Microstrip vs Stripline: Which is Right for Your PCB Design?

Microstrip vs Stripline Which is Right for Your PCB Design

In the ever-evolving world of electronics, printed circuit boards (PCBs) play a key role. They are the lifeblood of almost every electronic device we encounter every day, from smartphones to home appliances. When designing PCBs, engineers face a fundamental decision to choose between microstrip and stripline. In this article, we dive into the differences between the two options and help you make an informed decision for your PCB design.

Table of Contents


Understanding transmission lines

Microstrip transmission lines

Benefits of microstrip transmission lines

Limitations of microstrip transmission lines

Tape transmission lines

Advantages of Tape Lines

Limitations of tape lines

Choosing between microstrip and tape lines

Factors to consider

Frequency range

Size and space limitations

Signal integrity


Design best practices

Case studies

Future trends




The world of electronics requires efficient and reliable signal transmission. Microstrip and strip line are two popular options, each with its own advantages and limitations. This article aims to shed light on these options and assist engineers and designers in making the right choice for their particular printed circuit board applications.

Understanding transmission lines

Before going into the details of microstrip and ribbon lines, it is essential to understand the concept of transmission lines. These are conductive traces used to conduct electrical signals from one part of a circuit to another. Transmission lines come in various forms, and their selection significantly affects the performance of the circuit board. So, which one is right?

Microstrip transmission lines

Advantages of microstrip transmission lines

Microstrip transmission lines are external traces on the PCB surface. They offer several advantages:


Microstrip transmission lines are cost-effective to manufacture, making them an attractive option for projects with limited budgets.

Compact design

Their external location allows for a more compact PCB layout, making them ideal for applications with limited space.

Easy troubleshooting

Because microstrip traces are visible, troubleshooting and maintenance are more accessible.

The limitations of microstrip leads

However, microstrip transmission lines also have their limitations:

Limited frequency range

Microstrips are less suitable for high-frequency applications due to increased signal loss.

Susceptibility to EMI

Compared to ribbon lines, they are more susceptible to electromagnetic interference (EMI).

Tape transmission lines

Advantages of ribbon transmission lines

Tape transmission lines, on the other hand, are placed between layers of printed circuit boards. Their advantages include:

Increased signal integrity

Striplines provide superior signal integrity, making them suitable for high-frequency designs.

Reduced electromagnetic interference

Their internal placement offers better EMI shielding, providing cleaner signals.

Stripline limitations

Still, stripline transmission lines have their drawbacks:

  1. The design and manufacture of strip lines can be more complex and costly.

2. Space requirements

Stripline wiring requires more space on the circuit board because of its internal location.

The choice between microstrip and stripline

The choice between microstrip and stripline should be based on the specific requirements of your project. Consider these factors when making your decision:

Factors to consider

Frequency range

For high-frequency applications, ribbon lines are a better choice because they offer lower signal loss.

Size and space constraints

If your project has limited space, microstrip lines may be more practical due to their external location.

Signal integrity

For mission-critical applications where signal integrity is paramount, strip lines should be preferred.


Budget considerations may lead you to choose microstrip lines, especially for simpler designs.

Best practices for design

To optimize the performance of your chosen transmission line, consider these design best practices:

  • Maintain consistent trace width and impedance.
  • Minimize abrupt corners to reduce signal reflections.
  • Use appropriate dielectric materials to control impedance.
  • Case studies
  • Let’s look at a few real-world examples where the choice between microstrip and ribbon wiring had a significant impact on the design and performance of a printed circuit board.

Future trends

As technology advances, PCB design options will continue to evolve. Keep an eye on new trends in transmission line technology to ensure your designs remain competitive.


There is no one-size-fits-all answer in the microstrip vs. ribbon transmission line debate. Your choice should fit the specific requirements and constraints of your project. Be sure to consider factors such as frequency range, space constraints, and budget. Both microstrip and ribbon transmission lines have their place in the PCB design world.


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