Orcad’s PCB Design Software


Orcad’s offering of pcb design software is extensive.  They are arguably the industry leaders in providing tools for electrical engineers and pcb designs with tools that work really well.  Their suite of tools include OrCad Capture or Capture CIS, OrCAD PCB Designer, and PSpice.  Each of these tools cover 1 portion of pcb design, however only OrCad Capture and PCB Designer are essential to completing a printed circuit board design.

OrCad Capture & Capture CIS

Orcad Capture truly is the industry standard for schematic capture. It is the most widely used schematic design solution. It easily supports the simple designs but has enough horsepower to handle the most complex designs on the planet.  OrCad Capture comes with thousands of part symbols so you can, out of the box, get your circuit design captured and move into the pcb layout.

Add a separate license of Capture CIS (Component Information System) and you’re really going state of the art. The CIS option allows you to collect all your parts in a very sophisticated database which allows the user to search, identify, and populate the design with your preferred parts.  The biggest advantage, in my opinion, is the directly link to Active Parts, which has over 2 million different components and footprints ready to be loaded directly into the Orcad tool suite.

These tools come at a price.  You can expect to pay about $1300 for a single seat of Capture.  If you are interested in CIS you’re probably look at something in the low 5 figures.

OrCad PCB Designer

About a year ago (~2007) Orcad discontinued their Orcad Layout product.  The acquired the Allegro pcb design products and rebranded them as OrCad PCB Designer.  While I wouldn’t call their new offering the industry standard is has a very loyal following and is one of the most power autorouting packages available.


With seamless integration between the other OrCad product offerings you can’t go wrong.  There will be a slight learning curve if you’re moving between OrCad Layout and Orcad PCB Designer, but nothing an experienced printed circuit board designer can’t handle.

The entry level package for OrCad PCB designer costs about $8,000.  This price includes a copy of PSpice and Capture.

OrCad PSpice

There is no doubt in any ones mind who the de-facto industry standard is for circuit simulation.  P-Spice can simulate complex mixed signal designs and supports a wide range of of simulation models available from many of todays part manufacturers.

PSpice is great for figuring out which component is going to let out the magic smoke first, determining component yields via Monte Carlo analysis, or determining if your circuit is actually going to meet your performance requirements.  Remember PSpice isn’t for circuit design!

The PSpice product is fully integrated with OrCad Capture.  A license of PSpice is going to cost several thousand.  All these prices mentioned are strictly budgetary in manner, but give you an idea what you can expect.  Thousands of dollars can be saved by bundling these products together.