Power Pivot and Power BI - Similarities and Differences

Power Pivot And Power BI – Perfect Guide To Differences And Similarities

Whenever it comes to getting business insights by processing large chunks of data, Excel is not enough. Two popular tools can help you do so, Power Pivot and Power BI. Although both the tools are offered by Microsoft and can be used for data analysis, they share differences.

We compare the Power BI vs. Power Pivot to help you understand what they have in common and yet what makes them different from each other.

Comparison of Power Pivot and Power BI

Power Pivot is the Excel add-in that helps users perform complex calculations and import large amounts of data from different sources. In contrast, Power BI is a data visualization tool that helps users tell the story by representing the analyzed data in a visual form.

You can get business insights using both these tools, but the way they represent the insights is quite different. Let’s check the comparison of Power Pivot and Power BI.

Features Power Pivot Power BI
Software Type Add-in for Excel SaaS (Software as a Service)
Uses Used as data analysis and calculation tool Used as a data visualization tool
Can work on raw data Yes Yes
Connectivity with SaaS services No Yes
Collect data from various sources for processing Yes Yes
Visualization Can create charts, pivot charts, and other basic analytical models Can create complex models that are difficult or impossible to create in Excel
Sharing of Reports The person needs to have Excel to view the reports. You can still view them in a browser if they are shared through SharePoint. Anyone can view the reports without having to install any specific app or software. The sender and recipient need to have a Power BI Pro license if they are not on the Premium List. You can embed reports into websites and blogs for public viewing, but here there is no control over who is viewing your report.
Learning curve and training If you know Excel, you can get started with Power Pivot without any special training. You need to learn and understand the tool thoroughly before using it.
Formula Language DAX DAX and M
User Interface It is not visually appealing and intuitive. It is intuitive and can be understood easily.
Automatic Reports Refresh No Yes, you can schedule the reports to get them generated automatically in specific durations.
Components Power Pivot is a unified tool, and there are no differentiable components. There are three main parts of Power BI, where each part does different tasks:

Power BI Desktop, Service, and Mobile apps

Dashboard customization option No Yes
Reports in tabular form Yes No
Pricing Comes with Excel and Office products; no need to purchase separately. Power BI Pro starts at USD 9.99 per month.

Caption: Comparison table for Power Pivot and Power BI

Now you know the differences and similarities between both of these tools. If you are already in the Microsoft ecosystem, you can choose which one to adopt from these two tools for your use case.

However, if you are not already in the Microsoft ecosystem and are looking for the best data visualization service to pick, you might also want to consider Google Data Studio. Our comparison of Power BI vs Google Data Studio may help with that.


It is easy to get confused between various tools available for processing and analyzing data because they all perform similar tasks. Both Power Pivot and Power BI can collect data from multiple sources, process it, and generate reports. However, there is a significant difference in the way they do these tasks.

Power BI is primarily a data visualization tool, and therefore it can represent data in a form that can impress your investors and clients. On the other hand, if you only want to perform complex calculations and don’t care about the presentation technique, you can opt for Power Pivot, which comes in free with Excel.

The final decision of which tool to opt for, be it Power Pivot and Power BI, depends on your business needs, types of clients, and data to be processed.



Understanding power pivot

What Is Power Pivot And 3 Reasons To Use It With Microsoft Excel

Excel is used to handle data in businesses, irrespective of the company’s size. However, when the business data increases, it becomes difficult to analyze it and get insights with Excel. People opt for VLOOKUP and Pivot tables to handle data, but it is a tedious task to do with Excel’s limitations.

This is where the Power Pivot comes to the rescue. If you have heard of it before and are wondering ‘what is Power Pivot,’ you are at the right place, as we have answered it in detail below.

What is Power Pivot?

Well, what is Power Pivot? It is an add-in for Excel introduced by Microsoft in 2010. It can help you work around data in a sophisticated way. With Power Pivot’s help, you can work with the data beyond 1,048,576 rows, which is Excel’s limitations.

Power Pivot creates the data model (data related to each other) by collecting data from different sources. It also helps you to perform complex calculations to analyze data and present insights in a readable form.

You don’t have to rely on VLOOKUP to collect data and analyze it once you know how to work with Power Pivot. Also, the Power Pivot doesn’t require special training and infrastructure to start working with it.

You can just add it to your Excel and start analyzing your data.

Features of Power Pivot

After finding out what is Power Pivot, time to check some exciting features that make it so popular among data analysts and people who handle large volumes of data.

1. Work on Data from Different Data Sources

Power Pivot allows you to combine data from multiple sources in the form of a table, where each table can have relationships. You can have this data in a single Excel workbook. It allows you to collect information from SharePoint and SQL with few clicks.

2. Load Large Data Sets in Memory

Power Pivot uses the xVelocity engine to store large data sets in the memory. It usually compresses the data so that it can be compact and stored in the memory easily.

This also assures faster-processing speed on the calculations you want to run on the data sets.

3. Analytical Models

You can create visual models on Excel to present the analyzed data in the readable format with the help of Power Pivot. It allows you to create PivotTable, Chart and Table, PivotChart, Four Charts, Two Charts, and Flattened PivotTable.

You can also save the data model diagram view in the high-resolution form.

4. Security and Management

The IT administrators can manage and monitor the applications shared by using Power Pivot Management Dashboard to make sure there is security, performance, and high availability.

5. Faster Processing

With the help of a multi-core processor and gigabytes of memory, you can achieve faster processing of data models in the case of Power Pivot.

6. Data Analysis Expressions (DAX)

The formula language used by Power Pivot is Data Analysis Expressions, popularly known as DAX. You can perform complex calculations, grouping, and analysis with this language. It also increased data manipulation capabilities in Excel.

The syntax of DAX is similar to that of Excel formulas, making it easy to understand and perform calculations.

Power Pivot in Excel

What Is Power Pivot

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Power Pivot is a good fit for Excel, especially if you are dealing with bulk data. However, there is always confusion about which versions of Excel have Power Pivot and where to find it. The below section solves both the queries.

Where to Find Power Pivot in Excel?

You can find Power Pivot in different places based on the Office version you are using. As mentioned above, Power Pivot was introduced in 2010, so it is available in all the versions after that.

Excel 2010 – You need to download Power Pivot explicitly to work with Excel 2010

Excel 2013 and 2016 – You can find Power Pivot built-in in these versions of Excel. All you need to do is enable Power Pivot COM Add-in, and you can use it to create data models in your excel.

You can also find Power Pivot in Office Professional 2019, Office Home & Business 2019, Office Home & Students 2019, and Office 2013/2016 Professional Plus.

3 Benefits of Using Power Pivot in Excel

  1. No new learning –
    One of the major plus points of adding Power Pivot in Excel is that you don’t need to learn anything new to use it. Power Pivot just adds new features and options to traditional Excel, so if you are used to the Excel environment, you can get started with Power Pivot in no time.
  2. In-built formulas –
    There are professional-grade formulas available in Power Pivot, which makes it possible to do complex calculations.
  3. Free to use –
    All the features in the Power Pivot are free; you don’t need to pay a penny more to use any special features in Excel. With Power Pivot, you get to work on large data files at a fantastic speed. The above benefits explain what is Power Pivot and what makes it an absolute must-have.


As per Bill Jelen, Founder of, ‘Power Pivot is the best new feature to happen to Excel in twenty years.’ and we couldn’t agree more with him. Power Pivot is a blessing for people who have to deal with the bulk of data in Excel sheets using VLOOKUP and Pivot tables.

With Power Pivot, you can deal with large volumes of data without settings up any infrastructure on your computer.

The article explains what is Power Pivot along with its features. You can also know where to find it in different versions of Excel. If you are looking for how to use Power Pivot in Excel, keep following as we will be coming up with it in the upcoming blogs.