Power BI vs Excel – Discover the Pros and Cons of these great platforms


Overwhelmed with all the reports you need to prepare? Do you need a better way to manage all the data you have? Good news! Microsoft has two great options for you – Power BI vs Excel

We all know that data is power. It is essential in every aspect of business—whether for accounting, finance, marketing, operations, and research. But what’s the best tool to visualize the data you have and get the insights you need? Let’s drill down the features of each product.

What Is Power BI?

Are you having difficulty gathering and understanding data from different sources?

Let’s face it, as a business owner, it’s a tedious task to analyze data from different sources. Have you ever wished to have it all in one place and get insights at a glance? If so, what you need is a software solution that has AI capabilities and sophisticated data analytics and visualization tools—that is what Power Bi is all about.

Power BI stands for Business Intelligence. It is ideal for consolidating, managing, and visualizing big data from different sources into one platform. It makes gathering insights fast and easy, regardless of the amount of data one has to digest.

With Power BI, you can discover relevant information, get and share insights with the team as it can connect to excel spreadsheets, cloud, all sorts of databases, and flat files. It is not only for business owners and enterprises, but for professionals who work heavily with data such as research, national government, and the like.


  • Advanced AI capabilities – Extract important information by recognizing an image, analyzing text, and identifying the key drivers while seamlessly integrating it with Azure Machine Learning.
  • Data visualizations – Regardless of how complex it is, Power BI visualizes your data into infographics or interactive presentations that would suit your audience.
  • Dashboarding – Simplify all the data insights you got and have it all at one glance for easier monitoring.
  • Reporting – Keep everyone aligned by sharing reports with the team. With Power BI, you can generate a single sheet or multiple-page reports with adjustable filters that allow users to see specific data.
  • Accessibility– Anyone who has been granted access can view, manage, and edit the data even on their mobile phones.
  • Intuitive interface– Everything is intuitive and easy to navigate.
  • Third-party data integration– You can connect it to different apps and platforms to import and export data.
  • Uncompromising security – Apart from end-to-end encryption, it is built on Azure’s system and uses the same security control as used by organizations with the world’s most sensitive data.
  • Real-time access monitoring– It lets you and the team stream, make changes, and update the information in real-time.

These are all important factors when you are comparing power bi vs excel.

Pros and Cons of Power BI

AffordabilityTable Relationships
Custom and Interactive VisualizationsConfiguration of Visuals
Excel IntegrationCrowded User Interface
Data ConnectivityRigid Formulas
Prompt UpdatesHandling Large Data Volumes
Power BI EmbeddedComplex to Understand and Master
Data Accessibility
What are the Pros and Cons of Power BI

What Is Excel?

Excel is another great tool to input, sort numbers, and data with formulas.  It is widely used by students, professionals, and entrepreneurs for basic data analysis. Organizations use it for all business functions, but most especially for financial analysis. However, there is a limit to what excel can handle, as it can only store and analyze a certain amount of data.

Some people get confused when in Microsoft excel when it comes to the different formats available in Excel, so we have made this easier for your – Check out our article on the difference between Microsoft xls vs xlsx.


  • Graphical presentations of data into the chart and picture format – you can present the data in charts, free form shapes, smart and clip arts.
    • Chart options – column, line, area, scatter, data series, axes, chart sheet, trendline, combination chart, Gantt, Pareto, and gauge. 
  • DataBase to input, store, sort, and manage up to 1 million records – summarize and sort information with pivot tables, slicers, sparklines, sort, filter, data validations, and grouping.
  • Functional tools to formulate and calculate data – it has over 300 built-in formulas to calculate information and automate repetitive tasks.
  • Sort by order, color, list, and function
    • Filter by number, date, text, data, and values
    • Conditional Formatting by rules, bars, color scales, icons, and heat map
    •  Pivot Tables options – group, multi-level, frequency distribution, slicers, calculated field, and pivot data
  • Analysis tools to get insights from data – What-if analysis, histogram, statistics, ANOVA, f-test, moving average, t-test, z-test, regression, correlation, and tables for quick analysis.

Did you know any of these differences between power bi vs excel?

Pros and Cons of Microsoft Excel

AffordabilityLearning Curve
Data OrganizationCalculation Errors
Third-Party SupportTime Consuming
Office IntegrationSystem Compatibility
Statistical Analysis
What are the Pros and Cons of Microsoft Excel

Similarities between the two platforms

  • Both are used in data sorting and visualization
  • Both can create dashboards
  • Both use pivot
  • Both can add integrations

Difference between Excel and PowerBI

ExcelIdeal for tabular financial reports and forecasts  
Allows duplicate tables     
Mostly used for deep driver analysis  
Limited data handling  
Doesn’t allow cross-filtering between charts  
For surface-level analytics  
Can slow down when processing a large data set  
Not mobile-optimized  
Power BIIdeal for big data analysis and visualizations through KPIs and dashboards.  
Allows advanced cross-filtering between charts  
For high-level analytics  
Flexible data sharing  
Uncompromising data security  
Can build up customized reports  
Speed processing even for the larger data set  
Mobile-optimized and suitable for any device  
Can’t show duplicate tables  
Premium access is expensive

Pricing difference between Excel and Power BI

The minimum cost for Power BI is $9.99 per month while excel is $1.99 only.  Power BI is expensive compared to excel, but it is considered cost-efficient with all the benefits that it can provide. It allows you and the people in your organization to have an automated and efficient workflow while having data-driven decisions.  There are also other premium features that you can integrate as you upgrade your subscription.

  Power BI Pro  $9.99 Per-user/month    Self-service analytics Data visualizations with dashboards and reports Data and insights sharing to multiple channels/teams  
Power BI Premium – per user$20 Per-user/month 2  Includes the core functions of Power BI Pro AI capabilities for advanced insights generation Big data preparation Easy data management Enterprise-level access    
Power BI Premium – per capacityStarts from $4,995 Per capacity/month    Includes all the functionality in Power BI Premium   Enables content publishing   Autoscale is allowed with an Azure subscription    

If you are unsure yet if Power BI is the right software for your business needs, you may get started with a free trial. Simply download the Power BI desktop application and start generating reports and visualizations for free. You can even work on the go with the Power BI Mobile app. Both applications are free.

As for Excel, it is already part of Microsoft Office 365 subscriptions. Almost everyone already has it installed in their operating system, but there’s also a free version of it for Mac users. There’s also a free web-based version of excel accessible through one drive.

It’s hard to say that one tool is better than the other as both have advantages and disadvantages. It would depend on what the user needs. To sum it up, Excel is mainly for organizing data with numbers and formulas, whereas Power Bi is for enterprises handling a large amount of data.

Advantages of Power BI over Excel

Power Bi is for extensive data analysis that requires AI capabilities and is designed for deep data gathering and insights. If the goal is to have the data in a spreadsheet and calculate the mathematical and statistical formula, then Excel is the tool to use.

You may start with excel and move to Power BI as needed because excel can also be integrated into Power BI. But for a data-driven organization that requires high-level data visualization, reporting, and collaboration, better to invest in Power BI right away.