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The descriptions of the smithing perks don't give a whole lot of information. Why do I care that instead of Dwarven armor I can now create Orcish armor? Do the different types of armor have different properties?

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Obviously Orcish armor is better than Dwarven armor. Exactly how it is better I have yet to determine. However, I offer the following : if the Dwarves had crafted better armor than the Orcs maybe they would still populate the world. - Orcish Smith –  Bravo840 Nov 11 '11 at 15:15
    
When you have upgraded the armor or weapons, your smithing skill can easily dwarf the increase of better weapons or armor. Note that you can improve higher grade items further though. Those perks (dwarven, Orcish, etc) also impact how much you upgrade armor. –  Red_Tractor Nov 23 '11 at 15:34

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up vote 11 down vote accepted

Armor in the Elder Scrolls series falls into two main categories, Light and Heavy. Within each category, you have a series of grades of quality, which are generally materials (Glass, Steel, Leather), but occasionally based on a style of construction or ore used (Dwarven, Orcish, Elven, etc.)

Orcish is a superior grade of armor to Dwarven - it offers superior protection, piece for piece, than Dwarven does.

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It seems to work similar to how it did in Elder Srolls IV, just with more grades.

Lists are ordered from less armor protection to greater armor protection:

  • Light armor: Hide, Studded, Leather, Scales, Elven, Glass, Dragonscale
  • Heavy armor: Iron, Steel, Dwarven, Orcish, Ebony, Dragonplate, Daedric

Keep in mind that you might find a fine iron helmet that offers more armor points than some of the lower steel ones, but it will weigh more and be worth less gold, and so on.

Also there are other considerations than just armor points, including how quiet the armor is, how cool it looks, and all that, but this list makes a good rule of thumb.

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This is wrong; there is no Mythril armor in Skyrim. –  Raven Dreamer Nov 16 '11 at 18:00
    
@RavenDreamer : You're right, I've updated the list thanks to your comment –  sXe Nov 16 '11 at 18:04

I upgraded my dwarven armour to flawless when I got to 50 I then made orc armour and then upgraded it to exquisite. It Is now the same level as my flawless dwarven. So when I upgrade my orc armour fully it will be much better than dwarven armour. Hope that helped :).

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