Updated: Nov 10, 2021
By Ryan Solomon on August 16th, 2021
A touchy subject wherever opinion isn't polarized in one direction. AutoCAD wizards tout the speed and efficiency of their favorite tool, while the Revit gurus argue the value of BIM and interoperability. The question remains: Which one is better? Let's be real here - which program is best is going to differ from person to person. Of course we're slightly biased, after all we're not the ACAD network...
If we were to list the main difference, in our humble opinion, it would be this:
Revit is a 3D modelling tool and AutoCAD is a 2D drafting tool.
Yes, Revit has ample 2D capability - you could draw entirely in 2D if you wanted to. You shouldn't... but you could. True also, that AutoCAD has 3D modelling capability. However Revit has something that ACAD does not: BIM. If you don't yet know what BIM is, you should. BIM has slowly become a technological powerhouse used globally within various programs (not only Revit) and in a nutshell it will save your clients a lot of money. That is if you do it right.
Honestly Autodesk explains BIM best.
Each program has its own place in the world, even as Revit continues to see growth in small-medium sized firms. You may be extremely proficient in one or the other, or you may be just beginning your journey in the building trade and wondering where to get started. There are some key aspects that you can look at to help you out.
Preeti Prajapati highlights the key differences in her blog “AutoCAD vs Revit”
Both these programs require an Autodesk subscription which can be paid on a monthly or yearly basis, however Revit is the more costly program.
Mac users, you are stuck with AutoCAD for the time being. Revit is currently only supported by Microsoft.
Revit is a BIM tool which considers the project as a whole, whereas AutoCAD does not and only focuses on individual components.
Revit allows for better work sharing, if everyone is using it.
AutoCAD is ideal for 2D drawing, representing real-scale elements for your project. Revit however, is a whole lot closer to the real thing. It can be used to build 3D components with real-life information.
In Revit, all the models can be linked to the central architectural model to keep track of real-time clashes between them. AutoCAD follows linear coordination that involves a constant back and forth between all the associated models.
Making modifications in AutoCAD is very time-consuming as it is almost manual. In Revit, making modifications and last-minute changes are much quicker and easier.
AutoCAD supports surface, mesh, and solid commands that are not supported by Revit.
AutoCAD has a web app in which you can create, edit, and share CAD designs via web browsers and mobile devices.
Revit allows you to pre-build objects and structures - and to insert data into them (BIM). A lot like a CAD library, but on a whole new level. A door for instance can be modeled in 3D, as detailed as you like. Then can have all relevant specifications inserted for ironmongery, frame, accessories and so forth. Sounds like a lot of work though? We've done it for you.
At the end of the day, what do you want to do with these programs?
AutoCAD is fast and effective when drawing up renovations or making edits to to existing plan sets also done in 2D, or even just photocopied prints. It also allows you to downsave to previous versions, something Revit users have been crying about for decades. Large databases also exist of CAD blocks, often free of charge. These collections can be extremely hard to find for Revit families, unless you're on our team that is.
AutoCAD now offers PDF integration, useful when plans aren't available in an editable format. PDFs can be imported and converted to DWG, even identifying linework and text. Sometimes.
AutoCAD is now also supports 3D printing.
Revit's BIM capability makes coordination for yourself and your team a lot easier. As you work in it, your 3D model is also getting more and more detailed, to the point where detailing become a breeze and is based on actual 3D data, not arbitrary 2D lines. Modifications in ACAD can require changes to potentially dozens of drawings, while Revit's views are updated automatically. Once the project has been completed, future maintenance and upgrades are that much easier. As the scale of projects increase, so does Revit's usefulness. Engineers and other contractors are able to focus on their particular systems, rather than redrawing. It even supports clash detection.
So ultimately which program is better? Tell us, down in the comments.
Also check out this insane video of AutoCAD vs. Revit modeling times.
Perhaps you're against both? Know of something better? Let us know below.
Stay safe friends.