Garmin Forerunner 745 vs 945: Which Running Watch is Right For You?

So you’re a serious runner or triathlete, and you’re looking for the best GPS watch to help with your training. You’ve narrowed it down to the Garmin Forerunner 745 vs 945, but you’re not sure which one you should pick.

The bottom line is that the Garmin Forerunner 745 and the Garmin Forerunner 945 are both great high-end watches. Either of them would do a good job of tracking your training. But the Forerunner 945 does have some unique features that you should consider.

Depending on your needs, you might find that it’s well worth the upgrade over the Forerunner 745.

Note: Garmin is currently running a great sale on some of it’s watches, including both the Forerunner 745 and 945. If you’re thinking about getting one, this is definitely the time to do it!

Comparing the Price of a Garmin Forerunner 745 vs 945

First, let’s deal with the obvious difference – the price.

The Garmin Forerunner 745 is an upper end mid-tier watch, and it retails for $499.99. If you look on Amazon, you might find a slight discount from time to time. But it’s usually close to the retail price.

The Garmin Forerunner 945 is Garmin’s top end Forerunner model. It’s the most expensive offering in this line of running watches. The base model retails for $599.99, while the newer LTE model retails for $649.99.

That’s not a huge difference, all things considered. The jump from the mid-tier Forerunner 245 to the 745 is higher ($200). If you’re already willing to shell out $500+ for the 745, it may not take much to nudge you up to the 945.

But ultimately, you’re going to have to consider the unique features on the Forerunner 945 – and decide if they are worth it for you.

Key Features on the Garmin Forerunner 945

Both the Garmin Forerunner 745 and 945 share many of the advanced features that set them apart from the lower-end Forerunners.

But there are a few key features that are unique to the Forerunner 945. These include LTE connectivity, improved maps, and access to Garmin Golf.

Advantage #1: LTE Connectivity Is Built In

An obvious distinction that sets the Garmin Forerunner 945 apart is that it has LTE connectivity built in.

All of the Garmin Forerunner watches can operate as smart watches, and they have various features to send messages. But the low and mid-tier Forerunners all require you to have your phone on you. These features work by piggybacking off your phone and sending messages that way.

Not so with the Forerunner 945. It has its own standalone connection, and it can directly message people.

This gives you much more flexible access to things like Live Track, Assistance, Live Event Sharing, and Spectator Messaging. This allows you to send updates to your fans while you’re running, and through spectator messaging you can even receive audio and text messages from them. Through the Assistance feature, you can also send a message for help.

This alone has me considering upgrading to the Garmin Forerunner 945. If my wife is watching me during a long race (i.e. a half marathon or marathon), I want her to be able to follow along and know where I am. I’ve run with my phone in the past, but I’d much rather not do so in the future. I think it would also be cool to get messages from my friends who are watching my progress during a major marathon.

This is also a safety feature, as well. You can confidently go out on a trail run and know that someone has your location is something goes wrong.

The only downside to this feature is that you need to pay a subscription fee to Garmin for the connection ($5.99 to $6.99 per month). It always bugs me when I have to pay a lot for a device – and then add on a monthly subscription to make full use of it. Also note that LTE Connectivity is not available on the standard 945 model – it’s an optional upgrade.

Advantage #2: Improved Maps and Navigation

Screenshot of what the map looks like on a Garmin Forerunner 945.

Another huge upgrade on the Garmin Forerunner 945 comes in the form of maps and navigation.

The Garmin 745 uses the same basic breadcrumb navigation that exists on the Forerunner 55 and 245. You can see a line that marks your route and a compass that points north. And that’s about it. It’s useful, but it’s not awesome.

When it comes to maps, the Garmin 945 is different. You’ll get an actual map with streets and trails marked on it. If you’re following a complex course or exploring a new city, this is going to be a lot more useful than the old navigation feature. My Forerunner 245 has stopped me from getting lost before, but it doesn’t do a lot to help me know where I am going.

A related feature is that you can automatically create a round trip course on your watch. Let’s say you’re in a new city, and you want to run 7 miles. You pick a direction, set the distance, and your watch will automatically create three appropriate loops for you to run. Again, a nifty feature if you find yourself in new cities often.

Now that I’m traveling more, exploring new trails and cities, this is another feature that really appeals to me.

Advantage #3: Access to Garmin Golf

Picture of Garmin's golf information for a particular hole, with the distance to the green.

Finally, another huge upgrade is the access to Garmin Golf. You can download golf courses onto your watch and follow along on the course while you play.

You’ll be able to see information related to the current hole, including distance to the green. You can also keep score on the watch and measure the distance of your shots.

I don’t play golf, so this particular feature doesn’t appeal to me. And it may not be useful for a lot of runners.

But if you are a golfer, then I imagine this is a huge value add for the Garmin 945.

Other Minor Differences Between the Garmin Forerunner 745 and 945

Aside from those major additional features, there are some other minor upgrades on the Garmin Forerunner 945.

For one, it includes a power save mode. You can configure it to turn off certain features and save energy. If you set a bed time, it will automatically go into power save mode then.

The Forerunner 945 has double the storage space. In terms of music, this means up to 1,000 songs – whereas the Forerunner 745 only has room for 500.

Both watches will track your respiration rate, but the 945 includes specific breath work activities. These are designed to help you relax and focus on your breathing, and if your stress spikes you’ll get a reminder to relax.

Both watches allow you to track yoga and pilates workouts. However, the 945 goes the extra mile and has on screen animations to make it easier to follow these workouts. That’s assuming you can look at your wrist while you’re twisted into a yoga pretzel.

Finally, the Garmin 945 includes some improved interval functionality. You can preprogram an interval workout and sync it to your Garmin 745 through Garmin Connect. But with the 945, you can set up a basic interval workout right from your watch. If you don’t know your workout ahead of time – maybe you’re joining a running group for a weekly workout with a coach – then this would be really helpful.

Physical Differences Between the Garmin Forerunner 745 and 945

There are a few physical differences in a comparison of the Garmin Forerunner 745 vs 945, as well.

The biggest difference is probably the battery. The 945 is rated for about twice the battery life as the 745 – up to two weeks in basic smartwatch mode and up to twelve hours with music on. If you’re a high mileage runner, this could help make sure your watch stays charged without putting it on the charger every day or two.

The 945 is also slightly bigger than the 745 – although the 945 LTE is closer to the 745 than the base model.

The two watches have the same Gorilla Glass DX, and they have the same size screen and display resolution. Both watches also use the same 22mm Quick Fit watch bands.

Features Common to Both Watches

It goes without saying that both the Garmin Forerunner 745 and the Garmin Forerunner 945 share a significant amount of features.

Both watches have built in GPS and can accurately track your runs. You can use Garmin Connect to create workouts and load them on your watch.

Both watches have the same sensors, including an optical heart rate monitor, a compass, an altimeter, a gyroscope, and a thermometer. The optical heart rate monitor will work pretty well in most circumstances, but if you have issues you can sync a heart rate strap like the HRM-Dual. With the external heart rate monitor, both watches also give you access to a lactate threshold field test.

They each track heart rate variability and stress, and use that data to calculate Garmin Body Battery. I’ve written more about Garmin Body Battery here. Both watches have advanced performance metrics, like Performance Condition and Training Status.

The 745 and 945 both include superior features for triathletes, including multi-sport activities, compatibility with power meters, and open water swimming.

Both watches can play music, and they sync with your phones to serve as basic smartwatches.

In other words, both watches are more than sufficient for the needs of most runners and triathletes. While there are a few cool features on the 945 that you may want – there’s nothing that’s really missing from the 745.

Garmin 745 vs 945: Which One Should You Get?

At the end of the day, you’re the only one that can determine whether the Garmin Forerunner 745 or Garmin Forerunner 945 is right for you.

Both watches are great high-end watches for runners and triathletes. You won’t be disappointed with either of them. But there are a few clear upgrades from the 945 to the 745, and depending on your needs you might find that they are worth a little extra money. Considering the fact that you’re already spending a minimum of $500 – it’s really not a huge deal to choose the slightly more expensive Garmin Forerunner 945.

For now, I’m still rocking my Garmin Forerunner 245. But I’ll be honest – the maps functionality and the LTE connectivity of the Garmin Forerunner 945 have me considering an upgrade. I’ll probably sit tight for now, but if there’s ever a good sale (Black Friday, maybe?), I might just pull the trigger.

Once you weighed the pros and cons, head over to Amazon and check out the latest prices on the Garmin Forerunner 745 and the Garmin Forerunner 945. They fluctuate from time to time, and you might be able to snag a deal.

And if you’re not sure if one of the other watches in the Garmin Forerunner might be better for you, check out this guide to picking the right Garmin Forerunner. Each one has some unique features that set it apart, but everyone’s needs are different.

Don’t forget to leave a comment below, as well. I’d love to hear what made you choose one watch over the other!

Note: Garmin is currently running a great sale on both of these watches. I don’t know when you’ll see them this cheap again. So if you’re on the fence – buy it now!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.