Compare Altium Designer® vs. PADS®
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Provides advanced product design, collaboration, and PCB design tools required by large teams or professionals designing complex devices, yet easy to use for new designers and students.
PADS is an older commercial design program with a long track record of use by larger companies.
Schematic sheet limits
Hierarchical schematic capture with integrated analog mixed-signal simulation
Built-in SPICE simulator with model library and migration support for LTSpice/PSpice
Board size limits
100 in. by 100 in.
Signal and plane layer limits
32 signal + 16 plane + unlimited mechanical
PADS Standard - 186 combined signal & plane + 64 mechanical
PADS Professional - Unlimited
Rules-driven design for modern PCB (HDI, Rigid-flex, and Multiboard)
Advanced interactive routing features with built-in signal integrity tools
High speed design and rigid-flex design features included in standard license
Requires PADS Professional Premium license
Variant management tools for complex projects
Realistic layer stacks and a modern field solver for accurate impedances
Parts placement and routing in 3D
Photo-realistic 3D viewer with real-time clearance checking
Visual DC power distribution analysis in the PCB layout
Requires additional Power Analyzer license
Requires additional Siemens product (HyperLynx)
Library Management & Sourcing
Built-in BOM management with real-time supply chain
Unified libraries with symbols, footprints, simulation models, and distributor links
Access to models, parameters, and lifecycle data for millions of components
Requires PartQuest, may require additional license
Management of lifecycles, in-design validation, templates, and where-used for libraries
Advanced component data from IHS Markit®
Library health dashboard to monitor validity, quality, and risk issues
Outputs & Manufacturing
Built-in fabrication and assembly drawing generation tools
Intuitive interface for manufacturing output creation
Quickly generate ECOs, reports, and documentation
Customizable document templates for drawings
Requires additional Siemens product (Siemens NX)
Centralized management for manufacturing packages and communications
Share and view Gerbers, ODB++ files, and assembly steps in a browser
Support for multi-board systems and assemblies
Multi-board 3D product viewer from any web browser
Multi-board mechanical integration for SOLIDWORKS® 2020, 2021, and 2022
Built-in harness design tools
Requires additional Siemens product (Solid Edge or VeSys)
View and share renders of design files on any device with a web browser
Version control, templates, and component libraries stored in cloud
Requires additional Siemens product (Connect)
Built-in task management and commenting for design files and BOMs
Managed design reuse for schematics, layer stacks, and design templates
Project history for every change made to a design
Integration with MCAD applications including SOLIDWORKS®, PTC Creo® Parametric™, Autodesk Inventor®, Autodesk® Fusion 360™, and Siemens NX
SolidWorks, Catia, and Creo
Advanced integration with SOLIDWORKS® for MCAD component placement, copper geometry, enclosure exchange, and multi-board/rigid-flex sync
PLM integration with Arena® PLM, PTC Windchill, Aras PLM, Oracle Agile PLM, and Teamcenter®
Requires 3rd party solution
Multiple importer utilities to convert files from other ECAD platforms
Workflows & Processes
Configurable lifecycle management for design data and components
Managed workflows for part requests, design reviews, project creation/release, and lifecycle approvals
User, role, and group management with support for Single Sign-On (SSO)
Change notifications and change conflict prevention for design documents
Centralized control over design environments, document templates, and output files for every team member
Maintenance & Support
Monthly releases since Nov 2021 (active since 2000, formerly Protel 1985-2000)
16.0.1 (Released January 2022, active since 1992)
Backwards compatible with files from all previous releases
On-demand training courses, knowledge base, and community forums
Live chat and support tickets
Dedicated customer success manager check-ins and onboarding
Windows 10 and newer
MacOS 10.15 and newer
Starting at USD 355 / month
Starting at USD 2,999 / year
Perpetual License options
Multiple Subscription options
Altium Has Been Enabling Engineers
To Unify Their 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
- 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 PADS?
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, PADS 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 analog mixed signal simulation engine includes SPICE capabilities and IBIS model support
- Schematic entry tools give you access to comprehensive component libraries managed locally or in the cloud
- Multiple features make project, file, and design reuse quick and easy.
- Altium Designer’s layer stack calculator includes a built-in field solver for highly accurate impedance calculations
- Altium Designer’s PCB routing tools are easier to use than PADS and will keep you productive
- Access aggregated 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 productive, so you need everything to produce a new design and build in a single program. PADS still uses an outdated application structure, where important features are divided into separate programs and must be purchased piecemeal. Altium Designer is different, providing the same advanced tools found in PADS, but in a single application with a professional interface and easier learning curve. Don't pay more for fewer design tools in PADS, start using the software demanded by industry leaders and professional PCB designers.
Switching from PADS to Altium Designer?
If you're an existing PADS user, it's easy to make the switch and start designing 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. Altium Designer is the only solution built by PCB designers for PCB designers.
If you’re comparing Altium Designer vs. PADS, invest in a complete best PCB design software package with advanced layout and management features. Get access to the easiest to use and most powerful design software by making the switch to Altium Designer.
* Siemens PADS®,PADS®, and logo are registered trademarks owned by Siemens Industry Software Inc.
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