When it comes to PCB design software, the importance of choosing the right solution cannot be overemphasized. Your decision can mean the difference between being able to create accurate, effective designs in record time and repeating the same costly mistakes.
The demand for smaller, more complex boards with larger circuits continues to grow, thus generating a greater need for complete PCB design software that can keep up with the times. Today’s solutions are expected to feature powerful automation features, insightful analytics, effective collaboration capabilities and a wide range of useful tools.
There are currently two solutions that fit the bill - Altium and Eagle. Both pieces of software make a compelling case as the ultimate PCB design tool, but which will best serve your needs? Here is some information that will help you decide.
Eagle is an abbreviation for Easily Applicable Graphical Layout Editor. As you can guess, the software is designed with user-friendliness in mind. This makes it a popular choice among beginners and hobbyists, especially since there are free packages available for educational and non-industrial purposes.
That said, there are more advanced and powerful versions of Eagle that offer a wider range of features. You can pay a monthly subscription to use the software or purchase a single license for around $1,640. The cost can be adjusted along with the feature set to suit your budget.
Altium is a high-end PCB design solution that offers the most powerful and comprehensive list of features in its class. It’s not the cheapest option, but you get what you pay for here.
A free trial package is available for you to try it out as well as a student-friendly version for learning purposes. Altium is highly customizable and comes loaded with unique features, including circuit simulation, schematic design capture, signal integrity analysis and much more.
Eagle: Top Features
One of the best parts about using Eagle is that you’ll have access to a wide range of library content as well as community-driven features. Additionally, Eagle offers an auto-router, differential pair routing techniques, advanced routing capabilities and copper pouring. You can also create annotations between schematics and circuit boards.
Altium: Top Features
As explained in further detail in Altium’s comparison between the eagle circuit board design software and their own solution, there are a number of features that give Altium an edge over its rival, particularly with placement and routing. This includes interactive routing modes and an intelligent assistant that simplifies the manual routing process.
Altium offers component library templates and managed schematic sheets, making it easier to save, share and manage your design assets. The efficient, drag-and-drop interface simplifies file management, while their industry-leading filtering streamlines the asset selection. There are also several hotkeys to further improve efficiency.
Take some time to identify the features you find most valuable in each option, and give the free trial a go. Irrespective of the outcome, you’ll be investing in a powerful and reliable PCB design solution that will serve you well for years to come.