8 Key Differences Between Tableau and Power BI: Which to Select?

Are you confused about choosing between Tableau and Power BI tools for your organization?

Because both business analytics tools are the titans of the Business Intelligence (BI) industry and are known as the most popular business intelligence tools.

Tableau is one of the best data visualization tools with a unique interface. Tableau’s VizQL query language makes it challenging for you to adapt to it quickly. Whereas, Power BI relies on Data Analysis Expression (DAX) to compile and manipulate data.

Most functions and features of Power BI are highly similar to Excel. Therefore, advanced Excel users get accustomed to using Power BI much sooner. Due to the vast number of similarities, most organizations are left dazed while choosing one for their business. Here are the key differences between Power BI and Tableau to help you make the decision.

8 Key Differences Between Tableau and Power BI

Here is a quick comparison of both business analytics tools Power BI and Tableau on multiple factors.

Factors Tableau Power BI
Ease of use The learning process for Tableau can be challenging as it has its own query language called the VizQL. But, once mastered, Tableau, the data visualization tool, enables the user to create comprehensive data charts and reports with ease. Power BI is comparatively easier to learn due to its resemblance to Microsoft Excel features. Avid users also praise the drag-and-drop feature on the tool interface to create business data reports with ease.
  • Data blending
  • DAX analysis functions
  • Apply filters
  • Import data
  • Real-time analysis
  • Drag and drop
  • Toggle view
  • Customized dashboard
  • Datasets
  • Power BI reports
  • Q&A question box
  • Navigation Pan
  • Trend indicators
  • Data visualization tools
Pricing For enterprises, the minimum licensing cost is around $15000/year. The different products have prices ranging from $12 to $70 per user/month. The desktop version is free and has limited tools. Power BI packages start from $9.99 to $20 per user/month. The minimum licensing cost is around $4995/per capacity/month. The low cost might attract more users to the Power BI tool.
Speed Tableau is great at handling large volumes of data without any lag issues. You can utilize an infinite number of columns, data points, and rows to process their data. The processing speed of Power BI is faster when the volume of the data is lower. The speed gradually decreases as the size of data increases.
Data Modeling Tableau data Such as multiple dimensions for a single fact table are not supported. However, users can establish single active relationships between multiple tables as well as define multiple relationships for multiple fields. Power BI is entirely based on the logical data model approach. Hence, users can easily create multi-dimensional tables without any lag. Users also rely on DAX to replace active relationships with inactive ones. The only problem of Power BI is its inability to create relationships using multiple fields. But, this can be overcome by concatenating the fields.
Integrations Tableau is most compatible with SQL and R integration. MySQL, SAP, Google Analytics platform, and other databases can also be integrated with Tableau. Power BI is most compatible with Office 365 due to the Microsoft connection. In addition to that, R integration and Microsoft SQL Server can be easily integrated into the system. However, Power BI does not have as many data connectors as Tableau. But, Power BI has been updating its system library with new connectors and APIs on a monthly basis.
Deployment Tableau can be easily integrated with pre-existing systems like AWS, GCP, and similar on-premise software. Power BI can only be operated with the Azure cloud system. If the organization wants to install it in their on-premise systems (in Power BI Report Server), they have to use a Data Gateway link to connect with Power BI.

What is Power BI?

Ever thought about what Microsoft Power BI does? Microsoft developed Power BI to be an interactive tool to analyze and visualize data. The primary focus was to provide business intelligence solutions for databases and reporting.

What is Tableau?

Tableau is also an interactive visualization software developed in 2003. Due to the massive popularity of this business intelligence tool, Salesforce bought it in 2019.

Moving further, let’s check the difference between both data analytics tools in detail.

An In-depth Comparison Between Power BI vs Tableau

The following in-depth comparison between Power BI vs Tableau will help you to understand its core difference and help you to choose the best fit for your business requirements.

  1. Products – Power BI vs Tableau

    4 Best Tableau Products

    Tableau Desktop
    Tableau Desktop can be directly downloaded to Microsoft and Linux-based systems. You can install this software on your desktop from any web browser. This Desktop software tool allows you to visualize, analyze, and access data. Even when you are offline, you can access datasets and make impactful decisions for your business.

    Tableau Creator
    Tableau Creator is based on Tableau Desktop. This version is most suitable for people actively working with Google Analytics, Microsoft products, and Hadoop. Tableau also offers a cost-effective version of Tableau Creator known as the Tableau explorer plan, which is more fitting for users who only use dashboards.

    Tableau Online
    While Tableau Desktop is a client-based tool that requires a software download, Tableau Online is hosted on its website and is accessible without downloading on your systems. However, the Tableau online version lacks a few critical elements of the desktop version. For example, adding filters and parameters to the dashboard is comparatively tricky in the online version. You can create views for the data only available on the server in the online version. But, with the desktop version, handling data is more straightforward.

    Tableau Server
    Tableau Server is for enterprises that want full autonomy over their data. The software is installed on the company devices, and the employees can access all the data using a shared cloud data storage system.

    3 Best Power BI Products

    Power BI Desktop
    Power BI Desktop is a free data analysis and visualization tool offered by Microsoft. The Power BI Desktop connects with 70 data sources to help you upload data to servers without any hassle. The Power BI files can also be shared across systems through the Microsoft cloud services. As a result, these files can be seamlessly accessed through the Power BI Mobile apps.

    Power BI Pro
    Power BI Pro is much more powerful than the desktop version. Businesses mostly use it to increase data-driven collaboration. It allows you to quickly discover insights into business data. Also, allows you to prevent data loss by managing a centralized system. However, companies have to take a subscription to use the services.

    Power BI Premium
    The premium version allows more flexibility regarding data sharing and report publishing. Companies can publish reports across the entire organization with ease. One of the key benefits of using Power BI premium is that it removes the requirement for individual licenses. This is also a subscription-based service where the organization is charged per user.

    Winner: Tie

    Reason: Power BI and Tableau offer similar products for beginner, professional, and enterprise-level usage.

  2. Pricing – Power BI vs Tableau

    Tableau Power BI
    Basic Version: Free Basic Version: Free
    For Individuals:

    • Tableau Creator: $70 per user/month
    For Individuals:

    • Power BI Pro: $9.99 per user/month
    • Power BI Premium: $20 per user/month
    For Teams and Organizations:

    • Tableau Creator: $70 per user/month
    • Tableau Explorer: $42 per user/month
    • Tableau Viewer: $15 per user/month
    For Organizations:

    • Power BI Premium: $4,995 per capacity/month
    Tip: If you are an individual, opt for Power BI as it has two plans for your requirements and costs less when compared to Tableau. Whereas, if you are an organization with a limited budget, choose Tableau, as it has various plans for your dynamic needs.
  3. Ease of Use – Power BI vs Tableau

    Tableau users create reports and data representations with ease. It is only natural as Tableau is created to prioritize data visualization. The drag-and-drop feature is also on par with that of Power BI. The interface is less intuitive but ensures that experienced data analysts can easily transform data into visualizations.

    Power BI
    As mentioned above, Power BI has an amazing drag-and-drop feature that helps novice users to navigate the tools and create data visualizations. Power BI is preferred by users who do more data research and reporting. Microsoft, the parent company, makes it easier to create reports using Microsoft Excel.

    Winner: Power BI

    Reason: Power BI interface is easy to use and even allows non-technical users to create stunning data visualizations compared to Tableau. You can create good reports using Microsoft Power BI.

  4. Integrations – Tableau vs Power BI

    Tableau is compatible with most data sources like MySQL, SAP, Google Analytics, and other databases. But, mostly, integration with R and SQL is preferable. Tableau’s integrations are comparatively more powerful than Power BI. During the integration process, the users can choose the data and examine it before finalizing the connection.

    Power BI
    Most users complimented Power BI’s compatibility with Office 365, R integration, and SQL. Power BI provides all the required APIs and connectors to make it easier for the users. Even then, the connectors lack the advanced features offered by Tableau. Power BI has been adding numerous APIs and connectors to its library monthly to overcome this.

    Winner: Tableau

    Reason: Tableau leads in data sources integration, while Power BI still plays catch up.

  5. Features – Power BI vs Tableau

    Features Tableau Power BI
    Data Sources Tableau is often praised for the total number of connectors and APIs available for integrating data. Additionally, the ease of deployment on various pre-existing platforms makes it the go-to business solution software for organizations. Compared to Tableau, Power BI is far ahead in working with multiple data sources. External data sources can be easily imported into established data sets, and the convenience of out-of-the-box imports has always impressed the users. Power BI also offers real-time connectivity to big data using multiple data streams.
    Customizability Tableau is unmatched when it comes to customization and visualization. data modelers have limitless options for editing charts, adding custom formulas, creating customized and interactive dashboards, and pivoting data. Tableau’s endless customization capabilities are easily better than Power BI. Power BI focuses on offering customization and templates for creating Power BI dashboards and data charts. However, its customizability is not as extensive as Tableau.
    Data Filters Tableau does not have enough data filters to impress regular users. They have to rely on third-party APIs for slicing and dicing data. Due to the Microsoft connection, Power BI has a wide breadth of data filters. These filters are also very similar to the ones available in Microsoft Excel, increasing their usability. Excel users new to data analytics appreciate the comfort of using familiar filters in Power BI.
    AI/ML capabilities Tableau boasts AI/ML capabilities in its latest version. Its live query capabilities provide the option to ask queries using natural language and receive answers in the form of data visualization. This feature is known as Ask Data. Grouping, predictive analysis, and intelligent recommendation are some of the other ML capabilities available in Tableau. Similar to the Ask Data feature of Tableau, Power BI has Q&A. Users can ask queries and receive answers in the form of ready-made data visualization. Power BI users can also develop their preferred machine learning models utilizing the Azure connection.

    Winner: Power BI

    Reason: In Power BI vs Tableau, Power BI wins here. While both the data visualization software/ business intelligence platforms have advanced features, Power BI’s Azure connection opens new avenues for machine learning engineers.

  6. Speed – Power BI vs Tableau

    Tableau handles data in larger quantities compared to Power BI. It has a faster processing speed and provides various features to simplify and visualize the processed data. Furthermore, there is no limitation on the number of rows, columns, and data points. Consequently, Tableau offers a comprehensive view of your data without any hindrances.

    Power BI
    Power BI is also quite agile and resilient regarding solution speeds. Power BI is faster than Tableau when the volume is lower. As the volume increases, Power BI struggles and becomes slow.

    Winner: Tableau

    Large enterprises mostly utilize these SaaS tools to analyze and visualize large volumes of data. Hence, Tableau is ahead due to volume handling capabilities. However, Microsoft Power BI is preferred by individual users (or data analysts) processing a limited quantity of data.

  7. Deployment- Power BI vs Tableau

    One of the advantages of using Tableau is that it can be easily incorporated into existing digital infrastructures like Windows, Linus, Public Cloud, GCP, AWS, and other on-premise software. The performance indicators also turn positive when most data is stored in the clouds.

    Power BI
    If an organization is planning to use Power BI, it needs to migrate to the Azure cloud platform. This can be inconvenient for enterprises already working with pre-existing infrastructures like GCP and AWS. And, for on-premise download, organizations also need Data Gateway to link the data sources to the Power BI software.

    Winner: Tableau

    Reason: Since Azure is the only cloud option to use Microsoft Power BI, it significantly hampers its ease of deployment, giving the win to Tableau.

  8. Data Modeling – Power BI vs Tableau

    Tableau uses a logical data approach model to create the datasets. This approach is relatively new in Tableau; hence it lacks some features regarding data modeling. For example, building a multiple facts table with multiple dimensions is not supported in Tableau. However, when it comes to defining relationships with multiple fields, Tableau takes the lead. Tableau users also establish a single active relationship between multiple tables.

    Power BI
    Unlike in Tableau, the fundamentals of the logical data approach model have been the driving force of the Power BI tool since its inception. Thus, Power BI users can create multiple fact tables with numerous dimensions without facing any issues. Single active relationships can be quickly established in Power BI. In addition, multiple inactive relationships can be entered in the same table. data modelers can use DAX (Data Analysis Expressions) to replace the active relationship with definitive inactive relationships. Power BI has a small lacuna when using multiple fields to define relationships. However, this can be easily overcome by creating a single key by concatenating or coupling the fields.

    Winner: Tie

    Reason: No single feature truly puts any SaaS program in the lead. Both data visualization tools have certain weaknesses and easy solutions.

    This was a detailed comparison of both business analytics tools. If you have more questions regarding these two tools, then check the following FAQ section.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the cost of Tableau and Power BI?

Power BI and Tableau both have a wide range of products to meet the different demands of the users. Power BI and Tableau desktop are completely free versions. While enterprise versions have a minimum licensing fee of $4995 for Power BI and $15000 for Tableau. The price can increase depending on the number of users onboarding to the software.

Which is the trending software between Power BI and Tableau?

Google Trends

As per Google Trends, recently, the comparison of Power BI and Tableau software shows that Power BI is more popular on the internet.

What are the drawbacks of Power BI?

One of the most glaring drawbacks of Power BI is the limited sharing process for platforms other than Azure. Microsoft Power BI also struggles while processing large data sets.

What are the drawbacks of Tableau?

Tableau is a powerful business intelligence tool but has a steep learning curve as it has its query language, VizQL. Some of the end-user functionalities are limited due to fewer filters.


As you know the difference between Tableau and Power BI, now you can select the right business analysis tool based on your business requirements and what you want to achieve with the business analysis tool. If you are still confused, you can use both before finalizing anyone. After all, both SaaS programs offer a free version and trial periods for this reason.

Gaurang Bhatt

Written by

Gaurang Bhatt

Gaurang has 15+ years of experience solving complex business problems and enabling businesses with data-driven decisions using data analysis and predictive modeling tools like Tableau, Power BI, Looker, and Google Data Studio. His expertise lies in data visualization, reporting, and creating ETL pipelines. In addition, he is passionate about exploring different technologies like machine learning and AI. He shares his knowledge and learnings on the LabsMedia platform.