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AutoCAD Expert Review, Pricing and Alternatives - 2024

Updated: Mar 21

AutoCAD Logo 2024

What’s special about AutoCAD?

AutoCAD has been the industry standard for professionals in architecture, engineering, and construction for over four decades. The software offers extensive 2D and 3D capabilities, user-friendly features, and seamless integrations with other design tools, making it a top choice for those looking to create precise and accurate designs.

Product: AutoCAD

Founding Date: 1982

Company: Autodesk, Inc.

IPO Status: Public

Founders: John Walker and Dan Drake

Deployment Type: On-premise (self-hosted) and cloud-based

Free Trial: 30-day free trial available

Company HQ: San Rafael, California, United States

Rating: 4.6 ⭐ | 140


Table of Contents:


What is AutoCAD?

AutoCAD is a computer-aided design (CAD) software application used for creating and editing 2D and 3D designs across a wide range of industries, including architecture, engineering, construction, manufacturing, and more. The software provides a comprehensive set of tools, enabling professionals to draft, annotate, and design with precision.

AutoCAD 2023 ScreenShot Demo

I’ve used AutoCAD myself for over three years so I do have a pretty good idea about its capabilities as well as its pros and cons. But to make sure this review is as objective as possible, I’ve also spoken with field experts and other end users to get their perspectives. Let’s dive in:

Pros of AutoCAD

  • AutoCAD is known for its versatility, with use cases for various design and drafting projects including 2D and 3D modeling, architecture, engineering, and construction.

  • The software is highly praised for its precision and accuracy in creating intricate designs. The majority of users love its precision tools of dimensioning and annotation, which are quite handy in creating professional-looking drawings.

  • It supports collaboration among team members. Multiple users can work on the same design simultaneously and share files within AutoCAD as well as from other software AutoCAD integrates with.

Cons of AutoCAD

  • AutoCAD has a steep learning curve. The sheer amount of its tools and features can be overwhelming, especially for new users. The good news is, though, AutoCAD is very well documented, with tons of training materials to help users perform nearly all processes.

  • The software is relatively expensive, especially for smaller businesses or individual users.

  • While AutoCAD excels in 2D drafting and design, a few users mentioned that 3D modeling can be challenging. They highlighted the need for additional commands and a different approach when working in 3D, which may require more time and effort to master.

  • AutoCAD has specific hardware requirements, and some users mentioned that running the software smoothly can be demanding on computer resources. This can result in lag or performance issues, especially when working with large or complex projects.

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AutoCAD Pricing

AutoCAD offers a subscription-based pricing model, with options for monthly, yearly, or multi-year payment plans. Monthly subscriptions cost $210, while a one-year plan costs $1,690, and a three-year plan costs $4,565. Discounts are available for multi-year plans and when purchasing multiple Autodesk products.

AutoCAD's Target Market

AutoCAD caters to professionals in architecture, engineering, construction, manufacturing, and other industries that require precise and accurate design and drafting capabilities.

AutoCAD Features

  • 2D drafting, drawing, and annotation tools

  • 3D modeling and visualization capabilities

  • Extensive file format compatibility

  • Customizable user interface and tool palettes

  • Industry-specific toolsets and features

  • Integration with Autodesk and third-party software

  • Advanced scripting and automation with AutoLISP, VBA, and .NET

AutoCAD Deployment Type

AutoCAD is available as a cloud-based or on-premises solution. Users can access the software through a web browser or download and install it on their computers.

AutoCAD Customer Support

Autodesk offers multiple support options, including online help documentation, video tutorials, webinars, community forums, and a dedicated support team available via phone, email, or live chat.

AutoCAD Integrations

AutoCAD integrates seamlessly with other Autodesk products, such as Revit, Fusion 360, and 3ds Max. It also supports various third-party plug-ins and applications, including Microsoft Excel, Adobe Photoshop, SolidWorks, and Bentley MicroStation.

AutoCAD Scripting, Customization, and Automation

AutoCAD is highly customizable; it supports programming languages like AutoLISP, Visual LISP, VBA, and .NET, enabling the development of custom scripts, commands, and macros. Additionally, AutoCAD's Application Programming Interface (API) allows developers to create custom plug-ins and applications that extend the software's capabilities.

One popular customization tool is the AutoCAD ScriptPro, which automates repetitive tasks by running multiple script files on multiple drawings. Furthermore, AutoCAD users can take advantage of the built-in Autodesk App Store, where they can find and download a wide variety of plug-ins and add-ons to enhance the software's functionality.


Can I use AutoCAD for free?

AutoCAD offers a 30-day free trial for new users to test out the software. If you’re a student or educator, Autodesk gives you free access to all of its software, including AutoCAD.

What is AutoCAD used for?

AutoCAD is used for creating and editing 2D and 3D designs across various industries, including architecture, engineering, construction, manufacturing, and more.

Can I get Inventor for free?

Autodesk offers a free educational version of Inventor for students, educators, and academic institutions. However, this version is not for commercial use.

Is AutoCAD easy to learn?

AutoCAD has a learning curve, but with access to a wealth of tutorials, online courses, and forums, it is possible to learn the basics of AutoCAD relatively quickly. The ease of learning depends on the individual's background, previous experience, and dedication to learning the software.

Does CAD require a lot of math?

CAD does not require deep math knowledge; however, having a basic understanding of geometry and trigonometry can be helpful when working with complex designs and calculations.

Autodesk Alternatives:

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