Garmin Forerunner 255 vs Garmin Forerunner 965

Garmin Forerunner 255 vs Garmin Forerunner 965

This post is part of the 2023 LITPro GPS Device Shootout series. To learn more about the details of this shootout, including format, devices we tested, and how we determine a winner, go here: 2023 GPS Shootout Intro.

Matchup #8 - Garmin Forerunner 255 vs Garmin Forerunner 965

We've already broken down the Garmin Forerunner 255 separately showing it versus the older generation Garmin Forerunner 235 (as well as benchmarking it with the Racebox Mini S) in the blog post here: Garmin Forerunner 255 vs Garmin Forerunner 235.  See that blog post for additional details.

We've also already broken down the Garmin Forerunner 965 separately showing it versus the Epix Pro (as well as benchmarking it with the Racebox Mini S) in the blog post here: Garmin Forerunner 965 vs epix Pro (Gen 2)-Sapphire Edition.  See that blog post for additional details.

So... this matchup is to get into the subjective details of our LITPro experience on the track with both of these watches.  The other blog posts show how they perform from an accuracy perspective and here we're diving into the usability and preference side of things. 


Garmin Forerunner 255 Vs. Racebox Mini S
Garmin Forerunner 965 Vs. Racebox Mini S
Summary of GPS Accuracy
The images above show a slight advantage to the Garmin Forerunner 965 in terms of accuracy, but we want to add a little color to these.  Both of these GPS watches from Garmin use the same chipset (MediaTek/Airoha chipset AG3335M). Furthermore, GPS watches can perform with slightly different accuracy from session to session even when nothing has changed about the watch itself.  This is because the constellation of GPS satellites in the sky are constantly moving, and so is your body and other objects near you that may be blocking the line of sight to the satellites in the sky as those satellites are constantly moving (or the earth rotating).  This means every time you do a test the results will be slightly different.  
Our LITPro opinion of the two GPS reports we display above is that these watches are effectively performing at equal levels of accuracy.  Both have the same GPS hardware internals, both of these are displaying accurate enough route lines to determine inside versus outside in a corner. 
From a LITPro (lap timing and lap analysis point of view) these two watches both have great GPS accuracy for the watch modality and should not be a main consideration when choosing between these two watches.

Other considerations: Usability with LITPro

The steps to log laps or use the Garmin watch with LITPro are the same for both watches, so there's no advantage either way here.  
Garmin Forerunner 255 & 965 Steps to log laps (see our help desk article for more detailed instructions):
  1. Start an outdoor GPS activity on your watch (any non-motorsports activity that uses GPS will be fine, but choose Mountain Biking for example)
  2. Go ride, then return and end, and save your activity on the watch.
  3. Launch the Garmin Connect app if it isn't already launched and usually the watch will automatically sync within a few seconds.
  4. Garmin automatically shares that activity data with LITPro over a backend-to-backend connection, meaning the data uploads to Garmin, then Garmin shares that directly with LITPro.  LITPro then processes that data into laps and lap analytics. Note that an Internet connection is required.
  5. You get a push notification in the LITPro app that your lap times are ready to review... All done!

    Other considerations: Heart Rate Tracking

    Both the Garmin Forerunner 255 and the Garmin Forerunner 965 have integrated heart rate tracking (using sensors that shoot light at your skin).  They both work as well as can be expected given a motocross activity that has plenty of vibration and jarring motions that can disrupt the light patterns the watches are looking for on your skin to accurately detect heart rate.  Added to that is if you get a little sweaty on your wrist there can accumulate dust which can turn to mud underneath the watch band making this kind of heart rate tracking impossible once that happens.

    Our recommendation for both watches is to also wear a chest-worn heart rate strap.  These are super reliable, and accurate.  Both of these watches can be paired with a bluetooth heart rate strap.  Our favorite is the Garmin HRM Dual Heart Rate Sensor. But any bluetooth compatible heart rate sensor will work with either watch.  

    Other considerations: Price

    The Garmin Forerunner 255: $349 USD

    The Garmin Forerunner 965: $599 USD

    Winner is the Garmin Forerunner 255.


    We think both of these watches are excellent choices for lap timing with the LITPro app.  Perhaps the biggest differences between the two might come down to price and the non-LITPro related aspects and specific features available on one or the other (we didn't cover those in this analysis).

    LITPro chooses the Garmin Forerunner 255 for the winner of this round.  It's more affordable and we love it!


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