EDA or electronic design automation is the field of engineering and design that relates to the design, testing, analysis and production of PCBs, or printed circuit boards, and other related technologies.
There are numerous software packages available for PCB designers, but selecting the right one is often a challenging task. They have various features and pricing plans, and some programs are better suited to particular tasks and kinds of design.
In this article, we will try and help you select between OrCAD vs Eagle, two widely used EDA programs. OrCAD is from Cadence, while Eagle is from Autodesk. Eagle is actually an acronym that represents Easily Applicable Graphical Layout Editor. OrCAD is available in many versions and prices to suit different users and requirements.
They are both reliable software programs. To pick one and see which is better for you, read our comparison between Autodesk Eagle vs Cadence OrCAD PCB Designer.
 Major Differences Between OrCAD Vs Eagle PCB Designer
In this section, we have given a detailed comparison of what you can expect when you use OrCAD or Eagle. The comparison has been done based on all major parameters and design tools that are essential for PCB design.
Factors such as pricing and compatibility have also been included. Below we have given the 9 main differences between OrCAD vs Eagle. To pick the right PCB design software for you, be sure to read the following sections.
While selecting a PCB design package, the pricing plans are a major deciding factor. OrCAD and Eagle have different pricing plans, which are given as follows:
Autodesk EAGLE is offered as subscription based software. To purchase Eagle, you would have to buy the complete Fusion 360 software suite from Autodesk, as Eagle is not available as a standalone product. The prices mentioned here are for a Fusion 360 subscription.
A free version is available with a 12-month validity period.
The free version is a limited package for novice users that provides functionality limited to: 2 schematic sheets, 2 signal layers, and an 80cm2 (12.4in2) board area.
The cost for an annual subscription is $495.00. Other plans are also available, which can be obtained from the Autodesk Eagle website.
OrCAD provides its products on a license basis.
OrCAD gives a free trial for 30 days, in addition to student versions. The cost for purchasing an annual license is $1300.00, whereas, to purchase a perpetual license, you will have to pay $2630.00.
There are more plans and versions available, which can suit different requirements in both annual and perpetual license types. The details can be found on the OrCAD website.
 Schematic Editing
Both Eagle and OrCAD have well designed schematic capture tools. This is important as your schematic is one of the first things you work on in a new design, and the following aspects of the PCB depend on the schematic. Hence, it’s of vital importance that the schematic entry tool be good and function well.
In OrCAD, you get the OrCAD Capture Schematic Entry tool, which is an efficient and widely used tool. It provides a good feature set, with hierarchical conversion, or flat schematics. OrCAD also includes the option to manage schematics and sheets thematically and using functional blocks. The navigation panel makes all these tools accessible easily.
With the Eagle schematic editor, users get a range of tools for fast and accurate schematic entry and capture. It comes with all major formats supported for import and export. The DDS or Dynamic Design Sync feature allows you to make simultaneous changes between the schematic and layout.
Routing, or the process of laying traces and connections on the PCB, is an integral part of PCB design and affects the performance, manufacturability, cost to fabricate and other such important parameters.
Both Eagle and OrCAD offer automatic as well as manual routing options. The autorouter in OrCAD is the powerful SPECCTRA autorouter. IT can work with unlimited layers and allows you to adjust a variety of parameters to define the process more accurately.
This system even works with high-speed design rules such as propagation delay. The quick feasibility feature also checks whether routing a board with a certain number of layers is possible according to the design.
In Eagle, you get a new routing engine from Autodesk, with a host of interactive manual routing features. The router allows you to avoid obstacles and presents alternative paths using the Obstacle Avoidance Routing feature. This makes the routing process much easier and faster, with less scope for errors.
 High Speed Feature Design
This is an area of PCB design that is rapidly gaining popularity and becoming ever more important given the current scenario that has put the focus on automation and compact technology. High speed design involves designing complex boards, where the physical constraints of the board affect circuit parameters like signal integrity.
High speed designing is complicated, and requires certain tools to work with properly. Eagle has such tools, including diff pair routing, length tuning, blind and buried vias, microvias, and more. It also has a BGA (ball grid array) fanout router which can be used while working on HDI (high-density interconnect) structures designing for compact boards.
OrCAD also has features for high-speed designs. In addition, you get a high-speed constraint manager also. Using this, you can define constraints for factors like minimum and maximum length, differential impedance, routing and more.
Running simulations and testing the board in a software environment is really important before finalising any design for production. Simulations are used to analyse the behaviour and performance of the circuit.
Eagle provides a range of simulations using the SPICE simulation engine. This includes digital, analog and mixed signal circuit simulations. You also get a variety of formats in which you can export netlists and open them in other software for additional simulations or as required.
OrCAD also provides simulation features, but has a couple of extra simulation types. One such type is the signal integrity simulation. You can use the default available Cadence models or IBIS models for this.
The simulation can be run easily by selecting a net in the schematic. You also get the option to change certain parameters such as length and impedance to modify signal properties and improve them.
The goal of most PCB designers is to design a board that they can get manufactured and use for some application. Designing for a production outcome can be a great learning experience for new designers and beginners as well.
To handle production for larger quantities, such as those in industries and other businesses, software packages have features that streamline the design to production process and make it easier to focus on the DFM (design for manufacturing) parameters.
With Eagle, users get a range of tools that reduce potential production related hassles and make the workflow more productive. Eagle includes libraries and catalogues from suppliers, where you can find all the parts used in your board and place orders directly.
Furthermore, you can obtain part information, supply details such as pricing, and availability directly from the manufacturers. The BOM (bill of material) generation system also automatically compiles a list of all the parts used in the design.
OrCAD includes a comprehensive DFM checker system. This is a form of DFM analysis, which checks and identifies design issues in your project that might affect manufacturability.
Designs that clear the DRC and ERC might still have flaws or errors that can cause problems during manufacturing. The DFM checker helps you avoid such issues.
 Platform Support
This is another main difference between OrCAD and Eagle, the operating systems you can use the software on. So before you purchase either software package, be sure to check out the supported platforms to see if they are compatible with your device.
OrCAD runs on Windows based devices only. You can use it on any Windows version, from 7 through 10, and on the 2008 R2 server onwards for Server editions. It requires a 64-bit system.
Eagle, on the other hand, can be used on all major platforms. It works on Windows, 64-bit versions, Mac OS X and even Linux based systems. So it can be accessed through a larger number of devices.
 Documentation and Report Generation
OrCAD has a well-developed PCB documentation editing suite. It allows you to create and place an unlimited number of views of your board. You can also edit each view separately without affecting the source.
The fabrication and assembly drawing features provide a detailed wizard which allows you to automate layer stackup, and other tasks, and let you create assembly and fabrication drawings easily.
You can also define any drawing component as a mechanical part and save the design for future use. The Design Driven Documentation system allows you to import CAD data to create PCB documentation with more accuracy. OrCAD also includes tools for engineering change orders with a simple change to the original source of data.
Eagle also provides documentation features. Since it comes integrated with the Fusion 360 software suite, you also get a variety of added programs that you can use for the complete design to production process, including creating professional reports and documents complete with model drawings and details.
 Additional Features
Both of these programs contain some added features to improve the workflow and make your design experience more smooth and efficient.
The OrCAD package allows you to open files built in MATLAB or Simulink, and perform simulations in the OrCAD workspace.
The real-time design feedback feature also helps in syncing data between different design tools and identifies any potential errors in the design. Using this, you can also analyse the data and compare it between the PCB editor and your canvas.
Eagle provides a wide range of ECAD-MCAD integration features that allow you to test the interaction of the board with mechanical components. You also get modular and reusable design blocks, which can be reused easily in multiple projects.
Which Software Is Best For PCB Designing, OrCAD Vs Eagle
Although both OrCAD and Eagle are highly capable software packages for PCB designing, they have features that set them apart. Eagle is one of the best software programs for performing layout and related tasks, and proves to be a powerful solution for design and simulation of PCBs.
On the other hand, OrCAD from Cadence is also well developed, and feature-rich. You can use it for large and complex projects also, and for professional reports and documentation.
The schematic tools in OrCAD are pretty good, and the user interface is designed in such a way that even users with less experience will not find it too difficult working with OrCAD.
OrCAD Vs Eagle: Who’s the Winner?
In terms of features and performance, the winner would be OrCAD. But at the same time, it has its limitations. The license costs are quite expensive for the higher versions, and you can only use OrCAD on Windows x64 systems.
So when we compare it with Eagle, there are a few factors that should be taken into account. Eagle is priced much lower than OrCAD, and is available as subscription based software. So if you have a short-term project, you can easily take a subscription, and not have to pay for what you won’t be using.
Eagle also has great performance and with the Fusion 360 integration, it makes ECAD-MCAD collaboration much easier. You can check your ECAD design with Autodesk’s proven MCAD platforms and verify properties and fit and tolerances of the PCB with its enclosure.
So, Which One Should You Pick? (CONCLUSION)
To pick one between OrCAD vs Eagle, there are multiple factors you can consider. Firstly, know your requirements from the software; because it doesn’t make sense to purchase software that may not even meet your requirements or the case where you end up paying a lot more than you even require.
So pricing plans would be the second factor here. You can choose if you need perpetual licenses or subscription based programs. And then you can check the supported platforms and if the program is compatible with system. Both of them are good programs that will get the job done.
It’s mainly just a matter of what suits you better. Both also offer free trials that you can download and try, to see from Eagle vs OrCAD, which one works better for you.
Hopefully, you have found this OrCAD v Eagle comparison guide worthwhile and it has helped you to make an informed choice about these two PCB Design Software.