The 5 Best PCB Designing Software

The first step to start manufacturing a printed circuit board is to design it. And for this, you will need software to layout the PCB design. However, choosing the right software for PCB designing isn’t easy since the market is full of PCB software. In fact, there’s simply too much software to design printed circuit boards. But sadly, not all of them are recommendable.

Hence, we prepared a guideline on the best PCB designing software to aid you with the cause. If you plan to start PCB manufacturing for your devices, these five recommendations will be a world of good for you.

So, let’s begin it.

Table of Contents

The Five Best PCB Designing Software

You must understand that PCB software is no cheap item. You have to invest nearly $1000 to $2500 yearly for them. Some high-end software may even charge more for you. That’s why you must get the absolute best software which is worth the massive investment.

1. Altium:

Altium was founded in Australia in 1985. Previously their name was Pretol Systems, but the company changed its name in 2001. Also, the software manufacturer operates from America and has become the leader inthe PCB software industry.

As of their 2019 report, they get at least 6000 new PCB manufacturers every year. They aim to get a $20 million turnover by 2020, which has been postponed due to pandemic conditions.

Its main specifications are-

  • PCB design with the diagram
  • File output for production
  • You will get layout, documentation, diagram, and simulating facility
  • It uses conversion tools to transfer the data easily

If you are an electronics engineer and work for PCB industrial groups, Altium is the best choice for you. Its cost starts from $7000. However, you can get a 15-days trial to check out its benefits and decide whether or not it suits your necessity.

2. Eagle:

Next on our list is Eagle software for PCB designing. Eagle was founded in 1988, but Autodesk took it over in 2016. The software has around $2 billion of turnover each year, making it the most profitable PCB design software on our list.

Also, note that Eagle refers to Easily Applicable Graphical Layout Editor. You can get the software in three versions, including free, standard, and premium. Its main features include-

  • Diagram design and editor
  • Changing facility between PCB and diagram with the annotations
  • Diagram layout and hierarchy

You can get it $500 for each year with the standard version. However, its interface is not so user-friendly and may not suit beginners.

3. Proteus:

Labcenter Electronics Ltd developed The Proteus electronic CAD solution. The company is based in the United Kingdom and was established by John Jameson. The software has been one of the most popular PCB designers and is used in over 50 countries. It is particularly popular in Asian countries.

Proteus software suite offers two main versions with different specifications and features. It includes-

  • Proteus AERES: It offers component positioning on the board with the automatic application. You can also use it for routing solutions of PCB.
  • Proteus ISI: You can use it for electric stimulation and creating diagrams.

Proteus software also offers a few other versions for different uses. It includes visual designer, PCB designing, and VSM versions. Also, the PCB designing software allows you to design 16 copper layers at the same time.

4. Design Spark:

It is high-performing CAD software. Number One Systems and RS Components collaborated to design and develop the software. It has now become a popular choice for CAD engineers and PCB developers for its user-friendly interface.

Its best specifications and interfaces include-

  • Quick diagram entry with a 3D viewer
  • Easy organization of files with project interface
  • Drilling file generation for Excellon and Gerber
  • Both automatic and routing facilities for component positioning

5. CAD PCB Designer:

ECAD and SDA Systems merged to develop CAD PCB Designer in 1988. The company is listed on NASDAQ and is based in California. It is one of the leaders in the PCB designing industry with a great interface and flexible versions for different users.

Its best features and specifications include-

  • BGA assistance and symbol editor
  • Component searching and electric simulation
  • You can create the PCB design and shapes automatically
  • It lets you develop real-time routing with an easy interface

What To Look At While Getting The Best PCB Designing Software

According to PCB designers, engineers, and manufacturers, a PCB designing software should fulfill the following criteria-

  1. The software must be intuitive and provide an easy userinterface. If the interface is complex, you will need huge time to learn it. The learning curve must be quick and easy.
  2. The software should follow the standard set for the PCB industry and enjoy widespread uses. If the software is limited to a few manufacturers, its intuitive design will be massively dumped. In this regard, Altium and Eagle enjoy the best suggestions with the most widespread uses.
  3. The component library should be large. If the software provider has a small component library, you will find designing the pretty difficult. When you have large library access, you can easily use it to compare and find the errors of the newly designed PCB. So, it has a lesser possibility of any errors on the circuit board.
  4. The software must come with as many features as possible. Altium offers maximum features that you can’t even imagine. Although you won’t use all the features, having more features will provide you confidence and different usability if need be.
  5. Lastly, the pricing of the software must be reasonable. It is essential since the designing software for PCB is expensive.

When you decide to get a PCB designing software, we recommend using the free trial for the allowed days and seeing how it feels. It will enable you to get the right software at the most affordable pricing and with most features, for sure.

Final Words

PCB designing is no easy task. It needs extreme attention, creativity, sound knowledge of PCB, and above all, the right software. Therefore, we recommended you the best PCB designing software to help you with the design layout.

We looked at the user interface and easiness of using the software mostly. Also, these are the five most widely used software for PCB design worldwide. So, you can actually compare them easily and decide which will support your requirements mostly.

Peter Gong
Peter Gong

I am Peter Gong. I have been working in PCB and PCBA industry for 15+ years now. I have been a part of the PCB revolution with my dedication to circuit board technologies and creative ideas. I write in FX PCB to impart my knowledge on PCB and PCBA for all circuit board lovers, manufacturers, and users.