When choosing to invest in CAD software, there are a number of factors to consider. One of the most important of these, of course, is cost. For this reason, demystifying the often complex pricing structures of CAD licenses is incredibly helpful. How much, for example, will an AutoCAD license really cost you?
Luckily, the team here at Scan2CAD are ready to help. In this article, we’ll explain the ins and outs of AutoCAD pricing. We’ll also go into detail on the options available to you when it comes to purchasing your licence. Read on for everything you need to know!
How much does AutoCAD cost?
It’s a simple question, surely? Well, not quite. Software manufacturers have shifted from offering perpetual licenses to subscriptions over the years, with the CAD industry proving no exception. As such, Autodesk stopped selling perpetual licenses for AutoCAD (alongside most of its other products) on August 1st, 2016.
The result of this shift is that, instead of paying a one-off fee to be able to use AutoCAD forever, users now pay for a rolling subscription to maintain access to AutoCAD. You can see the cost of an AutoCAD subscription direct from Autodesk in the table below.
|Prices correct as of July 3rd, 2018|
As the table shows, paying for a longer period naturally means a greater upfront cost. However, it’s worth noting that your monthly costs are lower if you choose to commit to one of the longer subscription lengths. Here’s what the per month costs look like when compared side by side.
|Subscription length||Total cost||Monthly cost||Monthly saving||Total saving ($)||Saving (%)|
|Prices correct as of July 3rd, 2018|
Thus, monthly costs drop as you opt for longer subscription periods. That being said, you will see somewhat diminishing returns. Your cost per month of usage is a whopping $63.75 cheaper if you opt for a yearly subscription over a monthly one. Extending for a further year will see another drop, but this time of just $6.56 per month.
This isn’t to say that the longer-term options aren’t worth considering, though. If your business has used AutoCAD for a long time, for example, and is certain to stick with the software for the duration, then opting for a 3-year deal may be a good choice. Those who are just trying out AutoCAD, however, should probably steer clear of the longest subscription periods. Here, it may even be worth paying for a monthly licence at first.
Are volume discounts available?
If several employees within your business use AutoCAD, then the prospect of paying out thousands for individual licenses can be somewhat daunting. Luckily, however, standalone licenses aren’t the only option. Multi-user licenses are available, too, and can offer you serious cost savings when compared to buying licenses one-by-one.
Multi-user licenses (or network licenses), as the name suggests, allow you to run AutoCAD from multiple machines within your organization. When you purchase a network license, you choose how many machines you wish to buy access for.
As an example, if you purchased 10 licenses, you could run AutoCAD on 10 machines at any one time. However, you are free to install the software on more machines for ease of access. If, for example, you had 10 desktop machines and 10 laptops, you could install the software on all these machines. This would allow a user to switch from their desktop to their laptop when away from the office.
Unlike standalone licenses, you can’t purchase a multi-user license from the Autodesk Online Store. This means that your best bet will be to try one of Autodesk’s many local resellers. A full list of local resellers can be found by checking out the Autodesk Authorized Partners portal.
Is there a discount for buying AutoCAD alongside other products?
Though the range of functions offered by AutoCAD is incredibly broad, it can’t do it all. Many businesses will require a range of different software to meet their needs. If this is the case, then you should explore Autodesk’s various industry collections.
Autodesk’s industry collections bundle together several software packages with the aim of fully meeting the needs of a specific sector. The Architecture, Engineering & Construction Collection, for example, includes AutoCAD alongside Revit, Civil 3D, InfraWorks, Navisworks Manage and 3ds Max. To visualize just how staggering the cost savings are, take a look at the table below.
|Architecture, Engineering & Construction Collection||$2,755.00|
|Saving compared to buying software individually||$8,460.00|
As you can see, even users who only need a couple of the above programs will see savings of hundreds of dollars per year. Meanwhile, for users who need access to multiple Autodesk software packages, industry collections such as this one are truly a steal. It’s worth noting that multi-user licenses are also available for industry collections, offering you the chance to save even more if you’re a larger business.
Industry collections, meanwhile, set Autodesk up as a strong competitor to its rival Dassault Systèmes, which similarly offers software bundles, which it terms “industry experiences”. Check out our comparison of Dassault Systèmes software to see what the company has to offer.
Are any other discounts available?
If you’re getting AutoCAD from the Autodesk Online Store, then the prices above will generally be the prices you pay. However, some lucky users can get AutoCAD for free: educational users.
Educational licenses have been offered at no cost to users since 2014, with such licenses valid for three years. Provided that you still have a valid academic email address (usually .edu for users in the United States), you can renew this license for further three-year periods in future.
Meanwhile, discounts are also available for those who have perpetual licenses for legacy versions of AutoCAD. If you’re willing to trade this license in, then you can get 15% off a 1-year or 3-year subscription to AutoCAD. And don’t worry about buyer’s remorse should you choose to trade-in: you retain the option to switch back to your old perpetual license if you’re not satisfied.
Should I buy from a reseller or direct from Autodesk?
Back in the days when software was distributed on CD-ROMs rather than as downloadable executables, local resellers dominated the market. Since then, however, CAD has evolved. Purchasing AutoCAD now is simply a matter of downloading the software and waiting to receive your product key—something that can be completed in minutes, not days.
The result of this is a shift away from channel sales and towards direct sales, with customers able to buy direct from the Autodesk Online Store. Nonetheless, Autodesk hasn’t done away with its worldwide network of resellers; indeed, it maintains relationships with dedicated local partners across the globe.
So, how do you choose between resellers and direct sales? Naturally, cost is one of the factors that comes to the forefront. The prices listed on a reseller’s website tend to closely match those of Autodesk itself, which can make an initial comparison tricky.
However, reseller prices may (and do) vary, meaning there may be some flexibility with regards to pricing. Indeed, some users have reported hefty discounts when buying through resellers. They are also a great choice if you’re seeking a personalized quote for your business, especially as resellers have a much closer connection with specific local markets than the multinational Autodesk.
Aside from the cost, you should also consider the standard of your local resellers, particularly with regards to customer service. Choosing a reputable reseller with a solid track record could gain you access to valuable support should you experience any issues with your software. This is likely to be more personal than the support offered by Autodesk—and they’ll quite literally be speaking your language!
Is it worth considering an alternative?
No matter whether you choose a standalone or network license, AutoCAD alone or an industry collection, or buy direct or from a reseller, one fact remains constant: you’ll need to fork out thousands per year on an AutoCAD subscription. With AutoCAD pricing so uniformly high, then, you may ask yourself: what are the alternatives?
Luckily, there are other options on the market when it comes to 2D and 3D CAD software. One such package is AutoCAD LT, a ‘lite’ version of AutoCAD with more limited functionality, but priced at just $390.00 per year. If you’re happy to venture outside of the Autodesk stable, however, then some of the best known alternatives are:
- DraftSight, a freemium product from rival firm Dassault Systèmes
- BricsCAD, which offers perpetual, rental, volume and network licenses
- TurboCAD, with subscriptions starting from $499.99 per year
Of course, desktop programs aren’t the only option for CAD professionals. Innovative cloud-based CAD software is now catching up to (and, in some cases, surpassing) the functionality of traditional programs, with Onshape proving one of the leaders in this field.
Meanwhile, if you are willing to invest in Autodesk software, then your business may be better served by choosing the BIM software Revit over AutoCAD. Check out our guide to Autodesk software compared for the full lowdown.