When choosing the best computer-aided drafting program (CAD), it can be hard to tell the difference between the top-performing programs. Revit and AutoCAD are both software provided by Autodesk, a software company that makes products and services for various industries including construction, media, education, architecture, and engineering. Although the two are often seen as competing products, they actually complement each other and are commonly used together to integrate each others’ work when needed. However, each program serves a definitely different purpose. In this article, we will break down the uses, advantages, and disadvantages of each program and discuss which one the architects at our firm prefer to use.
AutoCAD is a geometry-driven digital drafting tool used for building design. Upon its release in 1982 as the first computer-aided drafting tool available for home computers, it caused a surge in accessibility for design software. AutoCAD costs around $1690 for a year-long subscription per user license, or $210 for a monthly license. This program has a concentration on 2D drafting, though its functionalities have grown with technology advances and user needs which added 3D components such as 3D capabilities, industry-specific modules, and ways to enhance teamwork. While AutoCAD has the ability to create 3D models and renders, the products are still geometric models with no component information. This software is recommended when working with renovations and upgrades in existing buildings in which the original construction plans were also drafted in 2D.
Advantages of AutoCAD:
- Produces precise linework for 2D geometries
- Allows for workspace customization
- Offers PDF integration, which is useful when the existing construction plans are not available in DWG format
- Simplifies prototype creation by being compatible with 3D-printing
- Supports cloud-based view sharing, which gives other team members the ability to view without installing the software
- Offers flexibility for 3D objects
- Ability to be used on several different platforms such as Windows and Mac devices
- Has a mobile app
Disadvantages of AutoCAD:
- Known to have a steeper learning curve than Revit
- AutoCAD’S workflow is a bit more disjointed due to its setup which requires you to draw each part of your design separately. This is considered to be a form of free drawing because each section is not linked to one another, meaning you will need to work in separate layers for your design with AutoCAD.
- Making modifications can be rather difficult and time-consuming. This is due to the fact that each part must be modified individually. Additionally, any modifications made to designs do not update automatically across all views on AutoCAD. If one part of the model is changed, it generally will have to be manually updated across all different teams working on the project.
AutoCAD Architecture rates 4.3 out of 5 stars with 224 reviews.
Revit is a Building Information Modeling program (BIM), which means it creates a 3D model of a building complete with details about the physical properties and how each component interacts with each other. Despite also being issued by Autodesk, Revit is a fairly direct competitor to AutoCAD. This program automatically generates a wealth of information, making it popular in the architecture, construction, and city planning industries. Revit is a bit pricier than AutoCAD, offering an annual subscription for $2,545 or a monthly subscription for $320.
Advantages of Revit:
- All of the model information is integrated
- Offers extensive automatic building information
- Simplifies maintenance and upgrades performance analysis
- Is easier to learn
- Has a more consistent and joined-up approach to modeling and drawing because each stage of the design is automatically linked to the previous one
- It relies on fewer ‘stages’ of the workflow process and more on creating a joined-up and connected design
- Making modifications is much easier and more straightforward than AutoCAD If something is changed on Revit it will automatically update across all existing views, diminishing the need for manual updating
- Considers the design as a ‘whole’, making for a better workflow as compared to AutoCAD’S more disjointed approach
Disadvantages of Revit:
- Unfortunately, Revit is only available on Windows operating systems, leaving you with fewer options for using it on different OS or mobile devices
- Revit is a much more data-intensive program which may make it more challenging for some people
- Has a narrower industry focus
- Is sold at a higher price
Revit rates are 4.5 out of 5 stars with 744 reviews.
What our architects think:
Jason: “I prefer Revit. While AutoCAD is the digital version of the Architect’s drafting table, Revit allows an Architect to leverage modern technology to craft their designs in a 3D space and explore them before they are built, with more information and efficiency under your control.”
Helen: “I prefer Revit because I believe it more accurately shows how the world is in real life, which is three-dimensional. The ability to switch from 2D to 3D is crucial, especially when working with complex designs. There may be conditions that may not have been considered if just working in AutoCAD because the drawings only show you a snapshot of a very specific section of the building. With the capabilities of Revit, which includes real-time updates to all related views, it allows a faster workflow and, in turn, more freedom to work creatively.”
If you are looking to power charge your architectural workflow, Revit is by far the best choice for understanding how a building works. AutoCAD makes project calculations, data reports, and project updates significantly more difficult by requiring many more working hours to manually update and recalculate everything. Revit automatically calculates, updates, and compiles data for you, saving you a ton of time and money. Although AutoCAD is able to produce excellent renderings if you know how to work with it, Revit renders with incredible photo-realism and is much more user-friendly. When working on projects in the future, be sure to find an architecture firm that works with Revit. This will minimize change orders during construction and make the process go along much more smoothly.