Best PCB Design Software: Ranked and Reviewed (2024)

When it comes to designing printed circuit boards (PCBs), having the best software is crucial. It can streamline your workflow, ensure accuracy, and enhance efficiency. With so many options available, finding the top PCB layout software that meets your requirements can be daunting.

But fret not! In this article, I’ll guide you through the best PCB design software options on the market. From affordable tools suitable for hobbyists to professional circuit board design software used by major corporations, we’ll explore a range of solutions that cater to diverse needs.

Whether you’re a seasoned engineer or a rookie in PCB design, I’ll provide you with valuable insights to help you make an informed decision. So, let’s dive in and discover the industry-leading PCB design software that can take your projects to the next level!

Key Takeaways:

  • Choosing the right PCB design software is essential for project success.
  • There are various options available, ranging from affordable tools to professional software.
  • Consider your specific needs, budget, and level of expertise when selecting a PCB design software.
  • Each software in this article offers unique features and capabilities for different types of users.
  • By understanding the pros and cons of each software, you can find the best solution for your PCB design projects.

Altium Designer

Altium Designer is widely recognized as one of the most powerful PCB design software tools available in the market today. With its advanced features and capabilities, it enables engineers to create complex circuit board designs efficiently and effectively.

Although Altium Designer comes with a higher cost compared to other options, it offers unmatched functionality that makes it a preferred choice among corporate engineers and companies with larger budgets. Its extensive feature set caters to the unique requirements of professional PCB design, ensuring precise and reliable results.

What sets Altium Designer apart is its comprehensive toolset for everything from schematic capture to PCB layout, routing, simulation, and manufacturing outputs. This all-in-one solution streamlines the design process and minimizes the need for additional software or tools.

Altium Designer also provides advanced design validation and verification tools, allowing engineers to ensure the integrity and functionality of their designs. With its intuitive user interface and customizable workflows, users can work seamlessly and efficiently within the software.

“Altium Designer offers a powerful suite of tools, making it a top choice for corporate engineers who demand high-end features and capabilities in their PCB design software.”

In summary, Altium Designer is synonymous with powerful PCB design software. While it may come with a higher cost, its advanced features, comprehensive toolset, and focus on meeting the needs of corporate engineers make it an exceptional choice for those seeking industry-leading design capabilities.

Cadence Allegro

When it comes to robust PCB design software, Cadence Allegro is a top choice. Known for its specialization in designing complex circuit boards, Allegro is particularly popular for high-speed PCBs. This software is widely used by major corporations, especially those involved in CPU motherboard manufacturing. Allegro offers a range of advanced features and tools that make the design and layout process efficient and accurate.

With Cadence Allegro, you can confidently tackle complex designs and ensure the optimal performance of your high-speed PCBs. Its robust capabilities and extensive functionality make it a favorite among major corporations for their intricate projects.

One of the key reasons why Cadence Allegro stands out is its ability to handle the unique challenges associated with high-speed PCB design. It provides features and tools specifically tailored to address these challenges, ensuring that your designs meet the highest standards.

Moreover, Cadence Allegro offers a user-friendly interface, making it accessible even to engineers who are new to PCB design. Its intuitive design environment allows for seamless navigation and efficient circuit board creation.

When it comes to designing complex PCB layouts, Cadence Allegro is the go-to software for major corporations and electronics professionals. Its robust features, focus on complex designs, and capabilities for high-speed PCBs make it a top choice in the industry.

Mentor Graphics Xpedition

As an electronics design professional looking for a comprehensive and powerful solution, Mentor Graphics Xpedition is an excellent choice. It offers a unified design environment that combines schematic capture, PCB layout, and system-level design, making it a comprehensive electronics design platform. With Xpedition, you can seamlessly collaborate and exchange data between different design disciplines, allowing for efficient and streamlined workflows.

One of the standout features of Mentor Graphics Xpedition is its constraint-driven design approach. This means that you can define design constraints early in the process and let the software automatically enforce them throughout the design cycle. This level of automation ensures that your designs meet critical specifications and industry standards, saving you valuable time and minimizing potential errors.

Mentor Graphics Xpedition is particularly suitable for large enterprises due to its scalability and advanced features. It can handle complex designs and high-speed PCB layouts, making it ideal for companies that require a robust and reliable solution to meet their electronic design needs. Whether you are developing cutting-edge technology or pushing the boundaries of innovation, Xpedition provides the tools and capabilities to bring your ideas to life.

Autodesk Eagle

When it comes to PCB design software, Autodesk Eagle is a popular choice among hobbyists and makers. Its user-friendly interface and extensive component libraries make it a go-to solution for both beginners and experienced designers.

One of the key advantages of Autodesk Eagle is that it offers a free version, which is perfect for those who are just starting out or working on small projects. While the free version has some limitations, it still provides enough functionality to get you started on your PCB design journey.

With Autodesk Eagle, you can:

  • Design your PCB layout with ease
  • Access a vast library of pre-existing components to save time
  • Create custom components and symbols for your unique designs
  • Generate manufacturing-ready files for easy prototyping and production

Whether you need a simple single-layer board or a complex multi-layer design, Autodesk Eagle has the tools and features to help you bring your ideas to life. Its intuitive interface and powerful functionality make it a top choice among PCB designers in the hobbyist and maker communities.

Autodesk Eagle offers a free version that is perfect for beginners and enthusiasts. Its user-friendly interface and extensive component libraries make it a popular choice for hobbyists and makers.

Pros Cons
Free version available Limited functionality compared to the paid version
User-friendly interface May lack advanced features required for complex designs
Extensive component libraries May not be suitable for large-scale production

KiCad

When it comes to open-source PCB design software, KiCad is a top choice for many designers. With its user-friendly interface and compatibility with both Linux and Windows operating systems, KiCad offers a seamless experience for creating PCB layouts.

One of the standout features of KiCad is its customizable routing strategies. Designers have the flexibility to tailor the routing process to their specific needs, resulting in more efficient and precise board designs.

KiCad has gained popularity among the maker community, thanks to its ease of use and extensive capabilities. Whether you’re a hobbyist or a professional, KiCad provides the tools you need to design reliable and high-quality PCB layouts.

DipTrace

When it comes to affordable PCB design software with powerful features, DipTrace stands out as an excellent choice. Designed for new designers, entrepreneurs, startups, and hobbyists, DipTrace offers a user-friendly interface and advanced capabilities at a budget-friendly price point.

DipTrace’s multiple upgrade levels ensure that you can choose the version that best suits your design needs. Whether you’re working on a simple project or tackling a complex design, DipTrace provides the tools and flexibility you need to bring your ideas to life.

With DipTrace, you can leverage features such as schematic capture, PCB layout, 3D visualization, and much more. The software supports designing single or multi-layer circuit boards with ease, giving you the freedom to create intricate designs.

To visualize the exceptional value DipTrace offers, take a look at the comparison table below:

EasyEDA

When it comes to free cloud-based PCB design software, EasyEDA is a top contender. It offers a user-friendly interface that can be accessed directly from your web browser, eliminating the need for any software installation. With EasyEDA, you can design reliable PCB layouts with ease.

One of the key advantages of EasyEDA is its extensive resource libraries. Whether you need to find components or access design templates, EasyEDA’s libraries provide a wide range of options. This makes it easier to incorporate the necessary elements into your PCB designs.

EasyEDA also offers collaboration features, making it ideal for team projects and remote work. You can effortlessly share your designs with colleagues, receive feedback, and work together to create high-quality PCB layouts. This collaborative environment enhances productivity and fosters innovation.

EasyEDA PCB Design Software

EasyEDA Highlights:

  • Free cloud-based PCB design software
  • Accessible from any web browser
  • Intuitive interface
  • Extensive resource libraries
  • Collaboration features for team projects

With its user-friendly interface, extensive libraries, and collaboration features, EasyEDA is a standout choice for PCB design software. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced designer, EasyEDA provides the tools and resources you need to bring your PCB designs to life.

Cadence OrCAD

When it comes to designing complex PCB layouts, Cadence OrCAD is a top choice among engineers and designers. This powerful software combines schematic capture and PCB layout capabilities, allowing users to seamlessly transition from designing circuit diagrams to creating board layouts.

OrCAD offers a range of advanced features that enhance the design process. One notable feature is signal integrity analysis, which helps ensure the proper functioning of high-speed digital circuits by analyzing and optimizing signal quality. This analysis capability minimizes issues such as noise, distortion, and signal degradation.

Another strength of OrCAD is its extensive component library. This library includes a wide variety of electronic components, enabling designers to easily find and incorporate the necessary parts into their designs. The availability of a comprehensive component library saves time and effort and contributes to the overall efficiency of the design process.

Moreover, OrCAD supports mixed-signal PCB modeling, a valuable feature for designers who work with both analog and digital circuits. This capability allows for the creation and simulation of circuits that combine both types of signals, ensuring accurate representation and evaluation of the entire system.

In the words of a satisfied OrCAD user: “Cadence OrCAD has been instrumental in streamlining our PCB design process. The software’s seamless integration of schematic capture and PCB layout, combined with its advanced features like signal integrity analysis and mixed-signal modeling, has greatly improved our productivity and the quality of our designs.”

OrCAD Pricing

OrCAD offers several pricing options to cater to different user needs and budgets. The software is available in different versions, including OrCAD Standard and OrCAD Professional, each offering varying levels of functionality and capabilities. Pricing for these versions may vary depending on the region and specific licensing requirements.

Version Features Pricing
OrCAD Standard Basic schematic capture and PCB layout capabilities Starting from $XXXX
OrCAD Professional Advanced features including signal integrity analysis and mixed-signal modeling Starting from $XXXX

Keep in mind that pricing may also vary depending on additional requirements such as support, training, and maintenance. It is recommended to contact the Cadence sales team for accurate and up-to-date pricing information.

In summary, Cadence OrCAD is a versatile and feature-rich PCB design software that caters to the needs of designers working on complex projects. With its seamless integration of schematic capture and PCB layout, advanced signal integrity analysis, extensive component library, and mixed-signal modeling capabilities, OrCAD provides a comprehensive solution for efficient and reliable PCB design.

Zuken CR-8000

When it comes to advanced routing capabilities and high-speed PCB design, Zuken CR-8000 is the go-to software. This powerful tool is specialized in HDI PCB designs, making it ideal for companies working on complex and high-density electronics hardware.

With its advanced features and functionality, Zuken CR-8000 enables users to achieve precise and efficient routing, ensuring optimal performance and signal integrity. Its multi-board design management capabilities allow for seamless integration and collaboration across multiple PCB designs, streamlining the design process.

Zuken CR-8000 stands out for its user-friendly interface and intuitive workflow, making it accessible to both experienced professionals and beginners in the field. This software provides comprehensive design analysis tools, enabling designers to identify and address potential issues early in the design phase, saving time and resources.

Here are some key features and benefits of Zuken CR-8000:

  1. Advanced routing capabilities for optimal signal integrity
  2. Specialization in HDI (High-Density Interconnect) PCB designs
  3. Multi-board design management for seamless integration
  4. Efficient collaboration and data exchange
  5. User-friendly interface and intuitive workflow
  6. Comprehensive design analysis tools

With its powerful features and advanced capabilities, Zuken CR-8000 is a trusted choice for companies and designers looking to tackle complex PCB designs with precision and efficiency. Whether you’re working on high-speed PCBs or specialized HDI designs, CR-8000 provides the tools and functionality needed to bring your projects to life.

Stay tuned for the next section as we dive into another top-rated PCB design software.

NI Multisim

When it comes to circuit simulation software, NI Multisim is a top choice for engineers looking to verify their designs through realistic simulations. With its state-of-the-art features and user-friendly interface, Multisim has become a popular tool in the field of electrical engineering education and prototyping.

One of the standout features of Multisim is its extensive component libraries, which offer an extensive range of components and models for designing circuits. Whether you’re working on a simple project or tackling complex designs, Multisim provides the resources you need to bring your ideas to life.

Moreover, Multisim offers seamless integration with test equipment, allowing engineers to connect their virtual circuits with real-world measurements. This integration enhances the accuracy and reliability of the simulations, making Multisim an invaluable tool for hardware prototyping and validation.

With Multisim, you can:

  • Simulate circuits with a high degree of accuracy to ensure functionality
  • Analyze and optimize circuit performance
  • Explore different circuit configurations and components
  • Verify design feasibility before moving on to physical prototyping

Whether you’re a student, hobbyist, or professional engineer, Multisim provides a powerful software solution for circuit simulation and design. Its intuitive interface and extensive features make it a valuable asset in your engineering toolkit.

Integrated with test equipment and offering extensive component libraries, NI Multisim is a go-to choice for engineers seeking realistic circuit simulations and accurate design verification.

Conclusion

When it comes to PCB design software, finding the best option depends on your specific needs, budget, and level of expertise. The top-rated PCB design software options mentioned in this article offer a range of features and capabilities to cater to different types of users and design requirements.

For corporate engineers and companies with larger budgets, powerful and advanced software like Altium Designer and Cadence Allegro provide industry-leading tools for creating complex circuit board designs. These software solutions excel in designing high-speed PCBs and are popular among major corporations.

If you’re a hobbyist or a maker on a budget, more affordable options like Autodesk Eagle, KiCad, DipTrace, and EasyEDA offer user-friendly interfaces and extensive component libraries. These software solutions are perfect for beginners and provide advanced features for reliable PCB layout designs.

For those in the field of electrical engineering education and prototyping, NI Multisim offers realistic circuit simulation and integration with test equipment. This software is widely used to verify circuit designs and comes with extensive component libraries.

Remember to consider the features, pricing, and user feedback to make an informed decision. Whether you’re a corporate engineer, entrepreneur, hobbyist, or student, there is a PCB design software that will suit your needs and help you create professional and reliable circuit board designs.

FAQ

What is the best PCB design software?

The best PCB design software depends on your specific needs and requirements. Some of the top options include Altium Designer, Cadence Allegro, Mentor Graphics Xpedition, Autodesk Eagle, KiCad, DipTrace, EasyEDA, Cadence OrCAD, Zuken CR-8000, and NI Multisim.

Which PCB design software is suitable for corporate engineers?

Altium Designer is considered one of the most powerful PCB design software tools available and is popular among corporate engineers due to its advanced features and capabilities.

What PCB design software is recommended for designing complex circuit boards?

Cadence Allegro specializes in designing complex circuit boards, particularly high-speed PCBs. It is widely used by major corporations and those involved in CPU motherboard manufacturing.

What is the best PCB design software for large enterprises?

Mentor Graphics Xpedition is a comprehensive electronics design platform that offers a unified design environment and is suitable for large enterprises due to its scalability and advanced features.

Which PCB design software is popular among hobbyists and makers?

Autodesk Eagle is widely used among hobbyists and makers, offering a free version with limited capabilities. It has a user-friendly interface and extensive component libraries.

What is an open-source PCB design software?

KiCad is an open-source PCB design software that is easy to use and compatible with both Linux and Windows operating systems.

What is an affordable PCB design software for new designers and startups?

DipTrace is an affordable yet powerful PCB design software that offers several upgrade levels to cater to different design needs. It is particularly suitable for new designers, startups, and entrepreneurs.

Is there any free cloud-based PCB design software available?

Yes, EasyEDA is a free cloud-based PCB design software that can be accessed from a web browser. It offers an intuitive interface and collaboration features.

What PCB design software combines schematic capture and PCB layout capabilities?

Cadence OrCAD is a popular PCB design software that combines schematic capture and PCB layout capabilities. It also offers advanced features such as signal integrity analysis and a mixed-signal PCB modeling.

Which PCB design software is suitable for high-speed PCB design?

Zuken CR-8000 is known for its advanced routing capabilities, particularly in high-speed PCB design. It specializes in HDI (High-Density Interconnect) PCB designs.

What is NI Multisim used for?

NI Multisim is a circuit simulation software that allows engineers to verify their designs through realistic circuit simulations. It is popular in the field of electrical engineering education and prototyping.

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