AutoCAD vs AutoCAD LT: A Comprehensive Guide to Help You Choose

As the world of design and drafting evolves, so too does the software we use to bring our creative visions to life. Among the most well-known software in this sphere are AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT, both developed by Autodesk. These tools, while similar in many respects, offer distinct features and capabilities that can significantly influence your design process. In this article, we delve deep into the realms of AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT, providing an in-depth comparison that will guide you in choosing the most suitable software for your needs.

Whether you are a seasoned professional or a beginner just getting your feet wet, understanding the differences between AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT is crucial. Both software offer powerful drafting and design tools, but the right choice for you hinges on your specific requirements, the complexity of your projects, and of course, your budget.

Key Takeaways

  • AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT are both powerful design software, but AutoCAD offers more advanced features, including 3D modeling, customization options, and network licensing.
  • AutoCAD LT is a lighter, more budget-friendly version of AutoCAD, perfect for individuals or small businesses that require essential 2D drafting tools.
  • While AutoCAD LT is a great option for simple 2D drawings, professionals seeking advanced 3D modeling, rendering, and customization features should consider investing in AutoCAD.
  • Both software are developed by Autodesk, ensuring a high standard of quality, reliability, and customer support.

AutoCAD vs AutoCAD LT: Understanding the Basics

AutoCAD, developed by Autodesk, is the industry-standard tool for computer-aided design (CAD). It’s used by professionals across various fields, including architects, engineers, and project managers. AutoCAD LT, on the other hand, is a “lite” version of the software, designed for users who need basic features.

To understand the key differences and decide which software is right for you, let’s delve deeper into the features, pros, cons, and pricing of AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT.

AutoCAD: An Overview

AutoCAD is a powerful CAD software that provides users with a wide range of features, such as:

  • 2D and 3D design and drafting
  • Rendering and visualization tools
  • Customizable UI
  • Collaboration and data management features
  • Support for multiple file formats

AutoCAD LT: An Overview

AutoCAD LT, while offering fewer features than AutoCAD, provides excellent value to users who need basic CAD functions. Key features of AutoCAD LT include:

  • 2D drafting and design
  • Limited 3D functionality
  • A simplified UI
  • Limited collaboration features

Key Differences Between AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT

1. 3D Modeling and Rendering

In AutoCAD, users can create 3D models and use rendering tools to create realistic visualizations of their designs. However, AutoCAD LT lacks these 3D capabilities, making it a better fit for users who only need to create 2D drafts.

2. Customization and Automation

AutoCAD allows users to customize the software according to their needs. It also supports automation with AutoLISP, a specific dialect of the LISP programming language developed by Autodesk. On the other hand, AutoCAD LT does not support customization or automation.

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3. Collaboration

AutoCAD offers superior collaboration features, including the ability to connect to Autodesk’s cloud services, share and receive feedback on designs, and manage data effectively. These features are less extensive in AutoCAD LT.

The table below summarizes the key differences:

Feature AutoCAD AutoCAD LT
2D Design Yes Yes
3D Design Yes No
Rendering Yes No
Customization Yes No
Automation Yes No
Collaboration Yes Limited

Pricing: AutoCAD vs AutoCAD LT

Price is a major factor to consider when choosing between AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT. As of the time of writing, the cost of an annual subscription to AutoCAD is significantly higher than that of AutoCAD LT. It’s crucial to consider your budget and whether the additional features of AutoCAD are worth the added cost.

autocad price

autocad lt price

For current pricing, you can check Autodesk’s official website here.

User Scenarios: Who Should Use AutoCAD and Who Should Use AutoCAD LT?

Use AutoCAD If:

  • You need advanced 3D modeling and rendering capabilities.
  • You require customization and automation features to improve your workflow.
  • You work in a collaborative environment and need to share and manage data effectively.

Use AutoCAD LT If:

  • You primarily work with 2D designs.
  • You have a limited budget and need a cost-effective solution.
  • You don’t require advanced collaboration features.

Customer Reviews: AutoCAD vs AutoCAD LT

To gain more insights, it’s helpful to look at customer reviews. Users generally appreciate AutoCAD for its advanced features, while they like AutoCAD LT for its simplicity and cost-effectiveness. However, some users mention that both software versions could be challenging to learn for beginners.

You can read more user reviews on the Autodesk forums or on software review sites like G2 and Capterra.

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Training and Support: AutoCAD vs AutoCAD LT

Both AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT come with access to Autodesk’s extensive library of training resources and support services, including:

  • Tutorials and learning paths
  • User forums and community support
  • Technical support from Autodesk’s team

However, AutoCAD includes additional specialized training for its more advanced features. For more information, you can visit the Autodesk Knowledge Network.

Software Compatibility: AutoCAD vs AutoCAD LT

Both AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT are compatible with Windows and macOS, and they support a variety of file formats, including DWG, DWF, DXF, PDF, and more.

However, due to its advanced features, AutoCAD has higher system requirements than AutoCAD LT. Ensure your system meets these requirements before purchasing. You can check the current system requirements on the Autodesk website.

System Requirements: AutoCAD vs AutoCAD LT

Before deciding between AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT, it’s crucial to understand the system requirements for each program. As a more powerful tool, AutoCAD generally requires a more robust system to function optimally.

AutoCAD System Requirements:

  • Operating System: 64-bit OS that follows Autodesk’s Product Support Lifecycle policy.
  • Processor: Minimum 2.5–2.9 GHz or faster processor.
  • Memory: 8 GB RAM (16 GB recommended).
  • Disk Space: 10 GB.
  • Display Resolution: 1920 x 1080 with True Color.

AutoCAD LT System Requirements:

  • Operating System: 64-bit OS that follows Autodesk’s Product Support Lifecycle policy.
  • Processor: Minimum 2.5–2.9 GHz or faster processor.
  • Memory: 8 GB RAM.
  • Disk Space: 6 GB.
  • Display Resolution: 1920 x 1080 with True Color.

Please note that these are general guidelines and the exact requirements may vary depending on the specific version of the software. For more detailed and up-to-date system requirements, visit the Autodesk website.

Expanding Your Skill Set: Learning AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT

Regardless of the tool you choose, learning to use AutoCAD or AutoCAD LT can greatly expand your skill set and increase your employability in many fields. Here are a few resources to help you get started:

  1. Autodesk University: Offers a wide range of free video tutorials for both beginners and advanced users.
  2. Now part of LinkedIn, offers numerous AutoCAD courses (free access with a LinkedIn Premium subscription).
  3. CADTutor: Provides free tutorials and forums for AutoCAD users.
  4. Books: There are numerous books available for learning AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT, such as the “AutoCAD For Dummies” series.

Switching Between AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT

If you’re currently an AutoCAD user considering switching to AutoCAD LT, or vice versa, the transition can be fairly smooth. Both programs use the same .DWG file format, ensuring compatibility between the two. However, remember that AutoCAD LT does not support certain AutoCAD features, such as 3D modeling and customization with AutoLISP. Therefore, it’s crucial to consider your needs carefully before making the switch.

Remember, both AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT are professional-grade software tools designed to help you bring your designs to life. Whether you’re drafting a simple 2D design or creating a complex 3D model, the choice between AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT comes down to your specific needs, budget, and the nature of your projects. By understanding the key differences, you can make an informed decision and choose the tool that best suits your work.

Long-Term Considerations: AutoCAD vs AutoCAD LT

When choosing between AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT, it’s important to consider your long-term needs. While AutoCAD LT may be sufficient for your current projects, you might need the advanced features of AutoCAD as your projects become more complex in the future.

If you’re part of a growing business or planning to take on more advanced work, investing in AutoCAD now could save you from the hassle of switching software later. On the other hand, if you’re certain that you’ll only be working with 2D designs and don’t foresee a need for advanced 3D modeling or customization features, AutoCAD LT could be the better choice.

The Verdict: AutoCAD or AutoCAD LT?

Choosing between AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT depends on your specific needs, budget, and the complexity of your projects. If you require advanced 3D modeling, rendering, customization, and collaboration features, AutoCAD would be the better choice. However, if your work mainly involves 2D drafting and you’re looking for a cost-effective solution, AutoCAD LT would be more suitable.

Before making a decision, consider taking advantage of Autodesk’s free trials for both AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT. This will allow you to explore the features of each software and determine which one best fits your needs.

Remember, the right tool for you is the one that best matches your requirements and helps you achieve your design goals more efficiently and effectively.

FAQ: AutoCAD vs AutoCAD LT

1. Why is AutoCAD better than AutoCAD LT?

AutoCAD offers more advanced features compared to AutoCAD LT. This includes 3D modeling and rendering capabilities, customization options, and enhanced collaboration tools. Therefore, for users who require these advanced features, AutoCAD may be a better choice.

2. What is AutoCAD LT used for?

AutoCAD LT is primarily used for creating and editing 2D designs. It’s a popular choice among professionals who need basic drafting and documentation tools, such as architects, interior designers, and civil engineers.

3. What does LT mean in AutoCAD LT?

The ‘LT’ in AutoCAD LT stands for ‘Lite’. This indicates that it’s a lighter version of the full AutoCAD software, offering fewer features and functionalities.

4. Is AutoCAD LT only 2D?

Yes, AutoCAD LT is primarily a 2D drafting tool. While it has some rudimentary 3D tools, they’re not as extensive or powerful as those found in the full version of AutoCAD.

5. Which AutoCAD is best?

The ‘best’ version of AutoCAD depends on your specific needs. AutoCAD LT is best for 2D drafting, while AutoCAD is better for more complex projects that require 3D modeling and rendering.

6. Why is my AutoCAD LT so slow?

AutoCAD LT’s performance can be affected by several factors, including system requirements, file size, and software settings. If AutoCAD LT is running slowly, try upgrading your hardware, reducing the complexity of your designs, or adjusting your software settings.

7. Can I draw 3D in AutoCAD LT?

AutoCAD LT has limited 3D functionality. While you can create simple 3D shapes, it does not support the advanced 3D modeling and rendering capabilities found in the full version of AutoCAD.

8. Is AutoCAD LT any good?

Yes, AutoCAD LT is a powerful tool for 2D drafting and design. It’s especially suitable for professionals who need basic drafting tools without the extra features and cost of the full version of AutoCAD.

9. Can AutoCAD LT do electrical drawings?

Yes, you can create electrical drawings in AutoCAD LT, but it does not have the specialized electrical design features found in other Autodesk products like AutoCAD Electrical.

10. Is AutoCAD LT free?

No, AutoCAD LT is not free. However, Autodesk offers a free trial so you can test the software before purchasing.

11. Can AutoCAD LT open AutoCAD files?

Yes, AutoCAD LT can open and save .DWG files, the same file format used by AutoCAD. However, some features in an AutoCAD file might not be available in AutoCAD LT due to its limited functionalities.

12. Does AutoCAD do 3D?

Yes, the full version of AutoCAD offers advanced 3D modeling and rendering capabilities.

13. Is AutoCAD LT slower than AutoCAD?

AutoCAD LT’s performance is generally comparable to AutoCAD’s, given the same hardware configuration. However, performance may vary depending on system specifications and the complexity of the project.

14. Does AutoCAD LT need a graphics card?

While AutoCAD LT can run on a system with an integrated graphics processor, a dedicated graphics card can improve performance, especially when working with large or complex designs.

15. Can you use AutoCAD LT without Internet?

Yes, after the initial software activation, you can use AutoCAD LT offline. However, an Internet connection is required for certain features like software updates and cloud services.

Autodesk provides a free version of AutoCAD for students and educators for educational purposes. Other than that, there are no free versions of AutoCAD or AutoCAD LT. Both are commercial software that requires purchase.

17. What AutoCAD do engineers use?

The version of AutoCAD used by engineers depends on their specific field. Mechanical engineers might use AutoCAD Mechanical, electrical engineers could use AutoCAD Electrical, and civil engineers often use AutoCAD Civil 3D. AutoCAD LT can also be used by engineers who only require basic 2D drafting capabilities.

18. Do professionals use AutoCAD?

Yes, AutoCAD is widely used by professionals in many fields, including architecture, engineering, construction, and product design. Its powerful features and versatility make it a preferred choice for many industries.

19. Can you upgrade AutoCAD LT to AutoCAD?

Yes, you can upgrade from AutoCAD LT to AutoCAD. The upgrade process typically involves purchasing a new AutoCAD license and installing the AutoCAD software.

20. Is AutoCAD LT better than Solidworks?

The choice between AutoCAD LT and SolidWorks depends on your specific needs. AutoCAD LT is a 2D drafting tool, while SolidWorks is primarily used for 3D modeling, especially in mechanical engineering and product design. If your work involves 3D modeling, SolidWorks might be a better choice.

21. Is AutoCAD LT good for interior design?

Yes, AutoCAD LT is a popular tool for interior designers. Its 2D drafting capabilities are well-suited for creating floor plans, furniture layouts, and other design plans.

22. Can you upgrade from AutoCAD LT to 3D?

AutoCAD LT itself cannot be upgraded to support 3D modeling. However, you can switch from AutoCAD LT to the full version of AutoCAD, which supports 3D modeling and rendering.

23. Can AutoCAD LT use plugins?

AutoCAD LT does not support the use of plugins or add-ons. This is one of the limitations of the ‘lite’ version compared to the full version of AutoCAD, which supports customization through plugins and scripting languages like AutoLISP.

24. Is AutoCAD a 2D or 3D?

AutoCAD is both a 2D and 3D design software. It has powerful 2D drafting tools, as well as advanced 3D modeling and rendering capabilities.

25. How long is AutoCAD free?

AutoCAD is free for students and educators for three years. After this period, a paid license is required.

26. How hard is it to learn AutoCAD?

The difficulty of learning AutoCAD depends on your prior experience with similar software and your understanding of design principles. With a variety of resources available, including tutorials, online courses, and community forums, most users can gain proficiency with practice.

27. Can you transfer AutoCAD LT license to another computer?

Yes, an AutoCAD LT license can be transferred to another computer. You will need to uninstall the software from the current computer and reinstall it on the new one.

28. What files can AutoCAD LT open?

AutoCAD LT can open a variety of file formats, including DWG, DXF, DWF, and PDF.

29. Who invented AutoCAD?

AutoCAD was invented by John Walker and his company, Autodesk, Inc. The first version of AutoCAD was released in 1982.

AutoCAD LT requires a CPU with a speed of 2.5–2.9 GHz or faster. Higher-end processors like the Intel Core i7 or AMD Ryzen series can provide better performance, especially for complex designs.

31. What is easier than AutoCAD?

There are several design programs that are known for their ease of use, such as SketchUp for 3D modeling and DraftSight for 2D drafting. However, the “easiest” software depends on your specific needs and familiarity with design software.

32. What is the lowest RAM in AutoCAD?

The minimum RAM required for AutoCAD is 8 GB. However, for optimal performance, especially when working with large or complex designs, 16 GB or more is recommended.

33. Can AutoCAD LT run with 4GB RAM?

While AutoCAD LT may technically run with 4GB of RAM, it’s not recommended. The minimum recommended RAM for AutoCAD LT is 8 GB. With only 4GB, you might experience slow performance and limitations in handling larger or more complex designs.

34. Can I run AutoCAD on 4GB RAM?

Similar to AutoCAD LT, while it’s possible to run AutoCAD on 4GB of RAM, it’s not recommended. The minimum recommended RAM for AutoCAD is 8 GB. Running AutoCAD on a system with only 4GB of RAM may lead to performance issues.

35. Can AutoCAD LT use LISP?

No, one of the limitations of AutoCAD LT compared to the full version of AutoCAD is that it does not support LISP routines.

36. Is AutoCAD LT compatible with Mac?

Yes, AutoCAD LT is available for both Windows and Mac operating systems.

37. How often is AutoCAD LT updated?

Autodesk typically releases a new version of AutoCAD LT every year, with smaller updates and fixes released throughout the year.

38. Can AutoCAD LT create blocks?

Yes, AutoCAD LT can create and insert blocks, which are groups of objects that are combined into a single named object. This can be a useful feature for repetitive elements in a design.

39. Can you geolocate in AutoCAD LT?

No, geolocation features are not available in AutoCAD LT. For geospatial features, consider using AutoCAD Map 3D or other specialized software.

40. Can I use AutoCAD LT on an iPad?

As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, AutoCAD LT is not available for iPad. However, Autodesk does offer AutoCAD mobile app, which provides core drawing and drafting tools and is compatible with iOS devices, including iPad.


Deciding between AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT requires careful consideration of your design needs, project complexity, and budget. While AutoCAD LT can be an excellent choice for basic 2D drafting, the full version of AutoCAD might be worth the investment if you require advanced 3D modeling capabilities or if your work involves complex design projects.

Remember, the ultimate goal is to choose software that not only meets your current needs but also aligns with your future ambitions. Whether you opt for AutoCAD or AutoCAD LT, rest assured that both tools, backed by Autodesk’s reputation, will provide a robust platform for bringing your design ideas to life.

R. Khouri

With over 30 years of experience in the CAD industry as an instructor, developer, and manager, I have a wealth of knowledge in the field. My background in computer engineering has given me a solid foundation for understanding the complexities of CAD softwares. AutoCAD is my go-to tool, and I'm passionate about all forms of computer-aided design (CAD) and design in general.
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