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How does AutoCAD LT compare to other CAD software?

AutoCAD LT

AutoCAD LT is the simplified, light version of its famous grandfather. Offering a stripped back interface and streamlined functionality, this version is a more intuitive platform for beginners, while at the same time retaining many of the classic features that makes AutoCAD the industry leader.   With the introduction of monthly, quarterly and annual subscriptions, AutoCAD LT is very affordable, but it is not the only low cost CAD software on the market, so which option is best for the Australian market?

Redstack has compared how AutoCAD LT stacks up against a range of competitors including SketchUp, Vectorworks Fundamentals, Turbocad and Draftsight.

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AutoCAD LT Vs SketchUp
SketchUp debuted in 2000 and the initial approach was to produce software that allowed designers to explore ideas in a setting that provided the same freedom as pencil and paper. Sketchup's biggest drawcard is its 3D warehouse, an open source library of 3D models to utilise in user design.

  • Sketchup Pricing:  SketchUp features a free trial, SketchUp Make, whereas SketchUp Pro will set you back approx $950.
     
  • Sketchup 3D modelling features: SketchUp can: create 3D models, import files from other 3D modelling software, export files to other software, animate walkthroughs, 3D print.
     
  • Sketchup Limitations: SketchUp is very popular with those breaking into 3D design. It takes a very small amount of time to learn how to design simple 3D models, but many agree that more complex designs can be difficult. The program offers little help, and can often reduce the user to searching forums for tutorials or scrolling through pages of a lengthy manual.

    This isn't such an issue with seasoned designers, but those newly entering the field won't have the same capacity for inventive workarounds. Many claim that SketchUp is slightly easier to learn than the full version of AutoCAD, but Autodesk's LT version of the classic software boasts streamlined use that makes it a far easier beginner option than either full AutoCAD or SketchUp.

    SketchUp users have described limitations in the software - it can be a bit slow and cumbersome at times, often necessitating saving, exiting, and reopening the program to avoid crashes. Many users of this software will happily tell you that they use it for fast 3D drawing or in the early stages of design, but often export files to use on an Autodesk product for finishing. Alternatively, SketchUp sometimes struggles with compatibility with file types from other CAD systems - while it can be done, the program frequently struggles with textures or more complex elements. 

AutoCAD LT


AutoCAD LT Vs Vectorworks Fundamentals
Vectorworks has undergone many transformations since its introduction as MiniCAD in 1985. An early adopter of BIM, this is one of the primary reasons designers use this software. Vectorworks is a popular choice in certain industries, and is respected in the field of CAD software.

  • Vectorworks Pricing: Vectorworks Fundamentals costs around $3,100 + GST, with a yearly license approximately $680.
     
  • Vectorworks 3D modelling features: Vectorworks fundamentals has: a parasolid and NURBS based suite for 3D modelling and geometric exploration, a good level of interoperability.
     
  • Vectorworks Limitations: Vectorworks has primarily made its name in theatre and lighting design, and as such, the product has been developed to be the strongest it can be in this area. In that sense, it is far more attuned to the aesthetic side of design rather than the engineering focus you will find with AutoCAD LT.

    An admittedly worthy tool for drafting, illustration and rendering, Vectorworks cannot support larger scale projects in the way that AutoCAD can. Vectorworks is thus employed mostly in interior design and lighting projects - and while it does offer additional suites for a wider range of applications - AutoCAD LT already has these built in. In this sense, Autodesk's products are a preferred go-to for large scale building and architectural projects.

    Many Vectorworks users identify one the software's limitations in the text tool, citing alignment and style as being difficult to tweak once initially set up. Likewise, moving between scales in viewports can cause issues with the scale of the text. Other users point out that certain tools and functions are more complex than they need to be, often requiring pre-planning and set-up before use. In general, users agree that Vectorworks relies on effectively set-up templates and plugins to work efficiently. This can be highly detrimental to the creative process in the earliest stages of the process.

AutoCAD LT Vs TurboCAD
Similar to Vectorworks, TurboCAD debuted in the mid 1980s and was similarly marketed as a cheaper, basic version of AutoCAD. TurboCAD saw much of its development into the product it is today in the late 90s, with basic 3D capabilities introduced around this time.

  • TurboCAD Pricing: TurboCAD Pro costs around $950, with updates, add-ons and upgrades available ranging from $70 to $400.
  • TurboCAD 3D modelling features: TurboCAD comes with: modelling tools based on ACIS, law tools, a part tree (for design history), and SMesh capabilities.
  • TurboCAD Limitations:  While all CAD programs have a learning curve, the general consensus among TurboCAD users is that it's a bit trickier to become proficient at than Autodesk's products. Further, many users have found that even the developer's own training manuals and help software have a lot of gaps, which can be frustrating when trying to find a solution.

    Other limitations were pointed out in print functions, with a lot of users finding that print dialog flexibility is lacking in comparison to AutoCAD LT's offering. Additionally, TurboCAD doesn't function as well as it could on minimum system requirements. Many users have said they have experienced crashing and other performance issues when using the software on older machines.

    TurboCAD lacks some flexibility in 3D design, while simple drawings are fine, many will recommend using better 3D imaging. A good tool for 2D drawings, but it doesn't stack up well against AutoCAD LT.


AutoCAD LT Vs DraftSight
Draftsight is software for 2D drawing, and is primarily used in the aerospace industry. While limited to 2D drawing, the software is known for being light and not as resource dependent as other software of this type. Additionally, DraftSight has a freemium version, meaning there is a basic service available for free with additional options that can purchased and integrated.

  • Draftsight Pricing: Draftsight costs around $430 for a one-time purchase, or around $200 for a 12 month subscription.
  • Draftsight 3D modelling features:  Zero, this drawing tool is 2D only.
  • Draftsight Limitations:  A notable drawback to DraftSight is its lack of support, While there is a freemium (the user pays for particular additional features) version of the software, valuable solutions can only be found through a support subscription. A lot of users have reported crashes mid-session with the free software, and this can make it somewhat unreliable, which in turn suggests that perhaps you do get what you pay for.

    Additionally, the lack of 3D capabilities is a massive drawback for what many people will state is otherwise a good 2D sketching tool. That being said, those who have used both DraftSight and AutoCAD LT will identify the latter software as having better tools for drawing, editing and rendering. AutoCAD LT also features superior text editing tools, with some users pointing out that even though DraftSight can open DWG files, it often has trouble handling annotations - reducing them to simple vectors, which become difficult to edit.

Conclusion: Comparison of AutoCAD LT with low cost CAD options
While much of the non Autodesk software we've talked about are utilised for particular features and offer useful tools, each also has significant limitations when compared with AutoCAD LT. While there are cheaper options on the market, there are clear reasons for this. It provides an amazing suite of tools and handles well where many of the competitors fall flat. For a design solution that can do everything you need it to without breaking the bank, AutoCAD LT is the program for you.  With the low cost of Autodesk subscription and the flexibility of monthly, quarterly, annual, 2 year and 3 year subscription options, it's not worth taking the risk on a cheaper option.

See current pricing and buy AutoCAD LT online at store.redstack.com.au or contact us on 1300 667 263 for more information.
 

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