Garmin Forerunner 965 vs Suunto Race

Garmin Forerunner 965 vs Suunto Race: who wins?

In Suunto Race and Garmin Forerunner 965, we see two high-end sports watches designed for those serious about their athletic pursuits. Launched in October 2023 and March 2023 respectively, they are top of the line.

Essential readingTop fitness trackers and health gadgets

This comparison piece delves into the nuances of these two advanced wearable devices, examining their features, functionalities, and overall value proposition. The watches cater to a similar audience but with slightly different emphases. Keep reading to figure out if one of these is right for you.

Key takeaways

The Suunto Race is ideal for users who prioritize specialized fitness and health tracking, especially in rigorous training contexts. The device provides excellent value for money, and is the less expensive option of the two. The Garmin Forerunner 965, meanwhile, is more suited for users seeking a comprehensive sports tracker that comes with some extras such as built-in storage for music and NFC for contactless payments.

View on Garmin / Suunto; View on Amazon (Forerunner 965, Suunto Race).

Jump to

Technical specs
Bottom line

Garmin Forerunner 965 vs Suunto Race: Hardware

Design & display

Put them side-by-side and you’ll notice that Suunto Race and Garmin Forerunner 965 share lots of design similarities. However, there are some distinct characteristics in their look and feel you should be aware of.

Both watches feature a round shape, which gives them a classic and versatile appearance, suitable for both athletic and casual settings. The Suunto Race, with its titanium or stainless steel bezel and fibre polymer case, offers a robust and durable build. It’s complemented by a sapphire crystal glass material, adding to its premium feel and scratch resistance.

The Garmin Forerunner 965, in contrast, opts for a lens made of Corning Gorilla Glass DX, which is known for its durability. The bezel is made of Carbon Gray DLC Titanium, which lends it a sleek and modern look. The case of the Forerunner 965 is made of fiber-reinforced polymer, balancing strength with lightness.

In terms of physical buttons, the Suunto Race features a digital crown and two flat buttons. This provides a tactile and intuitive interface for navigation and control. The Garmin Forerunner 965 keeps things more simple. It includes five buttons, which might appeal to users who prefer more direct physical controls for various functions.

Display, colour options, water-resistance

The display is a standout feature for both models. They both employ AMOLED screens, known for their vibrant colors and deep blacks. The Suunto Race offers a slightly larger screen size at 1.43 inches and a higher resolution of 466 x 466 pixels, compared to the 1.4-inch screen and 454 x 454 pixels resolution of the Forerunner 965. This difference, while subtle, might be noticeable to users who prioritize screen clarity and detail.

Color options for both watches provide some variety. The Suunto Race comes in All Black and Titanium Charcoal, offering a more understated and professional look. The Garmin Forerunner 965, available in Black, White/Gray, and Yellow/Black, provides options that range from classic to more sporty and vibrant, catering to different personal styles.

Water resistance is another important aspect, especially for athletes and outdoor enthusiasts. The Suunto Race boasts a water resistance of 10 ATM, making it suitable for swimming and high-impact water sports. The Garmin Forerunner 965 has a water resistance of 5 ATM. This is still robust but slightly less than the Suunto Race, making it more suitable for moderate water activities.

Sensor technology

As far as sensors, the Suunto Race and Garmin Forerunner 965 are both equipped with a range of goodies.

Starting with the Suunto Race, it includes a heart rate sensor, an optical pulse oximeter, a barometric altimeter, an accelerometer, a gyroscope, and a compass. This combination provide comprehensive tracking of physical activities and health metrics. For GPS connectivity, the Suunto Race is quite versatile, supporting GPS with L1 and L5 Dual Frequency, GLONASS, GALILEO, BeiDou, and QZSS. This wide range of satellite networks ensures accurate and reliable location tracking across various environments.

However, the Suunto Race does not feature NFC for contactless payments. It also lacks built-in music storage, which might be a drawback for users who prefer to have these functionalities directly on their wrist.

On the other hand, the Garmin Forerunner 965 comes with a similar set of sensors. This includes a barometric altimeter, compass, accelerometer, gyroscope, thermometer, heart rate monitor, and Pulse OX. In terms of GPS connectivity, the Forerunner 965 supports Dual Frequency GPS, GLONASS, and GALILEO, ensuring precise location tracking during outdoor activities.

A significant addition to the Forerunner 965 is the inclusion of NFC, enabling contactless payments. Moreover, the Forerunner 965 stands out with its music storage capability. This allows users to store up to 2000 songs directly on the watch, which is a significant advantage for those who enjoy listening to music without needing to carry a smartphone.

Battery life

Both devices offer impressive battery life, tailored to meet the demands of athletes and active individuals. Whichever device you choose, you’ll have no worries on this count.

The Suunto Race stands out with its multiband/dual-frequency GPS mode. It can last up to 40 hours, and this extends remarkably to 120 hours in ‘Tour’ mode, catering to long-duration sports like ultramarathons or multi-day cycling events. For everyday use, its battery can last up to 26 days in daily mode.

On the other hand, the Garmin Forerunner 965 also showcases strong battery life, lasting up to 23 days in smartwatch mode. When using GPS, the battery life is about 31 hours, making it suitable for extended outdoor activities.

Garmin Forerunner 965 vs Suunto Race: Technical specs

Here’s the tech specs comparison table for the Suunto Race and Garmin Forerunner 965:

Suunto Race
Garmin Forerunner 965
Release Date
Case Material
Titanium or stainless steel bezel, fibre polymer case, Sapphire crystal glass
Lens: Corning Gorilla Glass DX, Bezel: Carbon Gray DLC Titanium, Case: fiber-reinforced polymer
Number of Physical Buttons
Digital crown + 2 flat buttons
5 flat buttons
49 x 49 x 13.3 mm
47.1 x 47.1 x 13.2 mm
Display Type
466 x 466 pixels
454 x 454 pixels
Screen Size
1.43 inch
1.4 inch
Weight (without strap)
69 grams (Titanium), 83 grams (Stainless Steel)
53 grams
Heart rate, Optical pulse oximeter, Barometric altimeter, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Compass
Barometric altimeter, Compass, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Thermometer, Heart rate, Pulse OX
10 ATM
Dual Frequency GLONASS, GALILEO, BeiDou, QZSS
Built-in Speaker
Music Storage
Yes (up to 2000 songs)
Bluetooth, ANT+, WiFi
Cellular Connectivity
Battery Type
Battery Life
Up to 26 days (daily mode), 40 hrs (multiband mode), 120 hrs (Tour mode)
Up to 23 days (smartwatch mode), 31 hrs (GPS mode)
Operating System
Suunto OS
All Black, Titanium Charcoal
Black, White/Gray, Yellow/Black
Typical RRP
$450 and up

Garmin Forerunner 965 vs Suunto Race: Features

The Suunto Race excels in providing detailed health monitoring and fitness tracking. It’s particularly adept at catering to athletes who need insights into their training and recovery. The watch’s focus on heart rate variability (HRV) tracking stands out, offering athletes a deeper understanding of their recovery states, which is crucial for optimizing training schedules and preventing overtraining.

The Garmin Forerunner 965, on the other hand, is a powerhouse in terms of fitness tracking versatility. It’s designed not just for runners, but for a broad spectrum of activities. The watch’s strength lies in its comprehensive approach to activity tracking, offering nuanced insights into various aspects of physical performance. This makes it an ideal companion for users who engage in a diverse range of sports and physical activities.

Smartwatch-type features

When it comes to smartwatch capabilities, the Garmin Forerunner 965 takes a more connected and multifunctional approach. Its features like contactless payments and music storage appeal to users who value a blend of fitness tracking with everyday smartwatch conveniences. These additions make the Forerunner 965 a versatile device, suitable for both fitness activities and daily wear.

The Suunto Race, while not as feature-rich in smartwatch functionalities like NFC and music storage, focuses on enhancing the athletic experience. Its user interface is tailored for ease of use during physical activities, emphasizing efficient and straightforward interaction, which is beneficial during intense workouts or sports activities.

Garmin Forerunner 965 vs Suunto Race: Price

In terms of pricing, the Suunto Race and Garmin Forerunner 965 are positioned differently. The first, with its focus on robust health and fitness tracking, is priced competitively, starting at around $450 for the steel model, and increasing to about $550 for the titanium version.

The Garmin Forerunner 965, which offers a broader range of features including advanced fitness tracking, smartwatch capabilities like NFC and music storage, is priced higher, starting at around $600. This price point is indicative of its positioning as a premium multisport watch.

Garmin Forerunner 965 vs Suunto Race: Final thoughts

The Suunto Race and Garmin Forerunner 965 each stand out in their own right, catering to different segments of the sports watch market. The Suunto Race, with its competitive pricing starting at $450, offers a durable build and specialized health and fitness tracking features, making it an excellent choice for athletes focused on performance and recovery. Its robust design and extended battery life in various modes are particularly suited for endurance sports and outdoor activities.

The Garmin Forerunner 965, priced at around $600, is a more versatile device, offering a blend of advanced fitness tracking and smartwatch functionalities like NFC and music storage. Its comprehensive feature set makes it ideal for users who want a single device that excels in fitness and sports tracking while also serving everyday smartwatch needs.

View on Garmin / Suunto; View on Amazon (Forerunner 965, Suunto Race).

You may also be interested in:

Polar Vantage V3 vs Suunto Race
Amazfit Cheetah Pro vs Garmin Forerunner 265
Polar Vantage V3 vs Garmin Forerunner 965
Garmin Venu 3 vs Forerunner 965 vs 265

Like this article? Subscribe to our monthly newsletter and never miss out!

Marko Maslakovic

Marko founded Gadgets & Wearables in 2014, having worked for more than 15 years in the City of London’s financial district. Since then, he has led the company’s charge to become a leading information source on health and fitness gadgets and wearables.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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