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Speed tests for the HP12c


As promised, here you will have some tests on the HP12c - old and new. 

We will not compare arbitrary tests, since these are very unlikely to happen for a typical HP12c user (the image I have of a HP12c is a no-nonsense business or banker user, who will not spend his life programming mathematical converging algorithms. He will instead compute net present valuers or internal return rates, and calculate the interest required for an objective monthly payment for a loan. So we will not focus on programming loops, but long financial calculations. :

We will too compare three units: the HP12c original (3 LR44 button batteries), HP12c Platinum (current version) and theHP12c current version (ARM Atmel-based, two cell)

1st test: Amortization calculation: monthly payment during 50 years

  • Loan: 200.000€, monthly payment
  • Interest: 5% yearly.
  • 50 years, 600 payment periods.
  • Full payment (FV = 0)

Amort calculation for 400 periods: f 400 amort.


  • Initial amount: -100
  • Cashflow 1: 26 (20 times)
  • Cashflow 2: 126 (1 time)
  • (IRR should be exactly 26%) seed: 10%

Here are the results:

  HP12c Orig. HP12c Plat. HP12c ARM  
Loan 102 9,5 1,0 seconds
NPV 2,5 instant instant seconds
IRR 21 2,7 instant seconds

As you can see, the difference in speed is amazing. You can argue that these type of calculations are better handled in a computer, and therefore the comparison is worthless. However, these kind of calculations are often discussed in meetings, where you don't have your computer in front - and there you may have to perform such calculations. I'd say that it is easy to live with the Platinum delays.

The platinum has another two big advantages. One, it can do algorithmic entry, as well as RPN. Not a selling point for me, but for others is a Yes/no issue. I can get my children to appreciate TPN - they have been using graphical calculators since the start and they don't see the need for RPN.

Second: it has a backspace for errors in data entry. This is a little bit of a pain in the ass in the HP12c "gold" when entering a long number: if you get it wrong, you have to start it from scratch again. I'd say this was more of a problem with previous versions where repeated keys and missed keys were normal - not the case with this latest one where no keys are missed or repeated.

On the other hand, I much prefer the smaller numbers of the HP12c over the tall, thin digits of the HP12c - also I don't like the garish color of the f, g keys and the alternate lettering. But tastes are so subjective...

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More about: HP12c, HP12c Platinum, hp12c+

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