I'm absolute beginner. I see on YouTube that every smoke project is made with additional tools (Houdini, Octane, turbulence etc.) My question is: is it impossible to get the same results with C4D only?
It depends on what you consider acceptable. The built in Thinking Particles and Pyro Cluster can only get you so far - a kind of blurry smoke or a fluffy smoke that's hard to control. The problem is the sheer number or particles or voxels needed and the type of render engine and the control you have over both.
You can get better results with Xparticles. (at least if you are after realism or control)
You can amp up your game even further with Krakatoa and Turbulence FD - these are made for this purpose.
But all of those are $500 plus at last check.
Houdini is built for this kind of thing too but often you have to add another render engine (the same goes for C4D- you can use Krakatoa: an engine designed to handle the huge number of particles needed. I think the built in C4D renderer and Octane would be pretty close, plus for this, Octane might be a bit too slow and you might have a lot of noise, but Octane will still need a better particle system than TP).
The other issue with Houdini is it doesn't so much have a "learning curve"; more a "learning wall" - I have the bruises on my forehead to prove it. But it is the king of doing any kind of particle work where you want a lot of control. I love it because it's easy to turn off just the one particle when the director says "get rid of that one right there!" I'd hate to be a pet store owner when he's picking one goldfish from a tank of 2000.
But there is another great alternative. Blender. Its a little different to work with if you are experienced but if you are new to the whole game you might take to it right away. And its free!!! And Smoke is built in!!!
In blender, to make smoke, you make a box, apply Smoke and hit play. (Ok, that's a little over simplified but not by much)