AutoCAD vs. AutoCAD LT. Which Critical Feature Caused the 75% Price Cut?

  • Autodesk has recently released a new version of its flagship software, AutoCAD LT
  • AutoCAD LT includes all of the 2D features that AutoCAD has to offer, but no 3D features
  • The full version of AutoCAD has many more features, including 3D modelling and industry specific tool sets

AutoCAD, as many reading this post already know, is an industry giant in the CAD field. It is the go-to program when 2D drafting is concerned, and pretty much all engineers know what AutoCAD is, and most have some experience on the program.

It has been updated 30 times over the years, and many sophisticated new features have been added to aid the user and their design goals. In more recent times, Autodesk (AutoCAD’s creator) released a brand new version of the classic program that targets a whole new demographic of users. Enter AutoCAD LT. Let’s compare AutoCAD vs. AutoCAD LT:

AutoCAD LT

The newest version of AutoCAD LT comes in at a price that is LESS than a quarter of the full AutoCAD program. Just this could be cause for thousands of users to switch to the AutoCAD platform. Why, you may ask? Does it feel like it’s too good to be true?

The simple answer to why this version is so much more affordable than the flagship version is that it does not feature any 3D functionality. You can wave goodbye to that Z-axis!

AutoCAD LT vs AutoCAD: screenshot
Source: Autodesk

Yes, they massively reduced the price, but left all of the 2D functionality that many engineers use AutoCAD for anyway. That being said, let’s give a full run through of what this version can do:

  • 2D drafting
  • Annotation
  • Cloud compatibility
  • Customizable tool palettes
  • Compatible with both Windows and Mac platforms
  • Single license purchasing
  • Dynamic blocks
  • Online web support and mobile app access

Although it is seen as a downside to the LT version that it is missing a big portion of the full program’s features, one positive aspect of AutoCAD LT is that it is more streamlined and focused to use.

The clutter of the 3D features is now removed and just leaves a less busy interface for just 2D drafting. This, along with the attractive price, makes it very accessible to novices and beginners alike. This simpler space allows casual users to perfect their skills before moving up to the more complicated (and somewhat intimidating) full AutoCAD program. Once they have their foot in the door of the CAD world, there is no going back!

Examples of projects that can be completed with AutoCAD LT

  • Architectural plans
  • Manufacturing drawings
  • Shop drawings
  • Architectural details
  • Schematics
Examples of projects that can be completed with AutoCAD LT
Source: Autodesk

AutoCAD

As attractive as AutoCAD LT may seem, do not make your decision just yet. AutoCAD has made its name in the CAD industry for a reason, and it cannot be discarded that easily from this conversation. It can obviously do everything that AutoCAD LT can, and much more. The extra features that you obtain with the full version of AutoCAD are:

  • AutoLISP
  • Single and network licensing
  • 3D Modeling
  • Industry-specialized tool palettes

With the extra 3D capabilities in AutoCAD, the user can produce point clouds, renders, with professional results that are sure to impress your customers. Another added feature is the inclusion of AutoLISP, which is Autodesk’s proprietary programming language. This is used to take care of repetitive tasks and to generate drawings to speed up the user’s workflow.

The specialized industry toolsets can also be a powerful tool for the professional users out there. These range from mechanical engineering to electrical engineering, and also include tool sets for architecture. The tool sets give the user specific tools, drawing information and parts that again speed up their workflow, and generate a more professional end product. This productivity can then be provided to multiple users as network licenses are available for the full version of AutoCAD, whereas AutoCAD LT does not offer network licenses.

Another disadvantage compared to the full version of AutoCAD, is that AutoCAD LT has minimal visualization capabilities as it only has 2D functionality.  The results and designs that you create will not be shown in the same detail and styles as the 3D models can be shown in the full version. There you can apply multiple effects to your 3D models such as simple wireframe mode to full, realistic rendering that includes reflections, shadows and a huge materials library that can be used to further enhance the design.

Standards checking can also be a firm deal breaker when deciding on which option is right for you or your company. With a configured DWS file containing your standards, AutoCAD allows you to check any DWG file that you receive from other professionals (or within your organization) against your file to see if they conform to your office drafting standards. This feature is not available in any form in AutoCAD LT.

AutoCAD Architectural Tool Set Source: Autodesk
AutoCAD Architectural Tool Set Source: Autodesk

Examples of projects that can be completed with the full version of AutoCAD

  • Product design
  • Mechanical assemblies
  • 3D building modelling
  • 3D schematics
AutoCAD vs AutoCAD LT screenshot
Source: Autodesk

So what is the correct choice between these two? If you can do without the extended feature list of the full version of AutoCAD, and the quality of your work is not affected and productivity remains the same, then AutoCAD LT is a fantastic option at a great price. But if the extra features of AutoCAD are an absolute necessity for you and you cannot do without them, go for the full version.

The extra features of AutoCAD may be suitable for larger construction companies, while the smaller firms and contractors may only need the fewer features of AutoCAD LT. The important question is what the customer requires, and what quality of work do they expect from you.

So which version will you be picking up? Do you have any experience with either of these programs? If you have anything to add, we would love to hear from you in the comments below!

Thank you for reading our content and we hope to see you soon!

Also read:

AutoCAD: Latest Pricing (2021)

Top AutoDesk Software in 2020: AutoCAD, Fusion 360, Inventor and Revit

AutoCAD: What’s New for 2021

Top 5 AutoCAD Features

AutoCAD vs. SolidWorks. What is the difference? Which is easier to learn?

SolidWorks Price Guide: How much does it cost to buy SolidWorks

Best Fusion 360 Features for Remote Working

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