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Fusion 360 vs Sketchup: Which is Right for Your Project?

Fusion 360 vs Sketchup

When it comes to computer-aided design software, you have a world of choices. We’ve always said that the best CAD software is the one you’re using, which means these programs have all the features and functionalities you need to do your work and are easy enough for you to learn.

Suppose you are interested in learning which between Fusion 360 or SketchUp is the best for you. In that case, you should definitely continue reading as we discuss the features and functionalities of each program and then look at alternatives to both.

Finally, we delve deeper into the differences between Fusion 360 and SketchUp and which one is best for you.

Main Differences Between Fusion 360 vs Sketchup

Two of the more popular software being used by design professionals today are Fusion 360 and SketchUp. And here are their main differences:

  • Platform. While both programs have a web-based version, Fusion 360 doesn’t have a downloadable program that you can install on your computer. That means you can’t work on your designs offline.
  • Free versions: Both programs have a free version that gives you limited features. However, Autodesk Fusion 360 limits the number of active designs that you can have. Meanwhile, you have up to 10 gigabytes of cloud storage for your files with SketchUp.
  • Full versions: SketchUp Pro is much cheaper than Fusion 360’s full license.
  • User interface: Fusion 360 follows the lead of other CAD programs when it comes to the user interface: view modes, grid systems, design history, and a toolbar. SketchUp looks cleaner with bigger icons showing your most used tools and a top toolbar. When you select a tool, other related settings and options will pop out.
  • Applications: Fusion 360 is more flexible than SketchUp. Fusion 360 might be more focused on helping you create products and mechanical parts, but you can use it for many other applications. SketchUp is better suited for those in architecture, construction, and engineering.
  • Support: Both programs have fantastic support for their users. However, Fusion 360 has employees manning user communities, whereas SketchUp has a more user-driven user community.

What Is Fusion 360?

Autodesk Fusion 360 is a computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing software that lives in the cloud. It allows you to develop your products and designs with a team of contributors without the hassle of sending big files over e-mail, file-sharing services, and others.

Because it is a cloud-based service, you and your team can work on a design together. This program can do organic shapes, manufacturing, and mechanical design. Fusion 360 can also help you with printed circuit boards and engineering designs.

Features of Fusion 360 That You Should Know

One of the things that you will discover the first time you use Fusion 360 is the comprehensive range of tools you have. You have all the standard tools for modeling and design, and then you also can use Fusion 360 to create sheet metal parts and surfaces.

You have simulation tools as well, allowing you to do stress and heat analysis on your designs. If you’re more into manufacturing, you will find that Fusion 360 also has excellent tools for you to use too.

The thing with cloud-based services is that you can access it from a variety of devices, even smartphones, and tablets.

Modeling and Design Tools

With Fusion 360, you can have a wide range of tools to do your modeling and design work. You can do freeform, direct, parametric, sheet metal, surface, and mesh designs using just one software.

This video will help you discover the different modeling techniques that you can do with Fusion 360.


Fusion 360 also allows you to see your designs with photorealistic rendering. What’s more, you don’t have to worry about slowing down your computer by letting it render in the cloud rather than using local resources.

PCB Designs

If you want to work with printed circuit boards, Fusion 360 will help you with bi-directional changes with the program’s EAGLE interoperability.

You can even do layout, telling the program where the PCB will be mounted in the design.

Assemblies and Sheet Metal

Fusion 360 has a complete range of tools to help you design sheet metal parts and even use two-dimensional drawings to create flat patterns.

You also get bottom-up, top-down, or middle-out assembly tools to give you an idea of the designs’ assembly motions.

Other Tools

Fusion 360 gives you features and tools that help you manage data, files, versions, and even cloud storage. Aside from these data management tools, you can get collaboration tools, which makes it easier to manage your teams while retaining control on who can access what.

For those who are into 3D printing, Fusion 360 gives you the chance to create and validate prototypes using additive manufacturing tools. Not only that, your tool paths are instantly updated every time you make changes to the design.

The program’s generative design tools will help you create designs ready for manufacturing while improving their characteristics, consolidating parts, and reducing weight.

You also have access to artificial intelligence and machine learning tools that can help you simulate outcomes with your design. Further, some tools can help you with costing your designs.

Lastly, Fusion 360 helps to make simulations and documentation easier. You can see how your designs will stand up to varying temperatures, stress, buckling, and other events. Meanwhile, you can have the program do the documentation every step of the way and even create animations to help you communicate what you have in mind.

See how Fusion compares to other popular software:

Pricing and Subscriptions

You can subscribe to Fusion 360 for only $42 a month or $495 for the whole year. Plus, there is a free trial available. Fusion 360 also has free licenses for personal use, but you can only use this license for 10 active documents, and the program’s functionalities are limited.

Teachers and students can use it for free for three years, while startups with up to 10 employees and earn less than $100,000 yearly can also have it for free.

If you’re only going to use it intermittently, you can pay for monthly access at $60 per month. Meanwhile, extensions can cost you an additional $200 per month or a discounted $1,600 if you pay annually. The Generative Design Extensions will set you back $1,000 a month or $8,000 a year.

What’s Good with Fusion 360

If you are a machinist, mechanical engineer, electronics engineer, or industrial designer, Fusion 360 might make the most sense. This program makes machining and designs a breeze while allowing you to do processes such as tool path generation and design revisions in just minutes rather than the usual hours it takes to finish them.

What’s more, Fusion 360 gives you combined CAD and CAM software without the prohibitive costs. According to Autodesk, Fusion 360 can help machines by:

  • Reducing the time to market by 60 percent
  • Cut costs by saving on person-hours and cycle times
  • Reduce the time needed to create tool paths

What Can Be Better

With all the features that Autodesk tries to pack into Fusion 360, some users complain about a feature that they need but are not offered. There may be some tools that you will miss out on using Fusion 360, so be sure to check it out with a free trial first before subscribing.

Some users complain about the constant lags and crashes when you’re working with larger files.

Fusion 360: The Bottom Line

Fusion 360 is probably one of the most feature-packed software for serious CAD and CAM professionals. It’s accessible anywhere, and you don’t need to install it on your computer. What’s more, you can access cloud resources to do your work, such as rendering and simulation.


  • Excellent customer service and support
  • It gives you a comprehensive range of tools for you to do your work quickly and allows you to save time
  • Model parts the way you want
  • Good value for money
  • Makes collaboration easy


  • Extensions will cost you extra
  • issues with crashing and lag
  • It needs an Internet connection

What Is SketchUp?

SketchUp is a 3D modeling program utilized by professionals in interior design, mechanical engineering, landscape architecture, civil engineering, video game design, film, and architecture.

SketchUp: The Features You Like

With SketchUp, you can create 3D models and see them in 3D spaces. You can achieve high levels of detail and accuracy with ease. SketchUp is interoperable and can be used to import and export various file formats.

You can use objects to work faster and generate reports every step of the way. You have access to textures, animations, and lighting effects for excellent design presentations.

With SketchUp, you also get recommendations on your design, allowing you to get tips on how to improve your design based on the type of object you’re making or the weather. You should be able to combine 3D models with text or 2D illustrations.

SketchUp also allows you to view your objects in augmented, virtual, and mixed reality.

SketchUp Pro and SketchUp Studio

SketchUp Pro and Studio versions give you the chance to work on your designs using the company’s web-based program, as well as the ability to download them onto your computer.

These versions allow you to get a more robust set of features than Shop and experience reality headset viewing and plug-in extensions.

If you have more complex workflows, the Studio version will be a better choice. It allows you to import designs from the cloud and work on them with the program’s native toolbox. You also have real-time visualizations, photorealistic images, and animation.


As the name suggests, SketchUp Free is free to use, and you already have access to a web-based 3D design tool, a model viewer, and up to 10 gigabytes of storage.

Sketch Shop will cost you $199 a year and comes with everything you can get for free, plus access to prebuilt 3D designs, an augmented reality viewer, and all the cloud storage you can use.

You can choose SketchUp Pro for $299 a year for professionals, and you can get the desktop program and the web-based version, along with a more robust set of tools for 3D modeling, design documentation tools, and an experience reality viewer.

SketchUp also offers SketchUp Studio for more advanced design work, and it comes with the entire range of features and functionalities that the software provides. SketchUp Studio costs $1,199 per year, but you can use promo codes to bring the price down to $799. Students and educators can get access to SketchUp Studio for only $55 a year.

Further, primary and secondary schools can get license grants to use SketchUp Pro for free.

See how Sketchup compares to AutoCAD

The Bottom Line on SketchUp

Most 3D modeling programs force you to choose between the ease of use and the range of features. Not SketchUp. This software is intuitive to use and learn while also giving you tools to create your designs fast. Indeed, even professionals will find SketchUp enough for their needs.


  • Probably the easiest CAD program to use
  • The free version is an excellent help for casual users
  • VR model views
  • Unlimited cloud storage
  • Access to 3D Warehouse’s library of ready-made 3D models


  • No lifetime plans
  • You might not have the tools that you’d find for applications outside of 3D modeling.

Fusion 360 vs SketchUp: A Comparison

SketchUp and Fusion 360 are two of the most widely used programs for 3D modeling and computer-aided design today for a reason. These two are among the most capable software that helps professionals do their work, with reasonable pricing and helpful support.

There are a lot of these two programs that overlap. And there are areas where one is better than the other.

When it comes to features and functionalities, Fusion 360 is more flexible with its CAD tools that let you create using all kinds of techniques such as surface, parametric, and direct modeling. Plus, it has tools for CAM, simulation, 2D designs, 3D printing, and rendering.

SketchUp has a narrower focus on 3D modeling. That, however, makes SketchUp easier to learn with a clean user interface. Yet it still offers a lot with its extensions and plug-ins complimenting its already rich native tools.


Both Fusion 360 and SketchUp come in different versions, with discounts for students and teachers and free versions for personal use.

Overall, SketchUp offers more affordable licensing, and its free version limits the tools you can use. You’re also limited to 10 gigabytes of cloud storage.

Meanwhile, Fusion 360 limits free users to only 10 active projects, and they won’t be able to use the simulation workspace and other functionalities. Fusion 360 also is purely cloud-based, while you have a downloadable program that you can install locally with SketchUp.

User Interface

SketchUp has a cleaner user interface with a toolbar at the top of the screen, giving you all the tools you can use. Choose a tool, and it might show you a pop-up window with additional options and settings for that selected tool.

Meanwhile, Fusion 360 looks more like all other 3D CAD programs, where you work with tabs, a toolbar, view modes, a grid system, and a parts list. You also have a floating menu that gives you the tools you have recently used, your favorite ones, and some more frequently used and essential tools.

Features and Functionalities

You can safely say that Fusion 360 has many features and tools that make it more beneficial to a broader audience. However, if you look at how these two have a lot of similarities, let focus on that.


Fusion 360 automatically stores your projects on the cloud while also keeping copies of your work locally. It uses the A360 platform to share, view, and administer these files, while also having apps for Android and iOS phones.

SketchUp requires you to upload your work manually using Trimble Connect. Once you’ve uploaded your files, you can now work on them anywhere using SketchUp’s cloud platforms.


SketchUp requires you to install extensions and plug-ins before you can do some rendering on your designs. Meanwhile, Fusion 360 has native rendering tools that are part of the program.

Fusion 360 users have a dedicated workspace for photorealistic renderings.

2D Drawing

Sometimes, all you need is to be able to do a quick two-dimensional drawing. Fusion 360 has a drafting workspace for technical drawings. For SketchUp, you will need to use the Studio or Pro versions to access LayOut, which you can use to do 2D graphics.

SketchUp without using any extension is only for 3D drawings.


SketchUp’s main draw is how you can get more features and tools by getting extensions and plug-ins. Fusion 360 also has the Autodesk App Store, where you can find official extensions. However, most of the extensions, while free, need a full license.


Fusion 360 shines because they have a lot of channels for supporting users. They have official tutorials that allow you to learn about the program, as well as specific features. You have tons of documentation to consult. They also have the Autodesk Design Academy and user community forums.

On the other hand, SketchUp has official support that ranges from tips, troubleshooting advice, blogs, and tutorials. They also have online courses offered by the SketchUp campus.

However, SketchUp’s online user community is less of the company’s initiative. There are a lot of users that help others. Plus, third-party developers are offering extensions and plug-ins.

Are there alternatives to both Fusion 360 and SketchUp?

If you want to make sure that Fusion 360 or SketchUp is the best for you, then you should consider these programs:

  • SelfCAD has a free version that offers you everything you need to design a 3D model and print it. You can create complicated designs while working with an intuitive user interface. You can also save time using generators, so you don’t have to design everything from scratch.
  • TinkerCAD is excellent for beginners. It comes from Autodesk, and it allows you to create easy designs right on your browser. TinkerCAD uses a drag and drop user interface that makes it easier for even CAD beginners to create simple 3D models.
  • LibreCAD is an option if you do 2D modeling. This open-source software has a good set of tools for 2D model creation and has a thriving user community.

Your Frequently-Asked Questions

In this section, let’s answer the questions we usually get from our readers.

Question: What is CAD, anyway?

Answer: Computer-aided design is when your computer helps you to create the design that you have in mind. It’s used in a wide range of industries, allowing you to create models in the work area to visualize an idea that you have quickly.

Computers will help you create a model that gives you an idea of how tall or wide a particular object is. CAD also allows you to see the details of your design and even gives you the chance to improve your design ideas, such as seeking weak points in your design or making it more efficient, lightweight, or stronger.

More importantly, CAD allows you to bring your design ideas to life. Once you have your designs created in CAD software, you can open it in CAM software to help you know just how to make prototypes of your design.

Question: How easy is it to learn to a CAD software?

Answer: You might think it’s challenging to get familiar with and use CAD software, but it’s not. CAD software may be very technical, and it will require a lot of familiarity for you to use it properly, but it’s enjoyable to learn.

Various developers have been making CAD software more intuitive and easy to learn. Plus, these companies have been busy at work coming up with tutorials and documentation that will allow users to learn independently. If you have a particular feature that stumps you, you can get videos that teach you how to master them.

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SketchUp vs Fusion 360: The Final Word

SketchUp and Fusion 360 are both excellent programs that allow you to bring your design ideas to life. You can’t go wrong with choosing between either of them, and the better choice between these two will ultimately boil down to which one suits your needs more.

However, if you’re a more experienced CAD user with a need for software that can handle complex designs, you’re better off with Fusion 360. Sketchup, on the other hand, is ideal for beginners and those who are more into 3D modeling.

Fusion 360 vs Rhino: Which is Best Fit For Your Needs

Fusion 360 vs Rhino

When it comes to CAD programs, you certainly have a choice from a variety of software that can do an excellent job with fair pricing and helpful support. Two of the most affordable CAD and 3D modeling programs out there are Autodesk Fusion 360 and Rhino 3D. What are the differences between these two?

Main Differences Between Fusion 360 vs Rhino

The main differences between Fusion 360 vs Rhino are:

  • Fusion 360 is cloud-based, whereas Rhino 3D needs to be installed on your computer.
  • Fusion 360 excels when you need to collaborate, whereas Rhino 3D is easier to learn.
  • Fusion 360 is better suited for 2D drawings and 3D models, whereas Rhino 3D does a better job at 3D modeling.
  • Fusion 360 makes it easy to do simple animations on your models, whereas Rhino 3D only lets you manipulate the angle of the camera and the lighting.
  • Fusion 360 has a free trial available, whereas Rhino 3D doesn’t offer a free trial.
  • Fusion 360 is more affordable for short-term projects with its $500 subscription fee, whereas you can save with Rhino 3D in the long run because you pay $1,000 to use the program outright.

While these two programs differ on these points, both are excellent options for those who are looking for an easy way to flesh out their design ideas. Learn what each of these programs can do and figure out which one is perfect for you. Go ahead, grab a comfortable chair and continue reading!

What Is Fusion 360?

Fusion 360 is a different type of CAD software in that it lives in the cloud instead of needing to be installed on your machine. As such, it delivers its features and functionalities where you need them.

With Fusion 360, you can design products to make sure that they fit to form. You can also revise your designs faster and easier.

Fusion 360 also allows you to know if it is feasible to manufacture your design.

3D modeling

Fusion 360 gives you a comprehensive range of tools for 3D modeling. These tools allow you to easily create a 3D model and see if it will fit the overall design. Some of the 3D modeling tools you can use are:

  • Sketching: These tools allow you to create and revise your sketches with specific dimensions and constraints. You also get a variety of tools that can help you create sketches easily.
  • Direct modeling: You can repair or edit objects created with other programs and save them in other file formats.
  • Surface modeling: You can now create complex surfaces that can help patch, repair, or design various shapes and geometry
  • Parametric modeling: This allows you to change the shape and geometry of a model just by changing the dimension values.
  • Mesh modeling: Create, edit, and repair mesh models.
  • Freeform modeling: Gives you the freedom to design complex models and then edit them just by using pushing or pulling gestures.
  • Rendering: You can create realistic-looking models.
  • PCB design: This gives you an easy way to see how your electronics designs work.
  • Sheet metal: You can now create sheet metal parts

Other Features

People might know Fusion 360 as a precise modeling software for both 2D and 3D designs. But it can do so much more, such as:

  • Prepare your models for CNC machining
  • Simulate how loads affect your design
  • Render your models
  • Prototyping

Fusion 360 supports computer-aided manufacturing, so if CNC machining is your thing, you’d appreciate the features that it has. You can use Fusion 360 and then add the attributes of your tools to the ones provided by the program. You can even see how the CNC machine would create the object you’re designing so you’d be able to avoid costly problems in production.

If you like to see how your models would look like, you can render it too. You can assign a particular material to your design, including wood, metal, marble, or glass. You can make your models look photorealistic.

Another feature of Fusion 360 is the animation. This program allows you to do some keyframe animation, so you can see how your designs move.

You can also try load simulation, where you can see how different weights would affect your design, where the stress points are, and get a better understanding of how your design will perform.

Other than 3D modeling, Fusion 360 allows you to program your computer numerical control machines. You can now create with difference axis milling, mill turning, probing, and other tools.

Electronics is also a breeze with Fusion 360. It allows you t to work with different tools that can simplify PCB layouts and schematic designs, among other things.

Other industries and tasks that Fusion 360 will be helpful in are additive manufacturing, generative design, simulation, and documentation.


Fusion 360 also makes data management and collaboration a whole lot easier. So you can work in teams without the hassle of sending files from one person to another and waiting on the others to finish their work.

You have a way to securely view the designs your team is working on. All changes are centralized, and you can leave comments on each design for everyone to see.

What’s more, all projects and their comments are viewable with only a browser, a smartphone, or tablet.


Autodesk offers different extensions for:

  • Machining
  • Generative Design
  • Nesting and Fabrication
  • Additive Builds

These extensions allow you to get the latest tools you need for the job. Because these are essentially add-ons, you will not be paying too much for the main Fusion 360 program.

These extensions cost $200 per month, except for generative design extensions that cost $1,000 a month.

This lengthy video will show you what you can do with Autodesk Fusion 360.


Autodesk Fusion 360 has two pricing packages that you can get. There’s the monthly package where you only pay around $60 per month to use Fusion 360.

There’s also the yearly subscription that costs $495, which cuts the monthly fee to only $42. Autodesk offers a free trial that lasts 30 days. Students, teachers, startups, and other professionals may qualify to use the free version of this program.

What You’d Like About Fusion 360

For design, engineering, and other technical design needs, you really can’t go wrong with Fusion 360. You have all the tools that you’d want and need to create your models. What’s more, you can collaborate with a team when you’re working on a project.

One of the things that are often praised about this software is the amazing support that comes with it. People are raving about the responsive and helpful customer service. What’s more, it has a thriving online community, available documentation, video tutorials, and others.

What Might Be Better

Some users, even expert CAD developers, find this difficult to learn. The difficulty means that you’d need a lot of time to learn this software. If you’re serious about 3D modeling and would see yourself using Fusion 360, it is worth investing the time to learn it.

Fusion 360: The Bottom Line

Autodesk Fusion 360 is an excellent 3D computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing tool that can easily help your design people collaborate on a project.

It offers you all of the tools you need to do your work and is backed by a lively and helpful online community that creates content and tutorials that can help you learn this somewhat challenging program.

The company provides a lot of help, as well. Outstanding customer service is one of its strongest selling points. The helpful customer service and resources are good, as some users report that Fusion 360 is not easy to learn, but others say that it’s easy to use.

Pricing starts at $60 per month for every user, or you can save with an annual subscription at $500. There are free versions for students and a free trial for those who want to see if Fusion 360 is perfect for them.


  • Easy to learn and helpful customer support
  • You can easily create a prototype without taking too long
  • You get the tools to create the designs you want


  • Might not have all the functions or features that you can get from competitors
  • You’re somewhat limited by the speed of your Internet connection because it’s cloud-based
  • Mac users might have a hard time using this program
  • Compared to AutoCAD and Inventor, this is not an easy product to use

See how Fusion 360 compares to other software alternatives:

What Is Rhino 3D?

Rhino 3D is one of the better computer-aided design software that can help you create industrial, architectural, and jewelry designs with ease. You can quickly create prototypes and help you visualize your ideas in no time.

Rhino 3D is ideal for those professional designers who like to design using the NURBS mathematical model. You can use it for additive manufacturing, reverse engineering, rapid prototyping, CAD, and CAM. What you get from Rhino is a mathematically accurate design, allowing you to get smoother and more precise freeform drawings and curves.

What Can You Get from Rhino 3D?

Rhino 3D has a user interface that allows you to see all the tools you need and work most easily. You get a dockable or floating command area and a list of recent commands you used, among other things. You also have construction aids that can help make your design time a whole lot faster.

Rhino’s set of model creation tools allow you to work with points, curves, surfaces, solids, and meshes. Plus, the program gives you the refinements and enhancements you need to do your best work.

You also get editing tools that allow you to delete, join, trim, merge, split, extend, chamfer, fillet, and other ways to directly manipulate an object. You can also transform your objects, along with other ways to manipulate your models.

Highlights of Rhino’s Many Features

Rhino boasts of many features that it’s going to take a long time to list down. But what follows here is a short rundown of the most important ones you should know:

  • Free-form tools: Rhino gives you a range of free-from tools to make 3D modeling easier. Before Rhino, these tools were only available in programs that were so much more expensive. You now have access to tools that lets you create everything you can think of.
  • Accurate rendering: Rhino’s formidable set of tools helps you create accurate models so you can come to create prototypes and designs for manufacturing, cost analysis, and engineering.
  • Cross-platform compatibility: This allows you to use Rhino to work on designs and models from other CAM, illustration, and animation software. You can also work with meshes.
  • Easy to learn: There are no steep learning curves with Rhino, which allows you to start working on your designs even if it’s your first time using a CAD program.

Rhino Pricing

Rhino costs $995 for a single-user license. However, if you are using an older version of the software, you only need to spend $595 to upgrade to the latest one.

For the academe, pricing is deeply discounted to only $195. You can also pay only $95 to upgrade for a single-user license.

What You Will Like About Rhino 3D

Rhino is very easy to learn and use. It’s not a subscription product, so you pay to use a particular version of the product forever. It has a command-line where you have another way to interact with the models you are creating.

Rhino is simple too. You can start with a simple and straightforward sketch and then manipulate it to your liking. But what makes Rhino more appealing is the fact that you can create add-ons to get more out of the program.

You will also love the clean user interface that you can personalize according to your liking. Rhino is primarily a surface modeling program, but it’s flexible enough for use in other designs. It’s compatible with STL, STEP, Solidworks, AutoCAD, IGES, DXF, SketchUp, and OBJ files, among others.

What You Should Know About Rhino 3D

Don’t get us wrong. Rhino 3D is very easy to use, and learning how to use it is a very straightforward process. However, it offers a lot of tools. The range and variety of the tools being offered will mean that it will take you some time to master this program.

What’s more, you buy the license to a particular version of Rhino 3D. You might need to pay for the next version.

The Bottom Line: Rhino 3D

It’s easy to recommend Rhino 3D to people who are looking for an easy-to-use, accurate, and fast 3D design program. Interior designers, jewelry makers, and other industries that need image renderings, prototypes, and packaging can rely on Rhino 3D to help them deliver their ideas into something visual.


  • Extensible with add-ons
  • Affordable one-time fee
  • Easy to use and learn
  • Excellent customer service and online community


  • It’s easy to be overwhelmed because of the sheer number of tools
  • Some extensions might not integrate properly with the main program

Which One Should You Use: Rhino 3D or Autodesk Fusion 360?

Both Rhino and Fusion 360 are capable and powerful programs that can help you create 3D models. But which one is perfect for you?

Fusion 360 lives on the cloud, allowing you to access the program and your designs from anywhere if you have a browser and an Internet connection. Rhino 3D is installed on your machine, which makes it less portable than Fusion 360. You’d be limited to working on your computer to create your designs.

Fusion 360 is excellent when you create both 2D and 3D models. Rhino 3D can be used for 2D models, but most of its features are for accurate and precise 3D modeling.

What Kind of Tools Do They Offer?

Fusion 360 gives you tools that allow you to do parametric, polygonal, and surface modeling. You will need to combine these tools to get the results you need. Rhino 3D is based on non-uniform rational B-splines or NURBS modeling.

If you do a lot of animation, you might be better off using Fusion 360 with its keyframe animation features. Rhino 3D has very limited animation tools, where you can only move the lighting or the view of your models. Rendering an animation on Rhino 3D can take a lot longer than on Fusion 360.

Image rendering on Fusion 360, you just drag and drop the patch icon over your model to change its properties. You can set the material, quality, and environment from a flyout toolbar.

With Rhino 3D, you will get color images with bumps, textures, transparency, and light. You can add the light, choose a material for your objects, and then repeat the process to get the look you want.

Fusion 360 is preferred by those who work with electronics, mechanical design, furniture making, and aerospace design. Rhino is more for those who like industrial and architectural designs. You can also use it to create jewelry and accessories.


You can use Fusion 360 for free if you’re a teacher or student, a hobbyist, or a small non-profit business with yearly revenues of less than $100,000. If not, you can use it by subscribing to the product for around $500 a year.

Rhino 3D doesn’t have a free version or a free trial. You’d need to pay $995 to use the program for life.

So, Which One Should You Choose?

When it comes to tools and features, it seems that Rhino 3D is on an equal footing with Fusion 360. So your decision on which one to choose will largely depend on what you prefer.

You should go with Fusion 360 if you’re part of a design team and you need to collaborate on a project. The online environment will help facilitate teamwork while reading and keeping track of all the notes and comments on the design.

Go with Rhino 3D if you want a more accurate model and you like software that you don’t have to pay for year after year. What’s more, Rhino 3D is for those who work on architectural and industrial design.

Meanwhile, Fusion 360 is great for working with furniture, electronics, mechanical, and aerospace models.

What is the NURBS mathematical model?

Non-uniform rational B-splines or NURBS are a way to present 3D geometry using numbers. This mathematical representation can easily describe shapes such as curves, arcs, lines, and circles.

Why should you use NURBS for computer-aided modeling?

  • You can create your models using NURBS, and rest assured they can be opened and accessed by a variety of rendering, animation, engineering, and modeling programs.
  • The mathematical representation is very precise, so you can work with both standard shapes and free-form objects.
  • NURBS is taught at many colleges and universities, so finding talent is easy.

Are there alternatives to both Fusion 360 vs Rhino 3D?

Buy 3D Modeling Software | Autodesk

From beginners to professionals, Autodesk has 3D modeling software designed to meet your needs.

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You might have a variety of reasons for not wanting to use either Rhino 3D or Fusion 360. Lucky for you, you have an option to choose from quite a few programs that you can use as an alternative to Fusion 360 and Rhino 3D. Here are some of them and why you should consider using them.


Just like its name, this program has been a solid contender in the CAD/CAM space. Its forte is 3D modeling and engineering design. SolidWorks allows you to document all individual parts and create new ones that you can use for your object. If you need to animate or render your designs, there are extensions and add-ons that you can use.

Simulations are excellent, and you can create really detailed models with SolidWorks.

This program offers a lot of features, more than Fusion 360. These features might add more complexities, especially when you’re learning. It doesn’t have a sculpt mode.

However, SolidWorks can be expensive with tiered pricing starting at around $4,000 and can reach around $18,000 for businesses to use.

  • More information and download it here.
  • Price: $3,995, with discounts for educators and students

Read our full Fusion 360 vs Solidworks Comparison


If you’re trying to find another cloud-based solution, then you should look at Onshape. This program is also 100-percent accessible online but allows for stress-free collaboration. Onshape is perfect for beginners too. The features it offers focus on CAD. That is to say that if you need to do some CAE or CAM work, then you should look elsewhere.

Beginners will also love it that there’s a ton of content available for learning Onshape. Combine those resources with the innate simplicity of Onshape, and you’d be learning CAd in no time.

Onshape costs $1,500 annually, but students and teachers can use it for free.

  • More information and download it here.
  • Price:$1,995


SketchUp holds the distinction of having been once owned and developed by the search giant Google. Sketchup is free to use. You only pay when you want to use plugins. There’s also a professional application that supports STL export.

You will like SketchUp if your work is focused on CAD, but you might want to use another program to do 3D printing or CNC machining.

Read our full Sketchup vs Fusion 360 Comparison.

  • More information and download it here.
  • Price: $299 annually, but there is a free version


Creo gives you all the necessary features of an excellent CAD program and continues to update the range of functionalities that you can get with it.

Creo offers parametric modeling, animations, rendering, augmented reality, and ergonomic simulations. After you have designed your model, you can get a list of materials you’re going to need to create the product.

Creo also gives you the chance to do some advanced analyses and simulations on your models.

Like SolidWorks, Creo might be a pricier alternative, especially for Rhino 3D. You can get a basic license for $2,200, but more expensive packages include more tools for simulations and machining.

What’s more, the user interface can be very confusing. This program might be more ideal for industry professionals than the at-home hobbyist.

  • More information and download it here.
  • Price: $2,200


If you’re a Linux user, then you’re probably out of luck with both Fusion 360 and Rhino 3D. However, give SolveSpace a try.

This program is for Linux users and offers a wide range of tools for you to do some serious CAM and 3D modeling. But it’s also available for Mac and Windows. What’s more, it’s open-source and free to use.

It’s also very straightforward, and learning how to use SolveSpace should be as easy, if not easier, than learning Rhino 3D.

Features-wise, you won’t miss anything by using SolveSpace, even if you’ve been using Rhino or Fusion 360. You get parametric 3D modeling, 2D sketching, STL repair, and Boolean operations. You can prepare G-code and export it into a variety of file types.

However, you might want to consider another program if you need to do some simulations or stress tests. This free program can also have performance drawbacks when doing boolean operations and complicated drawings.

  • More information and download it here.
  • Price: Free

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section, we answer our readers’ most-asked questions.

Question: What are the main differences between CAD and CAM?

Answer: Computer-aided design is when you use a computer to make 2D drawings and 3D models. It’s when you showcase your part’s geometry.

On the other hand, computer-aided manufacturing is when you use computers to control machine tools when making the parts you designed. CAM is more closely associated with turning your design and ideas into real-world products.

To make this easier to understand, you will create models with your CAD software and then use that model to instruct machines on how to create the CAD-generated model you have.

Fusion 360 vs Rhino 3D: Final Thoughts

Sometimes, two programs are both excellent, that it’s difficult to make a clear recommendation and tell people to use one over the other. Fusion 360 and Rhino 3D are two of these programs.

But now that you know what each one offers, what they’re good at, and which users can benefit more from what they’re offering, you can decide for yourself which one is perfect for your needs.

You can’t go wrong with either Rhino 3D or Fusion 360.

Bricscad vs AutoCAD: Which Serves Your Purpose Best?

Bricscad vs AutoCAD

If you are wondering which is better between BricsCAD vs AutoCAD then this comparison is going to tell you everything you need to know.

Both of these programs are computer-aided design software that is mainly used in architecture, engineering, and construction industries. However, many different sectors utilize the power that these programs offer.

We are going to explore their features, differences, how they compare in terms of pricing and ease of use and we’ll also show you some alternatives too. By the end of this comparison, you will know which CAD software is the better one to use.

Main Differences Between BricsCAD vs AutoCAD

The main differences between AutoCAD vs BricsCAD are:

  • BricsCAD allows you to buy a perpetual license, whereas AutoCAD does not
  • AutoCAD uses more computer power, whereas BricsCAD which is quite lightweight
  • BricsCAD is easier to use, whereas AutoCAD has a steep learning curve
  • AutoCAD has a mobile app that allows you to edit DWG files, whereas BricsCAD does not
  • AutoCAD has been around since the 1980s, whereas BricsCAD was founded in 2002

Exploring BricsCAD and AutoCAD features


BricsCAD and AutoCAD both serve similar functions in terms of creating models and designs. These are the main features of both these two pieces of software.

Drawing and design

The main function of these two programs is to aid with drawing and design. They are both used quite extensively in the architecture, engineering, and construction industries.

AutoCAD provides a wealth of options to create 2D designs. It is similar to doing this on paper (albeit digitally) and it allows for free form drawing. In fact, AutoCAD does allow for a great degree of flexibility when creating designs. There is also 3D functionality with AutoCAD for example with 3D modeling and visualization. While this wasn’t initially built into AutoCAD, it has emerged as a key function.

BricsCAD is very similar. It too has both 2D drawing and 3D modeling capabilities. It works really well in a traditionally 2D drawing environment while also extending into 3D as well. The AI tools that BricsCAD uses helps to enhance the overall workflow by optimizing both 3D designs and 2D drawings.

Customizable Options

Having a custom experience with CAD software can really make a difference in how quickly and efficiently you can create your drawings and models.

AutoCAD does offer very good customizable options. This includes being able to organize support and drawing files, display the tools you use frequently, create aliases for commands, and also customize the user interface. This allows you to create a layout that suits you and greatly helps to improve overall productivity and efficiency.

BricsCAD also allows you to customize the layout of the program. You can edit the user interface so you can find what you need quickly as well as create new menus. BricsCAD has a lot of customizable features and even though it might take a while to get the program the way you want, it is well worth it.


File compatibility

Both AutoCAD and BricsCAD are compatible with a wide range of files.

The standard file format for CAD software is DWG and you can open DWG files on both of these programs. While DWG files are native to AutoCAD – they licensed it away back in the 1980s – it can be used on a variety of different CAD programs.

BricsCAD also supports many third-party applications and you can use both of these programs for 3D printing as they support STL files.


Even though both of these programs are complex and can be used for highly technical purposes, how does programs perform? Are they particularly slow or is using them quite smooth and straightforward?

While much of this will depend on the computer you are using either AutoCAD or BricsCAD on, you don’t need anything two high powered to operate the software. Obviously, the better spec the easier these programs will run.

AutoCAD runs pretty smoothly and while there can be some delays at times depending on the specifications of your computer, there are different things you can do to speed the program up. Overall though, AutoCAD performs pretty well as long as you have a decent computer to run it on.

BricsCAD is similar. Opening complex drawings is pretty smooth with this program and the recommended specifications are actually quite a bit lower than AutoCAD. You can run BricsCAD on a lower spec computer that might otherwise struggle a bit with AutoCAD.bricscad


It is important that the CAD software you choose is available for the operating system and device that you have. This is true especially if you move around offices and locations quite a bit and you may need the software to be available across different platforms.

Autocad is compatible with a wide range of operating systems and platforms. It has both Windows and Mac compatibility and you can also find AutoCAD for mobile devices too. This includes iOS, Android and Windows devices. You can also add on cloud storage to your AutoCAD subscription if you want which is great for accessing files anywhere you go.

BricsCAD also works with both Windows and Mac devices. However, BricsCAD does lack a bit with mobile support. There is the Bricsys 24/7 Mobile App which allows you to upload, view, markup and comment on any 3D models and 2D drawings that have been created. It doesn’t have the same overall functionality as the AutoCAD app.


If you run into any problems with CAD software – especially if you are using this at home with a 3D printer – it is good to know that help is on hand should you need it.

AutoCAD provides a range of support options should you encounter any problems. This includes email and phone support while there is also a live chat feature on the Autodesk website. You can find answers to most questions within the help section of the site too and it provides a lot of information on common issues.

BricsCAD also has email and phone support while you can find out information in their help section. The knowledge base is easy to use and it is straightforward to find what you need. A good feature of BricsCAD is that they have a forum on their website where you can interact and speak to other users. This is really helpful to share experiences, find answers and get some tips on how to use this CAD software effectively.

Comparing AutoCAD and BricsCAD – Pricing


One of the big differences between these two CAD pieces of software is their pricing.

AutoCAD can be purchased on an annual basis and this gives you access to this CAD program for 12 months. You can get a monthly license too (which will cost more over the course of a year) and you can also take out a 3 year license if you wish.

There is a free trial available with AutoCAD and a one year free licence if you are a student.

With your AutoCAD subscription, you get a range of different tools included such as:

  • AutoCAD Architecture
  • AutoCAD Electrical
  • AutoCAD Map 3D
  • AutoCAD Mechanical
  • AutoCAD MEP
  • AutoCAD Plant 3D
  • AutoCAD Raster Design

BricsCAD is cheaper than AutoCAD.

You can get a perpetual license for BricsCAD which is really good. This means you can use the software indefinitely and you don’t need to renew or pay a monthly or annual fee. You can take out an annual licence of this software if you wish.

There is a free trial available with BricsCAD and students can get a free one-year license as well. There is also a BricsCAD Lite option which is cheaper but doesn’t come with the same overall functionality as the Pro version.

You have the option of also taking out something called BricsCAD maintenance. It is an annual fee and can be bought alongside a perpetual license. It includes free upgrades to the latest software, priority support and access to Bricsys 24/7 for additional storage.

If you are on a tight budget and need the functionality that CAD software provides, BricsCAD is the more cost-effective option.

AutoCAD vs BricsCAD – ease of use

Creating 2D and 3D designs has become more user-friendly over the years. This is particularly true with the range of affordable 3D printers that are aimed at hobbyists but what about AutoCAD and BricsCAD – are they easy to use?

There can be quite a steep learning curve when it comes to AutoCAD. The program can look quite complex and difficult to understand and in some ways it is. There are a lot of separate processes and functionality that you need to learn. That being said, the customizable options that AutoCAD has does make the learning curve a bit easier. You won’t master AutoCAD in a day but it isn’t going to take you months and months to get the basics.

On the other hand, BricsCAD is easier to use than AutoCAD. The software is a bit more straightforward to navigate and we don’t think that there is such a big learning curve with BricsCAD. It can still be quite complex and you will need to take the time to master its functionality. However, when compared to AutoCAD, many people comment that the overall ease of use is better.

Pros and Cons



  • Has both 2D and 3D modelling functionality
  • Offers a range of great customizable options
  • Can use without internet as it utilises local and network files
  • Works on both Windows and Mac devices as well as mobile
  • You can add in cloud storage if you need more space
  • Has been the go-to CAD software for decades


  • Steep learning curve and can seem overwhelming when starting out
  • Pretty expensive but does offer free license to students
  • Requires more computer power than BricsCAD



  • Supports 2D drawings and can create 3D models
  • Has good licencing options with a perpetual license
  • Cheaper than AutoCAD and offers one year free licence to students
  • Can customize the layout to suit your needs which also helps productivity
  • Available on Windows, Mac and Linux devices
  • Offers various support options including email, phone, knowledge base and forums
  • Doesn’t have a steep learning curve and is quite easy to use


  • No dedicated mobile app for creating 2D drawings and 3D models
  • Some commands are different from AutoCAD so can take a while to get used to
  • Customer support can be slow to respond to queries

Are there any alternatives?



The first alternative to both AutoCAD and BricsCAD is Solidworks. This program allows for 2D drawing and 3D modelling. You can get Solidworks as a one off payment (similar to BricsCAD as you get indefinite access) or you can use it on a subscription basis.

The one drawback with Solidworks is that it is only available on Windows and there is no dedicated Mac program. There are ways of using it on a Mac device however it isn’t as easy as simply installing a program.

If you are looking for an alternative, Solidworks is a popular choice for people who want and need to use CAD software. If you want to know how it compares directly with AutoCAD, you can read our previous AutoCAD vs Solidworks comparison.



TurboCAD is another well-known piece of CAD software that is favoured by many businesses and individuals.

It is available on both Windows and Mac devices and there is a range of apps available to support the work that you do on the software. It has always been primarily focused on 3D work so it is great for 3D models and it is fairly straightforward to use. Like all CAD software, you’ll need to spend a while getting used to it but you can customize the layout and some other options.

You can find out how TurboCAD stacks up against AutoCAD and how it’s a very good alternative that provides software for 3D modeling.

Frequently Asked Questions about AutoCAD vs BricsCAD

Question: Can I use AutoCAD for free?

Answer: You can get a 30-day free trial version of AutoCAD. There is also the opportunity for students to get a one-year free license too.

Question: Can I use BricsCAD for free?

Answer: There is a 30-day free trial available for BricsCAD while students can also get access to BricsCAD Ultimate for one year for free.

Question: What operating systems can I use AutoCAD on?

Answer: AutoCAD is available for both Windows and Mac computers and there is also a mobile app that you can use as well.

Question: What operating systems can I use BricsCAD on?

Answer: BricsCAD is available on both Windows and Mac devices.

Question: Can I customize these CAD programs?

Answer: Yes. Both AutoCAD and BricsCAD can be customized. This includes things such as creating menus, changing the layout, and creating aliases for commands. By customizing how you use these programs, you can boost your productivity and efficiency.

Question: Are AutoCAd and BricsCAD easy to use?

Answer: If you haven’t used any CAd software before, it will take a while to get used to how they work. BricsCAD is considered the easier of the two.

Question: Can I use AutoCAD and BricsCAD for 3D Printing?

Answer: Yes. Both AutoCAD and BricsCAD have the ability to use STL files. This will allow you to use these programs with a range of different 3D Printers.

Question: What support can I get with AutoCAD and BricsCAD?

Answer: AutoCAD offers phone, email, and live chat support while there is a knowledge base and forum on their website for further help. With BricsCAD you can get support via email and phone. They also have a help section on their website as well as a forum.

Conclusion – choose BricsCAD as the more affordable but still powerful software

Now that you know all the ins and outs of both AutoCAD and BricsCAD, we need to decide which one is better to use.

The initial instinct would be to go with AutoCAD because it is so well known and has been around for decades. However, we are going to recommend that you choose BricsCAD.

The price is one of the main reasons for this. It is cheaper and BricsCAD pretty much does everything AutoCAD does in terms of functionality. We really like the fact that you can get a perpetual licence with BricsCAD too. It just makes the whole process of licensing the software much easier and it is great that you can save some money as well.

Overall BricsCAD is a really good piece of CAD software. It is easier than some others to use and it also doesn’t take up much computing power so you don’t need anything too high spec to run it.

While there are some drawbacks like the availability of a mobile app to actually edit drawings and models and their customer support could be quicker at replying.

That being said, we think BricsCAD is the better of the two and if you are looking for affordable yet powerful CAD software, it is hard to go wrong with it.

Vectorworks vs AutoCAD: Which Software is Right For Your Needs?

Vectorworks vs AutoCAD

Our comprehensive Vectorworks vs AutoCAD comparison is going to show you the best CAD program to use out of these two pieces of software.

While AutoCAD is often the go-to program and has significant market domination, we’ll find out if Vectorworks is a credible alternative. We’ll explore all the features of these two programs and what they offer. We’ll also go into how easy they are to use, their pros and cons as well as other CAD softwares on the market.

In the end, you’ll find out which one is better.

Main Differences Between Vectorworks vs AutoCAD

The main differences between AutoCAD vs Vectorworks are:

  • Vectorworks allows you to buy a perpetual license, whereas AutoCAD does not let you buy a perpetual licence.
  • AutoCAD has a mobile app for editing designs, whereas Vectorworks does not have a mobile app for editing designs.
  • Vectorworks has BIM modeling capabilities, whereas AutoCAD does not have BIM modeling capabilities.
  • AutoCAD has a steep learning curve, whereas Vectorworks is a bit easier to learn
  • AutoCAD’s native file format is compatible with most CAD programs, whereas Vectorworks’ native file extension is not

Exploring Vectorworks and AutoCAD features

Both Vectorworks and AutoCAD are used by architects, engineers, and across various industries. While they often do serve different purposes, there are many features we can compare them against each other.

Drawing and design


Both of these programs provide the ability to create both 2D drawings and 3D models that are used in many industries including engineering, construction, and more.

AutoCAD has been the go-to software for the 2D drawing for many years. It has also incorporated 3D functionality into the software as well. Many people like the fact that AutoCAD feels like free form drawing on paper at times and it does offer a lot of flexibility for creating models.

Vectorworks also does a very good job at creating drawing and models, especially in 2D. It offers native BIM capabilities. There are many different programs with Vectorworks that serve different purposes. Vectorworks Architect is the one to compare with AutoCAD but there is also Vectorworks Spotlight for lighting, Vision for events, and Vectorworks Landmark for landscape architects.

Customizable Options

One of the big things we look out for with any software and especially CAD programs is how customizable they are. Being able to change layouts, hide tools and create a unique workspace helps with productivity and efficiency.

AutoCAD is well noted as offering a good experience if you want to customize certain parts of it. You can change the layout, show tools that you use the most, create aliases for commands as well as create a user interface that is unique to you. This massively helps AutoCAD feel like a custom program and it should boost how efficient it is to use.

Vectorworks also provides a range of customizable options for their program. Like AutoCAD, it is very easy to do and it allows you to add and remove tools and menus, configure context menus, create new positions for tools and palettes, and more.

Vectorwork Architect

File compatibility

You can open and use a varied range of files with both Vectorworks and AutoCAD. In fact, you can open up AutoCAD files (.dwg) in Vectorworks and we haven’t come across any problems with doing this.

One area where Vectorworks is perhaps better than AutoCAD is with BIM information as it has native BIM capabilities. Vectorworks has much more of a focus on a BIM workflow. Vectorworks also has its own file extension (.vmx) however this isn’t generally compatible with many other CAD programs.


CAD software can take up a lot of processing power due to the complex nature of how they work. So, how do Vectorworks and AutoCAD compare when it comes to performance?

Comparing them can be quite subjective because it is going to depend a lot on what computer spec you have. Obviously, a computer with a higher spec is going to run these programs better than one with limited capabilities.

AutoCAD has always run pretty well on any computer we have used it on (as long as it has half-decent specifications). AutoCAD does offer information on how you can speed up the program on your computer by changing around different settings.

Vectorworks is pretty similar to the recommended specifications for your computer to run this program on. There isn’t a big difference between the two really.

To run them smoothly you’ll need around the same RAM (16GB recommended), similar processors, and graphic cards. Depending on what toolsets you are using, you will need some decent storage space on your computer as well.


Most CAD software is available across several operating systems and platforms. Choosing one that not only gives you the functionality you need but also can work across different devices is important. This is definitely true if you need to access it in different locations.

AutoCAD works on many different operating systems and this includes Windows and Mac. You can also use AutoCAD on a mobile device. This is one of the big advantages of AutoCAD in that you have a great range of functionality on iOS, Windows, and Android mobile devices. If you need additional storage, AutoCAD provides cloud storage options.

Vectorworks is similar to AutoCAD in that it can work on both Windows and Mac. One drawback of Vectorworks is that it doesn’t have an app where you can edit designs. There is Vectorworks Nomad which displays your designs and you can access this on Android and iOS devices but it doesn’t let you actually do any editing.


The last feature we’re going to look at with Vectorworks and AutoCAD is their support options. Getting the help when you need it is vital in case you run into any problems.

AutoCAD does provide several support options. You can contact Autodesk by email as well as by phone or you can use the live chat on their website. If you want to do some research yourself, you can use the help section which offers a range of answers to common questions. There is also a dedicated AutoCAD forum where you can engage with other users.

Vectorworks has phone and email support in addition to a live chat option. Their website offers a list of Vectorworks partners that you can get in touch with for training.

You’ll also find a knowledge base on their website that has informative articles and how-to videos while the forum is another great resource that is pretty active.

Not much between AutoCAD and Vectorworks when it comes to supporting and getting the information that you need.

Comparing AutoCAD vs Vectorworks – pricing


You can purchase AutoCAD on an annual basis. This gives you a valid license for 12 months. There is the option to take up a monthly subscription to AutoCAD although your yearly amount will be higher. If you envisage using AutoCAD for a few years, you can get a 3 year licence too.

Students can get a one-year free license and Autodesk offer a 30 day free trial of AutoCAD too.

With your AutoCAD subscription, you get a range of different tools included such as:

  • AutoCAD Architecture
  • AutoCAD Electrical
  • AutoCAD Map 3D
  • AutoCAD Mechanical
  • AutoCAD MEP
  • AutoCAD Plant 3D
  • AutoCAD Raster Design

Vectorworks – and Vectorworks Architect which is the closest program to AutoCAD – does cost more than AutoCAD if you look at the price of AutoCAD’s one-year subscription. However, the big difference here is that with Vectorworks Architect you get a perpetual license. This gives you lifetime access to Vectorworks Architect as well as 2G of cloud storage and one-year tech support.

You can add a maintenance addition to your purchase which boosts your cloud storage to 20GB and also gives you upgrades to the newly released version as well as priority support if you need it. Students can also get a free license to Vectorworks and you can request a 30-day free trial too.

So, Vectorworks Architect will work out cheaper in the longer run. You only need to purchase it once and over the course of say, 5 years, it will be less expensive than AutoCAD.

There are also many other programs that Vectorworks have including:

  • Vectorworks Fundamentals
  • Vectorworks Landmark
  • Vectorworks Spotlight
  • Vectorworks Designer

These all need to be purchased separately.

Vectorworks vs AutoCAD – ease of use

vectorworks architect

With the sharp rise in affordable 3D printers, many people have been turning to CAD software and other programs to create models and designs. This has led to some of these programs become more user-friendly. So, how do Vectorworks and AutoCAD compare?

AutoCAD is renowned for being pretty difficult to use. It is in no way impossible to master however it will take a while to get a good grasp on its functions and features.

It has long been the standard software to use for drawing and designs and this is why so many people preserve with it. There are good resources on the Autodesk website if you do run into trouble when using AutoCAD.

Vectorworks is a bit easier to use than AutoCAD. Many people prefer Vectorworks because it doesn’t present such a steep learning curve like AutoCAD often does. Commands are more intuitive with the icon UI layout which a lot of users prefer. Like AutoCAD, you can find a lot of good resources and training for Vectorworks to help you along.

Pros and Cons



  • Can draw and designs in both 2D and 3D
  • Very customizable so you can create your own layout
  • Compatible with a large number of file formats
  • Available for Windows and Mac in addition to offering a mobile app
  • Can get cloud storage if you want
  • Can be used offline without internet access
  • Has been the go-to CAD software for decades


  • Doesn’t offer a perpetual license like some other CAD software
  • Is quite complex so will take a while to learn
  • Need decent computer specifications for run it smoothly



  • Ideal for 2D and 3D modeling
  • Can get a perpetual license for lifetime access
  • Compatible with a wide range of different file formats
  • Works on both Windows and Mac computers
  • Can customize the layout to suit your needs
  • Easier to use than AutoCAD and has an intuitive icon UI
  • Decent support options with helpline online resources


  • Native Vectorworks format isn’t compatible with most software
  • No mobile app for editing (but does offering one for viewing and commenting)
  • Need decent computer specifications to run it smoothly

Are there any alternatives?


Turbo Cad

An alternative to both Vectorworks and AutoCAD is TurboCAD.

We’ve had a look at this CAD software a few times and you can see how it matches up directly with AutoCAD here.

TurboCAD is a powerful piece of CAD software that is ideally suited to 3D modeling. It can take a while to get to grips with how it works but it is favored by many people. It works on both Windows and Mac computers and it also features a suite of apps to boost functionality on mobile devices.

Like AutoCAD and Vectorworks, it is highly customizable and can run on most half-decent computers pretty smoothly. Overall a decent alternative that comes in a lot cheaper for lifetime use than Vectorworks and AutoCAD.


If 3D printing is your main objective with CAD software then we would recommend going with TinkerCAD.

Regardless of what type of 3D printing you are going to do – whether it be working with an open source 3D printer, dual extruder 3D printers or to print specific objects, this is a great piece of software.

It is pretty basic so we can’t really compare it directly to AutoCAD or Vectorworks. It’s only focus is on offering three simple tools that can be used to create a wide variety of 3D printing models.

Perhaps the best thing about TinkerCAD is that it is free! You don’t have to pay anything to get access to it. This isn’t going to replace AutoCAD or Vectorworks however if you just need some basic software for 3D printing, this is a great option to get started with.

Frequently Asked Questions about AutoCAD and Vectorworks

Question: Is AutoCAD free for students?

Answer: You can get a one-year free license to AutoCAD if you are in education and there is also the option for a 30-day free trial as well.

Question: Is Vectorworks free for students?

Answer: You can get a 12 month Vectorworks license if you are a student and this can be extended after a year if you are still in education. If you are a recent graduate, you can get a discounted version of Vectorworks too.

Question: What operating systems is AutoCAD available on?

Answer: You can get AutoCAD on Windows and Mac computers while there is also a mobile app for iOS, Android, and Windows devices.

Question: What operating systems is Vectorworks available on?

Answer: Vectorworks is available on Windows and Mac OS. There is an app – Vectorworks Nomad – although it doesn’t allow you to edit designs.

Question: Can I customize these CAD programs?

Answer: Yes. You can customize both AutoCAD and Vectorworks. This will allow you to create custom layouts, hide tools, create menus and more so you can boost your productivity.

Question: Are AutoCAD and Vectorworks easy to use?

Answer: AutoCAD is seen to be harder to use than Vectorworks. Neither are really simple to use especially if this is your first step into CAD software. However, many users do report that Vectorworks is a bit easier to learn.

Question: Can I use AutoCAD and Vectorworks for 3D printing?

Answer: Yes. You can export STL files with both AutoCAD and Vectorworks and this is the default file format for the majority of 3D printers.

Question: Can I get training with AutoCAD and Vectorworks?

Answer: Yes. There are numerous online resources on both the Autodesk and Vectorworks website. This includes forums and guides while there are also official training courses you can use to boost your skills.

Conclusion – Go with Vectorworks mainly because of its lifetime license

Perhaps it seems obvious that you should choose AutoCAD if you need a piece of powerful CAD software. After all, it has been the default program for most professionals for a long time.

However, we are going to suggest that you choose Vectorworks.

When it comes to the actual functionality of both programs, there isn’t much difference and Vectorworks pretty much does what AutoCAD can do in a design, drawing, and modeling sense.

The big plus for us is that you can get a perpetual (lifetime) license with Vectorworks. So, if you want to get Vectorworks Architect, you simply purchase it once and you don’t need to pay again. This definitely beats AutoCAD’s subscription model.

While we would like to see a Vectorworks app – one that lets you edit drawings and designs at least – it isn’t a huge drawback for us. Vectorworks is not only a powerful tool but it is more intuitive and straightforward than AutoCAD. It offers good support options, is highly customizable and we can see why a lot of professionals are turning to it.

AutoCAD will still have a loyal following but Vectorworks definitely gives it a run for its money and the fact it works out cheaper in the long run, edges it for us.

Microstation vs AutoCAD [2021]: Which is Right For You?

Microstation vs AutoCAD

Our Microstation vs AutoCAD comparison is going to explore which software is better.

While AutoCAD is the most well-known software on the market and has been for a long time, how does Microstation compare? In fact, Microstation (operated by Bentley Systems) has been around since the 1980s, too so they have been around for roughly the same time period.

We’re going to look at the different features that both Microstation and AutoCAD offer, how they shape up in terms of pricing and ease of use, as well as their pros and cons.

We’ll also have a look at a few alternatives that you can consider as well.

First of all, let’s have a look at the main differences between Microstation and AutoCAD.

Main Differences Between Microstation vs AutoCAD

The main differences between AutoCAD vs Microstation are:

  • Microstation is better for 3D modeling, whereas AutoCAD is better for 2D drawings
  • Microstation doesn’t have a dedicated mobile app, whereas AutoCAD does
  • Microstation is more limited with its support, whereas AutoCAD has a good range of contact and support options
  • Microstation is more engineer orientated, whereas AutoCAD is more design orientated

Exploring Microstation and AutoCAD features

Both Microstation and AutoCAD have some similar features. While AutoCAD is generally used by architects, engineers, and those in the construction industry, Microstation is more often used by design teams for infrastructure.

Microstation vs AutoCAD

Drawing and design

You can use both Microstation and AutoCAD for 2D designs. However, AutoCAD does have more features than Microstation.

AutoCAD has been the main player for 2D designs for many years. It provides a wide number of tools and features to aid with drawing and design, including sketching tools, snap to grid functionality, and common logs. AutoCAD has also incorporated 3D in recent times as well.

While you can undertake 2D drawings with Microstation, it does last many of the features that AutoCAD provides. With Microstation, you do get sketch tools, command logs and the ability to create 2D designs from 3D models.

Where Microstation does get better than AutoCAD is with 3D models. While AutoCAD does provide that functionality, Microstation offers more in terms of 3D modelling and animation. This includes parametric modeling, 3D printing, photorealistic models, and more.

Customizable Options

Something that we really like to see with any type of CAD software (whether it be for 2D or 3D) is being able to customize the layout. It helps with efficiency, and being able to have your own custom setup with the software is important.

AutoCAD does allow you to have a high degree of flexibility when it comes to customization. You have the ability to change the layout of the program, show and hide different tools, create aliases for command and edit the user interface. It is well documented how good AutoCAD’s customizable options are.

You can also customize toolbars and tasks with Microstation. It allows you to have a decent level of control over how your program is laid out which makes it easier to carry out certain things. This software gives you a personalized experience if you want it.

File compatibility

There are a number of files that are compatible with both AutoCAD and Microstation.

This includes the widely used and default. DWG file.

Other file formats that both AutoCAD and Microstation can use are PDF, DWF, and 3DS.

Microstation and AutoCAD can also open files from other CAD programs such as Sketchup and Revit.


A lot of CAD software can put some stress on your computer as they often need to run on a device with good performance. This is down to the complex processes that these programs have.

So, how do both AutoCAD and Microstation perform?

AutoCAD requires 8GB of RAM (although it is recommended that you have 16GB), and it is also recommended that you have a 3+ GHz processor. You’ll need a reasonable graphics card as well. That being said, you don’t exactly need a supercomputer to run AutoCAD, just one with a decent spec to ensure the program runs smoothly.

Microstation requires a similar amount of processing power if you want to run it with some good 3D modeling. It is recommended that you have 16GB of RAM, a similar processor that is required for AutoCAD and a good graphics card with a graphics memory of 512 MB – 2GB.

The more that you want to do in each program will depend on how good the computer is that you are running it on. However, the above specifications should work fine for 2D drawing and 3D modelling with some visualization.


Being able to run CAD software on different platforms can be important to how you work. This is especially true if you need several licenses but have different devices (Windows or a MAC for example) in different locations.

AutoCAD is flexible in this regard. It can run on both Windows computers and Mac computers and there is a version available for both. You can also run AutoCAD on an iOS, Windows, or Android mobile device as there is a dedicated app. You can also get cloud storage with AutoCAD if you need it.

Microstation is a bit more limited than AutoCAD as it only runs in Windows computers. This is a bit of a drawback because it really does limit what devices you can operate this CAD software on. While you could theoretically run it on a MAC with a virtual Windows installation, it isn’t that straightforward.

There also isn’t a dedicated Microstation app which is another drawback of this CAD software.


The final thing to look at with both Microstation and AutoCAD before we get onto their pricing structure is what support options they offer.

There are several ways in which you can get in contact with Autodesk if you have any problems with AutoCAD. This includes email and phone support, while you can also contact them via the live chat on their website. There is also a dedicated FAQ/help section on their site or you can visit the forum and look through the threads of post something yourself.

Microstation is a bit more limited with their support options. While you can contact them via email, they don’t offer many other contact methods. However, they do have a knowledge base on their website, while there is a forum that you can use as well.

When it comes to product support and contact methods, Autodesk does offer more than Bentley.

Comparing AutoCAD and Microstation – pricing

3d modelling

One thing that stands out with AutoCAD is that it is generally a bit more expensive than most other CAD software.

AutoCAD has several different options for a subscription. You can get it with an annual license, a monthly subscription, or you can even take out a 3-year license if you wish.

If you are a student, you can get a one-year free license, while if you wish to ‘try before you buy, there is the option for a 30-day free trial.

With your AutoCAD subscription, you get a range of different tools included, such as:

  • AutoCAD Architecture
  • AutoCAD Electrical
  • AutoCAD Map 3D
  • AutoCAD Mechanical
  • AutoCAD MEP
  • AutoCAD Plant 3D
  • AutoCAD Raster Design

Microstation is more expensive than AutoCAD to purchase. You can take out Microstation on a one-year subscription. This gives you the benefit of getting ‘3 keys’ so you can use Microstation on 3 different computers. However, only one user can run Microstation at one time.

There are some different options with Microstation alongside the one-year subscription. You do need to contact Bentley System if you want to find out more about their different pricing options. There is also a free trial available with Microstation.

It is a bit surprising that Microstation costs more than AutoCAD. Most CAD software that is compared alongside AutoCAD tends to come out cheaper.

Microstation vs AutoCAD – ease of use

CAD software can be complex, and you won’t be able to download it and simply start creating top-quality designs right away. There is usually a bit of a learning curve, with some being harder to learn than others. For example, TurboCAD is seen as one of the easier software packages to get to grips with. So, how do AutoCAD and Microstation compare with their ease of use?

AutoCAD will take a while to get used to. If you are completely new to AutoCAD, it will take some time to get to grips with all the functions, commands, and how the software works in general. There are many resources on the Autodesk website, which will help you get started and answer any problems you have.

That being said, AutoCAD can be quite intuitive and once you master the basics, it doesn’t take too long to get into the advanced functionality of the program.

Microstation is similar. Microstation is quite hard to use compared to other CAD software and has a similar learning curve to AutoCAD. It could do with being a bit more user-friendly and it will take a while to get to grips with it.

Microstation is a very powerful piece of software but you need to be prepared to put effort into learning commands and how it works to get the most out of it.

Microstation – Pros and Cons


  • Great for 3D modeling and animation
  • It can be customized with a personal layout and commands
  • Compatible with a wide range of files, including .dwg
  • It can be used for 3D printing
  • Suited to designs teams for infrastructure


  • Limited to use on just Windows computers
  • It is quite expensive and costs more than AutoCAD
  • Lacks many 2D drawing features
  • It doesn’t provide many support options

AutoCAD – Pros and Cons


  • Highly customizable so you can make the layout your own
  • It is available on various devices such as Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android
  • Default CAD software for professionals
  • Ideal for both 2D drawings and can make 3D models
  • Variety of support and help options
  • Cloud storage available if you need it


  • Isn’t the cheapest compared to some other CAD software
  • It Will take a while to learn how to use

Are there any alternatives?



TurboCAD is a pretty good alternative to AutoCAD and Microstation. It is a program we have reviewed previously when we compared it to AutoCAD.

The good thing about TurboCAD is that it doesn’t require such a big learning curve as AutoCAD and Microstation. You will still need to put in a bit of work to learn this software but it is generally easier to use.

TurboCAD is also cheaper than both AutoCAD and Microstation and once you buy the software, you get lifetime access to it. There is also a free trial available.

You can install TurboCAD in both Windows and Mac computers and it is also very customizable so you can personalize the layout as you wish.



A really good feature of Solidworks is its intuitive design and layout and this helps with learning how to use this software properly.

Solidworks is ideal to use alongside a 3D printer as it has extensive 3D capabilities including the use of STL files. Even though Solidworks is mainly designed for Windows computers. Like Microstation, this does limit it a bit as it doesn’t have a ton of compatibility with different platforms.

Solidworks itself is a powerful piece of software. It does have some 2D capability however its main focus is on 3D models. Even though it can look and feel a bit outdated, it is a very good CAD program especially if you are using it for 3D printing.

Frequently Asked Questions about AutoCAD and Microstation

Question: What operating systems is AutoCAD available on?

Answer: You can get AutoCAD on Windows and Mac computers while there is also a mobile app for iOS, Android, and Windows devices.

Question: What operating systems is Microstation available on?

Answer: Microstation is limited to Windows computers. There isn’t a mobile app for Microstation either or a native Mac version.

Question: Can I get AutoCAD free as a student?

Answer: Yes. you can get a one-year free license to AutoCAD if you are a student and there is also the option of getting a 30-day free trial as well.

Question: Can I get Microstation free as a student?

Answer: If your place of education has an Academic SELECT subscription with Bentley, you can get access to Microstation in addition to a wide range of other products. There is more information on the Bentley website.

Question: Can I customize these CAD programs?

Answer: Yes. Both AutoCAD and Microstation can be customized to suit your needs. This includes changing the layout, showing/hiding certain features, and creating custom commands.

Question: Are AutoCAD and Microstation easy to use?

Answer: Not really. While you will learn how to use these products over time, both AutoCAD and Microstation do require a decent level of training (either self-taught or through classes) in order to master the functionality.

Question: Can I use AutoCAD and Microstation for 3D Printing?

Answer: Yes. AutoCAD and Microstation can be used with 3D Printers. They can both export STL files which is the default file for the majority of 3D printers on the market.

Question: Can I get a lifetime license with AutoCAD?

Answer: No. AutoCAD doesn’t offer a lifetime or perpetual license. Instead, you can take AutoCAD out on a monthly, annual, or 3-year subscription.

Question: Can I get a lifetim license with Microstation.

Answer: No. There is no lifetime license option with Microstation. You can get Microstation on an annual license or you can contact them for other pricing options.

Conclusion – Choose AutoCAD as the all-round better CAD software

Now that we have explored the different features of these two pieces of CAD software as well as looked at some alternatives – which one should you choose?

We think that you should go with AutoCAD.

It isn’t just because AutoCAD is the go-to piece of software when it comes to CAD. We just think that it is a better all-round program especially if you are working a lot with 2D.

Microstation does have some drawbacks in 2D features. While it perhaps has the edge when it comes to 3D modeling, we prefer AutoCAD overall.

Not only is AutoCAD a bit cheaper but it has other features we prefer. This includes the fact that you can use it on Windows and Mac devices (Microstation is limited to Windows only) while the addition of a highly functional mobile app is great too.

AutoCAD has more support options and better information on their website than Microstation as well. Both of these programs can be customized and AutoCAD is great if you want to create a custom layout, alias commands and much more to boost your efficiency.

Overall there are many reasons why AutoCAD is the default product for many professionals.

There is an argument to go with AutoCAD for 2D and Microstation for 3D but if we have to choose between the two programs overall, we would opt for AutoCAD.