Axiom 12 multi-function display review

THE first thing you’ll notice about Raymarine’s new Axiom multi-function displays is how damn fast they are!

Thanks to a quad core processor running the new LightHouse 3 operating system, these state-of-the-art marine electronics units perform like super computers, providing seamless real time performance that up until only recently most anglers probably never would have imagined was possible.

Before installing my Axiom 12 about six months ago, I ran a Raymarine eS 12 MFD on the dash of my Bar Crusher 615 XS. I found that particular unit to be an impressive performer. First trip out with the Axiom and I was forced to redefine “impressive”. The Axiom proved to be significantly faster than the eS.

But what does super-fast performance actually mean? And will it help you catch more fish? Well, yes. It most certainly will.

Most modern anglers realise that access to information is vital. If you haven’t got info about water temps, depth changes, bait schools, structure and so on at your fingertips, then you can’t make judgement calls about where and how to fish.

To my way of thinking, modern marine electronics like Axiom are much like smart phones. Back in the day, a mobile phone was pretty much only used to make phone calls. It might tell the time and have an alarm clock as well but that was about it.

Equivalent technology sounders were similarly limited. They displayed the depth, a somewhat clunky image of any significant structure and maybe water temp if it was a top-of-the-line unit. Now days the average smart phone plays movies, allows you to surf the net, stores all your music, takes high quality video and doubles as a credit card.  You can still make a phone call but you can also do so much more.

It’s exactly the same with latest gen marine electronics like the Axiom. Sure, it’s just like those pixelated old B&W units in that it will tell you how deep it is, but there’s quite a bit more on offer.

Let’s take a look at what I reckon sets Axiom apart from the pack.

As mentioned above, I’m blown away with the speed that quad core processor offers. Changing between screens and zooming in and out literally happens in a second or two. As a comparison, it took my eS maybe 3-4 seconds to update a page or screen. The difference doesn’t sound much on paper but out on the water the speed with which you can move between Axiom’s various apps and access relevant data is a significant benefit. As a matter of interest, Axiom runs on an Android platform, not the Linux system typically used for marine electronics.

The other big plus of the Axiom is that it’s a standalone unit. There’s no additional “black boxes” required to run the High CHIRP sonar, DownVision, SideVision or RealVision 3D – it’s all preloaded. This is a major benefit for owners of small boats with limited space to mount additional modules; it also makes install simple and cost effective. 

Another major breakthrough Raymarine has achieved with Axiom is with the RV100 transom-mount transducer. With my previous unit, I had a CPT100 transducer for traditional sonar and DownVision plus a separate – and pretty bulky – CPT200 transducer for SideVision, which also required a separate black box.

The RV100 combines High CHIRP sonar, DownVision, SideVision AND RealVision into the one modestly sized package. Plus it’s got a built-in attitude and heading reference system (known as AHRS) that acts as a stabiliser compensating for vessel motion even in rough conditions.

This all-in-one transducer (a thru-hull version is also available) is pretty amazing technology, and delivers clear and detailed images to the Axiom’s optically bonded 12.1” screen.

As far as I’m aware, the Axiom is the only system which doesn’t suppress returns from the transducer side lobes. This enables it to provide ultra-clear bottom discrimination, which helps you more effectively assess different fish-holding habitats. 

Axiom’s operating system – which is best described as being similar to that found on a smart phone – easily allows you to customise screens and displays via various apps. Up to four apps can be used on a single screen, thus allowing you to set up pretty much ever you want. I have the chart, Sonar, DownVision, SideVision and RealVision 3D all set up as individual pages with other pages customised to include a mix of apps.

When you run Sonar, DownVision, SideVision and RealVision 3D as four individual apps on the one page all at once – and realise that all this info is coming from a single transducer – you begin to appreciate how remarkable the RV100 actually is.

Watching these four high definition CHIRP sonar and imaging apps working concurrently in real time provides another insight into the speed and power of Axiom’s quad core processor. 

RealVision 3D is Axiom’s  flagship program, offering a unique representation of bottom structure by combining sonar, down, side and 3D imaging data so you can see what’s behind, below and to the sides of your boat. RealVison 3D extends out and down to about 90m, and you can pan, tilt and zoom to examine features in more detail.

I have to say that RealVision 3D is great fun to use – you have to make a conscious effort to stop fiddling with it and actually fish!

As well as sonar and imaging apps, and the usual navigation and cartography features, Axiom is easily expandable, allowing users to add “plug and play” options such as Raymarine’s Quantum radar, FLIR night vision cameras, entertainment, instruments and Evolution autopilot. It also links in with your engine ECM, allowing data like fuel use, temperature, RPM to be displayed on a Dashboard screen.

I don’t have room for radar on my centre console Bar Crusher, although if I still had a hard top boat I’d definitely look at it. Autopilot would be good, but isn’t essential for the sort of fishing I do these days. One addition I might look at down the track is adding a CP470 CHIRP sonar module and 1kW transducer for better deep water sounding performance. The RV100 loses bottom at about 180m (which is still pretty good) although it would be good to have a bit more sounder power for deep dropping trips out past the shelf on those glass-out autumn days. Adding a 1kW transducer to the transom is no problem, considering the RV combines everything in a single package. This is an advantage of my previous eS set-up which had a sonar/DownVision transducer portside and separate CP200 SideVision transducer to the starboard – effectively meaning I had no room for an Airmar TM265LM for deep-water work.

My Axiom was installed by Matt Adamson, of Emjay Communications, a specialist marine electronics outfit based on the NSW South Coast. I strongly advise getting an expert like Matt to install high performance electronics like Axiom. Correctly positioning the RV100 transducer, for instance, is vital if you’re going to get maximum performance. I get perfect bottom readings at WOT of just under 30 knots and have clearly marked tuna 50m down on longlines 35 miles out from my home port of Jervis Bay. Matt can be contacted on 0413 808 507; check out a website at

Raymarine offers Axiom in 7, 9 and 12-inch sizes with a choice of three displays (chart only, DownVision Sonar and 3D RealVision). Bluetooth and WI-FI connectivity are standard, allowing for easy software updates and connection to Raymarine apps on your smart phone or tablet.

As mentioned above, I find Axiom pretty easy to use. Thanks to smart phones, using the touch screen is second nature and customising and using the sonar and chart apps is intuitive. Fine tuning the sonar and imaging displays via manual gain and range is simple. If you can use a smart phone, you will have no problems with navigating your way through Axiom’s screens and pages.

I have, however, found using the touch screen occasionally tricky in rough seas or when I’ve just caught a fish and my fingers are mucky. To offer full control, I’ve just purchased an RMK-10 remote keypad to mount on my dash. This is a handy option I’d suggest is worth considering if you plan on using Axiom in offshore situations.

I’ve also just ordered a 7-inch Axiom MFD to be mounted at the bow of my Bar Crusher and networked to the 12-inch screen on my dash. This will provide me with all the sonar and chart info I need when fishing off the casting platform.

Full details of the Axiom range, plus the Axiom Pro which incorporates manual controls plus an in-built 1kW sonar, are available HERE.

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