20+ best C++ Compilers

The term compilers can be defined as a translator that is produced and designed to translate the high-level language into low-level language or machine language for the computer to understand and process to give the desired output.

A computer being a machine fails to understand what the human types, i.e. in the form of source code, known as the high-level language. To make the computer understand, there are compilers that translate the data into binary codes, i.e. 0 and 1. 

How does the process of compilation of C++ go?

The process of compiling the C++ program comprises 3 different yet simple steps. With the advancement in technology today, all three steps are completed at a click of a button using IDE’s that are either serving as desktop applications or as an online tool.

  1. Preprocessing- The first phase of preprocessing adds files that are Source CPP referenced. The code in these files is replaced in the source files. As this is the initial step, header files are not used here. Instead, inline functions or macros are then preprocessed, replacing the codes.
  2. Compiling- In this second step, the use of preprocessed file takes place. Here the file is compiled to generate an object file with “o” extension.
  3. Linking – In the final step, libraries and all the external functions are linked with the object file generated in the second step. Once linked, the process will be executed successfully.  
Offline and Online C++ Compilers

Types of compilers

There are two different types of compilers.

  1. Single-pass; Compiles the high-level language into the binary codes directly.
  2. Two-pass; Also known as a multi-pass compiler, processes the high-level language or source code multiple times.

Top 11 C++ Compilers 

Borland C++

Borland C++

It is a 90s compiler, designed to carry out simple editing tasks. It is now recognized as a successor for Turbo C++.

This can be a perfect start for beginners, ideal for working with Microsoft Windows and MS-DOS. The best thing about this is that it holds a monopoly in the market.

It is equipped with an efficient debugger, i.e, a Turbo debugger that sets the C++ classes for the development of DOS applications. This compiler further comprises Borland graphic interface, used for developing 2G graphics applications. It is free. 

Visual C++ compiler

Visual C++ compiler

It is a well-recognized compiler in the software industry. Designed with an aim to ease the development of Windows applications in 32-bit, It runs safely on a number of hardware and software.

It is an available option for both Windows and Linux users, with a large number of choices offered by visual studio.

Its core feature is the MFC architecture development that offers the fastest executables, easing the development of window-based applications.

Back in 1993, this compiler migrated to new technology by Microsoft, adding up some new features. Thereby, ensuring an integrated environment and improved productivity.

This compiler further incorporates the OLE development that works to reduce the burden of writing the codes. The best part of this IDE is that it is free and does offer a testing environment as well.

Digital Mars

image 35 - 20+ best C++ Compilers

It is an alternate compiler to Symantec C++ that supports programs that are to be designed and developed for Windows, MSDOS, Win32, an extension for MSDOS, and Window 3.1.

Its major feature includes supporting the nested types, templates, exception handling, runtime type identification, etc.  The compiler is known as the pioneer of programming that can help overcome some of the pitfalls in c and c++. 


Minimalist GNU for Windows

Attributed as “Minimalist GNU for Windows” it is among the list of compilers that offers the minimalist development environment to the developers.

It can be referred to as the easiest one so can be a good choice for beginners to C++ for the development of native Windows applications.

This compiler does not have any third-party requirement, thereby a suitable option for windows. It is equipped with GNU, programming tools, and a resource compiler.

Where GNU helps generate Win32 executables, the programming tools are equipped in different forms including programming maintenance program, parser generator, text processing tools, lexical analyzer generator, etc.

With the resource compiler, it is easier to compile the window resources. Alongside being fast and simple, the requirement of DLL libraries is its benefit.

Embarcadero Compiler

Embarcadero Compiler

This is an open-source compiler, produced with an aim to satisfy commercial needs. Being a suitable platform for Android, Windows, and IOS, its core feature includes supporting the language extensions, good UI designs, and libraries.

In the highly-competitive market, this is a tool, working to deliver faster applications. This can be an ideal compiler for the students for it is free of cost. But is an insecure platform.

Dev c++

Dev C++ Compiler

It is equipped with the core feature of editing and compiling resource files. Having developed as a combination of GCC and Cygwin port, it is up with an open-source environment for the software developers.

Hence, a preferable choice for beginners. The best part about this compiler is it is installed and executed on a flash drive, making it a fully-featured compiler.

This IDE is written in Delphi and is distributed under GNU general public license. The plus point with its use is that it can be extended via downloading additional libraries. Thus, increasing the functionality and scope.

Intel C++

Intel C++ Compiler

A preferable choice of the software developers, this compiler is produced by Intel Corporation for working with Windows, Linux, and other application development.

Being recognized as ICC, the compiler is equipped with a commercial license. These are optimized to the computer systems supporting intel architecture.

Having the highly-targeted cache work and SIMD instructions, it is one of the fastest and effective compilers in comparison to GCC.

The identical performance it offers to the users makes it one of the best to work with. With Intel, it is flexible to switch between the compilers. 

Clang C Family Compiler

C language family frontend for LLVM

After Intel, this is the preferable choice for beginners to software development. The core reason is easy to understand. This compiler is up with a BSD license in the market, faster and reduced memory adapted.

Having the design laying its foundation on LLVM, this compiler is developed to analyze source codes in a better way, making compiling easier.

The best about this compiler is that it works in three different phases. First, development of Abstract Syntax tree at the front end with a Parser. Secondly, the optimizing phase. Final, back-end phase.

Hence, marking itself as the industry essential mainstream compiler and a better one for building a tool for reuse and integrating with other projects.  

Codepad Online C++ Compiler

Online C++ Compiler

This compiler has been created by one of the founders of Sauce labs, namely, Steven Hazel, supporting both the compiled and interpreted languages.

It’s a simple collaboration tool that serves to compile and interpret the source codes online. It works by having the code pasted in the code area, making the developer select the suitable programming language (appearing in the left panel), submit it to start the tool.

Once executed, it will offer a short URL so that it can be shared publicly.


GNU C++ Compiler

Attributed as GNU Compiler Collection, it is a compiler system, developed by the GNU project, supporting more than one programming language.

To clarify, GCC is a component of the GNU toolchain. This compiler can be used by Windows users, Android, IOS, and Unix users. Being the free tool, it is widely consumed, evidence being Linux Kernal- the noticeable project.

Open Source Watcom

C-Free Install Open Watcom C/C++

This open-source and free-of-cost compiler serves to generate code for Windows, MSDOS, and OS. Years ago, this has been one of the highly coveted compilers with a STLport, i.e. Standard template library.

It generated codes for Win32, Netware NLM, Windows 3.1, WIN16, etc. Its stable version has been released back in 2010. 

Let’s wrap up

Compilers serve as a key tool for software developers. The beginners to learning C++ computer programming language make use of free compilers for writing down their codes.

It eases the process of compiling by developing and building multiple advanced applications. One can also benefit from the additional features added.

A large number of compilers are equipped with inbuilt debuggers and other features including memory leak detection that works to save both time and effort of the developer at no cost. 

How to choose the best compiler depends on two things; one being the speed for compilation it takes, while the second being the time of compilation especially for lengthy projects. Choose what suits you the best!


is c++ compilers single phase or two-phase?

C++ compiler is basically a multi-phase compiler. Which has preprocessing phase, compilation phase, and linking phase.

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