Glossary November 23, 2021
Updated 15 December 2023 by James Ocean
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Comparing Revit to AutoCAD in 2024

Table of Contents

Basics of Revit vs AutoCAD

The advent of computer-aided design (CAD) software has led to many new terms being used all over the world. For example, it’s not uncommon for people to confuse Revit and AutoCAD since they don’t know the difference between BIM and CAD in the first place. However, the truth is that AutoCAD and Revit are quite different from one another.

While both belong to the Autodesk family, their purposes are quite different. The main difference in this context is that Revit is BIM software, while AutoCAD is CAD software. These are the basic definitions of both solutions, and this is – Revit is a BIM solution tasked with supporting all phases of construction projects that deal with either design or documentation, while AutoCAD is a widely applicable CAD drawing and modeling tool.

It’s not uncommon for Revit and AutoCAD to be used alongside one another or even be integrated to some degree, although their purposes are still very different, as are the situations in which they can be used. Revit is often used to generate BIM deliverables and to collaborate with different project participants, while AutoCAD’s biggest use case is in the design phase of a construction project.

Surprisingly, there is a rather unusual similarity between the two. It doesn’t matter whether you choose to start with Revit or AutoCAD, are notorious for being rather complicated pieces of software that are not exactly user-friendly.

They both simply have too many different features, tools, and things they can do, and this is the main reason why so many people claim that using such software is overwhelming at first, be it Revit or AutoCAD.

However, if a choice must be made between the two, it is safe to say that Revit is the more complicated solution. One of the reasons for this is the fact that Revit can be used at any stage of a project to provide a multitude of benefits. That’s not to say that AutoCAD is easy to use either.

To make the differences between AutoCAD and Revit, we will go over each of the two and outline their advantages and shortcomings.

Benefits and shortcomings of AutoCAD

On its own, AutoCAD is ancient by the standards of professional software: it has been around since 1982. It single-handedly managed to create a surge in access to design software, and it offers a plethora of features for both 2D and 3D drawings. Some of the more notable benefits of AutoCAD are:

  • Cloud-based viewing and PDF integration. Since almost all construction projects these days are exclusively team efforts, it’s not very surprising that AutoCAD has features that help with better accessibility and usability for people in different time zones and with different devices. AutoCAD can convert files in its proprietary .DWG file format into PDFs to make the project inaccessible for editing until it’s in the right hands. Additionally, AutoCAD offers a cloud-based viewing ability to allow several people to see the same project simultaneously, even though group editing is still unavailable.
  • Precise 2D geometry. AutoCAD is first and foremost a computer-aided drafting tool, which is why there are multiple different ways that AutoCAD users can interact with geometries – and it’s the main reason why people find AutoCAD so intimidating. And yet, once you manage to get a good grasp of its features, you’ll be using one of the best drafting tools on the market.
  • 3D object flexibility. Although the original purpose of AutoCAD was to work with 2D objects, it is not possible to work in three dimensions as well, with the same level of control and precision as with its 2D part and no limitations on your creativity.
  • Customizable workspace. Surprisingly, this leads to the main complaint about AutoCAD: that it is too intimidating. Once you’re past the first impression and begin to work with AutoCAD regularly, you quickly realize that most of the features that seem overwhelming can be easily hidden if you don’t need them in your daily work. You do have to understand the basics of AutoCAD itself to understand how to do so in the first place, but it’s surprisingly customizable.

However, there are some inconveniences and downsides when AutoCAD is approached from a slightly different angle. For example:

  • Layer synchronization. AutoCAD’s layering system is excellent for including an abundance of details in a model, but it’s rather poor from the point of view of convenience, since you always have to sync edits with the entire design manually. This is a massive problem for bigger teams that work with AutoCAD since one person’s mistake can cost the entire team several hours of manually changing values and adding changes.
  • Inability to automatically add component information. While AutoCAD can freely manipulate all of the geometry parts, it’s a massive headache in terms of consistent component information: you have to manually input all of the specific dimensions of each element every time you need it in your design.
  • Difficult learning process. You can indeed hide most of the unnecessary features when you’re confident enough with AutoCAD, but this process can take a while, and AutoCAD’s learning curve is rather harsh and brutal. Luckily, this is a well-known problem, so there are many different courses and training packages to help you become more familiar with AutoCAD’s interface.

Use case recommendations for AutoCAD

AutoCAD is ideal for improving or renovating existing buildings, particularly if the original construction plans were drafted primarily in 2D. AutoCAD is one of the most backward-compatible solutions on the market, supporting older versions of both the software and the plans themselves, offering issue-free access to construction plans that were created years ago.

It’s common for engineering companies and property managers to have substantial databases of DWG files of past and current projects, and opening these files is much easier than recreating any one of them in Revit. Additionally, if the original construction plan is not available in DWG format, AutoCAD also has PDF integration, offering PDF to DWG conversion with the ability to identify both text and linework.

Other useful additions to AutoCAD include 3D-printing compatibility for prototype creation, cloud-based view sharing for better collaboration, and much more.

Advantages and problems of Revit

Although it is first and foremost BIM software, Revit is also technically a type of CAD software,, allowing it to create 3D models of projects with all of the details of both physical properties and how components influence one another. The three fields in which Revit is most commonly used are city planning, architecture, and construction. Some of the biggest benefits of Revit are:

  • Detailed building information. Revit can generate information about the parts of your design while they are being created, adding context in terms of materials, price estimates, and so on. If this information changes at any point in the project creation process, the entire model is updated accordingly.
  • Performance analysis for project designs. Revit can also provide performance analysis of your model in real-world conditions, mostly centered around the environmental friendliness of your model. Energy- or resource-efficient construction is always a win in everyone’s book.
  • Information integration in the model. Unlike AutoCAD, Revit does not work with different layers but offers the ability to work with the entire 3D model at once, including different viewpoints, synchronized changes, and more.
  • Easier maintenance and upgrades. Because of the way that Revit integrates all changes into the entire model, it’s effortless to update or change the models whenever you want or to look at the design archives, if you need them.
  • Clean interface. Since Revit’s interface is cleaner when compared with AutoCAD’s, many users find it easier to learn and get used to.

And yet,as with AutoCAD, there are some problems with Revit as a whole, such as:

  • Higher price. Because both AutoCAD and Revit are produced by Autodesk, it is reasonably easy to compare the basic prices of the two, and Revit is always priced higher, with the three-year plan for Revit costing $1000 more.
  • Windows-only software. Unfortunately, design sharing with Revit is somewhat more complicated, since it works only on Windows devices. This may not be a deal-breaking problem, but it is something to be aware of.
  • Industry-specific software. Possibly the biggest drawback for Revit is its spearheaded focus on three industries – construction, architecture, and city planning. It pretty much cannot work with any other industries than these – and that is a rather big problem for people to keep track of.

Use case recommendations for Revit

As a BIM tool, Revit is useful at all stages of a project, from planning and design to construction and day-to-day operation. Tasks such as upgrading or performing maintenance can benefit from Revit’s BIM information, and there are also advantages such as task automation, clash detection, and many other ways to simplify or improve existing processes.

There are many use cases for Revit that would be much harder to perform in AutoCAD. Most of these are the result of Revit’s ability to work with different data parameters and combine them in one place. Project calculations, data analysis, reporting, rendering, and updating are examples of use cases in which Revit excels.

Revit is the preferred tool for project calculations because it can pull necessary data automatically, while AutoCAD requires manual labor to compile the data. Revit’s data analysis tools can analyze construction data in a variety of ways, which is impossible to perform with AutoCAD alone.

Revit’s versatility when it comes to data compilation and analysis also makes it an excellent tool for data reporting, generating comprehensive reports based on existing project data with minimal user input. While both AutoCAD and Revit can technically render projects, only Revit can perform detailed renders with few or no additional solutions/plugins.

Lastly, Revit’s ability to retroactively calculate every value and parameter in a project if there is a change to one of the existing model parameters is what makes it a powerful tool for potential clients. This is a task that would be long and tedious with AutoCAD alone, and it highlights the effectiveness of Revit’s BIM approach.

Revit vs AutoCAD

System requirements

The system requirements for the Windows versions of both AutoCAD and Revit in 2023 are similar. Both require Windows 10 (update 1809 or newer) or Windows 11 and recommend a minimum of 16 GB of RAM. Other requirements include a FullHD display resolution (1920×1080) and 10 or 30 GB of available disk space (AutoCAD and Revit, respectively).

The biggest difference between the two is their macOS compatibility. There is still no native Revit application available for macOS, and the only way to use Revit on a Mac device is to use Parallels Desktop, a specialized application that allows Mac users to run Windows-native applications on their devices.

Understandably, using the native version of AutoCAD is much less resource-intensive than using Revit via Parallels, even though both can work on macOS 10 or later. The complete list of Revit system requirements can be found here, and the AutoCAD system requirements are located here.


There is nothing unique about Revit or AutoCAD’s stability that is worth mentioning. The performance of both solutions depends a lot on the capabilities of the hardware. More powerful workstations have an easier time working with both AutoCAD and Revit, and, naturally, outdated hardware has a much harder time running CAD/BIM models properly.

Corrupted files can cause all kinds of unexpected issues for practically any software, and Revit and AutoCAD are no exception. Both solutions are frequently updated, and every update includes new features, bug fixes, security patches, or all three. It is also not uncommon for both solutions to struggle to run large and overly complex model files, no matter what hardware is used.

File formats

This is one of the few areas in which one solution is clearly superior to the other. Both AutoCAD and Revit can work with image file formats and CAD file formats, including:

  • Image: JPG, BMP, PNG, JPEG, TIF

This means that most files can be opened and modified with one solution and later used with the other. However, Revit is the only one of the two that also has its own native file formats:

  • Revit: RFA, RVT, RFT, RTE


While there are examples of both CAD and BIM software on the market that are relatively easy to get into, neither Revit nor AutoCAD is like that. Both of these immensely complex solutions are notoriously difficult and have reputations as solutions that are tough for new users to understand.

However, if we have to choose the solution that is more difficult than the other, the answer is Revit. AutoCAD is a rather complex CAD application, but Revit is an even more sophisticated BIM solution that combines CAD-like modeling capabilities with various BIM functions. However, both solutions still require plenty of advanced training to use them effectively.

AutoCAD’s features include multiple aspects of 2D and 3D CAD modeling, and that explanation covers most of its capabilities. It can be used for modeling or drafting in 3D using push and pull geometry (similar to how solutions such as SketchUp work), and 2D modeling is done with shape and line manipulation.

Revit, on the other hand, operates with information-rich project models that are inherently much more complex than any CAD model. Creating complete project models is possible with Revit alone, but it is a much more sophisticated process (because most BIM solutions operate with components and shapes, not lines and curves) that takes a lot more time in comparison.

Not only are BIM models drastically different from CAD models by nature, they are also richer in information, meaning that a BIM model consists of much more than just geometrical data for an object or a structure. It is also worth noting that Revit’s models offer benefits in practically any phase of construction, something that CAD models are not capable of by definition.


While AutoCAD models tend to be rather sophisticated and detail-rich by themselves, AutoCAD includes most of what an average user would ever need. As such, there is little to no need for plugins with AutoCAD (although there are several plugins available for it).

The situation for Revit is drastically different – Revit itself packs plenty of features for various BIM use cases, and the existence of plugins expands the software’s capabilities even further. There are parametric modeling tools, efficiency tools, visualization tools, and more. Not only does Autodesk develop new plugins for Revit, but there is also the option of using third-party plugins as well.

Pricing and support

As both AutoCAD and Revit are distributed by Autodesk, their licensing models are practically identical. One subscription purchase is equivalent to one stand-alone user license, providing a single user with access to the software. Both AutoCAD and Revit are included in Autodesk’s policy of offering free software for educational purposes, available to teachers, students, and educational institutions.

The network licensing model, which allowed multiple users to access the software through a single subscription, was retired more than two years ago. Currently, the prices of Revit and AutoCAD are:

  • AutoCAD
    • $235 per month
    • $1,865 per year
    • $5,595 per three years
  • Revit
    • $335 per month
    • $2,675 per year
    • $8,025 per three years

Autodesk’s three-year plan is particularly attractive, because it guarantees that the customer’s price will not change during the period, whatever the circumstances.

Both AutoCAD and Revit are distributed by the same company, so they offer similar customer support. Both have community support in the form of forums, as well as official Autodesk support, including tutorials, quick-start guides, troubleshooting guides, and more.


Another factor to consider is the overall community around the software. For example, AutoCAD has been around for quite some time, and so regular users have good chances of finding solutions to their issues with quick Google searches. While Revit hasn’t been on the market as long, it has its fair share of user guides and answers to questions posted all over the internet, particularly in the community forums and Autodesk’s official documentation.


Since there are plenty of details that are similar or identical between AutoCAD and Revit, there should be at least some way to share data between the solutions. Because many different stakeholders tend to be working on the same project, it is always possible that a smaller contractor would use a simple AutoCAD model, while a premium architectural firm might develop a complex BIM model for the same project.

Communication between these instances is possible, but there are quite a few nuances. First of all, importing an AutoCAD file as a Revit file is impractical at best – even the most detailed CAD model does not have all of the interconnected information about every single detail that makes Revit so useful for all project participants.

As such, there is no way to convert a CAD model into a BIM model automatically, and a model without such information is nearly useless to a BIM professional. However, the reverse process is much easier: Revit models can easily be converted into AutoCAD models from inside Revit in just a few clicks. The main reason for this is relatively obvious: a Revit model without any kind of data attached to it is just a regular 3D CAD project model.

Summary of similarities and differences

We have gone over plenty of information, and it can be a bit overwhelming to understand it all at first. For simplicity’s sake, we have managed to boil down all of that information into a single (albeit long) table that showcases how Revit and AutoCAD approach specific topics:

Drafting and documentation toolset for CAD professionalsApproach to modelingSophisticated model-based 3D design toolset
Windows, MacSupported operating systemsWindows
Use lines and curves to create elements and objectsMain purposeGenerate and combine three-dimensional structural components with the real-life information attached to them
Starting at $235 per monthCostStarting at $335 per month
Similar to RevitUISimilar to AutoCAD
Elements are drawn separately in a linear fashionWorkflow approachElements and models can be made simultaneously and the toolset supports this


There are, in fact, significant differences between Revit and AutoCAD, and some of them might not seem apparent at first glance. However, the most sensible approach is not to choose one over the other, but to learn how to work with both.

This line of thinking is common among CAD users, especially those familiar with the older solution. In truth, every CAD user will have to learn at least the basics of Revit sooner or later, because BIM is transforming the entire industry, and CAD modelers who refuse to embrace new technologies risk being left behind.

If the question is about choosing just one program, the answer depends on the context, as the applications serve completely different purposes. Companies or users in need of extensive modeling capabilities would choose AutoCAD over Revit any day of the week. AutoCAD can be used to draft nearly any model from scratch, and it is also less expensive than Revit.

Alternatively, customers looking to simplify tedious tasks and improve their existing system would consider choosing Revit, a more expensive solution that can benefit contractors, engineers, architects, and many others, providing reports, calculations, and other features of high-performance BIM solutions. If the one asking the question is not an individual, but a company, there may be many benefits to choosing both solutions, as each performs different tasks and complements the other’s capabilities.

It is clear that these two solutions differ from one another in substantial ways, But hopefully, we’ve managed to explain the topic to a degree that makes the differences rather evident.

About the author
James Ocean

BIM/VDC Specialist. James Ocean is Head of BIMspiration at Revizto and keeps everything moving onwards and upwards. From supporting and teaching our internal team as well as our clients, James shows us the ins-and-outs and how to best leverage Revizto to maximize workflows, cut costs, and get all types of projects through the finish line.

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Revit vs AutoCAD. Revit vs CAD in 2024 Autodesk offers several different products, and the difference between some of them is not apparent. For example, there’s a big difference between Revit and AutoCAD, and it’s not exactly clear how they differ, making a lot of users quite confused. The topic of discerning Revit from AutoCAD is the central theme of this article. 2023-12-15
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