Revit vs. ArchiCAD

Written by Revit Master. Posted in Blogs

Who has the noise in the front, Revit or ArchiCAD?

I worked with ArchiCAD for almost 11 years during my college in Germany.  I have been using Revit since 2008.  The latest ArchiCAD I worked with was ArchiCAD 11.  Today, I am working with Revit 2013.  I know that ArchiCAD 16 is the latest version in the most European architecture firms, but unfortunately, I have not had any chance to try the latest version.  I like to talk about Revit and ArchiCAD, their similarities and their differences.  We will find out if ArchiCAD or Revit has the nose in the front.

After so many years working with ArchiCAD and Revit, I found many good and bad features in both applications.  This article is a comparison of two sophisticated architectural and engineering applications which are used around the world.  ArchiCAD is mostly popular in the European countries and Revit mostly used in North America.  The most important reason to this separation is that Revit is developed by Autodesk, an American company and ArchiCAD is developed by the Hungarian company Graphisoft.  Europeans enjoy using ArchiCAD and the most Americans love their Revit and we want to see which can win the battle.

Speed, Power, and Usability:

  • ArchiCAD 64 bit version was published 2 years earlier than Revit introduced 64 bit version for 2009 version.  The required RAM for an opened Revit project is 20 times more than the actual model file.  It makes the workstation running very slow using large models in Revit.  Graphisoft has developed a very different 64 bit version and they are few years ahead.  The required RAM for opened ArchiCAD model is about 5 times more than actual model file.  This makes ArchiCAD running very smooth even using older workstations.
  • The most known problem in Revit is the lacks of multiprocessing feature.  This lacks of power makes Revit to generate views much slower than ArchiCAD does. 
  • BIM in Revit has good and bad sides.  Revit builds BIM through the relationship between parametric and the building levels.  It means, Revit gives users no control over the model.  Everything such as walls, columns, beams, and etc. are parametrically related to each other which create a straightforward structure that can’t be modified so easy by the Revit users.  Some people see that as an advantage because Revit engine checks everything for errors in the model, but other believe that this feature makes it very difficult for the users to modify the model as needed.
  • I have used the work-sharing in both Revit and ArchiCAD.  Both systems have advantages and disadvantages.  But, I found out that ArchiCAD gives users more option to share their models.  I find the notification in ArchiCAD much better, because it gives a better overview about who is working on what part of the model. 
  • The latest ArchiCAD I used was crashing more often than the latest Version of Revit I am using right now.  But don’t forget that ArchiCAD 11 was developed in 2005 and I am using Revit 2012 today.
  • I personally find the ArchiCAD toolbar and menus much easier to find.  But this is more personal preferences.
  • ArchiCAD seams to run much faster even using many families in the project.  Revit get slower and slower each time when you add a new family to your project.
  • ArchiCAD provides more accuracy and snap tools in ArchiCAD seam to work better than Revit.
  • Commands in ArchiCAD need fewer clicks than Revit commands. 

Construction Document:

  • Both ArchiCAD and Revit have an automatic sheet numbering, but Revit does not keep numbering correctly after one sheet has been removed or renamed.
  • Both applications place automatically the scale for the drawing titles.
  • Drawing’s ID in ArchiCAD receives automatically its number depend on its locations on the sheet.  In Revit you have to type in the number manually.  For example: you have a raster of a, b, c, d, … for columns and 1,2,3,4, … for the rows to locate the drawings on the sheet.  ArchiCAD gives the right numbering system after inserting the drawing into the sheet.  If you move the drawing on the sheet, the numbering changes automatically and this changes the numbers in all related details and call-outs.
  • Revit does not support drag and drop feature to insert external files into the project.  You are required to use the insert tab to be able to insert an external file such as a PDF and JPG.
  • ArchiCAD allows users to change the pen sizes for different drawings before printing; even they all are on one sheet.  It means, ArchiCAD user can define the pen size for each detail before sending to print without changing the actual model.
  • Copping views in revit can be done only in one shape which is rectangular shape, but ArchiCAD allows users to use shapes such as circles, ellipse, multiline, and etc.
  • ArchiCAD provides PDF maker as standard, but Revit needs a third party installed on the workstation to be able to print in PDF.
  • Revit does not show the depth as good as ArchiCAD does.  Revit does not support line weights depend on the elevation views based on their distance from the elevation marker or cut plane.  Looking at an elevation which was generated by ArchiCAD shows what part of building the closer to you and what is the furthest.  This makes reading construction drawings much easier.  This has to be done manually in Revit using Linework tool.
  • In ArchiCAD, you can detach a view from the 3D model to be able to work on that detail as a 2D detail.  Imagine, you have an elevation that you like to have some modification without messing up with the 3D model.  You can detach that view without losing anything in the 3D model.
  • ArchiCAD allows users to dimension the model in 3D views.  It makes it easy for contractors to build a detail by seeing the dimension on a 3D detail.
  • ArchiCAD allows users to create new hatch pattern very easily.  Doing such thing is Revit is almost impossible.
  • Revit does not support curved grid systems, but ArchiCAD supports almost any shape as needed to justify your design.

Most people find that Revit is very easy to use, but I believe this is a personal preference which one is easier to learn.  I personally found out that revit seems to be very difficult to work with when the project grows and more people share the same project on the network.  ArchiCAD is straight forward and doesn’t have so much hidden settings.

Each program provides advantages and disadvantages.  People like me who have been using ArchiCAD for many years and had to switch to Revit, have difficulties to deal with all hidden settings in Revit.  But, it becomes easier to use after understanding the actual concept of revit how it was built.  ArchiCAD is more straight forward and does not surprise you when the project get larger and larger.  I am using Revit right now and last time I used ArchiCAD was many years ago.  If I personally had the opportunity to choose between Revit and ArchiCAD, I would pick ArchiCAD, because it gives me more freedom to design my building and importantly, it is does not shock you with surprises.

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  • Guest (Jason)

    In reply to: Guest (Rand) Permalink

    Vectorworks is a German product developed by the company called Nemetschek. I Love using Vectorworks vs Revit or ArchiCAD. I will put together a short comparison and provide it to the site administration. I hope they would publish it. Thanks for starting this conversation.

  • Guest (Kevin)

    In reply to: Guest (Jason) Permalink

    FYI, Vectorworks was created in the United States by a company called Diehl Graphsoft. They were acquired by Nemetschek. Over the years Nemetschek has also acquired Scia (Belgian), Maxon (also German, I believe), and Graphisoft (Hungarian.

  • We would be happy to provide you with a copy of ArchiCAD 16 in order you to bring your ArchiCAD review up to date. You may also want to have a look at our upgrade calulator which highlights the additional functionality since ArchiCAD 11 including integrated energy evaluation, renovation/refurb workflow, 3D document, BIMserver to name but a few

  • Bonjour, ton comparatif est uniquement ton ressenti personnel et est en aucun cas la réalité. Tu compare, mais le problème c'est que tu connais très bien Archicad et pas Revit, comment peux-tu dire qu'il donne plus de libérté de concevoir ??? Tu connais les commandes Volumes et les volumes conceptuels, connais tu Vasari ??? Alors pour faire un bon comparatif, il faut tout connaître, sinon il ne faut rien faire.

  • Guest (Mike)

    In reply to: Guest (Vitali Yvan) Permalink

    I really understand what you mean "Vitali Yvan". I wish I could answer you in French. But I seems like that the author knows about both bim applications (Revit and ArchiCAD), but he is giving more points to ArchiCAD. I see that he compared older versions of Revit vs. ArchiCAD in his review. I would recommend to do a new comparison between Revit 2013 and ArchiCAD 16. I am sure he would change his view.

  • Guest (Fred)

    In reply to: Guest (Mike) Permalink

    Mike, your view of the article is off a little. The Author reviewed Revit 2012 to 5-year old ArchiCAD 11 and he rated ArchiCAD over Revit which says a lot. The advances that ArchiCAD has made since version 11 would just further the distance between Revit and ArchiCAD with ArchiCAD being the far superior product. I am running across more things I cannot do in Revit than I ever did in ArchiCAD and most of the stuff Revit cannot do has been available in ArchiCAD since version 10, most of which is in the article above. The introduction of "trace", revamped teamwork, and morph tool since version 11 just make ArchiCAD that much better.

  • Guest (Taro)


    In reply to Jason
    Hi, Vectorworks seems to be a "more personal" software, it's beating to have on-line colaborators more than on-site. Big companies have old-age facilities with all their colaborators in one location, and for big proyects (many contractors) that is why they prefer Revit or Archicad. In few years Vectorworks + AllPlan could be the leaders only if the commercial team on Nemetschek work fine (at this moment the dealers are their hands, and the users their promotion channel).

  • Guest (Surendhar)


    I know ARCHICAD very well ,it is important to learn revit or not in Training centres..

    from Tamil Nadu, India
  • Guest (David)


    They are both crap. Over technical, drain computer resources and require highly trained technicians. Whatever happened to keeping it simple? Nothing can replace an experienced Architect. Use 3d modelling for concepts only and lets get back to reality with documentation.

    I mean, the whole model can be drawn and coordinated in 3d for documentation and then the builder puts the footings or the basement in a different place when he starts on site.

    This happens time and time again and then the model needs to be adjusted yet again. What a waste. Just build the building with experienced Architects instead of trying to make technicians build buildings through BIM software. :)

  • Guest (Mark)


    Couldnt agree more with you David. Seems to me that the rise and rise of increasingly complicated 3D design tools such as Revit, Archicad and the like has shifted the focus too much away from what is actually needed to build the promise of the flashy 3D presentation. 3D documentation is a technical specialisation.

    The constant training required to keep pace with software upgrades of individual products is distancing architects from their traditional familiarity and control of drafting standards. Couple this with the diversity of 3D CAD systems on the market and we have compatibility challenges for all design professionals in the building industry. Proficiency and capability gaps among services consultants means that BIM often becomes too difficult to benefit from. In my opinion BIM can only be efficient and effective for everyone when all contributors can provide compatible, credible and timely information, otherwise it becomes counter productive.

    The other outcome in my opinion is that architects risk being subordinated into larger design services outfits. On large project managed or construction managed projects, 3D software compatibility and proficiency can be normalised to the benefit of BIM modelling. Documentation resources can be pooled with priorities better monitored and controlled across the design services spectrum. Project managers and construction managers are increasingly demanding all the percieved benefits of this technology, I think sometimes to the detriment of the diversity and independance of all building design professionals. :(