Compare Altium Designer® vs. OrCAD®
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Provides the most advanced PCB tools required by large teams and experienced professionals, yet still intuitive for new designers and students.
Hierarchical schematic capture with integrated SPICE simulation
PCB editor with basic CAD tools and routing utilities
Built-in 3D design features with STEP model support
Intuitive interface for manufacturing output creation
Built-in libraries with basic components and distributor links
Support for multi-board systems and assemblies
Realistic layer stacks employ 3D field solver for accurate impedances
Advanced interactive routing features with built-in signal integrity tools
Built-in fabrication and assembly drawing generation tools
Requires additional program
Quickly generate ECOs, reports, and documentation
Component management and BOM creation features with real-time supply chain data
Cloud integration with MCAD applications
Ability to collaborate with other users in a secure cloud platform
100% backwards compatible with files from all previous releases
100% forwards compatible with future product releases
(active since 2000,
formerly Protel 1985-2000)
Last Release October 2020
(active since 1985)
Integration with Other Design Tools
Export design data for use in advanced field solvers
Collaborate with mechanical teams with the MCAD CoDesigner extension
Multiple exporter utilities to interface with other ECAD platforms
Convert old projects from other applications with multiple importers
Board Size & Layer Limits
100 in. by 100 in.
40 in. by 30 in.
Signal and Plane Layers
32 signal + 16 plane + unlimited mechanical
200 layers total, license level limits the size of your board workspace and layer count
Unified design environment with all features in a single program
Ideal for new designers
Ideal for experienced designers
per Glassdoor Nov. 2021
Average Base Pay of Users
per Glassdoor Nov. 2021
$64,307 per year
($40k - $104k)
Not enough data
Ideal for service bureaus
Ideal for start-ups
Ideal for enterprises that need collaboration and integration
Windows Server 2016 Standard Edition (64-bit)
Windows Server 2012 R2 (64-bit)
Windows 10 (64-bit)
Windows 8 (64-bit)
Windows 7 or newer
OS X Yosemite (10.10.x)
El Capitan (10.11.x)
MacOS Sierra (10.12)
*64 bit version requires libc.so.6 with subversion GLIBC_2.14 or higher
Intel® Core™ i5 processor or equivalent
Intel® Core™ i7 4.30 GHz or AMD Ryzen™ 7 4.30 GHz with at least 4 cores
4 GB RAM
16 GB RAM
3 GB DDR4/DDR5 Video Memory
Dedicated graphics card supporting OpenGL, minimum 2GB (with additional support for DX11 for 3D Canvas)
12 GB disk space recommended
50GB disk space
Minimum 1920 × 1200
Microsoft Excel required for BOM,
Microsoft Access required for DbLibs
Linux users: 64 bit version requires libc.so.6 with subversion GLIBC_2.14 or higher
Starting at $325 / month
Multiple annual subscription levels for different features:
OrCAD Capture: $580
OrCAD PCB Designer Standard: $995
OrCAD PCB Designer Pro: $2,300
PSpice Designer: $2,400
PSpice Designer Plus: $4,800
Perpetual license option
Multiple subscription options
Altium Has Been Enabling Engineers
To Unify Their Design Environment Since 1985
- Unify your entire PCB design environment via one platform
- Interact and collaborate with mechanical designers like never before
- Enjoy the #1 PCB design solution in the world
- Route it your way, faster than ever
- Altium Designer includes all the critical design features hobbyists and professional designers need.
- It’s easy to convert projects from other software into Altium’s file format.
- Altium Designer sees the highest demand by employers and industry leaders.
- A complete toolset helps users take products from concept to high-volume production.
- Altium’s design features are the most intuitive and easiest-to-use.
- Individual engineers and large enterprises look to Altium to help them stay at the cutting edge of technology.
Trusted by over 20,000 companies, including
Since 1985, we have been developing, creating and selling award-winning electronic design tools (software and hardware) that help electronics designers harness the latest devices and technologies, manage their projects across broad design ‘ecosystems’, and create connected, intelligent designs.
Which is better: Altium Designer or OrCAD?
The biggest advantage for Altium Designer users is the powerful electronics development features and the ability to access all the essential PCB design features in a single program. In contrast, OrCAD users must purchase licenses for multiple programs at high expense to have the same capabilities. Large teams and experienced professionals trust the intuitive interface and complete set of design tools in Altium Designer for their projects:
- Comprehensive multichannel, hierarchical schematic capture
- Altium Designer’s integrated SPICE engine provides the same features as PSpice
- Altium Designer’s layer stack calculator includes a built-in field solver for highly accurate impedance calculations
- Altium Designer simplifies variant management and ECO generation
- Altium Designer’s powerful PCB layout and routing tools are easier to use than OrCAD’s
- Access real-time sourcing data with PCB library data inside Altium Designer
- Collaborate with your team and share design data through the Altium 365™ platform
Your PCB design software should help you stay competitive, and outdated design tools just won’t do the trick. OrCAD still uses an outdated toolset that separates important features into separate programs, leaving designs prone to errors. Altium Designer is different, providing the advanced tools professionals expect, but at an accessible price and learning curve. Don't get stuck in the past with OrCAD's outdated user interface, start using the software demanded by industry leaders and professional PCB designers.
Switching from OrCAD to Altium Designer?
Switching to Altium Designer from OrCAD might seem like a huge leap. If you're an existing OrCAD user, it's easy to make the switch and start using Altium Designer from Day 1. Altium Designer includes conversion tools for importing your old libraries and projects into Altium’s file format with minimal effort. All Altium Designer users can take advantage of free online resources to learn more about Altium's leading-edge design tools, basic principles, advanced techniques, new capabilities, and everything in-between. Don’t fear the unknown; Altium is the only solution built by PCB designers for PCB designers.
If you’re comparing Altium Designer vs. OrCAD, invest in your success and choose the industry’s best PCB design software package. Get access to the easiest to use and most powerful design software by making the switch to Altium Designer.
* Cadence OrCAD®, OrCAD®, and logo are registered trademarks owned by Cadence Design Systems, Inc.
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#1 in Electronics Design