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Top 15 Circuit Design Software Programmes in 2023

Posted:10:36 AM May 08, 2023 writer: ​NextPCB

Printed circuit boards (PCBs) are designed with the help of PCB circuit design software. Designing printed circuit boards is made easier with the help of PCB design tools. This article provides an overview of popular PCB circuit design software used worldwide, highlighting their advantages and disadvantages.

In this article,

What is PCB Circuit Design Software?

PCB Circuit Design Software

PCB circuit design software is a specialized tool for creating printed circuit board layouts. These layouts are the foundation of electronic products. The software helps designers plan and optimize the placement of components, routing of electrical connections, and overall board structure. The success of an electronic product relies heavily on the capabilities of the chosen PCB design software.

Choosing the right PCB layout software is crucial for a successful electronic product. Different software options offer varying capabilities, pros, and cons. By carefully selecting the appropriate software for your project, you'll optimize the design process and ensure a high-performing electronic product.

Why Use PCB Circuit Design Software?

In a world where electronics rule, Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) are essential. They're the backbone of countless gadgets and devices. Designing these tiny marvels is no small task. Enter PCB design software. A game-changer for the industry. Let’s discuss why we are interested in PCB design software. 

  • First, efficiency soars. PCB design software streamlines the process. From design to production, it's a breeze. Say goodbye to manual drafting. The software can catch all the errors and inconsistencies and thus saves time and money.
  • Next, collaboration thrives. PCB design software allows teams to work together seamlessly. Sharing projects? Simple. Real-time updates? Absolutely. No more confusion or miscommunication. Teamwork makes the dream work.
  • Then, there's versatility. Design software adapts to different projects. Big or small, simple or complex, it has your back. A one-size-fits-all solution for designers. Customize to your heart's content. The possibilities are endless.
  • Moreover, accuracy is king. With design software, precision is a given. No room for mistakes or oversight. Your designs are optimized for success. Trust the software. It's got you covered.

Top 15 PCB Circuit Design Software Programmes

Altium Designer

Altium Designer

A heavyweight in PCB design software, Altium Designer leads the pack. It boasts a user-friendly interface, robust library, and powerful features. Professionals and large companies prefer this software for its top-notch performance. Expect seamless integration with 3D modeling and mechanical CAD. Though pricey, Altium Designer is worth the investment.

  • Advantages: Comprehensive design environment, strong integration with other tools, extensive component libraries, and active user community.
  • Disadvantages: Expensive, steep learning curve, and may have too many features for some users.
  • User type: Professionals and advanced hobbyists.

Eagle PCB Design

Eagle PCB Design

Eagle is a popular choice among hobbyists and small businesses. Acquired by Autodesk, it offers a comprehensive set of tools at a competitive price. It's extensive libraries and active community make it a reliable option. Eagle's compatibility with Fusion 360 is an added bonus for mechanical design.

  • Advantages: User-friendly interface, cross-platform compatibility, and large component library.
  • Disadvantages: Limited functionality in the free version, lacks advanced features compared to other software.
  • User type: Beginners and intermediate users, startups.



KiCAD is an open-source software offering exceptional value. It's perfect for those starting in PCB design or working on a budget. With a growing community and continuous updates, it competes with paid solutions. KiCAD's 3D viewer and push-and-shove routing are standout features.

  • Advantages: Open-source, cross-platform compatibility, and active community.
  • Disadvantages: Limited in features compared to commercial software, and may have a steeper learning curve for some users.
  • User type: Hobbyists, makers, and small businesses.



A widely used professional software, OrCAD delivers reliability and power. Its extensive set of tools make it suitable for complex projects. OrCAD's simulation and analysis capabilities are notable. However, its learning curve and pricing make it a better fit for experienced designers and larger companies.

  • Advantages: Industry standard, powerful simulation capabilities, and extensive component libraries.
  • Disadvantages: Expensive, complex interface, and steep learning curve.
  • User type: Professionals and advanced users.



PADS caters to the needs of engineers working on complex PCB designs. Its advanced features, like constraint management and interactive routing, streamline the design process. PADS is best suited for mid-sized companies due to its price and capabilities.

  • Advantages: Robust design environment, good simulation capabilities, and strong component libraries.
  • Disadvantages: Expensive and may have a steep learning curve.
  • User type: Professionals and advanced users.



DipTrace offers an affordable, yet capable alternative to premium software. Its intuitive interface and learning resources are perfect for beginners. DipTrace shines with its customizable libraries and multi-sheet schematics. Its scalability makes it a solid choice for growing businesses.

  • Advantages: Intuitive interface, affordable pricing, and good export options.
  • Disadvantages: Limited in features compared to other software and smaller component library.
  • User type: Beginners and intermediate users.



CircuitMaker is a free, community-driven software that targets hobbyists and makers. Developed by Altium, it borrows features from its premium sibling. CircuitMaker's cloud-based platform promotes collaboration and sharing of resources. However, it may lack some advanced tools professionals require.

  • Advantages: Free, user-friendly interface, and collaborative features.
  • Disadvantages: Limited in features compared to other software and requires an internet connection.
  • User type: Hobbyists, makers, and students.


Proteus pcb design software

Proteus is a versatile software, that combines PCB design with simulation capabilities. Its real-time simulation and visual debugging set it apart from competitors. Proteus is an excellent choice for educational purposes or small businesses needing an all-in-one solution.

  • Advantages: Good simulation capabilities, affordable pricing, and an intuitive interface.
  • Disadvantages: Limited in features compared to other software and lacks advanced routing options.
  • User type: Intermediate users, educators, and students.


CADSTAR pcb design software

CADSTAR is a powerful, yet affordable option for PCB design. It caters to small and medium-sized companies with its scalable features. CADSTAR's constraint-driven design and customizable toolsets make it an adaptable choice. Its compatibility with enterprise-level solutions allows for seamless expansion.

  • Advantages: Scalable solution, good for high-speed designs, and offers extensive component libraries.
  • Disadvantages: Steep learning curve and may be expensive for some users.
  • User type: Professionals and advanced users.


EasyEDA pcb design software

EasyEDA is a browser-based PCB design software that's free and easy to use. Its extensive library and community support make it a popular choice for hobbyists. EasyEDA's integration with LCSC and JLCPCB simplifies the process from design to production.

  • Advantages: Cloud-based, easy to use, and free for basic features.
  • Disadvantages: Limited in features compared to other software and requires an internet connection.
  • User type: Beginners, hobbyists, and makers.


Pulsonix pcb design software

Pulsonix is feature-rich software that caters to professionals and small businesses. Its intuitive interface, customizable libraries, and advanced routing tools make it a strong contender. Pulsonix's seamless migration from other software platforms is a unique selling point.

  • Advantages: Easy to learn, powerful features, and good simulation capabilities.
  • Disadvantages: Limited in features compared to other software and may be expensive for some users.
  • User type: Intermediate and professional users.

DesignSpark PCB

DesignSpark PCB

DesignSpark PCB is a free software from RS Components that targets hobbyists and small businesses. Its ease of use, vast libraries, and 3D visualization makes it a solid choice. DesignSpark PCB's integration with DesignSpark Mechanical is beneficial for those needing a complete design solution.

  • Advantages: Free, easy to use, and offers a good range of basic features.
  • Disadvantages: Limited in features compared to other software and lacks advanced routing options.
  • User type: Beginners, hobbyists, and makers.

Solidworks PCB

Solidworks PCB Design Software

Solidworks PCB bridges the gap between electrical and mechanical design. It offers seamless integration with Solidworks CAD software. Its collaboration tools and powerful features make it ideal for multidisciplinary teams. However, its price and learning curve may not suit hobbyists or smaller businesses.

  • Advantages: Seamless integration with Solidworks 3D CAD, good collaboration features, and robust design capabilities.
  • Disadvantages: Expensive and may have a steep learning curve.
  • User type: Professionals and advanced users.


CircuitStudio PCB design software

CircuitStudio is a more affordable alternative to Altium Designer, targeting small businesses and individual designers. Powered by Altium, it includes many features from its premium counterpart. Its ease of use, customizable libraries, and smooth 3D integration make it a reliable choice for those on a budget.

  • Advantages: Affordable, easy to use, and based on Altium technology.
  • Disadvantages: Limited in features compared to Altium Designer and smaller component library.
  • User type: Intermediate users, small businesses, and advanced hobbyists.


ExpressPCB PCB Design Software

ExpressPCB is a free, lightweight software aimed at beginners and hobbyists. It offers a simple interface and essential design tools. While it lacks advanced features, its compatibility with ExpressPCB's manufacturing services streamlines the design-to-production process. It's an excellent starting point for those new to PCB design.

  • Advantages: Free, easy to use, and offers a good range of basic features.
  • Disadvantages: Limited in features compared to other software, proprietary file format, and lacks advanced routing options.
  • User type: Beginners, hobbyists, and makers.

PCB Circuit Design Software Comparision

Let's compare some of the topmost PCB circuit design software in terms of the most used parameters.

Software Advantages Disadvantages User Type Pricing
Altium Designer Comprehensive design, strong Expensive, steep learning curve Professionals, advanced hobbyists Contact for pricing
Eagle PCB Design User-friendly, cross-platform Limited functionality in free version Beginners, intermediate, startups Free - $1695
KiCAD Open-source, cross-platform Limited features, steeper learning curve Hobbyists, makers, small businesses Free
OrCAD Industry standard, powerful Expensive, complex interface Professionals, advanced users Contact for pricing
PADS Robust design, good simulation Expensive, steep learning curve Professionals, advanced users Contact for pricing
DipTrace Intuitive interface, affordable Limited features, smaller library Beginners, intermediate users Free - $1195
CircuitMaker Free, user-friendly, collaborative Limited features, requires internet Hobbyists, makers, students Free
Proteus Good simulation, affordable Limited features, lacks advanced routing Intermediate, educators, students Contact for pricing
CADSTAR Scalable, high-speed designs Steep learning curve, expensive Professionals, advanced users Contact for pricing
EasyEDA Cloud-based, easy to use, free Limited features, requires internet Beginners, hobbyists, makers Free - $9.9/month
Pulsonix Easy to learn, powerful Limited features, expensive Intermediate, professional users Contact for pricing
DesignSpark PCB Free, easy to use Limited features, lacks advanced routing Beginners, hobbyists, makers Free
Solidworks PCB Seamless integration, collaboration Expensive, steep learning curve Professionals, advanced users Contact for pricing
CircuitStudio Affordable, based on Altium Limited features, smaller library Intermediate, small businesses Contact for pricing
ExpressPCB Free, easy to use Limited features, proprietary format Beginners, hobbyists, makers Free

Online vs Offline PCB Software Comparision

In PCB design, the choice between online and offline software is critical. Below are some of the comparative points among both:


Online software wins the accessibility round. Access your designs from any device, anywhere, anytime. Internet is all you need. Offline software, on the other hand, requires installation on specific devices. Portability is limited.


Offline software takes the trophy in performance. Installed on your computer, it relies on your hardware resources. Fast and powerful. Online software, however, can be sluggish. Your work pace depends on the internet connection and server capabilities.


The collaboration crown goes to online software. Team members can work on designs simultaneously. Real-time updates and version control are the norms. Offline software lacks these perks. File sharing and version tracking can be a hassle.

Features and Capabilities

Offline software often boasts more advanced features. Rich toolsets and comprehensive functionality. Online software may lag in this department. However, for beginners or simple projects, online tools may suffice.


Online software often comes with a subscription-based model. Monthly or annual fees. Offline software is typically a one-time purchase. While it may seem pricey upfront, it can save money in the long run. Free options exist in both categories but with limited features.

Updates and Maintenance

Online software gets the edge in updates and maintenance. Automatic updates ensure you're always using the latest version. No manual intervention is needed. Offline software requires manual updates, which can be time-consuming.


Thus, online and offline PCB software each has its strengths and weaknesses. Consider your needs, resources, and project complexity. If you value accessibility, collaboration, and ease of use, online software is your champion. If performance, security, and advanced features matter most, offline software is the way to go. Choose wisely, and let your PCB design journey begin.


Thus, PCB circuit design software helps the engineering model PCB for electronic devices. They include the tools that could help the organizations to design, manufacture and test the high and best quality PCBs. Engineers and manufacturers using this PCB circuit design software can produce the more complex PCB faster with a high degree of accuracy. These tools can also test the failed models of PCB and can also integrate with other software. 

Tag: Circuit Design Software
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