Well, first of all, you have to tell us what kind of image are you trying to achieve.
As far as 3d modelling goes, i have tried a lot of programs and most of them gave me a very good result (max, maya, blender, cinema 4d) so... it's just a matter of choosing the one that suits and, more important than that, the one that is most compatible with the CAD software that you or your clients are using.
For rendering, there are also a lot of great engines out there. For example, if you are going for a very photorealistic look and don't mind long rendering times, you can go for an unbiased engine like maxwell or fry-render that can give you results similar to this one (cinema 4d+fry render):
For lower render times you can try v-ray, an excelent engine that will give you great results with lower rendering times. You can see its results on the now famous Alex Roman's page for example (vray+3ds max+after effects):
The world famous Luxigon company also uses cinema 4d with vray or advanced-renderer (native engine of c4d), but their renders are very basic. They do a lot of post-work in photoshop. You can see their workflow and an interview here:
There are also some real time engines out there that can produce rather nice results with very, very low render times but, in my opinion, the quality is nothing compared to the ones mentioned above. You can try Lumion for example or lumenRT octane...etc.
These are the rendering engine superstars of the moment. I guess you could also try mental-ray or artlantis but just compare their results and judge for yourself.
Hi everyone, I think Archicad 12 is the Best Choice, along with Artlantis Renderer, if U realy have Good Machine,
Sketch up 8 Pro is also Good, along with its v-Ray, but again that all depends what sort of Presentation U R looking 4.,
To be honest, Artlantis Renderer is the best for Realistic Views depending on the Intensity of light settings, I guess, I am out otherwise will show you couple of my work samples, that is nearer to realistic