Published on

January 3, 2024


Comparing PowerBI vs Tableau: Which is Better?

Power BI and Tableau are powerful data visualization and business intelligence tools. But which one should you choose? Find out today!
Julia Dunlea
VP of Marketing

In the world of data visualization, Power BI and Tableau are titans that stand out. Each platform brings a unique blend of capabilities to the table, catering to a range of user needs and preferences.

Today, we're taking a deep dive into these two industry leaders. We'll explore their key features, strengths, and weaknesses. Make an informed decision for your next data analysis workflow!

Key Takeaways

  • Power BI and Tableau are widely used data visualization tools, each with distinct differences in user interface, data integration, customization and pricing options;
  • Tableau offers a wide range of powerful visualizations for analysis while Power BI provides more analytical features. Both offer various licensing plans to suit individual needs, but Tableau is on the pricier side from the get-go;
  • PowerBI has a deeper integration with Microsoft services, while Tableau is industry-agnostic and provides faster connectors for third-party services;

Power BI and Tableau: An Overview

Comparison of PowerBI and Tableau with their logos and a person in the middle

Power BI and Tableau are powerful data visualization and business intelligence tools, each tailored to distinct user needs and preferences.

Power BI and Tableau are both designed to fulfill the specific requirements and preferences of data analysts, who are looking to harness the potential of data visualization and business intelligence. These tools enable professionals in the field to construct interactive visualizations, carry out comprehensive data modelling, and analyze large, complex datasets with simplicity and efficiency.

Power BI

Power BI offers interactive visualizations and business intelligence capabilities with a user-friendly interface for creating reports and dashboards.

Microsoft Power BI was initially made available to the public in 2011 and has since gained popularity among Azure customers who predominantly rely on Microsoft products for analytics.

Power BI leverages Microsoft systems such as Excel, Azure, and SQL, providing a comprehensive set of tools for data analysis, visualization, and dissemination. The Power BI platform comprises of key elements like:

  • Power BI Desktop: A Windows desktop application for creating interactive reports and dashboards.
  • Power BI Service: An online SaaS (Software as a Service) service for viewing and sharing Power BI apps and dashboards.
  • Power BI Mobile Apps: These are native mobile BI apps for iOS and Android devices that allow users to access and interact with Power BI dashboards and reports on the go.
  • Power BI Gateway: A bridge between Power BI cloud service and the data source on-premises, enabling scheduled data refresh and live queries.
  • Power BI Report Server: An on-premises report server where users can publish Power BI reports, keeping all their data and reports behind their organization's firewall.

Each of these components provides users with a range of capabilities for data analytics and insights. Power BI’s smooth integration with Office 365 enables users already familiar with these programs to quickly get started.

With its user-friendly interface, comprehensive library of templates and visualizations, and analytical features like Data Analysis Expression and the M language, Power BI caters to “power” users such as analysts and data professionals.


Tableau, founded in 2003, is a user-friendly business intelligence tool that facilitates the rapid analysis and exploration of large and complex datasets without the need for coding or programming expertise.

With its initial release in 2004, Tableau has gained traction among businesses and organizations seeking to make data-driven decisions, thanks to its user-friendly interface and strong visualization features.

Tableau offers three main products:

  1. Tableau Desktop: designed for creating and publishing visualizations.
  2. Tableau Server: enables the sharing and collaboration of data and visualizations within an organization.
  3. Tableau Prep: used for data preparation and cleaning before analysis.
  4. Tableau AI: the upcoming AI assistant for your data.
  5. Tableau Cloud: An online platform offering the full capabilities of Tableau without the need for hardware.

Tableau also provides a wide selection of data source integrations and is well-suited for handling larger datasets, thanks to its tableau software development kit. It offers aesthetically pleasing data visualizations with more extensive customization possibilities than Power BI.

Key Differences Between Power BI and Tableau

Power BI vs Tableau Comparison
Aspect Power BI Tableau
User Interface Intuitive, Excel-like UI; Q&A box for natural language queries. Complex but flexible; advanced features; "Show Me" panel.
Data Integration Strong integration with Microsoft tools; supports wide range of data sources. Connects to various data sources; may require extra setup.
Collaboration Easy sharing; automatic data refresh; mobile app. Tableau Server/Online; interactive web views; manual data refresh.
Visualization Capabilities Wide range of built-in options; custom visuals through programming. Advanced and diverse options; "Show Me" function; emphasizes data storytelling.
Analytical Features and Performance Range of analytical tools; integrates with Azure ML; AI-driven features. Suited for advanced analytics; comprehensive analysis tools.
Pricing Starts at less than $10/user/month; Premium at $4,995/month. Tableau Creator at $70/user/month; Explorer for on-premises at $35/user/month.

When comparing Power BI and Tableau, we need to look at their core differences, such as:

  • User interface
  • Data integratio & Connectors
  • Collaboration
  • Visualization Capabilities
  • Analytical Features and Performance
  • Pricing

User Interface

Power BI

PowerBI user interface
Copyright Microsoft

Power BI's user interface is intuitive and straightforward, making it a popular choice for users who are familiar with other Microsoft products. Its layout is reminiscent of Excel, featuring a ribbon-style menu at the top and a navigation pane on the left. Users can easily drag and drop fields onto the canvas to create visuals, with the option to customize these visuals using the formatting pane. The interface also includes a Q&A box for natural language queries, a feature that is particularly useful for users who are not comfortable with coding or scripting.


Tableau user interface
Copyright Tableau

Tableau's user interface, on the other hand, is more complex but also more flexible. It offers a range of advanced features and controls that allow users to create highly customized and interactive visualizations. The main workspace in Tableau is divided into shelves, where users can drag and drop data fields to build visuals. The interface also includes a "Show Me" panel that suggests suitable visualizations based on the data selected. However, the learning curve for Tableau can be steeper, particularly for users who are new to data visualization.

Data Integration

Power BI

Power BI shines when it comes to data integration, especially if you're already using Microsoft's suite of tools. It has a deep connection with Microsoft services like Excel, Azure, and SQL Server, allowing you to easily bring in data from these sources. It also supports a wide range of other data sources, from simple CSV files to complex databases. This means you can pull together data from different places, creating a comprehensive view of your business.


Tableau also excels in data integration. It is capable of connecting to a variety of data sources, ranging from spreadsheets to SQL databases, and even cloud services like Google Analytics and Salesforce. This makes it a versatile tool if your data is spread across different platforms. However, it's worth mentioning that while Tableau can connect to many data sources, it may require some additional steps or technical knowledge to set up these connections compared to Power BI.


Power BI

When it comes to collaboration, Power BI makes it easy to share your findings with others. You can create reports and dashboards and then share them with your team or the entire organization. This is done through the Power BI service, which is a cloud-based platform. Here, you can publish your reports and dashboards, and others can view and interact with them.

You can also set up automatic data refresh, so your colleagues always see the latest data. Plus, with the Power BI mobile app, you can access your dashboards and reports on the go.


Tableau also supports collaboration but in a slightly different way. With Tableau Server or Tableau Online, you can publish your dashboards and share them with others. Your colleagues can then interact with your dashboards in their web browser. They can filter the data, drill down into details, and even create their own views. Tableau also offers the ability to add comments to dashboards, which can be useful for discussions and feedback.

Visualization Capabilities

Power BI

PowerBI data visualization
PowerBI Visualization from their official website. Copyright Microsoft

Power BI is known for its user-friendly visualization capabilities. It provides a wide range of visualization options right out of the box, including charts, graphs, and maps. Users can easily create interactive visualizations by dragging and dropping data fields onto the canvas. The platform also allows for the customization of these visuals, enabling users to tailor the appearance to their specific needs.

Additionally, Power BI supports the creation of custom visuals using its own programming language, providing even more flexibility for users who want to create unique visualizations.


Tableau data visualization
Tableau Visualization from their official website. Copyright Tableau.

Tableau is renowned for its advanced and flexible data visualization capabilities. It offers a diverse range of visualization options, allowing users to create everything from simple bar graphs to complex heat maps. A standout feature of Tableau is its "Show Me" function, which suggests the most suitable visualization types based on the data selected. This makes it easier for users to choose the right visualization for their data.

Tableau places a strong emphasis on data storytelling, an aspect that is less prominent in Power BI, which is primarily a business suite. This focus on storytelling allows users to create a narrative with their data, making it more engaging and understandable.

Analytical Features and Performance


Power BI is equipped with many tools for analyzing data. It allows users to perform functions on data, identify unusual data points, group data, and bin data. It also lets users add dynamic reference lines to visuals and highlight important trends or insights. Power BI has AI-driven features too. These include anomaly detection, key influencers, decomposition trees, smart narratives, and context-specific insights. Power BI can also be integrated with Azure Machine Learning for more advanced analytics.


Tableau, meanwhile, is excellent for advanced analytics and use cases that are centered around data science. It gives users powerful tools for comprehensive analysis and generating insightful reports with a range of custom options. While both tools have analytical features, Tableau's advanced capabilities make it the preferred choice for users who need to do in-depth data exploration and analysis.

Pricing and Licensing Options

Power BI is generally more affordable than Tableau, with different pricing plans catering to various user needs and budgets. The Power BI Professional edition costs less than $10 per user per month, while the annual membership is approximately $100. Power BI also offers a Power BI Premium plan, which provides enhanced features including AI capabilities, direct query dataflows, self-service data prep, 100TBs of storage space, and 48 refreshes per day, starting at $4,995 per month.

Tableau provides three plans namely: Tableau Viewer, Tableau Explorer, and Tableau Creator. The Tableau Creator plan is priced at $70 per user per month, making it more expensive than Power BI’s Professional edition. Tableau Explorer for on-premises deployment costs $35 per user per month.

Why you should choose PowerBI

Power BI is a cost-effective solution that turns data into easy-to-understand visuals. It's great for visually exploring and analyzing data, and for sharing interactive dashboards and reports with your team. Plus, it's highly scalable, so it works well for both small businesses and large corporations.

If you're already using Microsoft's suite of tools, Power BI is a natural choice. It integrates seamlessly with Microsoft services like Excel, Azure, and SQL Server, making data collection straightforward. It also supports a wide range of other data sources, so you can create a comprehensive view of your business.

Power BI's user-friendly interface makes it accessible even to those new to data analytics. However, the lock-in of certain features can be prominent if you don't have SQL knowledge. Some features in Power BI require SQL knowledge, such as creating custom calculations using DAX formulas or writing SQL queries to connect to certain data sources

Why you should choose Tableau

Tableau is your go-to if you're seeking a tool that prioritizes data exploration and visualization. It's a robust platform that enables users to dive deep into their data, uncovering insights that may not be immediately apparent. With its wide array of visualization options and its "Show Me" feature, Tableau empowers you to tell compelling stories with your data, making it easier for stakeholders to understand and act on your findings.

Tableau's flexibility is another strong point. It can connect to a diverse range of data sources, making it adaptable to various data environments. This versatility is particularly useful if your data is spread across different platforms and you need a tool that can bring it all together effectively.

Finally, Tableau's advanced features make it a great choice for those who need to perform complex analysis. There must be a reason why the company held a 17.7% back in 2020. It's a tool that grows with you, able to handle everything from your basic data visualization needs to more intricate data science applications - given that you have the internal knowledge to take advantage of it.

Akkio: A Modern Alternative to Power BI and Tableau

Akkio, a modern alternative to Power BI and Tableau, brings a no-code AI platform to the table. It's designed to offer data analysis and insights, and allows analysts to create their own machine learning models with ease.

Akkio’s platform offers the following features:

  • Powerful and user-friendly interface;
  • Quick insights with the Insights Report;
  • AutoML to predict and forecast. Training time takes less than 1 minute for our faster models;
  • Chart Generation with GPT-4: anyone can create graphs and dashboards using plain english to describe what they're looking for. We support 20+ chart types;
  • Conversational data preparation: with Chat Data Prep, you don't need SQL anymore;
  • Affordable pricing starting at $49/m, with a 14 days free trial available. No credit card required.

As a modern alternative to Power BI and Tableau, Akkio offers a wide range of data connection sources and analytics features, making it a compelling choice for businesses seeking to harness the power of AI for data analysis and insights.


In conclusion, both Power BI and Tableau are powerful data visualization and business intelligence tools, each catering to different user needs and preferences.

Power BI offers greater affordability and seamless integration with Microsoft products, while Tableau provides a user-friendly interface and advanced data exploration capabilities.

Ultimately, the choice between Power BI and Tableau will depend on the user’s unique needs, preferences, and budget. By understanding the key differences, strengths, and weaknesses of each tool, users can make an informed decision and select the best platform to meet their data analytics and visualization requirements.

By clicking “Accept”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Privacy Policy for more information.