This is one of the most stupid questions I used to read on forums.
Because it is not detailed. Like: ‘Apple or orange? Which is better?’
For ‘measuring’ or ‘judging’ something it should be put into context and people without proper way of thinking simple miss that.
The proper question is always detailed: ‘which is better for what and in what circumstances?’
‘Apple or orange is better for apple pie?’ It could be easily answered: apple is better for an apple pie.
‘Apple or orange for orange juice?’ Orange, no question:)
These examples maybe seem to be quite stupid or obvious, but just showing that the person didn’t put enough effort to collect data before asking something (sometimes I understand it) or simple doesn’t know what he/she want.
So, getting back to the original question, you would like to know, which one is better of these apps.
To get the proper answer for that, you have to detail your goals, your limitations (budget, time, etc.).
Let’s see some examples:
‘I would like to learn scuplting in 3D and I cannot choose between 3DS Max and Blender. The price is not an issue and I would like to learn and do it as a hobby.’
Clear ‘input data’, the answer is really easy: Blender, if you have to choose from these two. Blender has a fairly good sculpting feature, Max is a joke compared to it.
But – because you wrote that money is not an issue – you can go for Z-Brush (’cause it is an industrial standard for that) or 3DCoat as well.
Or you can choose Sculptris, what is free at the moment.
‘I would like to be an architectural visualiser and work in the best studios. Blender or Max?’
The answer is simple again: Max.
For architectural visualisation Max is the industrial standard. If you want to work as an employee of a big studio, you have to have skills for their pipeline.
Of course there are several ‘upcoming’ packages used for archviz (like Cinema4D, Modo), but still Max is the standard. That is the ‘job seeker’ part of the story.
You also have to consider that Blender and Max are two completely different world in GUI and core terms. None of them has an intuitive GUI, both of them are customizable, but in real life workflow Max is more optimized for archviz tasks.
Technical reasons: Max handles better input/export data, big scenes, layers, parametric and precision drawing, modifiers, teamwork. It has tons of free scripts or paid plugins to make your life easier. Most of the tools you will need frequently very good and robust, optimized for efficiency. Most of the 3rd party developments in archviz are connected to Max, sometimes only for Max.
‘I would like to learn a 3D package as a hobby; maybe also to earn some money sometimes (I have a friend of mine who is an architect and he told me he could pay some money for good stills).
Max or Blender?’
Well, for a hobby Blender is clearly the winner. To use it for paid archviz it is completely fine in your case, because you doesn’t really have to compete with professional studios. You won the client with personal relation, not quality/speed, price, etc. And because it seems that your friend is a freelancer architect, not a studio owner, I thing he will make smaller projects than a huge studio. Blender handles small scenes well enough; although for visualising a huge project it could be slow in every aspect.