To design PCBs, you need to have the right tools. There are numerous options for PCB design software and the market only seems to get bigger as time goes on.
The best PCB software for any individual or business will depend on their specific needs. However, we have compiled a list of the best overall options. These are the best PCB design software on the market.
Altium is one of the biggest names in PCB design. If there is one piece of PCB software that you have already heard of, it is almost certainly Altium. But if you want to access industry-standard professional software, you will need to be the appropriate price. Altium’s price tag puts it out of most people’s reach.
Anyone studying a university course involving circuit design will no doubt learn on Altium. New iterations of the base product are released frequently, meaning that Altium is always improving.
PADS has found success as the standard option for businesses that can’t justify the relatively high Altium Designer cost. PADS is the main choice for some serious enthusiasts, but its cost is high enough to keep most non-professional users away.
The PADS layout may take some time to get used to if you haven’t used PCB design software before. However, if you can ride out the steep learning curve, you will find an excellent product.
ORCAD has been around since the 1980s. Since its incarnation, it has been one of the most popular, versatile, and capable PCB design environments available. Its capabilities are not quite as advanced as its main competitor, Altium. But ORCAD boasts a sleek, intuitive user interface and is much simpler to use than most of its competitors.
ORCAD also has a few neat tricks up its sleeve. The component tracking features help you to keep track of all the moving parts in a more complicated project.
If there is any PCB design software that can rival ORCAD in terms of usability, it is Eagle. Eagle isn’t free, but it is an excellent choice for people who are relatively inexperienced but eager to learn.
Eagle offers numerous features that have generally only been available in the most high-end software. Eagle is bringing a lot of these features to the low to mid-range markets.
KiCad is an open-source PCB design software. Because it is open-source, KiCad is free to use. Not only can you use it without paying, but you can benefit from an enthusiastic community who is always adding new features to the product. KiCad is an excellent option for anyone who is designing PCBs as a hobby or on a budget. You can use KiCad for both simple and advanced projects, incorporating everything from light switches to solid state relays.
Designing PCBs should be easy. Unfortunately, many of the design packages available are lacking in features or priced beyond most people’s reach. Not all of the options listed a move are cheap, but they are all guaranteed to provide the features you need to design PCBs.