The Most Important Differences Between 3ds Max and Maya
A 3d rendering of a high rise apartment building with a balcony and a treeThe Most Important Differences Between 3ds Max and Maya

Both 3ds Max and Maya are Autodesk programs for 3D modeling, rendering, and animation. However, although the same company developed them, these two platforms differ significantly in many aspects of their workflow.

If you are an artist who wants to use 3D visualizations for your work, you may wonder which of these two platforms to choose for your visualization services. Below, we will explain all the differences and similarities of these tools to help you make an informed decision.


These two tools have very different purposes. 3ds Max is a common choice of artists (such as architects) who want to create 3D images of objects and use visualization tools to model particular objects and give them their 3D form. Autodesk states that this platform enables you to create realistic landscapes, professional renders, and detailed designs using intuitive design tools.

On the other hand, Maya focuses more on creating animations and realistic characters. This platform also uses intuitive modeling tools, but they serve the purpose of creating people and animations realistically. Maya users are mainly cartoonists and other people in the entertainment industry.

Modeling toolsets

One of the most popular and widely-used toolsets of the 3ds Max platform is the Graphite Modeling Toolset. It enables you to quickly and precisely edit any polygon object in your projects. Its tools include Object Paint Tab, Customizing the Ribbon, Selection Tab, etc. With these tools, you can edit and automatically save all the changes you make to your project.

Maya has a long history of work, so multiple tool sets make Maya one of the best visualization platforms out there. Some tools you can find in Maya’s toolsets are the rotate tool, crease tool, quad draw, etc. They are carefully selected and developed to help Maya’s users create realistic objects and people using the platform.

User interface

Looking at 3ds Max’s user interface, we can honestly say that everything you see on the screen is there for a purpose. You can easily access any tool you need to create your realistic project.

Moreover, accessing other tools is very easy since they are grouped according to their purpose. You can also completely customize your interface, which makes 3ds Max a beginner-friendly tool with a user-friendly interface.

Maya’s interface may cause trouble for some and may not be as beginner-friendly as 3ds Max. A lot is going on when you launch the program; the tools are all over the place, and the icons may be too small.

However, you can customize Maya’s interface and enlarge your icons according to your preferences. Many argue that Maya’s interface is overcrowded, but you can solve this problem by tailoring the interface to your needs.

Animation and rendering

3ds Max is a versatile tool that lets you create models with utmost precision and animate each object you have made. It is an excellent tool for animations because it offers a variety of tools that can help you create fast and realistic movements. However, this platform is much better for 3D rendering and architectural visualizations.

On the other hand, Maya has more functions than 3ds Max. People primarily use it for animation purposes, but you can also use it for rendering.

Although it may not be the best tool for rendering, it still has some features that enable you to add renders to your projects. Maya is one of the best tools for creating animations that seem realistic in their digital form.

System requirements

The latest version of 3ds Max has some requirements you need to meet to install and run this software. Firstly, you can only download this platform from specific browsers, such as Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Mozilla Firefox.

As for the hardware, you need a CPU (Central Processing Unit) with an SSE4.2 instruction set (64-bit Intel or AMD processor). You also need at least 9 GB of free space to download this platform and at least 4 GB of random-access memory (RAM).

You can download Maya from verified web browsers, such as Apple Safari, Google Chrome, etc. To run this platform, you must have some of the following operating systems: Windows 10, macOS 11, 10.15, 10.14, 10.13, Linux Red Hat 8.2, or Linux CentOS 8.2.

Regarding the hardware, you need a processor with an SSE4.2 instruction set and 6 GB of free memory for download. As for the RAM, you should have at least 8 GB of memory.

Costs and licensing

Autodesk stopped using traditional licensing methods with serial numbers for each member. Instead, the license is based on your account. You can choose an account for individuals, medium-to-large teams (50 people), extra-large teams, or students and educators.

Maya and 3ds Max have the same pricing plans. There are three options to choose from:

●        $225 monthly;

●        $1,785 annually;

●        $5,085 for three years.

You can pay for the annual and three-year plans every month.

Autodesk also offers a Flex option, allowing you to buy tokens you can use to access all features of these platforms for 24 hours.

You must pay $300 for 100 tokens, while 500 tokens cost $1,500. You can even create a custom plan, asking for as many tokens as you need (the price varies depending on the number).


Rigging is an animation technique for making the skeleton of a particular 3D character model move. The rigging feature is available on both 3ds Max and Maya platforms.

3ds Max has many tools that enable you to apply the rigging feature quickly and efficiently. You can make the skeletons in your projects move however you like in 3ds Max.

Rigging in Maya is easy as well. Although Maya doesn’t offer as many rigging features as 3ds Max, you can make your figures move. Maya may also be slower regarding rigging since it relies on a CPU (Central Processing Unit) that can only process one piece of information at a time.


Although the same developers made 3ds Max and Maya, these programs serve different purposes. Both are excellent for 3D modeling, rendering, and animation, each with tools that differ from one another. Depending on your workflow and your needs, you can choose one that offers more features that fit your visualization workflow.

The most notable differences above should help you determine which one is the best for your 3D animation and visualization career.