Altium Designer® vs. Zuken CADSTAR™
The Ultimate Comparison Guide
Compare Altium Designer® vs. Zuken CADSTAR™
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Provides the most advanced PCB tools required by large teams and independent engineers, yet still intuitive to 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
Built-in component libraries with symbols and footprints
SPICE simulator with simulation model library and advanced analysis features
Extensions for high-quality fabrication and assembly drawing creation
Variant management tools for complex projects
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 January 2022
(active since 1992)
Integration with Other Design Tools
Cloud integration with MCAD tools and simulation applications
Multiple importer utilities to convert files from other ECAD platforms
Export design data for use in advanced field solvers and SI/PI/EMI simulators
Board Size & Layer Limits
100 in. by 100 in.
300 in. by 300 in.
Unlimited Schematic Sheets
Signal and Plane Layers
32 signal + 16 plane + unlimited mechanical
255 total layers
Access all design and manufacturing features in a single application
Ideal for new designers
Ideal for experienced designers
per Glassdoor March. 2022
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 11 (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 (10.15 and newer)
Intel® Core™ i5 processor or equivalent
Intel® Core i7 processor or equivalent
4GB RAM, 3GB DDR4/DDR5 Video Memory
At least 16GB RAM, 512MB virtual memory / paging file
12 GB disk space recommended
2 GB disk space recommended
Microsoft Excel required for BOM,
Microsoft Access required for DbLibs
ODBC capability required for supply chain management
Subscription: Starting at $325 / month
Perpetual: USD 10,790
Multiple perpetual licenses for different features:
Base: USD 4,699
Advanced HS: USD 7,269
Advanced 3D: USD 7,689
Ultimate: USD 10,999
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
- Access high speed design tools not found in free PCB design software
- Control your supply chain: access real-time data from distributors as you pick parts
- 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
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 Zuken CADSTAR?
Altium knows that professional design teams need to stay productive and work in a collaborative, unified design environment. Altium Designer was built with the need of professional designers in mind while also enabling advanced designs and application areas. With a complete set of design and automation features in a single application, users are ready to quickly design simple parts or advanced electronic assemblies from day one.
Zuken CADSTAR was also intended to satisfy the needs of professional designers, ranging from small companies and startups to larger enterprises. However, it was built with the same disjointed architecture as other PCB design applications. Users have to purchase progressively higher subscription levels to access features that are standard in other ECAD software packages. The Zuken CADSTAR suite also misses many important features that are needed to ensure smooth part selection, sourcing, production, and transition to volume manufacturing. Altium Designer overcomes these challenges through comprehensive integration with the electronics supply chain. All this is included in Altium Designer alongside the industry’s best CAD features, board planning and layout features, and much more.
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 Zuken CADSTAR is the ability to access all the essential PCB design features in a single program without buying additional modules. Altium takes professional features to the next level with the best set of professional CAD features for modern electronics.
Industry-standard capabilities like instant manufacturing output generation, CAM tools, a layer stack editor with integrated field solver, high speed analysis features, and many powerful extensions are included in Altium Designer. 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
- A mixed signal simulation SPICE engine with IBIS model support
- The schematic editor gives with access to verified component models and supplier information
- A built-in field solver for highly accurate impedance calculations inside the Layer Stack Manager
- Altium Designer’s PCB routing tools provide powerful automation while still being easy to use
- Access real-time sourcing data and CAD models for your components in your PCB libraries
- Collaborate with your team and share design data through the Altium 365™ platform
When you’re ready to turbocharge your productivity and competitiveness, you need software that helps you design with confidence. Instead of using an outdated application structure in the Zuken CADSTAR suite, use the advanced set of design, sourcing, and manufacturing tools found in Altium Designer. The intuitive interface and instant access to critical data helps you quickly move through the design process and seamlessly transition to market. Stay productive, efficient, and competitive with Altium Designer.
Switching from CADSTAR to Altium Designer?
Existing Zuken CADSTAR users can easily make the switch to Altium Designer without losing their old projects. Altium Designer includes conversion tools for importing Zuken 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. Zuken CADSTAR, 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.
* Zuken CADSTAR™,CADSTAR™, eCADSTAR™ and logo are registered trademarks owned by Zuken, LTD
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#1 in Electronics Design