Garmin Venu vs Garmin Forerunner 945

Garmin Venu vs Garmin Forerunner 945

The Garmin Venu is a brilliant GPS activity tracker with a gorgeous HD AMOLED touchscreen. The Forerunner 945 is one of the most powerful multisport GPS sports watches that Garmin has ever made. 

But which watch is better suited to your needs?

To help you decide, we’re going to unpack all the key similarities and all the key differences, and provide a few basic buying tips at the end. It’s time to get started. 

Table of Contents

What are the main differences between the Garmin Venu and the Forerunner 945?

  1. The Garmin Venu has an HD AMOLED touchscreen. The Forerunner 945 has a button only setup and a lower resolution screen. 
  2. The Forerunner 945 tracks open water swimming and it has a triathlon mode.
  3. The Forerunner 945 has significantly more running specific features.
  4. The Forerunner 945 has TOPO map navigation technology which is missing from the Garmin Venu. 
  5. The GPS battery life of the Forerunner 945 (36 hours) is almost double the GPS battery life of the Garmin Venu (20 Hours). 
  6. The Venu is considerably cheaper than the Forerunner 945, despite having almost as many features and sports modes.
  7. The Forerunner 945 can track 10 extra sports/activity modes in total.
  8. The Garmin Venu offers support for guided on-screen workouts. This feature is a bit like having a personal trainer built into the screen of your fitness tracker.

Key Similarities - Garmin Venu vs Garmin Forerunner 945

Garmin Venu

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Forerunner 945

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Wrist-based HRM

24/7 Activity Tracking

Sleep Tracking

Optical HRM when Swimming

Indoor + Outdoor Running

Indoor + Outdoor Cycling

Indoor + Outdoor Swimming

Indoor + Outdoor Rowing

Multiple Cardio Modes

Music Storage + Spotify + Deezer

Payments from Watch

Garmin Running Coach

Body Battery Score

Stress Monitoring

Barometric Altimeter

Gyroscope + Accelerometer + Compass

3rd Party Running Power

Golf Mode

Pulse Oximeter

Bluetooth, ANT+, Wi-Fi

Replaceable Straps

Garmin Connect IQ

Training Load + Training Focus Metrics

Safety/Incident Detection

Respiration Rate

3rd Party Running Power

Stryd + RunScribe

Stryd + RunScribe

Lens Material

Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3

Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3

Display Size

1.2" (30.4mm) diameter

1.2" (30.4mm) diameter

Waterproof Rating



Key Differences - Garmin Venu vs Garmin FR945

Garmin Venu

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Forerunner 945

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Less Expensive

More Expensive


46.3 g

50 g

Display Resolution

390 x 390 pixels

240 x 240 pixels

Physical Dimensions

43.2 x 43.2 x 12.4 mm

47 x 47 x 13.7 mm

High Definition Touchscreen

Guide On-Screen Workouts

Open Water Swimming

Triathlon Mode

Advanced Running Dynamics

Garmin Running Power

Garmin ClimbPro

Garmin PacePro


Heat + Altitude Acclimation

Power Management Options

Ski Resort Maps

Pre-Loaded Golf Course Maps

Music Storage

Up to 500 Songs

Up to 1000 Songs

GPS Battery Life

20 Hours

36 Hours

GPS + Music Battery Life

6 Hours

10 Hours

UltraTrac GPS Battery

Up to 60 Hours

Smartwatch Battery

Up to 5 Days

Up to 14 Days

Total Sports Modes



Sports Modes Comparison

Garmin Venu Sports Modes Forerunner 945 Sports Modes
01) Strength Training 01) Strength Training
02) Cardio Training 02) Cardio Training
03) Elliptical Training 03) Elliptical Training
04) Stair Stepping 04) Stair Stepping
05) Floor Climbing 05) Floor Climbing
06) Indoor Rowing 06) Indoor Rowing
07) Yoga 07) Yoga
08) Running 08) Running
09) Treadmill Running 09) Treadmill Running
10) Indoor Track Running 10) Indoor Track Running
11) Skiing 11) Skiing
12) Snowboarding 12) Snowboarding
13) Cross Country Skiing 13) Cross Country Skiing
14) Stand Up Paddleboarding 14) Stand Up Paddleboarding
15) Rowing 15) Rowing
16) Cycling 16) Cycling
17) Indoor Cycling 17) Indoor Cycling
18) Pool Swimming 18) Pool Swimming
19) Golf Mode 19) Golf Mode
20) Walking 20) Walking
21) Open Water Swimming
22) Triathlon Mode
23) Tactical
24) Jumpmaster
25) Kayaking
26) Mountain Biking
27) Swimming/Running
28) Climbing
29) Trail Running
30) Indoor Track Running

Main Reasons To Choose The Garmin Venu

Garmin Venu

1. That Gorgeous AMOLED HD Touchscreen

Of all the sports watches that Garmin has ever made, the Venu definitely has the most impressive screen. It is literally the only watch in their line up that can go toe-to-toe with the Apple Watch from a screen resolution perspective.

In a way, Garmin could have called the Garmin Venu the Garmin Vivoactive 4 HD, because that’s essentially what it is. In other words, it has all the same technology as the Vivoactive 4, with the added benefit of a stunning high definition AMOLED screen. 

Ultimately, if you’ve become familiar with HD and even 4K resolution smartphones, switching to the Garmin Venu should feel pretty seamless. The touchscreen is bright, sharp and super easy to use. You could call it the Garmin Venu’s best feature. 

2. It's significantly cheaper

The Garmin Venu is a lot more affordable than the Garmin Forerunner 945.  Based on recommended retail selling price, the Venu is about 40% cheaper to be more precise. 

  • You can check the latest price of the Venu here
  • You can check the latest price of the Forerunner 945 here. 

The only thing worth adding is that if you don’t do triathlons, the value offering of the Garmin Venu is very attractive.

It might not have all the sports modes and activity profiles that the Forerunner 945 has, but it has most of the most important ones. You can also double check the comparison table a bit further up the article for the exact details of the sports modes available in each watch. 

3. The Guided Workouts are a big win for fitness enthusiasts

In Garmin’s own words, “Who needs a trainer when you can get full workouts with animations on your watch?” 

That is a pretty good summary of the guided workouts feature. You get visual demonstrations of each exercise, and you get guided through your training session from start to finish. And you don’t have to make any small talk with your trainer.

Also, even though the Venu comes preloaded with a large variety of guided workouts, you can download additional workouts through Garmin connect. Ultimately, this is a pretty solid win for fitness enthusiasts. 

4. The Venu has more than enough sports modes for most people

The Garmin Venu really does have you covered from a sports and activity tracking perspective. Fitness enthusiasts, runners, cyclists, rowers, golfers and even snowboarders will all be well served by this watch. In fact, you could even call it the most well-rounded activity tracker in the world right now (alongside the Garmin Vivoactive 4, which is basically the same watch but with a less impressive screen and a smaller price tag). 

Of course the Forerunner 945 gives you all the same core features and a whole lot more (open water swimming, triathlon mode and Topo maps to name a few), but you will pay quite a bit more to access those features. In other words, the Garmin Venu is very good value for money, if you consider the combination of price, technology and overall features

Main Reasons To Choose The Forerunner 945

Reasons To Choose the Forerunner 945

The FR945 is Garmin's Best Triathlon Specific Watch

From a sports perspective, the addition of open water swimming and a triathlon tracking make the Forerunner 945 significantly more attractive for endurance athletes.

Garmin have produced quite a few triathlon watches in their time. The Forerunner 945 quite literally sits at the top of the triathlon watch food chain. Of course it has some stiff competition from the Garmin Fenix 6, but there are several reasons which justify why the FR945 is actually better for triathletes, namely:

  • The FR945 is lighter than the Fenix 6 Pro
  • It’s cheaper than the Fenix 6 Pro
  • It comes in a bundle version with 2 chest straps that are very useful for triathletes (HRM-Swim + HRM-Tri)

In other words, the Forerunner 945 is literally designed, specifically for the triathletes. If triathlons are your core focus, you can’t go wrong with this watch. 

The Battery Life Is Much Better

The GPS battery life of the Forerunner 945 (36 Hours) is almost double the GPS battery life of the Garmin Venu (20 Hours). The bullet points below further clarify the difference in battery life. 

  • Venu GPS Battery Life: 20 Hours
  • Venu GPS + Music Battery: 6 Hours
  • Venu Smartwatch Battery: 5 Days
  • FR945 GPS Battery Life: 36 Hours
  • FR945 GPS + Music Battery: 10 Hours
  • FR945 Smartwatch Battery: 14 Days

It's The Better Watch For Runners

There are 3 main reasons why the Forerunner 945 is the better watch for serious runners.

  1. It supports Garmin Advanced Running Dynamics 
  2. It supports Garmin Running Power
  3. It relies on buttons rather than a touchscreen to operate the watch

Now, you might not be sure what Garmin Advanced Running Dynamics is all about. The bullet points below explain the 6 main stats which the Forerunner 945 supports, but the Garmin Venu does not. 

  • Ground Contact Time – The time your foot spends on the ground with each stride.
  • Ground Contact Balance -Symmetry between left and right foot.
  • Vertical Oscillation – degree of ‘bounce’ in your running motion.
  • Vertical Ratio  – the cost-benefit ratio with stride length.
  • Cadence – Real time cadence stats displayed on your watch.
  • Stride Length – Real time stride length stats displayed on your watch.  

At this point, it needs to be mentioned that in order to unlock Garmin running power and advanced running dynamics, you need to invest in one of the following 3 accessories:

  1. Garmin Advanced Running Dynamics Pod
  2. Garmin HRM-Run Chest Strap
  3. Garmin HRM-Tri Chest Strap

Just to be super clear, you only need 1 of these 3 accessories (rather than all 3). 

Lastly, a lot of runners and cyclists tend to prefer operating sports watches with buttons (rather than a touchscreen) when they are training or racing. The button only setup is a bit less clumsy and a bit more reliable during the peak of exercise. 

TOPO Maps Technology

Typically, Garmin’s TOPO map technology is only packed into their most expensive watches. The main benefit here is that you can access 3D topographical maps, directly on your Forerunner 945. 

This is great for trail running and hiking, and it’s also very useful if you’re navigating unfamiliar streets. In a way, it’s a bit like having Garmin’s car navigation technology packed into a watch that humans can use to navigate pretty much any terrain on foot (or a bicycle). 

Bigger Music Storage Capacity

This one is pretty simple. The Forerunner 945 can store about twice as much music as the Garmin  Venu. 

Garmin PacePro & Garmin ClimbPro

Garmin ClimbPro gives you a better understanding of all the upcoming climbs along your training route (when running our cycling outdoors). It detects all the climbs, and makes all the important information available to you as you approach it. This includes:

  • Distance remaining in the climb
  • Ascent remaining in the climb
  • A chart with a profile of the climb
  • Average gradient for the climb

Garmin’s PacePro technology is designed to help you achieve your target time during training and races. It’s a bit like having a pacemaker built into your watch, for the entirety of the race. 

Also, it’s worth mentioning that Garmin’s PacePro technology factors in both uphill and downhill sections of the course, setting a slower target pace during uphill sections and a faster target pace during downhill sections. This is a nice touch. Factoring in the contours of the route helps the watch set an achievable pace during challenging sections of a course.

The FR945 has 10 extra sports

Of the extra sports modes that are limited to the Forerunner 945, open water swimming and triathlon are definitely the most important. But to make things super simple, the list below clarifies all the sports modes that are only accessible on the FR945 (ie missing from the Garmin Venu). 

  1. Open water swimming
  2. Triathlon
  3. Duathlon (Swimming/Running)
  4. Kayaking
  5. Mountain Biking
  6. Climbing
  7. Indoor Track Running
  8. Trail Running
  9. Tactical
  10. Jumpmaster

Final Thoughts

As promised, we are now going to cut through the noise with some super simple buying tips that will hopefully make you feel comfortable with your final decision. 

Go for the Garmin Venu if:

  • You want a beautiful High Definition AMOLED screen
  • You’re comfortable with touchscreens
  • You need to keep costs under control
  • You’re a fitness enthusiast
  • You don’t do triathlons
  • You don’t need open water swimming (the Venu does have pool swimming capabilities)

Go for the Forerunner 945 if: 

  • You’re a triathlete
  • You take your running seriously
  • You want all the sports modes that Garmin offers
  • You prefer a button only watch interface
  • You are likely to use the TOPO map technology when running or cycling outdoors
  • You want access to Garmin PacePro and Garmin ClimbPro
  • You want one of the best sports watches that Garmin has ever made

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