BIM process is based on a digital parametric model that integrates graphical and non-graphical information, which enables the automatic production of plans, reports, design analysis and programming.

When working in a BIM software, the user creates a parametric model while working simultaneously on the 2D plans and the 3D model. Any change in the model is automatically updated in all views, documentation, lists and calculations. BIM enables the real time collaboration of engineers at all stages of the design process. The construction model database can capture the systems of the actual building and this allows users to keep track of the real building during its lifecycle.

Today, there is a variety of BIM software in the global market such as the Allplan, Vectorworks, Bentley, IntelliCAD, RhinoBIM and Nemetschek. The two most well-known software in the USA and Europe are the software Revit and ArchiCAD.


ArchiCAD was first introduced in 1982 by the company Graphisoft, which was the first BIM software available for commercial use. Until 2000, Archicad was used mainly in smaller projects, while through a series of improvements and additions, like the GDL objects and the Cinema 4D Render engine, ArchiCAD became the preferable software of thousands of users across the world.


Revit is owned by Autodesk, the USA company that popularised CAD (computer-aided design) via AutoCAD. Autodesk created the first formal edition of Revit in 2002, while a series of subsequent editions aimed to improve the digital representation and simulation of the building in an efficient manner. The RFA objects, the Autodesk Raytracer (ART) engine, the advanced collaboration tools and the cloud rendering features are some of the key Revit features and is now used by architects and engineers in the global market.


  • Range: Revit is software of global scope (Europe – America) and is owned by the colossus Autodesk, while ArchiCAD belongs to Graphisoft and is popular in Europe.
  • Learning: Revit has a more composed structure that requires additional time to understand and learn (e.g. multiple windows processing) compared to ArchiCAD that is more functional and user friendly.
  • Design freedom: Revit has more design autonomy and ease on the parametric design of elements compared to ArchiCAD.
  • 3D view: In Revit, the 3D display is axonometric while in ArchiCAD both axonometric and perspective views are possible, which provides more freedom to peruse the model.
  • File size: The files in Revit are larger than in ArchiCAD and especially for more complex applications.
  • Resources: Since Revit belongs to Autodesk it has more support with tutorials, add-ons, resources and e-books when compared to ArchiCAD.

1. Price

Winner: ArchiCAD.

You’d save about $500 with a 3-year subscription, including license and upgrades. The longer you continue with ArchiCAD, the more savings you’ll get versus Revit, because the per year upgrade cost is less than Revit.

Autodesk has recently switched its format from licensing to annual (or monthly) subscriptions. So you can purchase a license of ArchiCAD outright and keep it forever, whereas, with Revit, you’ll need to pay for your subscription annually. The advantage of this subscription method is that you’ll always have the latest and greatest version of Revit year after year.

2. Licensing

Winner: ArchiCAD.

Revit no longer has permanent licensing available. You can purchase a license for ArchiCAD’s 2021, but keep in mind unless you update annually, you will be stuck with ArchiCAD 2021 and won’t get any of the updated versions. (ArchiCAD doesn’t name their versions corresponding with the year of release, but I just used 2021 as a for-instance.)

3. User Interface (UI)

Winner: Revit.

I have compared the Revit and ArchiCAD UIs based on the idea which is more capable than the other. Revit, no matter how you slice it, is still the heaviest hitter when it comes to customization and modeling.

On the other hand, if you are new to BIMs and don’t need the most fabulous and most complex BIM features, then ArchiCAD may be the winner in your eyes because ArchiCAD is more straightforward and less challenging to learn.

You can model shapes with more straightforward “push-pull” functions (similar to Sketchup), so basic geometric shapes are ultimately more natural to create with ArchiCAD.

Anyone who has a good grasp of how Revit works will be able to produce basic shapes quickly, but also, Revit users can form complex geometry.

ArchiCAD’s simplicity is great for those who don’t want to deal with the learning curve of Revit. Still, advanced Revit users will always be able to produce more innovative models than ArchiCAD users.

4. Massing & Nesting

(for more on this topic, see the section below with the same name)

Winner: Revit.

When it comes to massing, Revit can produce complex shapes and models, while ArchiCAD is a little simpler, so it tends to have less capability. When it comes to Nesting, Revit’s complexity allows a user to create unique materials and objects to suit their specific needs.

Once a company tweaks Revit to their needs, they will have a true BIM. For ArchiCAD users, since the nesting capabilities are limited, then your BIM will be limited and may not suit you.

5. Rendering

Winner: Revit.

When it comes to Architects, the visualization of a building is of the utmost importance, because an architect’s ability is judged by how well they can visualize their design for a client. To stand out as a designer, you need to produce the most cutting-edge visualizations. Revit has more options for tweaking and fine-tuning renderings, so this is why I’ve selected Revit for the winner of this category.

However, I’m sure you’re noticing a pattern here, because if you are looking for simpler software with less of a learning curve, then ArchiCAD may be the winner in your eyes. ArchiCAD can produce stunning photorealistic renderings that are on-par with Revit’s, but there’s just a little bit less fine-tuning.

6. Workflow Between Programs

Winner: Revit.

Autodesk has some great software packages, and the programs work seamlessly with one another. You can expect the workflow between different applications such as 3DS Max and AutoCAD to be better with fewer bugs. Still, in a pinch, ArchiCAD can also export to other program files.

So, yet again, the verdict here is that Revit is the winner because of os its seamless file sharing capability. But if ArchiCAD is good enough for your purposes, then it would also work.

7. Plugins

Winner: ArchiCAD.

Since Autodesk is trying to get customers to use more of their programs in conjunction with one another, they don’t have a significant focus on plugins. ArchiCAD has several plugins that help expand its power and capabilities in certain areas. So for this criterion, I need to go with ArchiCAD because Revit just doesn’t put as much focus here.

8. Simulations

Winner: Revit.

Again, due to Revit’s more substantial degree of customizability and more advanced capabilities, Revit continues to be better able to fully represent a real-world simulation, whether that is structural simulations or quantity takeoffs.

Yet again, we see that if you don’t need as much in the way of simulations, ArchiCAD may be right for you because you simply don’t need that degree of customizability.


A pattern becomes evident as you read through each of these individual criteria. While Revit is more expansive and customizable, it is also more complex and has a steeper learning curve. It is even more expensive in the long run. As a result, many people may choose ArchiCAD because they simply don’t need as much from their BIM as Revit has to offer.

You will need to consider the short-term advantage of selecting a less expensive software that is simpler to use, versus the long-term benefit of a program with more capability, power, and customizability, but also more expense and more training.

The disparity between Revit and ArchiCAD is less than, say, the discrepancy between Revit and Sketchup. If Revit were a twelve-speed bike, then ArchiCAD would be a ten-speed bike, while Sketchup would be like a bike with training wheels.

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