Chief Architect X13

There are many great new features in Chief Architect X13 — real‑time ray trace rendering, walkthrough previews, dimensioning to cabinet faces and openings, cabinet face item reveal control, 3D solid editing, and construction lines for a grid layout. Watch the new features summary videos or see our detailed new features list (PDF) to see how the new tools in X13 can benefit you!

Most Chief Architect license upgrades include one year of Support and Software Assurance (SSA). With SSA you get access to new version releases, priority support, catalog downloads and more. You can also rent Premier or Interiors for $199/month.

Is your SSA current through June? Visit your Digital Locker and download the Beta version. You can expect to see Chief Architect X13 by the end of June 2021.

Purchase Options


Chief Architect X13 New Features Summary

X13 New Features (PDF)

House exterior with new Chief Architect framing features and examples of headers, corner, wall girt and roof purlin framing.

PLAY Building-Construction Features

  • Corner framing and connection types — standard, reduced, and laddered
  • Header placement for vertical and depth location
  • Combine headers for adjacent openings
  • Wall girts and horizontal wall framing
  • Roof purlins for horizontal framing members over trusses or rafters
  • Balloon framing control — at the plate or ceiling height
  • Trim and Extend for framing — trim deck planking at 45 degrees
  • Tray ceiling framing can be defined and built separately
  • Framing profiles — apply to general framing members like a trellis
  • Framing Camera defaults — control the look and behavior for these cameras
Ray Trace and Clay render comparison of a modern kitchen with wood cabinets and turquoise tile near a wine cellar and foyer.
Ray Trace and Clay render comparison of a modern kitchen with wood cabinets and turquoise tile near a wine cellar and foyer.

PLAY Presentation

  • A new rendering engine with improved quality and performance
  • Real time ray tracing — create realistic renders in seconds!
  • GPU rendering and ray tracing — consistent lighting across all rendering techniques
  • Add a watermark for cameras and walkthroughs as a default setting
  • Overlay line drawing to render techniques — standard, clay, watercolor, and physically based
  • A new clay rendering technique for abstract style views
  • Walkthrough Previews — a new preview panel to see and interact with the walkthrough before recording
  • Create orbital walkthroughs from a perspective camera view
Program interface displaying a plan with construction lines, elevation cameras, material list, layer set and schedule export.
Exterior elevation showing new features like door and window opening indicators, schedules and vaulted ceiling elevations.

PLAY Drafting & Project Management Features

  • Copy and paste elevation and section cameras
  • Wall Elevations for vaulted ceilings
  • Clip elevation cameras — expand and contract views to create a section or wall elevation
  • Refined control to set up automatic and manual dimensions
  • Create molding, roof and skylight schedules
  • Export schedules — TXT, CSV, or XML formats
  • Material Lists use layer sets to control items in the list
  • Opening Indicators for hinged and sliding doors / windows
  • Assign labels for doors, windows, cabinets and other objects to any layer
  • Construction Lines — create a column grid with callouts to reference between floors and elevations
House with patio and pool displaying new features of 3D shape editing, previews, match wall properties and saving text.

PLAY Productivity

  • Dynamic help system — provides relevant information about the task you are performing
  • Project Browser thumbnail previews for saved cameras, elevations, schedules and more
  • Save Text to the Library — maintain and reuse the text in future projects
  • Multiple select rooms — change room type, ceiling heights, or moldings simultaneously
  • Match Properties on walls to apply the attributes from one wall to another wall
  • A new search bar is available in the plan materials dialog to help locate items
  • CAD Blocks stored in your plan can easily be revised using a new edit function
  • Center, Trim, and Extend CAD objects in elevation views
  • 3D shapes edit with subtract, intersection and merge with polyline solids and 3D solids
Kitchen wall elevation showing design features for editing cabinet top, bottom, moldings, create schedules and tile offsets.

PLAY Design Features

  • Extended stiles for framed cabinets
  • Full overlay cabinets — reveal control for the right and left sides
  • Cabinet face item overlap control — sides, top, and bottom
  • Remove the cabinet's top or bottom — like a coffee station cabinet
  • Define the width where an auto cabinet door changes from a single to a double
  • Dimension to cabinet faces and openings
  • Offset cabinet moldings — make them flush with both the cabinet box and cabinet doors
  • Create molding schedules for rooms or cabinets
  • Parametric pattern control for tile offsets — 1/2, 1/3, 1/4 or ?

X13 System Requirements

PC Minimum1

  • Windows 10 64-bit
  • 8 GB of RAM
  • Video card2
    • 2 GB of RAM
    • DirectX 123
  • 5 GB of available hard disk space
  • Internet access4

Mac Minimum1

  • Catalina / Big Sur
  • 8 GB of RAM
  • Video card2
    • 2 GB of RAM
    • macOS GPU family 2 v1
  • 5 GB of available hard disk space
  • Internet access4

Differences between PC and Mac versions of Chief Architect

PC Mac
Walkthrough Export Formats
.AVI / .MP4 / .WMV .MOV / .MP4 / .M4V
.WMF / .EMF Support
Yes No
Yes No
Virtual Reality
Yes No
Ray Trace Rendering
CPU & GPU Real‑Time Ray Trace5 CPU Ray Trace

1 Computers with ARM or Mac M1 processors are not supported. It is recommended that laptops have a minimum 15" screen.

2 Supported video cards include (1) dedicated video cards such as NVIDIA GeForce RTX (2) Intel integrated graphics 9th Generation "Skylake" or newer.

3 DirectX 12 requires Shader Model 6.0 or newer

4 Internet access required for installation, license authentication, deactivation and video & library catalog access. Internet access for license authentication is required once every 14 days.

5 GPU real‑time ray tracing requires a Windows 10 computer with an NVIDIA RTX or an AMD Radeon RX 6000 series graphics card, see the Recommended System Requirements. The Mac version supports CPU ray tracing.

Known Incompatibilities

Tips for Buying a New Computer

If you are thinking about purchasing a new computer to run Chief Architect, read our ChiefBlog article to learn more about computer specifications.