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Home » Altium vs. DxDesigner for schematic design and layout

Altium vs. DxDesigner for schematic design and layout

At my previous job working on satellites (and before that, in grad school…also working on satellites…) I used Altium for all my schematic design and printed circuit board layout work. Altium’s pretty nice software, widely used, and like a lot of industrial software hugely expensive ($4000+ for a single license). My new job however uses Mentor Graphics’ DxDesigner to do schematic capture (which is the act of designing a schematic based on an electrical interface control document, or block diagram) and so I have been up to my elbows in the intricacies of Mentor Graphics’ software suite. I thought a comparison might provide a handy point of anecdata for anyone trying to choose between the two.

The #1 biggest benefit that DxDesigner has over Altium is good memory usage. With only 4GB of RAM on my work computer, I can leave DxDesigner and all my other programs open for days without restarting and things still work ok. With Altium however (and this is true up through v16) there are serious memory leak issues, as it will steadily chew up 4, 5, then 6+ GB of RAM if it is left open for two days. Closing and restarting the program doesn’t help, the computer requires a full reboot. I should mention this is on Windows 10 so even a modern OS can’t clean up after this misbehaved program fast enough to prevent my old work computer which had 8GB of memory from needing a reboot almost every single morning.

DxDesigner is now out of date and the new software from Mentor Graphics is Expedition. Expedition looks to have many great features especially for layout work, but I haven’t used it yet. I’ll update this post later in 2017 when my company has switched over and I’ve had a chance to do design work in Expedition.

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