Garmin Forerunner 745 vs Vivoactive 4 – Product Comparison

Garmin Forerunner 745 vs Vivoactive 4 – Product Comparison

The Garmin Forerunner 745 is an accomplished GPS triathlon watch that has many similarities to it’s more expensive counterpart, the Forerunner 945. In fact, the similarities are so striking, it could be called a Forerunner 945 lite. You can learn more about the Forerunner 745 vs Forerunner 945 here

Then we have the Garmin Vivoactive 4, which is one of the best Garmin’s you can buy if you combine features, design and price. Admittedly it doesn’t have triathlon tracking, but it does have almost all the other primary sports that Garmin has to offer, including golf. Basically, if you don’t do triathlons and you’re on a tight budget, you should definitely consider the Vivoactive 4. 

Table of Contents

Key Similarities Table - Forerunner 745 vs Vivoactive 4

Forerunner 745

Vivoactive 4


Wrist-based HRM

Optical HRM Under Water

Indoor + Outdoor Running

Indoor + Outdoor Cycling

Indoor + Outdoor Rowing

Pool Swimming

Music Storage

Payments from Watch

3rd Party Running Power

Garmin Running Coach

Body Battery Score

Barometric Altimeter

Gyroscope + Accelerometer + Compass

Pulse Oximeter

Bluetooth, ANT+, Wi-Fi

Garmin Connect IQ

Respiration Rate

Safety/Incident Detection

Menstrual Cycle

Waterproof Rating



Music Storage Capacity

Up to 500 Songs

Up to 500 Songs

GPS Battery with Music

Up to 6 Hours

Up to 6 Hours

Topographical Maps

Garmin Vivoactive 4

Key Differences Table - Forerunner 745 vs Vivoactive 4

Garmin FR745

Vivoactive 4


More Expensive

Less Expensive

Physical Dimensions

43.8 x 43.8 x 13.3 mm

45.1 x 45.1 x 12.8 mm

Screen Resolution

240 x 240 pixels

260 x 260 pixels

Lens Material

Corning® Gorilla® Glass DX

Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3

Display Size

1.2" (30.4 mm) diameter

1.3" (33.0 mm) diameter


47 grams

50.5 grams

Smartwatch Battery

Up to 7 Days

Up to 8 Days

GPS Battery

Up to 16 Hours

Up to 18 Hours

GPS Battery with Music

Up to 6 Hours

Up to 6 Hours

UltraTrac GPS Battery

Up to 21 Hours

Triathlon Mode

Open Water Swimming

Garmin Running Power

Garmin PacePro

Garmin ClimbPro

Advanced Running Dynamics

Point-to-Point Navigation

Heat + Altitude Acclimation

Training Load + Training Focus

Daily Workout Suggestions

Golf Mode


Garmin Vivoactive 4

Main Differences Between Forerunner 745 and Garmin Vivoactive 4

  1. Triathlon Tracking: Both watches can track running, cycling and pool swimming. However, only the FR745 has a multisport triathlon mode. This is arguably the biggest difference between these two watches. 
  2. Touchscreen: The Garmin Vivoactive 4 has a 260 x 260 pixel touchscreen, while the FR745 relies on a button only interface with a 240 x 240 pixel screen. 
  3. Golf Tracking: The Garmin Vivoactive 4 includes golf tracking. This means that it is basically a dedicated golf watch, that also happens to be an excellent activity tracker. 
  4. Advanced Running Dynamics & Garmin Running Power: Only the Forerunner 745 is equipped with running dynamics and Garmin running power. This could be a dealbreaker if you’re passionate about running. 
  5. Daily Workout Suggestions: The Forerunner 745 recommends daily run and ride workouts based on your current fitness levels. Right now, it’s the only Garmin with this technology, but we expect this to carry over into other high end models like the FR945 and the Fenix range. 
  6. Garmin PacePro (FR745 Only): Garmin PacePro factors in elevation changes in your trainin course/race, and then calculates when to increase or decrease your pace for the best possible time.
  7. Garmin ClimbPro (FR745 Only): ClimbPro is a feature for cyclists that identifies any significant climbs on a course and then grades them according to difficulty. The whole goal of ClimbPro is to prepare you for each and every major ascent along a cycling route. 
  8. Open Water Swimming: The Forerunner 745 can track indoor swimming and open water swimming (essential for triathlons). The Garmin Vivoactive 4 is limited to pool swimming only. 

Reasons To Choose The Forerunner 745

Forerunner 745 Reasons

1. Triathlon Tracking & Enhanced Features For Endurance Sports

Simply put, the Forerunner 745 will serve experienced endurance athletes far better than the Garmin Vivoactive 4 can.  There are a number of reasons for this, highlighted in the bullet points below. 

  • Triathlon Mode
  • Open Water Swimming
  • Cycling power meter compatible
  • Advanced running dynamics
  • Garmin PacePro Pacing Strategies (running routes)
  • Garmin ClimbPro Hillclimbing strategies (cycling routes)

Collectively, these features add up to a more complete endurance sports watch. Modelling the FR745 after the FR945 was a good a decision on Garmin’s behalf. It means you can’t really go wrong with the FR745 if you’re a dedicated runner, cyclist, swimmer or triathlete. It will be a valuable companion during all your training sessions and on race day. 

2. The FR745 has better navigation capabilities

From a navigation perspective, the Forerunner 745 outperforms the Garmin Vivoactive 4. The bullet points below should make this clear. 

Garmin Vivoactive 4 Navigation Capabilities

  • Back to start
  • Total ascent/descent

Garmin Forerunner 745 Navigation Capabilities

  • Point-to-point navigation
  • Bread crumb trail in real time
  • Back to start
  • TracBack
  • Distance to destination
  • Elevation profile
  • Total ascent/descent
  • Vertical speed
  • Trail run auto climb
  • Barometric trend indicator
  • Future elevation plot

3. Advanced Running Dynamics + Garmin Running Power

By opting for the Garmin Forerunner 745, you can open up an array of advanced running stats that aren’t supported by the Garmin Vivoactive 4. The bullet points below explain these stats in greater detail. 

  • Ground Contact Time – The amount of time your foot spends on the ground with each stride.
  • Ground Contact Balance – The symmetry between your left and right foot when running. 
  • Vertical Oscillation –  The degree of upward ‘bounce’ in your running motion. Lowering this stat can increase running efficiency. 
  • Vertical Ratio  – The cost-benefit ratio with stride length. This allows you to discover the ideal stride length for chasing down a new PB. 
  • Cadence – Real time cadence stats displayed on the FR745. 
  • Stride Length – Real time stride length stats displayed directly on the Forerunner 745.  
  • Garmin Running Power – Measure your running power output in Watts (kinda like cyclists do).

There is just one thing you need to keep in mind. In order to unlock advanced running dynamics and running power on the Forerunner 745, you need to invest in one of the following four accessories. 

  1. Garmin Advanced Running Dynamics Pod
  2. Garmin HRM-Run
  3. Garmin HRM-Tri
  4. Garmin HRM-Pro

Forerunner 745 (Neo Tropic)

Forerunner 745 (White)

Reasons To Choose the Garmin Vivoactive 4


1. Touchscreen

The Vivoactive 4 has a high quality 260 x 260 pixel touchscreen,  whereas the FR745 relies exclusively on buttons to operate the watch. The main benefit is that a touchscreen makes the Garmin Vivoactive 4 look, feel and operate more like a Smartwatch.

  • Garmin Vivoactive Screen Details: 260 x 260 pixel, touchscreen
  • Garmin Forerunner 745 Screen Details: 240 x 240 pixels, button only interface

2. Golf Tracking Capabilities

The Garmin Vivoactive 4 includes almost all of Garmin’s best golf tracking features. This includes: 

  • Yardage to the whole
  • Yardage to hazards
  • Automatic measurement of shot distance
  • Digital scorecard
  • Round timer

In other words, the Vivoactive 4 has almost all the same features that you would expect in a dedicated GPS golf watch. The same cannot be said for the Forerunner 745.

3. Better Value For Money

There is a notable price difference between the Forerunner 745 and the Vivoactive 4. Regardless of whether you agree with Garmin’s pricing strategy, the underlying point is that the Garmin Vivoactive 4 is definitely one of the best value-for-money watches in Garmin’s product line-up.

It has a very well rounded selection of sports modes, excellent fitness tracking, a good quality touchscreen and a reasonably affordable price tag. In other words, it should tick most of the boxes for everyday people that exercise frequently or participate in a bunch of different sports. It’s really only the hardcore endurance athletes that should favor the Forerunner 745. 

Garmin Vivoactive 4 (Black)

Garmin Vivoactive 4 (Silver)

Sports Modes Comparison

Forerunner 745 Sports Modes

  1. Strength Training
  2. Cardio Training
  3. Elliptical Training
  4. Stair Stepping
  5. Floor Climbing
  6. Indoor Rowing
  7. Yoga
  8. Running
  9. Treadmill Running
  10. Indoor Track Running
  11. Trail Running
  12. Skiing
  13. Snowboarding
  14. XC Skiing
  15. Stand Up Paddleboarding
  16. Rowing
  17. Cycling
  18. Indoor Cycling
  19. Pool Swimming
  20. Walking
  21. Pilates
  22. Outdoor Track Running
  23. Virtual Running
  24. Kayaking
  25. Mountain Biking
  26. Open Water Swimming
  27. Swimrun
  28. Triathlon Tracking

Vivoactive 4 Sports Modes

  1. Strength Training
  2. Cardio Training
  3. Elliptical Training
  4. Stair Stepping
  5. Floor Climbing
  6. Indoor Rowing
  7. Yoga
  8. Pilates
  9. Running
  10. Treadmill Running
  11. Indoor Track Running
  12. Skiing
  13. Snowboarding
  14. XC Skiing
  15. Stand Up Paddleboarding
  16. Rowing
  17. Cyclings
  18. Indoor Cycling
  19. Pool Swimming
  20. Walking
  21. Golf

Final Thoughts

If you’re still can’t make a decision, these final buying tips may help. 

Go for the Forerunner 745 if:

  • You’re passionate about running
  • You’re an avid cyclist
  • You participate in triathlons
  • You need navigation capabilities
  • You prefer a button-only interface

Go for the Garmin Vivoactive 4 if: 

  • You don’t need triathlon tracking or open water swimming
  • You play golf regularly
  • You prefer a touchscreen interface
  • You want an excellent selection of sports and fitness features for a reasonable price

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