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Metabase vs. Looker vs. Trevor: Find the Right BI Tool for Your Business

Written by

James Watney

Last updated on

September 27, 2023

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In today’s competitive marketplace, only data-driven companies thrive. The people in your company who need data, should be able to access it directly and self-serve answers to the questions they have.

This means that accessible Business Intelligence (BI) tools are now a must-have. According to Dresner’s self-service enterprise intelligence report, companies of all sizes, across a wide range of industries, ranked self-service data analytics as one of the 10 most important technologies for business intelligence. 

But choosing the wrong business intelligence tool for your company can create more problems than it solves, landing extra work on your engineers or causing bottlenecks if your business users can’t get their questions answered. 

We’ve sifted through the crowded BI marketplace to compare three leading data platforms: Metabase vs Looker vs Trevor. We’ll give you a detailed overview of how they stack up on features, functionality, ease of use, and price. 

Our in-depth comparison will help you find the right business intelligence platform and transform your company’s relationship with data.

Metabase vs Looker vs Trevor - the best choice for 2023

Summary Overview Comparison

Looking for an on-prem platform instead? Check out our guide on how to select the right self-hosted solution.

Summary comparison table

Trevor Looker Metabase
Cloud-hosted option
Self-hosted option
Free tier
Easy to set up
Can use without a data team
Powerful no-code query builder
Basic dashboarding tools
Highly customisable dashboards
Beautiful design
Live chat support
Native Google Sheets Integration
Zapier Integration
Built-in JSON support
Auto table joins detection
Database map (ER Diagram)
Enterprise functionality
Open source
Features as of Jan 2023


Metabase is an open-source BI tool that offers simple no-code data questions for business users and lets techies dive deeper with SQL.

Metabase features

  • Intuitive drag-and-drop data query builder for non-technical users. 
  • Attractive data visualization tools with several charting options and interactive, auto-refreshing dashboards. 
  • Integrations and automations with email and Slack to schedule and share reports. 
  • Free open-source business intelligence tool.

Metabase limitations

  • The drag-and-drop tool has limited granularity. To get answers to ad-hoc data questions or create more complex drill-down filters you need to be proficient in SQL, which disempowers business users. 
  • Setup can be tricky as Metabase doesn’t allow joins from multiple data sources. 
  • If you’re using the free, open-source tool, there’s no customer support available.

Best for

Smaller, tech-savvy startups with a low budget that value data visualization capacities and have engineers on hand to set up sophisticated data queries without causing bottlenecks.

If you think Metabase could be the right BI tool for you, take a look at our Metabase alternatives article to weigh up the options.


Looker is a powerful enterprise-scale BI tool that offers sophisticated data analytics, data explorations, and data visualizations.

Looker features

  • No-SQL query functionality lets non-technical users explore – and drill down on – ad-hoc data questions. 
  • High-quality, interactive and shareable data visualizations.
  • Robust LookML data modelling layer means it’s highly customizable in the hands of a skilled data analyst. 
  • It’s big-data friendly and you can define a single source of truth for data governance.

Looker limitations

Setup & data sourcesComplex open-source setup process.

SQL-compatible databases are supported. 

Plug and play connectors work with platforms like Google Analytics.
Complex setup process – IT team needs to define the data and set up the querying parameters. 

Several SQL databases and data warehouses are supported. 

Pre-built Looker BlocksTM connect to data sources like Salesforce. 
Quick, intuitive setup. Can be pointed at a database and set up in minutes, without tech support. 

Supports SQL databases, warehouses, and CSV data sources. 

Automatic database connectors and join detectors for a smooth setup.
Deployment & performanceOpen-source version runs on your own infrastructure, but premium plans have a cloud option. 

May run slowly when multiple queries are run.
Cloud and on-premises options. 

Load on the database can create significant slowdown.
Cloud and on-premises options. 

Multiple measures like reduced active user connections and platform row limits protect the database from load and keep things running smoothly and rapidly.
No-code query builderDrag-and-drop query builder is limited to basic data analysis. 

To get granular or run ad-hoc queries, you’ll need SQL expertise.
No-SQL tool lets business users ask complex, ad-hoc data questions within predefined analytical blocks.Powerful and versatile no-code query builder allows non-technical users to run ad-hoc queries and create custom columns. 

SQL option available.
Data explorationThe drag-and-drop interface limits granular data exploration. 

To add joins, filters, drill-downs and aggregations, you’ll need to use SQL or the advanced Notebook Editor.
Looker Explore mode lets non-technical users filter, drill down, catalogue & dig deep into the data. 

For customization, though, you’ll need the tech team.
Intuitive filters, pivots and data cataloguing features help business users to explore data with ease.

Advanced drill-down functionality lets users delve deep at the row level.
Data visualizationInteractive dashboards for a comprehensive view of BI metrics, and line charts, bar charts, histograms, table visualizations, pivot tables and more.Attractive pre-set charting models and real-time dashboards for in-depth analysis.
High-quality real-time, interactive dashboards, several charting options, and auto-updating maps of your database schema.
Integrations & automationsDashboard subscription features connect with email platforms and Slack for auto updates, but your data or charts will be cropped to a minimum number of rows and columns.A range of API add-ons and integrations help to automate workflow, including Excel, Google Docs, and more.
Trigger and automate actions in a huge range of third-party tools – Gmail, Salesforce, Slack, Xero and hundreds more.

Stream – and auto-update – data directly to Excel.
Data securityWith the open-source version, you can choose to set up SSL or database encryption.

Possible to define access permissions, but only at the group and database/table level unless you get an Enterprise subscription that supports row-level permissions.
GDPR-compliant security with encrypted connections, two-step verification, and a single point of access. 

Access permissions can be defined by role or group at the model, row, or column level, and monitor activity. 

Results are cached, not stored long-term.
GDPR-compliant security with 128-bit AES data encryption, two-step verification SSL protections. 

Easy to define granular access permissions right down to the column or row level. Highly detailed audit trail can show you exactly which data users have accessed. doesn’t write to your database or store a copy of data.
Customer supportOpen-source option has no customer support. Paid subscribers have a 3-day email response time or premium support options.Looker has well-rated support available through in-app chat, but only for admins or offers fast, effective support solutions via chat to all users.

RELATED POST: 8 Alternatives to Redash to Help Take Your Business Intelligence to the Next Level

Metabase vs. Looker vs. Trevor customizability

Metabase offers several different options for charting, but the drag-and-drop interface falls down on customizability. Without SQL, non-technical users can’t tailor their queries with granular filters, drill-downs, and ad-hoc questions. 

Looker is a more flexible tool that can adapt to unique business needs. Filters and drilldowns are highly adaptable, and non-technical users can run ad-hoc queries. However, a data team is required to customize the data models – business users can’t adapt parameters on the fly. Data visualization options also aren’t hugely adaptable.

Trevor is a versatile, customizable BI tool that fits seamlessly into your company’s data needs and business workflow. It offers limitless exploration beyond predefined fields, so business users can explore and customize. There’s also plenty of scope to tailor business intelligence to your workflow with a range of real-time integrations.

Metabase vs. Looker vs. Trevor pricing

Looker provides custom pricing, starting at $3,000 per month, so it’s one of the pricier self-service BI tools – and that’s without counting the time investment and cost of training for a complex tool. 

Metabase has a free, limited open-source option – but its premium pricing plans are priced per user, which can add up for growing companies.

RELATED POST: Looker vs. Tableau vs. Trevor: Which Tool is Best For You?

Trevor’s pricing plans all include unlimited users and databases, with no upfront training and setup investment, which makes it a great choice for growing companies.

Metabase vs. Looker vs. Trevor ease of use 

Metabase is a tool for the tech-savvy. Open-source setup and troubleshooting require engineering expertise, and while the drag-and-drop tool is intuitive, complex queries create an obstacle for business users. 

Looker has a steep learning curve, and you need a data team that can define a full semantic model. Once the data parameters are defined, non-technical users have a relatively smooth UX, though customization and troubleshooting are tricky.

Trevor offers a speedy, painless setup with a gentle learning curve so you can get value immediately. It empowers business users to run even complex queries without SQL knowledge.

Metabase vs. Looker vs. Trevor: Which is right for you? 

Metabase’s open-source tool is free, but non-techies can’t run ad-hoc queries or drill down much on the data. That makes it best for cash-strapped tech startups with IT people available. 

Looker offers more powerful data querying and exploration, but it requires full-scale data modelling and it’s pricey, so it’s a good choice for larger enterprises.

Trevor combines powerful data analytics with ease of use and accessible pricing. Its intuitive interface lets business users explore complex data questions and it’s designed to be scalable – making it well-suited to growing companies who want to give their workforce data superpowers. 

The right data analytics solution for your company depends on your specific budget, team and needs. The best BI tools are accessible enough for your whole team to use but powerful enough to go deep on data questions. By taking the time to understand what Metabase, Looker and Trevor offer, you can find the perfect fit for a truly data-driven business.