AutoCAD is an open program, but there are plenty of similar CAD tools out there. Check out our list of the best AutoCAD alternatives.
Autodesk’s flagship product, AutoCAD, has been available since 1982 and is considered by many the grandfather of computer-aided design (CAD). Its prominence in the CAD community is similar to Photoshop in the photo-editing community.
The software also comes with various features that make it a versatile tool for many industries, including industry-specific features and toolsets for engineering, architecture, graphic design, city planning, and even project management. Therefore, it should never come as no surprise that AutoCAD is the go-to product for professionals, hobbyists, and students.
Top 3 AutoCAD alternatives
Formerly known as Google SketchUp, this 3D modeling platform is an excellent choice for enthusiastic hobbyists and CAD experts. It’s straightforward to use and accessible for beginners, so it’s well suited for those just entering the world of CAD.
SketchUp is oriented towards architectural applications, including interior design. Its 3D Warehouse repository has thousands of models created by individual users and furniture manufacturing companies that can be easily be downloaded and incorporated into the projects. SketchUp also has a substantial plug-in library, including popular rendering applications such as vRay.
- Suitable for3D modeling beginners
- Key features: User-friendliness, model repository, plug-ins
- Cost:Free for personal use; annual subscriptions from ~$120 (Shop), ~$300 (Pro), or ~$700 (Studio)
- Platforms: Windows, macOS
ZWCAD is a genuine AutoCAD alternative. This 2D and 3D CAD by Guangzhou-based ZWSOFT might not be as mainstream as some other software in this list, but it’s the one that perhaps best reproduces the core features of AutoCAD.
At first glance, ZWCAD’s interface seems almost identical to AutoCAD’s, making the transition from one program to the other very smooth. The similarities go beyond the looks as it also features command bar functions similar to AutoCAD’s, even adopting the same names for most of its commands.
- Suitable for:Users looking for a smooth transition from AutoCAD
- Key features: Command bar functions, SmartMouse features
- Cost: Perpetual licenses from ~$1,100 (Standard), ~$1,500 (Professional), or ~$1,800 (Mechanical)
- Platform: Windows
DraftSight markets itself as an affordable alternative to AutoCAD. So much so that it boasts “world-class 2D editing and drafting – without the hefty price tag of AutoCAD.” We can add that it lives up to the massive hype. It’s a robust program developed by Dassault Systèmes, the same company responsible for SolidWorks.
- Suitable for:Professionals with AutoCAD experience
- Key features: Familiar interface, dynamic blocks, image tracing
- Cost:Annual subscriptions from ~$200 (Professional) or ~$500 (Premium)
- Platforms: Windows, macOS (Linux no longer supported)