Compare Altium Designer® vs. KiCAD EDA
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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 analog mixed-signal simulation
PCB editor with CAD tools and routing utilities
Built-in 3D viewer with support for STEP models
Intuitive interface for CAM file generation
Extensions for high-quality fabrication and assembly drawing creation
Built-in component libraries with symbols and footprints
Realistic layer stacks and a modern field solver for accurate impedances
Advanced interactive routing features with built-in signal integrity tools
Component and BOM management features with real-time supply chain data
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 2022
(active since 1992)
Integration with Other Design Tools
Export design data for use in advanced field solvers and SI/PI/EMI simulators
Cloud integration with MCAD tools and simulation applications
Multiple importer utilities to convert files from other ECAD platforms
Convert old projects from other applications with multiple importers
Board Size & Layer Limits
100 in. by 100 in.
84 in. by 84 in.
Signal and Plane Layers
32 signal + 16 plane + unlimited mechanical
32 total copper layers
Access all design and manufacturing features in a single application
Ideal for new designers
Ideal for experienced designers
per Glassdoor Dec. 2022
Average Base Pay of Users
per Glassdoor Feb. 2022
$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 8.1 (64-bit)
Windows 8 (64-bit)
OS X Yosemite (10.10.x)
El Capitan (10.11.x)
MacOS (10.15 and newer)
Intel® Core™ i5 processor or equivalent
Intel 32 bit or 64 bit processor
4GB RAM, 3GB DDR4/DDR5 Video Memory
1GB RAM (2GB Recommended)
12 GB disk space recommended
10 GB disk space recommended
Microsoft Excel required for BOM,
Microsoft Access required for DbLibs
Microsoft Excel required for BOM
Starting at $325 / month
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 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.
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.
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