Affordable Alternative Software for Architects

I wanted to buy the best software when I started my architectural firm. The office that I used to worked for invested in software that I consider to be the benchmark in our industry. After careful deliberation on the cost of this software, I chose to seek alternatives to those programs that didn't break the bank. After trying out other apps, these are the ones that I personally like.

CAD Drafting Software

Benchmark: Autodesk Autocad ($1050/year) 

Progecad ($499)

Very affordable.
Compatible with AutoCAD files.
Excellent customer support.
Similar interface and commands with Autocad.
Bundled with a huge library of 2d & 3d blocks.
PDF to Dwg converter

It can be unstable on huge files.
Crashes occasionally occur.
Sometimes corrupts Autocad files saved in Progecad.

Zwcad ($799)

It is a lot more stable than Progecad.
Files that are made in Autocad are compatible.
I haven't experienced any errors transferring from AutoCAD to Zwcad.

Pricier compared to progecad.

Doublecad (Free)

3D Modeling

Benchmark: Autodesk 3D Studio Max ($1470/year)

Google Sketchup ($695)

Easy to learn and user-friendly interface.
Access to a wide variety of free 3d models from google warehouse.
Extensive library of plugins or extensions.
Affordable and a lifetime license.
Integrated with google maps.

Limited 3d modeling and editing capability.
Plugins are needed if you intend to create complicated models.
No built-in renderer
Unstable when files are very large.
No Xref or proxy resulting in huge file sizes.

Rendering Software

Benchmark: Vray ($760)

Lightup ($349)

Real-time Rendering of Light and Shadow.
Photorealistic output.
Walkthrough your Sketchup model with rendered materials, lights and shadows.

It requires a powerful computer to function properly.
It takes time to render real-time when scenes are large.
Unstable when scenes are large.

Kerkythea (Free)

Office Programs

Benchmark: Microsoft Office ($149.99)

Kingsoft WPS (Free)

Libre Office (Free)

Photo Editing Software

Photoshop ($119.88/year)

Gimp (Free)

Project Management

Microsoft Project Standard($589.99)
Gantt Project (Free)

Project Libre (Free)

Open Project (Free)


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