Free Trials

Download a free trial to find out which Altium software best suits your needs

How to Buy

Contact your local sales office to get started on improving your design environment


Download the latest in PCB design and EDA software

  • Altium Designer

    Complete Environment for Schematic + Layout

  • CircuitStudio

    Entry Level, Professional PCB Design Tool

  • CircuitMaker

    Community Based PCB Design Tool


    Agile PCB Design For Teams

  • Altium 365

    Connecting PCB Design to the Manufacturing Floor

  • Altium Concord Pro

    Complete Solution for Library Management

  • Octopart

    Extensive, Easy-to-Use Component Database

  • PDN Analyzer

    Natural and Effortless Power Distribution Network Analysis

  • See All Extensions

    World-Renowned Technology for Embedded Systems Development

  • Live Courses

    Learn best practices with instructional training available worldwide

  • On-Demand Courses

    Gain comprehensive knowledge without leaving your home or office

  • Altium 365 Viewer

    View & Share electronic designs in your browser

  • Altium Designer 20

    The most powerful, modern and easy-to-use PCB design tool for professional use


    Annual PCB Design Summit

    • Forum

      Where Altium users and enthusiasts can interact with each other

    • Blog

      Our blog about things that interest us and hopefully you too

    • Ideas

      Submit ideas and vote for new features you want in Altium tools

    • Bug Crunch

      Help make the software better by submitting bugs and voting on what's important

    • Wall

      A stream of events on AltiumLive you follow by participating in or subscribing to

    • Beta Program

      Information about participating in our Beta program and getting early access to Altium tools

    All Resources

    Explore the latest content from blog posts to social media and technical white papers gathered together for your convenience


    Take a look at what download options are available to best suit your needs

    How to Buy

    Contact your local sales office to get started improving your design environment

    • Documentation

      The documentation area is where you can find extensive, versioned information about our software online, for free.

    • Training & Events

      View the schedule and register for training events all around the world and online

    • Design Content

      Browse our vast library of free design content including components, templates and reference designs

    • Webinars

      Attend a live webinar online or get instant access to our on demand series of webinars

    • Support

      Get your questions answered with our variety of direct support and self-service options

    • Technical Papers

      Stay up to date with the latest technology and industry trends with our complete collection of technical white papers.

    • Video Library

      Quick and to-the-point video tutorials to get you started with Altium Designer

    Finding Circuit Design Software Online: Search Parameters and Powerful Tools

    Altium Designer
    |  March 9, 2018

    Picture of Ferry boat in water

    Have you seen the movie “Sully,” the story of US Airways flight 1549’s incredible landing on the Hudson River in 2009? When director Clint Eastwood was preparing for the film he interviewed Vincent Lombardi, the captain of the first ferry boat to arrive at the scene of the accident. After walking Eastwood through the events of that day, Lombardi was surprised when the director said; “I want to use you.”

    Eastwood must have realized after listening to Lombardi that he wouldn’t find anyone better at portraying the ferry boat captain than himself, so he decided to cast him in the role. Eastwood needed the best in the role, so he went with the best. This principle doesn’t just apply to movie roles, it is sound advice everywhere.

    Often designers and companies will go with a certain PCB design tool based on factors other than what the tool can actually do for you. The chosen software may have a very low price tag associated with it, but will it do everything that you need it to do? This question goes much deeper as well. Not only will this software do what you want it to do, but will it truly excel?

    You may invest in software that satisfies your needs at the moment, but you are going to grow and change. If your software isn’t able to keep up the pace with your future design needs, what good is that? Explore your matters in the depth that they demand.

    Ensure Your Circuit Design Software is Strong Online or Off

    With all of the information that is available out there on PCB design tools as well as input from colleagues and even sales pitches, it is very easy to lose focus on the main point of the software. Will this software design the circuit boards that you need it to design? If it won’t, then look somewhere else. It is not going to do you any good at all to get a great deal on some software only to find out later that you can’t get your job done.

    Does this new software come with available component libraries, or will you have to provide those yourself? That isn’t necessarily a deal breaker as some companies want to leverage their existing libraries while others are happy with a paid service. Another question to ask yourself is whether or not this new software will create the manufacturing data that you need for your vendors.

    Some software will do better at this than others, and you should know up front exactly what your chosen software will do. Your priority when looking at circuit design software, though, will be to ensure that you can access your features when you need them - online with real-time updating and communicating between departments and manufacturers, or offline with cloud-based information storage.

    Picture of Altium Designer 18 schematic and layout)The best circuit design software needs to first of all design your circuits

    Know Your Software Features: What’s in the Box?

    There’s an old joke that goes something like this; “I bought my new car for a really low price, but then they charged me extra for the wheels.” You’ll need to be aware of what your software package is promising, and ensure that the features offered are what you envisioned. You don’t want to brag to your boss that your new software will do some great thing, only to find out that you have to go back to the boss and ask for more money to activate this wonderful feature.

    There may be other hidden costs as well. What will the product support cost you? Will you have to pay for it annually or is it a subscription service? If you need training on this software what will that cost you? It’s also a good idea to have an idea up front about what kind of free support and training options are available with this software as well.

    Take a look through user’s groups, frequently asked questions sites, and white papers. There may be an incredible amount of help available to you that you won’t have to pay for at all.

    Graphic of different car wheels and treads
    Make sure you understand the costs, you don’t want to find out later that the wheels cost extra

    Let Yourself Grow with Your Circuit Design Software

    More than likely you are going to be designing new products on a regular basis. Your new software will do just fine for you as long as you’ve done your homework and made sure that it meets your needs before you buy, but you should also consider the future. Will this new software grow with you as you grow?

    It is a good idea to look into whether or not your new software vendor has a growth plan, and how they’ve done so far in that plan. You also want to make sure that the software itself is architected in such a way that it will grow and adapt to new design technology. For example, PCB design systems in the past that were great with thru-hole technology floundered once surface mount requirements required more design advancements.

    As I’ve looked through the different offerings out there for the best circuit design software, I’ve found that Altium Designer® is a great choice for PCB design software. Not only does it fulfill the basic needs of the software with its ability to capture a schematic, layout the board, and then create manufacturing files, it knocks these requirements out of the park.

    From there it only gets better with its unified design platform enabling all of the tools to work seamlessly together in one software environment. Additionally, Altium is a company that has a proven track record when it comes to not just keeping pace with the current technology, but in leading it.

    If you’re looking for the best circuit design software, you should really take a look at what Altium has to offer. Talk to an expert at Altium to find out more.

    About Author

    About Author

    PCB Design Tools for Electronics Design and DFM. Information for EDA Leaders.

    most recent articles

    Back to Home