Technology is shrinking in size, yet our reliance on it is growing constantly. This brings a whole new set of challenges for electronics engineers and designers. PCBs or Printed Circuit Boards are at the heart of this technology.
To help engineers design these circuits better, there are numerous software programs available for the same. Today, we are looking at a comparison between Upverter vs Altium Designer, two of the products offered by the leading brand, Altium.
Both of these programs are capable and powerful, but have a lot of differences. We have described these differences in detail, on all major features and points of interest so you can consider which one is better for you from Upverter vs Altium Designer.
9 Major Differences Between Upverter Vs Altium Designer
While selecting EDA (Electronic Design Automation) software, a number of factors need to be kept in mind: primarily, your budget, requirements from the software, software compatibility, features and performance.
Below we have mentioned in detail, the main 9 differences between Upverter Vs Altium PCB Design Software, so you can make a better choice.
 Pricing Plans
The cost of the software you purchase is one of the most important deciding factors while selecting a PCB design program. You might be an individual user or an institution, business, or industry. The price is a crucial consideration.
Upverter is a web based, free to use EDA platform. It is available to use completely for free, and works on any web browser. You can run it on Windows, Mac OS and Linux as well.
Altium Designer, on the other hand, is Alitum’s premium design software. It is considered to be an industry leading program, with all the best features and advanced functions. And it is priced accordingly.
To purchase this product, which is available as a perpetual license, will cost you upwards of $7000.00. That is for the base version, and additional customizations can be made which cost extra.
 Bill of Material Tools
Designers all over the world pay attention to every single detail in their design in order to ensure that the production and assembly processes go smoothly. There are potentially many issues that can arise during the fabrication, and Altium has features to help you avoid those.
With ActiveBOM from Altium Designer, you get a powerful BOM (Bill of Material) generation and management system. It provides a complete set of tools and solutions such as part detail collection and dynamic updates for the BOM as you make changes to the design.
Furthermore, this feature obtains real-time pricing of the components being used and edits the pricing in the document accordingly. The active supply chain management system works in sync with ActiveBOM and takes care of all your part related issues.
Details such as part availability, supply, pricing, manufacturer info and more, is obtained by the system based on the parts you have used in your design. This helps in ensuring that there are no part supply or budget related issues later on in the process.
Upverter has an integrated BOM manager, which is somewhat limited in capability and functionality compared to Designer, but for a free program, it works well.
 Team Collaboration and Cloud Working
Certain projects require many people to form a team and work on different aspects of the project simultaneously. This improves the productivity and efficiency of working and the results are a faster output, with fewer errors and innovative ideas.
Both Altium Designer and Upverter have features for team collaboration.
In Altium Designer, you get an integrated work environment which syncs all the edits between all team members in real-time. Furthermore, it displays a log containing all the edits made and the user who made them. This makes it easier to debug the design.
Further, Designer provides a centralized communication center, where everyone can share files, information, and keep a track of all the communication. This platform is highly secure and you don’t have to worry about anything while using it.
The team collaboration features in Upverter also work in real-time, and since the entire program is browser-based, the work stays in sync over the internet. Some features are lacking as compared to Designer, but that can be expected given the price difference.
 Design of High-Speed Features
High Speed designing comes into the picture when the dimensional and physical parameters of the PCB start affecting the performance of the electronics and the signal integrity.
This happens when the circuit includes elements that switch their states too rapidly. So fast, in fact, that before the signal can even travel along the trace and reach the pin, the transition is complete. In such a case, the signal reflecting back to the source can damage the original data.
This makes high speed feature design so tricky. Altium Designer has a set of tools to help you work on such designs.
These include: integrated design and analysis modules for high speed design, interactive routing that work in sync with design rules, which prevent crosstalk, EMI problems, skew and other such issues. Signal integrity analysis is also available to ensure that the design is completely valid and accurate.
 Performing Simulations
Design verification through simulation is really important for PCB design engineers. It can highlight the performance of the circuit and whether the behaviour of the board is as per the design expectations.
Altium Designer includes a variety of simulation tools based on the SPICE engine. But that’s not all. It offers some advanced solutions such as Power Delivery and Signal Analysis. It also provides a PDN (Power Delivery Network) feature, which works as a mapping tool for detecting voltage drops and current density.
Moreover, you can perform customized simulations in Altium Designer. This allows you to simulate any part of your board separately. You can also import simulation models from other software.
Upverter uses the standard Spice or Verilog-A simulation engines based on whether you are performing an analog or a mixed-signal simulation. The output is given in the form of graphs, which you can compare to standard wave forms or infer the performance of the circuit based on your knowledge.
 Constraint Management
Rule checking is required for ensuring the validity and quality standards of the design. It is better to have software that includes both electrical and design rule checking modules.
Altium Designer and Upverter both include a DRC and ERC system. The range of rules and applications in which they can be used is comparatively limited in Upverter.
On the other hand with Altium Designer, you get an extended set of rules with additional support for unconventional design types and a constraint management system. This can be used to define custom constraints, edit existing data and apply the defined rules to all types of circuit designs. The DRC system also covers high speed feature designing.
Altium Designer also includes an online DRC mode, which can run in the background in real-time, and prevents you from making rule violations during designing. This comes in handy when using the manual routing mode to indicate clearance or width issues.
 Advanced Routing Features
Routing your board provides flexibility and options to make the design perform better and make it cost-effective at the same time.
For better routing, Altium Designer and Upverter both include both manual and automatic routing modes.
The Designer routing module however, includes interactive routing features. These allow you to select how you want the trace to interact with obstacles present on the board, such as: hug and push, push and shove, obstacle avoidance and more.
Differential pair routing, post-route glossing and retracing, length tuning, controlled impedance routing- these are just some of the routing modes available. There is also ActiveRoute, and a Topological autorouter.
These features together make laying traces much easier and more efficient, while minimising the scope for errors.
 Mechanical – Electrical CAD Support
Many a times, it becomes necessary to check the physical interaction of the board with its other mechanical components such as the enclosure. This helps you to ensure that the dimensions and the tolerances have been accurately given, for the fit required.
Altium Designer provides a set of tools to help you carry out such processes, you also get the option to save your project files in formats that are compatible with all major ECAD and MCAD platforms such as SolidWorks, Inventor, Creo, Pro/E etc.
Upverter does not include ECAD-MCAD integration and hence cannot be used to check the mechanical properties of the board; however it does provide 3D model generation from 2D drawings.
To an extent, you can use these 3D features to understand the construction and design of the board better. If you prefer to follow the next steps of production in an external program, Upverter allows export of the 3D model as a STEP file, which can also be opened in native CAD platforms.
 UI and Ease of Use
One of the most important factors is how simple the software is to use. Some programs are unnecessarily overloaded with complex features that make it difficult to focus on what the essentials are.
This is not desirable, especially for novice users. Hence, based on your skill level or your aim to learn, you should find out what the difficulty level of using the program is.
Compared to all the other free PCB design software in the market, Upverter has a really modern-looking and functional user interface, which is not too cluttered with extra features and tools.
Altium Designer has a customizable user interface. This effectively means that users can re-arrange and modify the toolkit placement according to their preferences. This helps in making the workspace more productivity oriented and speeds up your design process.
Which Software Is Best For PCB Designing, Upverter Vs Altium Designer
Between Altium Designer and Upverter, there are two main deciding factors. One is naturally the price, seeing as one is free and the other costs a fortune.
The other main thing is that Upverter is an online platform, which is to be used through a web browser, and Altium Designer is a desktop application, which is downloaded and installed on your computer.
In terms of designing, there is almost no design that you cannot work on with Altium Designer. Compared to that, features in Upverter are obviously limited. So it really depends on what your requirements are, and the level of complexity of projects you want to work on with the software.
Upverter Vs Altium Designer: Who’s the Winner?
If you feel like you don’t need all that excess functionality and features, then you can rely on Upverter. It is one of the best free PCB design programs and offers more features than will be needed for basic and casual to intermediate projects.
For those expert users however, or engineers working in industries or in research, Altium Designer has the right tools to deal with any level of complexity. It’s the clear winner in terms of design options and features.
The user feedback is also great. And Altium provides fast technical assistance via email and phone, for any issues you might face. So this is software that you can select without a doubt. Just the expensive license might not be affordable for everyone.
So, Which One Should You Pick? (CONCLUSION)
Finally, in conclusion, the decision between Upverter vs Altium Designer is a matter of requirements, preferences and budget. For free software programs, Upverter is one of the best choices. You get the trusted Altium design platform and development experience along with a modern UI, and great features. Overall, it is a great choice and can even compete with some well-known paid programs.
On the other hand, if your work requires you to deal with complex projects and large designs, or involves multiple designers working in teams, then Altium Designer is the software to go for.
It has more features than you may even need. And in terms of performance, it is one of the best in the industry. The only limitation is that it runs only on Windows x64 based systems. So if that is available to you, then definitely Altium Designer will be a good option.
Hopefully, you have found this Upverter v Altium Designer comparison guide worthwhile and it has helped you to make an informed choice about these two PCB Design Software.