Altium Designer® vs. Cadence OrCAD®
The Ultimate Comparison Guide

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.

OrCAD Cadence PCB Solutions

OrCAD is a legacy program that has proven itself for a broad range of designs, making it a preferred tool for experienced designers and older companies. Learn More

Key Features

Hierarchical schematic capture with integrated SPICE simulation

Supported in Altium Designer
Supported in OrCAD

PCB editor with basic CAD tools and routing utilities

Supported in Altium Designer
Supported in OrCAD

Built-in 3D design features with STEP model support

Supported in Altium Designer
Supported in OrCAD

Intuitive interface for manufacturing output creation

Supported in Altium Designer
Supported in OrCAD

Built-in libraries with basic components and distributor links

Supported in Altium Designer
Supported in OrCAD

Support for multi-board systems and assemblies

Supported in Altium Designer
Not Available in OrCAD

Realistic layer stacks employ 3D field solver for accurate impedances

Supported in Altium Designer
Not Available in OrCAD

Advanced interactive routing features with built-in signal integrity tools

Supported in Altium Designer
Supported in OrCAD

Built-in fabrication and assembly drawing generation tools

Supported in Altium Designer

Requires additional program

Quickly generate ECOs, reports, and documentation

Supported in Altium Designer
Not Available in OrCAD

Component management and BOM creation features with real-time supply chain data

Supported in Altium Designer
Not Available in OrCAD

Cloud integration with MCAD applications

Supported in Altium Designer
Supported in OrCAD

Ability to collaborate with other users in a secure cloud platform

Supported in Altium Designer
Supported in OrCAD

100% backwards compatible with files from all previous releases

Supported in Altium Designer
Not Available in OrCAD

100% forwards compatible with future product releases

Supported in Altium Designer
Not Available in OrCAD

Software updates

Monthly 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

Supported in Altium Designer
Supported in OrCAD

Collaborate with mechanical teams with the MCAD CoDesigner extension

Supported in Altium Designer
Not Available in OrCAD

Multiple exporter utilities to interface with other ECAD platforms

Supported in Altium Designer
Supported in OrCAD

Convert old projects from other applications with multiple importers

Supported in Altium Designer
Supported in OrCAD

Board Size & Layer Limits

Board Size

100 in. by 100 in.

40 in. by 30 in.

Schematic Sheets

Unlimited

999

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

Business Opportunities

Unified design environment with all features in a single program

Supported in Altium Designer
Not Available in OrCAD

Ideal for new designers

Supported in Altium Designer
Not Available in OrCAD

Ideal for experienced designers

Supported in Altium Designer
Supported in OrCAD

Job Offerings

per Glassdoor Nov. 2021

395 Jobs

96 Jobs

Average Base Pay of Users

per Glassdoor Nov. 2021

$64,307 per year
($40k - $104k)

Not enough data

Ideal for service bureaus

Supported in Altium Designer
Supported in OrCAD

Ideal for start-ups

Supported in Altium Designer
Supported in OrCAD

Ideal for enterprises that need collaboration and integration

Supported in Altium Designer
Not Available in OrCAD

Supported Platforms

Windows Server 2016 Standard Edition (64-bit)

Supported in Altium Designer
Supported in OrCAD

Windows Server 2012 R2 (64-bit)

Supported in Altium Designer
Supported in OrCAD

Windows 10 (64-bit)

Supported in Altium Designer
Supported in OrCAD

Windows 8 (64-bit)

Supported in Altium Designer
Supported in OrCAD

Windows 7 or newer

Supported in Altium Designer
Supported in OrCAD

OS X Yosemite (10.10.x)

Not Available in Altium Designer
Not Available in OrCAD

El Capitan (10.11.x)

Not Available in Altium Designer
Not Available in OrCAD

MacOS Sierra (10.12)

Not Available in Altium Designer
Not Available in OrCAD

Linux

Not Available in Altium Designer

*64 bit version requires libc.so.6 with subversion GLIBC_2.14 or higher

System Requirements

CPU

Intel® Core i5 processor or equivalent

Intel® Core i7 4.30 GHz or AMD Ryzen 7 4.30 GHz with at least 4 cores

RAM

4 GB RAM

16 GB RAM

Video Memory

3 GB DDR4/DDR5 Video Memory

Dedicated graphics card supporting OpenGL, minimum 2GB (with additional support for DX11 for 3D Canvas)

Disk Memory

12 GB disk space recommended

50GB disk space

Screen Resolution

Minimum 1600x1200

Minimum 1920 × 1200

Other

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

Pricing

Price

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

Time-based subscription

Supported in Altium Designer
Supported in OrCAD

Perpetual license option

Supported in Altium Designer
Supported in OrCAD

Multiple subscription options

Supported in Altium Designer
Supported in OrCAD

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

About Altium

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.

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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.

One Product.
Infinite PCB Design Power.

Full-feature design power with Altium Designer

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.

Try Altium Designer Today!

#1 in Electronics Design