CMR Vs. SMR: Which is the Better Hard Drive?

As you get into extra area of interest pc builds, the specs of every half matter extra than simply slapping collectively a construct that may stream strikes and run video games. The kind of onerous drive you get is a superb instance of this.

While most individuals know that selecting an SSD will provide you with quicker load occasions than an HDD, even some skilled builders have by no means heard of a CMR or SMR drive. Knowing the distinction may assist you squeeze extra efficiency out of your construct.

What is a CMR Drive?

CMR stands for standard magnetic recording. It was the unique customary kind of drive earlier than SMR drives have been launched.

CMR drives have a format the place the plates that retailer the knowledge are lined up subsequent to one another. They match collectively with none overlapping elements and sometimes embrace a little bit of house between every plate in case a observe is registered incorrectly. 


The learn and write heads transfer to the knowledge required and use it, then transfer to the subsequent space on the onerous drive with the required knowledge. Each observe is totally separate from the others, like theyre lined up in a queue. Because every observe is laid down earlier than the subsequent with house between them, the learn and write heads solely must be as giant as every particular person observe. 

Pros of CMR Drives

CMR drives are higher for many customers as a result of theyre fast and cheap. They carry out higher for many duties than SMR drives presently.

  • CMR drives have quicker write speeds than SMR drives. When youre doing one thing like gaming with a number of knowledge entry and write operations, youll get higher efficiency with a CMR drive than with an SMR drive.gaming
  • CMR drives are extra appropriate for holding the working system or nearly every other lively program on the pc. Since they provide a lot quicker efficiency than SMR drives, nearly any program you actively use will work higher with a CMR drive. 

Cons of CMR Drives


CMR drives arent excellent. For sure conditions, they arent going to work in addition to SMR drives.

  • CMR drives cant maintain as a lot data as SMR drives. Because of the observe construction, theres extra wasted house within the design. Each space that cant be used to put in writing knowledge reduces the drives storage capability. 
  • Some customers say CMR drives are extra susceptible to failure. However, others argue that CMR drives are extra dependable. It might be onerous to find out whether or not issues folks have with both drive are as a result of kind of storage or one other concern. 

These drawbacks apart, theyre nice drives for anybody doing fast-paced computing.

Remember that doubtlessly being extra susceptible to failure doesnt make CMR drives more likely to fail. All drives have some probability of failure, however few folks really expertise onerous drive failure inside the guarantee interval. 

What is an SMR Drive?

SMR stands for shingled magnetic recording. Its a more recent expertise that gives some advantages and a few drawbacks over CMR.

SMR drives dont place their tracks subsequent to one another. Instead, knowledge is written to a observe, after which one other observe overlaps it. Each observe is positioned in a shingled formation, nearly just like the roof of a home. This lets the disk maintain rather more knowledge.


The write head on an SMR drive is bigger than that on a CMR drive. Its giant sufficient to put in writing a single observe of information after which some. When its completed recording knowledge to a observe, it strikes over to begin writing the subsequent a part of the information. However, it doesnt transfer all the best way away from the unique observe. The wider head causes it to overlap, creating the shingle impact. 

Shingled tracks of information are held other than one another in numerous zones. These zones let the disk replace the knowledge and assist stop unintended overwriting. 

Pros of SMR Drives

The advantages of SMR are nice for enterprise customers or those that simply want a number of house to retailer knowledge.

  • SMR shops its knowledge in a manner that lets it maintain rather more data. Very giant disks are sometimes SMR slightly than CMR due to this. If you may have a number of media recordsdata or storage that you just arent accessing always, an SMR drive is likely to be higher for you.
  • SMR drives are extra dependable than CMR drives. They seem like much less more likely to fail. This is usually a enormous promoting level for folks saving data to storage drives or enterprise customers.
  • SMR drives are extra vitality environment friendly. If youre archiving knowledge for storage, you may save a bit in your energy consumption by selecting SMR. 

Cons of SMR Drives

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The cons of SMR drives is usually a downside for customers on the lookout for a quick, performance-driven disk. However, theyre very helpful for some customers.

  • Some say that SMR drives are costlier, however they dont all the time appear to be extra pricey. Much of the associated fee distinction comes all the way down to different specs, like velocity, storage, and producer.
  • Information needs to be written in a sequential method on SMR drives, which implies that any adjustments to a selected zone of tracks require rewriting the entire zone. This is one more reason that SMR drives have such sluggish write speeds. Some say that this type of information administration can enhance the likelihood of your knowledge being corrupted. 

If youre utilizing an SMR drive for storage, neither of those is of any actual concern. Files you save shouldnt must be up to date usually in the event that they arent accessed and adjusted usually. 

How Do CMR and SMR Hold Data Differently?

CMR holds every bit of information in separate tracks, like a line of bricks constructed subsequent to one another. SMR holds knowledge in shingles that overlap, like roof shingles. Thats how theyre capable of retailer extra knowledge on the drive. 

Should I Use CMR or SMR for this Build?

If you continue to arent positive whether or not to make use of CMR or SMR, contemplate the next eventualities.

  • A gamer who desires to put in regularly performed titles on a tough drive ought to search for a CMR drive. It will likely be fast sufficient that its much less more likely to decelerate efficiency and introduce extra lag into the sport.
  • A person who wants a spot to retailer and save private recordsdata for the long run may use an SMR drive. The additional storage capability and peace of thoughts that comes from understanding the drive is much less more likely to expertise failure is usually a actual asset. Also, because the knowledge isnt accessed as regularly, the write occasions matter much less.
  • Someone making a funds construct could need to go for a CMR drive. The efficiency and worth level are very helpful as a result of the drive may work to run video games or different operations with excessive write speeds down the road if crucial.
  • RAID customers ought to go for CMR disks. Using SMR can really make your total array much less safe and extra susceptible to knowledge loss. 

If you continue to arent positive, select a CMR drive. Their advantages outweigh the drawbacks, and they’re the extra versatile and all-around choice. 

How to Tell Whether a Drive is CMR or SMR?

Unfortunately, a number of firms dont embrace whether or not the drive is CMR or SMR on the packaging. It isnt one of many generally anticipated items of data that every one producers have. However, there are just a few indicators you’ll be able to be careful for.

  • Check out the cache measurement on the drive. SMR drives typically have a bigger cache to try to mitigate their points with velocity. A drive with a 256 MB cache is extra more likely to be an SMR drive. If it has a 64 MB cache, it might be a CMR drive.
  • You can lookup the product codes for the drive youre contemplating shopping for. You could discover extra detailed details about what you need to get. Online discussions about totally different drives generally additionally embrace extra details about their specs and the way theyre made.
  • Reach out to the corporate. Even on fanatic message boards and dialogue posts, the subject of the way to establish a drive as SMR or CMR shouldn’t be completely resolved. The greatest option to do it’s to succeed in out to the producer you need to buy a drive from. Ask whether or not your meant drive is the sort you need and contemplate asking for a suggestion if it isnt. 

Before buying a drive, refresh the knowledge youve discovered. Manufacturers change their processes and elements usually. You dont need to purchase what you anticipate is a efficiency drive and find yourself with a storage drive as an alternative. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Are SMR Drives Good for Storage?

SMR drives are nice for storage, so long as you arent planning to entry the information usually. (For instance, you could not need to retailer an lively program you regularly use on an SMR drive.) Their reliability and house make them a good selection for archiving knowledge. 

Do Seagate Drives Use SMR?

Seagate makes use of SMR and CMR applied sciences like different firms, relying on the drive and product line. Reach out to the corporate with particular questions earlier than buy in the event that they dont embrace the knowledge on the product knowledge sheet. 

Can SMR Drives Be Used with RAID?

You can use SMR drives with RAID, although it won’t be the optimum selection. However, guarantee all of the drives you may have use the identical expertise. No matter which you select, follow a single kind of drive. 

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