Search
Close this search box.

Best 10 Must-Try Free PCB Design Softwares for 2023

Best Free PCB Design Software

The demand for affordable and reliable PCB design software is surging, catering to hobbyists and engineers alike. Premium options often come with a hefty price tag, but free PCB design tools bridge the gap.

These tools offer various features, from cloud-based collaboration to open-source power, making electronics projects accessible to all skill levels. Dive into the captivating realm of PCB design, whether you’re simulating circuits, crafting intricate layouts, or mastering the basics—this list of the top 10 free PCB design software has you covered.

Contents

1. KiCad: Open-source, Versatile & Community-driven

KiCad is a popular open-source PCB design suite known for its versatility and comprehensive set of features. KiCad

It offers schematic capture and PCB layout capabilities, making it suitable for both simple and complex projects. KiCad’s modular interface allows users to work with separate windows for different tasks. It has a vibrant community, extensive documentation, and strong support for custom libraries. While it might have a learning curve, its power and flexibility make it a top choice for many designers.  

FeatureSchematic CapturePCB LayoutLibrary SupportDesign Rule Check (DRC)SimulationFootprint Creation
KiCadLimited

Levels: Suitable for beginners to advanced users.

Operating systems: Windows, macOS, Linux.

Project Complexity: Handles simple to highly complex projects.

Pros: Cross-platform,active community,powerful features,customizable,industry-standard file support,constant updates.

Cons: Resource-intensive for complex designs, limited native simulation,component library challenges.


2. EasyEDA: Web-based, User-friendly & Collaborative

EasyEDA is a web-based electronic design tool for creating PCBs and schematics.

EasyEDA

It offers an intuitive interface that’s particularly beginner-friendly. Users can create schematics and PCB layouts, and the cloud-based nature of EasyEDA enables real-time collaboration with team members. While it may not have all the advanced features of high-end software, it’s a great choice for quick prototyping and collaborative projects.  

FeatureSchematic CapturePCB LayoutLibrary SupportDesign Rule Check (DRC)SimulationFootprint Creation
EasyEDALimited

Levels: Suitable for beginners, intermediates, and some advanced users.

Operating Systems: Windows, macOS, and Linux.

Project Complexity: Good for simple to moderately complexPCB designs and schematics.

Pros: User-friendly interface,web-based, no installation required,extensive component libraries,collaboration support.

Cons: Limited advanced features, internet dependency, backup precautions needed.


3. Circuitmaker:Cloud-based, Community Collaboration & Altium Integration

Circuitmaker is a free PCB design software by Altium, offering an easy-to-use interface and a large library of components.

Circuitmaker

It provides a clean, modern interface along with a variety of tools for schematic capture, PCB layout, and a community-driven library of components. It’s designed to be user-friendly and includes features like real-time design rule checks and a 3D visualization tool, offering a fair amount of functionality for no cost.  

FeatureSchematic CapturePCB LayoutLibrary SupportDesign Rule Check (DRC)SimulationFootprint Creation
Circuitmaker×

Levels: Single level.

Operating systems: Primarily Windows.

Project Complexity: Suitable for a wide range of project complexities.

Pros: Free, community collaboration, extensive component library, 3D viewer, user-friendly.

Cons: Windows exclusive, cloud dependency, limited offline use, potential gaps in component libraries.


4. Librepcb: Modular, Open-source & Cross-platform

Librepcb is an open-source PCB design software available online, with a strong emphasis on user-friendliness and modularity.

Librepcb

Unlike some other EDA tools that require external library management, LibrePCB offers an integrated library manager to keep all component data consistent and up-to-date across projects. The software aims to make schematic creation and PCB layout as straightforward as possible, and prides itself on maintaining high-quality output files that adhere to industry standards.  

FeatureSchematic CapturePCB LayoutLibrary SupportDesign Rule Check (DRC)SimulationFootprint Creation
Librepcb×

Levels: Intermediate to Advanced.

Operating systems: Windows, macOS, Linux.

Project Complexity: Suitable for moderately complex designs.

Pros: Open-source, multi-platform, modular, modern interface.

Cons: Smaller user base may lack some advanced features.


5. Upverter: Collaborative, Cloud-based & Version-controlled

Upverter is a cloud-based PCB design tool that aims to simplify the design process.

Upverter

Developed with a focus on community and sharing, Upverter allows for real-time, multi-user collaboration and offers features such as version control and commenting. The cloud-based nature of the software allows for anywhere-access, and its comprehensive component library is augmented by community contributions. It is particularly suited for teams and professionals looking to streamline the design process across multiple contributors.  

FeatureSchematic CapturePCB LayoutLibrary SupportDesign Rule Check (DRC)SimulationFootprint Creation
Upverter×Limited

Levels: Intermediate to Advanced

Operating systems: Web-based

Project Complexity: Suitable for moderately complex designs.

Pros: Collaborative online tool, part of Altium.

Cons:Internet dependency may not be as feature-rich as desktop software.


6. Eagle: Industry-standard, Autodesk Integration & Extensive Libraries

Eagle (Easy Applicable Graphical Layout Editor) is a widely used PCB design tool.

Eagle

It’s widely used in both educational settings and the industry. Eagle provides a comprehensive suite of tools for schematic capture, PCB layout, and even basic simulation features. The software comes in both free and paid versions—the latter offering a richer feature set including more board layers, complex designs, and larger board sizes.  

FeatureSchematic CapturePCB LayoutLibrary SupportDesign Rule Check (DRC)SimulationFootprint Creation
EagleLimited

Levels: Intermediate

Operating systems: Windows, macOS, Linux

Project Complexity: Suitable for intermediate designs.

Pros: Popular among hobbyists, extensive component library.

Cons: Licensing model changed after Autodesk acquisition.


7. Fritzing: Visual, Beginner-friendly & Prototyping-focused

Fritzing is a beginner-friendly PCB design tool with a focus on education and quick prototyping.

Fritzing

It allows users to transition smoothly from physical prototyping on a breadboard to digital schematic capture and PCB design. Fritzing is especially known for its beginner-friendly interface and the ability to switch between breadboard, schematic, and PCB views easily. While it may lack the advanced features found in more professional EDA tools, it excels in its ease of use and accessibility.  

FeatureSchematic CapturePCB LayoutLibrary SupportDesign Rule Check (DRC)SimulationFootprint Creation
FritzingLimited×Limited

Levels: Beginner

Operating systems: Windows, macOS, Linux

Project Complexity: Simple and educational projects.

Pros: Beginner-friendly, visual interface.

Cons: Limited for complex designs.


8. ExpressPCB: Simple, Streamlined & PCB Manufacturing Integration 

ExpressPCB is a simplified PCB design tool with a straightforward interface.

ExpressPCB

The software is proprietary and links closely with ExpressPCB’s own manufacturing services, allowing users to go from design to ordering a physical prototype within the same environment. While it may not have the extensive feature set of other high-end EDA tools, it offers a straightforward, user-friendly experience focused on delivering a physical product as rapidly as possible.  

FeatureSchematic CapturePCB LayoutLibrary SupportDesign Rule Check (DRC)SimulationFootprint Creation
ExpressPCBLimitedLimited×Limited

Levels: Beginner to Intermediate

Operating systems: Windows

Project Complexity: Suitable for simple to moderately complex designs.

Pros: User-friendly, integrated PCB manufacturing services.

Cons: Limited advanced features.


9. LTspice: Powerful, Simulation-focused & Industry-standard

While primarily a circuit simulation tool, LTspice also offers PCB layout capabilities.

LTspice

It supports the simulation of linear and non-linear circuits, providing both transient analysis and frequency domain analysis. It’s often used for tasks such as validating circuit theories, exploring circuit behaviors under different conditions, and assessing component selections before moving to physical prototypes. While it doesn’t offer PCB layout or schematic capture tools, its simulation capabilities are robust enough to make it indispensable for analog circuit designers.  

FeatureSchematic CapturePCB LayoutLibrary SupportDesign Rule Check (DRC)SimulationFootprint Creation
LTspice×Limited××

Levels: Advanced

Operating systems: Windows, macOS

Project Complexity: Circuit simulation tool, not for PCB layout.

Pros: Powerful simulation capabilities, free.

Cons: No PCB design features.


10. SimulIDE: Interactive, Educational & simulation-driven

SimulIDE is an open-source circuit simulator and PCB design tool.

SimulIDE

While it is not as feature-rich or comprehensive as some of the other specialized EDA tools, SimulIDE offers a lightweight, user-friendly interface that is ideal for educational settings or for hobbyists getting their feet wet in electronics and programming. It supports basic circuit components like resistors, capacitors, and transistors, as well as microcontrollers like PIC and AVR, offering a decent starting point for learning about electronics and microcontroller interfacing.  

FeatureSchematic CapturePCB LayoutLibrary SupportDesign Rule Check (DRC)SimulationFootprint Creation
SimulIDE×Limited××

Levels: Intermediate

Operating systems: Windows, Linux

Project Complexity: Suitable for educational circuit simulation and emulation.

Pros: Educational tools, real-time simulation.

Cons: Limited to simulation, not PCB design.

 

10 Free PCB Design Software Features Comparison

SoftwareSchematic CapturePCB LayoutLibrary SupportDesign Rule Check
(DRC)
SimulationFootprint CreationPlatform
KiCadLimitedWindows, macOS, Linux
EasyEDALimitedWeb-based
CircuitMaker×Windows
LibrePCB×Windows, macOS, Linux
Upverter×LimitedWeb-based
EagleLimitedWindows, macOS
FritzingLimited×LimitedWindows, macOS, Linux
ExpressPCBLimitedLimited×LimitedWindows
LTspice×Limited××Windows, macOS
SimullDE×Limited××Windows, Linux



Choose Advice

  1. Beginner-Friendly: If you are a beginner or someone who wants a user-friendly interface, you might want to consider software like EasyEDA or Fritzing. These platforms are intuitive and require less time to get up to speed.
  2. Professional Use: If you’re a professional looking for advanced features, then software like KiCad or Eagle may be more suitable. They offer advanced functionalities like Design Rule Checks and have comprehensive library support.
  3. Educational Purposes: For educational settings, Fritzing offers a unique approach that helps transition from breadboards to PCB layouts, making it suitable for teaching purposes.
  4. Quick Prototyping: If you’re looking to go from design to physical prototype as rapidly as possible, ExpressPCB offers a streamlined service for this, though you may be limited in terms of customization.

Share:

Table of Contents