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Altium vs OrCAD: What’s the Difference?

Choosing the right software for PCB design for the fabrication of your printed circuits is a crucial step for electronics engineers. Currently, there is a ton of softwares for PCB design available online. The best PCB Designing software will be challenging to select from all of the available possibilities.

Anyone interested in the electronics business should use Altium and OrCad. They are currently the most popular PCB design software available. Which of them will you choose to create your circuits with? Which is preferable – Altium vs Orcad?

Let’s get to know them before we decide. As a result, you can decide wisely and receive the best for you.

Altium PCB Designer Altium Ltd. of Australia created Altium Designer, a PCB as well as electronic design software package. It is an all-encompassing tool that enables the design, simulation, and production of electronic goods. 2005 saw the introduction of Altium Designer by Altium, which was then known as Protel Systems Pty Ltd.

Its beginnings can be traced back to 1985, when the business released PCB Protel, a DOS-based tool for PCB design.

Characteristics of the Altium PCB Designer

PCB Layout in Chinese PCB Manufactuer
PCB Layout in Chinese PCB Manufactuer

Supply Chain Management System

You may quickly create a BOM for your projects. There won’t be any misunderstandings with your manufacturer.

From a centralized location, you can easily and quickly view the whole of your manufacturing information. You’ll have more tools at your disposal to produce a successful product. The users will enjoy using this function, which makes tracking easier.

Unified Library Management

Each of the libraries that make up its feature library is a collection of useful models as well as components. Its schematic symbols, PCB footprints, lifespan status, as well as supply chain planning are all centrally located on this sophisticated platform. Users get access to this data as well as collaborative capabilities that can facilitate better project management and product development.


Integrating ECAD with MCAD is offered by Altium. This functionality now makes it feasible to sync with different CAD systems including PTC Creo Parametric, SOLIDWORKS, Autodesk Fusion 360 or Autodesk Inventor. It was among the elements that helped Altium to be included among the best softwares for PCB design on the market.

Cloud-based Platform

Altium Designer is a development and design application that is cloud-hosted, allowing users to work from anywhere. People can watch it as a result from anywhere as long as they possess internet connectivity. Now, project team members can create as well as update various projects from a distance.

With an Altium Subscription, you get something free called Altium 365. Using Altium 365, users can easily create, collaborate on, produce, and handle all aspect of their project in one location.

Schematic capture

You may quickly document your design using a variety of tools, including design verification, variant management, as well as netlist generation.

Pros and Cons of Altium Designer


Pros of Altium Designer

  • Advanced Management of the Supply Chain
  • Real-time supplier pricing with the ActiveBOM
  • Native3D visualization Check for mechanical clearance
  • centralized data for design with high security
  • MCAD/ECAD partnership that is simplified for merging mechanical design and PCB design.

Cons of the Altium Designer

  • Not everyone may be able to pay the exorbitant price.
  • Periodic complaints of bugs or crashes while working on computers with low spec

What are the Platforms Supported?

  • 64-bit Windows 8
  • 64-bit Windows 10
  • 64-bit Windows 2012
  • 64-bit 2016 Standard Edition Windows Server

Is the Altium Designer Really Worth it?

The product is there for you if you’re a person or company trying to increase production and conduct research or production at industry standards.

Altium includes tools to automate the majority of design activities so you can concentrate on optimizing your design. These features include powerful and quick editors, reduced navigation because of the high integration level, and more.

Professionals can use it due to the advanced features, and beginners as well as students may use easily thanks to its user-friendly interface. Therefore, Altium Designer seems to be the best software to choose if you really can purchase it.

What is the OrCAD PCB Designer?

 Electronic design professionals as well as electronics technicians frequently use the circuit simulation and designing program OrCAD. OrCAD is a unique design automation system which is developed by the software company OrCAD Systems Corporation.

Cadence Design Systems bought OrCAD in 1999 after it was founded in 1983. OrCAD as a program, may be used to create circuit boards and electronic circuit diagrams. It also has the potential to mimic how those gadgets work.

The Core Elements of OrCAD

System for Schematic Entry Using the OrCAD Capture

The tool for schematic entry of an OrCAD Capture is one of the most popular circuit diagram tools in the world and is very effective. It employs flat or hierarchical schematics, which can be organized thematically in accordance with a navigation panel’s functional blocks.

SPECCTRA automatic routing

With the absence of layer limit, the SPECCTRA auto routing feature aids PCB routing. The layout could be affected by changing a number of factors. The OrCAD auto router additionally considers high-speed rules including propagation delay. A board can be routed with some layers if quick feasibility investigations indicate that it is feasible.

Physical Layout Circuit Board Editor:

Creating a Pcb board is significantly simpler in the latest PCB Editor. It is able to generate the physical design using traces, planes, component footprints, and holes using a variety of new automated tools. Rule tests are carried out in real-time so as to make the design ready so that it may be implemented rapidly.

Constraint Manager

The Constraint Manager makes it simpler to assign topologies as well as define rules. It is possible to define rules and simultaneously assign them to several nets based on the hierarchy. Both electrical and physical rules are accepted. Once developed, you can import rules and then apply them to subsequent designs.

OrCAD PCB flow’s PSpice Integration

PCB flow provides PSpice’s core functionality. OrCAD Capture’s tool for schematic entry is useful for building a design that can be used to drive the PSpice simulation. When placing and routing the components, your PCB Editor performs checks on your generated data.

Electrical Rules Check

Utilizing online databases as well as user-defined inputs, the ERC tool enables the designer to immediately discover and correct any mistakes without any need for external setup. Even without a simulation model, an ERC check can be carried out after you are done with the PCB stack-up as well as routing geometry. This allows for the detection and repair/redesign of discontinuities in parallel traces or impedance.

Simulation of Signal Integrity

The default IBIS models or the Cadence models could be utilized for simulation and analysis with regard to signal integrity. By choosing a net inside the schematic, you may conduct a simulation so as to check the signal integrity and prevent mistakes from occurring later in the development process. For the purpose of analyzing its signal quality, the impedance or length can be modified.

High-Speed Restrictions

High-speed signals may be subject to an additional set of regulations. They must adhere to the transmission line design guidelines. These may be specified in its Constraint Manager as well as supported by DRCs during layout. The DRCs can account for variables like min-max length, routing layers, differential impedance, etc.

What Makes OrCAD Circuit Board Designer Special?

Fast and simple schematic designs are offered by the OrCAD Circuit board designer. You may simulate MATLAB/Simulink designs using PSpice and OrCAD. It differs from other applications on the market because of this feature.

Real-Time Feedback assists in maintaining data synchronization between the CAD tools, identifying and fixing mistakes automatically. If the DRC is operational, it will identify and alert when there is any problem with your design.

Also it simplifies the process of comparing and interpreting data between both the canvas as well as the Circuit board editor.

Pros and Cons of Choosing the OrCAD Circuit Board Designer


Pros of OrCAD Circuit Board Designer

  • Interactive Routing enables quick and efficient routing.
  • Using automatic CDIR feedback, design errors can be minimized.
  • easier to build as well as manage shapes when editing and routing.
  • OrCAD has the ability to simulate and open MATLAB designs.
  • BGA Fanout Routing With Auto-Assist
  • Circuit design made easier with the Via Creation function

Cons of OrCAD Circuit Board Designer

  • OrCAD relies on individual programs, and its low level integration makes working on complicated projects a little difficult.
  • Only a few libraries are offered without charge. Older versions lack 3D modeling.

Supported Platforms

The platforms supported includes

  • Windows 7 Ultimate, Enterprise, Home Premium or Professional (64-bit)
  • All Service Packs for 64-bit Windows 8
  • 64-bit Windows 10
  • All the Service Packs for Windows 2012
  • R2 Server Windows 2008

Worth Acquiring OrCAD Circuit Board Designer?

The OrCAD Circuit board designer is an application that is utilized globally in a wide range of industries and applications. OrCAD will offer a practical option if you need to operate on server boards, motherboards, or other sizable tasks.

Additionally, it makes the placement of user component and debugging easy. OrCAD Circuit board designer is indeed a worthwhile option to take into account when choosing software because of its scalability and pricing options.

Comparing Altium and OrCAD

Free Trial

The key feature of Altium would be that they offer a 15-day free trial to all other clients asides students and a license that lasts for 6 months is given to students. Students from all over the world have access to the free online system known as the Altium Academic Program. With this they will gain access to expert engineering and content solutions.

Additionally, you can request OrCAD software’s free trial. Because we may download as well as install this trial version initially, we can try the software and not pay initially. If the program satisfies our requirements, we may then purchase the complete version.

Controlled Impedance and Trace Routing

shows the layout after correcting these three types of errors.
shows the layout after correcting these three types of errors.

Both programs have a lot of functionality, but they also have some key differences. In comparison to Altium, OrCAD lacks a sizable number of functions for controlled impedance and trace routing.


Thanks to Altium’s wide selection of these software solutions, you may quickly connect it to any system or product. It is especially useful for large scale jobs and projects because it could be integrated into a variety of different technologies.

An easy-to-use tool for creating 3D models out of data is called OrCAD. Large projects, however, are not a good fit for it due to its limited integration and ability to deal with simple and small projects and tasks.


A sizable number of libraries for Altium are offered without charge. With OrCAD, this does not happen. Just few libraries are being distributed without charge.

Student Program at no cost

Students from all over the world can access content as well as expert technical solutions through the Altium Education Program. Students will receive an Altium license for six months. For the time of study, the license has a validity of six months, which can be renewed each six months. Over 200,000 components, design templates, and other resources are available from Altium.

With the help of this OrCAD Program, research teams, teachers, and students can learn how to design but also analyze electronic hardware as well as produce it. Verified students can receive a free OrCAD education license through this OrCAD program.

However, the academic version of OrCAD is only compatible with Windows. Also, there is no support for virtual machines. Only students with legitimate academic email accounts may apply for the program. The license won’t be given out until after 30 days.


Although Altium Designer is a bit expensive, you will receive a product with higher value and service. OrCAD offers a perpetual license as well as a time-based license, just like Altium.

Altium vs Orcad – Final Verdict

Which of the two PCB design programs, Altium or OrCAD, is better? They are great tools for designing circuit boards. Altium Designer costs a little more, but you’ll get a superior product with better support and better value. OrCAD is constrained in its ability to produce goods of higher quality.

Because of the unique and distinctive characteristics it provides, Altium Designer emerges as the better and superior product in this Altium vs OrCAD comparison.




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