by hearingearly hearingearly

Fusion 360® and SketchUp are both relative newcomers in CAD modeling, and they’re both very popular. Fusion 360 integrates parametric and surfacing methods as well as CAM (computer-aided manufacturing), animation, image rendering, simulation tools, 2D part drawing, and 3D printing. SketchUp, on the other hand, is built to ease the production of 3D design. It provides a simplified user experience and fast learning of basic design tools. The core software has a wide range of specialist plug-in modules for added capabilities.

While these packages look like polar opposites, they can serve exactly the same uses in a wide range of settings. SketchUp feels stripped down and makes starting out easy. Its user interface is simple, whereas Fusion 360 feels much more like a more traditional CAD. SketchUp is a lightweight 3D modeling core with a wide range of plug-in tool kits, whereas Fusion 360 has all the tools on hand, with more redundancy.

These differences are the result of different philosophies in the origin of the software. One aims for high capability from the start, while the other aims for frictionless learning and added tools when required. This article will further compare Fusion 360 vs. SketchUp in terms of applications, system requirements, file formats, user experience, and price.

What is Fusion 360?

Fusion 360 provides a simplified version of the majority of the tools of more complex CAD packages. The top-tier CAD packages used by the more advanced design processes are very expensive to buy and support. Fusion 360 looks to provide basic-level functionality at a moderate cost. It is faster and more adaptable than top-tier packages like Inventor® and SolidWorks® for new and occasional users. Fusion 360 is best for applications in which relatively simple individual parts and assemblies are modeled.

Users who are not making complex surface curvature-based designs or large assemblies simply have less to learn to get started. As an introduction to the world of CAD, Fusion 360 meets all of the new user’s requirements. Also, for those whose skills develop to surpass its free capabilities, the license is not overwhelmingly expensive. For more information, see our guides on About 3D Printing and 3D Printing Software list.

What is SketchUp?

SketchUp is a linear and polygonal 3D drawing system. It contains a selection of plug-ins  such as: Selection Toys, 1001Bit Tools, Curviloft, Sandbox bonus tools, TopoShaper, Artisan SketchUp extension, 3D Tree Maker SketchUp extension, and Angular Dimension. SketchUp’s user interface is not like most CAD programs; it sets the user up to try things quickly. It runs smoothly and reliably on quite ordinary computers, unlike high-end CAD options.

Fusion 360 vs. SketchUp – Use Cases and Applications

There are many and varied use cases among hobbyists and non-commercial users for both packages, but a few applications stand out as more common and important. In the professional space, the two user groups have only limited common ground. 

SketchUp is widely employed by carpenters and furniture makers, as well as in architecture and interior design. Its tools are intuitive and don’t get in the way of the creative process. SketchUp aids idea flow by allowing simple outlines to build in the complexity of form. It is used for building interiors and exteriors and offers rich shape development with limited learning. 

Fusion 360, on the other hand, is a precision-oriented engineering design package. It has a good reputation in applications such as: mechanical design and engineering of products for aesthetics, form, fit, and function; easy PCB design; and printer/CAM integration. The close integration with 3D printing processes is widely employed in professional and hobby product design and manufacture, across all consumer, industrial, and medical product sectors. 

Fusion 360 vs. SketchUp – System Requirements

In terms of system requirements, SketchUp requirements are considerably lighter compared to Fusion 360. For Fusion 360, users are required to have the following:

  1. Windows: x86-based 64-bit processor, quad-core, 1.7 GHz or greater.
  2. macOS: Apple silicon processors require Rosetta 2. 
  3. 4 GB of RAM, 6 GB minimum graphics memory.
  4. DirectX11 is recommended, including a dedicated GPU with min. 1 GB VRAM.
  5. Display resolution of 1920 x 1080 or greater recommended.
  6. 3 GB of disk space minimum.

SketchUp, on the other hand, requires the following:

  1. 2.4+ GHz processor.
  2. 8 GB RAM.
  3. 1 GB hard disk space.
  4. Video card 2+ GB 100% OpenGL.
  5. 3-button mouse with scroll function.

What is the Operating System of Fusion 360 and SketchUp?

Fusion 360 requires Windows 8.1 (until early 2023), 10 or 11, or macOS 12 Monterey, macOS11+ Big Sur, or macOS 10.15.7 (or newer) Catalina until early 2023. SketchUp, on the other hand, requires only a browser for the web (the free version). The installed version, however, requires Windows 11, Windows 10, macOS 12+ Monterey, 11+ Big Sur, or macOS 10.15+ Catalina. 

What Are the Minimum Memory Requirements for Fusion 360 and SketchUp?

The minimum memory requirements for Fusion 360 are 4 GB of RAM, (though some recommend 6 GB for more stable operation) and 3 GB of free disk space. SketchUp, on the other hand, requires 4 GB of RAM and 500 MB of free disk space to install and run in a stable fashion.

What Are the Supporting File Formats of Fusion 360 and SketchUp?

Fusion 360 supports a range of standard CAD formats. SketchUp, on the other hand, works with a different range of file types, more prevalent in 3D visual design rather than product design. For more information, see our Guide to 3D Printing Files.

Some of the file types for both are listed in Table 1 below:

Fusion 360® vs. SketchUp – Software Comparison