May 31 2012

Diablo 3 Guide: Equipment Optimization

Diablo 3

Now that I’ve been playing Diablo 3 for a little bit, I thought I would share some tips on optimizing your equipment for the majority of the difficulty levels. I’m dealing with everything *except* Inferno here. Inferno has much more stringent equipment optimization requirements than other difficulty levels, and will be dealt with in a later article on the subject.

Here are my tips to optimize your character’s equipment in Diablo 3:

More after the jump…

1) Do not use the crafting system at all. The crafting system for both equipment and gems in Diablo 3 simply requires far too high an investment in gold and destroyed items relative to what you can craft in comparison to the Auction House. The Diablo 3 Auction House is massively more cost effective in acquiring gear tailored to your character and play-style specific needs. The gold you don’t spend on crafting, buying equipment from merchants in-game, and lost sales proceeds from magical items you destroy for the ingredients will be more than enough to optimize your characters gear quite well with Auction House purchases.

2) When looking for weapons (and off hand sources) in the Auction House keep the following in mind: The DPS stat shown for the weapon in the DPS column in the Auction House takes into account all damage bonuses a weapon has except those that arise from increases to your primary damage stat (Int for Wizards and Witch Doctors, Dex for Demon Hunters and Monks, Str for Barbarians) and (partially) those arising from Rubies placed in the sockets. Leaving aside the issue with gems, what this means is that you don’t have to worry about looking at the specific damage bonuses on a weapon (bonus minimum damage, bonus damage %, bonus attack speed) because all of those bonuses are already factored into the weapons dps stat.

Now for gems (in this case rubies) it’s a bit more complicated: Basically for socketed rubies the DPS number shown in the DPS column of the AH will not include the bonus from the ruby in the number but, if you sort by DPS (highest to lowest obviously) the ordering of weapons will include the bonus damage from the ruby.

Searching for Weapons in the Diablo 3 Auction House

Searching for Weapons on the Auction House: These results are sorted highest to lowest in DPS and as you can see, the displayed numbers do not match the order they are displayed in. This is because their ordering includes socketed rubies while the displayed number does not.

The practical upshot of this is that you should be looking for the highest DPS weapon you can find that has sockets, and that weapons with empty sockets are better than weapons with filled sockets (because a weapon with an empty socket ordered high-to-low close to a socketed weapon can still have its damage significantly increased by inserting a ruby.

Weapons with Empty Sockets

This weapon is a couple of pages back of the above wand, however, because it has an empty socket its actually a much better better weapon than the wand because its DPS can stil be boosted with a ruby.

Finally, with due credit to Steve who mentioned this on TYG Podcast 27, you should always search for weapons with a reduced level requirement. Basically because the base damage of weapons is scaled somewhat geometrically you will virtually always find significantly higher DPS stats on weapons of a higher level requirement with the reduced level requirement bonus than you will on weapons naturally usable by a character of your level. Note: The level requirement shown for a weapon with the reduced level requirement bonus will be after that bonus is applied, so the level requirement shown on the weapons tooltip must be the same as your current level to use it. Also, to find these weapons you will have to search for weapons with a required level higher than your current level and then look at the tooltips to see if your character can use it.

Reduced Level Requirement Weapons

As you can see, by searching for weapons of a higher level requirement than my Lvl 33 Wizard but specifying the Reduced Level Requirement bonus, I was quickly able to find a weapon with much higher base DPS than any of the above options.

To give you a dramatic example of how much of a difference this can make, I found a dagger last night for my Lvl 33 Wizard last night with 62.7 base dps and an empty socket, compared to the ~38-42 base dps that could be found on weapons with a natural 33 level requirement and empty sockets. Basically resulted in a 50% increase in my character’s DPS for 5000 gold.

Additionally, for any class that can use an off-hand source, this appears to be a better DPS maximizing option than using two handed weapons. There simply does not appear to be a sufficient base damage advantage on two handed weapons to outweigh the extra set of bonuses you can get on an off-hand source.

Edited to add: Actually, you should compare your options for one-handed vs. two-handed weapons, especially those with reduced level requirements and level 60 weapons. I’ve subsequently found that two-handed level 60 weapons with reduced level requirements generally have so much more damage than their one handed equivalents as to make them a better choice. You can actually compare which option is better by comparing the DPS difference between one-handed and two-handed weapons you can afford against the bonus damage from your source (Add minimum and maximum bonus damage on your source and divide by two to get the average damage it adds, if the source also has a bonus to your primary damage stat, please use the formula I give in this article to calculate that effect as well)

When looking for an off-hand source you must look at the individual bonus stats themselves as there isn’t a DPS calculated on them. You are looking for (most to least important): Bonus damage, bonus attack speed, bonus primary damage stat, has sockets, and if you can get lucky to find one that meets these and also has a bonus to vitality, so much the better.

Off Hand Source

My Current Off-Hand Source.

3) When shopping for accessories such as rings and amulets you are going to have to put up with a very annoying weakness in the Auction House search parameters mechanic. You cannot specify to search for bonus damage (i.e. “+4-8 Damage”) but this is the best DPS affecting bonus for an accessory to have. I’ve found little alternative but to comb through a few pages of results looking for accessories that have (again from most to least important): Bonus damage, bonus to attack speed, sockets, bonus to primary damage stat, bonus to vitality. Sockets are even more important than flat bonuses to primary damage stat or vitality because using gems you can increase their bonus to either of those two things.

4) When shopping for armour my tendency is to focus on bonus to primary damage stat, bonus to vitality, sockets (if that armour piece can have sockets, you can tell this by seeing if it is one of the options in the bonus search fields). With armour you will have to balance the armour value of the piece against the other bonuses it provides and decide based on your class whether focusing more on armour value and vitality is more important to you than DPS whoring. Again keep in mind that the shown armour rating includes any bonus to armour the item has, but not any other types of bonuses (i.e. resistances, vitality, primary damage stat, etc.).

5) As you get up to the harder difficulty levels (particularly inferno) I have read from multiple sources that focusing on maxing out damage resistances, armour and vitality must be big priority because regular even regular monsters put out so much damage that you can be one or two shotted to death otherwise. I cannot comment further on this until I get there myself but please feel free to google around for guidance on Inferno equipment optimization.

6) Shop around on the Auction House! You can often find very good deals if you delve a little further into the results, many people sell items for a tenth or twentieth of what others are charging for items of similar stats. For example, my Off-Hand Source cost me 35,000 gold but I see similar (actually worse) sources being auctioned for hundreds of thousands or even a million gold! I don’t think I spent more than 10,000 gold on any of my items except that source.

With all of the above in mind, I thought it would be useful to demonstrate how far this kind of equipment optimization can take you. Below is a composite image showing all of the stats for the equipment my Level 33 Wizard currently has equipped:

My Wizard's Equipment

My Wizard's Equipment

And these are the resulting stats for the character. Please keep in mind that my DPS stat is boosted massively by the Wizard passive skill Glass Cannon and the active skill Magic Weapon so my DPS stats are not directly comparable to any character except a Wizard using the same skills.

My Wizard's Stats

My Wizard's Stats

As you can see, prudent use of the Auction House can result in quite dramatic improvements to a character’s stats and can dramatically improve your character’s performance in Diablo 3.

Edited to Add: Please also see my article on optimizing your rings and amulets to maximize DPS.


That’s Yo “Bosses don’t get to finish their speeches before they die” Garbage!

About the author


Lorenzo tends to utterly emphatic opinions on the things that interest him: Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Video Games, Anime, Tabletop Games, Technology and Internet Spaceships.


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  1. Loredo84

    I think my e-peen grew from just reading that. <3

  2. D3G

    Iˇve read some just right stuff here and while it is useful it seems slightly outdated thanks to the new patches. Are you going to go back and re-do this guide with the new changes made to the game recently?

    1. Mike

      you are correct, Blizzards recent patches seems to be taking out recently viable or ‘one-true builds’ from the game. However, people are constantly still finding ways to beat the system so to speak. Keep checking back as we are perfecting our Inferno builds and will have videos up on our characters soon. well cover equipment, skills used, and how we play the builds.

      The author of this article(Lorenzo) has a Wizard, I have a demon hunter, Steve has a Barb and a really close friend of ours has a Witch Doctor. All of which will be covered in video format.

    2. Lorenzo

      In fact I will be updating this guide in the near future in light of some of the changes that Blizzard has made.

      Stay tuned for that in the next couple of weeks!

  3. shu szu

    Nice info! I am currently leveling Monk in Diablo3 and it is
    great! Fast kicks and super punches hehe. Anyways
    I liked this post, I will be checking out the rest!

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