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Modeling Software Battle - Revit vs SketchUp

Autodesk Revit and Trimble SketchUp are both immensely powerful software in their own way. Both are extremely popular with architects, but both are very different. Today, we will pit Revit vs SketchUp and see which is the 3D design software you really need.

To clear the air at the very beginning ? Revit and SketchUp fall into two technically different categories of modelling programs. Revit is a BIM software, focused more on building information management. SketchUp, however, is entirely dedicated to modeling.

Overview of SketchUp and Revit

SketchUp created back in 2000 by @Last Software, and was later acquired by Google in 2006, and in 2012 it went under Trimble. It gained a lot of popularity with amateurs at the very beginning for it being free at the time, and for its easy user interface.

On the other hand, Revit was created even earlier than that, in 1997, by Leonid Raiz. It was intended for professionals at the get-go, and is intended for the all-encompassing tool for architectural projects. It is not only a design tool ? it is also a medium of visualizing and coordinating the whole project.

System Requirements of Revit vs SketchUp

SketchUp 2020 will run on either a PC or a Mac with at least 8 GB RAM. A dedicated GPU with 1 GB VRAM is recommended. SketchUp is relatively much lighter and will fit in about 700MB of space on your hard disk.

However, Revit is a much more cumbersome software and requires much more to run smoothly. It needs at least 5 GB of space on your PC or Mac (larger than the operating system, in fact), and needs 16 GB RAM at least to properly load. A dedicated 2 GB graphics card is required to render the screen properly.

Expenses for using Revit and SketchUp

SketchUp has a free version that runs off the web and doesn't require installation. However, it is extremely limited in capability and you can make only the most basic of models with it. To use the 'real' SketchUp, you will have to subscribe to SketchUp Pro version which costs $299 per year.

Revit 2021 is segmented into three configurations: Architecture, MEP, and Structural. Either of them will cost you a whopping $2310 annual subscription. They also have free education licenses to be used at schools for non-profit work.

Where should you use Revit or SketchUp

SketchUp is great for making detailed models of 3D objects that you may want to 3D print or render into beautiful scenes. However, it is also extremely efficient at architectural modeling, and huge buildings can be made using it. Architects around the world often use SketchUp on their own for the sheer versatility ? you can design a bath room, and the bath tub in it, and even the faucet to boot! On the other scale, SketchUp is also used for wide area planning ? connected to the proper plugins, it can design whole cities from real pictures.

Revit, on the other hand, is very much an engineering software. It focuses primarily on construction and architecture, and it does that beautifully. While you do need a substantial amount of knowledge to start modeling with Revit, you can use that knowledge to quickly erect awesome virtual building in it. However, Revit isn't much good at modeling small things and 3D printing.

Community support

Both Revit and SketchUp has huge communities behind them, but they are quite different by nature.

SketchUp has by number a whole lot more users than Revit, and so the community is bigger here. Also, due to the sheer versatility of the software, the SketchUp community is a colorful place to say the least. The official 3D warehouse is the central place to share and get 3D models created and usable in SketchUp, and you will get pretty much anything that exists on earth (and the Earth too. We checked). However, all that means it gets overcrowded and hard to filter out stuff unrelated to your work. Also, you will find fewer experts here, by volume.

Revit has no centralized place for sharing 3D content, but there are more than enough websites with 3D content you can use in your building models. As for support, the Autodesk official forum is full of experienced professionals who will help you out gladly. Plenty of learning resources (very much needed for the beginners in Revit) are available online as well.

Which one is easier to use, SketchUp or Revit

SketchUp clearly wins in this category since it was built to be light, clean, and easy. The simple toolset it provides at the beginning is good enough to get you started, and later you can add 3rd-party extensions (free or paid) to get more complex tools.

However, a professional who has used complex design tools before won't be satisfied with SketchUp's oversimplification approach. Revit would apply more to such people with its giant toolkit, packs of submenus that change with the element you have selected, and pretty much no need to look outside the program for anything.

Verdict: Revit vs SketchUp

Revit is a great choice if you are looking for something doesn't only do excellent architectural design, but also can manage the whole project.

As a BIM solution, it can be your go-to tool at every stage of the construction process, not only just the planning. If you want one heavy, powerful tool you can wield all the time, Revit is your weapon. If you want teamwork on a single platform, Revit is your choice.

However, if versatility and lightness of use is more your thing ? pick up SketchUp and choose a few good plugins. It's not like that SketchUp can't handle BIM ? on the contrary, there are some extensions for SketchUp, and the Trimble Connect platform, combining which SketchUp is at least as good as Revit. Unfortunately, by adding more and more to SketchUp, it starts to become heavier and more complicated.

So, our final verdict on the Revit vs SketchUp battle is ? use SketchUp for lightweight, versatile design work, and choose Revit as a heavyweight all-encompassing project machine.

Modeling Software Battle - Revit vs SketchUp
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