Key Takeaways

  • Altium: The industry standard with advanced features.

  • Cadence: Feature-rich and powerful for complex PCBs.

  • Mentor Graphics: Specialized tools for automotive and medical boards.

  • Zuken: Focused on 3D visualization and collaboration.

  • Autodesk Eagle: Beginner-friendly and affordable.

  • KiCad: Open-source and capable for hobbyists and professionals.

Which Software is Commonly Used for PCB Design?

The printed circuit board (PCB) is the backbone of any electronic device, connecting various components and facilitating electrical signals. Designing PCBs requires specialized software that can handle complex design requirements and ensure reliability. Here are the six most commonly used PCB design software that meet these criteria.

Altium Designer

  • Overview: The industry-leading PCB design software with a comprehensive set of features for all aspects of PCB development.

  • Strengths: Advanced routing capabilities, powerful simulation tools, integrated component library, user-friendly interface.

  • Drawbacks: Relatively high cost, high learning curve for complex features.

Cadence Allegro

  • Overview: Feature-rich and powerful software for designing complex PCBs in various industries.

  • Strengths: Comprehensive design environment, extensive library of components, advanced analysis tools, collaboration features.

  • Drawbacks: Expensive, requires skilled engineers to fully utilize.

Mentor Graphics PADS

  • Overview: Specialized PCB design software for automotive, medical, and industrial applications.

  • Strengths: Industry-specific features, advanced signal integrity tools, support for embedded software design.

  • Drawbacks: Limited to specific domains, requires specialized knowledge.

Zuken CR-5000

  • Overview: Focuses on 3D visualization and collaboration for complex PCB designs.

  • Strengths: Intuitive 3D visualization, collaborative platform for design teams, advanced manufacturing support.

  • Drawbacks: May not be suitable for simple or beginner-level designs.

Autodesk Eagle

  • Overview: Beginner-friendly and affordable PCB design software suitable for hobbyists and small businesses.

  • Strengths: Easy-to-use interface, intuitive schematic and layout views, affordable pricing.

  • Drawbacks: Limited capabilities compared to professional-grade tools, smaller component library.


  • Overview: Open-source PCB design software that offers professional-grade features for hobbyists and small-scale manufacturers.

  • Strengths: Free and open-source, growing component library, active community support.

  • Drawbacks: Not as user-friendly as commercial software, limited compatibility with certain operating systems.

Factors to Consider When Choosing PCB Design Software

When selecting PCB design software, consider the following factors:

  • Project Complexity: Complex PCBs require advanced features and powerful simulation tools.

  • Industry Requirements: Specialized software may be necessary for specific industry applications.

  • Budget: The cost of the software can vary significantly based on its features and capabilities.

  • Learning Curve: Some software requires extensive training, while others are more beginner-friendly.

  • Technical Support: Reliable and responsive technical support is crucial for troubleshooting and resolving design issues.


Choosing the right PCB design software is essential for efficient and effective board development. By considering the specific requirements of your project and the factors discussed above, you can identify the software that best fits your needs. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced designer, these six software options provide a comprehensive range of capabilities to meet the challenges of PCB design.

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