SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD vs Autodesk Inventor: Which will Work Best for You?

4th November 2020

There are many differences so let’s compare in detail the two leading 3D CAD software solutions.

Many users make the assumption, that because they look similar, that there is no significant difference between Inventor and SOLIDWORKS, and this couldn’t be further from the truth. Despite their similarities, SOLIDWORKS as a solution often offers more functionality, ease of use and much greater support through VAR’s. Developed and published by Autodesk ( more commonly known for their AutoCAD product line), Inventor is a 3D CAD modeling solution with a large global presence and is arguably one of SOLIDWORKS biggest rivals. This blog post will delve into some of the differences between the SOLIDWORKS and Autodesk Inventor, in order to give users a much more informed perspective to choose between the two.

SOLIDWORKS compared to Inventor

Despite looking similar, Inventor often falls short of the depth of the SOLIDWORKS, often requiring complex workarounds. Some of the areas its that Autodesk inventor shows a lack of depth compared to SOLIDWORKS are:

Creating Sketches

SOLIDWORKS has more advance and parametric sketch functions, with much better ease of use as seen below:

FunctionAutodesk InventorSOLIDWORKS
Dimensioning toolLess functional, and requires additional clicks for alignmentMore streamlined into sketching, with advanced text functionality such as symbols, and comments
EditingChange in geometry can cause instability at timesRemains stable no matter the geometry change
Sketch constraintsLess user friendlyExtremely user friendly and easy to learn.


Compared to Autodesk Inventor, SOLIDWORKS has much more powerful solid feature options, allowing for much more complex geometries to be created faster and easier.

Function Autodesk Inventor SOLIDWORKS
Extrude And revolve featuresExtrude/revolve start and end conditions must be a surface.Start and end conditions can be surfaces, vertices and offsets from either
Hole WizardEnd conditions: Blind and through all
Slots: no
Hole on non-planar surface: Requires creation of additional plane
End condition: blind, through all, up to next, up to vertex, up to surface and surface offset
Slots: Yes
Hole on non-planar surface: Can be placed on any face
SweepProfile complexity: Limited
• Bidirectional sweep: not possible
Profile complexity: capable of sweeping complex profiles
Bidirectional sweep: Yes
PatternsLinear/rectangular paths: yes but cannot skip instances
Circular: Available but cannot skip instances.
Linear/rectangular paths: Yes, with functionality to skip instances.
Circular: Yes, with functionality to skip instances.
Other patterns: Sketch driven, Curve driven, table driven, fill pattern.


When modeling with assemblies SOLIDWORKS offers far more Mating, inspection functionality, with far more added support for large assemblies, as seen below:

Function Autodesk Inventor SOLIDWORKS
MatesStandard mates: Coincident, parallel, perpendicular, Concentric, distance, Angle.
Width mate: No
Mechanical mates: Few.
Standard mates: Coincident, parallel, perpendicular, Concentric, distance, Angle.
Width mate: Yes
Mechanical mates: More advances mates
Assembly inspectionOnly Interference detection availableInterference detection, Clearance verification, Hole alignment available for use.
Large Assembly supportOnly Resolved and expressed file opening options available. Resolved, lightweight, large assembly mode, Large design review, available to open.


While both offer the ability to create drawings, SOLIDWORKS offers more options, as well as ease in creating drawings.

FeatureAutodesk inventorSOLIDWORKS
Dimension favouritesNote availableAvailable, dimensions can also be customized to include annotations from user.
Creating viewsMust be inserted from fileCan be dynamically placed and dragged from the view pallet, which will also display a preview of all the available modes.

SOLIDWORKS 3D cad also offers a far more complete package with a range of different functions covering the whole design process (such as simulation), whereas Inventor is solely a 3D CAD modeling software.

SOLIDWORKS vs Inventor pricing

SOLIDWORKS is also a better alternative for long term businesses as it is a perpetual license and with SOLIDPLANS financial solution comes with the pricing benefits of a subscription model.

All Autodesk products are only available on a subscription licensing, which can be renewed monthly, yearly or every 3 years, however as a subscription it means that you will never truly own it, unlike SOLIDWORKS in which the license is perpetual (meaning you own it). This means that as a long term business solution it is a cheaper and more convenient option.

SOLIDWORKS products and Autodesk products

SOLIDWORKS additional applications are often more in-depth in their functionality with interfaces similar across all applications, in order to facilitate ease of use.

Both Autodesk and SOLIDWORKS offer a large range of different software packages along with their 3d CAD software, such as SOLIDWORKS simulation or Autodesk’s fusion 360. However many Autodesk applications are “light” or limited versions of existing products, not containing all their functionality. What’s more is that Autodesk’s separate applications often feel like whole new products and interfaces, that not only make collaboration between these products difficult but due to the often obscure workflow needed to move data from one application to another, can often be very time-consuming. This is not the case with SOLIDWORKS as all application use the same interface allowing changes to be made dynamically and realized instantly

SOLIDWORKS support and Autodesk support

While both offer support to users, through its VARs, SOLIDWORKS has much greater depth in the support that it can offer to its users, through the entirety of the software to user support. Inventor has not offered much in the way of product enhancements in 30 years and users do not typically rely on the support for how to use the software, so much as for troubleshooting and OS issues. More than likely their only Autodesk contact is for yearly renewals, which not always, but often leads many Autodesk user’s to become frustrated. Meanwhile, SOLIDWORKS offers some of the best SOLIDWORKS reseller support available, with the largest support network available. SOLIDWORKS offers a global accreditation system for all forms of SOLIDWORKS application, in which a SOLIDWORKS reseller will certify themselves in in order to be able to fully support users not only in software issues and use, but training, which can be found in classes, E-classes, online resources such as mysolidworks, reading material and within the software itself.

Despite their similarities in appearance SOLIDWORKS offers a much more comprehensive design solution due to superior functionality, better pricing options, more in-depth additional products and greater VAR support.

The best laptops to run SOLIDWORKS

To run SOLIDWORKS, we recommend purchasing a device with the following system requirements:

Operating System: Windows 10, 11

Processor: 3.3GHz or higher. Such as 11th Gen Intel processors or Apple’s M1 Macs.

RAM: Minimum 16gb but more is always a good thing.

Graphics Card: Nvidia’s GeForce RTX and GTX range will be the most optimal cards.

Additional requirements: You may also wish to consider external storage, battery life, fingerprint security and the display quality, which will all go a long way to improve your SOLIDWORKS experience.

With these requirements now set out, here are the three top laptops we recommend to run SOLIDWORKS:

Dell Precision 5760 Workstation

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Dell XPS 13 Touchscreen

Dell XPS 13 9310 2-in-1 showing front open and in tablet mode

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Surface Laptop 4

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