In my opinion, if you’ve been using any program that includes a full-license of AutoCAD as a platform (AutoCAD, Map, Land Desktop, Civil 3d) for years, you will be greatly disappointed and frustrated with the embedded AutoCAD (OEM) version. You may think you’re getting AutoCAD, but you’re getting something closer to AutoCAD LT.
So… long-time, mostly happy AutoCAD users should only consider running Carlson on IntelliCAD or installing on top of a separate license of AutoCAD.
The next part is the hard part: IntelliCAD? Or AutoCAD? The answer to this will basically come down to $$$ dollar-signs $$$.
If you already have a licensed version of AutoCAD, Map, Land Desktop or Civil 3d that can be installed under your Carlson then you are in great shape. You can hope for the best and install Carlson with IntelliCAD but you’re also prepared for the worst. If you’re not happy with IntelliCAD, you can install your same Carlson license on top of your AutoCAD.
But, what if you don’t own a copy of AutoCAD or would need to pay to upgrade an old copy to run with Carlson? Is it worth it?
It might be. If you’re a power-user and are truly losing productivity with IntelliCAD then I believe you can justify the cost to buy a new or upgrade an old AutoCAD. I usually recommend it this way, “If and when your frustration level reaches about 4000-bucks, buy AutoCAD!”.
I know you’ll be shocked to learn that most sole-proprietors/business owners will stick with IntelliCAD much longer (or forever!) before they can justify the outlay of money for AutoCAD.
For a more detailed look, see this Software Review: AutoCAD and IntelliCAD from Professional Surveyor magazine.