Navisworks vs SketchUp: Which Platform is Better

Looking for a detailed Navisworks vs SketchUp comparison to understand which program is more suitable for creating BIM (Building Information Modeling) models, 3D simulations, and design documentation? Then this review will surely interest you. Though both programs can cope with the tasks listed above, they differ in terms of functionality, extensibility, support, and ease of use.

Navisworks is a pro-level 3D model viewing, review, management and analysis software that is in high demand among architects, engineers and construction teams. Using the program, you can view and render integrated models and data during the pre-build phase to better control project outcomes.

SketchUp is an intuitive CAD solution for 3D modeling and design. The program allows creating stunning 3D models of interiors, furniture, landscapes, and more. The bragging point of the software is the ease of use, backed by a set of powerful professional-quality features and timely support.

What Is Navisworks?

navisworks logo

Navisworks is unmatched when it comes to model coordination, as it allows combining the process with planning and focusing on the project scope. There you will find tools to view, simulate and analyze designs to improve BIM coordination; combine design and construction data; identify and eliminate problems and interferences.

There are 2 versions of the program – Manage and Simulate. So, project stakeholders can view and aggregate models, collaborate, coordinate, and communicate more efficiently.

Simulate is aimed at analyzing and communicating design details using 5D analysis. You can combine BIM data into various file formats and publish it using the built-in source file viewer. This version supports modeling instruments and free 3D models from Autodesk Online Gallery. Moreover, you can take advantage of object animation, project planning, and photorealistic rendering.

Manage complements Simulate's functionality, providing users with advanced coordination and comprehensive intersection detection options, and management capabilities. Thus, you can identify potential design conflicts earlier, reducing project timelines and preventing expensive rework.

  • navisworks interface
  • navisworks interface

    Navisworks: Strengths and Weaknesses

    Clash detection management. You can manage and track conflicts and interference until they are resolved. The software allows you to create clash test reports, comments, and screenshots that you can use to communicate with your team.

    Integration with Autodesk BIM 360 Glue. Thus, different participants of a project can share their ideas in a convenient manner. Besides, you’ll get a better optimized environment.

    Collaboration functions. Advanced redline instruments, recorded animated step-by-step guides, and large model streaming make joint work on a project stress-free.

    Real-time navigation. It is possible to navigate the design model with 3D step-by-step instructions that provide a realistic, real-time experience. Advanced rendering provides engaging 3D animations, which is a strong advantage to consider in the Navisworks vs SketchUp battle.

    5D Project Planning makes it easier to manage time and cost.

    High subscription cost for both the spy and 3D model aggregator. Moreover, the dedicated Clash detection feature is also very expensive.

    Not beginner-friendly. Novice users will have a hard time mastering this program because of a huge variety of functions and integration with cloud & Autodesk.

    Demanding on graphics hardware. You may experience delays while working with advanced models, rendering engines, pre-export before connecting to models if you have weak hardware.

    What Is SketchUp?

    sketchup logo

    SketchUp – is one of the best 3D modeling software for beginners, which also has some features popular among pros. Thanks to a straightforward interface and controls, you can achieve top-notch results without much hassle.

    Here you can model virtually everything from a doghouse to full buildings. The available toolset is sufficient for designers engaged in different industries, including architecture, mechanical engineering, construction, woodworking, interior design, and more.

    SketchUp has sections for architectural rendering, general-purpose CAD, sketching, urban planning, and design. The most praiseworthy products included in the suite are 3D Warehouse, SketchUp LayOut, and Viewer.

    As for the built-in features, you will find lighting effects, textures, layer manager and animation. While the program doesn’t offer many integrated models, it provides access to Trimble's 3D storage with all the symbols and models that serve as a basis for fantastic CAD designs.

    • sketchup interface

      SketchUp: Strengths and Weaknesses

      Powerful 3D animation tools. If you are comparing Navisworks vs SketchUp in terms of 3D animation potential, the latter is bound to impress you. The program is packed with animations, textures, 3D models, lighting effects, and other objects so you can bring the boldest ideas to life.

      The free version adds to the popularity of the software. However, you have to put up with some limitations concerning export possibilities and sandbox tools. Of course, this is unacceptable for professionals.

      Simple-to-use Push & Pull function. The developer patented this function providing users with a super-fast push-n-pull working method.

      3D warehouse and extension warehouse, plug-ins and consistent community support allow you to achieve the desired result without spending much time and money.

      It is impossible to group and collapse scenes, so navigation and organization become somewhat difficult. 

      Photorealistic rendering is a weak point of the program. Fortunately, you can choose one of the best free rendering software, e.g., V-Ray, for this particular task.

      SketchUp isn’t automated, unlike traditional architectural software. You need to have a good understanding of the code in order to draw models correctly.

      Navisworks vs SketchUp: Price

      navisworks vs sketchup pricing

      Navisworks is available in 2 versions:

      • Navisworks Simulate: $120/year;
      • Navisworks Manage: $300/year.

      Students and educators can take advantage of a free annual plan with the possibility of renewal. If you decide on a long-term contract, you’ll get a discount of one-third of the total cost.

      SketchUp is available for free with a basic set of features. There are also 3 paid plans for personal use:

      • SketchUp Shop: $119/year;
      • SketchUp Pro: $299/year;
      • SketchUp Studio: $699/year.

      Nonprofit organizations and educators can get a paid SketchUp plan at a large discount. Both editors come with a free trial, but only Navisworks offers a 30-day money-back guarantee for annual plans.

      Navisworks vs SketchUp – Who Wins?

      While comparing these programs, I figured out that SketchUp is easier to use, customize, and administer. However, Navisworks meets the needs of the construction business better than its rival. As for ongoing product support and updates, Navisworks is a better option.

      Navisworks excels at aligning any 3D model with other deals. You can view the contents of your model with other team members to make sure that your design is accurate and can be assembled. Navisworks also contains many additional tools for a streamlined workflow.

      SketchUp appeals to users with the agile operation. You can prepare client or team presentations and make use of fast rendering. If you are limited in time (relevant for most projects) and you need to model structures without special emphasis on photorealism, Sketchup is the perfect tool for you.

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