How to select a good CAD software?

Selecting the right CAD software is crucial for efficient and successful design work. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you choose the best fit for your needs:

1. Identify your requirements and priorities:

  • What type of projects will you be working on? (2D drafting, 3D modeling, animation, etc.)
  • What level of complexity and detail do you need?
  • What industry standards and formats do you need to comply with?
  • How often will you collaborate with others and share files?
  • What is your budget?
  • What is your skill level and desired learning curve?

2. Research different types of CAD software:

  • Solid modeling: Focuses on precise, mechanical parts (e.g., SolidWorks, Inventor, Fusion 360)
  • Surface modeling: Ideal for organic shapes and complex geometry (e.g., Rhino 3D, CATIA)
  • Parametric modeling: Features update automatically based on changes (e.g., Onshape, Creo)
  • Mesh modeling: Excellent for sculpting and organic shapes (e.g., Blender, ZBrush)
  • 2D drafting: Creates technical drawings (e.g., AutoCAD, DraftSight)

3. Evaluate features and performance:

  • Compare the specific features offered by each software against your needs.
  • Consider factors like rendering capabilities, simulation tools, interoperability, and customization options.
  • Download trial versions or watch tutorials to assess the user interface and performance.

4. Consider learning resources and community support:

  • Check the availability of tutorials, documentation, and online communities for each software.
  • Evaluate the quality and accessibility of training resources, which can impact your learning curve.

5. Compare costs and licensing options:

  • Understand the different pricing models (subscriptions, perpetual licenses, open-source).
  • Factor in any additional costs like cloud storage or maintenance fees.

6. Consider industry trends and compatibility:

  • Research the dominant software used within your industry and its compatibility with your workflow.
  • Ensure the software supports the file formats and standards commonly used by your collaborators.

7. Seek recommendations and reviews:

  • Talk to professionals in your field for their insights and software preferences.
  • Read online reviews and comparisons to gather different perspectives.

8. Try before you buy:

  • Take advantage of free trials or limited functionality versions to test the software firsthand.
  • Evaluate the software’s suitability for your specific needs and workflow.

Bonus tips:

  • Don’t just focus on the most popular software – the best fit might be less well-known.
  • Future-proof your choice by considering the software’s development roadmap and potential expansions.
  • Regularly evaluate your needs and revisit your software choice as your skills and projects evolve.
Author: George Nicola
Author: George Nicola

George is a seasoned interior designer and property marketing strategist with over 13 years of experience. He specializes in transforming properties into visually stunning spaces, helping clients recognize the potential and beauty in each property. With an impressive international client base of exciting projects throughout Europe and America.

This blog post is our look at two very well-known CAD applications for architects, students, and interior designers – AutoCad and ZwCad.

TL;DR: Autocad Vs ZWCad comparison

Autocad and ZWCad are two of the most widely used CAD software in the market. Both software provides similar capabilities for 2D and 3D design and are used by professionals in various industries, including architecture, engineering, and manufacturing. Autocad is developed by Autodesk, while ZWCad is developed by ZWSOFT.

Autocad is the industry leader in CAD software and has been around since 1982. It is known for its comprehensive set of tools and capabilities, making it the go-to software for professionals in the industry. On the other hand, ZWCad is a more cost-effective alternative that offers faster performance and a similar interface to Autocad.

When it comes to choosing between Autocad and ZWCad, it ultimately boils down to the specific needs of the user. While Autocad is the more established and comprehensive software, ZWCad is a more affordable option that still provides similar capabilities. In the following sections, we will take a closer look at the features and differences between Autocad and ZWCad to help users make an informed decision.

Rules for choosing the best CAD software

As experienced architectural and design visualizers at TALLBOX, we rigorously use in our day-to-day workflow different CAD software.

There’s no single “best” CAD software as the best option depends heavily on your specific needs and circumstances. To recommend the best CAD software for you, I need some more information:

What type of modeling do you need to do?

  • 2D drafting: If you mainly need to create technical drawings (floor plans, schematics, etc.), software like AutoCAD, ZWCad or DraftSight might be suitable.
  • 3D modeling: If you need to create 3D models of objects or products, there are many options, each with its strengths and weaknesses. Popular choices include:
  • Solid modeling: SolidWorks, Inventor, Fusion 360 (good for precise, mechanical parts)
  • Surface modeling: Rhino 3D, CATIA (good for organic shapes and complex geometry)
  • Parametric modeling: Onshape, Creo (parametric features update automatically based on changes)
  • Mesh modeling:  SketchUP, Blender, 3Ds Max, ZBrush (good for sculpting and organic shapes)

2. What is your skill level?

  • Beginner: Tinkercad, SketchUp are easy-to-use options with free versions.
  • Intermediate: Fusion 360, Onshape offer a good balance of features and ease of use.
  • Advanced: SolidWorks, Inventor, CATIA cater to professionals with complex modeling needs.

3. What is your budget?

  • Free: Tinkercad, FreeCAD, DraftSight offer basic features without cost.
  • Paid: Most professional CAD software requires a subscription or license fee. Prices vary depending on features and complexity.
  • Open-source: FreeCAD offers advanced features with an open-source model.

4. What industry are you in?

  • Certain industries have specific software preferences. For example, SolidWorks is popular in mechanical engineering, while Rhino 3D is favored in architecture and design.

History and Development

Origin of AutoCAD

AutoCAD is a Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software that was first released in 1982 by Autodesk, a company based in San Rafael, California. The company was founded in 1982 by John Walker, and 12 other co-founders. The software was initially designed to run on the Apple Macintosh platform, but later expanded to other platforms like Windows.

AutoCAD was one of the first CAD software to be released for personal computers, and it quickly became popular among architects, engineers, and designers. The software allowed users to create 2D and 3D designs quickly and efficiently, and it was widely adopted in the industry.

Evolution of ZWCAD

ZWCAD is a CAD software developed by ZWSOFT, a company based in China. The company was founded in 1998, and it released its first version of ZWCAD in 2002. The software was designed to be a low-cost alternative to AutoCAD, and it quickly gained popularity in the Chinese market.

Over the years, ZWSOFT has continued to develop and improve ZWCAD, adding new features and functionality to the software. Today, ZWCAD is used by millions of users worldwide, and it is considered to be one of the best alternatives to AutoCAD.

ZWCAD has been developed with a focus on compatibility with AutoCAD, and it supports most of the file formats used by AutoCAD. This has made it easy for users to switch from AutoCAD to ZWCAD without having to learn a new software from scratch.

Both AutoCAD and ZWCAD have a rich history and have played an important role in the development of CAD software. While AutoCAD was one of the first CAD software to be released for personal computers, ZWCAD has emerged as a low-cost alternative to AutoCAD with a focus on compatibility and ease of use.

Core Functionalities

When comparing AutoCAD and ZWCAD, it is important to consider their core functionalities. Both software offer a wide range of tools and features that are essential for drawing, architecture, engineering, and 3D modeling.

Play Video about Trying to decide between ZWCad and Autocad?

2D Drafting and Annotation

AutoCAD and ZWCAD both excel in 2D drafting and annotation. They offer a variety of tools for creating and editing 2D drawings, including line, arc, circle, and text. Both software also support dimensioning and annotation, allowing users to add notes and labels to their drawings.

One area where AutoCAD stands out is in its command line interface. AutoCAD allows users to enter commands directly into the command line, which can be faster and more efficient than using the toolbar or ribbon. ZWCAD also has a command line interface, but it may not be as robust as AutoCAD’s.

3D Modeling and Design

AutoCAD and ZWCAD both offer 3D modeling and design capabilities. They allow users to create and edit 3D models using a variety of tools, including extrude, revolve, and sweep. Both software also support solid, surface, and mesh modeling.

One area where AutoCAD stands out is in its dynamic blocks functionality. Dynamic blocks allow users to create blocks with adjustable parameters, which can be useful for creating reusable content that can be easily modified. ZWCAD also supports dynamic blocks, but the functionality may not be as advanced as AutoCAD’s.

Customization and Automation

Both AutoCAD and ZWCAD offer customization and automation capabilities. They allow users to create custom commands, macros, and scripts to automate repetitive tasks. Both software also support customization of the user interface, allowing users to create custom toolbars and menus.

One area where AutoCAD stands out is in its support for third-party plugins and add-ons. AutoCAD has a large ecosystem of third-party developers who create plugins and add-ons to extend the software’s functionality. ZWCAD also supports third-party plugins and add-ons, but the ecosystem may not be as large as AutoCAD’s.

Both AutoCAD and ZWCAD offer a wide range of core functionalities that are essential for drawing, architecture, engineering, and 3D modeling. Users should consider their specific needs and workflows when choosing between the two software.

User Interface and Experience

Interface Comparison

Both AutoCAD and ZWCAD have a similar interface, with a ribbon-style toolbar at the top and a command line at the bottom. However, AutoCAD’s interface is more customizable than ZWCAD’s. AutoCAD allows users to create custom workspaces, menus, and tool palettes, while ZWCAD only allows users to customize the toolbar and menu layouts.

AutoCAD also offers more advanced features for customizing the interface, such as the ability to create custom commands, macros, and scripts. This can be particularly useful for users who want to streamline their workflow and improve productivity.

On the other hand, ZWCAD’s interface is more straightforward and easier to navigate for beginners. The toolbar layout is more intuitive, and the command line provides more detailed feedback on the current operation. This can be helpful for users who are new to CAD software and need more guidance.

Support and Training

Both AutoCAD and ZWCAD offer comprehensive support and training resources for users. AutoCAD provides a wide range of online help resources, including a knowledge base, forums, and video tutorials. Users can also purchase support plans for additional assistance.

ZWCAD also offers a variety of online resources, including a knowledge base, user forums, and video tutorials. In addition, ZWCAD provides free online training courses for users, which cover basic and advanced topics.

However, AutoCAD has a larger user community and more third-party resources available, such as books, blogs, and training courses. This can be an advantage for users who want to learn from a variety of sources and connect with other CAD professionals.

In terms of access, both AutoCAD and ZWCAD are available as desktop software for Windows. AutoCAD also offers web and mobile versions, while ZWCAD offers a mobile version for iOS and Android. This can be helpful for users who need to work on projects remotely or on-the-go.

Hardware for Autocad / ZWCAD

When it comes to choosing hardware for Autocad and ZWCAD, it is important to consider the minimum requirements for each software to ensure smooth operation.

Laptop Specs for Autocad

Autocad is a powerful software that requires a high-performance laptop to run smoothly. The minimum laptop and PC requirements for AutoCad include a 64-bit operating system, 8GB of RAM, and a graphics card with at least 1GB of VRAM.

However, for optimal performance, it is recommended to have a laptop with 16GB of RAM, an Intel Core i7 processor, and a dedicated graphics card with at least 6GB of VRAM.

Good options are:

  • Lenovo ThinkPad P53 with Quadro RTX 5000 GPU
  • Precision 7780 Workstation with Nvidia RTX 2000 Ata GPU
  • Asus ProArt StudioBook Pro 15 with Quadro RTX 3000 GPU

Laptop Specs for ZWCAD

ZWCAD, on the other hand, has lower hardware requirements compared to AutoCAD. The minimum requirements for ZWCAD include a 64-bit operating system, 4GB of RAM, and a graphics card with at least 1GB of VRAM. However, for optimal performance, it is recommended to have a laptop with 4GB of RAM, an Intel Core i5 or i7 and even i9 processor or their AMD Ryzen 5 or 9 analogs, and a dedicated graphics card with at least 4GB of VRAM.

Decent options are:

  • MSI WS65 9TM-1079 (1TB NVME SSD, i9-9880H, RTX Quadro 5000)
  • Gigabyte AERO 15″ 4K UHD AMOLED i7 RTX 3070 Gaming Laptop
  • Asus Zenbook Pro Duo 15 with RTX 3070 GPU

Comparing the hardware requirements for Autocad and ZWCAD, it is clear that Autocad requires a higher performance laptop than ZWCAD. This is due to the fact that Autocad is a more powerful and complex software compared to ZWCAD.

A man in a hard hat is holding a laptop in front of construction workers while comparing ZWCAD vs AutoCAD.
A man in a hard hat is holding a laptop in front of construction workers while comparing ZWCAD vs AutoCAD.

Comparison of Hardware Requirements

When choosing a CAD software, it is important to consider its compatibility with other software and platforms, as well as its ability to integrate with third-party tools. In this section, we will compare the software compatibility and integration capabilities of AutoCAD and ZWCAD.

File Compatibility

Both AutoCAD and ZWCAD support the DWG file format, which is the standard file format for CAD drawings. This means that users can easily share and collaborate on drawings between the two software programs without having to worry about file compatibility issues. However, it is important to note that the latest version of AutoCAD may not be compatible with older versions of ZWCAD, and vice versa.

System and Platform Support

AutoCAD is primarily designed for Windows operating systems, although it also has a version for Mac. On the other hand, ZWCAD supports both Windows and Linux, making it a more versatile option for users who prefer open-source platforms.

Third-Party Integrations

AutoCAD and ZWCAD both offer a range of third-party integrations, including plugins, add-ons, and APIs. AutoCAD has a larger ecosystem of third-party developers, which means that users have access to a wider range of integrations. However, ZWCAD also has a growing community of developers who are building new integrations for the software.

In terms of mobile and tablet support, both AutoCAD and ZWCAD have apps that are available for iPad and Android devices. These apps allow users to view and edit CAD drawings on the go, which can be especially useful for fieldwork.

Both AutoCAD and ZWCAD are highly compatible and offer a range of integration options. The choice between the two will depend on the specific needs and preferences of the user.

Performance and Capabilities

Autocad and ZWCad are both powerful CAD software that offer a wide range of features and capabilities. In terms of performance, both software are efficient and fast, but there are some differences in their speed and efficiency.

Speed and Efficiency

ZWCad is known for its fast and efficient performance, especially when it comes to opening and saving large files. It uses a unique technology called “SmartMouse” that allows users to perform various commands with just one click, which can save a lot of time and effort. On the other hand, Autocad is also fast and efficient, but it may take longer to open and save large files compared to ZWCad.

Visualization and Rendering

When it comes to photorealistic rendering and visualization, Autocad has an edge over ZWCad. Autocad has a built-in rendering engine that allows users to create high-quality photorealistic renderings of their designs. It also supports third-party rendering plugins, which can further enhance the quality of the renderings. ZWCad, on the other hand, does not have a built-in rendering engine, but it supports third-party rendering plugins.

Collaboration Features

Both Autocad and ZWCad offer collaboration features that allow users to work on the same project simultaneously. Autocad has a cloud-based collaboration platform called “Autodesk Drive” that allows users to store, share, and collaborate on their designs in real-time. ZWCad, on the other hand, has a built-in collaboration feature called “ZWCAD Touch” that allows users to access their designs from anywhere and collaborate with their team members in real-time.

In terms of capabilities, both Autocad and ZWCad offer a wide range of features and tools that can help users create complex designs and drawings. Autocad has been in the market for a longer time and has a larger user base, which means it has a wider range of features and capabilities. However, ZWCad is catching up quickly and has been adding new features and capabilities with each new release.

Overall, both Autocad and ZWCad are powerful CAD software that offer a wide range of features and capabilities. The choice between the two software depends on the specific needs and requirements of the user.

Industry Applications

Autocad and ZWCad are both widely used in various industries, including architecture, construction, manufacturing, mechanical engineering, and design. Each software has its own strengths and weaknesses, which make them better suited for different applications.

A drawing of a desk with a laptop and a box in front of it, comparing the price difference between ZWCAD and AutoCAD.
A drawing of a desk with a laptop and a box in front of it, comparing the price difference between ZWCAD and AutoCAD.

Architecture, Construction and Interior Design

AutoCAD is considered the industry standard in architecture, construction and interior design. It is widely used by architects, designers, and drafters to create 2D and 3D drawings, floor plans, and blueprints. Autocad’s extensive library of tools and features allows users to create detailed and precise designs, making it an essential tool for professionals in the architecture and construction industry.

ZWCad, on the other hand, is a more affordable alternative to AutoCAD, making it a popular choice for smaller architecture and construction firms. While it may not have all the features of AutoCAD, ZWCad still offers a range of tools that allow users to create accurate and detailed designs.

Manufacturing and Mechanical

Both Autocad and ZWCad are used in the manufacturing and mechanical industry to create detailed designs of products and components. Autocad’s extensive library of tools and features makes it a popular choice for professionals in this field. It allows users to create 2D and 3D designs of products and components, making it an essential tool for manufacturers and mechanical engineers.

ZWCad is also used in the manufacturing and mechanical industry, offering a range of tools that allow users to create accurate and detailed designs. While it may not have all the features of Autocad, ZWCad is a more affordable alternative, making it a popular choice for smaller manufacturing and mechanical firms.

Engineering and Design

Autocad is widely used in the engineering and design industry to create detailed and precise designs of products and components. It offers a range of tools and features that allow users to create 2D and 3D designs, making it an essential tool for engineers and designers.

ZWCad is also used in the engineering and design industry, offering a range of tools that allow users to create accurate and detailed designs. While it may not have all the features of Autocad, ZWCad is a more affordable alternative, making it a popular choice for smaller engineering and design firms.

Both Autocad and ZWCad are widely used in various industries, including architecture, construction, manufacturing, mechanical engineering, and design. Each software has its own strengths and weaknesses, which make them better suited for different applications.

Pricing and Licensing

A drawing of a desk in a forest with a laptop, comparing ZWCAD vs AutoCAD price.
A drawing of a desk in a forest with a laptop, comparing ZWCAD vs AutoCAD price.

Cost Comparison

When it comes to pricing, both AutoCAD and ZWCAD offer different options. AutoCAD has a subscription-based model, while ZWCAD offers a one-time purchase option. The cost of an AutoCAD subscription starts at $310 per month, $2507  per year, or for three years $7523.

There are options for AutoCAD LT at cheaper rates $75 (month), $615 (year) and $1841 (three year plan) while the cost of ZWCAD starts at $899 for a one-time purchase for ZWCAD Standard, $1,199 for ZWCAD Professional and even at $322 for Limited edition of ZWCAD Standard for entire year.

However, it is important to note that the prices may vary depending on the version and the licensing options.

Licensing Options

AutoCAD offers both single-user and multi-user licensing options. The single-user license is designed for individual users, while the multi-user license is designed for teams and organizations. On the other hand, ZWCAD offers a network license, which allows multiple users to access the software from a single server.

Return on Investment

When it comes to cost-effectiveness and return on investment (ROI), it is important to consider the features and capabilities of both AutoCAD and ZWCAD. AutoCAD is a well-established software with a wide range of features and capabilities, which makes it a popular choice for professionals in various industries. However, the subscription-based model can be expensive in the long run.

On the other hand, ZWCAD offers a cost-effective solution with a one-time purchase option. It is a powerful software with a range of features and capabilities that are suitable for professionals in various industries. The one-time purchase option can be a good investment for those who plan to use the software for a long time.

In summary, when it comes to pricing and licensing, both AutoCAD and ZWCAD offer different options. AutoCAD has a subscription-based model, while ZWCAD offers a one-time purchase option. The cost and licensing options may vary depending on the version and the user’s needs. It is important to consider the features and capabilities of both software when evaluating the cost-effectiveness and ROI.

User Feedback and Market Presence

User Reviews and Testimonials

Both AutoCAD and ZWCAD have a significant user base, and both products have received praise and criticism from users. According to FinancesOnline, AutoCAD has a user satisfaction rating of 98%, while ZWCAD has a rating of 100%.

Users of AutoCAD have praised the software for its powerful tools and ability to handle complex projects. Some users have noted that the software has a steep learning curve, but once mastered, it can greatly improve productivity. On the other hand, some users have criticized AutoCAD for its high cost and frequent updates that require additional training.

ZWCAD users have praised the software for its affordability and ease of use. Some users have noted that the software has a similar interface to AutoCAD, making the transition from AutoCAD to ZWCAD much easier. However, some users have criticized ZWCAD for its lack of certain features and limitations in its capabilities.

Market Share and Popularity

AutoCAD has been a popular CAD software for over 30 years and is widely used in various industries such as architecture, engineering, and construction. According to Capterra, AutoCAD has a market share of 30.6% in the CAD software market.

ZWCAD, on the other hand, is a relatively new player in the CAD software market, but it has gained popularity in recent years due to its affordability and ease of use. According to G2, ZWCAD has a market share of 6.2% in the CAD software market.

Overall, both AutoCAD and ZWCAD have their strengths and weaknesses, and it ultimately comes down to the specific needs and preferences of the user. AutoCAD is a powerful and widely used software, but it comes with a high price tag and a steep learning curve. ZWCAD, on the other hand, is more affordable and easier to use but may not have all the features and capabilities of AutoCAD.

Comparative Analysis

Direct Software Comparison

AutoCAD and ZWCAD are two of the most popular CAD software tools available in the market. Both of them have their own set of features and advantages, making it difficult to choose one over the other. Here is a direct comparison of the two software tools:

Autocad vs ZWCad table
Autocad vs ZWCad table

As seen in the table above, AutoCAD is more expensive than ZWCAD and has a complex user interface. However, it is more advanced in terms of 3D modeling and has extensive customization options. On the other hand, ZWCAD is more affordable, has a simple user interface, and provides average customer support. It is also compatible with a limited number of software tools.

Alternative CAD Solutions

While AutoCAD and ZWCAD are popular CAD software tools, there are several other alternatives available in the market. Here are a few alternative solutions to AutoCAD and ZWCAD:

  • SketchUp: SketchUp is a 3D modeling software tool that is widely used in the architecture, engineering, and construction industries. It is easy to use and has a simple user interface.
  • Revit: Revit is a building information modeling (BIM) software tool that is used for architectural design, MEP engineering, and structural engineering. It is more advanced than AutoCAD and ZWCAD in terms of BIM modeling.
  • SolidWorks: SolidWorks is a 3D CAD software tool that is used for mechanical design, simulation, and product data management. It is more advanced than AutoCAD and ZWCAD in terms of mechanical design and simulation.

Conclusion

Both AutoCAD and ZWCAD are powerful 3D CAD software that offer a range of features and capabilities for 2D and 3D design. While AutoCAD is more comprehensive and offers a broader range of tools and capabilities for data extraction and deployment, ZWCAD is generally more cost-effective and offers faster performance.

When it comes to deployment, AutoCAD offers cloud-based deployment, which makes it easier to access the software from anywhere. On the other hand, ZWCAD offers both cloud-based and on-premise deployment, which gives users more flexibility.

In terms of data extraction, AutoCAD offers a wide range of options for exporting data to different formats, including PDF, DWF, and DWG. ZWCAD also offers similar export options, but the range of formats is not as extensive as AutoCAD.

Overall, both AutoCAD and ZWCAD are excellent options for 3D CAD software, and the choice between the two will depend on the specific needs of the user. If cost-effectiveness and faster performance are a priority, then ZWCAD may be the better option. However, if a broader range of tools and capabilities for data extraction and deployment are required, then AutoCAD may be the better option.