Humminbird HELIX 12 Review

UPDATED Nov. 2021
Brand: Humminbird
Model: 12 Si GPS
Our Score: 9.8/10
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Humminbird Helix 12 is definitely one of the best fish finders launched in 2016. It comes with all the features you would expect from a unit from the HELIX series, so keep reading this comprehensive Humminbird Helix 12 review to discover more about this top-quality fish finder.

Humminbird HELIX 12 with sonar side view

Pros & Cons

Pros
    • 2D CHIRP  
    • Dual-Frequency sonar 
    • Down and Side Imaging 
    • XHS 9 HD SI 180 T transducer 
    • Very bright 12.1” display 
    • Wireless control 
    • Fast internal GPS module 
    • Preloaded ContourXD charts 
    • Numerous connectivity options 
    • Capable of 360 Imaging 
    • Unit cover + gimbal mount 
Cons
    • Not suitable for beginners 

Specifications

SpecificationsHumminbird HELIX 12
TypeDown and Side Imaging
SonarDual-Beam Plus and CHIRP
TransducerTransom XHS 9 HD SI 180 T
Display (size, resolution, backlit, color)12” 16-bit TFT screen, 1280 x 800 pixel matrix , LED Backlight
DimensionsW x H x D - 14.86" x 8.83" x 4.25"
Weight5.8lb
BatteriesNot Specified
Depth Capability- Dual-Beam Plus: 1,500ft - Si and Di: 150ft
Frequency- Dual-Beam Plus: 83/200 kHz - Di: 455 kHz - Si: 455/800 kHz
Power Output1,000W RMS
Power Input10-20 VDC
GPSInternal
MapsContourXD
Routes, Waypoints, Tracks2,500 waypoints, 47 routes (up to 50 waypoints), 50 trails (20k points per trail)
WaterproofIPX7
Wi-Fi ConnectivityNo
MicroSD card slotYes

 Display/Screen 

Humminbird Helix 12 has a 12” 16-bit TFT screen, which is the largest display within the HELIX series. The display is glass-bonded and LED backlit with a pixel matrix of 1280 x 800. These features allow you to read imaging results even in direct sunlight or during nighttime fishing. HELIX 12 does not have a touchscreen functionality and is operated by the keypad on the right side of the unit. 

Humminbird HELIX 12 on white background

The unit’s waterproof rating is IP-X7, which means it can handle rain and accidental water splashes. Also, you can immerse it completely in 3.3ft of water for up to 30 minutes without any negative consequences. Having said that, it has not been tested against the entry of dust, dirt, and similar outside influences.   

Sonar & Transducer

One of the most important things to point out when it comes to this unit is the fact that it uses CHIRP only for 2D scanning and NOT for Down and Side Imaging. The provided transducer model is XHS 9 HD SI 180 T that comes with a temperature sensor, transom mount, and 20” of cable. This transducer is capable of covering Medium (75-155 kHz) and High CHIRP (130-250 kHz), so you have to purchase a more powerful upgrade if you wish to cover Low CHIRP (28-75 kHz) as well. This will also allow you to scan up to 3,500ft instead of 1,500ft, which is the limit of the provided model. Its Di and Si ranges are around 150 and 240ft, respectively. 

If you opt to use standard sonar scanning instead of CHIRP, the provided transducer will utilize conical beams at 60° for 83 kHz and 20° at 200 kHz. Since we are talking about a dual-frequency (DualBeam) sonar, you can run both beams simultaneously and observe the results in the Dual Screen mode. The main unit can also cover 50 kHz, but you have to upgrade the transducer in order to hit that level. However, utilizing the unit’s CHIRP capabilities will result in better target definition/separation as well as less clutter on your screen.  

When it comes to Side Imaging, the device can hit both 455 and 800 kHz with the provided transducer. The beams used for this type of imaging are fan-shaped, thin, and angled at 86° for 455 kHz and at 55° for 800 kHz.  

HELIX 12 also comes with all the traditional sonar features, including Fish ID+, BottomLock, Real Time Sonar, Sonar Recording/Rewind, SwitchFire, and numerous alarms.  

The optimal scanning speed for the unit is between 3 and 7 mph, but it should be able to maintain bottom readings at 35 mph max. 

Navigation

Humminbird Helix 12 features a built-in GPS/GLONASS module as well as preloaded ContourXD maps. This package covers more than 3,000 lakes in the US, including contour lines and other important info like channels, drops, markers, lights, and major interstates and roads.  

The device can store up to 2,500 waypoints, 47 routes (with up to 50 waypoints), and 50 trails (with up to 20,000 points). You can also convert your trails into routes in order to add waypoints, re-trace, and more.  

One of the main navigational features offered by Humminbird Helix 12 is definitely the AutoChart Live function. Apart from creating your personal maps, you can also overlay them with LakeMaster or Navionics charts and even Side Imaging recordings for maximum spatial awareness. All your charts will be compatible with I-Pilot Link, which means you will be able to follow them on autopilot if you have a Minn Kota motor. The unit’s internal memory can store up to 8 hrs. of recordings. 

Networking

Humminbird Helix 12 comes with an abundance of networking options, including NMEA 0183/2000 ports, a dual microSD card reader, and an Ethernet port. However, note that the device does not feature Wi-Fi connectivity and cannot use Bluetooth for wireless control with your phone or similar devices. Having said that, you can upgrade it to feature wireless control.  

What's In The Box

    • HELIX 12 Si GPS
    • Transom XHS 9 HD SI 180 T
    • Gimbal Bracket
    • Unit Cover

Humminbird Helix Series Overview

In this Humminbird Helix series overview, you can check out some of the most important features of other models from the series to determine if any of them is a better fit for your needs.

Model
Type
Sonar
Transducer
Display
Price
Humminbird HELIX 12 ReviewHumminbird HELIX 12 Read Review
Type
Down and Side Imaging
Sonar
Dual-Beam Plus and CHIRP
Transducer
Transom XHS 9 HD SI 180 T
Display
12” 16-bit TFT screen, 1280 x 800 pixel matrix , LED Backlight
Price
Helix 10 CHIRP Mega Si GPS G2N reviewHumminbird Helix 10 CHIRP Mega Si GPS G2N Read Review
Type
Down Imaging and Side Imaging
Sonar
MEGA Side Imaging, MEGA Down Imaging, CHIRP Digital Sonar DualBeam Plus
Transducer
Transom XM 9 20 MSI T
Display
10.1″ diagonal, color TFT, 16-bit color range, 1024H x 600V pixel matrix, with LED backlight
Price
Humminbird Helix 9 Si GPS Read Review
Type
Down Imaging and Side Imaging
Sonar
Side Imaging, Down Imaging, DualBeam Plus with SwitchFire
Transducer
Transom XNT 9 SI 180 T
Display
9'' diagonal, 65,000 color TFT, 800H x 480V pixel resolution, 16:9 aspect ratio, with LED backlight
Price
Humminbird Helix 7 CHIRP Si GPS G2 ReviewHumminbird Helix 7 CHIRP Si GPS G2 Read Review
Type
Down Imaging and Side Imaging
Sonar
CHIRP DualBeam Plus, CHIRP SI, CHIRP DI
Transducer
Transom XNT 9 SI 180 T
Display
7' diagonal ultra-wide, 800H x 480V pixel resolution, 16-bit color, color TFT, with LED backlight
Price
Hummingbird Helix 5 CHIRP GPA-G2-ReviewsHumminbird Helix 5 CHIRP GPA G2 Read Review
Type
Down Imaging
Sonar
DualBeam Plus with SwitchFire
Transducer
Transom XNT 9 20 T
Display
5″ diagonal, 800H x 480V pixel resolution, 256 color TFT, with LED backlight
Price

Verdict

Humminbird HELIX 12 is one of the best representatives of this impressive series of fish finders. It comes with the CHIRP tech, which makes it a great choice for off-shore trips, and can also provide you with high-detail Side and Down Imaging in freshwater (up to 150ft). It also features excellent navigational capabilities with high-precision GPS, AutoChart Live, and impressive charting options. If we add a pretty decent transducer and numerous networking options, we would say the price of this unit is more than justified. Finally, since we are talking about a rather large device, it is not an ideal choice for kayaks and other small vessels.

Our score: 9.8/10