Altium Designer® vs. KiCAD EDA
The Ultimate Comparison Guide

Compare Altium Designer® vs. KiCAD EDA

Close All Details Expand All Details
alt-logo-10.svg

Provides the most advanced PCB tools required by large teams and experienced professionals, yet still intuitive for new designers and students.

KiCAD EDA

An open-source platform built by a community of experienced developers. KiCAD is a popular first choice for newer ECAD software users and beginner engineers. Learn More

Key Features

Hierarchical schematic capture with integrated analog mixed-signal simulation

Supported in Altium Designer
Supported in KiCAD

PCB editor with CAD tools and routing utilities

Supported in Altium Designer
Supported in KiCAD

Built-in 3D viewer with support for STEP models

Supported in Altium Designer
Supported in KiCAD

Intuitive interface for CAM file generation

Supported in Altium Designer
Not Available in KiCAD

Extensions for high-quality fabrication and assembly drawing creation

Supported in Altium Designer
Not Available in KiCAD

Built-in component libraries with symbols and footprints

Supported in Altium Designer
Supported in KiCAD

Realistic layer stacks and a modern field solver for accurate impedances

Supported in Altium Designer
Not Available in KiCAD

Advanced interactive routing features with built-in signal integrity tools

Supported in Altium Designer
Not Available in KiCAD

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

Supported in Altium Designer
Not Available in KiCAD

Ability to collaborate with other users in a secure cloud platform

Supported in Altium Designer
Not Available in KiCAD

100% backwards compatible with files from all previous releases

Supported in Altium Designer
Supported in KiCAD

100% forwards compatible with future product releases

Supported in Altium Designer
Not Available in KiCAD

Software updates

Monthly Releases
(active since 2000,
formerly Protel 1985-2000)

Last Release October 2022
(active since 1992)

Integration with Other Design Tools

Export design data for use in advanced field solvers and SI/PI/EMI simulators

Supported in Altium Designer
Not Available in KiCAD

Cloud integration with MCAD tools and simulation applications

Supported in Altium Designer
Not Available in KiCAD

Multiple importer utilities to convert files from other ECAD platforms

Supported in Altium Designer
Supported in KiCAD

Convert old projects from other applications with multiple importers

Supported in Altium Designer
Supported in KiCAD

Board Size & Layer Limits

Board Size

100 in. by 100 in.

84 in. by 84 in.

Schematic Sheets

Unlimited

999

Signal and Plane Layers

32 signal + 16 plane + unlimited mechanical

32 total copper layers

Business Opportunities

Access all design and manufacturing features in a single application

Supported in Altium Designer
Not Available in KiCAD

Ideal for new designers

Supported in Altium Designer
Supported in KiCAD

Ideal for experienced designers

Supported in Altium Designer
Not Available in KiCAD

Job Offerings

per Glassdoor Dec. 2022

639 Jobs

77 Jobs

Average Base Pay of Users

per Glassdoor Feb. 2022

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

Not enough data

Ideal for service bureaus

Supported in Altium Designer
Not Available in KiCAD

Ideal for start-ups

Supported in Altium Designer
Supported in KiCAD

Ideal for enterprises that need collaboration and integration

Supported in Altium Designer
Not Available in KiCAD

Supported Platforms

Windows Server 2016 Standard Edition (64-bit)

Supported in Altium Designer
Supported in KiCAD

Windows Server 2012 R2 (64-bit)

Supported in Altium Designer
Supported in KiCAD

Windows 10 (64-bit)

Supported in Altium Designer
Supported in KiCAD

Windows 8.1 (64-bit)

Supported in Altium Designer
Supported in KiCAD

Windows 8 (64-bit)

Supported in Altium Designer
Not Available in KiCAD

Windows 7

Supported in Altium Designer
Not Available in KiCAD

OS X Yosemite (10.10.x)

Not Available in Altium Designer
Not Available in KiCAD

El Capitan (10.11.x)

Not Available in Altium Designer
Not Available in KiCAD

MacOS (10.15 and newer)

Not Available in Altium Designer
Supported in KiCAD

Linux

Not Available in Altium Designer
Supported in KiCAD

System Requirements

CPU

Intel® Core i5 processor or equivalent

Intel 32 bit or 64 bit processor

RAM

4GB RAM, 3GB DDR4/DDR5 Video Memory

1GB RAM (2GB Recommended)

Disk Memory

12 GB disk space recommended

10 GB disk space recommended

Other

Microsoft Excel required for BOM,
Microsoft Access required for DbLibs

Microsoft Excel required for BOM

Pricing

Price

Starting at $325 / month

Free

Altium Enables the Most Advanced Designs
via a Unified Design Environment Since 1985

  • Unify your entire PCB design environment via one platform
  • Enjoy the #1 PCB design solution in the world
  • Interact and collaborate with mechanical designers like never before
  • Access high speed design tools not found in free PCB design software
  • Route it your way, faster than ever
  • 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

About teaser:  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.

Leader badge high-performer-bw Momentum Leader best-pcb-software

Which is better: Altium Designer or KiCAD?

KiCAD was built to satisfy the needs of hobbyists, startup companies, students, and new designers interested in free PCB design software. However, it was built with the same disjointed architecture as many other open-source PCB design programs. Important design features are split into 5 different applications that isolate tasks and capabilities, and the KiCAD EDA suite misses many important features that are demanded by industry professionals. Altium’s mission in developing Altium Designer was to create the most powerful yet easiest to use PCB design application, where all professional design features are available in a single platform.

The biggest advantage Altium Designer offers over KiCAD is the ability to access all the essential PCB design features in a single program. Industry-standard capabilities like CAM tools, a layer stack editor with integrated field solver, high speed analysis features, and many powerful extensions are included in Altium Designers. Large teams and experienced professionals trust the powerful interface and complete set of design tools in Altium Designer for their projects:

  • Comprehensive multichannel, hierarchical schematic capture that supports multi-board assemblies
  • Altium Designer’s integrated analog mixed signal simulation engine includes SPICE capabilities and IBIS model support
  • Schematic capture tools give you access to comprehensive component libraries
  • Altium Designer’s layer stack calculator includes a built-in field solver for highly accurate impedance calculations
  • Altium Designer’s PCB routing tools provide greater automation than the routing features in KiCAD, which helps you stay more productive 
  • Access real-time sourcing data for your components and PCB libraries inside Altium Designer
  • Collaborate with your team and share design data through the Altium 365 platform

When you’re ready to move into the realm of professional PCB design, make sure your software helps you stay competitive and productive. Instead of using an outdated application structure in the free KiCAD EDA suite, use the advanced set of design and manufacturing tools found in Altium Designer. A professional interface and soft learning curve can help you elevate your design skills to the levels demanded by industry leaders and professional PCB designers.

Upgrade to a Professional
PCB Design Experience

Level up to  Altium Designer

Switching from KiCAD to Altium Designer?

Existing KiCAD users can easily make the switch to Altium Designer without losing their old projects. Altium Designer includes conversion tools for importing KiCAD projects and libraries into Altium’s file format with minimal effort, allowing you to start designing from Day 1. All Altium Designer users have access to a free online resource library so that they can learn more about Altium's leading-edge design tools, basic design principles, advanced layout and routing techniques, new platform capabilities, and much more.

If you’re comparing Altium Designer vs. open source KiCAD, invest in the best PCB design software package with advanced layout and project management features. Get access to the easiest to use and most powerful design software by making the switch to Altium Designer. 

Try Altium Designer Today!

#1 in Electronics Design