Pickit3 - ICD3 - Anyone with experience in both?

Thread Starter


Joined Jan 6, 2004
I have the chance to get almost for free one Pickit3 or an ICD3.

Is there anyone using / having used both to tell what is good and what is bad.

If I get ICD3, am I leaving behind any advantage in the Pickit3 that isn't with ICD3.

Who's easier to use when past of the learning period?

BTW I am aware of the difference in speed.

Help appreciated.


Joined Apr 24, 2011
I have them both. I really don't notice any difference in them, though it is possible I just never discovered some marvelous feature of the 4 times as costly ICD3 over the lowly PICkit 3.

I had hoped it would program a device faster but that seems to be a limit of the target part: I built a programmer that held the code in it's own memory and even that took just as long to program a part with that then anything else.

A slight negative of the ICD3 is the RJ11 connector needed. I by far prefer the 6 pin inline connection of the PICkit series. You can get adapters for the ICD3.


Joined Mar 2, 2015
I can't compare the PicKit 3 with the ICD3, only an ICD2. Of the two, I prefer the PicKit 3: no USB drivers to install, and the target board connection, as ErnieM noted, is a lot more convenient. There's also the price difference, though for your purpose this is obviously not an issue.


Joined Jan 18, 2008
The ICD3 comes with an adapter for RJ11 to 6-pin inline.

As for USB drivers, that might depend on which version of MPLAB you use. Here is a snippet from MPLAB X instructions for using the PK3:


I just installed MPLAB X yesterday and was a little concerned about the possibility of changing all my USB drivers. As it turned out, my drivers must have been up to date and didn't needed to be changed for either the ICD3 or PK3.



Joined Jun 5, 2013
I have both. The PICKit 3 destroyed itself, and I got an ICD3, which has been solid. Also, the ICD3 is supposedly much faster at programming than the PICKIT, so, if you are using one of the larger memory microcontrollers this can be significant.



Joined Mar 2, 2015
Hmmm. Interesting. I was going by what I read in the MPLAB-X IDE User's Guide:

2.3.2 USB Driver Installation for Windows® XP/7/8 Operating Systems

If you install MPLAB X IDE on a personal computer uses Windows OS, follow the instructions below to correctly install the USB drivers. (The USB hardware tool drivers for MPLAB IDE v8.xx are not the same as those for MPLAB X IDE.)

These instructions apply to the following tools:

• MPLAB REAL ICE in-circuit emulator
• MPLAB ICD 3 in-circuit debugger
• MPLAB PM3 device programmer
• PIC32 Starter Kit

You do not need to do anything for PICkit 2, PICkit 3 or other MPLAB Starter Kits.
I'm not sure what the deal is; I only have MPLAB-X installed on the MacBook, so all driver installation, whatever there was, was automatic anyway; but I'm pretty sure there was no PK3 driver installation when I put MPLAB 8.92 on my Windows XP machine.


Joined Jan 18, 2008
I saw the same warning/message. There was also a note (I don't remember exactly what prompted it) that said only if the PC's drivers were older than the MPLAB X's drivers would they be changed. When I installed MPLAB X, a shortcut to a utility was put on the Desktop called "... switcher." When I clicked on that, it gave a report that no drivers needed to be changed.



Joined Mar 2, 2015
I read about that switcher app, too; IIRC, it's for when you're switching back and forth between MPLAB-X and MPLAB 8.xx. As I don't have both IDEs installed on either of my machines (and MPLAB-X is only on the Mac), I haven't encountered the "switcher" app beyond reading about it.

Frankly, I'm having a tough time getting used to MPLAB-X; I've been using the "traditional" MPLAB for the last 15+ years, and am finding X to be a huge learning curve.


Joined Jun 19, 2012
My experience with all 3: ICD2, ICD3, PICKIT3:

ICD2- Solid, but pain to get installed and connected. Issues with Vpp over voltage on some parts.

ICD3- Fragile - blew up 2 of them, don't bother.

PICKIT3 - My little solid buddy- cheap and cheerful. Easy to install and hard to break.

MPLAB-X seems like a fantastic concept, but I gave up after struggling with it for a while.

Good old MPLAB IDE is a solid workhorse