Since Version 2009, 3D Studio max was created in 2 categories:
3D Studio Max & 3D Studio Max design.
| There are only subtle differences between the visualization and animation applications Autodesk 3ds Max 2009/10 and Autodesk 3ds Max Design 2009/10.|
You can perform the same operations with both of them. 3ds Max Design version has an additional module for lighting analysis (Exposure) useful for architects, and - unlike the Max version - it does not include the Software Development Kit (SDK) for 3rd party developers. Other functions, the file format and plugin compatibility are the same.
If you are a game developer, or use Max for film effects or special animations, pick 3ds Max.
If you are a CAD designer, architect or mechanical engineer, choose 3ds Max Design