Altium Designer is a widely used software for circuit board design. This PCB designer is popular among PCB designers due to the features and benefits it offers. Furthermore, it makes PCB designing less stressful and easier. Altium Designer empowers circuit board designers to achieve a successful design. This article provides comprehensive details about Altium Designer.
What is Altium Designer?
Altium Designer is a comprehensive cloud-based PCB design software used in schematic capture, 3D modeling, assembly drawing, and simulation. With Altium, PCB designers can share snapshots and live designs with clients and get real-time feedback in the twinkle of an eye. Furthermore, Altium Designer is a high-tech enabled software that has gained popularity in the electronics board industry.
Also, ALtium provides high-performance functionality and enhanced features that make the online PCB design process an easy one. Altium developers keep upgrading its existing features and adding new ones. This is the reason behind its different versions. The latest version enhances efficiency and productive design time. One of the features of Altium includes advanced pattern support.
Furthermore, Altium Designer is ideal for circuit boards that require advanced and complex designs. One of the great benefits of this software is that it can be used by both beginners and professionals. This is because Altium is user-friendly. Even if it is your first time using this software, you will find your way around it. Despite its advanced features, it has got an intuitive and user-friendly interface.
Altium Designer is an ideal choice when designing a circuit board from a production aspect. Also, if you need to work in multi-layer circuit design. Also, the 3D features of this software is one of the best in the industry. Altium’s active supply chain management provides live details and pricing of parts.
Also, Altium Designer features a BOM handling system that helps users to create, edit, and share bill of materials files with part suppliers. Altium Designer has got a lot of features that make all the stages of PCB design process much easier than ever. This software is a CAD solution for schematic design, PCB design, and PCB layout.
What are the Major Features of Altium Designer?
There are several features provided by Altium Designer. In this section, we will be discussing some of these features and what they do.
Enhanced 3D visualization engine
Not all printed circuit boards design software have this feature. With 3D visualization, Altium users can have a realistic view of the circuit board which includes MCAD-ECAD support. Also, users can view configurations for 3D and 2D.
Advanced design rule checker
The Design Rule Checker (DRC) is a powerful tool in Altium that helps to check a circuit design violating any electrical rules. The DRC system automatically checks for any violations and indicates where it is. Therefore, it can fix this defect before creating further.
Unified library management
This is both a feature and benefit of Altium Designer. The unified library management makes PCB design a lovely experience for users. This management system is simply based on a single data store for linked data and component models. Also, there is a point of contact for external project management and version control.
Hierarchical and multichannel design
Altium Designer makes it easy to work on multilayer and hierarchical designs. Also, this software simplifies multiple layers in more readable sheets.
Centralized tool interface
Altium Designer comes with an interface that makes it easy for users to select tool, create part, and edit. With this feature, you don’t need to worry about the time spent on navigating.
Altium designer is an open source platform available to anyone living anywhere in the world. This software makes it easy for team members around the world to work on team projects. Also, Altuim’s cloud-based editing systems reduce latency.
Benefits of Altium Designer
Easy conversion to hierarchical design
Altium Designer can help you simplify advanced and complex designs into smaller logical based layers. These layers are much easier to work with. Also, Altium Designer features hierarchical design tools which help you transform multi-channel designs into step-wise design units.
Unified design environment
Altium offers a truly unified design environment which helps to design flexible circuitry. This design environment enables designers to work flexibly and easily.
Supply chain planning
With Altium, Supply chain planning is easier. Also, Altium Designer offers ActiveBOM. An ActiveBOM is a system that offers information like pricing, part availability, and more.
Other benefits include:
- Transparent netlist creation
- Easy HDI structure integration
- Exceptional data management
Disadvantages of Altium Designer
In as much as Altium Designer has got several features and benefits, it has got its own drawback.
- Altium features constraints which make routing designs very difficult.
- Also, this software features less functionalities
- Altium is the most expensive EDA. Therefore, SME can’t afford this software
- This software is heavy. Therefore, startups maybe very slow
- Furthermore, the default settings of this software delivers several specious warnings
- The autorouter has some restrictions
How much is Altuim Designer?
Altium has two different types of licenses which are perpetual license and time based license. Based on your requirement and needs, you can choose any of these licenses.
You can get this license for $10,790 and utilize it forever. With this license, you don’t need to pay for license annually or yearly. Once you get this license, you can use it forever. However, you will pay subscription fees annually if you want the most recent updates on Altium. The annual subscription fee is $1995. However, you are free to use the software of you don’t want to subscribe. As long as you have gotten the perpetual license. Also, you will get a free trial for 15 days if you purchase this license.
Time based license
The time based license is the second type of license. Here, you will have to pay $325 every month. Also, you can purchase this license annually. The annual charge is $3850. Also, this plan offers 15-days free trial. Furthermore, the time base license gives you the opportunity to choose the duration you want the license. Time-based license is ideal for designers who have a stipulated tome to complete their project.
Note: Additional license options and price will influence price.
Which is better: Eagle or Altium?
Both Altium and Eagle are advanced PCB designers. Professional designers integrate any of these software applications in their design process. However, these softwares may differ in terms of what they offer and the benefits users get to enjoy from them.
Altium Designer offers a lot of advanced platform. This PCB design software enables stakeholders to maintain and review their design history such as previous versions, component changes, and layer stack modifications.
On the other hand, Eagle is a reliable software for every engineer. This design platform helps designers to achieve the transformation of their creativity and approach into reality. Eagle features advanced PCB layout, different schematic editing tools, and a lot more.
Eagle is popular in the PCB industry. The schematic editor of Eagle is very adaptive. This tool offers a powerful PCB design layout. Also, Eagle offers different workflows like unified electronic designs, MCAD to ECAD, and more.
Altium features more reliable Design rules checker (DRC) compared to Eagle. Furthermore, Altium Designer comes with more advanced features like high speed digital processing. In terms of team collaboration, Eagle offers better options. Also, Eagle offers better options as regards hardware based project. On the other hand, Altium Designer features a more powerful and reliable user interface.
Regarding pricing, Altium is more expensive than Eagle. Therefore, Eagle is a more affordable option. The free version of Eagle features fewer restrictions. Eagle’s library is more complex which makes it an issue for users
Having compared these PCB design softwares, we can see that both have distinct features. So, which is better? Well, this depends on cost and requirements. If you can need advanced features and you don’t care about the cost you would be paying to get them, the Altium is an ideal option.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the latest Altium Designer?
The most recent version of Altium is Altium Designer 22. This version comprises upgraded existing features and new ones. Also, Altium 22 offers a wide range of improvements that develop existing technologies. Also, each update integrates several enhancements and fixes. This latest Altium version helps you create cutting-edge PCB design.
Is Altium Designer Free?
Altium Designer is not free. You need to pay for subscription before you can use this software. However, this software offers 15-days trial for first time users. You can use Altium for 15 days by simply filling a form.
Which is better Eagle or Altium?
Altium makes creation of component and library handling much easier. On the other hand, Eagle is better for simulations. Altium has a limitation which is that it runs in Windows only. This is not the case as per Eagle, Eagle premium can run on any operating system. Eagle and Altium help a mechanical designer to achieve great design.
Furthermore, Altium Designer has a routing engine that allows users to create PCB layouts with routing alternatives like hugs and push. With its advanced pattern support, Altium has got you covered. Also, this software allows users to communicate design intent with their partners.
Altium offers training in the form of webinars and documentation. This software offers more flexible design tools which allow beginners to learn how to use this software easily. Altium Designer supports STEP models and MCAD systems. Furthermore, this software offers online PCB manufacturing service to mechanical designers.