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Anyone have real world prices for PADS and Altium Designer PCB design apps?

Discussion in 'CAD' started by [email protected], Jan 12, 2007.

  1. I've have the task to write a report about the features and prices
    for a number of PCB CAD applications, which will lead up to purchasing
    a CAD suite. I've found pricing and feature information about a number
    of PCB applications and just two remain on the list.

    The CAD apps are:

    PADS XE or SE
    Altium Designer v6

    I thought I'd ask the readers of this newsgroup if they have any
    experience with what they or the companies they work for actually paid
    for those two PCB CAD apps.

    I've read a number of posts in this and some other electronics
    newsgroups about the pros and cons of a variety of PCB CAD programs.

    At the moment, I'm just curious about pricing.

    So if you have some idea of actual pricing for those products (or
    which ever modules of the full package you bought), I'd appreciate it
    if you could post that information in this newgroup.

    I just wanted some idea of the real world prices for those apps before
    contacting the sales departments of Mentor Graphics and Altium.
  2. Joel Kolstad

    Joel Kolstad Guest

    I believe that, in both cases, there are so many licensing options available
    that at best you'll be getting a *wide* range of prices. Your best bet
    probably really is to call up the vendors and ask them what that range is as
    well as what a *typical* setup goes for, in addition to the information you
    get here.

    As you seem to hint, a report such as the one you're writing is good primarily
    for figuring out which packages are immediately cut due to their being
    entirely out of your price range... for everything else you have to sit down
    and play with the tools yourself.
  3. I plan on meeting with a number of vendors, I was hoping to get some
    idea of what people have actually paid for CAD packages before
    negotiating with the sales reps. As you mentioned, if the price for
    some packages is really high, I won't spend time with some vendor

    It's been a week and no one has responded with any actual figures, so
    I'll repost my original query in I'll add a
    note that although I'm cross posting, I've already post once in
    sci.electronics.cad with no result.
  4. A very active forum is available through the website. You
    can access it through a newsreader with I think
    the web address is: but the server is down
    right now.

    The local VAR for Maryland is Trilogic in Columbia. They have branches

    It would be good to look through the history of the posts to see how
    frustrated many loyal PADS users have become since they were purchased by
    Mentor and now are coerced into buying an expensive annual maintenence
    contract just to be eligible for bug fixes that usually break more than
    they fix.

  5. Paul Burke

    Paul Burke Guest

    I suspect that most people who read s.e.c. also look at s.e.d. and
    filter the noise. I also suspect that the reason you haven't got prices
    is that most people who use the non-free versions PADS, Altium etc.
    don't pay for it, and vice-versa.

    Paul Burke
  6. ********* See the corrected web address below ************
  7. Thanks. I didn't know about that forum.
    Thanks again. I've already found the local rep. I attended a PADS
    seminar at their location last year.

    I was curious about how pricing works in the PCB CAD industry, if
    everyone pays list or if discounting off list is common practice. It's
    beginning to sound like high end CAD systems have both high initial
    purchase prices and high annual maintenance fees.
    I've read similar complaints about how Protel went downhill after it
    was rebranded as Altium.

    I've also heard hints about very expensive PADS maintenance annual
    fees, but I haven't read the actual figures yet. Maybe someone posted
    that information on that listserver.
  8. I haven't posted to s.e.d yet, I thought I'd think about it before
    posting there. But you may be right, perhaps all users of CAD systems
    in the sci.electronics newsgroups are using pirated copies of PADS and

    I suspect that choosing a CAD system is something of a sticky
    decision, once you've chosen one, invested heavily in training and
    have become used to using one system, you're probably not very
    interested in looking at another system. So s.e.d may be populated
    with users who have chosen a system already and have no need to read

    Before posting my question here in s.e.c, I was actually afraid that
    the topic might start a flame war between PADS and Altium users. I
    never expected that hardly anyone would respond.

    Crossposting is frowned upon, but this situation might have been one
    of the few times that crossposting was appropriate. I would have
    guessed that s.e.c was the right forum to ask about PADS and Altium
    pricing, but it that doesn't appear to be the case. So a crosspost to
    s.e.c and s.e.d, if only people in s.e.d respond, wouldn't have
    created dual newsgroup threads, the usual complaint about crossposts.

    In any case, I thought I'd wait a little while longer before posting
    to s.e.d. That way, with enough of a posting delay and with no actual
    answer to my original question in s.e.c, s.e.d readers might be less
    inclined to complain about a very much time delayed cross post.
  9. Joel Kolstad

    Joel Kolstad Guest

    Generally speaking, the more expensive the product is, the more likelihood
    there is that you'll be able to negotitate a discount/better package
    price/etc. Speaking very roughly, anything <$1k is probably pretty fixed in
    price, anything >$10k has somewhat flexible pricing. Additionally, the more
    licenses you have, the more likely you are to be able to negotiate a deal.
    For instance: Some packages such as Pulsonix and Protel have free viewers
    available, whereas ironically enough more expensive package such as PADS
    don't. However, if you have at least a small handful of PADS licenses,
    usually Mentor will give you a "viewer only" license for the asking.

    (In some ways EDA tools seem like hotels... nice, mid-level hotels give you
    free amenities like WiFi and breakfast, the most expensive hotels want to
    nickle and dime you for every last little thing...)

    As you'd expect, there's usually more pricing flexibility when a company is
    coming to the end of its fiscal quarter and the salesguys are trying to meet
    their quotas or qualify for bonuses.
    Annual maintenance fees are typically 10-20% of the purchsae price. Companies
    differ in how much support they'll provide to those out of maintenance...
    Mentor won't let you do much of *anything* (no access to their knowledge base,
    no access to service packs, etc.). This "no downloads of anything, even if
    it's just a patch to fix a BUG in the software we ALREADY sold you" approach
    unfortunately seems to be getting more common -- Pulsonix just adopted it with
    their newest release, 4.5.

  10. Well you certainly haven't gotten much of a response.

    Largely it looks like you understand the issue(s) pretty well. There are
    licensed users on this group of both PADs and Altium but they are probably
    all sure that there is no sure single answer to your enquiry. It varies with
    all the conditions you mentioned, including how well sales have gone this
    quarter, this half, this year. The biggest question would be how many seats
    are you going to buy? Also those actually using licensed software probably
    aren't keeping up on pricing and bundling.

    As for the comment about Altium support getting worse than prior Protel
    support, someone is feeding you a complete line of shit. Having used
    Protel/Altium for the last 7 plus years, their support has gotten better in
    recent years. That is not to say there still isn't loads of room for
    improvements on their part. Some of the current issues people have issue
    with is policies rather than support. i.e. Long waits for bug fixes to
    actually be released (You're told it has been fixed but it will not be
    released until the next update, many months down the road.).

    Just FYI. You will find very similar comments and gripes about all the
    main software vendors. Myself having used a number of them over the years
    can attest to the fact that they are all much the same and even those that
    are significantly better at any one time will cycle through the dregs
    periodically. (OrCAD, PADs!) Even an acquaintance that used Mentor Board
    Station used to tell me that for the money his employer paid (approx.
    $75,000 per seat), he figured it was about the same cost per bug/issue. They
    just had that many more bugs and issues because the system was so much more
  11. Joel,
    Just to correct you on the one point, PADs does have a free viewer. At
    least up until very recent versions, they did.
    Just install the software without entering a valid license code and voila, a
    free viewer. Won't save anything but you can view files all day long. Worked
    up until 2004 versions anyway, we have several installs configured in such a
    manner at work.
  12. Joel Kolstad

    Joel Kolstad Guest

    Thanks Brad, I'll try your suggestion -- it would be nice if I'm wong! We're
    uisng PADS2005sp2 (we're on the $$$ maintenance plan...).

  13. I wouldn't have minded any response about pricing, even out of date
    prices. ;->

    We're only thinking about buying two seats. When I thought about it
    though, just finding out what other people had bought, which packages
    and options and how much they cost, would have been quite interesting.
    That would have been a guide to what we should be looking carefully at

    You're right, there are a lot of options that could be purchased and
    it would be interesting to find out what other users bought and which
    options they found were most useful.
    Actually, all I know about Altium is what came up on a google search
    of s.e.c and s.e.d. while searching for "Protel" and "Altium". I
    read a number of posts about how the best version was Protel 99 and
    that things had gone downhill since then.

    However, it's possible that, as you mentioned, Altium has many more
    features and is much more complex than any earlier version of Protel.
    So it might appear that Altium is worse, but the bugs/feature ratio
    may not have changed over the years.

    That ratio might even have improved, but with enough new features, the
    total absolute number of bugs has increased. So things look worse, but
    they really aren't.
  14. We're likely to spend more than $10K, so if a discount is possible in
    that price range, that's good to know. As an example, if you're buying
    a car in that price range, you probably wouldn't expect much of a
    discount. But if $10K is roughly the threshold at which CAD tools
    begin to be discounted, that's something I didn't know.
    One acquintance we works at an end user company told me that their
    ASIC design package didn't have a purchase price or annual maintenance
    fee, just an annual license fee of $140K per year per seat. That price
    also came with an NDA so he couldn't tell me which package he was
    referring to. Aside from jolting me awake, we weren't looking to make
    our own ASICs, so that information was only peripherally interesting
    to me.
  15. Joel Kolstad

    Joel Kolstad Guest


    Ever read John Cooley's ESNUG newsletter? It's primarily aimed at people
    using Synopsys tools doing digital ICs, and it has lots of good war stories.
    Early on Synopsys didn't like the fact that John was publically exposing bugs
    in their software, and tried very hard to sue him out of existance. Typical
    big company arrogance there!

    Some years ago I attempted to use Synopsys's FPGA Express and found it quite
    disappointing -- we went out and purchased Veribest within weeks...

  16. Joel Kolstad

    Joel Kolstad Guest

    Oops, not Veribest, that should say, "Synplify" (from Synplicity).
  17. As per your comments below.

    We haven't purchased Protel/Altium in this decade so there is no
    relevance to you.
    The most recent pricing I am privy to, is approx. $11,000 USD per seat for
    the full Altium AD package that includes their full FPGA & Tasking features
    but not the Tasking hardware interface. today they have approx. 3 bundled
    options for all the features, sorry don't know the pricing haven't pruchased
    nor enquired. Other than that there is surely a lot more information you can
    get out of a call to their sales office.

    PADs, in my last experience a decade ago was a myriad of features and
    packaging options that sometimes found you purchasing modules with not one
    feature that you wanted but it was necessary for the next module that had a
    few features that you did want. Starting out at approx. $5 - 7K as the very
    bottom end, one quickly found yourself over $10K and even approaching $20K.
    Now that is decade old information and pricing, but then my comments would
    also be that their software is 2 decades old. It is truly a decade plus old
    DOS engine with a cheesy GUI. If you are well used to Windows software and
    conventions, throw that out the window if you purchase PADs.

    My comments about Altium support was that, strictly about support. Now
    you are bring that around to number of bugs/issues, those are not related
    figures one is support availability/response the other is a bug count. You
    are right, the software is a lot more feature and complexity rich. Remember
    when searching for issues on the internet, generally everyone posts their
    gripes few people post their praises when they have no problems or issues.
    There are also few professional users posting on the general web, they are
    on the software specific list servers. Some of those listservers may let you
    join, I know several won't because you are not a registered user (PADs and
    maybe Altium. But I would give Altium a try, if you are serious they should
    let you join as a sign of good faith and to allow you to research.).
  18. Robert

    Robert Guest

    When the issue has come up before the standard answer has been "Install Pads
    without a license" in that it defaults to Demo mode where you can open and
    look at files.

  19. Thanks. I suspect their pricing hasn't changed all that much.
    That's very interesting, thanks again. I never would have known about
    PADS interlocking feature set, forcing you to buy modules that you
    don't necessarily need. I'll watch out for that when I start talking
    to them.
    I'll ask Altium about getting access to their listservers. $20K is a
    fair amount of money, they ought to allow me to do some research with
    their user base comments.
  20. No, I didn't know about Cooley's newsletter. I found it in a search
    just now. It's very interesting. Thanks.
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