Are there any free/cheap alternatives to the SPICE family of simulators? I'm looking for software that's NOT based on spice, ngspice, etc.

There are two reasons for my question:

  1. I'm a software engineer by trade and curious if there are any modern circuit simulation engines out there.
  2. The UI's for all the SPICE-based simulators feel like they're from the 80's.

The QAs I've seen are all about SPICE related software (e.g. for macOS), and I've read various articles, Wikipedia, etc. Ideally I can get a recommendation from someone that really prefers their non-SPICE simulator.

  • 1
    There are 2 or 3 free versions of SPICE out there. What about SPICE doesn't meet your needs so that you are looking for an alternative?
    – The Photon
    Aug 20, 2017 at 2:08
  • I've added clarification. I'm not looking for SPICE. Why was this moved to software? I think the electronics community would know better, and the post can be better classified.
    – Johntron
    Aug 20, 2017 at 2:14
  • 1
    Knowing what about SPICE doesn't meet your needs might help you get better recommendations.
    – The Photon
    Aug 20, 2017 at 3:21
  • 1
    Also, I didn't migrate it but it probably happened because shopping and product recommendation questions are off topic on EE SE.
    – The Photon
    Aug 20, 2017 at 3:24
  • Welcome to Software Recommendations! We will need much more information to give good recommendations here – asking for "a tool like X" is never giving enough details, even if linked. You should always list your requirements explicitly. Please see How to ask for an alternative to some software and the questions linked to it for details.
    – Izzy
    Aug 20, 2017 at 13:50

1 Answer 1


SPICE and all its derivatives are "circuit simulators"

There is a list on Wikipedia

And another list also on Wikipedia.

These lists are not 100% complete as at work I use Cadence Spectre but this package is very much IC-design oriented and also quite expensive.

In your case (free software) I suggest that you try LTspice (still a bit spicey though ;-) ) or Qucs

"Under the surface" most circuit simulation software does look like/behave like SPICE because SPICE was the first kind in this field. So most software use a similar syntax for the netlist and similar algorithms to solve the circuit equations.

  • There are several online circuit simulators. It's not clear which ones rely on SPICE-derived code under the hood, but mostly they hide that in their user interfaces. Most are crap for professional work. Some might nonetheless meet OP's needs if he would just explain what those needs are.
    – The Photon
    Aug 20, 2017 at 15:26
  • Thanks Bimpelrekkie and Photon for the first useful answers. My question was intentionally vague, because I don't know what to look for. I just know that SPICE is ... awkward. I've been using EveryCircuit with a lot of success, but now I'm on to more advanced circuits. It seems like all of the SPICE simulators have the same crappy UI from the 80s. I'll give Qucs a try, even though it's still based on the SPICE kernels.
    – Johntron
    Aug 20, 2017 at 22:49
  • Well, SPICE doesn't have a UI as far as I know. What you're actually looking for is a circuit simulator with an easy to use GUI. Even if there's (invisibly) SPICE underneath, that doesn't actually matter to you now does it ? Then my suggestions for LTSpice and Qucs remain. Aug 21, 2017 at 7:38

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