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From what I understand there are 18(or 16? conflicting information) tiers of items in Diablo 3. I assume that it might be 16 because that would equal a tier for each act/difficulty. What is the earliest act in inferno where the highest item level can be dropped? Does tier affect item level in any way?

To clarify, according to this page, item level is directly tied to item tiers.

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FYI the 'tiers' mentioned are only in terms of visual appearance, not in terms of item quality or available affixes (more info). –  Wikwocket May 25 '12 at 14:45
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AFAIK the tier also affects the base stats of an item. of course with random stats, a single item from hell could be better than something dropped in inferno, but chances are higher that items from inferno will be better on average. I will clarify the question. –  Pent May 25 '12 at 15:00
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up vote 6 down vote accepted

As of version 1.0.3, the earlier Inferno act for tier 18 items to drop is act 1.

Previously, the earliest Inferno act for tier 18 items to drop was act 3.

(source 1 source 2)

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