CAD Software

Here’s a list and reviews of the most popular CAD software programs.

SoftwarePriceFree TrialReview
TurboCAD$129515 daysPerfect for design, drafting, detailing, and modeling. TurboCad User Reviews
Solidworks$449530 daysTest designs against real life motion and forces. SolidWorks User Reviews
AutoCad$399530 daysThousands of add-ons available. AutoCad User Reviews
CadPro$84.9530 daysScan in a sketch of your design to create a traceable template. CadPro User Reviews
Vectorworks$269530 daysCreate, model, and present your ideas all in one application. Vectorworks User Reviews
PunchCad$69.99NoMove, rotate, and scale objects in 3D. PunchCad User Reviews
DeltaCad$39.9545 daysDeltaCad is an affordable way to draft house plans, decks, and landscape design. DeltaCad User Reviews
AutoSketch$250NoAutoSketch is 2D drafting software with tools and templates. AutoSketch User Reviews

When trying to compare CAD software, there are a lot of different factors that you could consider.  This is especially true once you have sorted through your options are making the final decision between two or three specific applications.  If you have already reached this point, then you likely already have a very specific idea of what you are looking for.  On the other hand, if you are just starting out then you may not really know where to look.  Here is are a few simple factors that you can easily use to quickly limit your potential options.

The very first thing that you need to do when you compare CAD software is to decide what it’s specialty is.  Most software is designed to excel at either 2D or 3D designing, however there are some options that have much more specific purposes.  Normally, this added level of specialty will be needed only in certain industries or situations.  For example, some of the most common software specialties include architecture, BIM (Building Information Modeling), AEC, parametric modeling, rendering, computer-aided engineering, and computer-aided manufacturing.  It is important to plan ahead because it is much easier to get used an application that does more than you want, rather than having to expand your comfort zone later.

Another important factor is to consider when you choose CAD software is what types of files they can handle.  This is particularly important when working in a collaborative environment where others may be using different software.  There are a number of different data formats that the software might need to handle.  There are a growing number of different types of data files, but there are some which seem to be considered the most important.  Some of them include DXF (Drawing Exchange Format), ACIS, EMF, EPS, TIF, WMF, PDF, DWG, and many others.  It is also important to look at both what files can be imported as well as exported.  It is becoming more common for CAD programs to be able to import more different types of data files than they can export.

Finally, there are the more fundamental factors to consider.  It is important that when you choose a CAD program that you are only looking at options which can realistically be fit into your current infrastructure.  Three different areas to look at include price, UI languages, and platform (Windows, UNIX, or others).  In terms of price, it is important to look at both what the actual price is as well as any additional licenses that may be needed.  For example, if you need to put your CAD software on multiple work stations then you may get a discount on additional licenses or could even purchase one unlimited license.  Choosing the right option should be based both on what your current needs are and what you expect that you will need in the future.

As you can see, there are a number of different variables that you will need to look at when you compare CAD packages.  By starting out with factors such as design format, data file integration, and fundamental workability issues you can quickly eliminate a lot of options that simply won’t meet your needs.  At the same time, it will become much more obvious what the top contenders will be. Be sure to read the user reviews of CAD software programs listed above.