double checking, it all could have been avoided. He is “blaming” a machine, and a company, which will very expertly, with great accuracy do what he wants it to do, if only he could learn how.
    Pricing in the EU is not expensive, but it seems as if his expectations of what the cost should be is a tad unrealistic, and out of sync with what Garmin, Megellian and others actually charge. The fact of the matter is, the 76Cx has unlimited storage, and the ability to accept third-party software where others do not. That alone makes it a huge bargain, and very flexible. Users should check out this independent review:

  4. Thanks Fallon. I’m actually glad to see the manufacturers going to pre-loaded maps, because it can be confusing. I’ve wondered if I should have a disclaimer on every handheld I review — maps cost extra!


  1. […] Garmin GPSMap 76Cx Review – GPS Tracklog – The Garmin GPSMap 76Cx is an update of the popular Garmin GPSMap 76C, which has been well loved by mariners and landlubbers alike. The 76Cx has the new …… […]

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